Editor says …..As l read many blogs daily some are using their time and providing people of this world in may countries with information that could either save their lives or at least help someone to help another person.
But others readily tell us that governments knew that our health services were under-funded and under-staffed …OK I agree ….but blame does not allow us to gain.
If we work together to help those in our community the best way we can then maybe that will bring about the change we seek in our ❤️ And in so doing God by any name will be able to see we #Care2Share his love given by his sons crucification and help and guidance will come.
🙏’s Friends, Followers, Readers and All People of this World Amen
The #pandemic has opened up a bio-based-weapon that can be used to politicise a story on peoples heartache over the death of a loved or to enable ‘ hard hearted ‘ journalists who want the story first to leave no stone unturned even if their intentions are not honourable……
So what of #truth this concept that alludes the media just to create sensationalism and lead people like the shepherd …herding their flock to the edge of the cliff and offering advice of what to do when the hit the bottom ….followed by blaming their stupidly of being lemmings ……
The news should be informative and place before its readers …advice and guidance to enable the public to become to form an opinion and not to place before their audience a convoluted message of misleading information ..that neither informs or provides anything but hollow words ……
People deserve better than the sum of what the media call news …..and we need to become the purveyors of #truth and not publish as bloggers what they wheel out and call the daily news …….
Be safe my friends, followers and readers God Bless 🙏’s
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: According to court records, Hull marketed himself and his companies as being able to find people to take over leases for high-end and exotic cars owners. Hull agreed to cover monthly payments and promised leaseholders that he would quickly find credit-qualified buyers to assume the lease through the original finance company. Hull and his companies did not fulfill their promises despite assuring victims that his venture was successful.
#AceDailyNews DOJ Court Report: 41-year-old Geoffrey Eldridge Hull, of LA, California pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud Thursday after a probe by U.S. ICE/HSI Investigation.
Additionally, Hull offered the luxury cars for rent and passed little of the rent money onto the original leaseholders, who were still responsible for the payments. Furthermore, Hull made few, if any, timely car lease payments. He ignored victims’ requests to return their vehicles, prompting some to report their cars stolen. When several of the cars were returned after law enforcement seizures, repossession, and other means, the cars were often damaged, had incurred toll and parking violations, and had been driven over the allotted mileage.
Victims posted negative reviews online about Hull and his company. That prompted him to change his company’s name and resume the scheme. Hull defrauded at least 128 people and caused an actual loss of at least $1,560,321. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move.
HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest global footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: Mariners should consider altering plans to avoid possible hazardous conditions. Remain in port, seek safe harbor, alter course, and/or secure the vessel for severe wind and waves.
#AceDailyNews US Coast Guard News Report: Weather Advisory: Mariners are advised to monitor the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service or other weather media outlets as conditions and forecasts may change.
Sector Virginia Marine Safety Information Bulletin
(757) 374-3408 firstname.lastname@example.org
MSIB Number: 038-22: January 28, 2022
Vessels anchored shall prepare for heavy winds. Additional anchor(s) should be made ready to let go and preparations shall be made to have a continuous anchor watch. Engine(s) should be made immediately available for maneuvering. Also, vessels should maintain a continuous listening watch on VHF Channel 16.
Due to the high winds, regional bridge operations may be impacted.
Please note that with higher wind speeds, the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to emergencies could be affected.
No Port Conditions or restrictions are anticipated for the Captain of the Port Virginia zone.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, contact United States Coast Guard Sector Virginia Waterways Management Division duty watchstander at (757) 374-3408 or email@example.com.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: According to court documents, Tal Prihar, 37, an Israeli citizen residing in Brazil, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2021. Beginning in October 2013, Prihar owned and operated DDW, along with co-defendant Michael Phan, 34, of Israel. In addition to providing general information about the Darknet, DDW provided users with direct links to illegal Darknet marketplaces, which are not accessible through traditional search engines.
#AceDailyNews DOJ Report: Defendants Received Over $8 Million in Kickbacks from Purchases of Contraband on Darknet Marketplaces: This prosecution is also a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation.
