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Turkish forces capture center of key Syrian border town

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Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, in a picture taken from the Turkish side of the border in Ceylanpinar on October 11, 2019, on the third day of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces.

Ozan Kose | AFP | Getty Images

Turkish forces captured a key Syrian border town under heavy bombardment Saturday, the Turkish military and a Syrian war monitor said, as Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters pressed into its fourth day with little sign of relenting despite mounting international criticism.

Turkish troops entered central Ras al-Ayn according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry, marking the most significant gain since the invasion began Wednesday. The ministry tweeted: “Ras al-Ayn’s residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of Euphrates” river.

An Associated Press journalist across the border heard the sound of sporadic clashes as Turkish howitzers struck the town and Turkish jets screeched overhead.

Syrian Kurdish forces appeared to be holding out in some areas of the town.

The Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces released two videos said to be from inside Ras al-Ayn, showing fighters saying that it is Saturday and they are still there.

The fighting was ongoing as the Kurdish fighters sought to reverse the Turkish advance into Ras Al-Ayn, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The push deeper into northern Syria by Turkish troops came days after U.S. President Donald Trump cleared the way for Turkey’s air and ground invasion, pulling back U.S. forces from the area and saying he wanted to stop getting involved with “endless wars.”

Trump’s decision drew swift bipartisan criticism that he was endangering regional stability and risking the lives of Syrian Kurdish allies who brought down the Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the main U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group and had lost 11,000 fighters in the nearly five-year battle against the extremists.

Earlier in the day, Turkish troops moved to seize control of key highways in northeastern Syria, the Turkish military and the Observatory said.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said that Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces had taken control of the M-4 highway that connects the towns of Manbij and Qamishli.

The SDF said that Turkish troops and their Syrian allies reached the highway briefly before being pushed back again.

Turkish troops also cut the route linking the northeastern city of Hassakeh with Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and once commercial center, according to the Observatory.

Since Wednesday, Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters backed by Ankara have been advancing under the cover of airstrikes and artillery shelling, reaching the Manbij-Qamishli road about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the Turkish border.

Turkey has said it aims to push back the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers terrorists for its links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The YPG is a main component of the SDF.

The U.N. estimated the number of displaced at 100,000 since Wednesday, saying that markets, schools and clinics also were closed. Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis, with nearly a half-million people at risk in northeastern Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday Turkey won’t stop until the Syrian Kurdish forces withdraw below a 32 kilometer (20 miles) deep line from the border.

The Turkish military aims to clear Syrian border towns of Kurdish fighters’ presence, saying they are a national security threat.

A civilian wounded in a mortar strike from Syria the previous day in the Turkish border town of Suruc died, Anadolu news agency also reported Saturday, bringing the civilian death toll to 18 in Turkey. Turkey’s interior minister said hundreds of mortars, fired from Syria, have landed in Turkish border towns.

The Observatory that keeps track of Syria’s civil war said 74 Kurdish-led SDF fighters have been killed since Wednesday as well as 49 Syrian opposition fighters backed by Tukey in addition to 21 civilians on the Syrian side.

Turkey’s defense ministry said it “neutralized” 415 Syrian Kurdish fighters. The number could not be independently verified. Four Turkish soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the offensive, including two who were killed in Syria’s northwest.

France’s leader warned Trump in a phone call that Turkey’s military action in northern Syria could lead to a resurgence of Islamic State activity.

President Emmanuel Macron “reiterated the need to make the Turkish offensive stop immediately,” his office said in a statement Saturday.

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Hacked Disney Plus accounts said to be on sale, according to reports

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In this photo illustration, the Disney + logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple MacBook Pro computer on November 08, 2019 in Paris, France.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Thousands of Disney+ user accounts have been stolen by hackers and put up for sale on the dark web, according to multiple reports.

Disney+ is the new subscription-based streaming service from Disney that was officially launched last Tuesday.

Just hours after the service was rolled out, hackers hijacked user accounts and were either offering them for free on hacking forums or selling them for prices between $3 to $11, according to investigations by news site ZDNet.

Users said hackers were accessing their Disney+ accounts, logging them out of their devices and then changing the email and password associated with that account, according to ZDNet.

The BBC also reported that it found hacked customer accounts for sale on the dark web.

A spokesperson for Disney told CNBC the company “takes the privacy and security of our users’ data very seriously and there is no indication of a security breach on Disney+.”

