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CEO Satya Nadella steps in as Microsoft Chairman too

San Francisco: Microsoft board has elected CEO Satya Nadella as Chairman of the tech giant, a first in two decades when Microsoft’s chairman will also be its CEO.

Bill Gates was the only other Chairman and CEO of Microsoft who stepped down as CEO in 2000. He stepped down as chairman in 2014 and the board then elected John Thompson as independent chairman. Thomson now takes over as lead independent director,

In his role as Chairman, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

In addition to these role changes, the board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.56 per share.

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Indian Americans Sunder Pichai, Punit Renjen, Shantanu Narayen on Covid Global Taskforce Panel

Three Indian-American CEOs Sunder Pichai from Google, Punit Renjen from Deloitte, and Shantanu Narayen from Adobe have joined the steering committee of the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, which is overseeing an unprecedented corporate sector initiative to help India successfully fight COVID19.

The names of the three Indian-American CEOs were added to the list of the steering committee on Thursday.

The three CEOs have been active in organizing US companies’ response to the COVID-19 crisis in India.

Others who were added to the list on Thursday are Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Joshua Bolten, president, and CEO, Business Roundtable and Suzanne Clark, president, and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce.

The task force is a newly formed public-private partnership organized by the US Chamber of Commerce and supported by Business Roundtable. It is working with the Chamber’s US-India Business Council and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum to take immediate actions to help address the COVID-19 surge in India.

The US corporate sector so far has committed more than 25,000 oxygen concentrators for India. The first 1,000 oxygen concentrators, provided by Deloitte, arrived in India on April 25, with critical logistical support from FedEx.

These concentrators will be shipped to designated healthcare facilities for immediate use, the task force said.

Medtronic will provide end-to-end support for the initiative.

As many as 16 businesses have joined the task force’s ventilator initiative.

Together these businesses will provide over $30 million in support for India’s healthcare response – joining the dozens of businesses that have pledged their support in efforts to provide oxygen concentrators, develop information and best practices to support employees in India, and more, the task force said.

Other members of the steering committee include Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture; Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Bank of America; Raj Subramaniam, president FedEx; and Arvind Krishna, Chairman and CEO, IBM.

Gail McGovern, president, and CEO, American Red Cross; Mike Parra, CEO Americas, DHL Express; Jim Fitterling, Chairman and CEO, Dow; Alex Gorsky, chairman of the Board and CEO, Johnson & Johnson; Michael Miebach, CEO, Mastercard; Geoff Martha, chairman and CEO, Medtronic; Brad Smith, president, Microsoft; Ramon Laguarta, Chairman of the Board and CEO, PepsiCo; Carol Tomé, CEO, UPS; Sanjay Poonen, COO, VMware; and Judith McKenna, President and CEO, Walmart International are also members of the task force.

Till date, over 45 US businesses and associations have contributed to the Global Task Force’s activities.

While the task force is focusing initial efforts on the pressing need in India, additional working groups will be formed to address COVID-19 surges in other countries. Through its steering committee, the task force will work to concentrate efforts where corporate support will be most beneficial, it said.

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Latest News USA

US’ Covid help to India touches half a billion dollars

Less than a fortnight after President Joe Biden in his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged his country’s steadfast support for the people of India, America has responded with an unprecedented financial assistance worth nearly half a billion dollars.

Biden spoke at length with Modi last month and conveyed solidarity with India in its fight against the viral disease. He assured the prime minister that the US and India will work closely together in the fight against Covid-19.

Reflecting an overwhelming support for a “natural ally”, the entire country, not only the administration, but also the corporate sector which created a global task force, as well as Americans and Indian-Americans have opened their coffers for India.

This half a billion dollars includes $100 million pledged by the Biden administration, $70 million by pharma major Pfizer and 450,000 Remdesivir doses, the governmental purchase price of each of which in the US is $390.

Thousands of oxygen concentrators and plane-loads of life-saving drugs and health care equipment are flying off the US for India almost every day.

Several companies like Boeing and Mastercard have announced financial assistance worth $10 million each, Google has pledged $18 million, while the Global Task Force that comprises CEOs of top American companies has already pledged $30 million worth of life saving equipment.

