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Status of Huawei CFO’s husband questioned as he tries to post bail for wealthy wife

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What does $15 million mean to the daughter of a Chinese telecom billionaire? And what kind of hold will two Vancouver properties — no matter how pricey — exert on her husband?

After two days of argument in B.C. Supreme Court, the answers to those questions are likely to prove crucial Tuesday as a judge decides whether or not to grant bail to Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Justice William Ehrcke reserved judgment on a proposal for the 46-year-old’s release Monday after a day of arguments stressing the unique nature of a situation resulting in the spectacle of one of China’s most powerful women bargaining for her freedom as she awaits possible extradition to the United States for allegedly violating trade sanctions against Iran.

“They could lose 15 million and go on with their life, and their lifestyle wouldn’t be appreciably different.” Ehrcke noted as he asked questions of Crown and defence lawyers at the end of the day.

“I want all the help that counsel can give me.”

‘I say that is a serious offence’

According to a summary of facts filed with the court, Meng is accused of repeatedly lying to financial institutions about the relationship between Huawei and a company called Skycom that did business in Iran in violation of international sanctions.

U.S. prosecutors claim “Huawei operated Skycom as an unofficial subsidiary to conduct business in Iran while concealing Skycom’s link to Huawei.”

Meng poses with her family in one of a series of pictures filed in court in support of her bail application. (B.C. Supreme Court)

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei. She serves as deputy chairwoman of the company’s board and served on the board of Skycom in 2008 and 2009.

As a result of her alleged lies, prosecutors contend that the banks she dealt with were “induced into carrying out transactions that they otherwise would not have contemplated.” Those transactions put them on the wrong side of the international community.

“I say that is a serious offence,” said federal Crown counsel John Gibb-Carsley. “That’s assisting Iran in violation of the sanctions.”

‘Global interest will be triggered’

From the outset of the bail proceedings last week, Meng’s lawyer predicted that the stature of his client would trigger global interest in the case.

The first appearance happened in a virtually empty courtroom. CBC News has listened to a recording of the initial hearing, in which David Martin argued successfully for a temporary publication ban.

He likened the case to the arrest of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. “That kind of global interest will be triggered,” he said.

Watch Meng’s bail hearing draw crowds in Vancouver:

Here’s a glimpse of what the scene looked like outside of the B.C. Supreme Court on December 10, 2018. 0:42

A week later, a wall of cameras sat at the steps of the B.C. Supreme Court building in downtown Vancouver. Reporters from New York to Japan have requested accreditation.

The lineup to get inside the secure courtroom built for the Air India trial stretched beyond a set of concrete steps to the next floor. Students did homework as they waited.

A man who claimed he graduated from school with Meng asked if he would be able to see her from the gallery. A woman claimed she once had dinner with Meng; she was worried about the toll on her health.

‘Jailer in the community’

Inside the court, supporters and the curious packed the public gallery. Cellphones rang in violation of court rules as grim-faced sheriffs walked up and down the line telling the crowd not to take pictures.

Meng cut a strange figure when she arrived from Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge.

In this courtroom sketch, Meng wears prison green sweats as she sits beside a translator during her bail hearing on Friday. (Jane Wolsak/Canadian Press)

She wore a shapeless green track suit but gave firm orders as she stood to direct an assistant who ran back and forth between the glass-enclosed prisoner’s box and the tables holding a team of Meng’s high-priced lawyers.

Her husband, venture capitalist Xiaozong Liu, sat in the front row of the public gallery a few metres away. A team of Huawei employees surrounded him.

Liu has offered to act as surety, putting up both his Vancouver homes as well as $1 million in cash, an amount totalling about $15 million.

But Martin and the judge struggled with the idea of a non-resident acting in a role described as being Meng’s “jailer in the community.”

‘There always has to be a first time’

Gibb-Carsley also doubted Liu’s ability to act as surety, given that his life — like Meng’s — is almost entirely in China.

He questioned the assertion that the couple has meaningful ties to the local community. And he also noted that many of the photographs the couple filed with the court as proof of their Canadian lives were essentially tourist snaps.

“If Ms. Meng was to flee, Mr. Liu would not be left behind,” Gibb-Carsley said.

