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Method identified to double computer processing speeds

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Imagine doubling the processing power of your smartphone, tablet, personal computer, or server using the existing hardware already in these devices.

Hung-Wei Tseng, a UC Riverside associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, has laid out a paradigm shift in computer architecture to do just that in a recent paper titled, “Simultaneous and Heterogeneous Multithreading.”

Tseng explained that today’s computer devices increasingly have graphics processing units (GPUs), hardware accelerators for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), or digital signal processing units as essential components. These components process information separately, moving information from one processing unit to the next, which in effect creates a bottleneck.

In their paper, Tseng and UCR computer science graduate student Kuan-Chieh Hsu introduce what they call “simultaneous and heterogeneous multithreading” or SHMT. They describe their development of a proposed SHMT framework on an embedded system platform that simultaneously uses a multi-core ARM processor, an NVIDIA GPU, and a Tensor Processing Unit hardware accelerator.

The system achieved a 1.96 times speedup and a 51% reduction in energy consumption.

“You don’t have to add new processors because you already have them,” Tseng said.

The implications are huge.

Simultaneous use of existing processing components could reduce computer hardware costs while also reducing carbon emissions from the energy produced to keep servers running in warehouse-size data processing centers. It also could reduce the need for scarce freshwater used to keep servers cool.

Tseng’s paper, however, cautions that further investigation is needed to answer several questions about system implementation, hardware support, code optimization, and what kind of applications stand to benefit the most, among other issues.

The paper was presented at the 56th Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture held in October in Toronto, Canada. The paper garnered recognition from Tseng’s professional peers in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, who selected it as one of 12 papers included in the group’s “Top Picks from the Computer Architecture Conferences” issue to be published this coming summer.



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Physicists discover a quantum state with a new type of emergent particles: Six-flux composite fermions

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If the fractional quantum Hall regime were a series of highways, these highways would have either two or four lanes. The flow of the two-flux or four-flux composite fermions, like automobiles in this two- to four-flux composite fermion traffic scenario, naturally explain the more than 90 fractional quantum Hall states that form in a large variety of host materials. Physicists at Purdue University have recently discovered, though, that fractional quantum Hall regimes are not limited to two-flux or four-flux and have discovered the existence of a new type of emergent particle, which they are calling six-flux composite fermion. They have recently published their groundbreaking findings in Nature Communications.

Gabor Csathy, professor and head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Purdue University College of Science, along with PhD students Haoyun Huang, Waseem Hussain, and recent PhD graduate Sean Myers, led this discovery from the West Lafayette campus of Purdue. Csathy credits lead author Huang as having conceived, led the measurements and writing a large part of the manuscript. All the ultra-low-temperature measurements were completed in Csathy’s Physics Building lab. In his lab they conduct research on strongly correlated electron physics, sometimes referred to as topological electron physics.

Weak interactions of electrons are well established, and the behavior is quite predictable. When electrons interact weakly, the electron is commonly considered the natural building block of the entire system. But when the electrons interact strongly, interpreting the systemic behavior by thinking of individual electrons becomes nearly impossible.

“This occurs in very few instances, like in the fractional quantum Hall regime which we study, for example,” says Csathy. “To explain fractional quantum Hall states, the composite fermion, a very intuitive fundamental building block, comes in different flavors. They can account for a whole subset of the fractional quantum Hall states. But all the fully developed, (i.e topologically protected), fractional quantum Hall states could be accounted for by only two types of composite fermions: the two-flux and four-flux composite fermions. Here we reported a new fractional quantum Hall state that cannot be explained by any of these previous ideas! Instead, we need to invoke the existence of a new type of emergent particle, the so-called six-flux composite fermions. The discovery of new fractional quantum Hall states is scarce enough. However, the discovery of a new emergent particle in condensed matter physics is truly rare and amazing.”

