#AI: Manufacturers will soon be liable for damage caused by artificial intelligence

Manufacturers will soon be liable for damage caused by artificial intelligence. That is what the European Commission is proposing today. This means that in the future, for example, damage caused by self-driving cars can be recovered from the manufacturer.

At the moment it is not always clear who is exactly liable if there is damage caused by, for example, a robot or algorithms. With this proposal, the Commission wants to give manufacturers and consumers more clarity.

Not just physical damage

The Commission also believes that damage should go beyond physical or material damage. For example, if you are discriminated against by an algorithm, the manufacturer is also liable. Take, for example, employment agencies that use algorithms to find suitable candidates and can systematically exclude people through the algorithm.

The problem is that it is often difficult for the consumer to prove whether the error is caused by artificial intelligence. For this reason, the Commission wants the burden of proof for people and companies to be lighter. If a victim can demonstrate that the damage is caused by the device or software, the manufacturer will be liable.

It may take a while before these rules really take effect. The European Parliament and the EU countries have yet to consider them.

Russia is getting stronger, the West is weakening

While Russia is gaining ground in eastern Ukraine, there was also positive military news last week. With the weapons received by the West, Ukraine has launched a number of successful attacks against the Russian army and is preparing a counter-offensive against southern cities like Kherson. Ukraine also launched its first attack on a Russian naval base in Crimea.

In addition, a new study by scientists at Yale showed that the sanctions are effective and have now paralyzed the Russian economy.

With the beginning of the transit of food from the Black Sea, the image may arise that Russia would be ready for an agreement. However, this is implausible. The country is already preparing for a long-term conflict and unfortunately Russia’s position vis-à-vis the West could improve significantly in the near future.

First, we must realize that Russia is expanding the conflict to more and more stages. In space, for example: Russia has indicated that it would stop collaborating on the International Space Station, which may endanger the entire project. This also applies to the maritime level: Putin this week approved a new maritime doctrine against American dominance of the world’s seas.

Not to mention the diplomatic scene, where Russia is very active and is trying to influence its image worldwide. In the former Soviet sphere, Putin has visited Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and has held summits with leaders in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Important consultations have been held with regional powers Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In Uzbekistan, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, an Asian bloc led by China and Russia.

The same Lavrov also visited Africa, where he disseminated the Russian perspective on the war in Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia and Congo. This ties in with anti-Western sentiment and with the economic concerns of many African leaders, as already demonstrated by Macky Sall, president of Senegal and currently chairman of the African Union.

In Africa, Russia has other instruments. In recent years, the Russian private army, the Wagner Group, has gained influence in countries such as Mali, the Central African Republic, Libya and more recently Burkina Faso. This could cause unrest on Europe’s borders.

Even more important than Russian diplomacy is that Western unity threatens to crumble. First, take the US. After the summer, the mid-term elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate will take place there and it is very likely that Biden’s position in Washington will weaken. Ukraine is currently not a major topic in the US. Foreign news in the US is about China and Saudi Arabia. However, the main topic on the news is inflation. Rising prices combined with a recession do not bode well for the incumbent government and its ability to conduct coherent foreign policy.

Consider Europe. Here we see a similar dynamic. The pain of higher prices is becoming more and more apparent and this is causing political tensions. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi was the first prominent victim of this when he resigned after clashing with the Five Star Movement over aid packages. After new elections, a right-wing coalition that favors a more positive relationship with Russia could come to power. Everywhere, including in rich countries such as the Netherlands, economic problems will put a lot of pressure on politicians in the coming months.

Tensions will also increase between European countries. The new Italian government will take office at a time of rising interest rates, which will bring renewed concerns about the debt burden of southern European countries. And also think of Eastern Europe. Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary, stated last week that the European sanctions policy is failing and that the EU should not align itself with Ukraine, but between Russia and Ukraine. Impending energy shortages will sharpen the dividing line between countries that are more and less dependent on Russian gas.

So it is quite possible that Western unity and support for Ukraine will come under great pressure in the coming months, let alone possible disruptions such as a new corona wave.

