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Judge who offered to pay court fine for teenager who stabbed her paedophile abuser found guilty of misconduct

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A judge who offered to pay a court fine for a teenager who stabbed her paedophile abuser has been found guilty of misconduct. Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC made the offer after hearing the Bradford girl’s case.The teenager, then aged 14, had stabbed her abuser six years after he walked free from court, despite assaulting her when she was eight years old.The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with attempted murder, but prosecutors eventually accepted a lighter charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. Judge Hall sentenced the teenager to a two-year youth rehabilitation order and told her not to pay the mandatory victim surcharge, adding: “If anyone tries to force you, I will pay it myself.” The decision prompted an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, which found his comments amounted to misconduct He was given “formal advice” – the lowest sanction possible, The Times reports.

The teenage girl had told the court she had felt let down by the justice system, after she gave evidence at her abuser’s trial in 2009.The man, who was 56 at the time of the knife attack, had been found guilty of abuse, but was only sentenced to a community order, with a supervision requirement.

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Bill Gates reduces Microsoft stake with $4.6bn donation

Bill Gates has given away $4.6bn (£3.6bn) to charity in his largest donation since 2000.

He remains the world’s richest person, despite giving away 64 million shares in Microsoft. The shares are equivalent to 5% of his total fortune, currently estimated to be $89.9bn. Since 1994 Mr Gates, 61, and his wife Melinda have given away a total of $35bn in cash and stocks to a range of charitable causes. The donation was made in June but became public Mcafee Support Number UK on Monday following the filing of a document with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr Gates’ share in Microsoft is now just 1.3%. Prior to this, Mr Gates gave away $16bn in Microsoft shares in 1999 and $5.1bn in 2000.

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New money

The majority of all previous donations have been made to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is primarily focused on reducing world poverty, combating infectious diseases and providing universal access to computers. It is not known who the recipient of this latest donation is, however when federal documents are filed, it usually means new money is being given to a foundation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.In 2010, Mr and Mrs Gates and the well-known investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge, and as of May 2017, 158 individuals or couples have agreed to contribute at least half of their wealth to charity.

This latest donation is the biggest charitable gift to have been made anywhere in the world so far this year.The second largest was made by Mr Buffett, who donated almost $3.2bn to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last month.And the third biggest came from Dell Computer Corporation founder Michael Dell and his wife Susan.

In May the couple gave more than $1bn to their foundation, which focuses on children’s issues and community initiatives.

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Sky’s Soundbox is a high-end TV audio system and subscribers will get a huge discount

Sky and Devialet, a big name in high-end audio, have collaborated to create the Sky Soundbox, a new all-in-one sound system for your TV. The speaker, which will retail for £799 to non-Sky subscribers, will cost just £249 for current and new Sky Q multiscreen customers, and £299 for all other Sky TV or Sky Broadband and Talk customers. It goes on sale Mcafee Support Number UK in the autumn.Looking to take on the likes of the Sonos PlayBase, the Soundbox combines six 3-inch woofers and three 2-inch full-range speakers into a single compact unit that can deliver 140W of sound with Devialet’s trademark range including thunderous bass, going from 35Hz up to 22kHz. Devialet is the French company that makes the coveted Phantom multiroom speakers. virusblog

The Soundbox, intended to be placed in a TV cabinet or console rather than mounted, uses the walls in your home to bounce ambient sound around the room. The result, Sky says, is spatial surround sound usually expected from a full home-cinema system, but without the need for a separate subwoofer or extra speakers.In terms of connectivity, the 4kg system – which has been in development for two years – has one HDMI input, one optical input, Bluetooth 4.1 and is compatible with Dolby Digital+. Although co-branded, the Soundbox will not recognize the Devialet app, so you cannot pair it with Phantom speakers, but, via Apple Airplay when connected to a Sky Q box, the system could be made part of a multiroom audio setup. Devialet, which secured €100M funding from the likes of Foxconn, Jay Z’s Roc Nation and Andy Rubin’s Playground Global last November, has created exclusive sound modes for those watching with a Sky Q box. This “Sky Q Sound” uses metadata provided by the box allowing the Soundbox to automatically adapts sound settings on the fly to content being played.

