• Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2020
Andy Shipsides named president of ARRI Rental North America Camera
Andy Shipsides
SECAUCUS, NJ -- 

Andy Shipsides will assume the presidency of ARRI Rental North America Camera on May 1, 2020. Peter Crithary will transition from president of ARRI Rental, North America to lead the marketing function for ARRI Inc. in the newly created role of VP of marketing and market development for the Americas.

Shipsides will work alongside Carly Barber, the president of ARRI Rental US Lighting, and will be responsible for overseeing camera rental operations in North America. Based out of ARRI Rental’s headquarters in Secaucus, Shipsides will be responsible for developing new opportunities, fostering strong relationships within the creative community and expanding ARRI Rental’s line of exclusive technologies. Shipsides said, “The North American market offers a lot of opportunities, and we are well-positioned to grow our business with unique technology offerings and a people-driven service philosophy.”

Shipsides brings to his new role over 13 years of production technology experience. Before joining ARRI Rental in September 2019 as VP of technology, Shipsides served as the chief technology officer at AbelCine, where he ran the company’s Los Angeles operation for seven years. During his time at AbelCine, he developed their training and education program, built their technical outreach team, and substantially grew their Los Angeles rental and sales presence.

“With a deep background in sales and rental Andy brings the right blend of field experience and new ideas to reinforce ARRI Rental’s position in North America,” said ARRI executive board member Markus Zeiler who added, “I’d like to thank Peter Crithary for his leadership and tremendous effort over the last 16 months and welcome him in his new role.

In his newly created role, Crithary will lead the North and South American marketing teams as well as oversee key, global initiatives.

Crithary joined ARRI Rental in December 2018, where he made immediate contributions to the successful restructuring of the North American business. Before joining ARRI Rental, Crithary gained extensive experience in the broadcast and film industry, including over ten years with RTL Television, one of Germany’s leading media companies, where he was responsible for broadcast news, magazine, and event production. Additionally, Crithary has also held key roles with Sony Electronics, including broadcast solutions development, marketing and market development of several motion picture cameras, including the VENICE platform. He began his career as a cameraman in Australia and continued in the US, working in motion pictures, television, production, and postproduction. Crithary will assume his new role on May 1, 2020.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2020
Kazuto Ogawa assumes role as president and CEO of Canon U.S.A.
Kazuto Ogawa
MELVILLE, NY -- 

Kazuto Ogawa has been appointed president and CEO of Canon U.S.A. Inc. Ogawa has almost 40 years of experience with Canon since beginning his career with Canon Inc. in 1981. From 1995-2005, he held positions with Canon Singapore, Canon Hong Kong and Canon China before returning to Canon Singapore as president and CEO. In 2008, Ogawa was named president and CEO of Canon Canada. He became an executive officer of Canon Inc. in 2011 and was appointed executive vice president of Canon China in 2014. He was elected as a managing executive officer of Canon Inc. in 2016.

“It is a great honor to take on this role as the new president and chief executive officer of Canon U.S.A., Inc., especially during a time of uncertainty when COVID-19 is impacting the global marketplace,” said Ogawa. “In this pivotal moment, our employees, customers, channel partners and other stakeholders remain our top priority and we all need to work together to navigate through this challenging time.”

Ogawa’s new role as president and CEO will be complemented with other senior executive appointments at Canon U.S.A. Inc., on which he remarked: “I’m pleased to acknowledge the well-deserved promotions of my esteemed colleagues. This leadership team exemplifies Canon’s dedication to growth and innovation and commitment to our values.”