For now, these ideas will be used to expand our understanding of the ordering of the known fractional quantum Hall states into a “periodic table.” It is especially notable to this process that the emergent composite fermion particle is unique in that the electron captures six quantized magnetic flux quanta, forming the most intricate composite fermion known to date.

“The numerology of this complicated physics puzzle requires quite some patience,” says Haoyun Huang, Csathy’s PhD student. “Take the nu=2/3 fractional state as an example. Since 2/3=2/(2*2-1), the nu=2/3 state belongs to the two-flux family. Similarly, for the nu=2/7 fractional state, 2/7=2/(2*4-1), so this state belongs to the four-flux family. In contrast, the fractional states we discovered closely relate to 2/11=2/(2*6-1). Before our work, no fully quantized fractional quantum Hall state was seen that could be associated with six-flux composite fermions. The situation was completely different on the theory front: The existence of these kinds of composite fermions was predicted by Jainendra Jain in his highly influential theory of composite fermions published in 1989. The associated quantization was not observed during these 34 years.”

The material used in this study was grown by a Princeton University team led by Loren Pfeiffer. The GaAs semiconductor electrical quality played a huge role in the success of this research. According to Csathy, this Princeton group is leading the world in growing the highest quality GaAs-based materials.

“The GaAs they grow is very special, as the number of imperfections is astonishingly low,” he says. “The combination of low disorder and the ultra-low-temperature measurement expertise in the Csathy lab made this project possible. One reason we were measuring these samples is that very recently the Princeton group has significantly improved the quality of the GaAs semiconductor, as measured by the tiny amounts of defects present. These improved samples will, for sure, continue to constitute a playground for new physics.”

This exciting discovery is part of ongoing research by Csathy’s team. The team continues to push the limits of discovery in their persistent pursuit of topological electron physics.

Low-temperature measurements in Csathy’s lab were supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences program, under Award No. DE-SC0006671. Sample growth efforts of the Princeton team were supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Grant No. GBMF 4420 and the National Science Foundation MRSEC Grant No. DMR-1420541.



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Whale song mystery solved by scientists

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Scientists deduce how whales sing under the sea, and why they can be drowned out by noisy ships.



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A weapons stockpile and asymmetric warfare: how Taiwan could thwart an invasion by China – with America’s help

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Taipei, Taiwan
CNN
 — 

When Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen defied warnings from China to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California earlier this month, Beijing’s aggressive military response reverberated around the world.

In actions that only fueled fears that communist-ruled China may be preparing to invade its democratically ruled neighbor, the People’s Liberation Army simulated a blockade of the island, sending an aircraft carrier and 12 naval ships to encircle it, and flying over a hundred warplanes into its air defense identification zone during a three-day military drill.

A Chinese warship fires towards the shore during a military drill near Fuzhou near the Taiwan controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023.

China’s ruling Communist Party, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory despite never having controlled it, described the drills as “joint precision strikes” that should serve as a “serious warning against the Taiwan separatist forces.”

The message, in Taipei’s mind, seemed clear. China appeared “to be trying to get ready to launch a war against Taiwan,” the island’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

That blunt assessment will likely have raised doubts in some quarters over whether the island’s military preparations for such a scenario are sufficient.

Taipei recently – and very publicly – announced an extension to mandatory military service periods from four months to a year and accelerated the development of its indigenous weapons program to boost its combat readiness.

But analysts say a recent announcement – one that has perhaps gone less remarked upon in the global media – could prove a game-changer: talks between Taipei and the United States to establish a “contingency stockpile” of munitions on Taiwan’s soil.

In remarks that were not widely picked up at the time, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told Taiwan’s parliament in March that Taipei was in discussions with the US over a potential plan to set up a war reserve stock on the island – a measure made possible by a provision in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by US President Joe Biden last December.

And while Taiwan has long been a purchaser of weapons from the US, military experts say the creation of such a stockpile could be vital to the island’s defense because – as China’s recently simulated blockade showed – it could be incredibly difficult to supply the island with additional weapons if war does break out.

Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan has no land borders so any supplies would have to go in by air or sea – delivery methods that would be highly vulnerable to interceptions by the Chinese military.

It is therefore vital for Taiwan to stock up ammunition on the island before any conflict begins, said Admiral Lee Hsi-min, who served as Chief of the General Staff for the Taiwanese military between 2017 and 2019.

“Having a war reserve stockpile is crucial and meaningful for Taiwan,” he said. “Even if the United States does not want to intervene directly with military force, those kinds of stockpiles can still be very effective for our defense.”

Taiwan has also repeatedly raised concerns about delays in US weapon deliveries amid the war in Ukraine. Following his meeting with Tsai, Speaker McCarthy tweeted: “Based on today’s conversations, it’s clear several actions are necessary: We must continue arms sales to Taiwan and make sure such sales reach Taiwan on time.”

Patriot surface-to-air missile systems at Warsaw Babice Airport in the Bemowo district of Warsaw, Poland, on 06 February, 2023.

The talks over the possible stockpile beg the question: What exactly does Taiwan need for its defense?

For decades, the Taiwanese military has been purchasing fighter jets and missiles from the United States, which continues to be the single biggest guarantor of the island’s safety despite not having an “official” diplomatic relationship.

Last month, the Biden administration made headlines with its approval of potential arms sales to Taiwan worth an estimated $619 million, including hundreds of missiles for its fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

But Admiral Lee said Taiwan urgently needed to stock up on smaller and more mobile weapons that would have a higher chance of surviving the first wave of a Chinese attack in an all-out conflict – which would likely include long-range joint missile strikes on Taiwanese infrastructure and military targets.

In a high-profile book published last year, titled “Overall Defense Concept,” Lee argued that Taiwan should shift away from investing heavily in fighter jets and destroyers, as its military assets were already vastly outnumbered by China’s and could easily be paralyzed by long-range missiles.

Last year, China’s defense budget was $230 billion, more than 13 times the size of Taiwan’s spending of $16.89 billion.

Admiral Lee Hsi-min, during an interview with CNN in Taipei, Taiwan.

So instead of matching ship for ship or plane for plane, Lee argued, Taiwan should embrace an asymmetric warfare model focused on the procurement of smaller weapons – such as portable missiles and mines – that are hard to detect but effective in halting enemy advances.

“In Ukraine, their military has used Neptune anti-ship missiles to sink Moscow’s battleships,” he said. “Asymmetric weapon systems will allow us to maintain our combat capabilities. That is because if our enemies want to destroy them, they will need to get closer to us, which makes them vulnerable to our attack.”

“If we can establish good enough asymmetrical capability, I believe China won’t be able to take over Taiwan by force, even without United States’ intervention,” he added.

Though the US maintains close unofficial ties with Taiwan, and is bound by law to sell arms to the island for its self-defense, it remains deliberately vague on whether it would intervene in the event of a Chinese invasion, a policy known as “strategic ambiguity.”

Under this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the US Congress and signed by US President Joe Biden, Taiwan will be eligible to receive up to $1 billion in weapons and munitions from the United States to counter China’s growing military threat.

The act also allows for the creation of a regional contingency stockpile, which would enable the Pentagon to store weapons in Taiwan for use if a military conflict with China arises.

In a response to CNN for this article, a spokesman at Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed it is in discussions with the United States on the definition of a “contingency”, the types of munition that can be operated immediately by its armed forces, and the timeline for shipping the items.

The ministry added that the move is aimed only at meeting Taiwan’s defensive needs, as opposed to “pre-stocking” munitions on the island.

The US Indo-Pacific Command declined to provide details about the progress of talks on creating the stockpile but said it would continue to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry told CNN that it “resolutely opposes” any military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan, adding that Beijing will take “all necessary measures” to defend its sovereignty and security interests.