An Israeli national was sentenced yesterday to 97 months in prison for operating DeepDotWeb (DDW), a website that connected internet users with Darknet marketplaces, where they purchased illegal firearms, malware and hacking tools, stolen financial data, heroin, fentanyl and other illicit materials.
For providing these links, Prihar and Phan received kickback payments from the marketplaces in the form of virtual currency, including approximately 8,155 bitcoins (worth approximately $8.4 million at the time of the transactions). To conceal the nature and source of these illegal kickback payments, Prihar transferred the payments from his DDW bitcoin wallet to other bitcoin accounts and to bank accounts he controlled in the names of shell companies. DDW was seized by federal authorities in April 2019, and Prihar has agreed to forfeit $8,414,173. Phan remains abroad and is currently undergoing extradition proceedings in Israel.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Cindy K. Chung for the Western District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.
The FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar for the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorneys C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Alexander Gottfried of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.
The department thanks French authorities as well as its law enforcement colleagues at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Brazilian Federal Police Cyber Division, Israeli National Police, Dutch National Police, Europol Darkweb Team, Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany, and National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom. Significant assistance was provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
This case was brought in conjunction with the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) Team. Established within the FBI’s Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit, J-CODE is a U.S. Government initiative aimed at targeting drug trafficking, especially fentanyl and other opioids, on the Darknet. The J-CODE team brings together agents, analysts, and professional staff with expertise in drugs, gangs, health care fraud and more.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: (MNN) — A month-long truce has ended between the government of Pakistan and the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (or TTP).
#AceDailyNews says according to an MNN News Report: TTP renews terrorist attacks in Pakistan Nehemiah with FMI calls it the most feared terrorist group in the country. “The TTP carried out 95 attacks in 2020, killing 140 people, and 44 attacks in the first six months of 2021. On July 14, it carried out a suicide attack that killed nine Chinese engineers working at the hydroelectric project in Pakistan.”
So why did the truce fail? Nehemiah says, “During the talks, it was agreed that the TTP’s central leaders would be released from Pakistani jails. But they weren’t released in spite of an understanding between the two sides.”
TTP vs TLP
This group is not to be confused with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, or the TLP. This is a far-right political movement within Pakistan. It seeks to influence the government towards adopting more stringent forms of Islam and less acceptance of religious minorities.
Nehemiah explains the two different approaches. “The TTP is a very hardcore militant terrorist group in Pakistan. The TLP is more into extremist politics. The TLP wants more to enforce respect for Muhammed and protect his name. The TTP is more militant. But they both have the same ideology, just like the Afghan Taliban.”
Since the ceasefire ended, the TTP has claimed responsibility for 16 more attacks, killing and wounding several people. The group even targeted police in the capital, Islamabad.
Nehemiah says the TTP has over 70 splinter groups, all united under a common cause. “This is the reason that there is a massive rise in the kidnapping of young Christian girls (forcibly converting them to Islam) and registering false cases of blasphemy against Christians. This Taliban mindset has penetrated into Pakistani society, and it’s very fluid situation.”
Pray many within the TTP would turn away from violence and find hope in Jesus. And ask God to protect Pakistani Christians.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Corpus Christi, Texas; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations; and Corpus Christi Police Department’s Gang Unit.
#AceDailyNews DOJ Court Report: La Quarenta gang members plead guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy
Fernando Martinez, 44, Corpus Christi, pleaded guilty today to the conspiracy which spanned from Sept. 6, 2020, to Aug. 26, 2021. Three others – Jayden Wandell Coleman, 18, Carlos Acosta, 38, and Ricky Reyna, 34, all of Corpus Christi – previously admitted to the their roles in the conspiracy. All are identified members of the La Quarenta gang.
The investigation began in September 2020. It revealed the narcotics trafficking organization used a Corpus Christi residence on Cortez Street to distribute meth, heroin, crack and marijuana. Authorities observed Reyna, Martinez, Acosta and Coleman entering and exiting the drug stash house as various times and directing people to the residence.
Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement observed a high amount of foot traffic approach and enter the residence, stay for a few minutes and then exit the area. Traffic stops resulted in the seizure of narcotics they had obtained from the drug stash house.