The additional Canon executive appointments include:

  • Tatsuro Kano has been promoted from senior vice president and general manager of Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. to executive vice president of the Imaging Technologies and Communications Group.
  • Shinichi Yoshida, executive vice president and general manager of Business Imaging Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. has been promoted from vice chairman to chairman and chief executive officer of Canon Solutions America. He has added these titles in addition to retaining his role at Business Imaging Communications Group.
  • Katsuhiko Matsufuji has been promoted to the role of vice president and general manager of Marketing, Business Imaging Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. Mr. Matsufuji is returning to the U.S.A. from Canon Inc. in Tokyo and is replacing Hiro Imamura, who is assuming a role with Canon Europe Inc.
  • Sunday, Mar. 29, 2020
Meet Eric Yuan, the man who made your Zoom meetings possible
In this April 18, 2019 file photo, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan attends the opening bell at Nasdaq as his company holds its IPO in New York. Millions of people are now working from home as part of the intensifying fight against the coronavirus outbreak. Beside relying on Zoom, the video conference service, more frequently as part of their jobs, more people are also tapping it to hold virtual happy hours with friends and family banned from gathering in public places. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

If you hadn't already heard have of Zoom Video Communications, there is a decent chance you've made its acquaintance over the past few weeks. 

Millions of people are now working from home as part of the intensifying fight against the coronavirus outbreak. In addition to using the video conference for work, many are also tapping it to hold virtual playdates for their kids and virtual happy hours with friends and family banned from gathering in public places. 

The crisis has cast a spotlight on Zoom, a company founded nine years ago by its CEO Eric Yuan after he defected from Cisco Systems and took about 40 engineers with him. He wanted to refine a concept he first dreamed up during the 1990s as a college student in China, when he dreaded the 10-hour train trips to see his then-girlfriend, now his wife. 

Now Zoom is booming, just 11 months after it made its debut on the stock market. While the Standard & Poor's 500 index has fallen by 25% since its record high on Feb. 19, Zoom's stock has soared 46% as investors bet on its service becoming a mainstream staple in life after the coronavirus. 

Yuan, 50, recently spoke to The Associated Press during an interview conducted on Zoom. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Are these strange times providing a glimpse at how we are going to be working and living in the future? 

Yuan: I hope this crisis can be over very, very soon, but one one thing I know for sure is that companies will learn this is the way to work. I am pretty sure almost every company will be thinking about it and say, "Hey, maybe working from home makes sense," and maybe let every employee work from home, maybe once a week. Previously, a lot of businesses didn't even want to try. 

Q: Do you think we will find out that people can be more productive at home?

Yuan: It's too early to tell whether it's more productive or less productive, at least for me. I am finding I have even more meetings, and every day I miss the lunch time, so I am also learning how to adapt to all this working from home.

Q: Zoom primarily has been used by businesses. Are you discovering new social applications now that people are using it to virtually hang out too?

Yuan: That is not our intention. But kids are pretty smart, they always figure out new use cases. There are some very cool consumer use cases. For now, I am just telling my team and reminding myself this is a very critical time because we are in a crisis. So we are focusing on two things: To serve our existing customers and make sure our service is always great quality and is always up. The second thing is how can we help the local community, like the K-12 schools, handle this crisis. Anything else, I told our team, that's just a distraction. 

Q: Zoom's stock has been soaring while most of the market has been plunging. How are you managing that?

Yuan: It's good that I am 50 now. If you had asked me this question when I was 25, I would tell you, "Yes, we are very excited about the stock price!" But, now, seriously, I can tell you the truth, it don't matter. So the stock is up, it's good for our investors. If it's down, we keep working hard. I really do not focus on the stock price. 

Q: Do you still see personal, physical interaction as an important element in society?

Yuan: I think for the foreseeable future, that's absolutely right. We still haven't been able to have cool features like a virtual hug that you can actually feel. We talk about that, but we don't have that. Or when you drink tea or coffee, with one click you can digitize a smell. Those features will be available with AR (augmented reality) technology, but for now it's too early. That's why you have to have the personal interactions.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2020
Maxon to host virtual NAB presence
FRIEDRICHSDORF, Germany -- 

In light of the cancellation of the 2020 NAB Show next month, Maxon will be hosting a virtual NAB presence on C4DLive.com featuring a lineup of presenters. Monday, April 20, through Thursday, April 23, 2020. The artists originally slated to appear in Las Vegas will share production tips, techniques and inspiration featuring Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Red Giant and Redshift product lines.

