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Demolishing Palestinian homes for an Israeli religious theme park | Israel-Palestine conflict News



Silwan, Occupied East Jerusalem – Nearly 120 Palestinian families face the destruction of their homes to make way for an Israeli religious theme park where the Israelis believe King David had a garden in biblical times.

About 1,500 people living in more than 100 buildings in the al-Bustan area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem are under threat.

On Monday, Jerusalem Municipality inspectors, accompanied by Israeli forces, delivered notices to demolish at least 13 of those homes and structures within 21 days, after an Israeli court ruled earlier they had been constructed without building permits.

“Stating that the orders were delivered is somewhat inaccurate,” said social activist Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, the co-director of the Jahalin Solidarity organisation.

“When inspectors deliver orders to Palestinians, they don’t give them in person or even affix them to the relevant doors despite the notices saying ‘demolition within 21-days of receipt’,” Godfrey-Goldstein told Al Jazeera.

The notices were often not received, blow away and are sometimes found on the ground, she said.

“Hence, many Palestinians only know their houses are about to be demolished when they wake up to the sound of doors being bashed in or the day before when inspectors come to photograph their target,” explained Goldfrey-Goldstein, a former member of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, which fights the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Israeli occupied territories.

The Jerusalem Municipality very seldom approves Palestinian building permits in its continuing effort to Judaise the eastern sector of the city which includes facilitating illegal Jewish settlement building, the forced expulsion of Palestinian residents to make way for Jewish settlers and the planned destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes.

Jerusalem deputy mayors Arieh King and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum are on record recently confirming that the aim of the state was to limit Palestinian construction in East Jerusalem as a deliberate policy that favoured Jews to protect Israel’s character, saying Israel was a Jewish state.

Three generations, more than 30 people, live in the homes of Fakhri Abu Diab and his brother, Nader Abu Diab. Both buildings are listed to be demolished within the next few weeks.

The families’ appeals against the 2019 Israeli court decision authorising the demolitions were dismissed in 2020. Orders to proceed were issued in March of this year and the final notice was delivered on Monday.

“My family has lived in this home for decades, long before Israel occupied East Jerusalem,” said Abu Diab, an accountant by profession and a spokesman for the Silwan Land Defense Committee.

“When I got married in 1988, I tried for nearly three years to get a building permit to enlarge my home as my family expanded.

“I went dozens of times to Jerusalem Municipality, sometimes accompanied by a lawyer and an engineer, but I was repeatedly told that building permits would not be issued for al-Bustan as it was to be turned into a Jewish theme park,” Abu Diab told Al Jazeera.

‘No concrete action’

He said he had been involved in numerous appeals to foreign diplomats, NGOs, the United Nations and journalists for help in order to prevent the families from being made homeless.

“The French and American diplomats told me they would put pressure on the Israeli government not to proceed with the demolitions, which the French said broke international law.

“We get lots of verbal support, but no concrete action. Where is the UN, where is the international community? We desperately need international intervention now before the demolitions take place, not afterwards when we are already on the streets and are then given tents and food by aid organisations,” said Abu Diab.

Fakhri Abu Diab received a demolition notice from the Jerusalem Municipality that his family home will be destroyed in the next few weeks to make way for a Jewish religious-themed park [Al Jazeera]

The Jerusalem Municipality’s plan to build Gan Hamelech (King’s Garden) Park on al-Bustan’s land, and to link it to the nearby City of David, is only part of the Judaisation story that applies to all of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, specifically Area C, comprising 60 percent of the territory.

“In April, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 23 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its May report.

“All the structures were in Area C of East Jerusalem and were targeted due to a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.”

In April, OCHA reported on the numerous demolitions in March, which, as well as Palestinian family homes, included buildings that housed or were supported by NGOs. Sixteen structures that were demolished were initially funded by international humanitarian donations, while another 29 donor-funded structures, valued at nearly 86,000 euros ($105,000), were served demolition orders.

“One of Israel’s major long-term goals in Jerusalem is transforming the Old City Basin from what it is today – a dense Palestinian urban area, which is also the place of some of the most holy sites to the three Abrahamic religions – to one where Jewish nationalistic and religious identity is dominant above all,” Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher from the Israeli Ir Amim NGO, wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

“For this purpose, the Israeli government – aided by settler organisations – is evicting Palestinian families in neighbourhoods such as Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.”

‘Nowhere else to go’

While Abu Diab’s entire home will be demolished, the second floor of his brother Nader’s family home is also to be destroyed.

Like Fakhri, when Nader got married he too built on additional rooms after failing to get a building permit.

The immaculate home, constructed in the overcrowded and poverty-stricken neighbourhood, was obviously built with pride with each added room tastefully decorated. But as the countdown towards the demolition of their homes closes in, Nader’s wife Itedal fought back tears.

“I’m afraid for my children and grandchildren,” she calmly told Al Jazeera, despite her obvious despair.

Itedal Abu Diab is too traumatised to start packing after being notified by the Jerusalem Municipality that her home of 37 years will be destroyed in the next few weeks [Al Jazeera]

When asked if she had started to pack and move her things after receiving the demolition notice, Itedal said she was too traumatised to start packing – and neither was she prepared to leave.

“I’ve lived in this house for 37 years. We have nowhere else to go.”

Fakhri Abu Diab added the Israeli actions were aimed at more than just leaving Palestinians homeless.

“They are trying to destroy our culture, our way of life and our hope for the future.”

Godfrey-Goldstein said rather than searching for peace with the Palestinians, the Israelis were doing the opposite.

“Instead, we are teaching people to hate us.”

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




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.”

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Business: Liberia VP, Jewel Taylor, Arrives in Uganda




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.

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Brazil kick off under-fire Copa America with win over Venezuela | Football News




Neymar, with a goal and an assist, helps hosts open campaign with a 3-0 win in Brasilia.

Brazil has kicked off Copa America 2021 with a 3-0 win over COVID-hit Venezuela as the much-opposed tournament kicked off in Brasilia on Sunday.

Marquinhos, Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa scored in the opening game at Mane Garrincha stadium on Sunday, less than a day after several Venezuelan players tested positive for COVID-19.

South American football governing body, CONMEBOL, chose Brazil as host two weeks ago despite its alarming COVID-19 figures, after Argentina and Colombia were dropped as co-hosts.

Neymar dribbled past Graterol and crossed for Barbosa to chest the ball into the empty net in the 89th [Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]

Despite his opposition to staging the tournament in his home country, Brazil captain Casemiro said the defending champions intended to retain their trophy.

“It could be a friendly, Copa America or World Cup qualifiers, we play it to win,” said Casemiro after his side’s win.

“Venezuela had the idea of defending, they wanted a draw. But we were focused and we were aggressive in the last third of the pitch.”

Venezuela summoned 15 new players at short notice after eight squad members tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, and the disruption showed on the field.

Brazil opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after a corner kick ended with Marquinhos striking from close range.

Brazil coach Tite – who also opposed holding the tournament – took Lucas Paqueta off at halftime, but kept Roberto Firmino on the bench. Instead, Everton Ribeiro went on and provided more dynamism on the right flank.

Ribeiro found Danilo on the right edge of the box, and the Brazilian was pushed to the ground. Neymar calmly scored from the spot in the 63rd to make it 2-0.

Neymar dribbled past Graterol and crossed for Barbosa to chest the ball into the empty net in the 89th to seal the home side’s win.

Elsewhere, Edwin Cardona scored the only goal of the game as Colombia held on under second half pressure to begin their Group B campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Edwin Cardona scored the only goal of the game as Colombia beat Ecuador 1-0 [Carla Carniel/Reuters]

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