China COVID Outbreak: Lockdown In Economic Hub Shenzhen Rattles Investors

Shenzhen, China’s technology manufacturing hub, will be shut down for the next week in effort to curb the rising Covid cases. Only essential businesses are allowed to open, which is expected to cause a ripple effect on the global supply chain.

Home to Chinese tech giants including Huawei and Tencent, Shenzhen ranks third among Chinese cities in manufacturing output meaning any prolonged closure will be felt sharply.

Its factories tool the world with mobile phones, while some of China’s best tech brains go there to churn out apps and games — but Shenzhen is now in lockdown as the coronavirus inflicts economic pain on the country and rattles markets.

Residents in the city of 17.5 million — sometimes dubbed China’s answer to Silicon Valley — have been ordered not to leave unless necessary and public transport has been halted as the country battles its worst virus outbreak in two years.

Most firms have been told to switch to working from home, which is impossible for many factories whose disruption is fuelling unease over supply chains and services. But how significant is Shenzhen to China’s economy?

Home to Chinese tech giants including Huawei and Tencent, Shenzhen ranks third among Chinese cities in economic output meaning any prolonged closure will be felt sharply.

“It is a manufacturing hub and also a tech centre for China,” Hong Hao, of financial services firm Bocom International, told AFP.

Already, major Apple supplier Foxconn has suspended operations in Shenzhen while other tech manufacturers such as Netac Technology also halted some production. Mechanical and electronic products make up 80 percent of exports from the southern powerhouse, which neighbours Hong Kong.

“This is a very significant lockdown and I think the full impact is yet to be revealed,” Hong added. Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist of Pinpoint Asset Management, said consumption would be “hurt quickly and severely” in a lockdown, followed by production and investment.

“It’s a ripple effect,” Hong of Bocom said, noting that other parts of China which depend on Shenzhen’s output could be hit. “They would be working less efficiently than before.” At least six companies on Apple’s supplier list are based in Shenzhen, where other producers such as electric-vehicle firm BYD are also based. But some businesses deemed essential remain open.

Restrictions across the country hitting key hubs could pile pressure on China’s growth target of around 5.5 percent — already the lowest annual GDP target in decades — while Shenzhen’s proximity to Hong Kong is stoking fears of challenges in stopping transmission.

The Yantian port, among the world’s busiest, is also in Shenzhen. It is the largest single port in China, with economists noting it accounts for 10.5 percent of China’s foreign trade container throughput.

In previous outbreaks, the port has been forced to suspend the processing of containers, leading to backlogs, and the current outbreak adds to worries over already-high shipping prices. The port appears to be operating for now, although virus cases could trigger disruptions.

Economists say the impact depends on how long restrictions persist. Zhaopeng Xing of ANZ Research told AFP he believed authorities “can manage Omicron” as well as before within a month or so. “The shock is short-lived,” he said, adding that it would be unlikely to hit the long-term outlook.

Source: China COVID outbreak: Lockdown in economic hub Shenzhen rattles investors

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Google And Facebook Hit With $238 Million Fines In France Over Privacy Violations

France’s data protection regulator on Thursday hit Google and Facebook with fines of €150 million ($170 million) and €60 million ($68 million), respectively, for failing to provide internet users an easy way to disable online trackers, marking the latest in a series of fines faced by the two American tech giants for failing to comply with European privacy laws.

Key Facts

In a statement outlining its investigation, French regulator CNIL noted that Facebook, Google and Youtube’s websites offered a button that allowed users to immediately accept cookies but did not provide a similar button to easily refuse them.

The regulator added that the process of refusing the online trackers was several steps longer.

The CNIL ruled that this process affects users’ freedom of consent as it influences their choice of accepting or rejecting cookies.

While cookies can be essential for a website’s functioning—allowing for user authentication and remembering preferences among other things—they can also be used to track a user’s online behavior and serve them advertising.

In addition to the hefty fines, both companies have been ordered to update their interface for French users—making it easier for them to reject cookies—within three months.

Key BackgroundThe fines against Google and Facebook follow a series of similar regulatory actions facing U.S  tech giants including Apple and Amazon in Europe. In December 2020, Google and Amazon were hit with similar fines for their handling of web cookies to track user activities without seeking proper consent..

