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  • Coronavirus live news: Gaza strip sees record death toll; calls for Boris Johnson to delay India trip over variant
    by Molly Blackall on April 18, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Gaza authorities have received 80,000 vaccine doses for population of two million people; UK Labour party says PM should not travelGlobal death toll passes 3m as pandemic ‘grows at an alarming rate’Labour urges Boris Johnson to cancel trip to India over Covid riskAustralia plans staggered reopening of international borders in late 2021The obscure maths theorem that governs the reliability of Covid testingOlympic chief to visit Japan to approve safety amid Covid cases surge 2.34pm BST Muslims hoping to perform the Umra pilgrimage to Mecca must be vaccinated against coronavirus, Saudi state TV said on Sunday, according to Reuters.Umra is a shorter version of the annual Hajj pilgrimage and it can be performed any other time of the year. 2.19pm BST Restaurant and pub bosses are urging the UK government to commit to reopening indoor hospitality in England on 17 May. Chief executives from prominent chains including JD Wetherspoon, Greene King and Pizza Hut signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for him to stick to the planned roadmap out of lockdown and not be “derailed” by suggestions of vaccine passports. Continue reading...

  • Protests erupt in US cities after Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo killings – video
    on April 18, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    The police killings of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old shot after being pulled over, and Adam Toledo, an unarmed 13-year-old, have sparked protests in a number of cities. Crowds in Minneapolis staged their sixth night of demonstrations, and thousand marched in Chicago, where Toledo was killed, after video of him being shot with his arms raised was released. Police in Portland declared a riot on Friday nightProtests erupt in US cities over police violenceHundreds protest in Chicago over police shooting of Adam ToledoDaunte Wright and George Floyd: another chapter in America’s recurring tragedy Continue reading...

  • The wisdom of water: 12 ways to use blue spaces to improve your health and happiness
    by Paula Cocozza on April 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    From relaxing baths to seaside swims, water can be a balm in difficult times. Catherine Kelly, the author of a new book on blue spaces, shares her tipsIt was after her mother died that Catherine Kelly learned the healing power of water. Following instincts that she did not yet understand, she moved to live alone by the sea in County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, and over the next few years began to heal. “It’s an ebb and flow that water gives us that allows us to connect with ourselves. It’s an allowing,” she says.After eight years studying the therapeutic effects of nature, she has written a book called Blue Spaces, packed with ideas about how to make the most of being in or near water. You don’t have to live near the coast to benefit. “There’s being in it, being next to it, thinking about it,” she says. Nor does it matter how much water is available. From raindrops to the ocean, urban fountains to canals and fast-moving rivers, there is a blue space for everyone. And although the phrase “blue space” typically refers to natural waters, Kelly says the possibilities for meaningful connection are the same whether it is the sea or your shower. Continue reading...

  • Readers reply: the universe is expanding – but what is it expanding into?
    on April 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical conceptsScientists and astronomers tell us that the universe is expanding. But what is it expanding into, ie what’s beyond the universe?Phil Town, LisbonPlease email new questions to Continue reading...

  • ‘Rebel residents’ finally get their chance to testify to Grenfell inquiry
    by Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent on April 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Resident who predicted the fire months in advance, and six other survivors will be cross-examinedGrenfell Tower’s “rebel residents” will finally testify on Monday at the public inquiry into the disaster, delivering evidence about what their lawyers have claimed was “indifference and hostility” from their council landlord.After more than 200 days of evidence from fire fighters, builders, cladding manufacturers and safety experts, seven survivors from the 2017 blaze that killed 72 people will be cross-examined about how they were treated by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and its arms length tenants management organisation (TMO) during the disastrous refurbishment. Continue reading...

