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Ukraine withdraws from Xinjiang-related anti-China statement

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香港的新聞自由是如何被一步步侵蝕的

國安法生效後,香港新聞自由環境急劇惡化。如今香港在世界新聞自由指數中排名第80,記者協會主席也表示這是「最糟糕的時期」。這一切是如何發生的?這裡是我們的盤點。
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
週三,《蘋果日報》在香港的辦公室,員工在屋頂點亮智慧型手機,感謝支持者。

Dog ejected from car during Sunday crash found on sheep farm, herding sheep

UPDATE: JUNE 8 AT 10:28 A.M.
Tilly, the 2-year-old Border Collie who was ejected from a car Sunday during a crash, has been found.
He was found on a sheep farm, where he had apparently taken up the role of sheep herder. 

According to Tilly's owner, he has lost some weight since Sunday's crash and is now drinking lots of water but is otherwise healthy. 
PREVIOUS COVERAGE:
RATHDRUM, Idaho - The Idaho State Police (ISP) is investigation after a crash blocked SH-41 and Hayden Avenue on Sunday afternoon. 

ISP said they are looking for people who witnessed the incident. 
The crash happened when a GMC Yukon towing a white horse trailer attempted to turn south onto SH-41 when a Buick struck the GMC. 
The driver of the Buick, a man from Spirit Lake, was transported to a nearby hospital and was treated and released. No one else was injured.
During the crash, a dog was ejected from the rear of the GMC and is still missing. 
ISP said the dog is a 2-year-old Border Collie Heeler mix that goes by the name "Tilly". Tilly has no tail, a dark-colored face, weighs approximately 70 pounds, and was wearing a multi-colored plaid and tan-colored collar with a name tag containing the owner's contact information.
Tilly was last seen running northwest from the crash scene through the field. 
If you have any information on Tilly's whereabouts, you are asked to call State Police at (208) 209-7830, or the Kootenai County Sheriff Office's Animal Control at (208) 446-1300.

東洋代理疫苗破局羅生門 林全還原真相 - 今周刊

面對多日來的流言蜚語,東洋終於打破沉默,由董事長林全親上火線,解釋授權書「雞生蛋、蛋生雞」難題,並澄清內線交易、炒股等疑慮。

擠滿了人與攝影器材的會議室中,是東洋臨時召開的記者會,地點相同,氣氛卻與一個月前的亢奮截然不同。

 

十月十二日,東洋召開記者會宣布取得BioNTech(簡稱BNT)新冠疫苗有條件授權書,半個月後的十一月三日,東洋宣布授權破局之外,更陷入炒股疑雲。流言滿天飛的情況下,東洋董事長林全終於親上火線解釋。隨著BNT釋出疫苗治癒率達九成的消息曝光,外界也隨之恍然大悟,這正是東洋當初取得代理的同一款疫苗。外界更好奇的是,這支疫苗為何與台灣失之交臂。

 

政府採購量不如預期  東洋居中牽線失敗
 

記者會上林全表示,被質疑炒股,是他最難以接受的事情,自認「深惡痛絕內線交易」,早已在公司落實相關教育及政策,大方表示「歡迎來查」,並趁機說明東洋與德國藥廠BNT新冠疫苗代理背後涉及的政治問題、授權的來龍去脈。

 

記者會開頭,東洋總經理施俊良開宗明義指出,在國際慣例上,疫苗大都是由政府出面採購,各國取得的授權,政府是唯一買家。

 

而這次由東洋出面與BNT接觸,是因為早在今年三月,中國上海復星醫藥已經取得中、港、澳、台的BNT疫苗銷售代理權,也就是說,台灣要取得BNT的這劑疫苗,在沒有取得BNT台灣代理權之前,勢必要向中國醫藥商進行採購。

 

在這層複雜關係之下,林全說,當東洋有機會向BNT拿到台灣市場的獨家授權,就只能跳下來做。

 

事實上,正如十月十二日記者會上東洋所說的,在沒有開放自費疫苗的情形之下,東洋幾乎沒有利潤空間,更不期待能在公費疫苗上有賺頭。

 

對於外界質疑東洋到底有沒有取得授權書,林全形容,就是「雞生蛋、蛋生雞」。施俊良解釋,授權書並不是免費,預付款項是取得授權的商業條件之一,因此東洋取得BNT授權前,須預付大筆授權金;若沒有取得授權書,並確定訂購數量、

 

