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Twitter hack alarms experts already concerned about platform’s security – National


The extraordinary hacking spree that hit Twitter on Wednesday, leading it to briefly muzzle some of its most widely followed accounts, is drawing questions about the platform’s security and resilience in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Twitter said late Wednesday hackers obtained control of employee credentials to hijack accounts including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and tech billionaire and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Read more:
Twitter says ‘coordinated social engineering attack’ targeted politicians, tech leaders

In a series of tweets, the company said: “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

The hackers then “used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf.”

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The company statements confirmed the fears of security experts that the service itself — rather than users — had been compromised.

Twitter’s role as a critical communications platform for political candidates and public officials, including President Donald Trump, has led to fears that hackers could wreak havoc with the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election or otherwise compromise national security.






Facebook and Google suspend China’s data requests, TikTok to pull out of Hong Kong


Facebook and Google suspend China’s data requests, TikTok to pull out of Hong Kong

Adam Conner, vice president for technology policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank, said on Twitter: “This is bad on July 15 but would be infinitely worse on November 3rd.”

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Bitcoin bounty

Posing as celebrities and the wealthy, the hackers asked followers to send the digital currency bitcoin to a series of addresses. By evening, 400 bitcoin transfers were made worth a combined $120,000. Half of the victims had funds in U.S. bitcoin exchanges, a quarter in Europe and a quarter in Asia, according to forensics company Elliptic.

Those transfers left history that could help investigators identify the perpetrators of the hack. The financial damage may be limited because multiple exchanges blocked other payments after their own Twitter accounts were targeted.

Read more:
Twitter CEO’s hacked account sends racist tweets targeting black people and Jews

The damage to Twitter’s reputation may be more serious. Most troubling to some was how long the company took to stop the bad tweets.

“Twitter’s response to this hack was astonishing. It’s the middle of the day in San Francisco, and it takes them five hours to get a handle on the incident,” said Dan Guido, CEO of security company Trail of Bits.

An even worse scenario was that the bitcoin fraud was a distraction for more serious hacking, such as harvesting the direct messages of the account holders.






Donald Trump signs executive order on social media


Donald Trump signs executive order on social media

Twitter said it was not yet certain what the hackers may have done beyond sending the bitcoin messages.

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“We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the company said.

Mass compromises of Twitter accounts via theft of employee credentials or problems with third-party applications that many users employ have occured before.

Wednesday’s hack was the worst to date. Several users with two-factor authentication — a security procedure that helps prevent break-in attempts — said they were powerless to stop it.

Read more:
Twitter tests new feature prompting Android users to open articles before sharing

“If the hackers do have access to the backend of Twitter, or direct database access, there is nothing potentially stopping them from pilfering data in addition to using this tweet-scam as a distraction,” said Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering at security company Synopsys.

In 2010, Twitter reached a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after it was found the company had lied about efforts to protect users’ information during an extended hack the year before.

Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter was barred for 20 years from misleading users about how it protects the security and confidentiality of private information.

U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley wrote to Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey during the hack calling for the company to work with the FBI and Department of Justice to secure its platform, and then answer questions publicly about the effects of the hack.

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One of his questions is how the hack may have affected the account of President Donald Trump.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Raphael Satter in Washington; Additional reporting by Anna Irrera in New York; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Lincoln Feast.)

With files from Global News’ Sean Boynton








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International Olympic Committee yields $100 million for Olympic movement worldwide


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has allocated a total of $100 million to national Olympic committees and international sports federations in a bid to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IOC press service said in a statement, Trend reports citing TASS.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already supported the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Federations (IFs) with more than $100 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement reads. “To date and as needed, $63 million have been allocated to IFs and $37 million to NOCs.”

“The IOC, as the leader of the Olympic Movement, is playing a critical role in supporting its stakeholders during the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to the IOC statement. “The organization has swiftly delivered on its commitment to allocate an aid package program for the Olympic Movement.”

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were scheduled to be held between July 24 and August 9, and the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games were planned to be organized between August 25 and September 6.

The IOC and the IPC (the International Paralympic Committee) announced on March 24 a decision to postpone for one year the tournaments in Japan due to the continuous COVID-19 spread. Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo-2020 Olympics Local Organizing Committee, announced on March 30 that the Summer Olympic Games in Japan next year will start on July 23 and the Summer Paralympic Games will begin on August 24.