  • Ontario retracts new coronavirus restrictions that banned playgrounds, involved police after outcry - Fox News
    on April 18, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Ontario retracts new coronavirus restrictions that banned playgrounds, involved police after outcry  Fox NewsOntario police refuse to make random COVID stops  ReutersOntario closes all golf courses amid Canada's recent COVID spike  usatoday.comEDITORIAL: Ford scraps COVID cops law  Toronto SunFord government should focus on source of the pandemic, not flail about with pointless restrictions  Toronto StarView Full Coverage on Google News

  • Saudi and Iranian officials held talks to patch up relations - FT - Reuters
    on April 18, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Saudi and Iranian officials held talks to patch up relations - FT  ReutersSaudi, Iranian officials held direct talks in Iraq: Report  Al Jazeera EnglishIranian-backed units may have targeted Turkish base in Iraq  The Jerusalem PostHajj stampede survivors return to Tehran  AP ArchiveSaudi Arabia, Iran Hold Talks to Patch Up Relations, FT Reports  BloombergView Full Coverage on Google News

  • Iran shows off dozens of drones in military parade - The Jerusalem Post
    on April 18, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Iran shows off dozens of drones in military parade  The Jerusalem PostLeader asks the Army to enhance readiness  Tehran TimesCleric: Iran's policy on US unchanged  AP ArchiveIran marks National Army Day with no march-pasts due to coronavirus  PressTVIran’s Military Gear Never Been Better Than Now: President  Tasnim News AgencyView Full Coverage on Google News

  • Myanmar unity government says it must be part of any ASEAN bid to end crisis - Reuters
    on April 18, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Myanmar unity government says it must be part of any ASEAN bid to end crisis  ReutersMyanmar Coup: Myanmar Military Chief Min Aung Hlaing to attend ASEAN Summit | Latest English News  WIONBrutality backfires on Myanmar’s secretive junta  Financial TimesMyanmar junta chief to attend ASEAN summit in first foreign trip since coup  ReutersMyanmar junta pardons more than 23,000 prisoners, unclear if activists included  FRANCE 24 EnglishView Full Coverage on Google News

  • Russian suspects in Salisbury poisoning linked to blast in Czech Republic - CNN
    on April 18, 2021 at 9:09 am

    Russian suspects in Salisbury poisoning linked to blast in Czech Republic  CNN Czechs expel 18 Russian diplomats, seek Skripal suspects over 2014 blast  FRANCE 24 EnglishCzechs Blame 2014 Blasts at Ammunition Depots on Elite Russian Spy Unit  The New York TimesRussia says it will retaliate hard against Czechs over diplomat expulsions  ReutersCzech police hunt two men with names matching Skripal suspects over blast  The GuardianView Full Coverage on Google News

  • China’s Risky Record on Climate
    by Suzanne Kelly on April 14, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    US Climate Envoy John Kerry is in China ahead of a Climate Summit next week hosted by US President Joe Biden.  As tensions between the two countries remain high over issues ranging from Taiwan to trade to cyber, the Biden Administration is hoping there is still room for cooperation on climate and efforts to cut … Continue reading "China’s Risky Record on Climate" The post China’s Risky Record on Climate appeared first on The Cipher Brief.

  • Report: An Analysis of Bitcoin’s Use in Illicit Finance
    by Suzanne Kelly on April 13, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rise to record levels ahead of the direct offering of crypto exchange Coinbase, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell is pushing back against conventional wisdom that says Bitcoin is ripe for illicit activity.  In a report sponsored by the Crypto Council for Innovation (a lobbying group created by Coinbase, Fidelity … Continue reading "Report: An Analysis of Bitcoin’s Use in Illicit Finance" The post Report: An Analysis of Bitcoin’s Use in Illicit Finance appeared first on The Cipher Brief.

  • The Pentagon’s ‘All Hell Breaking Loose’ Scenario for Climate Change
    by Suzanne Kelly on April 7, 2021 at 4:01 am

    The Pentagon often wargames future scenarios for when ‘all hell breaks loose’ with the idea of training for the worst-case scenario.  Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made clear when he took the helm at the Pentagon earlier this year, that – consistent with President Joe Biden’s focus on climate change – the DOD would include … Continue reading "The Pentagon’s ‘All Hell Breaking Loose’ Scenario for Climate Change" The post The Pentagon’s ‘All Hell Breaking Loose’ Scenario for Climate Change appeared first on The Cipher Brief.