Describing it as a “Berlin Life Moment”, Mukesh Aghi of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), told PTI he expects the assistance to touch almost $1 billion by the end of the month. “It is emotional for the diaspora, almost everyone has someone who has been touched by Covid-19,” he said.

Nisha Desai Biswal, president of US India Business Council (USIBC), said, “The outpouring of support from the US over the past two weeks was a spontaneous mass mobilization of support for the Indian people from across the America government, business community and diaspora community and the American people.”

“It is unprecedented, and it reflects both the deep bonds between our two countries and the gratitude that Americans feel for the role India played in supporting the US when we were experiencing our Covid surge last year,” she said.

However, given the “speed and severity” that have overwhelmed the capacity of hospitals and local authorities, more assistance will be needed and for a sustained period of time scale of the pandemic, Biswal said.

People of the country and the diaspora too have come out in large numbers. Indian-American Vinod Khosla has committed $10 million, top corporate leader John T Chambers has promised $1 million.

For the first time in its history, Sewa International has raised $15 million; American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) ($3.6 million), Indiaspora ($2.5 million) and Jai Shetty has raised $4 million.

“There has been overwhelming support and offers of assistance from the US Government, private sector, diaspora and the American public at large. In fact, in my interactions in recent days, the US interlocutors across the board ask me, ‘tell us what more we can do for India’,” India’s ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu told PTI.

Among other major financial contributions announced include Procter and Gamble ($6.7 million); Merck ($5 million), Walmart ($2 million), Salesforce ($2.4 million), and Caterpillar ($3.4 million). Companies like Deloitte have announced 12,000 oxygen concentrators for India.

While Microsoft is partnering with the US government in providing aid and oxygen, FedEx and UPS have taken up the mantle of taking care of the transportation of life saving health care equipment like oxygen cylinders, ventilators and oxygen concentrators to India.

On Sunday, Indian-Americans from Tamil Nadu including eminent philanthropist M R Rangaswami, held a “Help Tamil Nadu Breathe” to raise $1.5 million in a few hours.

“This is an incredible outpouring of generosity, which people have come to expect from America. When the world has a crisis, beyond politics, beyond dispute, America steps up,” Rangaswami said.

“It is comforting to see US cargo jets with much needed medical supplies landing at Delhi airport regularly,” said Karun Rishi, president of the USA-India Chambers of Commerce.

Noting that the stakes are very high for the entire world, he said India’s success or failure to come out of this once-in-a-century crisis will have a direct impact throughout the world.

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US Chamber of Commerce sends aid to help India fight Covid

Washington: The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, a newly-formed public-private partnership formed by the US Chamber of Commerce with nearly 40 tech giants on board, on Wednesday announced to start sending crucial aid to address the grim Covid situation in India.

Supported by the non-profit Business Roundtable, the Task Force will coordinate a coalition of corporations, nonprofits and individual efforts to organise 1,000 Medtronic ventilators (to be delivered to India starting Wednesday), 25,000 oxygen concentrators scheduled to be delivered by the end of May (thousands already delivered) and offer practical guidance on supporting employees in India via a network of human resources.

Medtronic will manufacture the ventilators and handle end-to-end shipping, installation and ongoing and virtual training.

The Task Force said in a statement that it is working with the Chamber’s US-India Business Council and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum towards helping India.

“The Global Task Force is working in close collaboration with the US and Indian government officials to share information and coordinate efforts. This includes regular briefings with the Narendra Modi and Joe Biden administrations, US Congress, US State Department and the US Agency for International Development,” the statement added.

The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response was launched last month to provide a unified platform for businesses to mobilise and deliver resources to assist Covid control efforts in areas of the highest need around the world.

The initial efforts will focus on the pressing need for support in India.

“What we are witnessing in India is a stark reminder that while the US has turned a corner in our efforts to combat the pandemic, our global partners are facing a staggering health crisis that requires a substantial public-private response,” Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, had said in an earlier statement.

The coalition of leading companies and associations that have come together to support the cause includes Accenture, Adobe, Amazon, American Express, Apple, Citi, Dell, Deloitte, Facebook, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Mastercard, Microsoft, Pfizer, Qualcomm Foundation, VMware, and Walmart, among others.

