IBM: 6 Black Colleges Getting Cybersecurity Centers

Six historically Black universities in five Southern states will be getting the first IBM cybersecurity centers aimed at training underrepresented communities, the company said. The schools are Xavier University of Louisiana, that state’s Southern University System, North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State, Clark Atlanta and Morgan State universities, according to a news release Tuesday. “Technology-related services are in constant demand, and cybersecurity is paramount,” said Dr. Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System based in Baton Rouge. The centers will give students, staff, and faculty access to modern technology, resources, and skills development, said Dr. Nikunja Swain, chair and professor of the Computer Science and Mathematics Department at South Carolina State, in Orangeburg. “It will further enhance our ongoing activities on several key areas, including cybersecurity, data science analytics, cloud computing, IOT, blockchain, design thinking, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence,” he said. IBM said it plans more than 20 such centers at historically Black colleges and universities nationwide. The company said each school will get customized courses and access to company academic programs. They also will be able to experience simulated but realistic cyberattacks through IBM Security’s Command Center. The company said it also will provide faculty and students free access to multiple SaaS IBM Cloud environments. Xavier is in New Orleans, North Carolina A&T in Greensboro and Morgan State in Baltimore. …

US, China Vie for Africa Mobile Phone Sector

Africa, in recent years, has become the new frontier where China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economic superpowers, are competing for influence in a key industry: telecommunications. This week, Ethiopia celebrated the launch of a 5G network powered by China’s telecom giant Huawei in Addis Ababa. Just before that, on a visit to the continent last week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited U.S. mobile company Africell’s offices in Angola, where the firm has amassed some 2 million users since it was launched just over a month ago.   “Today in Luanda, I visited @AfricellAo, an innovative, state-of-the-art U.S. company expanding 5G access in Angola with trusted technology components,” she wrote in a tweet. Asked in a subsequent press briefing whether the tweet wasn’t a dig at Huawei – which already has a huge digital foothold in Africa but which was sanctioned in the U.S. in 2019 by then-President Donald Trump – Sherman was unequivocal.   “It’s not about throwing shade (being critical) on Huawei. We’ve been very direct. We believe that when countries choose Huawei, they are potentially giving up their sovereignty,” she said. “They are turning over their data to another country. They may find themselves bringing in a surveillance capability they didn’t even know was there.”   Washington has long expressed concern that Beijing is trying to monopolize networks and possibly use them for espionage, while Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.   “So, we’ve been very public about our concerns about …

Musk Says $44-billion Twitter Deal Temporarily On Hold

Elon Musk said on Friday his $44-billion deal for Twitter Inc was temporarily on hold, citing pending details on spam and fake accounts. “Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said in a tweet. Shares of the social media company fell 20% in premarket trading. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company had earlier this month estimated that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter. It also said it faced several risks until the deal with Musk is closed, including whether advertisers would continue to spend on Twitter. Musk, the world’s richest man and the chief executive of Tesla Inc, had said that one of his priorities would be to remove “spam bots” from the platform. …

Bill Gates Says He Has COVID-19, Experiencing Mild Symptoms 

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms.  Via Twitter, the billionaire philanthropist said he will isolate until he is again healthy.  “I’m fortunate to be vaccinated and boosted and have access to testing and great medical care,” Gates wrote.  The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment of about $65 billion.  Bill Gates has been a vocal proponent for pandemic mitigation measures, specifically access to vaccines and medication for poorer countries. The Gates Foundation in October said it will spend $120 million to boost access to generic versions of drugmaker Merck’s antiviral COVID-19 pill for lower-income countries.  …

Elon Musk Says He’d Reinstate Trump’s Twitter Account

Elon Musk on Tuesday said he would reinstate former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.  The Tesla CEO who’s vying to buy Twitter and take it private for a reported price tag of $44 billion made the comment at the Financial Times Future of the Car conference.  “I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said. “I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”   Musk added that Trump’s ban was “morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”  Trump’s account was permanently banned after the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, with Twitter saying his continued presence on the platform was a “risk of further incitement of violence.”   Musk added that permanent bans should be “extremely rare” and reserved for “bots, or spam/scam accounts.”   “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said in a recent statement.   Trump has said he does not intend to rejoin Twitter and will focus mostly on the social network he launched called Truth Social.  Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.    …

Biden Starts Program to Provide Discounted Internet Service in US

The Biden administration announced on Monday that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households across the U.S. eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy. The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households. With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service — making internet service fully paid for with the government subsidy if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program. Biden, during his White House run and the push for the infrastructure bill, made expanding high-speed internet access in rural and low-income areas a priority. He has repeatedly spoken out about low-income families that struggled finding reliable Wi-Fi, so their children could take part in remote schooling and complete homework assignments early in the coronavirus pandemic. “If we didn’t know it before, we know now: High-speed internet is essential,” the Democratic president said during a White House event last month honoring the National Teacher of the Year. The 20 internet companies that have agreed to lower their rates for eligible consumers provide service in areas where 80% of the U.S. population, including 50% of the rural population, …

Musk Gets $7B Backing for Twitter Bid From Tech Heavyweights

Billionaire Elon Musk has strengthened the equity stake of his offer to buy Twitter with commitments of more than $7 billion from a range of investors, including Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. Other investors include Sequoia Capital Fund, which pledged $800 million, and VyCapital, which pledged $700 million, according to a Thursday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. But Ellison, who is also a and Tesla board member, is making the biggest contribution, pegged at $1 billion. Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud has pledged 35 million in Twitter shares in support of Musk, according to the filing. Musk in earlier regulatory filings revealed that he has sold roughly $8.5 billion worth of shares in Tesla to help fund the purchase. Musk later tweeted that he doesn’t plan any further sales of the company’s shares, meaning he would need outside commitments to help fund the $44 billion deal. Because of the new funding listed in the SEC filing Thursday, Musk will cut the $12.5 billion in margin loans he was leaning on in half, to $6.25 billion. The transaction is also now being funded by $27.25 billion in cash and equities, up from $21 billion. The Thursday filing also said that Musk is in ongoing talks with other parties including former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who is the second largest individual stakeholder in the company after Musk. “This was a smart financial and strategic move by Musk that will be well received …