Authorities also executed search warrants at four residences and a storage yard in August 2021. They ultimately found a total of over five kilograms of cocaine, over four kilograms of meth, more than two kilograms of heroin; nearly 200 grams of crack and 13 kilograms of marijuana and over a hundred thousand dollars, digital scales, a drug ledger, and loaded firearms and ammunition.
The investigation further revealed the four men were in communication with each other regarding the purchase and sale of various narcotics for the duration of the conspiracy.
U.S. District Judge David S. Morales for will impose sentencing April 20. At that time, the four men face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine.
All four will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Marin and John Marck are prosecuting the case.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI agents investigate a wide array of transnational crime, including terrorism; narcotics smuggling; child exploitation; human smuggling and trafficking; illegal exports of controlled technology and weapons; money laundering; financial fraud and scams; labor exploitation; cybercrime; intellectual property theft and trade fraud; identity and benefit fraud; and human rights violations and war crimes.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: If approved by Parliament, a hierarchy of road-users will be introduced this weekend, ensuring quicker or heavier modes of travel have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road.
#AceDailyNews GOVUK Report: Changes to The Highway Code, including the hierarchy of road-users and the ‘Dutch Reach’ are set to change from 29 January 2022 according to Department for Transport
Changes to The Highway Code designed to enhance safety for all road-users – particularly those most at risk – are set to come into effect from 29 January 2022, as the government continues to build back safer.
Highway Code set to be updated with fresh guidance in boost to road safety
government to launch communications campaign ensuring people across the country are aware of how updates will affect them
changes will include a hierarchy of road users
Cyclists will also receive fresh guidance to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions in order to make themselves as clearly visible as possible. They’ll also be reminded they can ride 2 abreast – as has always been the case and which can be safer in large groups or with children – but they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake if it is safe to do so.
Meanwhile, motorists will be encouraged to adopt the so-called ‘Dutch Reach’ (as shown), opening the door next to them with the opposite hand so they look over their shoulder, meaning they’re less likely to injure passing cyclists and pedestrians.
The government’s award-winning THINK! campaign will soon launch a communications drive, backed by over £500,000 in funding, raising awareness of the changes and ensuring road-users across the country understand their responsibilities. The campaign will run across radio and social media channels, with further campaign activity to follow later in the summer.
The new updates are advisory, so non-compliance will not result in a fine.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said:
I’m proud to say we have some of the safest roads in the world, but I’m determined to make them safer still for everyone.
These updates to The Highway Code will do just that by bringing the rules into the 21st century, encouraging people to respect and consider the needs of those around them, and ensuring all road-users know the rules of the road.
The changes seek to improve the safety of those most at risk on our roads. Everyone has an equal right to use the road and, likewise, everyone has a shared responsibility to behave in a safe and considerate manner.
The Department for Transport (DfT) engaged with key stakeholders while developing the changes, and a Highway Code Communications Working Group has been established with industry working alongside government to raise awareness.
The changes will be made to the digital version of The Highway Code this weekend, followed by an update to the printed version which is due to be published in April 2022. See an explanation of 8 of the most significant changes.
Active Travel Commissioner for England, Chris Boardman, said:
It shouldn’t take bravery to cross a road or ride to school with kids, but sometimes it feels that way. These changes to the Highway Code clarify our responsibility to each other and simply reinforce what good road users already do. This refresh does more than offer guidance though, it makes our towns, cities and villages nicer places to live.
The government recognises the importance of The Highway Code keeping pace with the way in which people get about, as well as with changes to transport infrastructure. For example, the updates recognise new cycle-friendly signals and cycle junctions, so people know how to use modern carriageways. Cyclists are also encouraged to consider training in order to have the skills, knowledge and confidence to ride safely and responsibly on the road.
Emily Cherry, Chief Executive at The Bikeability Trust, said:
We welcome these changes to The Highway Code because they encourage all road users to share their space, whilst protecting the most vulnerable.
Millions of children in England have been taught how to interact positively with other road users, thanks to Bikeability cycle training. We are pleased the updated Highway Code will now reflect the lessons we already teach children and help the next generation grow up as confident, competent and courteous road users.
