Shaky alliance to act against Syria weakened by UK Parliament vote – Syrian hackers warn of major attacks
SYRIA – Syrian hackers behind recent attacks on the New York Times and Twitter have warned media companies to “expect us.” The Syrian Electronic Army, which supports President Bashar al-Assad, added it had “many surprises” to come. Interviewed via email following the UK Parliament’s vote against military intervention on Thursday, a spokesman told BBC News: “It’s the right thing.” He added: “Military intervention in Syria has many consequences and will affect the whole world. Our main mission is to spread truth about Syria and what is really happening.” The SEA has targeted various media companies, including the BBC, CNN and the Guardian. Brian Krebs, a former Washington Post reporter, wrote that clues discovered when the SEA’s own website was hacked earlier in the year pointed towards at least one member of the group being based in neighboring country Turkey. But the SEA’s spokesman dismissed these claims, saying that “they keep publishing names so they can get attention. All the media outlets that we targeted were publishing false/fabricated news about the situation in Syria,” he told the BBC. “Our work doesn’t need funds. It just needs a computer and internet connection.” Until this week’s attacks, the SEA’s efforts had largely focused on “phishing” social media accounts, tricking users into handing over log-in details. In one particularly effective attack, the Twitter account of the Associated Press was compromised, and the group posted a tweet saying US President Barack Obama had been hurt in an explosion. The New York Times attack was more damaging, however, as the hackers were able to redirect people trying to visit the newspaper to the SEA’s website instead, albeit briefly. “Our goal was to deliver our anti-war message on NY Times website – but our server couldn’t last for three minutes,” the group said. “The Twitter attack was because of the suspension of our accounts on Twitter by its management. We succeeded in our attack as we expected.” –BBC
The latest tropical storm originating in Southeast Asia is now on its way towardsTaiwan and southern Japan, bringing with it heavy rain and the possible threat of flooding. The storm, dubbed Kong-rey, is now leaving the northern Philippines, where the cities of Laoag and Sinait experienced between 4 and over 6 inches (100 mm to 150 mm) of rainfall. Meteorologists are predicting the heaviest rain to fall on the mountains and eastern parts of Taiwan, beginning on Wednesday and into Thursday. Tropical Storm Kong-rey Tropical Storm Kong-rey will pass over slowly, with a small chance of it strengthening into a typhoon, but due to sticking to the east, damage-causing winds are expected to stay off the coast of the island. Authorities warn that the greatest threats to those in higher risk areas are flash floods and mudslides. Following Taiwan, Kong-rey will start on a path towards the northeast on Friday, affecting Japan that evening and through the weekend. High-speed winds will not be a concern by this point, but heavy rain should be expected on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, and the southern region of Honshu, the country’s main island. Northern Honshu and Hokkaido will have their share of rainfall when a low pressure front moves in late in the weekend. Due to the terrain, once again flash floods and mudslides are warned to be the greatest danger, especially on Saturday. -JDP
Police in China have offered a reward for information about an attack on a young boy whose eyes were forcibly removed, state media say.
The incident happened in Fenxi, Shanxi province, on 24 August.
The six-year-old boy went out to play and was found several hours later by his parents with his eyes removed.
The little boy is now recovering in hospital. Police have offered a reward of 100,000 yuan ($16,340, £10,500) for information linked to the case.
The boy's parents are said to be farmers. His mother said her son told them he was walking outside when a woman attacked him, state media reported.
Police found the little boy's eyeballs at the scene. Initial local reports said the corneas were missing, potentially pointing towards organ trafficking.
Police now say, however, that the corneas were not missing.
"We are sparing no efforts to solve this case," a police officer named Liu told the Associated Press news agency.
The UK is to put a resolution to the UN Security Council later on Wednesday "authorising necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria. The resolution will be put forward at a meeting of the five permanent members of the council, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter. Earlier a team of UN weapons inspectors resumed work probing an suspected chemical weapons attack on 21 August. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the council to act together.