Last year, regulators in France, the U.K., and the EU initiated formal antitrust probes into Google and Facebook’s online advertising business. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which went into effect in May 2018 has dramatically increased the powers of the bloc’s privacy enforcers. Under the law, serious privacy breaches can lead to fines of as much as 4% of a company’s annual global revenue.

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important tech policy and business news. Graduated from Columbia University with an

Source: Google And Facebook Hit With $238 Million Fines In France Over Privacy Violations

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U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Lose $80 Billion In Value As Didi Delisting Crashes Prices

Jack Ma, CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, speaks in Paris. After a year of massive losses ... [+] AFP via Getty Images

Shares of Chinese tech giants trading in the United States posted stunning losses Friday amid intensifying concerns over U.S. regulatory efforts to ramp up financial disclosures for foreign entities after ride-hailer Didi Global’s catastrophic trading debut this year, yielding one-day losses of more than $80 billion for the ten largest U.S.-listed Chinese stocks.

Heading up the Friday plunge, Didi shares had plummeted 18% by 12:30 p.m. EST, wiping out $7 billion in market value after the embattled Beijing-based firm announced it would begin removing its shares from the New York Stock Exchange and instead list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Though widely expected, the delisting “represents the beginning of the unwinding of a large part of U.S.-China business relations,” David Trainer, the CEO of investment research firm New Constructs, said in emailed comments, calling China’s relaxed financial disclosure requirements irreconcilable with U.S. laws.

Fueling concerns over additional delistings, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday proceeded with plans that could eventually force many Chinese stocks off U.S. exchanges by subjecting foreign entities to heightened disclosure requirements, including U.S. government financial audits.

Shares of e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba, the largest Chinese company listed in the U.S., were among the hardest hit, down 8% on the New York Stock Exchange to a nearly five-year low of $112, deflating its market capitalization to $305 billion.

Fellow online retailers JD.com and Pinduoduo, the second- and fourth-largest firms, posted similarly staggering losses, falling 9% apiece to shed about $12 billion and $6 billion in market value, respectively.

The selloff hit a wide array of sectors: Online gaming company NetEase, electric carmaker NIO and internet firm Baidu plunged 6%, 15% and 8%, respectively.

All told, the ten largest Chinese companies trading in the United States have lost about $83 billion in market value on Friday—nearly 10% of their $850 billion in combined worth.

Chinese stocks trading in the United States have lost massive amounts of value since Beijing officials issued a series of sweeping private sector regulations this summer—in one instance banning the for-profit education business virtually overnight. “Yes, there’s a huge market and lots of growth potential, but obviously there are regulatory risks that seem to be growing larger with every passing month,” Tom Essaye, author of the Sevens Report, wrote in a recent note.

Epitomizing the effect on stocks, Didi shares have tanked 53% since they started trading in June, and Alibaba, once worth more than $858 billion, has crashed about 50% this year.

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China index, which tracks Chinese businesses trading in the United States, is down 8% Friday and 42% this year. The index is at its lowest point since March 2020.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism

Source: U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Lose $80 Billion In Value As Didi Delisting Crashes Prices

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More Contents:

Chinese Stocks in US Extend Rally Nearly Erasing Record Selloff BNN Bloomberg

Chinese Stocks Plummet after Xi’s Reelection Hudson Institute

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Can Lucid Dreaming Help Us Understand Consciousness

The ability to control our dreams is a skill that more of us are seeking to acquire for sheer pleasure. But if taken seriously, scientists believe it could unlock new secrets of the mind

Michelle Carr is frequently plagued by tidal waves in her dreams. What should be a terrifying nightmare, however, can quickly turn into a whimsical adventure – thanks to her ability to control her dreams. She can transform herself into a dolphin and swim into the water. Once, she transformed the wave itself, turning it into a giant snail with a huge shell. “It came right up to me – it was a really beautiful moment.”

There’s a thriving online community of people who are now trying to learn how to lucid dream. (A single subreddit devoted to the phenomenon has more than 400,000 members.) Many are simply looking for entertainment. “It’s just so exciting and unbelievable to be in a lucid dream and to witness your mind creating this completely vivid simulation,” says Carr, who is a sleep researcher at the University of Rochester in New York state. Others hope that exercising skills in their dreams will increase their real-life abilities. “A lot of elite athletes use lucid dreams to practice their sport.”

