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‘A catastrophe’: UN warns of intensifying violence in Myanmar | Myanmar News

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UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says military government is ‘singularly responsible’ for violence and ‘must be held to account’.

The United Nations human rights chief has warned that violence is intensifying across Myanmar, slamming the country’s military government for being “singularly responsible” for a “human rights catastrophe”.

In a statement published on Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said multiple reports indicated that armed conflict was continuing, including in Kayah, Chin and Kachin states, with the violence particularly intense in areas with significant ethnic and religious minority groups.

“There appear to be no efforts towards de-escalation but rather a build-up of troops in key areas, contrary to the commitments the military made to ASEAN to cease the violence,” said Bachelet, referring to the 10-member regional bloc.

“In just over four months, Myanmar has gone from being a fragile democracy to a human rights catastrophe,” Bachelet added. “The military leadership is singularly responsible for this crisis, and must be held to account.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has led the main international diplomatic effort to find a way out of the crisis in Myanmar, since the country was thrown into political turmoil following a military coup that removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government on February 1.

The military’s powergrab unleashed daily pro-democracy protests that have been met by a bloody security crackdown, as well as strikes that have paralysed the country’s economy and fighting in borderlands between the armed forces and ethnic minority armed groups.

The ASEAN mediation has so far made little progress. Last week, two envoys from the bloc visited Myanmar and met top military government officials, including military chief Min Aung Hlaing. The trip was criticised by pro-democracy groups, who say they are being shut out.

The UN, Western countries and China all back ASEAN’s peace efforts, but the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has paid little heed to that and instead touted the progress of its own five-step plan towards a new election.

Demonstrators protest against the military coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar [File: Reuters]

‘A human rights catastrophe’

In its statement, the UN human rights office said more than 108,000 people have fled their homes in Kayah state over the past three weeks, with many taking refuge in forest areas with little or no food, water, sanitation or medical aid.

Bachelet cited “credible reports” that security forces have shelled civilian homes and churches and blocked access to humanitarian aid.

“The international community needs to unify in its demand that the Tatmadaw cease the outrageous use of heavy artillery against civilians and civilian objects,” Bachelet said.

She also said newly formed civilian forces, known as People’s Defence Forces, and other armed groups, must take all measures to keep civilians away from harm.

Bachelet is set to update the UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, during its next session in July, her office said.

The statement also put the death toll of people killed by security forces since the coup to 860, most of them protesters. At least 4,804 others are still in arbitrary detention — including activists, journalists and opponents of the military government — with reports of detainees and activists’ family members being tortured and punished, respectively. One activist’s mother was given three years of jail time in place of her son on May 28, according to the UN’s office.

Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under custody as the military takeover was unfolding and charged with a string of charges, including a new one on Thursday for alleged corruption. She is due to go on trial on Monday.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Palestinians not counting on change as Bennett replaces Netanyahu | Benjamin Netanyahu News

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Palestinian leaders say new Israeli PM Naftali Bennett is likely to pursue the same right-wing agenda as Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian groups have dismissed the change in Israel’s government, saying new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is likely to pursue the same right-wing agenda as his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office called the Israeli parliamentary vote on Sunday an “internal Israeli affair” while groups in the besieged enclave of Gaza pledged to keep up their fight for Palestinian rights. Gaza has been under an Israeli air, land and sea blockade since 2007.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, issued a statement saying it was “inaccurate” to call Bennett’s coalition government a “government of change” unless there was a significant shift in its position on the Palestinian right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Bennett, who heads the ultra-nationalist Yamina party and describes himself as “more right-wing” than Netanyahu, has said that the creation of a Palestine state would be “national suicide” for Israel. He has also called for the annexation of most of the occupied West Bank.

The millionaire former high-tech entrepreneur faces a tough test maintaining an unwieldy coalition from the political right, left and centre. Analysts say Bennett’s government will likely avoid sweeping moves on hot-button issues such as policy towards the Palestinians and instead focus on domestic reforms.

Palestinians unmoved

“This is an internal Israeli affair,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Abbas. “Our position has always been clear, what we want is a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”

In a statement, the Palestinian foreign ministry posed a host of questions to Bennett’s government. “What is the position of the new government regarding the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital?”

“What is its position of the settlement and annexation processes? What is its position on Jerusalem and respect for the historical and legal situation there? Its position on the signed agreements? Its position on the resolutions of international legitimacy? Its position on the two-state solution and negotiations on the basis of the principle of land for peace?”