Commenting on the decision to deliver the financial aid, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The Olympic Movement is facing an unprecedented challenge.”

“The IOC has to organize postponed Olympic Games for the first time ever, and has to help its stakeholders come through this global crisis,” the IOC chief continued. “This new situation will need all our solidarity, creativity, determination and flexibility.”

“We shall all need to make sacrifices and compromises,” Bach said. “Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

“This situation requires every one of us to do our part, and this applies to all of us, including the IOC,” he said.

“The IFs are facing financial hardship due to the cancellation of sports events and the impact on the sporting calendar of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 being held in 2021,” the IOC head stated. “Due to the urgency of the situation, payments to IFs started in June 2020, and the program is still continuing. “



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Jeet Heer, Margaret Atwood, David Frum, Malcolm Gladwell and other defenders of open debate get their wish


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An open letter denouncing social restrictions on free speech and public debate, signed by more than 150 writers, academics, public intellectuals and other specialists, is sparking ample debate, although not all of it the sort its authors likely hoped for.

Published online by Harper’s magazine, “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” was signed by people as famous as author J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, and as unexpected as jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and choreographer Bill T. Jones.

As befits a manifesto, the current wave of protest and social activism is described as “a moment.” The anti-racism movement is “powerful,” demands for police reform are “overdue” and calls for wider inclusion across society is part of a “needed reckoning,” the letter declares.

But there’s a “but.”

“But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.”



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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong quits pro-democracy group as China passes security law – National



Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said on Tuesday he is stepping down as leader of his democracy group Demosisto, just hours after local media reported that Beijing had passed national security legislation for the Chinese-ruled city.

Read more:
Chinese lawmakers pass controversial security law for Hong Kong: reports

Wong has said he will be a “prime target” of Beijing’s national security law, which critics fear will crush freedoms in the former British colony.

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“If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend out last bit of freedom,” Wong wrote in a tweet.

-With a file from Global News








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Netanyahu, Gantz sign coalition deal to form emergency government



Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have announced that they have forged a deal to form an emergency coalition government, aimed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement comes after months of political paralysis in the country.

“I promised the state of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Under the three-year deal, both leaders will switch positions, with Netanyahu serving as prime minister for the first half, and Gantz taking the job for the second half. Gantz’s Blue and White party will take control of a number of senior government ministries, including foreign affairs and defence, while Netanyahu’s Likud party will gain influence over judicial appointments.

“We have prevented a fourth election. We will protect democracy. We will fight coronavirus and care for all Israel’s citizens”, Gantz said.

The deal comes after Gantz and Netanyahu missed the deadline to form a government, and president Reuven Rivlin asked the parliament to choose a new prime minister, giving it three weeks to agree upon a leader or push the country into a fourth election in about a year.

According to the deal, no laws are to be introduced that have nothing to do with the coronavirus. However, Netanyahu will be allowed to annex Jewish settlements and other land in the occupied West Bank. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Palestinians condemned the formation of an “Israeli “annexation” government, saying the agreement would wreck hopes of peace.



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The Day After (II): What Europe?



“The Day After” for the European Union, the so-called “bloc”, will either have to stay as is and sooner, rather later, dissolve. Or it will have to change in an attempt to survive. This will be difficult as huge organisations like the EU do not historically adapt, but disappear. And yet, the instinct for survival is very strong, and the bloc may radically adapt to the “new norm” because if it doesn’t, its servants will not lose a little, but all.

Maintaining the “status quo ante”

The bloc may stay as-is – an apolitical power structure, ruling half a billion people by a self-reproduced, non-accountable administrative machine, without any democratic legitimisation.

This is the same bloc from which the United Kingdom withdrew and is the EU which ordinary citizens left behind when they entered into house isolation last month. If this will be the bloc that re-surfaces once Europe’s residents are released, it will continue living in its own world, further distancing itself from its own citizens and soon will collapse.

After returning to society, ordinary people will be different. If the Brussels nomenklatura remains the same, it will face a problem, a big problem. Most people after the long home detention will be different. Most, at least for a while, will be better people because they would have spent time with themselves and their families and would have discovered that moderation is a virtue, while forced minimalism, once they are used to it, gives a different dimension to life.

