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Outdoor Music Festival

Why Younger Musicians Are Getting Their Estates In Order Early

Artists like Anderson .Paak and Taylor Swift are already planning out their legacies as a means of keeping control of their music catalogues as their careers continue to develop.

South Africa

Meet The Black Mambas, A Women-Only Ranger Team Working To Preserve African Wildlife

June 23rd is known as World Female Ranger Day as a means of raising awareness and funding to support the women within the industry who are working hard to preserve the Earth. Only 11% of the world’s global ranger population is made up of women, so the campaign, co-founded by adventurers Holly Budge and Margot Dempsey, works to shed light on the inequalities that exist within the industry. 

The Black Mambas are a women-only team of rangers who work in Africa to preserve the dwindling wildlife population throughout the continent. The group was founded in 2013 when rhino poaching was reaching an unprecedented high in South Africa. 

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The group itself is made up of 36 women all from local tribes who are armed only with pepper spray. They work everyday to patrol the Kruger National Park’s fence lines for unwelcome intruders, as well as checking camera traps and finding snare traps. The group was founded out of this particular national park, which is why they spend a majority of their time there. 

 Nkateko Mzimba joined the team back in 2014 when they began more community outreach efforts as well. Mzimba claimed that the group began connecting with local schools to teach kids about the importance of protecting the Earth and its many inhabitants. 

“We ask our community to change, to protect wildlife for their kids, trying our best to show we love and support them, and we give them food.” 

The Black Mambas have to date reduced bushmeat poaching by 89% and virtually eliminated the use of snare traps. While they themselves are not armed beyond pepper spray, should they come across packers with weapons, they can easily call for armed backup from local authorities. 

“The Black Mambas support me. I am here because of them, and I want to empower them. Women were always undermined. Now, they see the importance of us in the bush. When people offer bribes, we say no – we don’t share information. Some say this is a man’s job, but we’ve proved that we can do this,” Mzimba explained. 

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In Zimbabwe, the first all-female anti-poaching unit was recently established in 2017. Akashinga and the Black Mamba’s amazing efforts in Africa is actually the reason Budge and Dempsey established World Female Ranger Day in the first place. 

“I wanted to bring their stories to the world. Some are AIDS orphans, some come from abusive marriages. Now, they’re breadwinners and their kids go to school. But other women don’t have this success, and World Female Ranger Day will bring their challenges to light.”

“I felt privileged to see their work firsthand. It was like a war zone – the Akashingas all carried AK47s, with wild animals and signs of poachers around us. It made me appreciate how dangerous their work is. They’re not playing rangers. This is real, very real,” Budge explained. 

World Female Ranger Day works to provide an international forum for rangers everywhere to share advice and offer support. 

“We offer grants for improved facilities and equipment, along with annual awards. These rangers are fantastic role models, inspiring and empowering women with a strong message that anything can be overcome with training, self-belief, determination, and resilience,” says Budge.

“On World Female Ranger Day, we’re role models to ladies out there who feel underrated. We need a day to celebrate us. And they need to see us, to be inspired.”

Facebook Scientists Can Now Tell Where Deepfakes Come From 

Artificial intelligence workers at Facebook have developed a new software that can reveal when a picture or video post is a deepfake as well as where it came from. 

Deepfakes are defined as videos that have been digitally altered in some way using AI technology. Typically, these videos show very hyper-realistic celebrity faces, saying whatever the user making the post wants them to say. These videos have become increasingly realistic, and popular, making it extremely hard for humans to tell what’s real, and what’s not. 

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The Facebook researchers claim their new AI software can establish if a piece of media is a deepfake or not based on a single image taken from said video. The software will also be able to identify the AI that was used to create the video, no matter how advanced the technique. 

Tal Hassner, an applied research lead at Facebook, said that it’s “possible to train AI software to look at the photo and tell you with a reasonable degree of accuracy what is the design of the AI model that generated that photo.”

