This newsletter has 3 cover stories, 20 articles, 7 videos & 1 quote
Authorities around the World scramble for possibly the most dangerous variant of COVID-19 yet
Dubbed as ‘Omicron’, it was first reported by scientists in South Africa a few days ago. And the knee-jerk reaction from the rest of the World came in the form of travel restrictions for Southern African countries along with other ones where the new variant has been detected. A few countries are even contemplating blanket travel bans, as we saw in the earlier days of this pandemic. Many in the scientific community have criticized the decision saying it may slow down the spread but won’t stop it. The emergence of the new variant has also brought forward the issue of vaccine equity - something that many have been propagating, ever since the global vaccination campaign started.
South African scientists have detected
about 100 cases of the variant, mostly from its most populated province, Gauteng, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located. All viruses - including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 - change over time. Most changes have little or no impact on their properties. However, some changes may affect how easily they spread, their severity, or the performance of vaccines against them. This variant has drawn particular scrutiny because it has more than 30 mutations of the spike protein that viruses use to get into human cells, UK health officials say. That’s about double the number of the Delta variant and makes it substantially different from the original coronavirus that current COVID vaccines were designed to counteract.
Robotaxi revolution is gathering pace
Baidu’s robotaxi business, called Apollo, can now begin charging fees for passengers taking one of its 67 self-driving cars in Beijing. It’s the first time a large city in China has allowed companies to charge the public for robotaxi rides and sets the stage for other cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou to do the same. So far, Baidu can only offer public trips when a safety driver is accompanying passengers, but the company expects that to change in the next year or two. While Baidu didn’t reveal the exact pricing of the new service, it said fares would be similar to other premium ride-hailing apps like DiDi - which can cost twice as much as ordinary rides.
The new autonomous regulatory permit also covers an area of 60 square kilometers, including a town called Yizhuang that features businesses like JD.com’s headquarters. On Nov. 16, Alibaba’s autonomous driving company AutoX claimed its fully driverless robotaxis now operate in the largest single region in China - 168 square kilometers located in Shenzhen’s Pingshan District. Over in the U.S., Alphabet’s Waymo has been testing self-driving taxis primarily in California and Arizona. Waymo can currently charge the public for fares in a part of Phoenix, while its driverless vehicles don’t need a safety driver. General Motors self-driving unit Cruise also said earlier this month that it applied for final approval to become the first robotaxi operator to commercialize fully autonomous rides in San Francisco.
Over a million WordPress sites breached
WordPress is far more than just blogs. It powers over 42% of all websites. So whenever there’s a WordPress
security failure, it’s a big deal. And now GoDaddy, which is the top global web hosting firm with tens of millions more sites than its competition, reports that data on 1.2 million of its WordPress customers have been exposed
. In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, GoDaddy’s chief information security officer (CISO) Demetrius Comes said they’ve discovered unauthorized access to its managed WordPress servers. To be exact the breach opened information on 1.2 million active and inactive managed WordPress customers since September 6, 2021.