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May 16th, 2014
02:11 PM ET

A strong message against illegal ivory

This week, the Hong Kong government started to destroy almost 30 tons of confiscated ivory.

It is destroying the massive stockpile by burning it. Officials plan to incinerate about three tons of illegal ivory a month. The process is expected to take at least a year.

Ivory has long been valued in China for making prized seals and carvings - turning China into a global hub for the illegal ivory trade.

So can this high-profile government program send a strong enough message to end the public's appetite for elephant tusks?

I talked to wildlife activist Sharon Kwok for her reaction to the campaign.

May 15th, 2014
05:34 PM ET

Breaking down #FCCNetNeutrality

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to move forward with a proposal that could create Internet "fast lanes." Now the FCC will collect public comments on the new rules for net neutrality.

There have long been concerns that the rules would undermine an open Internet where all content is treated equally, and instead allow companies to pay for priority access.

A Twitter chat earlier this week reveals that the FCC is concerned about protecting an open Internet and is considering all options.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tweeted, "Title II is a viable option we’re considering. We are listening and welcome continued discussion. #FCCNetNeutrality"

That's a reference to Title II of the Communications Act. Currently, broadband Internet is not bound by those common-carrier regulations.

Our regular tech contributor Nick Thompson, editor of the NewYorker.com, points out that there are two ways to for the FCC to safeguard net neutrality: pass new rules that could get bogged down in court, or reclassify Internet providers as public utilities under Title II.

Click on to hear Nick break down the issues at stake and the options for the FCC.

May 14th, 2014
06:54 AM ET

What is needed to stop torture?

It has been 30 years since the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Torture, which commits all governments to combating the abuse.

And yet, torture remains widespread across Asia.

Amnesty International reports there are at least 23 Asia-Pacific countries still carrying out acts of torture. It adds that the true number is likely to be higher.

The human rights group says China and North Korea are among the worst offenders.

Torture is also used to force confessions or silence activists in other countries in the region including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

What is needed to finally stop torture?

I posed that question to Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director of Amnesty International. Click on to hear her thoughts on what can finally end the brutal practice.

May 8th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Weighing in on the Alibaba IPO

Alibaba has filed its IPO in New York to raise $1 billion, but former Alibaba CEO David Wei is confident it will raise even more than Facebook's $16 billion bonanza.

Though many anticipate a blockbuster IPO, industry watchers also expect significant challenges ahead for the Chinese e-commerce giant.

How will Alibaba address concerns about the amount of counterfeit goods sold by its users - concerns that prompted Wei to resign after a fraud inquiry in 2011?

And how will Alibaba manage the shift to mobile, especially given the threat from Tencent's WeChat - the Chinese mobile app already on its way to becoming a global brand?

Click on for my conversation with China tech investor and former Alibaba CEO, David Wei.

(His catchphrase to describe founder Jack Ma may raise an eyebrow!)

March 11th, 2014
07:22 PM ET

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Passport Mystery Solved

Authorities have identified the two passengers who used stolen passports to travel on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Both are Iranian men. Neither is believed to have any terror link, easing initial fears that foul play could be behind the plane's disappearance.

Earlier in the day, Malaysian officials identified the first passenger as 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who they believe was trying to emigrate to Germany.

But why were stolen passports used on the missing airliner? And how deep is the airport security flaw it exposes?

Earlier, I talked to Phil Robertson, Deputy Director Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. He contextualizes why Mehrdad would use a stolen passport to reach Germany.

Robertson says that after the Green Revolution in Iran, “There were many Iranians who fled to Malaysia. Malaysia is a country where you can get visa-free entry for many Middle East passports. And so a significant number of asylum seekers from Iran did end up in Malaysia."

As for what the incident says about airport security and screening in Malaysia, Robertson says, "It's very interesting. I was a bit surprised to see people with stolen passports elude security at the Malaysia airport. That's one of the more effective and efficient airports in Southeast Asia."

Click on to hear more from Robertson including his thoughts on whether the two men were part of a human smuggling operation, and the thriving trade for stolen passports in Southeast Asia.

March 7th, 2014
02:22 PM ET

Who is the brains behind Bitcoin?

The original paper that proposed Bitcoin is credited to a "Satoshi Nakamoto."

It was widely assumed to be a pseudonym for the team of coders behind the virtual currency.