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Sewa International sends 400 oxygen concentrators, seeks to raise $10 M for India

Houston: Sewa International, the Houston-based nonprofit organization that specializes in disaster recovery, education, and development, has ramped up their fundraising goal to $10 million to fight the COVID surge in India. It has volunteers working both in the US and in India, round the clock, coordinating the work of both raising funds and procuring medical equipment supplies, as well as getting the equipment and essential supplies to hospitals, institutions, and individuals in India. Sewa International is seeking the advice of a team of doctors in the US on procuring the appropriate medical equipment and supplies to be shipped to India.

Gitesh Desai, President, Houston Chapter of Sewa International, appeared on ABC 13 News-Houston, and spoke with reporter Shern-Min Chow about the 400 oxygen-concentrators already shipped to India, and 2,184 more concentrators which are to be shipped shortly to India.

Sandeep Khadkekar, Sewa’s Vice President for Marketing and Fund Development, responding to the overwhelming support for their Facebook fundraising campaign said, “We are deeply moved by the response we have received from all of you for our fundraiser. Sewa appreciates your willingness to donate for a cause that would save many lives in India. Our top priority is to procure and ship oxygen concentrators to India as soon as possible.”

“Sewa International has had a tremendous outpouring of support from individuals and organizations across the country, and the Facebook fundraising campaign has had such traction that Facebook is working with us to boost this campaign to ensure that Sewa International leverages the trust people have in us,” said Viswanath Koppaka, Director of Marketing, Sewa International. “We have about 60,000 donors who have supported our Facebook campaign, and it has been a challenge to keep them in the loop of all the work going on behind the scenes. But we also have energetic volunteers pitching in, working late into the night, to do all that needs to be done keeping people informed,” he said.

 

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Apple, Google, Microsoft CEOs announce aid for India

Cupertino: Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday announced that the tech giant will be donating to support and relief efforts on the ground in India amid a worsening Covid-19 situation there.

“Amid a devastating rise of Covid cases in India, our thoughts are with the medical workers, our Apple family and everyone there who is fighting through this awful stage of the pandemic. Apple will be donating to support and relief efforts on the ground,” tweeted Cook.

Earlier, Indian-American CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella and his Google counterpart Sundar Pichai on Monday extended their support to India amid a record surge in coronavirus cases.

Taking to Twitter, Nadella said, “I am heartbroken by the current situation in India. I’m grateful the US government is mobilizing to help. Microsoft will continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices.”

Meanwhile, keeping the current situation in mind, Pichai tweeted, “Devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis in India. Google & Googlers are providing ₹135 crore in funding to @GiveIndia, @UNICEF for medical supplies, orgs supporting high-risk communities, and grants to help spread critical information.”

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, US lawmakers condemn acts of hate against Asian Americans

Washington, DC: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and several US lawmakers have said that they are appalled by the ongoing acts of hate against Asian Americans and condemned hate, racial discrimination and violence in all forms.

More than 3,000 incidents of abuse against Asian Americans were reported between March and December 2020, according to Asian American advocacy groups. There were only 216 reported cases in 2019, according to FBI statistics.

“I am appalled by the ongoing acts of hate against Asian Americans and the Asian community globally. Racism, hate and violence have no place in our society. I am united with the Asian and Asian American community in standing against this injustice,” Nadella said in a tweet, a day after US President Joe Biden said that the ”vicious” hate crimes against Asian Americans in the country amidst the pandemic was ”un-American” and it must stop.

Denouncing “violent” attacks on the Asian Americans, Biden in his first prime-time address to the nation since assuming office in January, said that members of the community were harassed, blamed and scapegoated.

In a statement, Microsoft said that it condemns hate, racial discrimination, and violence in all forms.

Meanwhile, prominent lawmakers have joined hands to introduce a legislation to address the rise of hate crimes and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congressman Donald M. Payne, expressed concern over an increase in racist attacks against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“I want to condemn the abuse and assault that has happened to Asian Americans during his pandemic in the strongest words possible,” Payne said.

“Hate and violence have no place in America at all. These attacks must stop because they are cowardly attempts to scapegoat and blame Americans for a pandemic that started thousands of miles away. Thankfully, we have a president who supports diversity and will protect all Americans in his language and his actions. It is time for us to come together as a country and that includes all Americans,” he said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein said that over the past few weeks, nominees for the top three leadership positions at the Justice Department have appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as has the director of the FBI.