A Javelin anti-tank weapon is fired during a joint military exercise between US and Philippine troops in Fort Magsaysay on April 13, 2023.

Lin Ying-yu, an assistant professor from Tamkang University who specializes in military affairs, said that if a contingency stockpile were to be created, it should focus on amassing munitions already in use by Taiwan’s military to ensure operational effectiveness.

“I think some of the weapons that the US might be willing to provide include the Stinger and the Patriot missiles,” he said. The Stinger is a surface-to-air missile that can be fired by a single soldier, while the Patriot missile defense system is capable of intercepting enemy missiles and aircraft.

Admiral Lee said another weapon that could be stockpiled was the Javelin, a US-made portable anti-tank weapon system that has been widely used by the Ukrainian military to target Russian tanks.

The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, could also be useful for targeting Chinese warplanes, he said, as it was capable of firing the medium-range AIM-120 missile from ground level.

Other weapons that should be considered included the loitering munition drone – a so-called “suicide drone” that can be carried by a single soldier and is capable of destroying high-value targets – as well as other anti-armor and anti-ship weaponry, he added.

“If you have a high enough number of these kinds of asymmetrical weapon systems that survive the initial attack, you can keep most of your fighting capabilities intact and stop the enemy from conducting a landing operation,” Lee said.

Another question that arises is how many weapons or missiles Taiwan would need to defend itself against China.

Experts said providing a concrete number was difficult because the possible combat scenarios were so varied.

In his book, Admiral Lee wrote that the Chinese military could resort to different options in attempting to bring Taiwan under its control.

In an all-out war, China could fire long-range missiles to destroy Taiwanese infrastructure and military targets before attempting to send its ground troops across the Taiwan Strait.

Other scenarios with limited military action could include an aerial and naval blockade around Taiwan, or the seizure of Taiwan’s small outlying islands that are close to the Chinese coast.

However, Lin suggested the number of missiles that Taiwan likely needs would be in the “tens of thousands.”

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California on April 5, 2023.

He said one relatively simple way of calculating the number of missiles required involves estimating the total number of offensive military assets owned by the enemy, and the effectiveness of Taiwan’s defensive weapons. “For example, if our enemy has 1,000 missiles and we have a success rate of 25%, then we will need about 4,000 anti-ballistic missiles.”

In addition to weapons, Taiwan’s military could benefit from mobile radar systems that would enable it to receive military signals from the US, Lin added. These would be useful in conducting electronic warfare, as the US military would be able to help identify potential enemy targets even if ground radar systems had been destroyed.

“Even though the United States does not have troops on the ground in Ukraine, it has been able to tell the Ukrainian military where to fire their weapons by sending signals from its electronic warfare aircraft,” Lin said. “We need to make sure we have the necessary equipment to link with US military systems at times of war.”

There were other reasons the discussions with the US over the possible stockpile were important, Admiral Lee said, and they went beyond issues of storing up ammunition and spare parts.

“(Having a contingency stockpile) is very crucial, because it sends a signal to China that the United States is determined to assist in our defense,” he said.



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Myanmar: Mandatory conscription shows junta’s ‘desperation’, rights expert says

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Describing the move as a further sign of the junta’s “weakness and desperation”, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews called for stronger international action to protect vulnerable populations across the country.

While wounded and increasingly desperate, the Myanmar military junta remains extremely dangerous,” he said. “Troop losses and recruitment challenges have become existential threats for the junta, which faces vigorous attacks on frontlines all across the country.” 

Filling the ranks 

The junta issued an order on 10 February that he said purportedly brought the 2010 People’s Military Service Law into force. 

Men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 can now be drafted into the army, though “professional” men and women up to the ages of 45 and 35, respectively, also may be conscripted. 

The plan is to enroll 5,000 people per month starting in April. Those who evade military service, or help others to do so, are subject to up to five years imprisonment.