For over a decade, at major industry conferences such as NAB, SIGGRAPH, IBC and NAB NY, Maxon has successfully supplemented its physical booth presence with live streaming presentations. This has allowed show attendees and those unable to attend events in person, to benefit from cutting-edge demonstrations, technology updates and interaction with the guest artists in real-time. In the current unusual situation, Maxon is able to take advantage of more than a decade of experience bringing this show to the community around the globe.

Maxon Virtual NAB Show Experience

Welcome
CEO, Dave McGavran, will kick-off the company’s virtual NAB Show presence on April 20th, at 8:30am (PST), with the latest news about Maxon’s recent merger with Red Giant, recent product releases and exciting new developments.

Live Presentations
Guest artists and Maxon team members will appear daily to present real-world tips and valuable production techniques for film, broadcast, video, games, visualization, interactive media, virtual reality, and more.

Presenter Highlights
Penelope Nederlander, recently named one of the 10 Women of Title Design, will breakdown her latest end credit animation for Birds of Prey, filmmaker Seth Worley will walk through some of the visual effects shots from his latest short film, Darker Colors, Doug Appleton will share the creative processes behind creating the technology for Spider-Man: Far From Home, Jonathan Winbush will demonstrate how easy it is to import C4D scenes into Unreal Engine for rendering or VR/AR output, and Veronica Falconieri Hays will share how she builds cellular landscapes and molecular structures in order to convey complex scientific stories. The lineup of artists also includes acclaimed 3D industry influencers Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann, Stu Machwitz, EJ Hassenfratz, Chris Schmidt, Angie Feret, Kelcey Steele, Daniel “Hashi” Hashimoto, Dan Pierse and Andy Needham.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2020
Rise expands to support gender diversity within broadcast technology sector
Serena Harris
LONDON -- 

Rise, the membership organization for gender diversity within the broadcast technology sector, is expanding from its roots in the U.K. with launches in North America and the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Additionally Rise has appointed four new board members as it seeks to increase its important work throughout the media and entertainment sectors.

Serena Harris, North American sales director at Annex Pro, will be running Rise North America. Harris, who is based in Vancouver, B.C., has over two decades of experience in the media and entertainment industry and worked with Avid and Marquis.

Nancy Diaz Curiel, managing director of Digigram Asia, will run Rise APAC. Based in Singapore, she has over 10 years of experience in the broadcast industry and will be launching a Rise mentoring initiative in the region shortly.

Rise’s alluded to four new board members are: Andy Beale, chief engineer BT Sport, Lisa Lavender, operations director of The British Arrows, Joanna Cosgrove, director at Moore Kingston Smith LLP, and Tanya Rai, key account manager at Sundog Media Toolkit.

Rise managing director Carrie Wootten stated; “Rise is growing at an astonishing rate, and we are immensely grateful to all of our sponsors and partners who have enabled this to happen. Expanding into the North American and APAC market is very exciting, and we are positive Serena and Nancy will go beyond our expectations in advancing our global efforts in gender equality for the industry.”

Rise is supported by leading industry companies including gold sponsors Avid and Sky, and silver sponsors Clear-Com, Audio-Technica Europe, Ross Video, DPP and Pixelogic.

Rise Up, a new school outreach initiative to inspire and educate children about broadcast technology, is supported by BT Sport and Sky.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2020
Avid cancels NAB Show participation in response to coronavirus outbreak
Jeff Rosica, Avid CEO and president
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID) has decided to cancel participation in all trade conferences and other large face-to-face events globally for at least the next 60 days, including NAB Show 2020. Additionally, the Avid Connect 2020 conference in Las Vegas that was planned for mid-April is canceled, a decision the company made in close consultation with the Avid Customer Association’s (ACA) executive board.