In Gaza, Palestinian groups vowed to keep resisting Israel.

“We aren’t counting on any change in the occupation governments, since they are united on the policy of killing Palestinians and confiscating Palestinian rights,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official.

And prior to the Israeli parliament vote, Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas said: “Regardless of the shape of the government in Israel, it will not alter the way we look at the Zionist entity. It is a settler occupier entity that must be resisted by all forms of resistance, foremost of which is armed resistance.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Recent cyberattacks reveal US utilities’ extreme vulnerability | Business and Economy News

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When the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was hacked in 2018, it took a mere six hours. Early this year, an intruder lurked in hundreds of computers related to water systems across the U.S. In Portland, Oregon, burglars installed malicious computers onto a grid providing power to a chunk of the Northwest.

Two of those cases — L.A. and Portland — were tests. The water threat was real, discovered by cybersecurity firm Dragos.

All three drive home a point long known but, until recently, little appreciated: the digital security of U.S. computer networks controlling the machines that produce and distribute water and power is woefully inadequate, a low priority for operators and regulators, posing a terrifying national threat.

“If we have a new world war tomorrow and have to worry about protecting infrastructure against a cyberattack from Russia or China, then no, I don’t think we’re where we’d like to be,” said Andrea Carcano, co-founder of Nozomi Networks, a control system security company.

Hackers working for profit and espionage have long threatened American information systems. But in the last six months, they’ve targeted companies running operational networks like the Colonial Pipeline fuel system, with greater persistence. These are the systems where water can be contaminated, a gas line can spring a leak or a substation can explode.

The threat has been around for at least a decade — and fears about it for a generation — but cost and indifference posed obstacles to action.

Colonial Pipeline was targeted by ransomware hackers in the past few weeks, one of the more prominent such attacks [File: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg]

It isn’t entirely clear why ransomware hackers — those who use malicious software to block access to a computer system until a sum of money has been paid — have recently moved from small-scale universities, banks and local governments to energy companies, meatpacking plants and utilities. Experts suspect increased competition and bigger payouts as well as foreign government involvement. The shift is finally drawing serious attention to the problem.

The U.S. government began taking small steps to defend cybersecurity in 1998 when the Clinton administration identified 14 private sectors as critical infrastructure, including chemicals, defense, energy and financial services. This triggered regulation in finance and power. Other industries were slower to protect their computers, including the oil and gas sector, said Rob Lee, the founder of Dragos.

One of the reasons is the operational and financial burden of pausing production and installing new tools.

Much of the infrastructure running technology systems is too old for sophisticated cybersecurity tools. Ripping and replacing hardware is costly as are service outages. Network administrators fear doing the job piecemeal may be worse because it can increase a network’s exposure to hackers, said Nozomi’s Carcano.

Although the Biden administration’s budget includes $20 billion to upgrade the country’s grid, this comes after a history of shoulder shrugging from federal and local authorities. Even where companies in under-regulated sectors like oil and gas have prioritized cybersecurity, they’ve been met with little support.

Take the case of ONE Gas Inc. in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Niyo Little Thunder Pearson was overseeing cybersecurity there in January 2020 when his team was alerted to malware trying to enter its operational system -– the side that controls natural gas traffic across Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.

Hacker Dogfight

For two days, his team was in a dogfight with the hackers who moved laterally across the network. Ultimately, Pearson’s team managed to expel the intruders.

When Richard Robinson at Cynalytica fed the corrupted files into his own identification program, ONE Gas learned it was dealing with malware capable of executing ransomware, exploiting industrial control systems and harvesting user credentials. At its core were digital footprints found in some of the most malicious code of the last decade.

Pearson tried to bring the data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation but it would only accept it on a compact disc, he said. His system couldn’t burn the data onto a CD. When he alerted the Department of Homeland Security and sent it through a secure portal, he never heard back.

Robinson of Cynalytica was convinced a nation-state operator had just attacked a regional natural gas provider. So he gave a presentation to DHS, the Departments of Energy and Defense and the intelligence community on a conference call. He never heard back either.

“We got zero, and that was what was really surprising,” he said. “Not a single individual reached back out to find out more about what happened to ONE Gas.”

The agencies didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Such official indifference — even hostility — hasn’t been uncommon.

The 2018 break-in to the L.A. water and power system is another example.

