The Daily Visionary: Monday, December 17, 2018

Europe is dropping Huawei amid growing security concerns


For months, the United States (U.S.) has been pushing governments to block Huawei Technologies Co. from telecom networks with the concern that China’s government could use Huawei’s equipment for spying. Espionage concerns with Huawei, run by a former military engineer, are not new but the company has always maintained that it’s independent and doesn’t give the government access to its equipment. European officials and companies were initially slow to act on the U.S. warnings but are now increasingly distancing themselves publicly from Huawei.


CEO of telecom consultant Northstream Bengt Nordstrom said the continent’s biggest carriers will now be “extra cautious” of buying equipment from Huawei and “It’s been a week of negative announcements and indications from the biggest markets in Europe -- the U.K., Germany and France.” Telecom, media, and technology analyst at Mirabaud Securities Ltd. Neil Campling said, “Reputational damage for Huawei will be significant whatever the outcome. It seems likely that Huawei will lose significant share in the next three years.”


The development of 5G, which will boost speeds and reduce the latency of connections to bring online a wave of new gadgets, from devices in cars to manufacturing facilities, has security and government officials worried that networks carrying sensitive data will be at greater risk of hacking.


We recognize the concerns about security with the introduction of new 5G networks, and those are concerns we share,” said Vincent Pang, the president of Huawei Western Europe, in a statement. “We think the answer lies in global cooperation and collaboration to ensure that networks are as secure as possible.”


As a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, the United Kingdom (U.K.) was the first major market in Europe to publicly raise doubts about the security of Huawei’s equipment in the run-up to 5G. The head of Britain’s spy agency MI6 said last week that the government needs to decide whether to allow Huawei as a 5G supplier. BT Group Plc pledged to rip out some of the company’s equipment.


France is pushing for significantly tighter regulation and has safeguards in place for critical parts of its telecom networks. The country is now considering adding items to its ‘high-alert’ list that tacitly targets Huawei and France’s National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (Anssi) is demanding full access to potential suppliers’ technology. Huawei hasn’t submitted its equipment for vetting to become certified for critical components, and Orange SA said it won’t use Huawei gear to build fifth-generation wireless networks.


In Germany, officials have become uncomfortable with Huawei’s participation in 5G and have been reviewing the issue. Last week Deutsche Telekom AG raised the prospect of dropping Huawei, followed by the Norwegian government saying they are weighing concerns with using suppliers from countries with which there’s no security policy cooperation, an explicit reference to China.


The developments in Europe come after bans of Huawei equipment in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. and follow the arrest of its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou, the 46-year-old daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei.  Ms. Meng is accused by the U.S. of defrauding banks to mask violations of sanctions on sales to Iran, and after being arrest in Vancouver last week was granted bail by a Canadian court and she now awaits a possible extradition to the U.S.


Neuroscience shows gratitude makes us healthier and happier


Recent studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health and moods. As Drs. Blaire and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center, "a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits."


In one study on gratitude, conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, randomly assigned participants were given one of three tasks. Each week, participants kept a short journal. One group briefly described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another five recorded daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.


In a later study by Dr. Emmons, people were asked to write every day about things for which they were grateful. This daily practice led to greater increases in gratitude than did the weekly journaling in the first study. The results also showed another benefit, where the participants in the gratitude group reported offering others more emotional support or help with a personal problem, indicating that the gratitude exercise increased their goodwill towards others, or more technically, their "pro-social" motivation.


Several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude. It seems that the more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are. Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, found that clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.


Another study on gratitude was conducted with adults having congenital and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), with the majority having post-polio syndrome (PPS). Compared to those who were not jotting down their gratitude nightly, participants in the gratitude group reported more hours of sleep each night and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. The gratitude group also reported more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt considerably more connected with others than did participants in the control group.


The positive changes were markedly noticeable to others; according to the researchers, "Spouses of the participants in the gratitude (group) reported that the participants appeared to have higher subjective well-being than did the spouses of the participants in the control (group)." Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for two decades, and states that the conclusion of the research is that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it is likely the marriage will end. With 90 percent accuracy, Gottman says he can predict, often after only three minutes of observation, which marriages are likely to flourish, and which are likely to end, based on a formula that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude).