This does not mean that Russia is going to win the war or that the West should push for an agreement with Russia now. This is not feasible. But it does mean that we have to think now about what we will do with a weaker position. And that it is time to look more outwardly and launch our own EU diplomatic offensive.

Read the original piece written in Dutch by Haroon Sheikh here

The Netherlands has the highest gas price in the EU

Last month, the Netherlands had the highest gas price of all countries in the European Union.

Dutch households paid 283 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) of gas in July, more than twice as much as the average EU household. Gas is also about half the price in neighboring countries Germany and Belgium. A month earlier, gas in Sweden was more expensive than in the Netherlands, but in July Swedish households paid 237 euros per MWh.

(Bigstock/JKLS photography)

Purchasing power crisis

Energy prices have been rising rapidly for some time due to the war in Ukraine. Food and rent prices are also rising sharply. There is currently a purchasing power crisis that we have not experienced in decades.

The energy prices are the average rates (including taxes) that energy companies charge for a new energy contract. 283 euros per MWh comes down to 2.76 euros per cubic meter.

People also pay relatively high amounts for electricity in the Netherlands: 419 euros per MWh, including taxes and a reduction in energy tax. Only in Italy and Denmark prices are higher.

An average household that has to renew its energy contract has lost about 3700 euros per year extra compared to last year. The Dutch Budget Information Service Nibud warns that one in three households will run into problems as a result. “Some just need to cut back a bit, but there is also a large group who can’t get by even if they budget well.”

High prices also affect middle incomes

People with a low income can apply for an energy allowance of 1300 euros in the Netherlands. “That is not enough to keep people afloat”, according to Nibud. “We see too many groups who have too little income structurally to make ends meet. This also applies to people with a regular income.”

Companies make record profits

What we are seeing now is that inflation is impoverishing citizens while companies are making record profits. There’s plenty of money, but it all flows to companies.

The Boris Johnson era and Brexit will cost Spain 18 billion euros

MADRID – The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union was the major political claim during British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s term in office. However, the consequences have been disastrous for international trade, especially for Spain.

Brexit has cost Spain 18 billion euros in trade with the United Kingdom. In 2021, the first full year of Brexit – exports of goods and services from the United Kingdom to Spain amounted to 13.1 billion pounds (about 15.3 billion euros).

Less than during the pandemic

That is even a lower volume than the 14.1 billion pounds of 2020, the pandemic year. UK exports to Spain are a long way from the record £19.5 billion reached in 2019, before Covid and Brexit.

Imports from UK

Something similar is happening with regard to imports from the United Kingdom of goods and services from Spain. In 2021, shipments from Spain to the United Kingdom amounted to £22.4 billion (€26.2 billion). Trade from Spain to the United Kingdom in 2021 was comparable to that of 2020 (22.2 billion pounds). In other words, Brexit has prevented trade from recovering from the pandemic.

The 2021 data is a long way from the £31.6 billion foreign trade record Spain had with the UK in 2019. Between what has been lost in imports and exports on both sides since 2019, total trade between the UK and Spain is now €18 billion less than in 2019, data from the UK’s National Statistics Office shows.

Spain is UK’s sixth trading partner

Spain is among the six European countries with the most commercial exchanges with the United Kingdom, after the Netherlands, Germany, France, Ireland and Italy.

Watch full interview: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to BBC: “Russia is not spotlessly white. We are not ashamed to show who we are”

UN reporting of Russian military crimes against innocent civilians in Ukraine calls Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “fake news” in a rare interview with British broadcaster BBC. But Russia is not completely spotless, he admits.

Lavrov

Russia’s war in Ukraine is not an invasion but a special military operation, NATO is to blame and Russia is “denazifying” Ukraine: In an exclusive interview with British broadcaster BBC, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov quotes yet again the same catchphrases. The conversation took place on the sidelines of the annual Economic Forum of the Roscongress Foundation in St. Petersburg, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

But harrowing stories about how Ukrainian civilians are being treated by Russian soldiers abound. “Is that fighting against Nazism?” asks the BBC journalist when he presents one of those situations to the Russian minister. Lavrov admits this is regrettable, but also that the UN is being used to amplify fake news from the West.

“So again: is Russia spotlessly white?” the interviewer throws to him. “No, Russia is not spotlessly white”, Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed to show who we are.”