價格,東洋難以先行支付費用。也因此,東洋只能拿十月取得BNT開立的「有條件授權書」,居中代表BNT對政府商談。

審查、監控與利潤:為做生意,蘋果向中國政府妥協

時報調查發現,蘋果已基本交出貴陽和內蒙古數據中心的控制權,將中國用戶的數據暴露在風險中。該公司還協助監管者進行審查,刪除可能激怒中國的應用程序。
CNES/AIRBUS
蘋果在貴陽數據中心的衛星圖像。

EXCLUSIVE China's Tencent in talks with U.S. to keep gaming investments -sources

Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) is negotiating agreements with a U.S. national security panel that would allow it to keep its ownership stakes in U.S. video game developers Riot Games and Epic Games, according to people familiar with the matter.
Tencent has been in talks with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has the authority to order the Chinese technology giant to divest U.S. holdings, since the second half of last year, the sources said.
CFIUS has been looking in to whether Epic Games' and Riot Games' handling of the personal data of their users constitutes a national security risk because of their Chinese ownership, the sources added.
Tencent owns a 40% stake in Epic Games, the maker of popular video game Fortnite. Tencent also bought a majority stake in Riot Games in 2011 and acquired the rest of the company in 2015. Riot Games is the developer of "League of Legends," one of the world's most popular desktop-based games.
Tencent is negotiating risk-mitigation measures with CFIUS so it can keep its investments, according to the sources. The details of the proposed measures could not be learned. They typically involve ringfencing the owner of a company from operations that have national security implications. They often call for the appointment of independent auditors to monitor the implementation of these agreements.
One of the sources said Epic Games has not been sharing any user data with Tencent.
The sources cautioned there is no certainty that Tencent will clinch deals to keep its investments and asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
A Tencent logo is seen in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu WangTencent, Epic Games and a CFIUS representative at the U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment.
A Riot Games spokesman said the Los Angeles-based company operates independently of Tencent and that it has implemented "industry-leading practices" to protect player data. He declined to comment on Riot Games' discussions with CFIUS.
CFIUS has been cracking down on Chinese ownership of U.S. technology assets in the last few years, amid an escalation in tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade, human rights and the protection of intellectual property. U.S. officials have expressed concerns that the personal data of U.S. citizens could end up in the hands of China's Communist Party government.
President Joe Biden's administration has maintained the hawkish stance against China inherited in January from his predecessor Donald Trump, albeit with more of a focus on geopolitical issues such as the future of Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as China's persecution of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Yet many key CFIUS roles have not yet been staffed. This has provided a reprieve to China's ByteDance, which was ordered by Trump last year to sell its popular short video app TikTok but balked at a transaction that would have involved Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N). CFIUS has not sought to enforce the divestiture order under Biden.
Epic is locked in a legal fight with Apple Inc (AAPL.O) over access to the iPhone maker's app store. It alleges that Apple forces developers to use its in-app payment systems - which charge commissions of up to 30% - and to submit to app-review guidelines that discriminate against products that compete with Apple's own.
Apple argues that Epic Games broke their contract when it introduced its own in-app payment system in Fortnite to circumvent Apple's commissions. It says the way it runs the app store inspires trust in consumers to open up their wallets to unknown developers. read more
Tencent's vast businesses include video games, content streaming, social media, advertising and cloud services. China has in recent months sought to curb the economic and social power of Tencent and other internet companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (9988.HK), in a clampdown backed by President Xi Jinping. Reuters reported last week that Beijing was preparing a substantial antitrust fine for Tencent. read more
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Facebook moderator: ‘Every day was a nightmare’

She said her experience drove her to give evidence: “I just had such a feeling that I needed to do it,” she added in her testimony. “I need to speak for the people that are too afraid, that feel they have too many responsibilities, and they can't afford to take any risks."