"The body interested with maintaining international peace and security cannot be 'missing in action'," Mr Ban said.
"The council must at last find the unity to act. It must use its authority for peace," he went on.
"We've always said we want the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria," Mr Cameron said in another message.
"Today they have an opportunity to do that," he said. The draft resolution would condemn the "chemical weapons attack by Assad", he added.
In a briefing to journalists, joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said: "It does seem clear that some kind of substance was used... that killed a lot of people" on 21 August. But he emphasised that any military action needed Security Council authorisation. 'Further destabilisation'Russia and China have previously vetoed resolutions critical of Syria and may block any text deemed to approve military action. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that "attempts at a military solution will lead only to the further destabilisation" in Syria and the region. Mr Lavrov emphasised the need for a political solution in a phone call to Mr Brahimi, the foreign ministry in Moscow said.
Russia, China and Iran have previously warned against launching an attack on the war-ravaged country, where more than 100,000 people are thought to have died in two years of fighting. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Wednesday that US intervention would be a "disaster" for the region. "The region is like a gunpowder store and the future cannot be predicted," Mr Khamenei said, according to Iran's Isna news agency. Stocks have fallen on global markets and oil prices have shot up amid growing concern about an impending attack
Continue reading the main storyModels for possible intervention
Russia's Flood on a steady rise. - RIANOVOSTI
KHABAROVSK, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - Aggressive bears, starving because their natural food sources were destroyed by floods, are becoming a growing threat for Far Eastern villages, local police said on Wednesday. According to Yevgeny Shukshin, the police chief of the Polina Osipenko district in the Khabarovsk Territory, bears currently have difficulties with finding their traditional food - berries and salmon - because of floods. “Chances of meeting the predator have increased,” he said in a statement. “Hunger drives the animals closer to humans, forces them to search for food at garbage dumps. More and more often we are being informed of bears approaching villages.” In one of such incidents, police had to deal with an aggressive bear, which dangerously approached a group of children picking mushrooms. Officers initially tried to scare the animal off, but it ran towards them and was killed. Due to the flooding, which has occurred over several weeks, an emergency situation has been declared in four far-eastern regions - the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Khabarovsk and Primorye territories - as well as in the Siberian republic of Yakutia. A deputy presidential envoy to the Far East, Vladimir Pysin, said on Tuesday the overall damage is currently estimated at 30 billion rubles ($1 billion). Only in three Far Eastern regions - the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region and the Khabarovsk Territory - 190 settlements with almost 9,500 buildings were affected. - RIANOVOSTI
After Microsoft and Google, Social media giant Facebook is the latest to reveal the number of requests it has received from the government over issuing user data in the first half of this year. Facebook revealed that the government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 and half of the orders came from authorities in the US. The data shows that of the 26,000 government requests, Turkey submitted 96 requests covering 173 users out of which Facebook issued the data for 45 of the requested users but hasn’t revealed which information was furnished and why, Fox News reports. Facebook's general counsel company, Colin Stretch said that the company fights many of such requests but when they are bound to comply with a particular request, they frequently share only basic user information, such as name. The company’s spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said that the data included in the report related to Turkey is about child endangerment and emergency law enforcement request. The report said that the data published by Facebook doesn’t clearly tell how many of the requests were for law-enforcement purposes and how many were for intelligence gathering. - DNA
The rupee plunges to a new record low of 68.75 per dollar in the late morning trade on persistent dollar demand from banks and importers due to further fall in equity market amid rise in crude oil prices.
The rupee resumed lower at 66.90 per dollar as against the last closing level of 66.24 per dollar at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) Market and dropped further to an all-time low of 68.75 per dollar at 1045 hrs.
Stock markets also fell sharply, with the 50-share Nifty benchmark trading below 5,150 levels having dropped around 170 points. The BSE Sensex dropped over 500 points - DNA
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