In April, the community will be invited to participate in an online broadcast to introduce all of Avid’s new products that had been slated for introduction at Connect 2020 and NAB Show 2020 in Las Vegas. Later in the year—when public safety can be assured—Avid and the ACA plan to host regional Connect events in several locations worldwide for the convenience of the community. Details will be announced soon.

“While these were difficult decisions for Avid, and for me personally, we feel strongly that helping stop the spread and severity of the COVID-19 virus is not just the job of governments and healthcare providers, but the responsibility of every individual, organization and corporation around the globe,” said Jeff Rosica, CEO and president at Avid. “We will take this opportunity to try new methods and experiment with different approaches to better engage with our clients, users and the community around the globe. Avid remains supportive of the NAB Show and looks forward to next year’s event.”

  • Friday, Mar. 6, 2020
TVU Networks withdraws at-show participation from 2020 NAB
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- 

TVU Networks, a Technology and Engineering Emmy® Award winner known for its live IP solutions, will not exhibit at the 2020 NAB Show next month in Las Vegas, citing concerns over the health and safety of employees, colleagues and their friends and family in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Working with NAB organizers, TVU will explore alternatives to physical participation, including using digital technologies to reach customers, partners and colleagues who may or may not be attending the annual conference in person.

“While we will miss being there in person to meet with our colleagues from all over the world at this key industry event, we’re prioritizing the well-being of our staff, colleagues, and their families at this very critical time,” said Paul Shen, CEO, TVU Networks. “We did not make this decision lightly and came to this conclusion after considerable and lengthy deliberation. It is one of a series of steps we’re taking as a company on behalf of our staff and colleagues. TVU has been an ardent supporter of the NAB Show, and we will continue to participate in the future. Although we will not physically be in Las Vegas, we are exploring with the NAB alternative ways to share the news and demonstrations we planned for the April show.”

  • Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020
Gadgets for tech giants made with coerced Uighur labor
In this June 5, 2019, photo, residents of the Hui Muslim ethnic minority walk in a neighborhood near an OFILM factory in Nanchang in eastern China's Jiangxi province. The Associated Press has found that OFILM, a supplier of major multinational companies, employs Uighurs, an ethnic Turkic minority, under highly restrictive conditions, including not letting them leave the factory compound without a chaperone, worship, or wear headscarves. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
NANCHANG, China (AP) -- 

In a lively Muslim quarter of Nanchang city, a sprawling Chinese factory turns out computer screens, cameras and fingerprint scanners for a supplier to international tech giants such as Apple and Lenovo. Throughout the neighborhood, women in headscarves stroll through the streets, and Arabic signs advertise halal supermarkets and noodle shops.

Yet the mostly Muslim ethnic Uighurs who labor in the factory are isolated within a walled compound that is fortified with security cameras and guards at the entrance. Their forays out are limited to rare chaperoned trips, they are not allowed to worship or cover their heads, and they must attend special classes in the evenings, according to former and current workers and shopkeepers in the area.

The connection between OFILM, the supplier that owns the Nanchang factory, and the tech giants is the latest sign that companies outside China are benefiting from coercive labor practices imposed on the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, and other minorities. 

Over the past four years, the Chinese government has detained more than a million people from the far west Xinjiang region, most of them Uighurs, in internment camps and prisons where they go through forced ideological and behavioral re-education. China has long suspected the Uighurs of harboring separatist tendencies because of their distinct culture, language and religion.

When detainees "graduate" from the camps, documents show, many are sent to work in factories. A dozen Uighurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people who were sent by the state to work in factories in China's east, known as inner China — some from the camps, some plucked from their families, some from vocational schools. Most were sent by force, although in a few cases it wasn't clear if they consented. 

Workers are often enrolled in classes where state-sponsored teachers give lessons in Mandarin, China's dominant language, or politics and "ethnic unity." Conditions in the jobs vary in terms of pay and restrictions.

At the OFILM factory, Uighurs are paid the same as other workers but otherwise treated differently, according to residents of the neighborhood. They are not allowed to leave or pray – unlike the Hui Muslim migrants also working there, who are considered less of a threat by the Chinese government.