RAC Head of Roads Policy, Nicholas Lyes, said:
These major changes to The Highway Code should make the roads safer for the most vulnerable road users, in particular, those walking and cycling, so are to be welcomed. But it’s vitally important that all road users – especially drivers – take the time to fully understand what’s new as some of the changes are a significant departure from what’s gone before. For instance, drivers turning into a road should now give way to any pedestrians waiting to cross.
As we look towards a net zero future, safer roads will encourage more and more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport, helping reduce congestion and emissions. Improvements to road safety measures will also lead to fewer road traffic collisions, not only saving lives but also the billions of pounds spent every year on dealing with such collisions.
From today and because of the success of the booster rollout, all measures under Plan B have been lifted meaning face coverings are no longer mandatory in indoor venues
COVID Passes are now voluntary for large events and nightclubs and people are no longer being advised to work from home
It comes as hospital admissions stabilise, Omicron infections decline and the number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 continues to fall
Plan B measures were initially introduced on 8 December 2021 to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and buy time for scientists to better understand it and get more jabs in arms. The Get Boosted Now appeal was launched, bringing the date for all adults to be offered a booster to the New Year.
This target was reached and over 37 million boosters have now been administered. The vaccination programme has succeeded in reducing the risk of severe infection and hospitalisations, easing pressure on the NHS. Hospital admissions have now stabilised and the number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 continues to fall.
As of today the lifting of Plan B means:
mandatory COVID-19 certification will end, but venues may choose to use the NHS COVID Pass voluntarily
face coverings will not be required by law in indoor venues
local directors of public health are still able to recommend face coverings in communal areas only in education settings within their area, but only where the department and public health experts judge the measures to be proportionate – this is a temporary measure
infection prevention control guidance continues to require face coverings to be worn in health and care settings, including primary care and pharmacies
it is suggested that people wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where they might come into contact with people they do not normally meet
it is still a legal requirement for those with COVID-19 to self-isolate for 10 days with the option to end self-isolation after 5 full days following 2 negative LFD tests
As of Wednesday 19 January, the government no longer asked people to work from home. People should speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office, and should follow the Working Safely guidance.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:
The tireless efforts of NHS and care staff, and the army of volunteers, as well as the phenomenal response of the British public means over 37 million people have been boosted. I want to thank everyone who has come forward to Get Boosted Now.
Our vaccines, testing and antivirals ensure we have some of the strongest defences in Europe and are allowing us to cautiously return to Plan A, restoring more freedoms to this country.
As we learn to live with COVID we need to be clear eyed that this virus is not going away. So, if you haven’t already, please come forward for your first, second or booster jab.
Today’s changes follows a review last week of data including infections, vaccine efficacy, COVID-19 pressures on the NHS, workforce absences, public behaviours and views from the scientific community.
Vaccines continue to be the main defence against COVID-19 with data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showing a booster is 92% effective in preventing hospitalisation from 2 weeks after it is administered and is 65% to 75% effective against symptomatic infection from Omicron. More than 83% of people aged over 12 in the UK have had their second dose and, of those eligible, 81% have received their booster.
Though infections continue to fall, Omicron remains prevalent across the country – especially in the young and the elderly. Remaining cautious and taking precautionary measures is vital alongside vaccines and testing to control the spread of COVID-19. As the virus becomes endemic, the government will set out a long-term strategy for living with COVID-19 and replacing legal requirements on self-isolation with advice and guidance urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.
The government and the UKHSA continue to monitor new variants to keep the country safe and are working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other national public health bodies to establish the International Pathogen Surveillance Network to improve surveillance around the world. The UK is also providing world-leading genomic sequencing capability through the New Variant Assessment Platform (NVAP).
The changes are not subject to vote as the regulations mandating face coverings in certain settings and the use of COVID-19 passes have been allowed to expire as of 23:59 on Wednesday 26 January.
To help do your bit as we learn to live with COVID-19, you should:
let fresh air in if you meet indoors, meeting outdoors is safer
get tested, and self-isolate if required
continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet
try to stay at home if you are feeling unwell
wash your hands
download and use the NHS COVID-19 app
if you haven’t already, Get Boosted Now
Confirmatory PCRs are no longer required after positive lateral flow results.