As for the European Union, the inmates who spent day and night in front of a screen sensed that the EU had no political role in the crisis. The bloc has been judged by its citizens as having been “in absentia”.

Indeed, Viktor Orban dissolved the Hungarian Parliament in an unprecedented “coup d’état” and Brussels ignored it, displaying no political capacity to handle the situation.

Dad, is America far away? Shoot-up and swim…

Leaders emerge from confrontations, and the virus crisis is the world biggest confrontation since the Second World War. Whether it’s a confrontation between China and the Western World or between humankind and nature, makes no difference. In any instance, new leaders will emerge. This is typical after large events. Think of what great leaders Europe had after World War II and during the Cold War – Francoise Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, Aldo Moro, Margaret Thatcher and many others who were followed by mediocracies in the years of peace.

The emergence of new leaders is now in the making. In this process, the bloc does not participate as the Brussels bureaucracy although it is the most sophisticated administrative machine of the world. It is politically sterile. It is composed of civil servants and only civil servants who, in the absence of political leaders, began making political decisions. That is what undermined the European project.

In the emerging post-crisis new world, the European Union is needed more than ever, ironically, for the same reasons it was established seven decades ago – to unite Europeans and contain Germany. At that time it was to guarantee that Berlin didn’t dominate Europe again with its Panzers, and today it’s to be sure Germany doesn’t attempt to dominate Europe again with its Deutsche Mark, which masquerades as the euro.

Maintaining and strengthening the European Union, turning it into a united nation that is citizen useful and friendly, is the only way to keep alive the best European achievement of all time.

This will be a difficult task. The European Commission, the presumed government of Europe, must attempt it. It is hard to do so as it must give up all privileges its employees have accumulated and turn them into ordinary civil servants.

Once the bloc’s civil servants realise that if the union disintegrates, their pensions will be paid (if they will be paid) by their own countries of origin and will be at the level of national pensions, they will certainly behave.

The change we need

There are some ideas about the changes the bloc needs to make in order to survive. The most important change is the “presumed government of Europe” must become “the government of Europe” and must become political.

Europe has serious survival problems to address, more than ever, and they are all political. They require political solutions that no administration can give no matter how good it is and how well it is paid. That is why the government of the bloc must become political, democratic, accountable, and at the service of citizens.

“The Day After” sequel of New Europe will provide food for thought to all those pretending they rule Europe from their couch but have a better sense than anybody else about the threats to their jobs and pensions when everything will return to the “new normal”.

In the next episodes, we will provide some ideas as to how the European Commission should change in an attempt to survive. How to make the bloc political; how to bring the Directors General down to earth at the service of the political personnel; how to restore accountability; how to reduce over-regulation; how to restore transparency especially in money matters; how to redefine the role of the cabinets and other unpleasant suggestions, yet essential for the survival of the Union, in the post virus era.

(to be continued)

Related Articles:

The Day After: a new Yalta in the making



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Turkey opens borders for refugees and migrants to travel to Europe – Channel 4 News


Hundreds of refugees and migrants are gathering on Turkey’s border with Greece after Turkey said it would no longer prevent them from crossing towards Europe.

Buses have been seen transporting people from Istanbul as Turkey attempts to put pressure on the EU to provide more support for refugees coming from Syria.

In Syria itself, tensions remain high after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed this week and fierce fighting continues as the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels try to halt the advance of Russian-backed government forces.



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U.S. to evacuate citizens from virus-hit Diamond Princess ship


The U.S. will evacuate its citizens from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that’s been quarantined in Japan, according to a statement on the American embassy in Japan’s website.

The State Department will provide chartered aircraft to bring American passengers and crew back to the U.S. The ship is the largest infection cluster outside China. An additional 67 cases have been found on board, Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said in televised comments.

The plane will arrive on the evening of Feb. 16 and will transport the passengers first to Travis Air Force Base in California, and some may be moved to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. They will undergo a two-week quarantine.

Some 3,500 people are being kept in quarantine on Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess. The latest cases bring the total infections on the ship to almost 300, fueling concerns that rather than keeping passengers safe, the quarantine is allowing the virus to spread.