The Netherlands: Intelligence agencies must remove large bin of data of Dutch citizens

A Google data center in Belgium – GOOGLE

Dutch intelligence agencies AIVD and MIVD are violating the law by storing data of citizens that are not the subject of investigation for a long time. That is the conclusion of the watchdog for the intelligence agencies, the Commission of Supervision of the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD). The data must be deleted.

This is not about what critics call the ‘sleepnet’ (or ‘dragnet’ in English), which is used by the intelligence agencies to retrieve data from many people at the same time via untargeted internet taps. Instead, it concerns large amounts of private data that the agencies have received via, for example, a hack. The privacy impact of such a ‘bulk dataset’ can be comparable or even greater than an internet tap.

For example, an intelligence agency could hack a telecom provider to get the bills of all customers, and then retrieve the call history of possible terrorists. A mail provider could also be hacked. It is not known what kind of data is involved; it can concern both Dutch citizens and foreigners.

“The law states that these data may be kept for a year and a half, but they have kept them much longer,” said Addie Stehouwer from CTIVD. “That includes data they know will never be relevant.”

Binding

The verdict comes after a complaint from action group Bits of Freedom. It is not the first time that the regulator has warned about this, but now the judgment is binding. “We are very happy with the ruling, which says that these data must now be destroyed,” said Lotte Houwing of Bits of Freedom.

“We filed our complaint because the agencies broke the law, but the government did nothing about it,” says Houwing. “It’s problematic that this is happening and that our surveillance system is incapable of solving it on its own.”

The CTIVD is not warning for the first time that the law does not allow this at all. As early as 2019, the CTIVD wrote that the way in which the gigantic data sets are treated is wrong. In 2020, the agencies were warned again, and the CTIVD ruled that several datasets had to be destroyed. That didn’t happen.

The AIVD did not want to comment; the MIVD could not be reached for comment.

Putin’s son was allegedly born in Ticino, Switzerland

There have long been rumors that the alleged lover of the Kremlin boss is said to have given birth to their children in Switzerland. The rumor has been confirmed by s Swiss doctor with Russian roots.

President Vladimir Putin listens to Alina Kabayeva, gymnastics world champion, during his meeting with the Russian National Olympic team in the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin met with members of the Russian National Olympic Team to wish them success at the Sydney Olympics. Olympionikin Kabajewa, Sportsfreund Putin. Photo: MIKHAIL METZEL/ AP

The rumor persisted: in an exclusive clinic in the Swiss canton of Ticino, the Russian athlete Alina Kabaeva gave birth to a boy whose father is Vladimir Putin. The Swiss “Sonntags Zeitung” is now said to have confirmed the birth of two of Putin’s sons by a confidant of the doctor.


Putin is said not to have been present at the birth


According to this, the first son of the Russian President and the athlete is said to have been born in Ticino in 2015. The Swiss doctor with Russian roots is also said to have accompanied the birth of the second son – but in Moscow. According to the source of the “Sonntags Zeitung”, this is a longtime confidant of Putin, whom he is said to have known from his youth in Saint Petersburg. The doctor is said to have emigrated to Switzerland more than 30 years ago, given up her Russian maiden name and accepted Swiss citizenship.

The woman is said to have worked in the Clinica Sant’Anna. This is one of the most renowned maternity wards in Ticino, and on its website it advertises for international clients, especially Russian ones. The source of the Swiss newspaper dismissed rumors that Putin was present at the birth of the child.

Even before he divorced his wife Lyudmila Putina in 2014, Putin is said to have had a relationship with Kabaeva. The 38-year-old European and world champion in rhythmic gymnastics is described in the media as the »most agile woman in Russia«. Kabaeva has been a member of the governing body of Putin’s United Russia party since 2001, and in 2007 she became a member of the Russian parliament. In 2014 she took over the management of the “National Media Group”, one of the largest media companies in Russia. According to media reports, her annual salary should have been almost 10 million euros.

According to the Sunday newspaper, Kabaeva also remains close to power ideologically. Last month she condemned the sports sanctions imposed on Russia. In their eyes, the Russian attack on Ukraine served only to “protect Donetsk and Lugansk from the Nazis.”