Given the accessibility of LFDs, positive cases can end their self-isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative on day 5 and 6; and fully vaccinated contacts can also avoid isolation by testing daily with LFDs.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: Floating offshore wind projects will receive more than £60 million in public and private investment to develop new technologies that will enable turbines to be located in the windiest parts around the UK’s coastline.
More than £31 million in government funding to drive forward plans to place turbines in deep-sea areas, including in areas where winds are at their strongest
matched by more than £30 million from industry it will help accelerate renewable energy deployment that reduces UK exposure to volatility in global fossil fuel prices
research will help maintain UK’s position as a world leader in offshore wind, generating green energy investment in all parts of the UK and levelling up across the country
The UK government is today (Tuesday, 25 January) announcing 11 successful projects that will each be awarded up to £10 million as it puts forward £31.6 million to boost the amount of clean renewable energy generated in the country. In addition to this, industry will match the investment bringing the total to over £60 million – driving green energy investment and levelling up parts of the country including in Aberdeen, Swansea and Yorkshire.
The cash boost will further research and development in floating offshore wind with projects across the United Kingdom set to receive funding that will accelerate the deployment of turbines in seas around the UK. Research will focus on areas such as how turbines are moored to the seabed, undersea cabling and developing foundation solutions.
The UK is already home to the world’s largest deployment of offshore wind, however floating turbines, which can be deployed in deeper waters than conventional turbines, will boost energy capacity even further by allowing wind farms to be situated in new areas around the UK coastline where wind strengths are at their highest and most productive.
With global gas prices at record highs, the UK is determined to strengthen energy security further by deploying home-grown renewable technologies to reduce our dependency on volatile fossil fuels.
Energy Minister Greg Hands said:
We are already a world leader in offshore wind and floating technology is key to unlocking the full potential of the seas around Britain.
These innovative projects will help us expand renewable energy further and faster across the UK and help to reduce our exposure volatile global gas prices.
By stimulating development now through the Floating Offshore Wind Demonstration Programme, the costs of building and locating floating turbines in deep-water areas will come down faster, growing the UK supply chain and supporting the target in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan of delivering 1GW of energy through floating offshore wind by 2030.
One such project receiving more than £9.6 million is a collaborative scheme with bases in Edinburgh, Belfast, London and Doncaster, developing and demonstrating new technologies for mooring floating turbines to the seabed, cable protection, a floating turbine base design and an advanced digital monitoring system.
Another project with bases in Cambridge, Feltham, Aberdeen and Blyth, will get £10 million for bringing forward a compact floating turbine foundation and anchors that will likely enable a 2MW, or larger, turbine to be demonstrated in UK waters.
Today’s announcement follows support for floating offshore wind in the fourth allocation round of the Contracts for Difference scheme – the government’s flagship renewable energy auction scheme – where £24 million a year has been ringfenced for this emerging technology. It also follows the announcement by the Prime Minister in October for £160 million funding to develop and build new large-scale floating offshore wind ports and factories in the UK.
Director of the Supergen ORE Hub Professor Deborah Greaves said:
I am delighted that the Floating Offshore Wind Demonstration Programme will support new projects in key areas of research and innovation for the ORE sector.
The new projects are well aligned with the Research Landscape of the Supergen ORE Hub and demonstrate the great benefit to the sector of academics and industry experts working closely together – utilising their combined knowledge and expertise – to advance the UK’s Net Zero Strategy.
Funding for the Floating Offshore Wind Demonstration Programme competition is part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative low-carbon technologies, systems and processes in the power, buildings and industrial sectors
the government has previously supported innovation in the UK’s floating wind sector through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, with £2 million being provided over 2 years to the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence
JDR Cables (Hartlepool) and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (Blyth): £1,606,711 for developing and testing electric cabling systems.
Buoyant Production Technologies (Farnham) and the University of Southampton: £238,724 to demonstrate that a patented design can be used for supporting substation equipment connecting floating wind farms to the energy grid.