Appeal for action 

“As the junta forces young men and women into the military ranks, it has doubled down on its attacks on civilians using stockpiles of powerful weapons,” Mr. Andrews said. 

He added that in the face of inaction by the UN Security Council, countries must strengthen and coordinate measures to reduce the junta’s access to the weapons and financing it needs to sustain attacks on the population. 

“Make no mistake, signs of desperation, such as the imposition of a draft, are not indications that the junta and its forces are less of a threat to the people of Myanmar. In fact, many are facing even greater dangers,” he said. 

A child at an internally displaced persons (IDP) centre in Myanmar. (file)

A child at an internally displaced persons (IDP) centre in Myanmar. (file)

Coup, conflict and casualties 

The military seized power in Myanmar three years ago, deposing the elected Government.  Army forces have since been battling with armed opposition groups, sparking mass displacement and casualties. 

Latest UN figures show that nearly 2.7 million people remain internally displaced nationwide, which includes almost 2.4 million who were uprooted after the February 2021 military takeover. 

Conflict continues to rage in various parts of the country, with a deteriorating situation in Rakhine state, located on the western coast, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, reported earlier this week.  

Rakhine has seen escalating fighting between the armed forces and the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group, which has constrained humanitarian access, despite escalating needs.

 Meanwhile, a ceasefire continues to hold in northern Shan state, allowing most of the people who were displaced at the end of 2023 to return home. Almost 23,000 civilians who fled the conflict escalation in the region last year remain displaced in 141 sites in 15 townships.

OCHA added that the conflict situation in northwest and southeast Myanmar continues, with armed clashes, airstrikes and mortar shelling threatening civilian safety and driving displacement.  

Young people ‘horrified’ 

For Mr. Andrews, the junta’s decision to activate the conscription law is an attempt to justify and expand a pattern of forced recruitment that is already affecting people across the country. 

He said that in recent months, young men have reportedly been kidnapped from the streets of Myanmar’s cities or otherwise forced to join the military, while villagers have reportedly been used as porters and human shields.

Young people are horrified by the possibility of being forced to participate in the junta’s reign of terror. The numbers fleeing across borders to escape conscription will surely skyrocket,” he warned.

The rights expert called for an infusion of humanitarian aid for impacted communities in Myanmar, including through the provision of cross-border aid, as well as greater support for leaders committed to a democratic transition. 

“Now, more than ever, the international community must act urgently to isolate the junta and protect the people of Myanmar,” he said. 

About UN rapporteurs 

Special Rapporteurs like Mr. Andrews are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and given mandates to report on specific country situations or thematic issues.

These experts work on a voluntary basis and are independent of any government or organization.  They serve in their individual capacity and are neither UN staff nor are they paid for their work.   



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Monthly Sponsorship Includes Early Access to el… » Linux Magazine

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elementary OS is a special Linux distribution for many people. It’s beautiful, easy to use, and reliable as any on the market. The most recent version of elementary OS is 7 (released 31 January 2023) and version 8 is on the horizon.

The developers have plenty of new things in store for the OS, including Wayland as the default display server, a brand new dock that better integrates with the elementary OS window manager, and a redesigned Multitasking View, which adds an elegant blurred view of the background.

Other features include continued porting of apps to GTK 4, system updates shifted from the AppCenter and into System Settings, much-improved search in System Settings, a new Keyboard Layouts shortcut for quick changes, a smoother fade animation in the Login & Lock screens, and much more.

You can read about all the changes for elementary OS 8 in the February blog update.

Early access builds, as well as experimental builds for platforms like Raspberry Pi 4 and Pinebook Pro, are available to OEMs, first-party contributors, $25+ AppCenter for Everyone backers, and GitHub sponsors.

As of now, elementary OS 8 will most likely be released sometime this summer (2024). For those who want to follow along on some of the progress, you can check out the elementary OS Wayland Dock project board to see how it’s coming along.
 
