p27_Layout 1 - Kuwait Times

Japan turns to ‘I am Kenji’ Facebook page
TOKYO: The plight of freelance journalist Kenji Goto,
taken captive by Islamic State group militants, has
gripped Japan, and the people’s hopes for his safety
are now on Facebook with a simple, unifying plea: “I
am Kenji.” The video, posted online last week, showing Goto and another Japanese hostage, has dominated mainstream media here, a relatively crimefree nation unaccustomed to such violence.
But as government officials made stately pronouncements on TV news, regular people were taking action of their own - online, with some rallying
to Goto’s support and others mocking the terrorists
with images - in a quiet but massive show of defiance.
“We want Kenji to come home,” said Taku
Nishimae, a Japanese filmmaker living in New York,
who started the “I am Kenji” Facebook page, right
after seeing last week’s video threatening the
hostages’ lives. The page, with thousands of “likes,”
asks people to post self-portraits and other photos
with a sign that says: “I am Kenji.”
It’s a reference to the “Je Suis Charlie,” or “I Am
Charlie,” slogan showing solidarity with Charlie
Hebdo, the Paris weekly newspaper where 12 people were killed in a terrorist attack earlier this month.
“Let’s show that we’re united, and tell that it’s
unjust to kill innocent citizens and it’s meaningless
to turn entire nation against you,” the Facebook
page says in English and Japanese.
Nishimae, 52, stressed the page is not about taking political sides, or even about freedom of the
press, but a more general human statement, like a
desperate prayer.
About a thousand people have posted photos,
some of them portraits holding handwritten messages, some identifying themselves as Muslim, but
all with the same message.
The slogan has taken off. “I am Kenji” was among
the signs held up at a demonstration of about 1,000
people outside the prime minister’s office over the
weekend, demanding the government do more to
save the hostages.
“It’s great people are getting inspired,” said
Nishimae, who has known Goto, 47, for 12 years and
has worked with him on documentary movies. “Even
now, I can’t believe it. But it is Kenji. It feels so unre-
al.” They had hit it off right away, he recalled. Goto
devoted his life to telling the stories of refugees and
children in war zones, and had worked with UNICEF.
Robert Campbell, an American professor of
Japanese literature at the University of Tokyo, did
not know Goto personally and posted his “I am
Kenji” photo out of impulse. But he wanted more
people to know Goto’s work and added a translation
he did into English of Goto’s blog on the suffering of
the people of Syria, which starts: “Why did they have
to die?”
“It’s a small act that we can all do. It is important,”
Campbell, 57, said. “You feel connected to other
people. That’s all very good.”
Campbell, a 30-year resident of Japan, said he
sensed a change from the stereotype of Japanese
being standoffish, afraid to speak up and preoccupied with appearances. And “I am Kenji” highlights
that change, he said, with more Japanese “putting
down their apprehension of being judged.”
Another video over the weekend appeared to
show hostage Haruna Yukawa had been killed and
demanded a prisoner exchange for Goto. That video
had not been verified, but Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe has said it is likely credible.
A stream of doctored images from the first video
have appeared on Japanese Twitter, including
cutesy manga-like figures juxtaposed on top of the
images of the two kneeling hostages as well as the
masked man standing in the middle.
Nobuyuki Hayashi, a consultant and technology
journalist, who knew Goto in junior high school,
says he finds Twitter chatter disturbing, because of
the anonymity that allows people to voice irresponsible and sometimes hurtful views.
“We needed to avoid these Japanese netizens
cloaked under anonymity to make any constructive
discussion,” Hayashi said.
Many Japanese are worried for Goto, but don’t
know what to do and feel frustrated, he said. The
Facebook page allowed them to do something.
They can also see the concerns of others around the
world. “And that is encouraging,” Hayashi said. “And
we can all hope that, when Kenji returns to Japan
sometime soon, he would be happy to see so many
people supporting him.” — AP
The drone debate hits close
to home for White House
WASHINGTON: The drone-control debate has
hit uncomfortably close to home for the White
House, thanks to an apparently hapless operator who sent his quadcopter crashing inside
the presidential compound. Questions persist
about why the night-owl drone operator
would be flying it within range of the White
House at 3 a.m. but the Secret Service’s early
investigation suggested he meant no harm.
Even so, the crash inside the compound
Monday pointed to the risk of increasingly
commonplace drones penetrating the presidential security bubble, with more dangerous
intent. And it highlighted the challenge of setting controls on this expanding frontier.
President Barack Obama and his wife,
Michelle, were overseas when the quadcopter a two-foot-long craft with four propellers struck the southeast side of the grounds.
Officials believed the intrusion to be the first of
its kind on the highly fortified property,
although not the first in the vicinity.
