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Tesla Secures Land in Shanghai for First Factory Outside US

Electric auto brand Tesla Inc. said it signed an agreement Wednesday to secure land in Shanghai for its first factory outside the United States, pushing ahead with development despite mounting U.S.-Chinese trade tensions.

Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, announced plans for the Shanghai factory in July after the Chinese government said it would end restrictions on full foreign ownership of electric vehicle makers to speed up industry development.

Those plans have gone ahead despite tariff hikes by Washington and Beijing on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in a dispute over Chinese technology policy. U.S. imports targeted by Beijing’s penalties include electric cars.

China is the biggest global electric vehicle market and Tesla’s second-largest after the United States.

Tesla joins global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. that are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

Local production would eliminate risks from tariffs and other import controls. It would help Tesla develop parts suppliers to support after service and make its vehicles more appealing to mainstream Chinese buyers.

Tesla said it signed a “land transfer agreement” on a 210-acre (84-hectare) site in the Lingang district in southeastern Shanghai.

That is “an important milestone for what will be our next advanced, sustainably developed manufacturing site,” Tesla’s vice president of worldwide sales, Robin Ren, said in a statement.

Shanghai is a center of China’s auto industry and home to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., the main local manufacturer for GM and VW.

Tesla said earlier that production in Shanghai would begin two to three years after construction of the factory begins and eventually increase to 500,000 vehicles annually.

Tesla has yet to give a price tag but the Shanghai government said it would be the biggest foreign investment there to date. The company said in its second-quarter investor letter that construction is expected to begin within the next few quarters, with significant investment coming next year. Much of the cost will be funded with “local debt” the letter said.

Tesla’s $5 billion Nevada battery factory was financed with help from a $1.6 billion investment by battery maker Panasonic Corp.

Analysts expect Tesla to report a loss of about $200 million for the three months ending Sept. 30 following the previous quarter’s $742.7 million loss. Its CEO Elon Musk said in a Sept. 30 letter to U.S. securities regulators that the company is “very close to achieving profitability.”

Tesla’s estimated sales in China of under 15,000 vehicles in 2017 gave it a market share of less than 3 percent.

The company faces competition from Chinese brands including BYD Auto and BAIC Group that already sell tens of thousands of hybrid and pure-electric sedans and SUVs annually.

Until now, foreign automakers that wanted to manufacture in China were required to work through state-owned partners. Foreign brands balked at bringing electric vehicle technology into China to avoid having to share it with potential future competitors.

The first of the new electric models being developed by global automakers to hit the market, Nissan’s Sylphy Zero Emission, began rolling off a production line in southern China in August.

Lower-priced electric models from GM, Volkswagen and other global brands are due to hit the market starting this year, well before Tesla is up and running in Shanghai.

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Tesla Secures Land in Shanghai for First Factory Outside US

Electric auto brand Tesla Inc. said it signed an agreement Wednesday to secure land in Shanghai for its first factory outside the United States, pushing ahead with development despite mounting U.S.-Chinese trade tensions.

Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, announced plans for the Shanghai factory in July after the Chinese government said it would end restrictions on full foreign ownership of electric vehicle makers to speed up industry development.

Those plans have gone ahead despite tariff hikes by Washington and Beijing on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in a dispute over Chinese technology policy. U.S. imports targeted by Beijing’s penalties include electric cars.

China is the biggest global electric vehicle market and Tesla’s second-largest after the United States.

Tesla joins global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. that are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

Local production would eliminate risks from tariffs and other import controls. It would help Tesla develop parts suppliers to support after service and make its vehicles more appealing to mainstream Chinese buyers.

Tesla said it signed a “land transfer agreement” on a 210-acre (84-hectare) site in the Lingang district in southeastern Shanghai.

That is “an important milestone for what will be our next advanced, sustainably developed manufacturing site,” Tesla’s vice president of worldwide sales, Robin Ren, said in a statement.

Shanghai is a center of China’s auto industry and home to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., the main local manufacturer for GM and VW.

Tesla said earlier that production in Shanghai would begin two to three years after construction of the factory begins and eventually increase to 500,000 vehicles annually.

Tesla has yet to give a price tag but the Shanghai government said it would be the biggest foreign investment there to date. The company said in its second-quarter investor letter that construction is expected to begin within the next few quarters, with significant investment coming next year. Much of the cost will be funded with “local debt” the letter said.

Tesla’s $5 billion Nevada battery factory was financed with help from a $1.6 billion investment by battery maker Panasonic Corp.

Analysts expect Tesla to report a loss of about $200 million for the three months ending Sept. 30 following the previous quarter’s $742.7 million loss. Its CEO Elon Musk said in a Sept. 30 letter to U.S. securities regulators that the company is “very close to achieving profitability.”