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Facebook expands its video offering in a bid to complete with TV

Facebook has made its biggest move to date to compete in the television market by expanding its video offerings with programming ranging from professional women’s basketball to a safari show and a parenting program.The redesigned product, called “Watch,” will be available initially to a limited group in the US on Facebook’s mobile app, website and television apps, the company said. The world’s largest social network added a video tab last year, and it has been dropping hints for months that it wanted to become a source of original and well-produced videos, rather than just shows made by users. Reuters reported in May that Facebook had signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to produce shows, both scripted and unscripted. “We’ve learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos,” Daniel Danker, Facebook’s product director, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that Watch would allow users to “chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.” Facebook said the shows would include videos of the Women’s National Basketball Association, a parenting show from Time Inc and a safari show from National Geographic. Facebook is already broadcasting some Major League Baseball games and that would continue, the company said.

ATTN said on Wednesday it had two original series coming to Facebook Watch: a health program with actress Jessica Alba and a relationship advice show. Eventually, the platform would be open to any show creator as a place to distribute video, Facebook said.

The company, based in Menlo Park, California, faces a crowded market with not only traditional television networks but newer producers such as Netflix and YouTube as well as Twitter and Snap.

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Why is Google spending record sums on lobbying Washington?

Figures released last week show that Google spent a record amount of almost $6m lobbying in Washington DC in the past three months, putting the Silicon Valley behemoth on track to be the top corporate lobbying spender in the US. Last year it ranked No 2, behind Comcast. Given the increased antitrust scrutiny that is coming from the Democrats’ new “Better Deal” policy platform, Donald Trump’s random tweets attacking Google’s fellow tech giant Amazon for its connection to the Washington Post, and his adviser Steve Bannon’s recent comments that Google and Facebook should be regulated as utilities, it is likely Google will only increase its lobbying expenditure in the next few months. The largest monopoly in America, Google controls five of the top six billion-user, universal web platforms – search, video, mobile, maps and browser – and leads in 13 of the top 14 commercial web functions, according to Scott Cleland at Precursor Consulting.

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As the controversial Trump-supporting PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel points out, companies like Google don’t like to advertise this fact. They “lie to protect themselves”, Thiel says. “They know that bragging about their great monopoly invites being audited, scrutinized and attacked. Since they very much want their monopoly profits to continue unmolested, they tend to do whatever they can to conceal their monopoly – usually by exaggerating the power of their (nonexistent) competition.”

For years, banks, oil companies and defense contractors dominated the Washington lobbying business. Because controlling government regulation and government contracts was key to their business success, shareholders saw the expenditure Norton Customer Service UK of millions a year on lobbyists and political contributions as an unavoidable cost of doing business.When the federal government began pursuing Microsoft for antitrust violations in 1992, the Seattle software giant was caught off guard. It had almost no presence in Washington and spent almost no money on lobbyists.

That soon changed. For its part, Google, as it began to assert its domination of the search advertising business, started to take steps to ensure it had a strong presence in Washington. In 2002, Google spent less than $50,000 on lobbyists; 10 years later it was spending more than $18m a year.

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Deception tech helps to thwart hackers’ attacks

The camouflage techniques of one unit active in North Africa, which on one occasion consulted a stage magician about the way he fooled audiences, proved decisive in several key battles. And the biggest deception of all was Operation Fortitude which fooled the Nazis about where the D-Day landings would actually take place.The same principles of deception and misdirection, albeit on a much smaller scale, are now starting to be used by some organisations to thwart malicious hackers keen to establish a bridgehead on internal networks. “It’s a classic idea of warfare to prevent the adversary from having a real understanding of your reality,” said Ori Bach from deception technology firm Trapx. “It’s just like the Allies in WWII. They made fake tanks, fake air bases, fake everything.”

And just like those ersatz weapons of war, the fakes implanted on a network look just like the real thing.

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“We create a shadow network that is mimicking the real network and is constantly changing,” he said.

The use of so-called deception technology has grown out of a realisation that no organisation can mount perfect digital defences. At some point, the attackers are going to worm their way in.

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Given that, said Mr Bach, it was worth preparing for their arrival by setting up targets that are simply too juicy for the malicious hackers to ignore once they land and start looking around.

“We want our shadow network to be more attractive to the hackers than the real stuff,” he said.

