Daily Archives: February 8, 2020

53 West 53, Jean Nouvel’s First Residential Skyscraper In New York City, Announces Immediate Occupancy

NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Hines, together with Singapore-based Pontiac Land Group and Goldman Sachs Investment Group, today announced that closings have commenced at 53 West 53, the highly anticipated 1,050-foot-high condominium tower rising above The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and residents are now living in the building.

Photo Credit Giles Ashford

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel with interior architecture by Thierry Despont, 53 West 53 features 145 residences ranging in size from one- to four-bedrooms, including full floor homes and duplex penthouses with private elevators. The building’s tapering design and Nouvel’s signature exposed structural system, known as the diagrid, means that the layout of each residence is unique. Current listings range from $3.5 million for a one-bedroom to $63.82 million for a four-bedroom duplex penthouse.

“Residents and future buyers now have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to live in an architectural masterpiece that has truly raised the bar for luxury living in Manhattan,” said David Penick, Managing Director at Hines.

Thierry Despont’s custom-designed kitchens feature backlit, translucent statuary classic marble backsplashes and back-painted white glass cabinetry with polished-nickel detailing fabricated in Italy by Molteni & C. Polished statuary marble countertops and islands with beveled edges complement fully-integrated Sub-Zero refrigerators and Miele ovens and low-profile cooktops. Each residence at 53 West 53 features elegantly crafted, furniture-grade walnut doors throughout with custom-designed bronze hardware, inspired by the tower’s distinctive silhouette, and manufactured by E.R. Butler & Co. Homes include triple-glazed, floor-to-ceiling windows, which minimize exterior noise and temperature variations, and provide acoustical privacy.

53 West 53 has the unique distinction of being integrated into MoMA’s architecturally distinguished urban campus. Three new gallery levels are now open within the base of the building, each accessed from and connected with the museum’s existing exhibition spaces. Residents receive deeded memberships at MoMA, which include the potential for the building to host private events in the museum’s iconic Sculpture Garden.

Impeccably curated amenities, staff and services elevate the living experience at 53 West 53. The Wellness Center, operated by The Wright Fit, includes a 65-foot lap pool, cold-plunge pool and hot tub with elaborate poolside vertical gardens designed by noted French botanist Patrick Blanc, as well as a regulation squash court. Floors 46 and 47 feature a double-height lounge with sweeping views and a private formal dining room overlooking Central Park. Residents also enjoy in-home private-dining service from the in-building restaurant. Other amenities include a library, a double-height Oenology suite for wine tasting, temperature-controlled wine storage vaults available for purchase, a private screening room, children’s playroom, and private storage available for purchase.  The building’s 24-hour staffed lobby, designed in a palette of cerused oak, marbles, alabaster, bronze and gold leaf, features private entrances on both 53rd and 54th Streets.

For additional information or to schedule a private appointment, please contact Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group at 212.688.5300 or visit www.53W53.com

Media Contact:
Philip Ramirez
pramirez@optimistconsulting.com
+1-347-564-6975

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1087818/Hines_53_West_53.jpg

Experience Handling Ebola Epidemic May Help Africa Dodge Coronavirus Bullet

GENEVA – The World Health Organization is scaling up measures to keep Africa free of the deadly coronavirus by shoring up the continent’s fragile health system and increasing preparedness efforts to tackle the potential spread of the dangerous virus to the continent.

In its latest update Saturday, China reported 811 deaths inside China out of 37,198 cases. The WHO in its Friday update reported 270 cases in 24 countries, including two deaths outside mainland China, in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The novel coronavirus has been moving with breathtaking speed since it was first detected in China’s city of Wuhan in December. While the number of cases of the pneumonia-like illness has been expanding to more countries around the world, so far it has not gained a foothold in the African region.

But that is of little comfort to Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. We are very concerned about it as we have watched it reach other continents around the world.

We know that there is quite significant travel of people from China to Africa and back … business people working in different African countries. And we have an intense travel of African business people, particularly going to China, she said.

Moeti told VOA her team had begun working with member states to help them get ready for the possible onset of the coronavirus. She said the WHO was providing overall guidance to ministers of health on how to manage possible cases and prevent the further spread of the disease.

She said the experience gained in tackling the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo could be usefully applied to a possible outbreak of the coronavirus on the continent.