Some Amazing Facts About World War I

First World War
  • An explosion on the battlefield in France could be heard in England. In Messines Ridge Belgium, miners detonated more than 431,000 kilograms of explosives, destroying the German front line. The explosion was so loud and powerful that it was heard by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 140 miles away on Downing Street.
  • World War I journalists risked their lives reporting on the war. The government tried to control the flow of information from the front lines during the war and journalists were banned from reporting. The Ministry of War (British Government) regarded reporting on the war as helping the enemy and if journalists were caught, they were sentenced to death.
  • Every week, 12 million letters were delivered to the front line. Even in times of war, it took only two days for a letter from Great Britain to be delivered to France. By the end of the war, more than two billion letters and 114 million packages had been delivered to the trenches!
  • Plastic surgery was invented because of the First World War. One of the earliest examples of plastic surgery came about during World War I when a surgeon by the name of Harold Gillies helped shrapnel victims with horrible facial injuries.
  • The youngest British soldier in the First World War was only 12 years old. More than 250,000 underage soldiers fought in the First World War. The youngest was a boy named Sidney Lewis who was just 12 years old but lied about his age to get involved. There were many thousands of underage boys who signed up and most lied about their age. Some participated out of love for their country, while others did it to escape the bad conditions, they lived in.
  • Blood banks were developed during the First World War. It was during World War I that the routine use of blood transfusion was used to treat wounded soldiers. In 1917, a US Army physician, Captain Oswald Johnson, established the first blood bank on the Western Front. He used trisodium citrate to keep the blood from clotting and making it unusable. The blood was kept in ice for 28 days and transported to the casualty shelters as needed for use in lifesaving operations for soldiers who had lost a lot of blood.
  • 9 out of 10 British soldiers survived the trenches. British soldiers were rarely in the firing range in World War I. They moved continuously in the trench system and were usually shielded from the dangers of enemy fire. Most of the British soldiers who fought in World War I had a regular routine and dullness.
  • British army generals had to be banned from going ‘over-the-top’. A common stereotype is that regular soldiers were used by the higher ranks. Because incompetent generals do not spend time on the front line while thousands of soldiers were killed. In fact, so many British generals wanted to fight and had to be banned from going for it because they could be killed, and a general’s experience was too important to lose.

Covid-19 is een ziekte aan de bloedvaten en geen ademhalingsziekte

Covid-19 tast bij sommige patiënten niet alleen de longen, maar ook de hersenen aan. Het blijkt dan ook geen ademhalingsziekte te zijn, maar een ziekte die lekkende en ontstoken bloedvaten veroorzaakt.

Covid-19

Patiënten krijgen te maken met verlies van reuk, hoofdpijn, verwarring, hallucinaties en delirium, en soms met depressies, angst en slaapproblemen. Soms krijgen ze een beroerte of hersenbloeding. Wetenschappers beginnen te begrijpen wat het virus in de hersenen doet, zegt Elyse Singer, een neuroloog van de University of California in Los Angeles (VS) in tijdschrift Science News.

Patiënten kunnen zes maanden na de infectie nog steeds last hebben van deze symptomen. Ongeveer 2% van de mensen met Covid-19 kreeg een beroerte. Bij mensen met ernstige infecties die gepaard gingen met delirium had 1 op de 11 een beroerte gehad.

In de bloedvaten van patiënten zijn kleine stolsels aangetroffen. De vaatwanden waren soms ongewoon dik en ontstoken, en er lekte bloed naar het hersenweefsel. Het blijkt nu dat het zogenaamde spike-eiwit van het virus ontstekingen in endotheelcellen aan de binnenkant van de slagaderwanden veroorzaakt. Covid-19 is dus geen typische aandoening van de luchtwegen, maar van de bloedvaten. Dit verandert de kijk op de ziekte en ook de behandeling.

Lees meer:

The Lancet: 6-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes in 236 379 survivors of COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records

The New England Journal of Medicine: Microvascular Injury in the Brains of Patients with Covid-19

Journal of the American Heart Association – SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Impairs Endothelial Function via Downregulation of ACE 2