Deepfakes in general are a major threat to internet safety, in fact, Facebook banned them back in January 2020 due to the amount of misinformation they were spreading. Individuals can easily create doctored videos of powerful politicians making wild claims about the US that other world leaders could potentially see and take seriously before it’s determined that the video is indeed fake. 

Hassner said that detecting deepfakes is a “cat and mouse game, they’re becoming easier to produce and harder to detect. One of the main applications of deepfakes so far has been in pornography where a person’s face is swapped onto someone else’s body, but they’ve also been used to make celebrities appear as though they’re doing or saying something they’re not.”

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Nina Schick is a deepfake expert who’s worked closely with the White House and President Biden on this issue. She emphasized that while it’s amazing that we now have the technology to detect when these videos are fake, it’s just as important to find out how well they actually work in the real world and how well they’re able to track and stop individuals from continuing to make them. 

“It’s all well and good testing it on a set of training data in a controlled environment. But one of the big challenges seems to be that there are easy ways to fool detection models, like by compressing an image or a video.”

It’s still unclear how or even if Facebook will be using this technology to combat the amount of misinformation deepfakes work to spread on the platform, but Tassner explained that ideally the technology will be used among all in the future. 

“If someone wanted to abuse them (generative models) and conduct a coordinated attack by uploading things from different sources, we can actually spot that just by saying all of these came from the same mold we’ve never seen before but it has these specific properties, specific attributes,” he said.

Striped Cat

UK Cat Owners May Be Forced To Microchip Their Pets Due To Increase In Thefts 

The millions of cat owners in the United Kingdom may soon be forced to microchip their furry friends, or face fines for refusal, due to new government policies that are working to prevent feline theft, which has been on the rise within the past year for the nation. 

Police data in the UK shows that the number of cats being stolen has tripled within the past five years; with a notable 12.3% increase last year alone. Owners are now being called upon to microchip their cats the same way dogs are so in the case of a petnapping, they’ll be easier to track down; and it will be easier to find the perpetrator. 

Local media reports wrote that  “a microchipping measure, which means animals can be tracked and identified if stolen and resold, is being introduced as part of a package of changes by a ministerial taskforce to combat the growing black market in stolen pets. Those who do not get their cats registered will face a fine of up to £500.”

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Robert Buckland is the UK’s justice secretary who’s running the taskforce for this initiative alongside Priti Patel and George Eustice, the home and environment secretaries. One government spokesperson spoke to the press this week about these new measures:

“Last month the home secretary, the lord chancellor and the environment secretary met to discuss a cross-government approach to combating this issue and we will announce next steps in due course. This builds upon the huge amounts of work already undertaken by junior ministers and officials to address this cruel and criminal practice.”

Stefan Blakiston Moore, an advocacy and government relations officer for Cats Protection, said: “It is a Conservative manifesto commitment [for cats to be legally microchipped] so we hope they will come forward with this. Cats Protection has been campaigning for it for a number of years. We are waiting for a response to that but we are hopeful a positive change will come and compulsory microchipping is brought in.”

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Moore explained that currently in the “UK there are 2.6 million cats that are not microchipped. It is usually a significant amount of cats and the risk is when they go missing or are stolen as has been reported. Without a microchip it is extremely difficult to reunite them with their owners.”

Ministers are also considering a ban on all cash purchases of pets as a means of stopping the black market for pet trading; one of the largest black markets in the world besides drugs. Some cat breeds can sell for over $2,000, and lockdown has led to a major surge in dog and cat sales, which has led to an increase in pet theft. 

“There is a thriving black market in cash sales of animals, no questions asked. A cash ban is appealing because we know it crippled the stolen scrap metal industry and microchipping is absolutely central to the way in which animals’ welfare is maintained,” a senior government source told the press.

The bill is currently being discussed among ministers in the UK, and a decision will likely be reached in the coming month.

Cybersecurity Real Estate

Real Estate Agencies Creating ‘Incident Response Plans’ To Prepare For Potential Cyberattacks

The amount of personal information exchanged during a real estate transaction makes the industry especially vulnerable to these kinds of online attacks.