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    China’s secretive space plane flies higher and longer than before / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 9 August, 2022 - 20:06

A Long March 2F carrier rocket carrying the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 5, 2022.

Enlarge / A Long March 2F carrier rocket carrying the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 5, 2022. (credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Last week one of China's most reliable rockets, the Long March 2F vehicle, took off from a spaceport in the Gobi Desert carrying a secretive space plane.

In a short report on the launch by China's state-owned Xinhua news service, the government provided little detail about the "reusable test spacecraft" beyond saying it would remain in orbit for "a period of time" and providing technical verification of reusable and in-orbit services.

This is the second time China launched what is believed to be a small space plane, likely similar in size and scope to the US Space Force's experimental X-37B vehicle. This uncrewed X-37B resembles NASA's space shuttle, but at less than 10 meters in length, it is considerably smaller. The vehicle's cargo bay can hold something about the size of a standard refrigerator.

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    Critical Vulnerabilities in GPS Trackers / Schneier · Thursday, 21 July, 2022 - 13:36 · 1 minute

This is a dangerous vulnerability:

An assessment from security firm BitSight found six vulnerabilities in the Micodus MV720 , a GPS tracker that sells for about $20 and is widely available. The researchers who performed the assessment believe the same critical vulnerabilities are present in other Micodus tracker models. The China-based manufacturer says 1.5 million of its tracking devices are deployed across 420,000 customers. BitSight found the device in use in 169 countries, with customers including governments, militaries, law enforcement agencies, and aerospace, shipping, and manufacturing companies.

BitSight discovered what it said were six “severe” vulnerabilities in the device that allow for a host of possible attacks. One flaw is the use of unencrypted HTTP communications that makes it possible for remote hackers to conduct adversary-in-the-middle attacks that intercept or change requests sent between the mobile application and supporting servers. Other vulnerabilities include a flawed authentication mechanism in the mobile app that can allow attackers to access the hardcoded key for locking down the trackers and the ability to use a custom IP address that makes it possible for hackers to monitor and control all communications to and from the device.

The security firm said it first contacted Micodus in September to notify company officials of the vulnerabilities. BitSight and CISA finally went public with the findings on Tuesday after trying for months to privately engage with the manufacturer. As of the time of writing, all of the vulnerabilities remain unpatched and unmitigated.

These are computers and computer vulnerabilities, but because the computers are attached to cars, the vulnerabilities become potentially life-threatening. CISA writes :

These vulnerabilities could impact access to a vehicle fuel supply, vehicle control, or allow locational surveillance of vehicles in which the device is installed.

I wouldn’t have buried “vehicle control” in the middle of that sentence.

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    China bans online gaming for minors except from 8 pm-9 pm Friday to Sunday / ArsTechnica · Monday, 30 August, 2021 - 15:56 · 1 minute

Chinese students playing video games on a computer.

Enlarge / Students practicing computer games in an eSports class at the Lanxiang technical school in Jinan, in China's eastern Shandong province, on January 29, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | AFP | Greg Baker)

China reportedly issued new rules today forbidding minors from playing video games more than three hours a week, while banning youth gaming entirely from Monday to Thursday. While some news reports say the ban applies to all video games, enforcement measures issued by the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) primarily target online games and online services related to gaming.

"Gaming companies will be barred from providing services to minors in any form outside the stipulated hours and must ensure they have put real-name verification systems in place, said the regulator, which oversees the country's video games market," a Reuters article said. "Previously, China had limited the length of time under-18s could play video games to 1.5 hours on any day and three hours on holidays under 2019 rules."

People under 18 will reportedly be allowed to play video games only from 8pm to 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays—limiting minors to three hours most weeks and not even letting them choose which three hours. Young people are reportedly prohibited from gaming at any time from Monday to Thursday each week under the new rules, which apply to all devices, including phones.

