Home' Greymouth Star : February 18th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Port-au -Prince (Haiti)
At least 18 people were killed
and 60 injured last evening when
a carnival float hit power lines
in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince
on the second day of the annual
festival, officials said.
The float caught fire after it hit
a high-voltage overhead power
cable, witnesses said. Video of the
incident appeared to show the
electric cable catch the head of a
singer from hip-hop band Barikad
Crew near the presidential stand
packed with spectators. Seven
people were reported dead on the
float, and others were killed in the
ensuing panic. The singer, known
as Fantom, was among the injured,
according to a friend.
President Michel Martelly
expressed his “sincerest sympathies”
to the victims in a Twitter message
while his wife visited hospitals
treating the injured.
The raucous three-day annual
street parade coincides with other
Mardi Gras carnivals around the
world and attracts large night-time
crowds eager to witness competing
music bands atop highly decorated
The United States embassy in
Haiti issued a pre-carnival message
it which it warned “Carnival can
be a fun, yet potentially unsafe,
place for revellers,” highlighting
the threat of strong-arm robberies,
assaults, and pick-pocketing.
Carnival float accident leaves 18 dead
People walk past the bodies of people who were killed when a carnival float hit power lines, outside a morgue in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
China’s internet regulator has shut 65
dating and other match-making websites
after accusing them of spreading obscene
content and allowing registration with
false names, Xinhua State news agency
Sites closed included ones with names
like “Get a one-night stand” and “Playing
with you net ”, Xinhua said, citing the
Cyberspace Administration of China.
“These websites allowed the use of
false identities at will to register . . . or
spread obscene and lascivious content,”
the report said. “ The circumstances were
serious and the effects terrible.”
State media said last week that the
regulator would target fraud on dating
websites and other on-line match-
China exercises tight control over
the Internet, saying that it is needed
to ensure social stability and morality
and to protect consumers, brushing
off concerns of censorship from rights
groups. — Reuters
The United States National
Security Agency has figured out how
to hide spying software deep within
hard drives made by Western Digital,
Seagate, Toshiba and other top
manufacturers, giving the agency the
means to eavesdrop on the majority
of the world’s computers, according
to cyber researchers and former
That long-sought and closely
guarded ability was part of a cluster
of spying programs discovered by
Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based
security software maker that has
exposed a series of western cyber-
Kaspersky said it found personal
computers in 30 countries infected
with one or more of the spying
programs, with the most infections
seen in Iran, followed by Russia,
Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali,
Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets
included government and military
companies, banks, energy companies,
nuc lear researchers, media, and
Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.
The firm declined to publicly
name the country behind the spying
campaign, but said it was closely
linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led
cyber-weapon that was used to attack
Iran’s uranium enrichment facility.
The NSA is the agency responsible
for gathering electronic intelligence
on behalf of the US.
A former NSA employee said
Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and
that people still in the intelligence
agency valued these spying programs
as highly as Stuxnet. Another former
intelligence operative confirmed
the NSA had developed the prized
technique of concealing spyware in
hard drives, but said he did not know
which spy efforts relied on it.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines
declined to comment.
Kaspersky published the technical
details of its research yesterday, which
should help infected institutions
detect the spying programs, some of
which trace back as far as 2001.
The disclosure could further hurt
the NSA’s sur veillance abilities,
already damaged by massive leaks by
former contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s revelations have hurt the
US’s relations with some allies and
slowed the sales of US technology
The exposure of these new spying
tools could lead to greater backlash
particularly in countries such as
China, which is already drafting
regulations that would require most
bank technology suppliers to proffer
copies of their software code for
Peter Swire, one of five members
of US President Barack Obama’s
review group on intelligence and
communications technology, said the
Kaspersky report showed that it is
essential for the country to consider
the possible impact on trade and
diplomatic relations before deciding
to use its knowledge of software flaws
for intelligence gathering.
“There can be serious negative
effects on other US interests,” Swire
According to Kaspersky, the spies
made a technological breakthrough
by figuring out how to lodge
malicious software in the obscure
code called firmware that launches
every time a computer is turned on.