And there are more profound reasons to exploit this sleep state, besides personal improvement. By identifying the brain activity that gives rise to the heightened awareness and sense of agency in lucid dreams, neuroscientists and psychologists hope to answer fundamental questions about the nature of human consciousness, including our apparently unique capacity for self-awareness. “More and more researchers, from many different fields, have started to incorporate lucid dreams in their research,” says Carr.

This interest in lucid dreaming has been growing in fits and starts for more than a century. Despite his fascination with the interaction between the conscious and subconscious minds, Sigmund Freud barely mentioned lucid dreams in his writings. Instead, it was an English aristocrat and writer, Mary Arnold-Forster, who provided one of the earliest and most detailed descriptions in the English language in her book Studies in Dreams.

Published in 1921, the book offered countless colourful escapades in the dreamscape, including charming descriptions of her attempts to fly. “A slight paddling motion by my hands increases the pace of the flight and is used either to enable me to reach a greater height, or else for the purpose of steering, especially through any narrow place, such as through a doorway or window,” she wrote.

Based on her experiences, Arnold-Forster proposed that humans have a “dual consciousness”. One of these, the “primary self”, allows us to analyze our circumstances and to apply logic to what we are experiencing – but it is typically inactive during sleep, leaving us with a dream consciousness that cannot reflect on its own state. In lucid dreams, however, the primary self “wakes up”, bringing with it “memories, knowledge of facts, and trains of reasoning”, as well as the awareness that one is asleep.

She may have been on to something. Neuroscientists and psychologists today may balk at the term “dual consciousness”, but most would agree that lucid dreams involve an increased self-awareness and reflection, a greater sense of agency and volition, and an ability to think about the more distant past and future. These together mark a substantially different mental experience from the typically passive state of non-lucid dreams.

“There’s a grouping of higher-level features, which seem to be very closely associated with what we think of as human consciousness, which come back in that shift from a non-lucid to a lucid dream,” says Dr Benjamin Baird, a research scientist at the Center for Sleep and Consciousness at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “And there’s something to be learned in looking at that contrast.”

You may wonder why we can’t just scan the brains of fully awake subjects to identify the neural processes underlying this sophisticated mental state. But waking consciousness also involves many other phenomena, including sensory inputs from the outside world, that can make it hard to separate the different elements of the experience. When a sleeper enters a lucid dream, nothing has changed apart from the person’s conscious state. As a result, studies of lucid dreams may provide an important point of comparison that could help to isolate the specific regions involved in heightened self-awareness and agency.

Unfortunately, it has been very hard to get someone to lucid dream inside the noisy and constrained environment of an fMRI scanner. Nevertheless, a case study published in 2012 confirmed that it can be done. The participant, a frequent lucid dreamer, was asked to shift his gaze from left to right whenever he “awoke” in his dream – a dream motion that is also known to translate to real eye movements. This allowed the researchers to identify the moment at which he had achieved lucidity.

The brain scans revealed heightened activity in a group of regions, including the anterior prefrontal cortex, that are together known as the frontoparietal network. These areas are markedly less active during normal REM sleep, but they became much busier whenever the participant entered his lucid dream – suggesting that they are somehow involved in the heightened reflection and self-awareness that characterize the state.

Several other strands of research all point in the same direction. Working with the famed consciousness researcher Giulio Tononi, Baird has recently examined the overall brain connectivity of people who experience more than three lucid dreams a week. In line with the findings of the case study, he found evidence of greater communication between the regions in the frontoparietal network – a difference that may have made it easier to gain the heightened self-awareness during sleep.

Further evidence comes from the alkaloid galantamine, which can be used to induce lucid dreams. In a recent study, Baird and colleagues asked people to sleep for a few hours before waking. The participants then took a small dose of the drug, or a placebo, before practising a few visualisation exercises that are also thought to modestly increase the chances of lucid dreaming. After about half an hour, they went back to sleep.

The results were striking. Just 14% of those taking a placebo managed to gain awareness of their dream state, compared with 27% taking a 4mg dose of galantamine, and 42% taking an 8mg dose. “The effect is humongous,” says Baird.

