News Briefing - Friday, February 2nd 2024
From US Top News and Analysis
Mark Zuckerberg says Meta will 'keep things lean,' going big in AI with a lid on hiring
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has reported strong fourth-quarter financial results, solidifying its "year of efficiency" strategy. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would continue to prioritize lean operations and will not accelerate hiring. In response to the challenges posed by a tough digital advertising market and Apple's 2021 iOS update, Meta implemented widespread cost-cutting measures. As a result, the company reduced its headcount by 22% to 67,317 employees. Wall Street has applauded Meta's efforts, with the stock nearly tripling in value in 2022 and Meta's market capitalization surpassing $1 trillion. The latest financial results show that the company achieved sales growth of 25% in Q4, reaching $40.1 billion, while net income soared by 201% to $14 billion. Operating margin also more than doubled to 41%. Meta's ability to simultaneously achieve healthy growth and decrease costs by 8% from the previous year signals its strong financial position. Consequently, the company authorized a $50 billion share buyback program and announced its first-ever quarterly dividend of 50 cents.
Tim Cook teases Apple AI announcement 'later this year'
During a call with analysts after reporting fiscal first-quarter earnings, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted that the company may have an announcement regarding artificial intelligence (AI) later this year. Cook expressed Apple's desire to compete with other technology giants, such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and OpenAI, who are investing in cutting-edge AI models that can generate text and images. While Cook did not provide specific details, he stated that Apple will continue to invest time and effort into AI, and looks forward to sharing the progress of their work in this space. While Apple has previously invested in machine learning technology, such as image recognition, it has not yet announced an advanced AI model. Last year, the company introduced an autocorrect feature for the iPhone keyboard based on a transformer-based language model. Apple typically unveils new software at its annual developer's conference, WWDC, in June.
AMD bets on AI-powered PCs as artificial intelligence race with Nvidia, Intel heats up
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is placing its bets on AI-enabled personal computers (PCs) as it aims to take on competitors Nvidia and Intel in the AI race. AMD President Victor Peng stated in an exclusive interview with CNBC that the market for AI PCs is expected to continue expanding, with increased adoption anticipated in the second half of the year. AI PCs are equipped with processors specifically designed to perform AI functions, such as real-time language translation. Research firm Canalys predicts that 60% of the PCs shipped in 2027 will be AI-capable, driven by the growing interest in generative AI following the viral success of ChatGPT. While initially targeted at certain enterprise PC segments, the integration of AI capabilities into PCs is expected to catalyze upgrades and eventually reach a broader market, according to research firm IDC.
·
·
·
From BBC News - Home
Clapham attack suspect Abdul Ezedi convicted of sex offence in 2018
Abdul Shakoor Ezedi, the suspect in the alkali attack in Clapham, South London, was convicted of a sex offence in 2018 and later granted asylum in the UK. Ezedi, 35, was last seen at a Tesco shop in North London and police have warned the public not to approach him. The attack took place on Lessar Avenue in Clapham and left a mother and her two daughters injured. The whereabouts of Ezedi are currently unknown. Ezedi arrived in the UK from Afghanistan in 2016 and was convicted of a sexual assault/exposure offence in 2018. He was granted asylum in 2021 or 2022 after claiming to have converted to Christianity and facing risks if returned to Afghanistan. The case highlights frustrations with the asylum tribunal system, where individuals are granted asylum despite having convictions in the UK.
Everything we know about the search for the Clapham attacker
Authorities in the UK are conducting a nationwide search for Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, a man accused of carrying out an acid attack on a mother and her two daughters in Clapham, south London. The attack took place on Wednesday, with the victims sustaining serious injuries. Ezedi is reportedly known to the family, though the exact nature of their relationship remains unclear. The 35-year-old suspect was last seen at a Tesco Express in Islington, north London, around 70 minutes after the attack took place. Police have released an image of Ezedi, showing significant injuries to the right side of his face. It is believed that Ezedi travelled to London from Newcastle, where he is said to reside. Authorities have asked for the public's help in locating the suspect, while warning against approaching him directly.
Huge gas blast kills two and injures hundreds in Kenya
A massive gas blast in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi has left at least two people dead and more than 220 injured. The explosion occurred when a lorry carrying gas exploded in the Embakasi district, causing a huge fireball. The blast caused extensive damage to residences, businesses, and cars, with the fire spreading through several apartment complexes. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. Witnesses reported feeling tremors immediately after the blast. Many of the injured suffered from inhalation injuries, including 25 children. The Kenya Red Cross has been working tirelessly to battle the flames, and a command center has been set up to coordinate rescue operations. The area has been cordoned off, and residents have been advised to stay away to prevent disruptions to the rescue mission.
·
·
·
From CNN.com - RSS Channel - App International Edition
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment in a New York state court will not be broadcasted by news outlets, a judge has ruled. While the arraignment is a public proceeding, cameras are not usually allowed inside the courtroom, and Judge Juan Merchan rejected media organizations' request for live coverage. However, he will permit five pool photographers to take still photos at the beginning of the proceedings. Trump's lawyers had previously urged the judge to reject the media's request for cameras, while the Manhattan District Attorney's office did not take a position. The arraignment is expected to unveil criminal charges against Trump related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who alleged they had affairs with him, allegations he denies. Trump's lawyers have stated that they plan to fight to have the charges dropped.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman provides insight into Donald Trump's recent attacks on a judge and his family during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Haberman explains that Trump's relentless criticism stems from a long-standing pattern of attacking those who he perceives as threats or obstacles to his success. In this particular case, the judge overseeing Trump's felony charges became the target of his ire. Haberman suggests that Trump's motivation behind these attacks is twofold: to undermine the judge's credibility and to rally his base of supporters. By questioning the judge's impartiality and legitimacy, Trump seeks to delegitimize any potential legal consequences that may arise from the charges against him. Additionally, Haberman points out that Trump's inflammatory rhetoric serves as a rallying cry to his supporters, unifying them against a perceived adversary. Overall, Haberman's analysis highlights the political calculation behind Trump's attacks and the impact they may have on public opinion.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received its first tranche of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. The IMF approved a four-year extended arrangement for Ukraine under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), providing around $15.6 billion as part of a $115 billion total support package. The program aims to stabilize various aspects of Ukraine's economy, such as fiscal, external, price, and financial stability. It also seeks to support economic recovery, enhance governance, and strengthen institutions to promote long-term growth. The EFF loan is significant as it is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war. However, the risks associated with the program are considered "exceptionally high". The success of the program relies on securing external financing on concessional terms to bridge fiscal and external financing gaps and restore debt sustainability.