Disk drive firmware is viewed by
spies and cyber-security experts as
the second-most valuable real estate
on a PC for a hacker, second only to
the BIOS code invoked automatically
as a computer boots up.
“The hardware will be able to infect
the computer over and over,” lead
Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu
said in an inter view.
Though the leaders of the still-
active espionage campaign could
have taken control of thousands of
PCs, giving them the ability to steal
files or eavesdrop on anything they
wanted, the spies were selective and
only established full remote control
over machines belonging to the most
desirable foreign targets, according
to Raiu. He said Kaspersky found
only a few especially high-value
computers with the hard-drive
Kaspersky’s reconstructions of the
spying programs show that they could
work in disk drives sold by more
than a dozen companies, comprising
essentially the entire market. They
include Western Digital Corp,
Seagate Technology Plc , Toshiba
Corp, IBM, Micron Technology Inc
and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.
Western Digital, Seagate and
Micron said they had no knowledge
of these spying programs. Toshiba
and Samsung declined to comment.
IBM did not respond to requests for
Raiu said the authors of the spying
programs must have had access to
the proprietary source code that
directs the actions of the hard drives.
That code can serve as a road map to
vulnerabilities, allowing those who
study it to launch attacks much more
“There is zero chance that someone
could rewrite the (hard drive)
operating system using public
information,” Raiu said.
Concerns about access to source
code flared after a series of high-
profile cyber-attacks on Google Inc
and other US companies in 2009 that
were blamed on China. Investigators
have said they found evidence the
hackers gained access to source code
from several big US technology and
It is not clear how the NSA may
have obtained the hard drives’ source
code. Western Digital spokesman
Steve Shattuck said the company
“ has not provided its source code
to government agencies”. The other
hard drive makers would not say if
they had shared their source code
with the NSA.
Seagate spokesman Clive O ver
said it has “secure measures to
prevent tampering or reverse
engineering of its firmware and
Francisco said the company took the
security of its products seriously and
“ we are not aware of any instances of
According to former intelligence
operatives, the NSA has numerous
ways of obtaining source code from
tech companies, including asking
directly and posing as a software
developer. If a company wants to sell
products to the Pentagon or another
sensitive US agency, the government
can request a security audit to make
sure the source code is safe.
“They don’t admit it, but they do say,
‘ We’re going to do an evaluation, we
need the source code’, ” Vincent Liu,
a partner at security consulting firm
Bishop Fox and former NSA analyst,
said. “It ’s usually the NSA doing the
evaluation, and it ’s a pretty small
leap to say they ’re going to keep that
source code. ”
Kaspersky called the authors of
the spying program “the Equation
group,” named after their embrace of
complex encryption formulas.
The group used a variety of means
to spread other spying programs,
such as by compromising jihadist
websites, infecting USB sticks
and CDs, and developing a self-
spreading computer worm called
Fanny, Kasperky said.
Fanny was like Stuxnet in that
it exploited two of the same
undisclosed software flaws, known as
“zero days,” which strongly suggested
collaboration by the authors, Raiu
said. He added that it was “quite
possible” that the Equation group
used Fanny to scout out targets for
Stuxnet in Iran and spread the virus.
Russians expose US global eavesdropping
Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
The abduction of an albino child in
Tanzania sparked calls overnight for
greater action to enforce a newly-
imposed ban on witch doctors to stop
the killing of albinos whose body parts
are prized in black magic.
The one-year-old boy was grabbed
from his mother in his home in the Geita
region of north-western Tanzania on
Sunday, a month after the government
announced a nationwide ban on witch
doctors who are accused of fuelling a
wave of attacks on albinos.
More than 70 albinos, who lack
pigment in their skin, hair and eyes, have
been murdered in the east African nation
in the past decade, according to United
Nations figures, many hacked to death
and their body parts removed to make
charms and spells that witch doctors
claim bring good luck and wealth.
