MOSCOW, June 18 -- Using Russian equipment and software to manage the country's power grids is necessary to protect the energy system from cyber criminals, the press service of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Media said on Monday.
The ministry was commenting on the article in The New York Times that claims that "the United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia's electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively." "Informational security of the energy system is one of our priorities. We are constantly working on it together with the Ministry of Energy. Using our own intelligent accounting software, telecommunications equipment, component base and secure protocols provides a guarantee against hacker attacks," spokesman for the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Media Yevgeny Novikov said. Novikov noted that "smart" meters can be used to remotely turn on and off the supply of resources (electricity or gas). "So a hacker attack can, for example, leave a hospital, school, or a whole city, without electricity. In a situation with gas supplies, consequences can be catastrophic," Novikov said.
WASHINGTON, June 18 -- The United States is sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East after last week's attacks on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a statement on Monday.
"In response to a request from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East," Shanahan said. "The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," he added. "The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests," he noted. "We will continue to monitor the situation dilligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats," Shanahan concluded.
On June 13, two tankers caught fire in the Gulf of Oman after an attack. The crews, with Russian nationals among their members, were evacuated by the Iranian rescue services and taken to the port of Jask. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Iran is responsible for the attacks. Tehran has denied any involvement in the incident. The Kokuka Courageous tanker, registered in Panama and owned by a Japanese transport company, was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. The Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair vessel, owned by Norway's Frontline, was sailing from the United Arab Emirates to Taiwan with petrochemical feedstock.
ANKARA, June 17 -- The supplies of Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems to Ankara will begin in the first half of July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters after returning from the summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
"We discussed with Russia the S-400 issue, this is a closed chapter. There haven’t been any problems. I think the supplies will begin in the first half of July," Erdogan said, according to the NTV TV channel. Ankara is not planning to give up its S-400 contract, Erdogan stressed. "We have put our signature, we will fulfill what we have started. As part of the loan, Russia gave us various benefits and granted a loan with such interest rates which do not exist on the international market," he explained. Turkey’s National Defense Ministry is preparing a reply to a letter sent by Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Washington’s decision to suspend Turkey’s participation in a program on training Turkish pilots in the US on the F-35 bombers in the wake of the S-400 deal. "Very soon, maybe even this week the letter will be sent to [the US side]," Erdogan said.
The first reports that Russia and Turkey were in talks on the S-400 supplies emerged in November 2016. Moscow confirmed that the contract had been signed in September 2017. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said back then that the deployment of S-400 systems would begin in October 2019. According to Sergei Chemezov, the director general of Russia’s Rostec state corporation, the contract’s price tag is $2.5 bln. Turkey is the first NATO member state to buy these missile systems from Russia. The US has been vigorously trying to stonewall the S-400 deal. Earlier Washington warned Ankara that should the deal with Russia be implemented, the US would not supply its F-35 fighter-bombers to Turkey. The S-400 Triumf is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.
LE MANS, June 16 -- Full race results of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe, round eight of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Late heartbreak for the #7 Toyota crew hands victory to Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima in the final hour of the race, while there is GTE success for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso claimed back-to-back victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, overtaking the rival Toyota on the final hour before holding on to win the famous sportscar race.The #8 Toyota of Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi also became 2018-2019 World Endurance Champions after the sister car, the #7 Toyota, was beset by problems in the final hour, including a puncture that denied them what had seemed like a certain victory. Former F1 world champion Alonso was part of Toyota's winning team a year ago on his first outing at the event.
BUENOS AIRES, June 16 -- A massive failure in the electrical interconnection system left Argentina and Uruguay without power, according to reports by local media.
According to Infobae, an Argentinian website, the country has been in the dark for more than an hour, and all trains are suspended. Electricity supplier company Edesur Argentina said in a tweet: "A massive failure in the electrical interconnection system left Argentina and Uruguay without power." "Never has anything like this happened before," Alejandra Martinez, a spokeperson for the company told Infobae. Local media in Argentina said the blackout ocurred at around 12:00 GMT (07:00 local time). Social media reports on the blackout were widespread. "Huge blackout in Argentina: the City, the Province of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe were left in the dark," a news agency posted on Twitter.
