Updated Apr. 12, 2017 at 6:27 a.m.

Tech wrap: New disinformation center; Yahoo dissident dispute; Toshiba survival; new disorder drug; Dialog shares plunge

Published: 2017-04-12 06:25:00
Updated: 2017-04-12 06:27:00

Bulldog Bulletin

In today's Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:

  • New center to combat disinformation to be built in Finland
  • Yahoo accused of mismanaging fund for dissidents in China
  • Toshiba's survival in doubt amid Westinghouse troubles
  • 1st drug OK'd for movement disorder caused by certain meds
  • Shares in chipmaker Dialog plunge over Apple contract doubts

The details:

  • New center to combat disinformation to be built in Finland

A center to combat such things as disinformation and fake news will be built in Finland following an agreement Tuesday of nine countries from the European Union and NATO.

The countries — Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the United States — signed the memorandum to set up the so-called "hybrid threat" center in Helsinki with the support of the Finnish government.

The center will become operational later this year and will initially have a budget of 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) and be staffed by a group of experts and reasearchers from the founding members.

Lorenz Meyer-Minneman, head of NATO's civil preparedness unit, said the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats will serve as a platform for EU and NATO to pool resources and share expertise. Over recent years, campaigns to discredit, misinform and spread fake news have become an increasing problem for policymakers in Europe and the United States.

"Working together is essential in building resilience to hybrid threats," said Meyer-Minneman.

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said the EU and NATO will face "the challenge of hybrid threats hand in hand."

"Countering hybrid threats is a European priority," Soini said, adding, without elaborating, that Finland itself has become a target for "hybrid influencing" through constant disinformation campaigns and "malicious activities in the cyber domain."

The EU and NATO pledged in July at the military alliance's summit in Warsaw to increase cooperation in the areas of cyber defense and countering hybrid threats.

The new Helsinki center aims to closely cooperate with NATO's existing cyber defense center in Estonia and strategic communications center in Latvia.

Nordic neighbors Finland and Sweden are members of the EU, but not NATO. The rest are members of both though Britain is preparing to leave the EU.

  • Yahoo accused of mismanaging fund for dissidents in China

A lawsuit accused Yahoo of breaking a financial promise it made to Chinese dissidents almost a decade ago as penance for helping the Chinese government find and jail other activists.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in a Washington, D.C., federal court by a group of Chinese dissidents, contends that Yahoo mismanaged a $17 million fund set up to provide financial aid to activists.

Yahoo created the human rights fund in 2007, days after U.S. legislators roasted the company for providing authorities with information that led to the imprisonment of two Chinese dissidents, Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao.

The complaint alleges that Yahoo allowed Harry Wu, a now-deceased dissident from China, to spend about $13 million of the fund enriching himself and pursuing other projects tied to his interests.

Only $700,000 has been doled out to Chinese dissidents who had been imprisoned for expressing their opinions online, the reason Yahoo bankrolled the fund, according to the lawsuit.

Yahoo declined to comment.

The plaintiffs want Yahoo to replenish the fund and to pay unspecified damages. The suit arrives at a delicate time for Yahoo, which is preparing to sell its online operations to Verizon Communications for $4.5 billion.

  • Toshiba's survival in doubt amid Westinghouse troubles

Toshiba Corp., whose U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection, raised doubts Tuesday about its ability to survive as a company.

In an unaudited financial report, Toshiba projected a 1.01 trillion yen ($9.2 billion) loss for the fiscal year that ended in March, a figure that ballooned from the 390 billion yen loss forecast in February because of the troubles at Westinghouse . Four nuclear reactors Westinghouse is helping to build in South Carolina and Georgia are behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Toshiba said its recent financial losses have reduced its assets, resulting in downgrades by credit rating agencies and a breach in the terms of some loans. In addition, the Tokyo company said it counts on a special construction business license from the Japanese government and warned that a renewal after this year depends on meeting certain financial criteria.

Thus, Toshiba said, "there are material events and conditions that raise the substantial doubt about the Company's ability to continue as a going concern ."

Toshiba, whose products include computer chips and household appliances, acquired Westinghouse in 2006 with much fanfare, making nuclear power an important part of its business strategy.

  • 1st drug OK'd for movement disorder caused by certain meds

U.S. regulators have approved the first drug for treating a neurological syndrome that causes uncontrollable body movements that can also interfere with speech, swallowing and breathing.

The sometimes-disabling disorder, tardive dyskinesia, is caused by some widely used prescription medicines for psychiatric and gastrointestinal disorders. It can surface while patients are on those medicines or years after they stop. It affects about 500,000 U.S. patients.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved Ingrezza, developed by Neurocrine Biosciences, for treating adult patients. The San Diego-based biotech company didn't disclose the drug's list price, but said it will when it begins offering the once-a-day capsule for sale in May.

A second drug for the disorder, from Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals, is expected to win FDA approval in late August.

  • Shares in chipmaker Dialog plunge over Apple contract doubts

Shares in British-headquartered Dialog Semiconductor plunged on Tuesday after an analyst downgrade that cited uncertainty over the future of its relationship with Apple.

Shares in the firm were down 14.6 percent to 40.80 euros ($43.19) in late trading in Frankfurt, where Dialog Semiconductor is listed. They regained some ground after earlier dropping as low as 30.60 euros.

The selling followed an analyst note from Bankhaus Lampe that downgraded Dialog to "sell." It said there appeared to be "strong evidence" that Apple is developing its own power management chip for the iPhone and "intends to replace the chip made by Dialog at least in part."

Dialog later issued a statement in which it said it "knows of no business reason" for the movement in its share price and that its "business relationships are in line with the normal course of business."

Last week, shares in British chipmaker Imagination Technologies dived after that company announced that Apple plans to stop using its products.

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