Tesla’s estimated sales in China of under 15,000 vehicles in 2017 gave it a market share of less than 3 percent.

The company faces competition from Chinese brands including BYD Auto and BAIC Group that already sell tens of thousands of hybrid and pure-electric sedans and SUVs annually.

Until now, foreign automakers that wanted to manufacture in China were required to work through state-owned partners. Foreign brands balked at bringing electric vehicle technology into China to avoid having to share it with potential future competitors.

The first of the new electric models being developed by global automakers to hit the market, Nissan’s Sylphy Zero Emission, began rolling off a production line in southern China in August.

Lower-priced electric models from GM, Volkswagen and other global brands are due to hit the market starting this year, well before Tesla is up and running in Shanghai.

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Twitter Releases Tweets Showing Foreign Attempts to Influence US Politics

Twitter has released a collection of more than 10 million tweets it says are related to foreign efforts to influence U.S. elections going back a decade, including many tied to Russia’s digital efforts to sow chaos and sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump.

Twitter says it made the cache, which includes tweets from Iran and Russia’s state-sponsored troll farm, Internet Research Agency, available so researchers around the world could conduct their own analyses.

The non-partisan Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab has been looking through the collection since last week.  In a preliminary analysis posted on Medium, the online publishing platform, the Lab noted operators from Iran and Russia appeared to have targeted politically polarized groups in order to maximize divisiveness in the United States’ political scene.  

“The Russian trolls were non-partisan: they tried to inflame everybody, regardless of race, creed, politics, or sexual orientation,” the Lab noted, “On many occasions, they pushed both sides of divisive issues.”

Sifting through the collection is no small task.  The entire set, available for public download on Twitter’s news blog, encompasses spreadsheets and archived tweets from 3,841 Russian-linked accounts and 770 Iran-linked accounts.  The downloads add up to more than 450 gigabytes of data.

The micro-blogging company said in its post, “They include more than 10 million tweets and more than two million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009….”

Twitter has taken increasing steps to generate public goodwill over its perceived connection to Russian attempts to sway the 2016 election and its role in the spread of fake news.  In January, the company notified about 1.4 million users that they had interacted with Russia-linked accounts during the election or had followed those accounts at the time they were suspended.

 

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iDnipro

Twitter Releases Tweets Showing Foreign Attempts to Influence US Politics

Twitter has released a collection of more than 10 million tweets it says are related to foreign efforts to influence U.S. elections going back a decade, including many tied to Russia’s digital efforts to sow chaos and sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump.

Twitter says it made the cache, which includes tweets from Iran and Russia’s state-sponsored troll farm, Internet Research Agency, available so researchers around the world could conduct their own analyses.

The non-partisan Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab has been looking through the collection since last week.  In a preliminary analysis posted on Medium, the online publishing platform, the Lab noted operators from Iran and Russia appeared to have targeted politically polarized groups in order to maximize divisiveness in the United States’ political scene.  

“The Russian trolls were non-partisan: they tried to inflame everybody, regardless of race, creed, politics, or sexual orientation,” the Lab noted, “On many occasions, they pushed both sides of divisive issues.”

Sifting through the collection is no small task.  The entire set, available for public download on Twitter’s news blog, encompasses spreadsheets and archived tweets from 3,841 Russian-linked accounts and 770 Iran-linked accounts.  The downloads add up to more than 450 gigabytes of data.

The micro-blogging company said in its post, “They include more than 10 million tweets and more than two million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009….”

Twitter has taken increasing steps to generate public goodwill over its perceived connection to Russian attempts to sway the 2016 election and its role in the spread of fake news.  In January, the company notified about 1.4 million users that they had interacted with Russia-linked accounts during the election or had followed those accounts at the time they were suspended.

 

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Many CEOs Pull Out of Saudi Investment Conference

Western corporate chiefs are continuing to pull out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, distancing themselves from questions about Riyadh’s involvement in the disappearance and alleged killing of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist in Turkey.

At first, many of the business leaders reserved judgment on what happened to the missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. But as reports from Turkey have mounted alleging that Saudi agents tortured, killed and dismembered Khashoggi two weeks ago inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, the chief executives have announced in recent days they will not be attending the three-day Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh starting Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia has denied killing Khashoggi, a critic of the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in columns he wrote for The Washington Post. It says it will disclose the results of its investigation into his disappearance.

The conference is being organized by Saudi Arabia’s mammoth sovereign wealth fund and was being billed as a showcase for economic reforms advanced by the crown prince as he attempts to diversify the kingdom’s economy, for decades focused on its role as the world’s leading oil exporter. The gathering had been dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” after the annual meeting of world economic leaders in Switzerland.

JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and the heads of two top U.S. investment firms — BlackRock and Blackstone — have dropped out of the conference. Top executives at the Ford auto manufacturing company and the MasterCard credit company have said they won’t be going, while the Google internet search engine company said Tuesday that the head of its cloud computing business also would not be at the event.

The chiefs of European bankers BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale also rescinded acceptances to the conference.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who says Saudi Arabia should not be judged guilty in the incident while its investigation is being conducted, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will decide by Friday whether to attend.

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iDnipro

Many CEOs Pull Out of Saudi Investment Conference

Western corporate chiefs are continuing to pull out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, distancing themselves from questions about Riyadh’s involvement in the disappearance and alleged killing of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist in Turkey.

At first, many of the business leaders reserved judgment on what happened to the missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. But as reports from Turkey have mounted alleging that Saudi agents tortured, killed and dismembered Khashoggi two weeks ago inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, the chief executives have announced in recent days they will not be attending the three-day Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh starting Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia has denied killing Khashoggi, a critic of the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in columns he wrote for The Washington Post. It says it will disclose the results of its investigation into his disappearance.

The conference is being organized by Saudi Arabia’s mammoth sovereign wealth fund and was being billed as a showcase for economic reforms advanced by the crown prince as he attempts to diversify the kingdom’s economy, for decades focused on its role as the world’s leading oil exporter. The gathering had been dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” after the annual meeting of world economic leaders in Switzerland.

JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and the heads of two top U.S. investment firms — BlackRock and Blackstone — have dropped out of the conference. Top executives at the Ford auto manufacturing company and the MasterCard credit company have said they won’t be going, while the Google internet search engine company said Tuesday that the head of its cloud computing business also would not be at the event.

The chiefs of European bankers BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale also rescinded acceptances to the conference.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who says Saudi Arabia should not be judged guilty in the incident while its investigation is being conducted, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will decide by Friday whether to attend.

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Hackers Accused of Ties to Russia Hit 3 E. European Companies: Cybersecurity Firm

Hackers have infected three energy and transport companies in Ukraine and Poland with sophisticated new malware and may be planning destructive cyber attacks, a software security firm said on Wednesday.

A report by researchers at Slovakia-based ESET did not attribute the hacking activity, recorded between 2015 and mid-2018, to any specific country but blamed it on a group that has been accused by Britain of having links to Russian military intelligence.

The report is the latest to raise suspicions in the West about Russia’s GRU spy agency, accused by London of conducting a “reckless campaign” of global cyber attacks and trying to kill a former Russian spy in England. Moscow denies the charges.

Investigators at ESET said the group responsible for a series of earlier attacks against the Ukrainian energy sector, which used malicious software known as BlackEnergy, had now developed and used a new malware suite called GreyEnergy.

ESET has helped investigate a series of high-profile cyber attacks on Ukraine in recent years, including those on the Ukrainian energy grid which led to power outages in late 2015.

Kiev has accused Moscow of orchestrating those attacks, while U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye says a group known as Sandworm is thought to be responsible. Britain’s GCHQ spy agency said this month that BlackEnergy Actors and Sandworm are both names associated with the GRU.

“The important thing is that they are still active,” ESET researcher Robert Lipovsky told Reuters. “This shows that this very dangerous and persistent ‘threat actor’ is still active.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no evidence to support the allegations against the GRU and that Russia does not use cyber attacks against other countries.

“These are just more accusations. We are tired of denying them, because no one is listening,” he said.

After infection via emails laced with malicious weblinks or documents – a tactic known as “spear phishing” – or by compromising servers exposed to the internet, GreyEnergy allowed the attackers to map out their victim’s networks and gather confidential information such as passwords and login credentials, ESET said.

Lipovsky said his team then saw the hackers seek out critical parts of the companies’ systems, including computers which ran industrial control processes.

“It is my understanding that this was the reconnaissance and espionage phase, potentially leading up to cyber sabotage,” he said.

Global hacking campaign

The ESET report did not name the three companies infected in Ukraine and Poland, and Reuters was unable to identify them.

Ukraine’s Cyber Police confirmed the attacks on two Ukrainian companies but declined to give any further details. Polish authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

Ben Read, a senior manager on FireEye’s espionage analysis team, said his own work corroborated ESET’s report and that the Sandworm group was probably responsible.

The activity “is similar to the group we track as Sandworm,” he said. “And activity that we attribute to Sandworm has been named by the U.S. Department of Justice as being the GRU.”