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    China has successfully landed on Mars [Updated] / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 15 May, 2021 - 01:00

Photo taken on Dec. 4, 2020, shows the model of China

Enlarge / Photo taken on Dec. 4, 2020, shows the model of China's first Mars probe Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover at the Zhejiang International Intelligent Transportation Industry Expo 2020. (credit: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

10pm ET Friday Update : In what can aptly be described as a tremendous success, China has become only the second nation to soft land a spacecraft on the surface of Mars.

Chinese media report that the Zhurong rover is expected to roll off the lander within the next three Martian days to begin its exploration of the red planet.

Original post : As early as Friday evening in the United States, China will attempt to set its Tianwen-1 lander down on the surface of Mars. After weeks of speculation, the China National Space Administration confirmed that the country will seek to land the mission, including its "Zhurong" rover, sometime between 23:00 UTC on Friday, May 14 and May 19.

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    Mysterious health incidents rise to 130, US officials confirm / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 May, 2021 - 18:17

1950s cars driving past a Brutalist, multistory concrete building is peak Cuba.

Enlarge / Picture of the US embassy in Havana, taken on September 29, 2017, after the United States announced it was withdrawing more than half its personnel in response to mysterious "health attacks" targeting its diplomatic staff. (credit: Getty | AFP )

Reports of mysterious health incidents that have led to brain injuries and caused a range of symptoms among government personnel continue to stream in. One of the latest cases occurred just within the last few weeks, and the total number of US personnel affected is now over 130, according to reports.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that at least three CIA officers have suffered serious health effects from enigmatic episodes that occurred overseas since last December, one of them within the last few weeks. All three of the CIA officers required outpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or other medical facilities, the Times noted.

Officials told the Times that the number of cases is now topping 130, up from the previously reported 60 cases, which were mainly among diplomats and their families stationed in Cuba and Guangzhou, China.

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    China targets rare earth export curbs to hobble US defense industry / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 - 15:27

Neodymium stones, part of the rare earth group, are used in the tech industry.

Enlarge / Neodymium stones, part of the rare earth group, are used in the tech industry. (credit: RHJ | Getty Images)

China is exploring limiting the export of rare earth minerals that are crucial for the manufacture of American F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry, according to people involved in a government consultation.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month proposed draft controls on the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals in China, which controls about 80 percent of global supply.

Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe, including defense contractors, would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute.

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    Twitter takes down China’s “baby-making machines” tweet on Uighur women / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 9 January, 2021 - 04:20

The Chinese embassy in the US posted this tweet on Thursday morning. Twitter removed it on Friday evening.

Enlarge / The Chinese embassy in the US posted this tweet on Thursday morning. Twitter removed it on Friday evening. (credit: BULENT KILIC / AFP) (Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday evening I wrote about a tweet by the Chinese government's US embassy praising China's treatment of its Uighur minority. According to the tweet, China was in the process of "eradicating extremism" among the Uighurs, which the government claims has "emancipated" Uighur women. "Gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines," the embassy claimed.

When I asked Twitter about this on Thursday evening, a spokesman told me that "this Tweet is not in violation of our policies." The tweet stayed online for most of the day on Friday. But on Friday evening, the tweet disappeared, replaced by a notice that "this Tweet violated the Twitter Rules."

"After further review we have taken action on this Tweet for violating our rules against dehumanization ," a Twitter spokeswoman told Ars on Friday evening. " We prohibit the dehumanization of a group of people based on" their religion, race, or ethnicity, among other categories.

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    Ex-Apple employees say company ignored China labor-law violations / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 10 December, 2020 - 20:52

An iPhone assembly worker works with Apple supplier Pegatron in an image distributed by Apple.

Enlarge / An iPhone assembly worker works with Apple supplier Pegatron in an image distributed by Apple. (credit: Apple )

A new report in The Information cites both former Apple employees and internal presentations and data to make the case that Apple has failed to keep its manufacturing partners in China accountable after the Chinese government passed a new law limiting the use of temporary workers at factories.

The former Apple employees included three from Apple's supplier responsibility team, and one who was "a senior manager familiar with its operations in China."

In the mid-2010s, China introduced a new labor law that required factories to limit the portion of their workforces made up of temporary workers (also called dispatch workers) to 10 percent.

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