  • The U.S. Needs a Stronger Cyber Defense Against Russia
    by Suzanne Kelly on April 6, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Paul Kolbe, Director, Intelligence Project, Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He previously served 25 years as an operations officer in the CIA and was a member of the Senior Intelligence Service, serving in … Continue reading "The U.S. Needs a Stronger Cyber Defense Against Russia" The post The U.S. Needs a Stronger Cyber Defense Against Russia appeared first on The Cipher Brief.

  • Where Are Six Years of War in Yemen Going?
    by Suzanne Kelly on March 29, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    “The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” – Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62 No. Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national-security focused expert insight by becoming … Continue reading "Where Are Six Years of War in Yemen Going?" The post Where Are Six Years of War in Yemen Going? appeared first on The Cipher Brief.

  • No One Seems To Feel Bad About Nigel Farage Getting Hit With A Milkshake
    by Cristina Cabrera on May 20, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    Far-right British politician Nigel Farage received a sticky cold shower on Monday, much to the internet's collective glee.

  • Egged Australian Senator Who Blamed Muslims For NZ Shootings Loses Election
    by Cristina Cabrera on May 20, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Fraser Anning, the far-right Australian senator who blamed Muslim immigrants for the New Zealand mosque shootings, was voted out of office during Australia's elections this weekend.

  • Sri Lanka’s Top Security Officials Asked To Resign After Failure To Prevent Bombings
    by Cristina Cabrera on April 24, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president has asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and national police chief, a dramatic internal shake-up after security forces shrugged off intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before Easter bombings that killed over 350 people, the president's office said Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear who would be replacing them, but President Maithripala Sirisena said during a televised speech Tuesday that he planned to change the head of the defense forces within 24 hours. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which struck Christians worshipping in three churches and people at three luxury hotels. Authorities remain unsure of its involvement, though many suspect experienced foreign militants were advising, funding or guiding the attackers. Sri Lanka's junior defense minister has blamed breakaway members of two obscure local extremist Muslim groups, and said many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-off families. "Their thinking is that Islam can be the only religion in this country," Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters. "They are quite well-educated people," he said, adding that at least one had a law degree and some may have studied in the UK and Australia. Leaders have vowed to overhaul the country's security apparatus after acknowledging that some intelligence units were aware of possible attacks before the Easter bombings. U.S. Ambassador Alaina Teplitz told reporters that "clearly there was some failure in the system," but said the U.S. had no prior knowledge of a threat before the attacks, the worst violence in the South Asian island nation since its civil war ended a decade ago. Teplitz called that breakdown in communication "incredibly tragic." Government statements about the attacks have been confused and sometimes contradictory, with police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara telling reporters Wednesday that there were nine suicide bombers — two more than officials said one day earlier. One of the additional suicide bombers was the wife of another bomber, Gunasekara said. The woman, two children and three policemen died in an explosion as authorities closed in on her late Sunday, hours after attacks were launched against three churches and three hotels. The ninth suicide bomber has not been identified, though two more suspects were killed in a later explosion on the outskirts of Colombo. Gunasekara said 60 people have been arrested so far. A team of FBI agents and U.S. military officials were helping in the investigation, Teplitz said. Officials say all of the main suicide bombers were Sri Lankan. "We are conducting investigations at the moment to see if there is any direct link to any international organizations," Wijewardene said. The Islamic State group's Aamaq news agency released an image it said showed the attackers' leader standing amid seven others with covered faces. It provided no other evidence for its claim. The group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility for various attacks around the world. Sri Lankan authorities had earlier blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaar, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. On Wednesday, Wijewardene said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaar and another group, which he identified only as "JMI." Teplitz declined to discuss whether U.S. officials knew about National Towheed Jamaar or its leader before the attack. "If we had heard something, we would have tried to do something about this," Teplitz said. The country has been on heightened alert since the attacks, with police setting off a series of controlled explosions of suspicious objects. No more bombs were found Wednesday. On Tuesday, in an address to Parliament, Wijewardene said "weakness" within Sri Lanka's security system had led to the failure to prevent the bombings. "By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack," Wijewardene said. "However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials." In a live address to the nation late Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he also was kept in the dark on the intelligence about the planned attacks and vowed to "take stern action" against officials who failed to share the information. He also pledged "a complete restructuring" of the security forces. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Wijewardene also edged away from Tuesday comments that the bombings were retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people. He told reporters Wednesday that the mosque attack may have been a motivation for the bombings, but that there was no direct evidence of that. An Australian white supremacist was arrested in the Christchurch shootings. While Sri Lanka's recent history has been rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict, the Easter Sunday attacks came as a shock. Sri Lanka is dominated by Sinhalese Buddhists, but the country of 21 million also has a significant Tamil minority, most of whom are Hindu, Muslim or Christian. Tamil Tiger rebels were known for staging suicide bombings during their 26-year civil war for independence, but religion had little role in that fighting. The Tigers were crushed by the government in 2009. Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country since the war ended but Sri Lanka has no history of Islamic militancy. Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment. ___ Associated Press journalists Bharatha Mallawarachi and Jon Gambrell contributed to this report.