Meng poses with one of her children in a picture she filed with the court. (B.C. Supreme Court)

The plan for Meng’s potential release calls for round-the-clock physical surveillance combined with an electronic ankle monitor using GPS to mark her location. The heads of two security firms testified to the reliability of their products.

But Gibb-Carsley noted that neither man could guarantee Meng wouldn’t escape. He asked them about the possibility of their electronic systems being compromised.

No matter how remote, he later told the judge, the court couldn’t discount the possibility Meng might use her vast wealth and unique access to the world’s most popular telecommunications technology to evade her captors.

“Is that the risk the court should take?” Gibb-Carsley asked the judge.

“There always has to be a first time,” Ehrcke quipped.

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Top 5 Analytics Trends That Are Shaping The Future

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Digital transformation is increasingly becoming the focus for many CIOs around the world today—with analytics playing a fundamental role in driving the future of the digital economy.

While data is important to every business, it is necessary for businesses to have a firm grip on data analytics to allow them transform raw pieces of data into important insights. However, unlike the current trends in business intelligence—which is centred around data visualization—the future of data analytics would encompass a more contextual experience.

“The known data analytics development cycle is described in stages: from descriptive (what happened) to diagnostic (why did it happen), to discovery (what can we learn from it), to predictive (what is likely to happen), and, finally, to prescriptive analytics (what action is the best to take),” said Maurice op het Veld is a partner at KPMG Advisory in a report.

“Another way of looking at this is that data analytics initially “supported” the decision-making process but is now enabling “better” decisions than we can make on our own.”

Here are some of the current trends that arealready shaping the future of data analytics in individuals and businesses.

  1. Growth in mobile devices

With the number of mobile devices expanding to include watches, digital personal assistants, smartphones, smart glasses, in-car displays, to even video gaming systems, the final consumption plays a key role on the level of impact analytics can deliver.

Previously, most information consumers accessed were on a computer with sufficient room to view tables, charts and graphs filled with data, now, most consumers require information delivered in a format well optimized for whatever device they are currently viewing it on.

Therefore, the content must be personalized to fit the features of the user’s device and not just the user alone.

  1. Continuous Analytics

More and more businesses are relying on the Internet of Things (IoT) and their respective streaming data—which in turn shortens the time it takes to capture, analyze and react to the information gathered. Therefore, while analytics programspreviously were termed successful when results were delivered within days or weeks of processing, the future of analytics is bound to drastically reduce this benchmark to hours, minutes, seconds—and even milliseconds.

“All devices will be connected and exchange data within the “Internet of Things” and deliver enormous sets of data. Sensor data like location, weather, health, error messages, machine data, etc. will enable diagnostic and predictive analytics capabilities,” noted Maurice.

“We will be able to predict when machines will break down and plan maintenance repairs before it happens. Not only will this be cheaper, as you do not have to exchange supplies when it is not yet needed, but you can also increase uptime.”

  1. Augmented Data Preparation

During the process of data preparation, machine learning automation will begin to augment data profiling and data quality, enrichment, modelling, cataloguing and metadata development.

Newer techniques would include supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning which is bound to enhance the entire data preparation process. In contrast to previous processes—which depended on rule-based approach to data transformation—this current trend would involve advanced machine learning processes that would evolve based on recent data to become more precise at responding to changes in data.

  1. Augmented Data Discovery

Combined with the advancement in data preparation, a lot of these newer algorithms now allow information consumers to visualize and obtain relevant information within the data with more ease. Enhancements such as automatically revealing clusters, links, exceptions, correlation and predictions with pieces of data, eliminate the need for end users to build data models or write algorithms themselves.

This new form of augmented data discovery will lead to an increase in the number of citizen data scientist—which include information users who, with the aid of augmented assistance can now identify and respond to various patterns in data faster and a more distributed model.

  1. AugmentedData Science

It is important to note that the rise of citizen data scientist will not in any way eliminate the need for a data scientist who gathers and analyze data to discover profitable opportunities for the growth of a business. However, as these data scientists give room for citizen data scientists to perform the easier tasks, their overall analysis becomes more challenging and equally valuable to the business.