"They don't let them worship inside," said a Hui Muslim woman who worked in the factory for several weeks alongside the Uighurs. "They don't let them come out."

"If you're Uighur, you're only allowed outside twice a month," a small business owner who spoke with the workers confirmed. The AP is not disclosing the names of those interviewed near the factory out of concern for possible retribution. "The government chose them to come to OFILM, they didn't choose it."

The Chinese government says the labor program is a way to train Uighurs and other minorities and give them jobs. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday called concern over possible coerced labor under the program "groundless" and "slander."

However, experts say that like the internment camps, the program is part of a broader assault on the Uighur culture, breaking up social and family links by sending people far from their homes to be assimilated into the dominant Han Chinese culture.

"They think these people are poorly educated, isolated, backwards, can't speak Mandarin," said James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe University in Melbourne. "So what do you do? You 'educate' them, you find ways to transform them in your own image. Bringing them into the Han Chinese heartland is a way to turbocharge this transformation."

OFILM's website indicates the Xinjiang workers make screens, camera cover lenses and fingerprint scanners. It touts customers including Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell, HP, LG and Huawei, although there was no way for the AP to track specific products to specific companies. 

Apple's most recent list of suppliers, published January last year, includes three OFILM factories in Nanchang. It's unclear whether the specific OFILM factory the AP visited twice in Nanchang supplies Apple, but it has the same address as one listed. Another OFILM factory is located about half a mile away on a different street. Apple did not answer repeated requests for clarification on which factory it uses.

In an email, Apple said its code of conduct requires suppliers to "provide channels that encourage employees to voice concerns." It said it interviews the employees of suppliers during annual assessments in their local language without their managers present, and had done 44,000 interviews in 2018.

Lenovo confirmed that it sources screens, cameras, and fingerprint scanners from OFILM but said it was not aware of the allegations and would investigate. Lenovo also pointed to a 2018 audit by the Reliable Business Alliance in which OFILM scored very well.

All the companies that responded said they required suppliers to follow strict labor standards. LG and Dell said they had "no evidence" of forced labor in their supply chains but would investigate, as did Huawei. HP did not respond.

OFILM also lists as customers dozens of companies within China, as well as international companies it calls "partners" without specifying what product it offers. And it supplies PAR Technology, an American sales systems vendor to which it most recently shipped 48 cartons of touch screens in February, according to U.S. customs data obtained through ImportGenius and Panjiva, which track shipping data. 

PAR Technology in turn says it supplies terminals to major chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Subway. However, the AP was unable to confirm that products from OFILM end up with the fast food companies.

McDonald's said it has asked PAR Technology to discontinue purchases from OFILM while it launches an immediate investigation. PAR Technology also said it would investigate immediately. Subway and Taco Bell did not respond.

A report Sunday from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, researched separately from the AP, estimated that more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred from Xinjiang to factories across China between 2017 and 2019. The report said it found "conditions that strongly suggest forced labor" consistent with International Labor Organization definitions.

The AP also reported a year ago that Uighur forced labor was being used within Xinjiang to make sportswear that ended up in the U.S. 

FROM FARMERS TO FACTORY WORKERS
Beijing first sent Uighurs to work in inland China in the early 2000s, as part of a broad effort to push minorities to adopt urban lifestyles and integrate with the Han Chinese majority to tighten political control.

At first the program targeted young, single women, because the state worried that Uighur women raised in pious Muslim families didn't work, had children early and refused to marry Han men. But as stories of poor pay and tight restrictions trickled back, police began threatening some parents with jail time if they didn't send their children, six Uighurs told the AP.

The program was halted in 2009, when at least two Uighurs died in a brawl with Han workers at a toy factory in coastal Guangdong province. After peaceful protests in Xinjiang were met with police fire, ethnic riots broke out that killed an estimated 200 people, mostly Han Chinese civilians.