拜登的對台政策魯莽而危險

他的做法是在推翻一個40多年來讓美國、台灣和世界獲益的外交假象。美國和台灣越是正式關閉統一的大門,北京就越有可能尋求武力統一。
Illustration by The New York Times; photographs by Al Drago and Tom Brenner for The New York Times, and samxmeg/Getty Images

德语媒体:双赢互惠的德中关系已经成为历史 | DW | 29.04.2021

(德国之声中文网)《南德意志报》发表评论称,如何对待北京是德国政府面临的一个棘手问题,改变北京不可能,但孤立北京也绝不是一个睿智和可行的选项。《南德意志报》外交事务首席记者Stefan Kornelius在题为《德中双赢互惠的时代已经成为过去》的评论写道:
“中国对世界的影响越来越大。中国以惊人的纪律性很快控制住了疫情,从而带来了经济上的优势,而这种优势又提升了中国的发展动力:中国在不断变强变大,中国在大举投资,中国吸引着外来资本,中国在走向现代化,中国在进行发明创造。中国的发展速度令人叹为观止。而中国领导层加强对香港特区政治控制的惊人速度也同样显示出,北京的所作所为都有非常明确的目的。
那么,中国的目的究竟是什么呢? 中国共产党对此并不讳言。德中政府磋商期间,中国总理李克强明确表示:不欢迎外部干涉。中国不允许外界提出批评。中国发出的信号是:你们必须习惯于我们的措辞方式,必须接受我们的少数民族政策。除此之外,你们别无选择。
中国不仅在充分发挥其经济实力所产生的杠杆作用,同时也会将经济杠杆同政治意图结合在一起,以便渐渐打造出一个以中国为样板的世界秩序模式。”
评论指出,中国的战略是,建立起一个以商业利益和政治军事实力为导向的中国式世界秩序,以便同当今的西方模式进行抗衡。评论写道:
“德中政府磋商是以默克尔为首的德国政府试图维持现行秩序以及让中国接受德国或欧盟规范的一种尝试。
但事实却远不是如此乐观:德中之间的依赖关系早已发生了根本性的变化。德国在新疆和香港问题上所表现出的无力也只是表面现象,这种无力早已存在于更深的层面。
受新冠疫情影响,4月28日的德中政府磋商改为视频方式举行。
不应忘记的是,制度之间的抗争是无法回避的。孤立中国,从政治层面上讲,既不可行,也不足取。北京已经撒开了大网。公开抗争已经是唯一,也是最佳的选择:无论是经济、技术、标准规范的层面上,还是在法律执行的层面上,都是如此,即便是军事方面也不例外。德国、欧盟以及整个西方阵营必须要做到更具吸引力、更为优秀,尤其是要更加团结。政府磋商早已成为地缘政治博弈的一个组成部分。”
柏林出版的《日报》也就周三的德中政府磋商发表了评论。评论指出,长期以来,柏林的政治家一直认为,随着经济的发展和中产阶级的壮大,专制政权自然而然地会走向民主。然而,过去几十年来德中关系的发展却显示,中国离民主越来越远,而柏林却变得越来越迎合专制。这篇评论写道:
“欧洲标准并没有得到贯彻,中国的行为方式显然占了上风。在此之前,中国方面就已经叫停了德中人权和法治国家对话。而这个对话本身就是柏林在‘以贸促变’旗帜下一个保全颜面的摆设而已。北京现在干脆不理你这一套。
如果有人认为,采取棱角鲜明的对华政策就能迅速促成北京的改变,显然也是错误的。毕竟人权政策的奏效需要一个滴水穿石的漫长过程。然而,只有坚持自己的原则,守护自己的价值观,才能为自己赢得信誉。而要做到这一点,就不能一味地追求商业利益。机会主义的行为只能改变自身的政策,其必然的结果就是,北京已经越来越不把柏林放在眼里。”
摘译自其它媒体,不代表德国之声观点 
© 2021年 德国之声版权声明:本文所有内容受到著作权法保护,如无德国之声特别授权,不得擅自使用。任何不当行为都将导致追偿,并受到刑事追究。

DNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises Biologists

genomicsDNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises BiologistsBy Christie WilcoxApril 21, 2021
The bizarre genome of the world’s most mysterious flowering plants shows how far parasites will go in stealing, deleting and duplicating DNA.The world’s biggest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, is a parasite that spends much of its life inside its vine hosts. New genomic work suggests that the parasites in this group of plants have lost an astonishing share of their genes.

Maizal

They are invisible at first. In their Southeast Asian forest homes, they grow as thin strands of cells, foreign fibers sometimes more than 10 meters long that weave through the vital tissues of their vine hosts, siphoning nourishment from them. Even under a microscope, the single-file lines of cells are nearly indistinguishable from the vine’s own. They seem more like a fungus than a plant.

But when the drive to breed awakens them, the members of the Rafflesiaceae family erupt as immense, stemless, rubbery red “corpse flowers” covered in polka dots, with a putrid smell like rotting meat designed to draw pollinating carrion flies. The blooms of one species, Rafflesia arnoldii, are the largest flowers in the world — each one can be more than a meter across and weigh a whopping 10 kilograms, roughly the heft of a toddler.