Authorities locked down the White House
for several hours in a vigorous emergency
response, only to have the unidentified man
step forward to own up to a big mistake.
The episode unfolded with the Obama
administration on the verge of proposing rules
for drone operations that would replace an
existing ban on most commercial flights. Only a
small number of companies can use them for
inspections and aerial photography.
Hobbyists can fly them, but must keep
them under 400 feet in altitude, 5 miles from an
airport, always within sight and not within a
highly populated area. The drone operator
clearly violated the rules, and in a zone designated as protected air space around the White
House. Monday’s episode “complicates the
administration’s messaging that commercial
drones can be introduced smoothly without
concern over safety, security and privacy,” said
Kenneth Quinn, a former Federal Aviation
Administration general counsel. The FAA has
estimated 7,500 commercial drones will be in
the skies within five years of the coming regulations taking effect.
That does not count the increasingly inexpensive consumer drones that were a hit for
Christmas, far more sophisticated than the
remote-controlled toy and hobby airplanes out
for decades. Whether a quadcopter can carry
and fire a weapon depends upon how robust
the drone is and how lightweight the weapon.
Most commercially manufactured quadcopters
are small, weighing 2 to 5 pounds and measuring 1 to 3 feet in length.
Paul McDuffee, vice president at dronemaker Insitu, said of the one that crashed:
“Something of that size is going to be very limited in terms of what it can carry, probably
down to a few ounces in payload.” Even so, a
small drone at low altitude is hard to intercept.
“There’s probably nothing they have that
could stop it, particularly at night,” said James
Lewis of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies. “The sniper would be
shooting at the drone and his bullets would be
going past it into the buildings on Connecticut
Avenue. If it’s a crisis or emergency, sure, that
makes sense, but what goes up comes down,
and that includes bullets.”
The Federal Aviation Administration
receives reports across the country nearly every
day of drones operating near manned aircraft
and airports or over densely populated areas,
including multiple times near the White House.
In one, police arrested a man in August
who got stuck in a tree at Freedom Plaza,
several blocks from the White House, after
he climbed to retrieve his drone, according
to a compilation of recent incidents by the
FAA. In July, a Secret Service patrol detained
someone flying a quadcopter drone in
President’s Park, not far from the White
House grounds, and confiscated it. — -AP
NEW YORK: This April 9, 2012, file photo shows Instagram being demonstrated on an iPhone in New York. Social media websites Facebook and
Instagram have stopped working yesterday. The problem is affecting users in Australia but also in other countries including the United States. —AP
Facebook takes blame
for service outages
FRANKFURT: Access to Facebook, the world’s
largest social network, and its Instagram photosharing site, was blocked around the world for
up to an hour yesterday, which the company
said later was due to an internal fault and not an
outside attack.
The outage at Facebook, which started
around 0600 GMT, appeared to spill over and
temporarily slow or block traffic to other major
Internet sites, according to web and mobile user
reports from around the globe.
US-based online match-making site Tinder, a
unit of IAC/InterActive Corp, and Hipchat, the
workplace instant- messaging ser vice of
Australian enterprise software company
Atlassian, were also down around the same period, but recovered.
A hacker group associated with other recent
high-profile attacks on other online services
sought to claim responsibility for the outages,
but Facebook said the fault was its own.
“This was not the result of a third-party attack
but instead occurred after we introduced a
change that affected our configuration systems,”
WASHINGTON: This handout photo provided by the US Secret Service shows the
drone that crashed onto the White House grounds in Washington, Monday, Jan.
26, 2015. A small drone flying low to the ground crashed onto the White House
grounds before dawn, triggering a major emergency response and raising fresh
questions about security at the presidential mansion. — AP
Apple supplier Foxconn
to shrink workforce
SHENZHEN: Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology
Group, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, will cut its massive
workforce, the company told Reuters, as
the Apple Inc supplier faces declining revenue growth and rising wages in China.
Under its flagship unit Hon Hai Precision
Industr y Co Ltd , the group currently
employs about 1.3 million people during
peak production times, making it one of
the largest private employers in the world.
Special assistant to the chairman and
group spokesman Louis Woo did not specify a timeframe or target for the reduction,
but noted that labour costs had more than
doubled since 2010, when the company
faced intense media scrutiny following a
spate of worker suicides.
“We’ve basically stabilised (our workforce) in the last three years,” Woo said.
When asked if the company plans to
reduce overall headcount, he responded
Revenue growth at the conglomerate
tumbled to 1.3 percent in 2013 and only
partially recovered to 6.5 percent last year
after a long string of double-digit increases
from 2003 to 2012.
That decade saw the firm ride an explosion of popularity in PCs, smartphones and
tablets, largely driven by its main client
Apple, but now it is feeling the effects of
falling growth and prices in the gadget
markets it supplies, a trend that is expected
to continue.