Galantamine has been approved by Nice to treat moderate Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought to work by boosting concentrations of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at our brain cell’s synapses. Intriguingly, previous research had shown that this can raise signalling in the frontoparietal regions from a low baseline. This may have helped the dreaming participants to pass the threshold of neural activity that is necessary for heightened self-awareness. “It’s yet another source of evidence for the involvement of these regions in lucid dreaming,” says Baird, who now hopes to conduct more detailed fMRI studies to test the hypothesis.

Prof Daniel Erlacher, who researches lucid dreams at the University of Berne in Switzerland, welcomes the increased interest in the field. “There is more research funding now,” he says, though he points out that some scientists are still sceptical of its worth.

That cynicism is a shame, since there could be important clinical applications of these findings. When people are unresponsive after brain injuries, it can be very difficult to establish their level of consciousness. If work on lucid dreams helps scientists to establish a neural signature of self-awareness, it might allow doctors to make more accurate diagnoses and prognoses for these patients and to determine how they might be experiencing the effects of their illness.

At the very least, Baird’s research is sure to attract attention from the vast online community of wannabe lucid dreamers, who are seeking more reliable ways to experience the phenomenon. Galantamine, which can be extracted from snowdrops, is already available as an over-the-counter dietary supplement in the US, and its short-term side-effects are mild – so there are currently no legal barriers for Americans who wish to self-experiment. But Baird points out that there may be as-yet-unknown long-term consequences if it is used repeatedly to induce lucid dreams. “My advice would be to use your own discretion and to seek the guidance of a physician,” he says.

For the time being, we may be safest using psychological strategies (see below). Even then, we should proceed with caution. Dr Nirit Soffer-Dudek, a psychologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, points out that most attempts to induce lucid dreaming involve some kind of sleep disturbance – such as waking in the middle of the night to practice certain visualizations. “We know how important sleep is for your mental and physical health,” she says. “It can even influence how quickly your wounds heal.” Anything that regularly disrupts our normal sleep cycle could therefore have undesired results.

Many techniques for lucid dream induction also involve “reality testing”, in which you regularly question whether you are awake, in the hope that those thoughts will come to mind when you are actually dreaming. If it is done too often, this could be “a bit disorienting”, Soffer-Dudek suggests – leading you to feel “unreal” rather than fully present in the moment.

Along these lines, she has found that people who regularly try to induce lucid dreams are more likely to suffer from dissociation – the sense of being disconnected from one’s thoughts, feelings and sense of identity. They were also more likely to show signs of schizotypy – a tendency for paranoid and magical thinking.

Soffer-Dudek doubts that infrequent experiments will cause lasting harm, though. “I don’t think it’s such a big deal if someone who is neurologically and psychologically healthy tries it out over a limited period,” she says.

Perhaps the consideration of these concerns is an inevitable consequence of the field’s maturation. As for my own experiments, I am happy to watch the research progress from the sidelines. One hundred years after Mary Arnold-Forster’s early investigations, the science of lucid dreaming may be finally coming of age.

How to lucid dream

There is little doubt that lucid dreaming can be learned. One of the best-known techniques is “reality testing”, which involves asking yourself regularly during the day whether you are dreaming – with the hope that this will spill into your actual dreams.

Another is Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming (Mild). Every time you wake from a normal dream, you spend a bit of time identifying the so-called “dream signs” – anything that was bizarre or improbable and differed from normal life. As you then try to return to sleep, you visualise entering that dream and repeat to yourself the intention: “Next time I’m dreaming, I will remember to recognise that I’m dreaming.” Some studies suggest that it may be particularly effective if you set an alarm to wake up after a few hours of sleep and spend a whole hour practising Mild, before drifting off again. This is known as WBTB – Wake Back to Bed.

There is nothing particularly esoteric about these methods. “It’s all about building a ‘prospective’ memory for the future – like remembering what you have to buy when you go shopping,” says Prof Daniel Erlacher.

Technology may ease this process. Dr Michelle Carr recently asked participants to undergo a 20-minute training programme before they fell asleep. Each time they heard a certain tone or saw the flash of a red light, they were asked to turn their attention to their physical and mental state and to question whether anything was amiss that might suggest they were dreaming. Afterwards, they were given the chance to nap, as a headset measured their brain’s activity.

When it sensed that they had entered REM sleep, it produced the same cues as the training, which – Carr hoped – would be incorporated into their dreams and act as reminders to check their state of consciousness. It worked, with about 50% experiencing a lucid dream.