 
 

 
 
 



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Hundreds of AI luminaries sign letter calling for anti-deepfake legislation

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Hundreds in the artificial intelligence community have signed an open letter calling for strict regulation of AI-generated impersonations, or deepfakes. While this is unlikely to spur real legislation (despite the House’s new task force), it does act as a bellwether for how experts lean on this controversial issue.

The letter, signed by over 500 people in and adjacent to the AI field at time of publishing, declares that “Deepfakes are a growing threat to society, and governments must impose obligations throughout the supply chain to stop the proliferation of deepfakes.”

They call for full criminalization of deepfake child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, AKA child pornography) regardless of whether the figures depicted are real or fictional. Criminal penalties are called for in any case where someone creates or spreads harmful deepfakes. And developers are called on to prevent harmful deepfakes from being made using their products in the first place, with penalties if their preventative measures are inadequate.

Among the more prominent signatories of the letter are:

  • Jaron Lanier
  • Frances Haugen
  • Stuart Russell
  • Andrew Yang
  • Marietje Schaake
  • Steven Pinker
  • Gary Marcus
  • Oren Etzioni
  • Genevieve smith
  • Yoshua Bengio
  • Dan Hendrycks
  • Tim Wu

Also present are hundreds of academics from across the globe and many disciplines. In case you’re curious, one person from OpenAI signed, a couple from Google Deepmind, and none at press time from Anthropic, Amazon, Apple, or Microsoft (except Lanier, whose position there is non-standard). Interestingly they are sorted in the letter by “Notability.”

This is far from the first call for such measures; in fact they have been debated in the EU for years before being formally proposed earlier this month. Perhaps it is the EU’s willingness to deliberate and follow through that activated these researchers, creators, and executives to speak out.

Or perhaps it is the slow march of KOSA towards acceptance — and its lack of protections for this type of abuse.

Or perhaps it is the threat of (as we have already seen) AI-generated scam calls that could sway the election or bilk naive folks out of their money.

Or perhaps it is yesterday’s task force being announced with no particular agenda other than maybe writing a report about what some AI-based threats might be and how they might be legislatively restricted.

As you can see, there is no shortage of reasons for those in the AI community to be out here waving their arms around and saying “maybe we should, you know, do something?!”

Whether anyone will take notice of this letter is anyone’s guess — no one really paid attention to the infamous one calling for everyone to “pause” AI development, but of course this letter is a bit more practical. If legislators decide to take on the issue, an unlikely event given it’s an election year with a sharply divided congress, they will have this list to draw from in taking the temperature of AI’s worldwide academic and development community.



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Leap into Learning and SAVE up to 50% off!

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Save up to 50% on IT Professional Programs, Bundles, and more!

Learn more at training.linuxfoundation.org






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DR Congo: Fighting threatens stability of entire region, envoy warns

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Briefing the Security Council in New York, UN Special Representative Bintou Keita urged ambassadors to do all they can to prevent the fighting in North Kivu province from spreading beyond the border. 

It is crucial to underscore the risk of an expansion of the conflict on a regional scale if the diplomatic efforts that are underway that seek to appease tensions and find sustainable political solutions to the current conflict fail,” she said, speaking from the capital, Kinshasa. 

‘Deeply worrisome’ 

The situation in the eastern DRC is among the most complex, prolonged and protracted crises in the world, lasting some three decades. The latest violence is occurring against a backdrop of the eventual drawdown of MONUSCO this year, and at a time when historic flooding is affecting some two million people.

Hostilities have escalated dramatically since the expiration of a ceasefire in December, leading to a “deeply worrisome situation” around the town of Sake and the provincial capital, Goma.

Fighting has intensified in several areas in recent weeks, and the M23 has expanded further south, sparking more displacement towards Goma and neighbouring South Kivu province.

Goma: Scenes of desperation 

Ms. Keita said conditions are desperate in the severely overcrowded displacement sites in and around Goma. 