Western countries including Britain and the United States issued a coordinated denunciation of Russia as a “pariah state” this month for what they described as a global hacking campaign run by the GRU.

GRU hackers have targeted institutions ranging from sports anti-doping bodies to a nuclear power company and the world chemical weapons watchdog, they said, as well as releasing the devastating “NotPetya” cyber worm which caused billions of dollars of damage worldwide in 2017.

The GRU, now formally known in Russia by a shorter acronym GU, is also accused by Britain of carrying out a nerve agent attack in England on former GRU officer Sergei Skripal. Moscow’s relations with the West have hit a post-Cold War low over Russia’s role in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Lipovsky and fellow ESET researcher Anton Cherepanov said the BlackEnergy attackers’ decision to upgrade to the new GreyEnergy malware may have been motivated by a need to cover their tracks and deflect attention from their activities.

The power outages triggered by the BlackEnergy attacks in Ukraine in December 2015 drew international attention and are recognised as the first blackout caused by a cyber attack.

“Threat actors need to switch up their arsenal from time to time,” Lipovsky said.

 

 

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Hackers Accused of Ties to Russia Hit 3 E. European Companies: Cybersecurity Firm

Hackers have infected three energy and transport companies in Ukraine and Poland with sophisticated new malware and may be planning destructive cyber attacks, a software security firm said on Wednesday.

A report by researchers at Slovakia-based ESET did not attribute the hacking activity, recorded between 2015 and mid-2018, to any specific country but blamed it on a group that has been accused by Britain of having links to Russian military intelligence.

The report is the latest to raise suspicions in the West about Russia’s GRU spy agency, accused by London of conducting a “reckless campaign” of global cyber attacks and trying to kill a former Russian spy in England. Moscow denies the charges.

Investigators at ESET said the group responsible for a series of earlier attacks against the Ukrainian energy sector, which used malicious software known as BlackEnergy, had now developed and used a new malware suite called GreyEnergy.

ESET has helped investigate a series of high-profile cyber attacks on Ukraine in recent years, including those on the Ukrainian energy grid which led to power outages in late 2015.

Kiev has accused Moscow of orchestrating those attacks, while U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye says a group known as Sandworm is thought to be responsible. Britain’s GCHQ spy agency said this month that BlackEnergy Actors and Sandworm are both names associated with the GRU.

“The important thing is that they are still active,” ESET researcher Robert Lipovsky told Reuters. “This shows that this very dangerous and persistent ‘threat actor’ is still active.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no evidence to support the allegations against the GRU and that Russia does not use cyber attacks against other countries.

“These are just more accusations. We are tired of denying them, because no one is listening,” he said.

After infection via emails laced with malicious weblinks or documents – a tactic known as “spear phishing” – or by compromising servers exposed to the internet, GreyEnergy allowed the attackers to map out their victim’s networks and gather confidential information such as passwords and login credentials, ESET said.

Lipovsky said his team then saw the hackers seek out critical parts of the companies’ systems, including computers which ran industrial control processes.

“It is my understanding that this was the reconnaissance and espionage phase, potentially leading up to cyber sabotage,” he said.

Global hacking campaign

The ESET report did not name the three companies infected in Ukraine and Poland, and Reuters was unable to identify them.

Ukraine’s Cyber Police confirmed the attacks on two Ukrainian companies but declined to give any further details. Polish authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

Ben Read, a senior manager on FireEye’s espionage analysis team, said his own work corroborated ESET’s report and that the Sandworm group was probably responsible.

The activity “is similar to the group we track as Sandworm,” he said. “And activity that we attribute to Sandworm has been named by the U.S. Department of Justice as being the GRU.”

Western countries including Britain and the United States issued a coordinated denunciation of Russia as a “pariah state” this month for what they described as a global hacking campaign run by the GRU.

GRU hackers have targeted institutions ranging from sports anti-doping bodies to a nuclear power company and the world chemical weapons watchdog, they said, as well as releasing the devastating “NotPetya” cyber worm which caused billions of dollars of damage worldwide in 2017.

The GRU, now formally known in Russia by a shorter acronym GU, is also accused by Britain of carrying out a nerve agent attack in England on former GRU officer Sergei Skripal. Moscow’s relations with the West have hit a post-Cold War low over Russia’s role in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Lipovsky and fellow ESET researcher Anton Cherepanov said the BlackEnergy attackers’ decision to upgrade to the new GreyEnergy malware may have been motivated by a need to cover their tracks and deflect attention from their activities.

The power outages triggered by the BlackEnergy attacks in Ukraine in December 2015 drew international attention and are recognised as the first blackout caused by a cyber attack.

“Threat actors need to switch up their arsenal from time to time,” Lipovsky said.

 

 

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