But then, came this - a blockbuster Newsweek cover story, written by Leah McGrath Goodman, that names Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as "the mystery man behind the crypto-currency."

The report has generated a lot of controversy, especially among members of the Bitcoin community who say the evidence is insufficient and circumstantial.

And since the revelation, Mr. Nakamoto himself has denied any link to the virtual currency.

So is he truly the brains behind Bitcoin?

That was the first question I posed to Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman…

February 26th, 2014
02:20 PM ET

Outrage in Hong Kong after editor attack

There is shock and outrage in Hong Kong after the brutal stabbing of a veteran newspaper editor.

Kevin Lau, a journalist in Hong Kong known for his tough reporting on China, is fighting for his life after a knife attack by an unknown assailant.

Last month, Lau was sacked as the editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, stirring public outcry about press freedom in Hong Kong.

Many of Lau's supporters feared his departure reflected Beijing's efforts to limit press freedom and influence independent media in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

After the knife attack, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung was quick to condemn the violence.

Meanwhile, journalists are stunned that such an attack would take place in Hong Kong - an international media hub that has supported free reporting across the political spectrum.

Click on to hear the concerned reaction from journalist Tara Joseph, the President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong.

February 26th, 2014
08:26 AM ET

Samsung on "cruise control" with GS5, but shines with Gear Fit

Samsung's latest flagship smartphone is out. The reviews are in. And the reaction is...

Meh.

"What you're seeing here is a Samsung that's very much on cruise control," says Chris Ziegler, deputy managing editor of The Verge.

"It's an evolution of the S4, not a whole new phone. There were some of us who were hoping they would take a little bit of a leap here, go to an aluminum body, maybe a new user interface, but really it's just an evolved S4."

Compared to its predecessor, the S5 has a bigger screen, a better camera and a faster processor.

There's also a fingerprint sensor built into the home button, just like what you find in the iPhone 5s.

But one big change in the Galaxy S5: there's a built-in heart rate sensor. Does that score points for Samsung?

"The fact that they included a heart rate sensor in the GS5 really isn't surprising when you consider fitness is a buzzword in mobile now," Ziegler tells me.

Along with the Galaxy S5, Samsung unveiled three smartwatches at the Mobile World Congress – the Samsung Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit.

For Ziegler and his fellow editors at the Verge, the slender and form-fitting Gear Fit stole the limelight at the big reveal in Barcelona.

 "Of the new smartwatches that they showed yesterday, that would be the winner for sure," says Ziegler.

Click on for the full interview.

February 21st, 2014
09:44 AM ET

What's the big deal with WhatsApp?

So Facebook purchases the mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock.

And the world raises a collective eyebrow.

Yes, the app has over 450 million monthly active users. But is it truly worth it?

According to Silicon Valley insider Om Malik, the answer is yes... if you're Mark Zuckerberg.

Malik tells me, "What seems like an insane amount of money is not insane when you feel a little worried about the long-term prospects of the company."

Click on to hear more about why Facebook forked up so much money for WhatsApp, and to see how the app's key metrics compare to its rivals.

February 6th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Cybersecurity not "only for the nerds"

You might not worry a lot about cybersecurity, but it's an issue that affects everyone online.

Militaries and governments see cyberattacks as serious threats.

Businesses and individuals can be impacted by data theft. In fact, just last month, 20 million South Koreans had their personal data stolen in a colossal breach.

Why is this happening? And how can we protect ourselves?

I recently spoke with P.W. Singer, Director of The Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. He's also co-author of the newly released book, "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know."

Singer says one factor behind the wave of recent major data breaches is something he calls the "Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap." It refers to political and business leaders tasked with managing cybersecurity but are themselves not cyber-literate.

"This gap is across the board," says Singer." And it's because we have an attitude that - as one White House official said - this is a domain 'only for the nerds.'"

"But we're all on cyberspace, we all depend on it, so we can't treat it as an issue for the I.T. crowd."

In a time of rising security breaches, cyberweapon development, and cyber-exposure as more devices get online, Singer is calling for a fundamental shift in attitude to embrace better "cyber hygiene."

"We teach our kids regular hygiene not just to protect themselves but everyone else they connect with during the day," he says.

"We need the same attitude when it comes to cyber hygiene and our collective responsibility at the global level all the way down to individual citizens and netizens."

It may start with updating your password or upgrading your firewall - just one step forward and away from an age of rising cyber insecurity.

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