As time goes by, machine learning would be applied in other areas such as feature and model selection. This would free up some of the tasks performed by data scientist and allow them focus on the most important part of their job, which is to identify specific patterns in the data that can potentially transform business operations and ultimately increase revenue.

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Waterloo drone-maker Aeryon Labs bought by U.S. company for $265M

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Waterloo’s Aeryon Labs has been bought by Oregon-based FLIR Systems Inc. for $256 million, or $200 million US.

The acquisition was announced Monday. 

Dave Kroetsch, co-founder and chief technology officer of Aeryon Labs, says not much will change in the foreseeable future.

“The Waterloo operations of Aeryon Labs will actually continue as they did yesterday with manufacturing, engineering and all the functions staying intact in Waterloo and ultimately, we see growing,” he said.

“The business here is very valuable to FLIR and our ability to sell internationally is a key piece of keeping these components of the business here in Canada.”

Aeroyn Labs builds high-performance drones that are sold to a variety of customers including military, police services and commercial businesses. The drones can provide high-resolution images for surveillance and reconnaissance.

The drones already include cameras and thermal technology from FLIR. Jim Cannon, president and CEO of FLIR Systems, said acquiring Aeryon Labs is part of the company’s strategy to move beyond sensors “to the development of complete solutions that save lives and livelihoods.”

‘A piece of a bigger solution’

Kroetsch said this is a good way for the company to grow into something bigger.

“We see the business evolving in much the direction our business has been headed over the last couple of years. And that’s moving beyond the drone as a product in and of itself as a drone as a piece of a bigger solution,” he said.

For example, FLIR bought a drone company that builds smaller drones that look like little helicopters.

“We can imagine integrating those with our drones, perhaps having ours carry their drones and drop them off,” he said.

FLIR also does border security systems, which Kroetsch says could use the drones to allow border agents to look over a hill where there have been issues.

“We see the opportunity there as something that we never could have done on our own but being involved with and part of a larger company that’s already providing these solutions today gives us access not only to these great applications, but also to some fantastic technologies,” he said.

Aeryon Labs has done a lot of work during emergency disasters, including in Philippines after Typhoon Hagupit in 2014, Ecuador after an earthquake in 2016 and the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016.

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Inuvik infrastructure may not be ready for climate change, says study

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The Arctic is expected to get warmer and wetter by the end of this century and new research says that could mean trouble for infrastructure in Inuvik.

The study from Global Water Futures looked at how climate change could impact Havipak Creek — which crosses the Dempster Highway in Inuvik, N.W.T. — and it predicts some major water changes.

“They were quite distressing,” John Pomeroy, director of Global Water Futures and the study’s lead author, said of the findings.

Researchers used a climate model and a hydrological model to predict future weather and climate patterns in the region. They also looked at data gathered from 1960 to the present. 

If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate — which Pomeroy said they are on track to do — the study projects the region will be 6.1 C warmer by 2099 and precipitation, particularly rain, will increase by almost 40 per cent.

The study also found that the spring flood will be earlier and twice as large, and the permafrost will thaw an additional 25 centimetres. While the soil is expected to be wetter early in the summer, the study said it will be drier in late summer, meaning a higher risk of wildfires.

John Pomeroy is the director of Global Water Futures. (Erin Collins/CBC)

“The model’s painting kind of a different world than we’re living in right now for the Mackenzie Delta region,” Pomeroy said.

He noted these changes are not only expected for Havipak Creek, but also for “many, many creeks along the northern part of the Dempster [Highway].”

Pomeroy said the deeper permafrost thaw and a bigger spring flood could pose challenges for buildings, roads, culverts and crossings in the area that were designed with the 20th century climate in mind.

He said the projected growth of the snowpack and the spring flood are “of grave concern because that’s what washes out the Dempster [Highway] and damages infrastructure in the area.”

Culverts and bridges may have to be adjusted to allow room for greater stream flows, Pomeroy said. And building foundations that are dependent upon the ground staying frozen will have to be reinforced or redesigned.

Pomeroy said the ultimate solution is for humans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This study is the future we’re heading for, but it’s not the future we necessarily have if we can find a way to reduce those gases,” he said.  

“It’d be far smarter to get those emissions under control than to pay the terrible expenses for infrastructure and endangered safety of humans and destroyed ecosystems.”

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