More than 400,000 displaced persons have now sought refuge in the city, including 65,000 in the past two weeks, triggering a dramatic increase in cases of cholera due to a lack of safe drinking water, adequate hygiene, and sanitation.”

Sake currently remains under the control of the Congolese army, known as the FARDC, with support from MONUSCO.

However, “restricted access to M23-controlled territories is isolating Goma from inland territories and disrupting food production, supply chains,” she said.  Prices of basic commodities are rising, increasing the risk of public unrest.

Violations and abuses 

The redeployment of Congolese troops to the front with M23 has exacerbated the security vacuum in other territories in North Kivu and drawn in new combatants, notably from South Kivu, the Council heard. 

Groups including the Allied Defense Forces (ADF) are increasingly committing human rights violations and abuses such as summary executions, abductions, property appropriation, extortion and conflict-related sexual violence. 

Ms. Keita expressed deep concern over serious violations committed in areas under M23 control, where human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society representatives are being targeted.  At least 150 people have been killed since November, 77 in January alone. 

Misinformation campaigns 

Meanwhile, MONUSCO continues to confront mis and disinformation surrounding its role in the ongoing clashes, mainly through online campaigns carried out by accounts mostly located outside of the DRC.

“This has resulted in hostile acts against UN peacekeepers and restrictions of movement by local armed groups and government soldiers,” Ms. Keita said. 

Violent protests against the UN and the diplomatic community erupted in Kinshasa on 10 February, “fueled by a perception of the international community’s inaction and inefficiency over the situation in the eastern DRC.” 

UN entities and MONUSCO were targeted in 11 incidents and 32 staff members had to either be extracted or rescued by peacekeepers. Two UN vehicles were burnt and eight were severely damaged by stoning. 

Appeal to ambassadors 

Ms. Keita commended ongoing diplomatic efforts by Angola to stop the fighting, and reaffirmed MONUSCO’s commitment to support regional peace processes. 

“I also appeal strongly to the Security Council to use its influence to support regional peace initiatives that are underway to ensure that all parties respect international law, their commitments, and work constructively to put an end to the current crisis,” she said. 

Alarm rising across the east 

The UN envoy also voiced concern over the security situation in other areas of North Kivu, Ituri and South Kivu provinces. 

She said there has been a significant escalation of violence in Djugu territory in Ituri, where MONUSCO continues to ensure the protection of more than 100,000 people displaced last week due to deadly fighting between the Zaïre and CODECO factions. 

The ADF continues to kill and kidnap civilians in both Ituri and North Kivu. The group has also started to attack military targets after nearly a year of avoiding direct clashes with the security forces, and at time when a joint operation by the Ugandan and Congolese armies has been suspended. 

Clashes have also broken out between Twirwaneho militia and Mai-Mai groups in South Kivu, where MONUSCO is preparing to withdraw within the coming months. 

Ms. Keita concluded her remarks by expressing gratitude to countries that have provided uniformed personnel to the mission, whose service is far from over.  



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What you should know about Tupperware and plastic container safety

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Sign up for CNN’s Adulthood, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide has tips to help you make more informed decisions around personal finance, career, wellness and personal connections.



CNN
 — 

Tupperware, the iconic kitchen brand that’s been a household name for decades, recently received a lifeline from its creditors, but the business still faces extreme challenges. Given the brand’s prospects, you might be wondering how long your stash of its food storage containers is safe to use — especially if it’s vintage.

Figuring out the answer to that question for any type of reusable plastic food storage products — not just Tupperware — often comes down to understanding what they’re made of. Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is a chemical that, according to the United States Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, has been used for years in the production of certain plastics to make them more durable and shatter-resistant. Unfortunately, BPA can also make them potential health hazards.