Sweet treat

Deception technology has grown out of work on another useful cyber-thief tracking technology known as honey pots, said Joe Stewart of deception firm Cymmetria.

honey pot is a computer that resembles a typical corporate server to the automated tools that many hackers use to scour the net for targets. Many large security firms set up lots of individual honey pots, he said, to gather intelligence about those tools and the malware being used to subvert them.

But, said Mr Stewart, the problem with honey pots is that they are passive and only involve a few separate servers. By contrast, deception technology is generally used on quite a grand scale so any attacker that turns up has little clue about what is real and what is fake.Typically, said Mr Stewart, the spoofed network will be made to look more attractive to hackers by seeding the real network with “breadcrumbs” of information that lead to the fake network.

These tantalising chunks of data hint at all kinds of goodies that hackers are keen to steal, such as payment data, customer details, login credentials or intellectual property. But, instead of leading attackers to data they can sell, it leads them down a deep confusing hole that gets them no closer to that elusive, valuable data they crave.

He added that as soon as they start following the crumbs and interacting with that fake network, everything they do is recorded. That intelligence can be hugely useful, said Mr Stewart, because it involves what attackers do after their automated tools have got them a toehold on a network.

“The initial intrusion was probably done with something that was just spammed out,” he said and, as such, would be spotted and logged by many different defence systems.

“What’s much more interesting is the second stage persistence tools.”

Organisations rarely get a look at these, he said, because once an attacker has compromised a network they usually take steps to erase any evidence of what they did, where they went and what software helped them do that.

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Bristol boxer and dad-of-two Darren ‘Tiger’ Thompson has died suddenly, aged 51

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A popular Bristol boxer, who won dozens of fights in his career, has died suddenly.

Darren ‘Tiger’ Thompson was only 51 years old when he was found dead in his Easton flat by a friend. Doctors said he had suffered a fatal heart attack and stroke on Saturday, July 22. His family said they were shocked and heartbroken at the sudden death of a much-loved son, dad, partner and friend. Darren grew up in Barton Hill, going to Avonvale Primary School and then St George School for his secondary education. After leaving school, he worked in maintenance at the old Bristol Rovers stadium in Eastville for four years, before working at his dad’s car breaking yard as a manager.

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He met Claire and had his two children, Daniel and Olivia.But if there was one constant in Darren’s life, it was boxing and running. He started as a small 13-year-old, going in secret to the Empire gym, where his dad Alan was a boxing trainer.His mum, Sue, did not like the idea of her eldest son going into boxing. But Darren decided to give it a go anyway, and soon found a real talent for it.When asked what it was like to train his own son, Alan said: “I taught him like anybody else. I suppose I was tough on him, I had to be.

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“His first contest was when he was just 13 years old. He was very fit; not many people could live with him in the ring.” Darren took part in his first eight contests in secret – because his mum didn’t approve – hiding the medals in his Nan’s house. “He used to run down to his Nan’s to hide his medals, and then run back home like nothing was going on,” Alan said. “It was only when it went in the Evening Post that it got us into trouble with Sue.”

But Darren’s mum did not deny his talent, and he would fight on for another 15 years. He gained a reputation as hard and tenacious fighter, quick with his jabs and a stamina to match.“He was phenomenal in training. We trained really hard, and the kids today wouldn’t be able to do what he did,” Alan said. “It was down to his stamina. He loved running. Darren just got better and better and better as the rounds went on. He was super-fast.” Training to be a boxer was not easy. There were sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, lasting hours after school. Then there was the weekly Sunday eight-mile run up a hill. He soon gained his nickname, the Tiger.

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Manchester Airport: Suspect’s ‘surprise’ at pipe bomb

A man accused of smuggling a pipe bomb on to an airplane told a court he was surprised when police found the device inside a zip-lining in his suitcase. Nadeem Muhammad, 43, of Tinline Street, Bury, told Manchester Crown Court: “I had never seen it before.”The jury previously heard Mr Muhammad was allowed to board a flight to Italy when the device was first discovered in the case on 30 January.

Mr Muhammad denies possessing explosives with intent.

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The court was told the businessman was questioned by police at Manchester Airport and more than a week later in Italy, after tests showed the bomb was viable.However on both occasions he was released and allowed to keep his passport. The jury heard police and security officials did not believe it was a working bomb when it was seized from his hand luggage as he went through airport security.