An AP review of Chinese academic papers and state media reports shows that officials blamed the failure of the labor program on the Uighurs' language and culture. So when the government ramped up the program again after the ascent of hardline Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2012, it emphasized ideological transformation.

A paper drafted by the head of the Xinjiang statistics bureau in 2014 said the Uighurs' poor Mandarin made it hard for them to integrate in inner China. It concluded that Xinjiang's rural minorities needed to be broken away from traditional lifestyles and systematically "disciplined", "trained" and "instilled with modern values." 

"The local saturated religious atmosphere and the long-time living habits of ethnic minorities are incompatible with the requirements of modern industrial production," the paper said. It outlined a need to "slowly correct misunderstandings about going out to choose jobs."

Before Uighurs were transferred for jobs, the paper continued, they needed to be trained and assessed on their living habits and adoption of corporate culture. 

"Those who fail will not be exported," it said.

The paper also described government incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies for Chinese companies to take Uighurs. A 2014 draft contract for Xinjiang laborers in Guangdong province obtained by the AP shows the government there offered companies 3000 RMB ($428.52) per worker, with an additional 1000 RMB ($142.84) for "training" each person for no less than 60 class hours. In exchange, companies had to offer "concentrated accommodation areas," halal canteens and "ethnic unity education and training."

But it was a tough sell at a time when Chinese officials were grappling with knifings, bombings and car attacks by Uighurs, fueled by explosive anger at the government's harsh security measures and religious restrictions. Hundreds died in race-related violence in Xinjiang, both Uighur and Han Chinese.

A labor agent who only gave his surname, Zhang, said he tried brokering deals to send Xinjiang workers to factories in the eastern city of Hangzhou, but finding companies willing to take Uighurs was a challenge, especially in a slowing economy.

"Their work efficiency is not high," he said.

The size of the program is considerable. A November 2017 state media report said Hotan prefecture alone planned to send 20,000 people over two years to work in inner China.

There, the report said, they would "realize the dreams of their lives."

ANSWERING THE GOVERNMENT'S CALL
The Uighurs at OFLIM were sent there as part of the government's labor program, in an arrangement the company's website calls a "school-enterprise cooperative." OFILM describes the workers as migrants organized by the government or vocational school students on "internships".

OFILM confirmed it received AP requests for comment but did not reply.

The AP was unable to get inside the facility, and on one visit to Nanchang, plainclothes police tailed AP journalists by car and on foot. But posts on the company website extoll OFILM's efforts to accommodate their Uighur workers with Mandarin and politics classes six days a week, along with halal food.

OFILM first hired Uighurs in 2017, recruiting over 3,000 young men and women in Xinjiang. They bring the Uighurs on one- or two-year contracts to Nanchang, a southeastern metropolis nearly two thousand miles from Xinjiang that local officials hope to turn into a tech hub. 

OFILM is one of Nanchang's biggest employers, with half a dozen factory complexes sprinkled across the city and close ties with the state. Investment funds backed by the Nanchang city government own large stakes in OFILM, corporate filings show. The Nanchang government told the AP that OFILM recruits minorities according to "voluntary selection by both parties" and provides equal pay along with personal and religious freedom.

OFILM's website says the company "answered the government's call" and went to Xinjiang to recruit minorities. The Uighurs need training, OFILM says, to pull them from poverty and help them "study and improve."

Mandarin is heavily emphasized, the site says, as well as lessons in history and "ethnic unity" to "comprehensively improve their overall quality." The site features pictures of Uighurs playing basketball on factory grounds, dancing in a canteen and vying in a Mandarin speech competition.

In August, when OFILM organized celebrations for Eid Qurban, a major Islamic festival, Uighur employees did not pray at a mosque. Instead, they dressed in orange uniforms and gathered in a basketball court for a show with Communist officials called "Love the Motherland – Thank the Party." An OFILM post said a "Uighur beauty" dazzled with her "beautiful exotic style."

State media reports portray the Nanchang factory workers as rural and backwards before the Communist Party trained them, a common perception of the Uighurs among the Han Chinese.

