Good morning. A man, his wife and son finished their dinner at a restaurant, then gathered the staff of 10 together to thank them for their hard work for a long year before leaving them a $10,000 tip to share.
There is a lot of goodness out there!
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South Africa. Unemployment rate surged to the highest on a global list of 82 countries monitored by Bloomberg. The jobless rate rose to 34.4% in the second quarter from 32.6% in the three months through March.
Health. A healthy adult should weigh an average of 70kg, and in relation to your height, normal BMI is within 18.5–24.9. Do you consider yourself overweight? Let's show you a 28-Day Body Transformation Program that will bring things to normal.
United States. Former Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul became the first female governor in New York history early this morning, taking over from embattled former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo left amid sexual misconduct allegations from at least 11 women. Hochul was sworn in two minutes after Cuomo formally resigned.
Paralympics. The 2020 Paralympics got underway yesterday in Tokyo, with many anticipating records to be broken in the long jump, swimming, and powerlifting, among other events. Athletes will compete across almost two dozen events including badminton and taekwondo—the two new sports being featured this year.
1609 Galileo demonstrates his 1st telescope to Venetian lawmakers
1768 Captain James Cook departs from Plymouth, England, on his first voyage on board the Endeavour, bound for the Pacific Ocean
1958 Momofuku Ando markets the first package of precooked instant noodles (Chikin Ramen)
NDA Not Secure for UGM Invasion
The Story It appears that the worst of Nigeria's security challenge has not been seen as bandits attacked the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna.
How were they able to access the NDA? Reports say that the bandits broke into the academy around 1 am on Tuesday. Military sources who spoke on the subject said two officers were killed, one was wounded, and another was abducted in the attack. According to an unnamed source, “they came in, silently, through the part of the academy where we have barbed wire and not properly fenced. Unfortunately, there were no soldiers on guard duty at that end. So, the bandits sneaked in, through to where the officers were and got three of them.
What's the reaction of the authorities? “It was when they shot one of the officers that everybody woke up, and before we knew it they had made their way outside and fled”, the source added. According to TheCable, the academy authorities will subject some soldiers to court martial for failing to secure the area. The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, has condemned the attack, describing it as madness that must be stopped as soon as possible. While some have suggested that investigation be carried out to determine the possible involvement of internal forces in the attack, the defence headquarters has vowed to track down the perpetrators. SOURCE
Soft Funds for OPay
The Story SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led a $400m funding round for OPay, valuing the Nigerian mobile-payments platform at $2b and marking the investment vehicle’s first bet in Africa.
What products or services is Opay into? Last year, OPay closed its ride-hailing and bike-sharing businesses following a government ban and the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on its financial services arm. The company’s technology is designed to replace funds and other legacy payment methods, helping local governments “improve financial and information security,” according to OPay. Founded in 2018, the company’s monthly transaction volumes exceed $3b.
How profitable is the company? Norway’s Opera Ltd., which counts Zhou as its chairman and co-CEO, said in June that it sold 29% of its stake in OPay, recording a $31.1m gain. Zhou is the wealthyfounder of Kunlun Tech Co., which last year sold dating app Grindr under U.S. regulatory pressure due to national-security concerns. Earlier this month, SoftBank’s wealthy founder Masayoshi Son said he’d begin to invest personally alongside Vision Fund 2, to which SoftBank has committed $40b.
Expansion Drive In addition to expanding in other African countries, OPay is focused on the Middle East as well. “We believe our investment will help the company extend its offering to adjacent markets and replicate its successful business model in Egypt and other countries in the region,” said Kentaro Matsui, a SoftBank Group Corp. managing director and former managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, which oversees Vision Fund and Vision Fund 2.
Also participating in the round were Sequoia Capital China, DragonBall Capital, the venture arm of Chinese food-delivery giant Meituan, Redpoint China, Source Code Capital, SoftBank Ventures Asia and 3W Capital, according to OPay. “We want to be the power that helps emerging markets reach a faster economic development,” OPay Chief Executive Officer Yahui Zhou said in an emailed statement. SOURCE
Secret Government Program for Boko Haram
The Story The New Humanitarian, a United Nations (UN) publication, has detailed a secret government programme, Suhlu, designed to pull commanders of terrorists groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) out of the forests, rehabilitate them and provide them a means of livelihood.
A plan already in motion? The development is coming as intelligence agencies have begun investigation into the recent surrender of over 1,200 terrorists and their families in the last three weeks. The investigation is to ascertain whether the surrender was genuine or a ploy to activate and coordinate terror sleeper cells across the country.
How does the government intend to do this? The New Humanitarian said a clandestine Nigerian government programme was reaching out to senior jihadist fighters in the bush to encourage them to abandon their goal of building a caliphate by force of arms, and to defect. North-east communities and traditional institutions have protested the potential reintegration of the fighters into their communities.
