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Lee Kun-Hee, force behind Samsung’s rise, dies at 78

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Lee Kun-Hee

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Lee Kun-Hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics but whose leadership was also marred by corruption convictions, died on Sunday. He was 78.

Lee died with his family members by his side, including his only son and Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the company said in a statement.

Samsung didn’t announce the cause of death, but Lee had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has been running Samsung, South Korea’s biggest company.

“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said. “His legacy will be everlasting.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent senior presidential officials to pass a condolence message to Lee’s family at a mourning site. In the message, Moon called the late tycoon “a symbol of South Korea’s business world whose leadership would provide courage to our companies” at a time of economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Moon’s office said.

Lee’s family said the funeral would be private but did not immediately release details.

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Lee inherited control of the company from his father, and during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its major rivals — Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones.

Its businesses encompass shipbuilding, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement parks and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20% of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock exchange.

Lee leaves behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017.

His death comes during a complex time for Samsung.

When he was hospitalized, Samsung’s once-lucrative mobile business faced threats from upstart makers in China and elsewhere. Pressure was high to innovate its traditionally strong hardware business, to reform a stifling hierarchical culture and to improve its corporate governance and transparency.

Like other family-run conglomerates in South Korea, Samsung has been credited with helping propel the country’s economy to one of the world’s largest from the rubbles of the 1950-53 Korean War. But their opaque ownership structure and often-corrupt ties with bureaucrats and government officials have been viewed as a hotbed of corruption in South Korea.

Lee Kun-Hee was convicted in 2008 for illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery designed to pass his wealth and corporate control to his three children. In 1996, he was convicted of bribing a former president. But in both cases, he avoided jail after courts suspended his sentences, at the time a common practice that helped make South Korean business tycoons immune from prison despite their bribery convictions.

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Most recently, Samsung was ensnared in an explosive 2016-17 scandal that led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s ouster and imprisonment.

Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and one of her confidants to help secure the government’s backing for his attempt to solidify control over Samsung. He was freed in early 2018 after an appellate court reduced his term and suspended the sentence. But last month, prosecutors indicted him again on similar charges, setting up yet another protracted legal battle.

Lee Kun-Hee was a stern, terse leader who focused on big-picture strategies, leaving details and daily management to executives.

His near-absolute authority allowed the company to make bold decisions in the fast-changing technology industry, such as shelling out billions to build new production lines for memory chips and display panels even as the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded. Those risky moves fueled Samsung’s rise.

Lee was born on Jan. 9, 1942, in the southeastern city of Daegu during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. His father, Lee Byung-chull, had founded an export business there in 1938, and following the Korean War, he rebuilt the company into an electronics and home appliance manufacturer and the country’s first major trading company.

When Lee Kun-Hee inherited control of Samsung from his father in 1987, Samsung was relying on Japanese technology to produce TVs and was taking its first steps toward exporting microwaves and refrigerators.

A decisive moment came in 1993 when Lee Kun-Hee made sweeping changes to Samsung after a two-month trip abroad convinced him that the company needed to improve the quality of its products.

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In a speech to Samsung executives, he famously urged, “Let’s change everything except our wives and children.”

Not all his moves succeeded.

A notable failure was the group’s expansion into the auto industry in the 1990s, in part driven by Lee Kun-Hee’s passion for luxury cars. Samsung later sold near-bankrupt Samsung Motor to Renault. The company also was frequently criticized for disrespecting labor rights. Cancer cases among workers at its semiconductor factories were ignored for years.

Earlier this year, Lee Jae-yong declared that heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labor activists questioned his sincerity.

The 52-year-old Lee expressed remorse for causing public concern over the 2016-17 scandal, but did not admit to wrongdoing regarding his alleged involvement.

Lee Kun-Hee resigned as chairman of Samsung Electronics before the 2008 conviction. But he received a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to Samsung’s management in 2010.

As South Korea’s most successful entrepreneur, (Lee Kun-Hee) received a dazzling spotlight, but he had many vicissitudes full of grace and disgrace,” the ruling Democratic Party said in a statement. “We hope a ‘new Samsung’ will be realized at an early date as Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong promised.”

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This story contains biographical material compiled by former AP Business Writer Youkyung Lee.

Source: apnews

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Enhanced Autopilot Returns from Tesla for $6,000

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A customer urged Tesla CEO Elon Musk to reinstate the Enhanced Autopilot package two weeks ago on Twitter as a kind of compromise between the “Full Self-Driving” program and the normal Autopilot package. It has returned since Musk’s “OK” response.

Remember that Tesla’s feature is not a self-driving car, despite the name suggesting that it is.

This week, Tesla brought back its Enhanced Autopilot option for electric vehicles. The baseline Autopilot driver-assistance suite is expanded by this $6,000 optional update, which includes automatic lane changes, automatic parking assistance, and autonomous car retrieval (also known as Summon and Smart Summon). Additionally, it has Navigate on Autopilot, which combines a number of driving aids to help steer the car from one on-ramp to the next.

Tesla has reshuffled its driver aids a number of times. Enhanced Autopilot used to function as the precursor to the “Full Self-Driving” option, which picked up most of its features when the mid-level offering was eventually dropped, with the rest going to basic Autopilot. The “Full Self-Driving” option remains, and it’s still $12,000, but its complement of features has been dramatically reduced. Now, on Tesla’s site, it says the package offers “traffic light and stop sign control” in addition to what Enhanced Autopilot offers, and in the future, it hopes to add automated steering on city streets.