We recognize that our countries have invested quite a bit in preparedness on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC, she said. And we are seeing that in some of the key areas, that readiness is now being deployed in relation to this coronavirus outbreak.

Moeti was elected as WHO Regional Director for Africa in February 2015 at the peak of the historic Ebola epidemic in West Africa. At the time, the WHO was widely criticized for its delay in sounding the alarm over Ebola and for failing to warn the world of the dangers posed by the disease, which infected nearly 29,000 people and killed more than 11,000.

The WHO has been careful not to repeat that mistake. It declared the coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30, one month after the disease was first reported in Wuhan City.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said the decision to declare a PHEIC was taken primarily because of the signs of human-to-human transmission outside China, and our concern of what might happen if the virus were to spread in a country with a weaker health system.

He added that both the coronavirus and Ebola outbreaks underscore once again the vital importance for all countries to invest in preparedness, not panic.

The WHO chief noted that more than $1 billion has been spent trying to stop the Ebola outbreak in the DRC. By comparison, just $18 million was spent on preparedness in Uganda. But when Ebola did cross the border, they were ready, and stopped it.

The U.N. health agency has released $9 million from its emergency fund to provide essential supplies, such as masks, gloves, respirators and diagnostic tests to countries at risk.

On February 5, it launched an appeal for $675 million to prevent the global spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Moeti said she and her team were working hard to help countries with their preparedness plans. One of the major areas in which we are working with our countries is to improve the diagnostic capacity because that is the first intervention, in a way that will tell you what situation you have.

Until earlier this week, she said only two laboratories � one in South Africa and the other in Senegal � were capable of testing samples. She said four more countries � Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria and Sierra Leone � now have the capacity to conduct tests as well.

The WHO has identified 13 top priority African countries, which either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China. They include important hubs in countries such as Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.

Moeti said screening methods developed to detect people who might carry the Ebola virus now are being deployed at airport points of entry to spot people who might be infected with the novel coronavirus.

It is one of our highest priorities. We are beefing up the screening capacity in countries,” said Moeti.

Happily, in some of the countries, she said, it is happening in addition to what is already being done in relation to the risk of Ebola. But it is being reinforced.

She said African countries now are in a better position to deal with a major disease outbreak than a few years ago. She warned, though, this could not be done without significant resources, domestic investment, as well as international solidarity in supporting African countries.

Moeti said a sustainable response and commitment from the international community is needed to bring the coronavirus to heel.

I really do hope that this coronavirus outbreak stimulates and encourages those types of investments, so that we do not peak and go back to square one, and then peak again when an outbreak actually happens in countries, she said.

Source: Voice of America

Cyborgs, Trolls and Bots: A Guide to Online Misinformation

NEW YORK – Cyborgs, trolls and bots can fill the internet with lies and half-truths. Understanding them is key to learning how misinformation spreads online.

As the 2016 election showed, social media is increasingly used to amplify false claims and divide Americans over hot-button issues including race and immigration. Researchers who study misinformation predict it will get worse leading up to this year’s presidential vote. Here’s a guide to understanding the problem:

MISINFORMATION VS. DISINFORMATION

Political misinformation has been around since before the printing press, but the internet has allowed falsehoods, conspiracy theories and exaggerations to spread faster and farther than ever.

Misinformation is defined as any false information, regardless of intent, including honest mistakes or misunderstandings of the facts. Disinformation, on the other hand, typically refers to misinformation created and spread intentionally as a way to confuse or mislead.

Misinformation and disinformation can appear in political ads or social media posts. They can include fake news stories or doctored videos. One egregious example of disinformation from last year was a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down to make her sound as if she were slurring her words.

Research indicates that false claims spread more easily than accurate ones, possibly because they are crafted to grab attention.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyzed more than 126,000 stories, some true and some false, that were tweeted millions of times from 2006 through the end of 2016. They found that misleading or incorrect stories traveled six times faster � and reached more people.

Online misinformation has been blamed for deepening America’s political polarization and contributing to distrust in government. The risks were highlighted in 2016 when Russian trolls created fake accounts to spread and amplify social media posts about controversial issues.

WAR OF THE BOTS AND CYBORGS

The disposable foot soldiers in this digital conflict are bots. In the social media context, these autonomous programs can run accounts to spread content without human involvement.