“At each hearing the topic of hate crimes came up, in large part due to steep increases in attacks against Asian Americans,” she said.

“The increase appears to be based on a fabricated connection between the Asian-American community and the COVID pandemic, a conspiracy theory with no basis in fact that is pure racism. We must rebut the conspiracy theory itself and also directly confront the rise in hate crimes,” Feinstein said.

Senator Alex Padilla, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Senator Mazie Hirono and Congressmen Grace Meng in introducing legislation to address the rise of hate crimes and violence against AAPI communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am disturbed by the recent increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California and across the country,” Padilla said.

“It is clear that this uptick in violence against Asian Americans is the direct result of the racist rhetoric used by political leaders with regard to the pandemic and we must take action to address it. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will direct law enforcement to better collaborate across jurisdictions and expedite the response to COVID-19 related hate crimes, and will work to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic,” he said.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would direct the US Attorney General to designate an official whose sole responsibility will be to expedite review of COVID-19 hate crimes from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The legislation also directs the Attorney General to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies on appropriate public education campaigns and the collection of data on COVID-19 hate crimes.

The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, is absolutely horrific, said Congresswoman Meng. “Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against Asian Americans,” she said. (PTI)

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Chinese hackers hit 30,000 US organizations in new attack

In yet another big cyber-attack after SolarWinds, at least 30,000 organizations across the US, including government and commercial firms, have been hacked by China-based threat actors who used Microsoft’s Exchange Server software to enter their networks.

According to KrebsOnSecurity, the China-based espionage group exploited four vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server email software.

The vulnerabilities allowed hackers to gain access to email accounts, and also gave them the ability to install malware, according to Microsoft which reported about the China-based threat actors but did not reveal the scale at which tens of thousands of organizations have been hit.

Two cybersecurity experts who have briefed US national security advisors on the attack told KrebsOnSecurity the Chinese hacking group seized control over “hundreds of thousands” of Microsoft Exchange Servers worldwide.

Exchange Server is primarily used by business customers.

Microsoft has released several security updates to fix the vulnerabilities, advising its customers to install those immediately.

Earlier this week, Microsoft warned its customers against a new sophisticated nation-state cyber-attack that has its origin in China and is primarily targeting on-premises ‘Exchange Server’ software of the tech giant.

Called “Hafnium,” it operates from China and is attacking infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs in the US for the purpose of exfiltrating information.

“While Hafnium is based in China, it conducts its operations primarily from leased virtual private servers (VPS) in the US,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.

This was the eighth time in the past 12 months that Microsoft has publicly disclosed nation-state groups targeting institutions critical to civil society.

Nine federal agencies and about 100 private sector companies were compromised as a result of an earlier SolarWinds hack, the White House had said.

In a widespread cyber-attack on US federal agencies and enterprises via SolarWinds software, hackers also broke into the networks of NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Joe Biden administration was preparing sanctions against Russia as the cybercriminals are “likely Russian in origin”.

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Microsoft warns customers against new China cyber attack

New Delhi: Microsoft has warned its customers against a new sophisticated nation-state cyber attack that has its origin in China and is primarily targeting on-premises ‘Exchange Server’ software of the tech giant.

Called “Hafnium,” it operates from China and is attacking infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs in the US for the purpose of exfiltrating information.

“While Hafnium is based in China, it conducts its operations primarily from leased virtual private servers (VPS) in the US,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.

The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) found that “Hafnium” would first gain access to an Exchange Server either with stolen passwords or by using the previously undiscovered vulnerabilities to disguise itself as someone who should have access.

“Second, it would create what’s called a web shell to control the compromised server remotely. Third, it would use that remote access — run from the US-based private servers — to steal data from an organization’s network,” Burt said in a statement .

The company has released security updates to protect customers running Exchange Server, and encourages all Exchange Server customers to apply these updates immediately.

“Exchange Server is primarily used by business customers, and we have no evidence that Hafnium’s activities targeted individual consumers or that these exploits impact other Microsoft products,” Burt informed.

This is the eighth time in the past 12 months that Microsoft has publicly disclosed nation-state groups targeting institutions critical to civil society.

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