"The workers' concept of time was hazy, they would sleep in till whenever they wanted," a Party official is quoted as saying in one. Now, he said, their "concept of time has undergone a total reversal."

In the reports and OFILM posts, the Uighurs are portrayed as grateful to the Communist Party for sending them to inner China. 

Despite the wan expressions of three OFILM workers from Lop County, a December 2017 report said they gave an "enthusiastic" presentation about how they lived in clean new dormitories "much better than home" and were visited by Communist Party cadres.

"We were overjoyed that leaders from the Lop County government still come to see us on holidays," one of the workers, Estullah Ali, was quoted as saying. "Many of us were moved to tears."

THEY TOOK MY CHILD TO INNER CHINA
Minorities fleeing China describe a far grimmer situation. H., a wealthy jade merchant from Lop County, where OFILM now gets Uighur workers, began noticing the labor transfer program in 2014. That's when state propaganda blaring through television and loudspeakers urged young Uighurs to work in inner China. Officials hustled families to a labor transfer office where they were forced to sign contracts, under threat of land confiscations and prison sentences.

H., identified only by the initial of his last name out of fear of retribution, was worried. The government was not only reviving the labor program but also clamping down on religion. Acquaintances vanished: Devout Muslims and language teachers, men with beards, women with headscarves.

Toward the end of 2015, when H. greeted his 72-year-old neighbor on the street, the man burst into tears.

"They took my child to inner China to work," he said. 

Months later, H. and his family fled China.

Zharqynbek Otan, a Chinese-born ethnic Kazakh, said that after he was released from an internment camp in 2018, neighbors in his home village also told him their sons and daughters were forced to sign contracts for 6 months to five years to work at factories near Shanghai. If they ran from the factories, they were warned, they'd be taken straight back to internment camps.

Nurlan Kokteubai, an ethnic Kazakh, said during his time in an internment camp, a cadre told him they selected young, strong people to work in inner Chinese factories in need of labor.

"He told us that those young people would acquire vocational skills," Kokteubai said.

Not all workers are subject to the restrictions at OFILM. One ethnic Kazakh said her brother made power banks in central China for $571.36 a month and didn't take classes.

But another said two of his cousins were forced to go and work in cold, harsh conditions. They were promised $428.52 a month but paid only $42.85. Though they wanted to quit, four Uighurs who complained were detained in camps after returning to Xinjiang, scaring others.

Uighurs and Kazakhs in exile say it's likely those working in inner China are still better off than those in camps or factories in Xinjiang, and that in the past, some had gone voluntarily to earn money. A former worker at Jiangxi Lianchuang Electronics, a lens maker in Nanchang, told The Associated Press the 300 or so Uighurs there were free to enter or leave their compound, although most live in dormitories inside factory grounds. He and a current worker said they were happy with their working conditions, their salary of about 5,000 RMB ($714.20) a month, and their teachers and Mandarin classes in the evenings.

But when presented a list of questions in Uighur about the labor transfers, the former Jiangxi Lianchuang worker started to look very nervous. He asked for the list, then set it on fire with a lighter and dropped it in an ashtray.

"If the Communist Party hears this, then" – he knocked his wrists together, mimicking a suspect being handcuffed. "It's very bad."

Associated Press writer Erika Kinetz contributed to this report.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2020
Senators scrutinize web-scraping facial recognition startup
In this Jan. 8, 2020, file photo, people look at a display at the CES tech show in Las Vegas. U.S. senators are scrutinizing a facial recognition software company over privacy concerns and the possible sale of its services to authoritarian regimes. New York-based startup Clearview AI has drawn attention following investigative reports about its practice of harvesting billions of photos from social media and other services to identify people. Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, sent a letter to the company Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

U.S. senators are scrutinizing a facial recognition software company over privacy concerns and the possible sale of its services to authoritarian regimes.

New York-based startup Clearview AI has drawn attention following investigative reports about its practice of harvesting billions of photos from social media and other services to identify people.

Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, sent a letter to the company Tuesday seeking more information about its marketing in Saudi Arabia and other countries. Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden's staff also met with the company about his own concerns Tuesday.

BuzzFeed reported that it obtained a Clearview client list showing its technology has been tried by U.S. federal agencies, major retailers and law enforcement agencies in numerous countries. 

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other companies in February demanded that  Clearview stop harvesting their users' images.

Clearview didn't immediately return emailed requests for comment Tuesday. 

  • Friday, Feb. 28, 2020
High-tech Chicago exhibit puts visitors eye-to-eye with Martin Luther King Jr.
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 photo, a visitor experiences "The March" virtual reality exhibit at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago ahead of the project's launch. The exhibit captures the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. (AP Photo/Noreen Nasir)
CHICAGO (AP) -- 

Imagine being so close to Martin Luther King Jr. as he gives one of the world's most famous speeches that you notice the creases in his face and then realize the late civil rights leader is looking you square in the eye.

That's the intense personal moment organizers are striving for with a one-of-a-kind virtual reality exhibit opening Friday at Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History. Called "The March," it captures the 1963 March on Washington during which King delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" address.

"The speech is so well known and the ways people are used to seeing it is kind of archival, grainy two-dimensional film," said Mia Tramz, an editorial director of immersive experiences at TIME, which helped create the project. "By being able to see it with your own two eyes and feel like you're standing there, you not only get the message of the words, but the message of the energy that he put behind those words."

The project has the rare full backing from King's estate, which fiercely guards his likeness and speeches. The high-tech effort took years of research on King's gestures and expressions, as well as interviews with attendees. 

Creators said it was inspired by an archive image of King giving a different speech on the National Mall, shot from his perspective looking out. TIME, which features King in a March issue, worked with companies including a production studio run by actress Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon. Davis narrates part of the project.

Visitors start in an dark empty room with audio of people involved in key events leading up to the march. One is Hank Thomas, who was a Freedom Rider — activists who protested segregation by sitting in bus seats reserved for whites and who experienced violence and jail.

After that, attendees are outfitted with heavy virtual reality headsets that block out the outside world and replace it with three-dimensional glimpses of Aug. 28, 1963, on the National Mall. In what sometimes looks like a video game, visitors march along Constitution Avenue and then stand in the crowd of some 250,000.

Then the scenery changes again. Visitors find themselves standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and an arm's length from King, whose hand gestures and facial expressions are brought to life. After delivering part of the speech, he walks by and locks eyes, a moment creators say is unparalleled.

"You're not listening to it. You're not reading it. You are actually in it. And there is a point that you're listening to it for the first time because you're experiencing it, because you're actually there," Davis said. "It's those experiences that are unforgettable."

The permission from King's estate was also unusual.

Run by King's children and known to be litigious, the estate closely guards any use of King's image, name and work. The estate initially balked at plans to put a life-size commemorative King statue at the Georgia Capitol  and didn't grant rights to speeches for the 2014 film "Selma," which won an Oscar for the best original song and was nominated for best picture.

Tramz declined to discuss how the project got the estate's backing. Messages left for Atlanta-based Intellectual Properties Management, which manages King's estate and controls rights to his works and images, weren't returned.

The experience isn't for the faint of heart. Participants must sign a liability waiver warning of possible risks, such as dizziness, and there's a built-in "decompression zone." The 15-minute experience isn't recommended for children under 13.

There are also limitations.

Only four people can go through simultaneously and technology-related snags happen. During a media preview attended by the Associated Press, the screen blacked out and images were blurry at times.

Creators said the technology is being fine-tuned but that such glitches aren't unusual given the amount of wireless data being streamed to the headsets.

The exhibit  runs until November. Creators plan to replicate the technology in other museums to recreate the exhibit. Details aren't finalized.

Organizers hope the experience inspires civic engagement.

"(It) makes you want to pick up that sign. Makes you want to go out and vote. Makes you want to go out and make somebody else's life better," Tennon said.

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