HONG KONG, June 16 -- Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong has called on residents not to be used as pawns by foreign forces amid the US-China trade war, and said more than 60 statements issued by overseas powers had fuelled tension over the controversial extradition bill.
More than 200 Hong Kong delegates to the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) met officials from the liaison office on Sunday, when they were also asked to support the Hong Kong government in riding out the storm. The meeting was held hours before people took to the streets for a second consecutive Sunday, despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announcing the suspension of the legislation the day before. The bill, if passed, would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions Hong Kong lacks an extradition agreement with, including mainland China. “The liaison office officials recognised the Hong Kong government’s intention to pass the extradition bill to plug legal loopholes. But it’s a shame that … many foreign forces keep interfering and smearing the bill,” said Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s only representative to the NPC’s Standing Committee. He and the other delegates met Wang Zhimin, director of the liaison office, and other duty chiefs for about an hour.
KARUIZAWA, June 16 -- The Group of 20 major economies agreed Sunday on the creation of an international framework that calls on members to take voluntary steps to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean, one of the world's most pressing environmental threats.
The agreement came after a two-day meeting of G-20 environment and energy ministers at which discussions also focused on energy security after attacks on two oil tankers in the Middle East that sparked a surge in oil prices. "Marine litter, especially marine plastic litter and microplastics, is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods, and industries including fisheries, tourism, and shipping, and potentially on human health," said a communique issued following the meeting in the central Japan resort town of Karuizawa. Japanese Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada, who co-chaired the meeting, called the agreement a "major achievement" in the lead-up to a G-20 leaders' summit later this month. "We will continue to vigorously seek solutions to such global issues," he told a press conference. The ministers stressed the importance of realizing a "virtuous cycle" of environmental protection and economic growth, driven by "breakthrough innovation" in the private sector with support from governments.
But the participants were not on the same page on all of the environmental issues, with the United States, which has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, refusing to endorse a commitment in the communique to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The document ended up suggesting that countries, excluding the United States, reaffirm their promises to fully implement the accord that aims to keep the rise in average global temperatures to well below 2 C compared with preindustrial levels to mitigate the impact of climate change, such as droughts, floods and rising sea levels. "There are countries that would like to go make some statements on the Paris climate accord in these documents here this weekend. I don't know that that's really the appropriate place for that discussion," Andrew Wheeler, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told reporters prior to the release of the communique. Discussions on plastic waste were much less fraught, with the ministers in agreement that the issue needs to be quickly addressed. Under the international framework, each country will report progress on its voluntary measures and share solutions. Plastic waste that ends up in the oceans often ensnares or is ingested by marine animals such as dolphins and sea turtles. Microplastics measuring less than 5 millimeters can accumulate in fish, making them toxic for humans. About 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced every year, of which 8 million tons end up in the world's oceans, according to the United Nations. Most of that waste comes from Asian countries including G-20 members China and Indonesia. Japanese industry minister Hiroshige Seko, who co-chaired the meeting with Harada, announced on Saturday that his country will aim to require businesses to charge for disposable shopping bags by next April to help reduce waste. Many countries in the world already charge for single-use bags or ban them outright. The communique also made reference to the attacks Thursday on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, an incident that reignited concern over tensions in the Middle East and sent global oil prices jumping. Citing "recent developments highlighting concern about energy security," the ministers stressed the importance of preventing energy supply disruptions and facilitating stable markets.
The G-20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
ROTTERDAM, June 16 -- Have you ever wondered what the "Q" in LGBTQ stands for? Or what the other letters mean? Just as language constantly evolves, the words we use to describe ourselves and other facets of identity are changing, too.
Here are some terms you should be familiar with, based on resources from the American Psychological Association; NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists; National Center for Transgender Equality. After you read them, test your knowledge using the memory game below.