How about their crimes? Some have almost certainly committed atrocities but are unlikely to be prosecuted. The Bama massacre in 2014 killed hundreds of civilians, but one of the commanders involved is now living on the government’s payroll. Security officials believe sulhu could open the door to a peace deal, ending a stalemated conflict that is now in its twelfth year. But critics argue such a deal would reward mass killers. SOURCE
The Story A-lister Scarlett Johansson says she made an agreement with the Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios in 2017 that her big-budget superhero movie "Black Widow" would be given a full, exclusive theatrical release, and that her compensation would be based on theater ticket sales.
What's the news? When Disney decided to debut the movie in July on its streaming service Disney+ and in theaters at the same time, Johansson filed suit for breach of contract, alleging the studio was preventing her from "realizing the full benefit of her bargain with Marvel." Multiple stars and directors have pushed back on media companies that placed their films on streaming services during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of giving them a months-long exclusive release in theaters, which is typical for big Hollywood movies and the customary way the biggest stars are paid.
What does Johansson want? Directors and actors were furious at Warner Bros. and WarnerMedia for deciding in 2020 to funnel their 2021 movies to HBO Max at no extra cost for consumers. After some drawn-out negotiations, WarnerMedia paid more than $200m to talent up front to compensate for the loss of traditional profit participation, known as "back end." Johansson's complaint said the actress wanted Disney and Marvel to make good on its promise the way Warner Bros. did for talent such as Patty Jenkins for "Wonder Woman 1984," but that Disney "largely ignored" her entreaties.
Despite the agreement between them? On Friday, Disney’s lead attorney filed a motion in L.A. County Superior Court seeking to have the more than $50-million breach of contract lawsuit decided in private arbitration proceedings rather than by a California jury. Johansson’s legal team has demanded that the dispute be decided by a jury in open court. If that happens, the notoriety could make it a watershed moment for talent who feel they've been cheated out of funds by studios that decide to release their films simultaneously on streaming services and in theaters. SOURCE
WHAT ELSE IS FRESH...
Petroleum Industry Act loopholes: 36 states set up six-member panel, plan amendments
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MTN to sell 14% shares to Nigerian investors, to rehabilitate Enugu-Onitsha expressway
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NNPC working with investors for establishment of 250000b/d refineries
IMF's $650bn reserves liquidity support for Nigeria, others takes off
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IPOB a criminal group, says IGP, sit-at-home persists
From Doge Soldiers to Bitcoinists: A Field Guide to the Crypto Faithful. Bloomberg
Thoughts of work invaded my life—until I learned how to unplug. Science Mag
How should we prepare for Nigeria’s future security challenges? Medium
What two substances are the main components of bronze? A. Tin and gold B. Metal ore and Sulphur C. Copper and tin
QUESTION & ANSWER
What stops a bot from clicking the "I'm not a robot" button? Is it just speed or something else?
Franklin Veaux nailed the “I’m not a robot” tech portion of the question. As he said, there’s a lot more to it than just clicking a box.
What’s also interesting is what’s going on behind the scenes that led to having that there in the first place. A friend of mine was the head of Internet security for Tumblr during its heyday. Tumblr was a spammer’s dream - very high levels of engagement from an internet-savvy, young(ish) population. Advertisers love this group. So did Tumblr - but hated the spammers, who had the potential to ruin the platform, whose popularity was closely linked to the lack of advertising that was there.
Tumblr vs. the spammers became an arms race.
So Tumblr explored various strategies of fighting against spammers. They started by manually banning accounts, but it quickly became too much of a commitment from humans on the Tumblr end. So they switched to automated measures. Email verification was quickly foiled. Automated account activity analysis worked for a while, but spammers found ways around it. Then captcha technology started to become available - and was pretty effective for a while. It turns out that training machines to recognize poor handwriting is tough. But eventually it was cracked. Then they moved on to handwritten math problems, which worked OK but started to piss off actual users, which didn’t feel like doing that much work to get online. Then it was those “click on which images contain a street sign” human verification - which often foils actual humans (myself included, I hate those things.)
Eventually even those got cracked. Then we got the “click if you’re not a robot” boxes that Franklin mentioned.
And then the arms race completely broke. Because certain spammers figured out that developing tech to defeat tech was actually pretty expensive and time consuming, when a different and somewhat cost effective way to simulate humans - was to use real humans. By taking advantage of the fact that the funds generated by the spam was typically in USD at US cost of living rates, but humans can live in places with much lower costs of living, use the internet, spoof their IP addresses and appear to a US-based server as an actual human. And it’s cost effective for the spammers to do, in some cases. Like Tumblr.
So eventually they gave up. The spammers won the arms race. (Then Tumblr got bought by Yahoo and the platform died because now it wasn’t spammers trying to advertise on it, but rather the platform owners.) SOURCE
What two substances are the main components of bronze? C. Copper and tin