These weren’t criminals but hackers-for-hire paid to break into the system to help it improve security.

After the initial intrusion, the city’s security team asked the hackers to assume the original source of compromise had been fixed (it hadn’t) while hunting for a new one. They found many.

Between the end of 2018 and most of 2019, the hired hackers discovered 33 compromised paths, according to a person familiar with the test who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Bloomberg News reviewed a report produced by the hackers for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.

It described 10 vulnerabilities found during their own test, along with 23 problems researchers had discovered as early as 2008. (Bloomberg News won’t publish information that hackers could use to attack the utility.) The person familiar with the operation discovered that few, if any, of the 33 security gaps have been fixed since the report’s submission in September 2019.

It gets worse.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ended a contract with hackers to find gaps in the city’s systems [File: Getty Images]

Soon after the hackers produced the report, Mayor Garcetti terminated their contract, according to a preliminary legal claim filed by the hackers hired from Ardent Technology Solutions in March 2020. The company alleges the mayor fired the hackers as a “retaliatory measure” for the scathing report.

Ellen Cheng, a utility spokeswoman, acknowledged that Ardent’s contract was terminated but said it had nothing to do with the report’s substance. She said the utility frequently partners with public agencies to improve security, including scanning for potential cyber threats.

“We want to assure our customers and stakeholders that cybersecurity is of the utmost importance to LADWP and that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that our cybersecurity is compliant with all applicable laws and security standards,” Cheng said in a statement.

Garcetti’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The case of the Oregon network — the Bonneville Power Administration — is no more encouraging.

The testing went on for years beginning in 2014 and involved an almost shocking level of intrusion followed by a pair of public reports. One published in 2017 admonished the agency for repeatedly failing to take action.

By 2020, two-thirds of the more than 100 flaws identified by the Department of Energy and the utility’s own security team hadn’t been resolved, according to interviews with more than a dozen former and current Bonneville security personnel and contractors and former members of the Department of Energy cyber team, in addition to documents, some accessed via Freedom of Information Act request.

Doug Johnson, a spokesperson for Bonneville, said a team reviewed the security reports in mid-2019 and that efforts to remediate those are ongoing. The utility acknowledged that hackers were able to breach certain BPA systems in those test hacks, but Johnson said “at no time were they able to gain access to any of the BPA systems that monitor or control the power grid.”

Dragos estimated in its 2020 cybersecurity report that 90% of its new customers had “extremely limited to no visibility” inside their industrial control systems. That means that once inside, hackers have free rein to collect sensitive data, investigate system configurations and choose the right time to wage an attack.

The industry is finally focused on fighting back.

“If the bad guys come after us, there has to be an eye-for-an-eye, or better,” observed Tom Fanning, chief executive officer of Southern Co., at a conference this week. “We’ve got to make sure the bad guys understand there will be consequences.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Business: Liberia VP, Jewel Taylor, Arrives in Uganda

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Liberia’s Vice President, Jewel Cianeh Taylor, has arrived in Uganda.

Jewel, the wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, was received on Monday morning at Entebbe International Airport by incoming State Minister of Trade, David Bahati.

“She (Jewel) is here to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of Trade, industrialization and infrastructure development,” said Bahati.

The Minister told ChimpReports that Jewel will tour Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) at Namanve – the largest industrial hub in Uganda sitting on 2600 hectares of land.

The industrial park has attracted over 400 investors for development in various sub-sectors such as agro processing, mineral processing, ICT, logistics and freight, warehousing, general manufacturing as well as tourism promotion activities.

She also will meet with President Museveni at State House Entebbe.

Jewel is one of few women in top political leadership positions in Africa.

She has been championing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – a major boost for African economies.

“We expect a 52 per cent boost in intra-Africa trade by 2022,” she said.

Africa is the last frontier, with about 40 per cent of the world’s natural resources and the fastest-growing population globally.

If Africa uses this leverage to implement an industrialized revolution, it can have sustained economic growth.

Jewel recently said Africa is “at a point where we need mutually rewarding partnerships, not just grants. It’s time for an African industrial revolution. Africa’s resources have traditionally been taken out of our countries, processed abroad, and brought back. Now, African leaders are saying that we want investors to help build industries that process our natural resources locally. It is not just to take out raw materials.”

The post Business: Liberia VP, Jewel Taylor, Arrives in Uganda first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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