It is likely that some users may have used the same email and password for multiple sites, including Disney+, and their credentials could’ve been stolen during previous security breaches at other companies.

But, ZDNet reported users who have used unique passwords also had their accounts compromised.

Disney+ is currently available in a few selected countries including the United States and Canada. It touts an expansive library of content from Disney shows and movies, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm as well as new original shows being produced for the service, such as the “Star Wars” spin-off series “The Mandalorian.”

It is the latest addition in an increasingly crowded streaming landscape, with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others.

Read ZDNet’s full investigation about stolen Disney+ accounts here.

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A.I. helps in early detection of ovarian cancer, says CEO of health tech firm

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping oncologists in the U.K. detect ovarian cancer in patients much earlier than was previously possible, according to the CEO of TPP, a company that provides health-care related software to doctors and nurses.

“So, our AI can now spot (ovarian cancer) in more than 50% of cases up to two years before the doctor,” Frank Hester told CNBC’s Christine Tan at the East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China. “The average doctor in a 40-year career sees four or five cases of ovarian cancer.”

By the time a woman finds out she has ovarian cancer, it is usually too late, but late detection can now be eliminated thanks to advancement in health care technology, according to Hester, whose company works with the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) which provides majority of health care in England.

TPP has access to more than 50 million medical records of NHS patients. Using that data, the company has built AI programs and the first of it focuses on early detection of ovarian cancer, Hester said.

The Horsforth-based company shares patients’ medical records electronically with doctors and nurses, Hester said, highlighting that they have checks and balances in place to cover for cyber security breaches.

“We pay companies to attack us every year. We actually pay… in every country that we’re working in,” Hester said, referring to ethical hackers — sometimes called “white hats” — who are hired by companies to help boost their defenses against hackers and keep their networks secure.

Countries around the world are relying on digital medical records of patients and using AI in health care for early detection and accuracy of diagnosis, or for administrative tasks such as scheduling patients appointments and staffing tasks, according to a global study done in Singapore by Royal Philips’ annual Future Health Index.

According to the study, health care professionals in China are significantly more likely to recommend patients use digital health technology or mobile health apps to track key health indicators.

“China is absolutely leading the world in AI,” said Hester. “I’ve seen a change over the past 5 years… it’s almost the policy now to do business with foreigners, which is great,” Hester said.

TPP’s health care technology has been used in China since 2013, he added.

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US, China could sign phase one trade deal before Christmas, Pimco says

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John Studzinski, managing director and vice chairman of Pimco, speaks with CNBC’s Geoff at the East Tech West conference in Nansha, Guangzhou.

Dave Zhong | Getty Images for CNBC

A “phase one” trade deal between the U.S. and China could be finalized and signed before Christmas this year, according to an executive from bond investment giant Pimco.

Optimism that such an agreement could be reached between the two countries faded in recent days following reports that Washington and Beijing remained far apart on several issues. A Chinese government source told CNBC’s Eunice Yoon on Monday that China is troubled after U.S. President Donald Trump said he hasn’t agreed to roll back tariffs.

But John Studzinski, managing director and vice chairman of Pimco, said on Tuesday that he still thinks the two sides would reach a partial deal.

“There are obviously issues remaining about agricultural purchase targets, forced technology (transfer) and broader enforcement issues. But I think the view would be to try to resolve something … by the beginning of December and sign it before Christmas,” he told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou city, China.

“And I think Trump sees this as important. He’s gotten a lot of endorsement from American CEOs who want to see some type of stabilization and anchor in this broader relationship and trade dialogue between China and America,” he added.

US and China are ‘complementary’

The two largest economies in the world are in the second year of a trade war that has hurt investor and business sentiment, and slowed down global economic activity. Both the U.S. and China have slapped tariffs worth billions of dollars on each other’s products — with potentially more to come if talks between them break down.

But reaching a “phase one” deal will not resolve all issues between the two economic giants, noted Studzinski.

“Whether we like it or not, we are all witnessing a major event — the first major event, really — since World War II with the need for these two formidable cultures, countries, independent countries to rethink their relationship,” he said. “The world will be a much stronger and stable place if they can find ways to align their interests, rather than trying to compete.”

Studzinski explained that in many ways, the U.S. and China are “complementary.”

Citing the technology sector as an example, he said the U.S. has had three to four generations of Silicon Valley-trained technologists, while China has “fantastic” expertise and acumen to manufacture “very complicated” components. Those two areas of expertise would work well together to benefit economies worldwide, he added.

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