Left Behind

Rebecca Frasure and her husband Kent, from Forest Grove, Oregon, won’t be on the evacuation flight. She tested positive for coronavirus and was taken to a Tokyo hospital on Feb. 7. Even though her symptoms of a mild cough, stuffy nose and light fever are gone, recent tests show the virus is still in her system. The couple decided both would stay behind.

“They need to make some effort to evacuate the people who have been in the hospital,” said Rebecca Frasure, 35. “There’s a way to keep people separated. I’ll wear a hazmat suit, masks and gloves — whatever it takes.”

The virus has killed more than 1,500 people since emerging in China’s Hubei province in December. France’s health ministry reported the death of an 80-year-old Chinese tourist in Paris today, the first fatality outside Asia.

Japan has been preparing to allow certain passengers to start disembarking the ship, Health Minister Kato told reporters Friday. About 40 people in Japan now have the virus, with local authorities in the western prefecture of Wakayama announcing three more on Saturday.

Japan said in a statement it’s coordinating with the U.S. over the evacuation and ‘appreciates such measures’

NHK reported Saturday that eight more cases have been confirmed in Tokyo, without saying where it obtained the information.

Japan said in a statement it’s coordinating with the U.S. over the evacuation and “appreciates such measures,” which will help mitigate its burden regarding the medical response to passengers on the ship.

Dow Jones reported the evacuation earlier, citing an official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are about 380 Americans on board the cruise ship, according to the report.

“We recognize this has been a stressful experience and we remain dedicated to providing all the support we can,” the embassy said in the notice on its website.

The Frasures worry how they will ever return home. Kent Frasure said the embassy note said that Americans who decide not to evacuate may not be allowed back until the CDC decides they can enter the country.

“It was very ominous,” he said. “We need some answers on how we can get home.”





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Coronavirus live updates: WHO considers global emergency declaration as death toll hits 170


The World Health Organization is set to meet Thursday, for the third time in a week, to determine if the deadly coronavirus outbreak should be declared a global emergency.

Such a declaration would trigger tighter containment and information-sharing guidelines, but may disappoint Beijing, which had expressed confidence in defeating the “devil” virus.

Some 6,000 people are being kept on board an Italian cruise ship as tests are carried out on two Chinese passengers suspected of having caught coronavirus, a spokesman for the Costa Crociere cruise company said on Thursday.

Jump to live updates

The couple arrived in Italy on Jan. 25 and boarded the ship, the Costa Smeralda, in the port of Savona that same day. They subsequently came down with a fever and are suffering breathing difficulties

The liner has visited Marseilles in France, and the Spanish ports of Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca this week before docking on Thursday at Civitavecchia, north of Rome.

No one was being allowed off the ship while medical checks were carried out to see if the pair had the potentially deadly coronavirus, the company spokesman said.

He said it might take “a few hours” before the situation became clearer.

On Thursday countries began isolating hundreds of citizens evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed 170 people.

Follow along below for live updates on the coronavirus outbreak from around the world and Canada:

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Coronavirus conspiracy theories: Sorting fact from fiction as speculation reaches fever pitch

Coronavirus outbreak active and spreading, WHO says: ‘Why wouldn’t people be concerned?’



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Ukraine to boost renewables, energy efficiency with EU help



Ukraine can focus in developing the country’s renewable energy sector and improve the much-delayed energy efficiency now that the former Soviet republic has concluded the gas transit agreement with Russia, the European Union’s energy chief said on 12 January.

“Meeting with Ukraine’s Minister of Energy Oleksiy Orzhel: after the conclusion of the gas transit agreement, Ukraine can focus on the future of energy and the development of renewable and energy efficiency” European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson wrote in a tweet, adding that the EU would support Ukraine’s efforts. Simson also said that the Commissioner is looking forward to the next high-level dialogue between the EU and Ukraine.

The former Soviet republic that is reliant on fossil fuels is planning to reduce CO2 emissions by developing a green energy transition and increasing energy efficiency, especially in industry and buildings.

Simson met Orzhel on the sidelines of the 10th session of the International renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly in Abu Dhabi at the United Arab Emirates. She also held a meeting with UAE Climate Change and Environment Minister Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi on the EU Green Deal and the way to reach climate neutrality. “I am happy to see their active engagement and readiness to continue cooperation,” she said.



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