Some commercial devices already purport to offer this kind of stimulation – though most have not been adequately tested for their efficacy. As the technology advances, however, easy dream control may come within anyone’s reach.

By:

David Robson is a writer based in London. His next book, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life (Canongate), is available to preorder now

Source: Can lucid dreaming help us understand consciousness? | Consciousness | The Guardian

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A Diesel Engine Giant Pushes Batteries And Hydrogen At COP26 To Combat Climate Crisis

Cummins Inc., a century-old maker of truck engines powered by diesel and other fossil fuels, may not seem like the most likely attendee at the UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, but CEO Tom Linebarger was there this week telling industrial partners and customers the company is working to help them shift to low- and no-carbon vehicles powered by batteries and hydrogen.

As battery-electric passenger models gain market share in the U.S., Europe and China, attention is shifting to electrifying larger, dirtier commercial vehicles including semi-trucks, construction and mining vehicles, as well as trains, ships and aircraft. Currently, no single type of electric power train can easily scale to handle light and heavy-duty vehicle categories, so it’s necessary to use both, Linebarger tells Forbes.

“If you’re flogging one thing and you trash the other, it’s not a good plan for meeting the challenge of climate change,” he said from Glasgow. “Climate change is the existential crisis of our time. It’s just not a good idea to argue about whether batteries are better than fuel cells.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose company has become synonymous with electric cars, is among the most vocal critics of using hydrogen as a transportation fuel, citing its inefficiency relative to batteries and the high cost of the fuel cell stacks that make electric power from hydrogen and oxygen. Yet makers of trucks and commercial vehicles that need to travel long distances aren’t convinced that multi-ton, lithium-ion battery packs that need relatively long recharge times are the best option.

(Notably, Musk also doesn’t launch his SpaceX rockets with batteries, but instead a blend of kerosene and liquid oxygen that spew climate-warming black carbon, or soot.)

Shifting away from carbon-based fuels was a key topic for negotiators at COP26 and appeared to have made a historic breakthrough with a first-draft agreement calling for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. But a second draft appeared to soften the wording as major oil and gas producers fight to save subsidies.

Rather than storing electricity as batteries do, fuel cells make it as needed in an electrochemical process involving hydrogen and oxygen that emits only water as a by-product. Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins is far from alone in pushing hydrogen to power heavy-duty vehicles. Toyota, Hino, Hyundai Motor, Volvo, Daimler, Nikola, General Motors and Navistar have their own hydrogen-fueled plans.

They say the technology is better suited for heavy trucks that drive hundreds of miles per day than multi-ton batteries, such as those required by Tesla’s long-delayed electric Semi, as the fuel cell power train is lighter and can be refueled about as quickly as a diesel truck.

Cummins sees batteries as a better option for smaller, lighter types of vehicles that don’t need to travel particularly long distances, but not as practical for users in remote areas or who require heavier types of applications.

“To bring battery-charging stations to every farm and every application, it’s just incredibly expensive, versus to make hydrogen available, which is transportable,” Linebarger says. “And vice versa . . . hydrogen is just not a good fuel when you can charge your cars at home and have to transport hydrogen around. You just lose too much efficiency.”

During the international conference, Cummins met with operators of large commercial fleets who are eager to make them more sustainable but are running into practical challenges to do so.

“There’s many big fleets here, actually. Their sustainability leaders here meeting with us are saying, ‘How can they hit these goals? And how can we help them do that faster?’” Amy Davis, president of Cummins’ New Power Segment, said from Glasgow. “They’re getting their head around last-mile trucks, but what about long-haul?

It can’t get there right now and [saying] ‘I couldn’t even charge three of my trucks at once, given the system that’s out there for charging. So what are we going to do?’ This is where fuel cell electric drive train can be quite complementary with the battery work that’s going on.”

But even as electric power train technologies advance, other options shouldn’t be overlooked in the near term, says Linebarger.

“We should start even on technologies that we have today, like lower carbon fuels, natural gas, renewable natural gas in (internal combustion) engines, because we are running out of time. It’s just that simple,” he said. “We are putting carbon in the atmosphere that we cannot remove so we need to get moving on all of them.”

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I track technology-driven changes that reshape how we get around from Los Angeles, America’s sunny capital of congestion.

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