More than a decade ago, Rafflesiaceae parasites caught the eye of Jeanmaire Molina, an evolutionary plant biologist at Long Island University in Brooklyn, who wondered if their genomes were as bizarre as their outward forms. Her initial investigations suggested they were. As she and her colleagues described it in a 2014 paper in Molecular Biology and Evolution, they successfully assembled the mitochondrial DNA from one Philippines species of Rafflesia. But they were unable to detect any functional genes from its chloroplasts. The plants seemed to have simply ditched their entire chloroplast genome.

That was almost unthinkable. Chloroplasts are best known for using light to make food, but like all the food-making organelles called plastids, they contain genes that are involved in many key cellular processes. Even malaria parasites still carry a plastid genome, Molina noted, and their last photosynthetic ancestor lived hundreds of millions of years ago.

Recent research compiled the first draft nuclear genome of a Rafflesiaceae parasite, Sapria himalayana.

phichak

This shocking finding has now been confirmed by an independent research team from Harvard University. The draft genome for another member of the Rafflesiaceae family that they recently published in Current Biology is full of surprises, showing how far parasites can go in shedding superfluous genes and acquiring useful new ones from their hosts. It also deepens mysteries about the role of highly mobile genetic elements that don’t encode proteins in enabling evolutionary changes. Perhaps the greatest lesson of the study is how much we still have to learn about genomics, particularly in plants, and in parasites — a category of organisms that includes more than 40% of all known species.

Losing to Win
Like Molina, Charles Davis, a professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University and the curator of vascular plants in the Harvard University Herbaria, was drawn into studying the Rafflesiaceae because they are the most “charismatic and enigmatic of all the quarter-million species of flowering plants,” he said.

He has been trying to reveal their many secrets for nearly 15 years, but a nuclear genome sequence always proved elusive. Finally, his doctoral student Liming Cai (now a postdoctoral researcher in systematic biology at the University of California, Riverside) stepped up to spearhead the project, and with the help of the university’s informatics group and its director of bioinformatics, Timothy Sackton, the team was finally able to put together a draft genome for Sapria himalayana, a species with blooms the size of a human head.

Sapria’s genome follows several trends seen in many other parasitic plants (and in parasites more generally). Like them, Sapria has done away with many genes considered essential to its free-living relatives. Because parasites steal from their hosts, they essentially outsource the labor of metabolism, so they don’t need all the moving biochemical parts of an independent plant cell.

Still, Davis was shocked to see that nearly half of the genes widely conserved across plant lineages had disappeared from Sapria. That’s more than twice as many genes as are lost from the parasitic plants called dodders (genus Cuscuta), and four times the losses in cereal-killing witchweeds (genus Striga). “We knew that there would be loss,” he said, “but we didn’t think it would be on the order of 44% of its genes.”

Samuel Velasco/Quanta Magazine; Source: DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.12.045; Photos: Aneth David (SLU) (Striga); Tyrrhium (Cuscuta); Rohit Naniwadekar  (Sapria)

And that’s in addition to the stunning deletion of the whole plastid genome that Molina’s work on Rafflesia had suggested. The only other organisms known to have jettisoned that genome are single-celled algae in the genus Polytomella, which gave up photosynthesis in favor of absorbing sustenance from the waters around them.

Molina said she found the confirmation of her team’s finding “comforting,” but also confusing, because Rafflesia still seem to make their plastid compartments. “When we did electron microscopy studies, we found plastids,” she said, “so it’s just quite bizarre that the plastids are empty.”

Sapria also seems to have cut other genetic corners. The plants have deleted the noncoding stretches of DNA within many genes. These regions, called introns, are interspersed among the parts of genes that code for the actual protein that is produced.

It might sound as though Sapria and its kin have simply made their genomes smaller and more efficient. But paradoxically, Sapria’s genome is big: an estimated 3.2 to 3.5 gigabases of DNA in total, roughly the same size as ours. What is filling up its genome?

A Life of Theft
For starters, it’s loaded with stolen genes. Davis’ team estimated that at least 1.2% of the plant’s genes came from other species, particularly its hosts, past and present. That might not sound impressive, but this kind of horizontal gene transfer is considered exceptionally rare outside of bacteria. So even a single percent of genes arising this way raises eyebrows.