Geita police commander Joseph
Konyo said the boy, Yohana Bahati, was
snatched by an armed gang in his home
from his mother, Esther Bahati, 30, who
was hit with a machete as she tried to
protect her son at Ilemela village in
“Unfortunately this family resides in a
protected forest area so it was extremely
difficult for the police to immediately
arrest the suspected robbers,” Konyo
The police, who have launched a
manhunt for the boy, said two other
albino children in the house were not
“ We have stepped up security in the
area to ensure that no one else is hurt,”
This is the second abduction of an
albino child in the north-western area
in two months. Pendo Shilinde, a four-
year-old girl, was abducted in December
by an armed gang accompanied by a
traditional healer from her home at
Ndami village in Mwanza region. She is
Konyo said in both cases police
arrested the father of the abducted child.
No charges have been brought and
Vicky Ntetema, executive director of
Under The Same Sun, a Canadian non-
profit group working to defend albinos,
said families were often involved in
abductions with high prices paid on
the black market for the body parts of
She criticised political leaders for
failing to support efforts to stop the
worsening plight of albinos, including
the ban on witch doctors.
“There’s absolutely no political will
among leaders to end these macabre
killings. What is so special with these
(traditional) healers to the extent that our
leaders ignore albino killings?” she said.
“Albinism is not a disease. People must
understand albinos are normal people
like everyone else and the government
has a role to play to ensure this education
reaches many people since most of the
killings involve members of the family.”
Albinism is a congenital disorder
which affects about one in 20,000
people worldwide, according to medical
authorities. It is, however, more common
in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting an
estimated one Tanzanian in 1400.
More than 25 billion cyber-attacks
on the Japanese government and other
bodies were logged in 2014, an agency
says, with 40% of them traced to China.
The National Institute of Information
which has a network of a quarter
of a million sensors, said there were
25.66 billion attempts to compromise
systems, according to a report by Kyodo
The figure includes attacks aimed at
testing the vulnerability of software used
in ser vers.
The survey was first carried out in
2005, when it recorded just 310 million
attempts to breach security.
NICT said an increasing number of the
attacks it was seeing involve attempts to
take over routers, security cameras and
other systems connected to the internet.
Of the cyber-attacks the agency was
able to trace, 40% originated in China,
while South Korea, Russia and the
United States also figured prominently.
Compromised internet security is
an increasing risk for firms around the
world and in all sectors.
A Russian report released yesterday
said cyber-attacks since 2013 have
cost banks around the globe up to
$US1 billion ($1.32 billion).
Sony Pictures was the victim of a cyber-
attack last year in which embarrassing
e-mails were leaked to the press in an
incident US authorities blamed on
Pyongyang was incensed over The
Inter view, a film about a plot to
assassinate the country’s leader, Kim
Jong-Un. — AFP
Japan reports 25 billion
cyber-attacks in 2014
The European Court of Human
Rights refused overnight to
reconsider its ruling that Poland
hosted a secret Central Intelligence
Agency jail, a decision that will
now oblige Warsaw to swiftly hold
to account Polish officials who
allowed the prison to operate.
The court ’s decision will add
to pressure on other European
countries to end years of secrecy
about their involvement in the
CIA’s global programme of secret
detention after the September 11,
2001, attacks on the United States.
The Polish foreign ministry,
which had delayed implementing
the court ’s ruling by submitting
a request for an appeal, said in a
statement it would now abide by
the court’s decision.
The original ruling in July last
year included a demand that
Poland swiftly conclude a criminal
investigation into the jail, and pay
compensation totalling 230,000
euros ($348,021) to two men who
were held there.
“Poland is required to finally
conduct a thorough and effective
information concerning its role and
hold those responsible to account,”
Helen D uffy, the lawyer for one of
the men, Abu Zubaydah, said of the
“ It is remarkable, and an affront
to the rule of law, that despite the
mass of information now available
to us still no one has been held to
account for torture,” she said.
The wall of secrecy around the
CIA programme of “extraordinary
already started to
crumble in December last year
when the US Senate Intelligence
Committee published a report into
It detailed how dozens of
detainees in CIA-run sites around
the world were subject to torture
including waterboarding or
simulated drowning, and mock
executions — with little useful
intelligence gained as a result.
After the release of the Senate
report, former Polish president
Aleksander Kwasniewski and
former prime minister Leszek
Miller acknowledged for the first
time that they knew the CIA had
been holding people on Polish
But they said they knew nothing
about what was happening inside
the detention centre, codenamed
Quartz, in a villa on the grounds of
an intelligence training academy in
a Polish forest.