Mr Muhammad carried the same case on 5 February on a flight to Bergamo, near Milan, from Manchester. Three days days later, the device was found to be “potentially viable” as it contained nitroglycerine.Mr Muhammad said police raided his home in Italy and workplace on 9 February.

Testifying through an interpreter, he said he was questioned by Italian police who told him: “When you were stopped on 30 January the item they found in your bag, there is some powder and some nails.”

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But he was freed after a couple of hours and his passport was not seized. He was arrested in the UK three days later when he flew back to Manchester Airport. Mr Muhammad loaned his suitcase in Italy to his brother-in-law who police seized if from in March. Asked if the device had anything to do with him, he replied: “No, not at all.” He broke down in tears during his evidence when asked about his wife, who was sitting in the public gallery.

The court heard they moved to Bury, Greater Manchester, in about 2016 and made regular trips to Italy where he had a business supplying workers to a factory making alloy wheels.

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Ransomware ‘here to stay’, warns Google study

Cyber-thieves have made at least $25m (£19m) from ransomware in the last two years, suggests research by Google.The search giant created thousands of virtual victims of ransomware to expose the payment ecosystem surrounding the malware type.Most of the money was made in 2016 as gangs realised how lucrative it was, revealed a talk at Black Hat. Two types of ransomware made most of the money, it said, but other variants are starting to emerge.

Track and trace

“It’s become a very, very profitable market and is here to stay,” said Elie Bursztein from Google who, along with colleagues Kylie McRoberts and Luca Invernizzi, carried out the research. Ransomware is malicious software that infects a machine and then encrypts or scrambles files so they can no longer be used or read. The files are only decrypted when a victim pays a ransom. Payments typically have to be made using the Bitcoin virtual currency.Mr Bursztein said Google used several different methods to work out how much cash was flowing towards ransomware creators.

As well as drawing on reports from people who had paid a ransom, it sought out the files used to infect machines and then ran those on lots of virtual machines to generate “synthetic victims”, he said.

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It then monitored the network traffic generated by these victims to work out to where money would be transferred. The data gathered in this stage was also used to find more variants of ransomware and the 300,000 files it found broke down into 34 of them, he said.The most popular strains were the Locky and Cerber families, added Mr Bursztein. Payment analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain, which logs all transactions made using the e-currency, revealed that those two strains also made the most money over the last year, he said, with Locky collecting about $7.8m (£5.9m) and Cerber $6.9m (£5.2m). The research project also revealed where the cash flowed and accumulated in the Bitcoin network and where it was converted back into cash. More than 95% of Bitcoin payments for ransomware were cashed out via Russia’s BTC-e exchange, found Google.

On 26 July, one of the founders of BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, was arrested by Greek police on money laundering charges. The police were acting on a US warrant and his extradition to America is being sought.The gangs behind the ransomware explosion were not likely to stop soon, said Mr Bursztein, although established strains are facing competition from newer ones. “Ransomware is a fast-moving market,” he said. “There’s aggressive competition coming from variants such as SamSam and Spora.”

Novel variants were expanding quickly and many were encouraging fast expansion by paying affiliates more if they placed the malware on to large numbers of machines. The ransomware as a service model was already proving popular, he warned.

“It’s no longer a game reserved for tech-savvy criminals,” he said. “It’s for almost anyone.”

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Gaze at the beauty of the world’s most powerful artificial sun

Synlight, a three-storey, 350kW array of 149 conical reflectors enclosing xenon short-arc lamps, can generate light 10,000 times that of the solar radiation at the Earth’s surface.

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The €3.5 million (£3m) German Aerospace Center project, which is housed in a protective radiation chamber in Jülich, will explore the production of renewable fuel by extracting hydrogen from water vapour. “Making electricity renewable has already been done,” explains research director Bernhard Hoffschmidt. “But in the future there will be many applications for fuels that cannot be replaced with batteries.”

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One example is travel. Current battery weight and energy density are incompatible with flight, whereas hydrogen is light and clean. The array began operating in March 2017 and Hoffschmidt hopes it will be a precursor to a system that can amplify the light of the Sun in a carbon-neutral way. “Synlight is only a very big lab,” he says. “In the future, this hydrogen production should be done with mirrors concentrating natural sunlight.”

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