Photo Credit: Francois Lenoir, Reuters

Photo Credit: Francois Lenoir, Reuters

Thousands march in Brussels to protest the U.N. global migration compact


Police estimate more than 5,500 people marched in Brussels this Sunday against the United Nations (U.N.) Global Migration Compact, which the Belgian government signed, leading to its defeat last week. Demonstrators held banners declaring "Our people first" and "We have had enough, close the borders" outside the European Union headquarters in Brussels.


The protest was organised by Flemish right-wing parties and had initially been banned, but the ban was overturned this weekend by Belgium's high court, which cited the right to protest.


The N-VA, the biggest party in Belgian parliament, pulled their ministers from the ruling coalition last week after Prime Minister Charles Michel refused its demand that he not sign the migration compact in Morocco. PM Michel had secured a large parliamentary majority in favour of maintaining Belgium’s support of the pact, with support from the opposition socialists and greens. Belgium will hold federal elections in May, leaving PM Michel with a minority government until then.


Canada unearths the largest diamond ever found in North America


A 552-carat yellow diamond was found at the Diavik mine in the Northwest Territories, Canada and is nearly three times the size of the next largest stone ever found in Canada. Diavik and the neighbouring Ekati mine are known to produce some very high-quality diamonds, though not normally the size of those found in southern African mines.


The discovery is the seventh-biggest this century and among the thirty largest stones ever unearthed. The biggest was the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. It was cut into several polished gems, the two largest of which (the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa) are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain.


Yellow diamonds typically sell at a discount to Type IIa top white diamonds, often found in the best African mines, but can still sell for a premium. Dominion Chief Executive Officer Shane Durgin said the diamond is gem quality, meaning it’s suitable for jewelry, but regarding its could not determine an estimate. Mr. Durgin said it was somewhat of a “miracle” that the stone survived the mining process, as “It’s very unusual for a diamond of this size in this part of the world. So, it’s a very unique discovery.


Diamond mining in this area of Canada’s sub-arctic is incredibly difficult because there are no permanent roads, meaning the only access is by air or, for a few months a year, ice roads that have to be rebuilt each winter. The diamond market has also been under pressure, especially for smaller and lower quality stones and there’s currently an oversupply of such diamonds. A weaker Indian rupee has put pressure on manufacturers in the country, where 90 percent of gems are cut and polished. Major cutting centres have also been squeezed by low margins and a drop in trade finance.


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Georgia's new pro-Western president seeks unity after vote protests


Salome Zurabishvili, the French-born daughter of Georgian émigrés, has become Georgia’s first female President and fifth President. At her inauguration on Sunday at an 18th century palace in the eastern town of Telavi, President Zurabishvili vowed to reconcile political divisions and deepen ties with NATO and Europe. President Zurabishvili was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party and won 60 percent of votes in last month’s runoff election, which the opposition called rigged and international observers said was marred by unfair use of state resources. The Georgian Dream party was founded by billionaire banker Bidzina Ivanishvili whom critics say rules the nation from behind the scenes.


The Prime Minister and government wield most executive power, so the Presidency is largely ceremonial but remains the international face of the country. “I know different parties have different opinions about recognizing me as President, but I take responsibility to be President for all Georgians,” she said in her speech, as Georgia seeks better relations with the West to counter Russia’s influence, “The new constitution of Georgia reflects the will of the Georgian people regarding Georgia’s unhindered movement towards the European Union and NATO. With the assistance of our strategic partner the United States and European friends, I will contribute to this process.


Having worked in France’s diplomatic service before becoming Georgia’s foreign minister from 2004-2005, President Zurabishvili said she would use that experience to promote her nation’s aspirations to join the EU bloc and NATO transatlantic military alliance. She criticized Russia’s occupation of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying, “Russia, as a neighbor in the Caucasus, must realize that if it wants to be a full-fledged member of the international community, and intends to restore normal relations in this region, it must prove, both in words and fact, that it recognizes all norms of international law.”

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