In human studies, BPA exposure has been associated with a higher risk of a wide range of health conditions or issues, such as infertility, altered fetal growth of the fetus, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and aggression among children, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, and heart disease, said Laura Vandenberg, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

nightcap 033023 clip 2 16x9

Plastic water bottles are not just bad for environment – how they impact your health

In addition to food containers, BPA has been used in various other products, such as shatterproof windows, water bottles and eyewear, and in resins coating metal food cans, bottle tops and water supply pipes. The composition of your plastic product can depend on the year you bought it, Vandenberg said.

Since March 2010, items Tupperware sells in the US and Canada are BPA-free, according to its website.

CNN has contacted Tupperware for comment but has not received a response.

“We worry about those hard, shatter-resistant plastics that were made a decade ago, that were made with BPA,” Vandenberg said. “Every single time that they’re used, they’re leaching small amounts of BPA out of them. … Even the low levels of BPA that leach from consumer plastics, canned food linings or other consumer goods … have been shown to be associated with harm, and people certainly should care about it.

“If it’s not safe the day you buy it, it’s not safe 10 years later,” Vandenberg said. In fact, the longer you own them, the riskier they are for your health, she added.

Risks of container wear and tear

Putting stress on plastic food containers by washing them in the dishwasher or with rough scrub brushes “increase the ability of that plastic to leach whatever it was made out of,” Vandenberg said. Scratches can create deep grooves for bacteria to reside in as well, said James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports, a nonprofit research, testing and consumer advocacy organization.

Putting highly acidic foods — such as tomatoes or citrus fruits — in these products does the same thing, Vandenberg said.

The “microwave safe” label on some plastic containers doesn’t mean the product is totally safe from a health standpoint, she added.

“Some of the plasticizers and chemicals can transfer from the plastic containers into the food during heating,” Rogers said. “So we totally advocate that you transfer your food from a plastic container into a glass bowl and microwave it that way.”

Discoloration of a container can signal that a chemical change has occurred in the plastic, Vandenberg said. “Usually that is happening because there’s lots of little micro-holes or micro-tears,” she explained. “And now there’s an interaction with the food and the plastic (because the plastic is degrading). So if the plastic is discolored, it’s telling you that that plastic is breaking down.”

Any damaged plastic food storage containers should be discarded, said Sam Cole, global director of product certification, food equipment and chemicals at the National Safety Foundation, an organization facilitating development of public health standards and certification programs for the protection of food, water, consumer products and the environment.

eating plastics alt thumbnail

5 ways to cut your plastic waste


01:30

– Source:
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BPA in the body

The majority of daily exposure to BPA happens through diet, according to the US Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “The reason why we worry about BPA is that, going all the way back to the 1930s when it was tested for use as a pharmaceutical, it was clear that it acts like an estrogen,” Vandenberg said. “Estrogen is a pretty powerful hormone that is important for reproduction and fertility, but also really important for the development of sex organs, development of the brain and controlling metabolism.

“It has a role in muscle development and fat development,” she added. “So even small amounts of tinkering with the estrogen or estrogen pathways in our body can have really serious outcomes for our health.”

The shape of the molecules in BPA make it more likely to bind to estrogen receptors, Vandenberg added. “I avoid using those reusable plastics as much as possible, because I have yet to see good evidence that there are consumer plastics that are free from estrogenic properties.”

Generally, plastics with the label “PC” (for polycarbonate) or recycling codes three or seven likely contain BPA, according to Vandenberg and the US Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Some manufacturers have been phasing BPA and other bisphenols, sometimes called analogues, out of their products due to public attention — rather than regulatory action — but not all, Vandenberg said.

“Think about replacing them with something that’s chemically inert, like glass,” Vandenberg said. “If you can’t afford to replace everything all at once, replace them one at a time.”

Glass food storage containers are a safer option.

“I know it’s heavy, it can break and all the rest of that, but we think that the advantages to using glass containers for storing food and reheating food outweigh the risks,” Rogers said.

You can also opt for porcelain, ceramic or stainless-steel containers, especially for hot foods and liquids, according to Vandenberg and the US Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.



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