Let’s now issue a couple disclaimers. Enhanced Autopilot is a technology that, like Autopilot, demands the driver to pay close attention to the road while it is in use. Brain-free does not equate to hands-free. Even with “Full Self-Driving,” which is still in beta, owners must constantly be aware of their surroundings in case they need to take back control at any point. There are currently no self-driving vehicles available for purchase.

Tesla does not have a public relations department, thus it was unable to get in touch with them for comment.

Recently, Tesla’s range of driver-assistance technologies has brought the firm to public attention—and not always in the best ways. Early in June, NHTSA questioned Tesla about instances of phantom braking on Autopilot-equipped vehicles, when the cars may suddenly apply the brakes without reason. A week later, the NHTSA broadened its investigation into accidents involving Autopilot to include around 830,000 vehicles.

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Instagram Gets It wrong in Abortion Content Moderation

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Becca Rea- Tucker’s 252,000 Instagram followers saw a picture of a pink cake she had prepared with the words “pro-abortion” written in white icing.

The Texas novelist and baker discovered on Tuesday that Instagram had classified the cake image as “sensitive” due to the possibility that it included “graphic or violent content” as users began to repost the image. Rea-Tucker was informed by others that Instagram had concealed the image behind a warning and requested age verification.

“I do think that Instagram’s algorithm suppresses accounts like mine that are vocally pro-abortion,” she said. “It’s really disappointing, but definitely not surprising.”

Rea-Tucker is not the only Instagram user to believe that the social media platform, which is controlled by Facebook parent company Meta, limits content related to abortion rights. Instagram stated on Tuesday that some content had been mistakenly classified as sensitive when it shouldn’t have been. The business attributed the issue to a “bug” that it is attempting to fix.

Instagram has been filled with comments from people expressing their views on the subject since the Supreme Court’s decision last week to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that safeguarded abortion rights. Some people are exchanging resources with those who want to learn more about abortions. However, it appears that the social network struggled under the onslaught of content, making moderation choices that have prompted inquiries about how effectively Instagram is upholding its policies.

There are numerous instances of content that appears to have been falsely classified as sensitive. A post from Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky was flagged by Instagram as possibly containing violent or graphic material. A text-and-map graphic with the caption “Abortion is Safe and Legal in Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington” was covered by the label.

The problem, according to Instagram spokesperson Stephanie Otway, affected posts regarding other topics besides abortion rights. She gave the example of a post about weapons that Instagram had incorrectly classified as sensitive when asked for examples.

According to Otway, the business is “working on a fix” for the incorrectly labelled content. She refused to give any further information or estimate the number of users who have been impacted by the bug.

Other difficulties with content moderation are being dealt with by Meta. On Monday, Vice reported that Facebook was blocking users who claimed to send abortion pills. Instagram banned searches for “abortion pills” and the abortion drug mifepristone, according to NBC News on Tuesday. Instagram unblocked the hashtags “abortion drugs” and “mifepristone” after NBC published the news.

Users are not permitted to “purchase, sell, trade, gift, request, or donate medications” on the platform, according to a tweet from Meta spokesman Andy Stone on Monday, but content “that highlights the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed.”
But he conceded that the dominant social media platform occasionally mishandles content control.

We’ve found a few instances of improper enforcement, and we’re fixing them, Stone said.

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PocketApp (formerly Abeg App) Secures AIP for Mobile Money Operator License in Nigeria  

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Abeg Technologies Limited, a division of Piggytech Global Limited, has received approval in principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate as a mobile money operator (MMO) in Nigeria. The platform is now the first social commerce platform in Nigeria to obtain the CBN’s approval for an MMO license, and the announcement represents an important step forward in the company’s effort to promote secure online transactions and commerce across the whole nation.

Additionally, Abeg is fully changing its name to “Pocket by Piggyvest” to emphasize its transition from a money transfer service to a social commerce platform (PocketApp). The platform’s new name alludes to its expanded user-buying and selling capabilities via virtual “pocket stores” and supports its foray into the social commerce space.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sent PocketApp an AIP dated April 25, 2022 for a license application to operate as a mobile money company. This is the first step toward ultimate clearance for the Piggytech subsidiary, provided that certain requirements outlined by the CBN are met.

The co-founder and chief operating officer of Piggytech Global Limited, Odunayo Eweniyi, expressed his excitement about the permission, saying, “We’re really thrilled that PocketApp has been granted an approval in principle as a Mobile Money Operator in Nigeria. Now that we have the full operating license, we will work closely with the Central Bank to fulfill all of its requirements. This will allow us to keep growing and increasing the range of our social payments, social commerce, and other digital financial products to reach more people.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria’s CBN and PocketApp both reaffirm their commitment to the financial inclusion agenda, and PocketApp will continue to make it simpler for our teeming young population to carry out their transactions smoothly while saving them money and expanding their options for getting paid.

The company will be able to conduct the following activities thanks to the Mobile Money Operator license: Wallet Creation and Management, E-money Issuing, USSD, Agent Recruitment and Management, Pool Account Management, Non-Bank Acquiring as Permitted by the CBN, Card Acquiring, and any other Activities that may be Permitted by the CBN.

According to Patricia Adoga, COO of PocketApp, when discussing the company’s development over the past 18 months, For the last 18 months, we have been focused on building the core infrastructure that will enable secure social commerce and payments at scale. We believe that social commerce will thrive better in a more trusted environment. So we added escrow to our payment infrastructure, protecting buyers and sellers and many other features, ensuring a smooth shopping experience on the app.”

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