Many are harmless, tweeting out random poems or pet photos. But others are up to no good and designed to resemble actual users.

One study by researchers at the University of Southern California analyzed election-related tweets sent in September and October 2016 and found that 1 in 5 were sent by a bot. The Pew Research Center concluded in a 2018 study that accounts suspected of being bots are responsible for as many as two-thirds of all tweets that link to popular websites.

While flesh-and-blood Twitter users will often post a few times a day, about a variety of subjects, the most obvious bots will tweet hundreds of times a day, day and night, and often only on a specific topic. They are more likely to repost content rather than create something original.

And then there’s the cyborg, a kind of hybrid account that combines a bot’s tirelessness with human subtlety. Cyborg accounts are those in which a human periodically takes over a bot account to respond to other users and to post original content. They are more expensive and time consuming to operate, but they don’t give themselves away as robots.

You can get a lot from a bot, but maybe it’s not the best quality, said Emilio Ferrara, a data science researcher at the University of Southern California who co-wrote the study on Twitter bots. The problem with cyborgs is they are much harder to catch and detect.

SPOT THE BOTS

Bots can be hard to spot, even for the best researchers.

We have 12 ways that we spot a bot, and if we hit seven or eight of them we have pretty high confidence, said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that studies connections between social media, cybersecurity and government.

Nonetheless, Brookie recalled the case of a Twitter account from Brazil that was posting almost constantly � sometimes once per minute � and displayed other bot-like characteristics. And yet, It was a little grandma, who said, ‘This is me!’

Their prevalence and the difficulty of identifying them has made bots into a kind of digital bogeyman and transformed the term into an insult, used to dismiss other social media users with different opinions.

Michael Watsey, a 43-year-old New Jersey man who often tweets his support for President Donald Trump, said he has been repeatedly called a Russian bot by people he argues with online. The accusations prompted Twitter to temporarily suspend his account more than once, forcing him to verify he is a human.

All I’m trying to do is uses my First Amendment right to free speech, he said. It’s crazy that it’s come to this.

TROLLS AND SOCK PUPPETS

The word troll once referred to beasts of Scandinavian mythology who hid under bridges and attacked travelers. Now it also refers to people who post online to provoke others, sometimes for their own amusement and sometimes as part of a coordinated campaign.

Sock puppets are another oddly named denizen of social media, in this case a type of imposter account. While some users may use anonymous accounts simply to avoid identifying themselves, sock-puppet accounts are used by the owner to attack their critics or praise themselves. In October, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney acknowledged operating a secret Twitter account under the name Pierre Delecto, which he used to defend himself against criticism.

FAKED VIDEOS: DEEP, CHEAP AND SHALLOW

Deepfakes are videos that have been digitally created with artificial intelligence or machine learning to make it appear something happened that did not. They are seen as an emerging threat, as improvements in video editing software make it possible for tricksters to create increasingly realistic footage of, say, former President Barack Obama delivering a speech he never made, in a setting he never visited. They are expensive and difficult to create � especially in a convincing way.

Facebook announced last month that it would ban deepfake videos � with exceptions for satire. Beginning in March, Twitter will prohibit doctored videos, photography and audio recordings likely to cause harm. Material that is manipulated but isn’t necessarily harmful may get a warning label. And YouTube bans deceptive uses of manipulated media that could pose serious risk of harm.

By contrast, shallowfakes, cheapfakes or dumbfakes are videos that have been doctored using more basic techniques, such as slowing down or speeding up footage or cutting it.

Examples include a doctored video posted by Britain’s Conservative Party before December’s U.K. election that made it seem like a Labour Party official was struggling to respond to a question about Brexit.

Because they’re easy and inexpensive to make, cheapfakes can be every bit as dangerous as their fancier cousin, the deepfake.

Deepfakes are getting more realistic and easier to do, said John Pavlik, a journalism professor at Rutgers University who studies how technology and the internet are changing communication habits. But you don’t have to have special software to make these simpler ones.

Researchers who study Americans’ changing media habits recommend that people turn to a variety of sources and perspectives for their news, use critical thinking when evaluating information on social media, and think twice about reposting viral claims. Otherwise, they say, misinformation will continue to flow, and users will continue to spread it.

The only solution, Ferrara said, is education.

Source: Voice of America