Growth in smartphone sales will halve
this year from 26 percent in 2014, according to researcher IDC, while PC sales will
contract by 3 percent.
Similarly, the average smartphone will
sell for 19 percent less in 2018 than last
year’s $297. “Even if technology is improving, the price will still come down,” Woo
said. “We’ve come to accept that, our customers have come to accept that.”
Automation will be key to keeping labor
costs under control in the long-term, Woo
said, as the company pushes to have robotic arms complete mundane tasks currently
done by workers.
But Woo noted that company chairman
Terry Gou’s previously stated goal of 1 million robots was “a generic concept” rather
than a firm target. — Reuters
Facebook said. “Both services are back to 100
percent for everyone.” Users in the United States
and many countries in Asia and Europe reported
that they were unable to log on to the websites
of Facebook, Instagram and corresponding
mobile apps including Facebook and Facebook
During the outages, Facebook users were
greeted with the message: “Sorry, something
went wrong. We’re working on it and we’ll get it
fixed as soon as we can.”
“If you run a service with the capacity (and
complexity) to deliver media for hundreds of
millions of users, it’s inevitable that things don’t
always go according to plan,” said Steve
Santorelli, a former London police detective and
now a researcher at U.S. threat intelligence firm
Team Cymru.
Facebook counted more than 1.35 billion
web and 1.12 mobile phone users on a monthly
basis in September, the latest date for which official figures are available.
Earlier yesterday a Twitter account that purports to speak for hacker group “Lizard Squad”
posted messages suggesting that it was behind
an attack that temporarily blocked several major
web sites, including Facebook and Instagram.
The Lizard Squad is a group of unknown
hackers that has taken credit for several highprofile outages, including the attacks that took
down the Sony PlayStation Network and
Microsoft’s Xbox Live network last month.
Santorelli said that attacking Internet sites
which operate at the size and scale of Facebook
via a classic distributed denial of service attack
would be a huge undertaking, which, while not
entirely impossible, would be “monumentally
hard.” Denial of service attacks direct thousands
of infected computers under an attacker’s control to ping a site or sites, thereby slowing or
blocking access for regular users.
Such attacks can create congestion on
branches of the Internet where the site is located, slowing Web traffic and affecting access to
unrelated services. As a precaution, Facebook
users are advised to change their passwords
and review their privacy settings, Santorelli
said. — Reuters
Call to disable popular
police-tracking app
WASHINGTON: Law enforcement is concerned
that the popular Waze mobile traffic app by
Google Inc., which provides real-time road conditions, can also be used to hunt and harm police.
Waze is a combination of GPS navigation and
social networking. Fifty million users in 200 countries turn to the free service for warnings about
nearby congestion, car accidents, speed traps,
traffic cameras, construction zones, potholes,
stalled vehicles or unsafe weather conditions.
Waze users mark police - who are generally
working in public spaces - on maps without
much distinction other than “visible” or “hidden.”
Users see a police icon, but it’s not immediately
clear whether police are there for a speed trap, a
sobriety check or a lunch break.
To some in law enforcement, this feature
amounts to a stalking app for people who want
to harm police. They want Google to disable that
The growing concern is the latest twist in
Google’s complicated relationship with government and law enforcement. It places the Internet
giant, again, at the center of an ongoing global
debate about public safety, consumer rights and
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck complained in a letter to Google’s chief executive on
Dec. 30 that Waze could be “misused by those
with criminal intent to endanger police officers
and the community.”
The Los Angeles Police Department said
Monday it had not heard back from Google about
whether it had addressed Beck’s concerns.
Google purchased Waze for $966 million in 2013.
There are no known connections between any
attack on police and Waze, although Beck said
Waze was used in the killing of two New York
Police Department officers on Dec. 20. The
Instagram account of the gunman in that case
included a screenshot from Waze along with other messages threatening police. Investigators do
not believe the shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, used
Waze to ambush the NYPD officers, in part
because police say Brinsley tossed his cellphone
more than two miles from where he shot the officers. In his letter to Google, Beck said that Brinsley
had been using the Waze app to track police since
early December.
“I am confident your company did not intend
the Waze app to be a means to allow those who
wish to commit crimes to use the unwitting Waze
community as their lookouts for the location of
police officers,” Beck wrote.
Some officers, like Sheriff Mike Brown of
Bedford County, Virginia, think it’s only a matter of
time before Waze is used to hunt and harm
“The police community needs to coordinate
an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the
responsible corporate citizen they have always
been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action,”
said Brown, who raised the issue at a National
Sheriffs’ Association meeting in Washington
January 23. — AP
WASHINGTON: This image taken from the the Waze
app on an iPhone, shows police at the scene on a map
on the app. Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure
Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. — AP