Because these parasites have been stealing genes for millennia, Cai noted, their genome is like “a huge graveyard of DNA.” By carefully digging through that graveyard and comparing its contents to the genomes of 10 types of vines that seemed like potential hosts, Cai and her colleagues were able to peer back in time. “These horizontally transferred genes are serving as DNA fossils,” she said.

From these fossils, they unearthed “an extinct host-parasite association that dates back to maybe the mid-Cretaceous,” she said. Today, the roughly four dozen known species of Rafflesiaceae all infest vines from a single genus, Tetrastigma. But long before the parasites infested Tetrastigma, they seem to have infested and stolen from peppervines (genus Ampelopsis). This kind of ecological history is all but impossible to deduce from stony fossils: The parasite’s flowers don’t last long, and the thin, threadlike remains of its vegetative body are unlikely to fossilize.

Evolution on Repeat
Yet stolen genes represent only a paltry fraction of Sapria’s huge genome. The vast majority of it consists of copies of DNA sequences called transposable elements (also known as transposons or “jumping genes”). “The genome of this plant is something like 90% repeat elements,” said Sackton.

That high level of repetition is in fact why Davis struggled so long to assemble a draft genome for Sapria. Until about the past decade, genome sequencing technologies were easily stymied by DNA with too many indistinguishable, repetitive sequences. “It’s like trying to do a puzzle of a completely clear blue sky where every piece is exactly the same shape,” Sackton said. “There’s just no way to do it.”

Samuel Velasco/Quanta Magazine; Source: DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.12.045

But Cai and colleagues were able to take advantage of current sequencing technologies, which can handle much longer (and therefore more distinctive) stretches of DNA. Even so, they were only able to reconstruct what they estimate is 40% of the Sapria genome — the rest was still too repetitive.

This abundance of transposable elements is striking, says Saima Shahid, a plant biologist with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, who studies the functions of transposable elements in plants. It’s about twice what is seen in dodders. And in the other plant parasites sequenced to date, the dominant elements are “retrotransposons,” which move within the genome by first being transcribed into RNA. Sapria, however, is mostly filled with DNA transposons that repeatedly copy and paste themselves into the genome directly. “That’s somethi

大陸連鎖火鍋店海底撈溫哥華分店的攝像鏡頭引發驚恐

印度媒體《周日衛報》(The Sunday Guardian)報道,大陸連鎖火鍋店海底撈在加拿大溫哥華的店內裝設60多個攝像鏡頭,用來拍攝員工的工作情況和用餐的客人,其影像資料可能還會傳回中國總公司。而台灣也因發現了布滿監視器的海底撈店而引發驚恐的消息。

加拿大海底撈公司尚未回應記者查詢,但印度媒體從海底撈溫哥華分店的一名潘姓經理方面得到的解釋仍令人感到不安。這名潘姓經理提到,總公司要求依照中國“社會信用體系“(Social Credit System)的規定,在該分店安裝逾60個攝像鏡頭。該店設有30張桌子,每張桌子約有兩個鏡頭。
當被問及為何海底撈會要求安裝這麼多鏡頭時,潘經理表示,這些攝影機除了用來查看員工有否遵守公司準則工作外,還可用於“追蹤特定人士“。有關影片還會傳送回中國,但該名潘姓經理拒絕說明理由,僅透露是 ”秘密“。
海底撈從2018年登陸加拿大,如今在大多倫多和大溫哥華地區已開設至少四家分店。不顧疫情影響,印度記者走訪溫哥華的海底撈餐廳,發現攝像頭的確無處不在。有的店經理解釋這是為了確保員工和顧客發生糾紛時能有相關證據,從未提過資料會送回中國。
事實尚未弄清,但消息已經傳到台灣引發恐慌。有當地記者探詢發現:台灣的海底撈餐廳也布滿不明用途的監視器。台灣立委陳亭妃21日表示,海底撈必須說清楚,監視器影像到底傳到哪裡?而相關單位也應立即查辦中國天網系統是否在台灣複製、個資是否因此全都暴露。中國是威權政治,天網系統如果在台灣被複製,吃一頓飯不只是讓大家感受壓力十足,甚至因此個資全都暴露,相信大家也會無法接受,相關單位一定要立即查辦。
天網系統是中共利用人臉識別、大數據、人工智慧等技術建構以及結合社會信用體系,透過監視器監控人民、打壓異己,新疆維吾爾族深受其害。