LGBTQ: The first four letters of this standard abbreviation are fairly straightforward: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.” The Q can stand for “questioning” -- as in still exploring one’s sexuality -- or “queer,” or sometimes both.
QUEER: Once considered a demeaning slur for being gay, “queer” is being reclaimed by some as a self-affirming umbrella term, especially among those who consider other labels restrictive. Some still believe it’s a homophobic slur, so it’s always best to ask or wait for the person whom you’re speaking with to use it.
SEX: The scientific community views sex as different from gender. Sex is assigned at birth based on a newborn’s physical and biological characteristics, such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence and anatomy. Generally, a newborn’s sex is assigned male or female, though some states and countries provide a third option for those who are intersex.
INTERSEX: People born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia or an internal reproductive system that is not considered standard for males or females. Parents and physicians usually choose the sex of the child, resulting in surgery or hormone treatment. Some intersex adults want this practice to end because one’s sex at birth may not align with their own sense of gender or identity.
GENDER: The socially constructed roles, behaviors and attributes that serve as cultural indicators of someone’s personal and social identity. Typically, these roles are grouped into one of two categories: male or female. That’s starting to change, as society grows more comfortable with the idea of gender as a spectrum and not binary.
GENDER IDENTITY: A person’s emotional and psychological sense of their gender, which may not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. The most common examples of gender identity are male and female, but there are several terms for people who don’t fit into those categories, such as the following…
NON-BINARY: One of the more common terms to describe people who don’t identify as male or female. Some may have a gender that blends male and female elements, or they may not identify with any gender. Common synonyms or alternatives to non-binary terms include genderqueer and gender nonconforming.
TRANSGENDER: Unlike non-binary people, transgender people may identify as male or female. What the two groups share is the innate sense that their gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
CISGENDER: The prefix “cis” means “on this side.” Adding it to the suffix “gender” creates a word for someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. In other words, someone who does not identify as transgender.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: One’s innate sexual attraction to other men, women or others who identify as non-binary. Not to be confused with gender, sex or gender identity.
LESBIAN: A noun and an adjective for women who are attracted to other women, although some women prefer to be called gay or queer – it’s always best to ask!
GAY: An adjective and not a noun, most often used to describe men who are attracted to other men (except in the aforementioned cases).
BISEXUAL: Someone who is attracted to more than one gender.
ASEXUAL: Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction, but it doesn’t rule out romantic attraction.
PANSEXUAL: The prefix “pan” says it all. Pansexual is an adjective for those who are attracted to all types of people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
LE MANS, June 15 -- Lights are out and racing is underway at the Circuit de La Sarthe for the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, with an all-Toyota front row led by the #7 car of trio of Mike Conway, Kamui Koboyashi and Jose Maria Lopez.
Second after Thursday’s qualifying is the #8 car of last year’s winners Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and former Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso. The 37-year-old Spaniard is hoping to add back-to-back Le Mans 24 Hour titles to his two F1 trophies in his last appearance at the classic race. Alonso is one of the main drawcards at the 2019 event – despite an almost certain win for the Toyota hybrids, barring an accident. The Japanese team was unchallenged last year after Porsche and Audi pulled out, leaving Toyota Gazoo Racing as the only manufacturer in the top LMP1 category.
But it’s far from just the elite prototype class that brings the 250,000 spectators to the Le Mans 24 Hours, with professional race drivers mixing it with amateurs in the other LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am categories. The top LMP2 starter is the #28 TDS Racing Oreca of François Perrodo, Loïc Duval and Mattheiu Vaxiviere, who inherited the category pole after the Graff squad was stripped of it, following Vincent Capillaire’s failing to come in for a random weight check by the stewards. Aston Martin took top spot in the GTE Pro class thanks to Marco Sorensen who put the #95 Vantage ahead of Ford, Corvette and Porsche. Porsche also locked out the top three places in GTE Am, with Matteo Cairoli taking pole in the #88 Dempsey-Proton car with a best time of 3m51.439s.