  • Netanyahu Wants To Name A New Golan Heights Settlement After Trump
    by Summer Concepcion on April 23, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to name a new settlement in the Golan Heights after President Donald Trump out of gratitude for the White House's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

  • Police Identify ‘New Breed’ Of Terrorists In Northern Ireland After Reporter Fatally Shot
    by Cristina Cabrera on April 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    LONDON (AP) — Police in Northern Ireland arrested two teenagers Saturday in connection with the fatal shooting of a young journalist during rioting in the city of Londonderry and warned of a "new breed" of terrorists threatening the peace. The men, aged 18 and 19, were detained under anti-terrorism legislation and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The men have not been identified or charged. Authorities believe one man pulled the trigger during the chaotic rioting that began Thursday night but had organizational support. Lyra McKee, 29, a rising star of investigative journalism, was shot and killed, police say probably by a stray bullet aimed at police, during the rioting. Police said the New IRA dissident group was most likely responsible and called it a "terrorist act." The use of a firearm apparently aimed at police marks a dangerous escalation in sporadic violence that continues to plague Northern Ireland 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. The New IRA group rejects the peace agreement. Chief detective Jason Murphy warned Saturday that the situation on the ground has become more dangerous, even though community attitudes have changed since the peace agreement and the use of violence is viewed as abhorrent by the vast majority. "What we are seeing is a new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks and that for me is a very worrying situation," he said. The riot followed a pattern familiar to those who lived through the worst years of violence in Northern Ireland. Police arrived in the city's Creggan neighborhood to search for weapons and dissidents. They were barraged with gasoline bombs and other flying objects, then someone wearing a black mask appeared, fired some shots and fled. No police were struck by the bullets, but McKee — who had been trying to film the riot on her phone — was hit. The journalist was rushed to a nearby hospital in a police car but still died. Police on Friday night released closed-circuit TV footage showing the man suspected of firing the shots that killed McKee and appealed for help from the public in identifying him. The killing was condemned by all the major political parties as well as the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland. The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the killing was "a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland" and called for work to preserve the Good Friday peace agreement. Some politicians believe uncertainty over Britain's impending departure from the EU and the possible re-introduction of a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are stoking tensions in the region. The victim was mourned by friends and the wider community. She rose to prominence in 2014 with a moving blog post — "Letter to my 14 year old self" — describing the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. She also had recently signed a contract to write two books. Shortly before her death, McKee tweeted a photo of the rioting with the words: "Derry tonight. Absolute madness." Her partner, Sara Canning, told a vigil Friday that McKee's amazing potential had been snuffed out. Canning said the senseless murder "has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with." Catholic priest Joseph Gormley, who administered the last rites to McKee, told the BBC that the rioting was "clearly orchestrated" by a "small group of people who want to play political games with our lives." He said he and other community leaders had tried to talk to the dissidents without success. The New IRA is a small group that rejects the 1998 Good Friday agreement that marked the Irish Republican Army's embrace of a political solution to the long-running violence known as "The Troubles" that had claimed more than 3,700 lives. The group is also blamed for a Londonderry car bombing in January and has been linked to several other killings in the past decade.