Lawyers for ex-detainees say the
investigation is being deliberately
stalled to avoid a politically
of senior Polish officials, but
prosecutors deny that and say the
case is complex and needs time.
Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the
Open Society Justice Initiative who
acted for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri,
one of the men who brought the
case against Poland, said the ruling
established a precedent for other
“This judgment sends a message
loud and clear that European
states that collaborated in the CIA
torture programme cannot evade
accountability,” Singh said.
Polish CIA prison
Pressure on other European States to reveal role
A suicide blast at a checkpoint near
the north-east Nigerian town of Biu has
killed 36 people, a source at the town’s
“Now we have 36 dead and over 20
injured from the blast,” the source at Biu
General Hospital said on condition of
“Most of the victims were child
vendors and beggars that usually crowd
the checkpoint to sell wares and beg for
alms,” the source added. — AFP
Electric cars take off in Japan
Green-car sceptics take note: Japan
now has more electric vehicle charging
spots than petrol stations.
The country’s No 2 car maker Nissan
says there are now 40,000 charging
units — including those inside private
homes — across the nation, compared
with 34,000 petrol stations.
While fuel stations have several
pumps and can ser vice many more cars,
the figures underscore efforts to boost
green-vehicle infrastructure in Japan,
long a leader in a sector that remains
Nissan is betting on growing demand
for electric cars, while rival Toyota said
it has been swamped by orders for its
first mass market hydrogen fuel-cell car,
the Mirai sedan.
Fuel-cell cars are seen as the Holy
Grail of green cars as they are powered
by a chemical reaction between hydrogen
and oxygen, which emits nothing more
harmful than water from its exhaust.
But a limited driving range and lack
of refuelling stations have hampered
development of the green-car sector,
which environmentalists say could play
a vital role in cutting greenhouse gas
emissions and slowing global warming.
An electric car recharging.
German anatomist Gunther von
Hagens, dubbed “Dr Death” for
preser ving and displaying dead bodies as
artworks, is to open a museum in Berlin
to showcase the grisly exhibits.
After 20 years of touring the world with
his show and often courting controversy,
Hagens is giving 20 complete corpses
and about 200 body organs a permanent
home at the foot of the Television Tower,
a landmark at Alexanderplatz square in
the German capital.
Possible future stars of the show,
which aims to educate visitors about
the complexities of the human body,
were guests of honour at the overnight
unveiling of the new museum by Hagens
and his wife Angelina Whalley.
Donors such as Detlef von Wengler,
61, have volunteered to offer their own
bodies for the “plastination” process after
The process involves skinning the
body parts and preser ving them with
a synthetic resin, laying bare the naked
muscles, ner ves and tendons.
“Some years ago I watched an American
television show where a photographer
placed his camera in a coffin and every
day it took a photo,” Wengler said.
“ It was absolutely revolting to see the
maggots feeding in that way and I said
to myself: ‘I don’t want that ’,” he said at
the new museum’s presentation.
“ I’ve also seen how a cremation works.
I didn’t find that great either and then
I saw this exhibition and thought to
myself, that ’s what I want,” he said.
Despite his decision having divided
opinion in his family, Wengler said
he carried a donor card in his wallet
that explicitly states who is to be the
beneficiary of his corpse when he dies
— Hagens’ “Body Worlds” project.
Organisers say more than 15,000
people are currently on the books
worldwide as donors, the vast majority
of them in Germany.
Japan hosted the first exhibition of the
plastinated bodies in 1995.
Since then, about 40 million people
have visited shows in 23 countries,
She added that opening the new
Berlin showcase was a big day for
her and her husband, who have faced
legal opposition against the museum’s
opening on the grounds it contravened
Exhibits are shown in active poses such
as skating, dancing or doing gymnastics
to fully display the physical complexity
of the body.
Hagens is suffering from Parkinson’s
disease and has said he plans to have his
own dead body put on display.
In 2009, he put on an exhibition in
Berlin showing dead bodies having sex.
France’s highest court a year later
confirmed a ban of a plastinated bodies
exhibition there. — AFP
Germany’s ‘Dr Death’
opens corpse museum
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