AWC Technology (Aberdeen): £760,874 to take forward development of an articulated wind turbine column designed to reduce construction, installation and maintenance costs.
Reflex Marine (Aberdeen) the University of Exeter, Bridon Bekaert Ropes Group (Doncaster) and Wood Thilsted Partners (Godalming): £882,283 for development of a novel anchoring system that will secure floating turbine cables to the seabed at a fraction of the weight of some existing anchors.
London Marine Consultants and the University of Plymouth: £264,924 to bring to market a mooring system which will simplify the initial installation of floating turbines and enable simple disconnection when maintenance is required.
Copenhagen Offshore Partners (Edinburgh), SSE Renewables (Belfast), Maersk Supply Service Subsea (London) and Bridon Bekaert Ropes Group (Doncaster): £9,656,980 to develop and demonstrate new mooring system technologies, cable protection, floating turbine base design and an advanced digital monitoring system.
Marine Power Systems (Swansea): £3,466,083 to develop a floating foundation with a small footprint and integrated wave energy generator to improve power quality.
Cerulean Winds (Guildford): £825,692 for developing an integrated system between the mooring, floating foundation and wind turbine for deployment at an offshore oil and gas facility in the North Sea or West of Shetland.
SenseWind (Cambridge), Geodis FF (Feltham), Xodus Group (Aberdeen) and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (Blyth): £10,000,000 for a project combining a compact floating foundation with a novel anchoring system attaching it to the seabed and advanced monitoring technology that allows for maintenance to be planned and performed offshore, saving on costs of towing back to shore. A 2MW or larger turbine will be demonstrated in UK waters.
Aker Solutions (London): £690,454 for applying cable manufacturing techniques that simplify and cut the cost of offshore installation and developing a subsea substation design connecting floating wind farms to the energy grid.
Trivane Ltd (Newquay), London Marine Consultants, Keynvormorlift (Newquay) and Ledwood (Pembroke Dock): £3,268,058 for developing a trimaran mounting system for wind turbines.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: The targeting of a Human Rights Watch staff member with Pegasus spyware underscores the urgent need to regulate the global trade in surveillance technology, Human Rights Watch said today. Governments should ban the sale, export, transfer, and use of surveillance technology until human rights safeguards are in place.
#AceDailyNews says according to a Human Rights Watch Report: Pegasus Spyware Targets & Governments Should Urgently Halt Trade in Surveillance Technology as They are Also Targeting Human Rights Across the World Published: January 26, 2022
Lama Fakih, Crisis and Conflict director and head of the Beirut office at Human Rights Watch, was targeted with Pegasus spyware five times between April and August 2021. Pegasus is developed and sold by the Israel-based company NSO Group. The software is surreptitiously introduced on people’s mobile phones. Once Pegasus is on the device, the client is able to turn it into a powerful surveillance tool by gaining complete access to its camera, calls, media, microphone, email, text messages, and other functions, enabling surveillance of the person targeted and their contacts.
“Governments are using NSO Group’s spyware to monitor and silence human rights defenders, journalists, and others who expose abuse,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch. “That it has been allowed to operate with impunity in the face of overwhelming evidence of abuse, not only undermines efforts by journalists and human rights groups to hold powerful actors to account, but also puts the people they are trying to protect in grave danger.”
Fakih, a dual US-Lebanese citizen, oversees crisis response from countries as far ranging as Syria, Myanmar, Israel/Palestine, Greece, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and the United States. This includes documenting and exposing human rights abuses and serious international crimes during armed conflicts, humanitarian disasters, and severe social or political unrest. This work may have attracted the attention of various governments, including some that are suspectedNSO clients, Human Rights Watch said.
“It is no accident that governments are using spyware to target activists and journalists, the very people who uncover their abusive practices,” Fakih said. “They seem to believe that by doing so, they can consolidate power, muzzle dissent, and protect their manipulation of facts.”
On November 24, 2021, Apple notified Fakih via email, iMessage, and an alert on the AppleID login screen that state-sponsored attackers may be targeting her personal iPhone. The Human Rights Watch information security team established that Fakih’s current and former iPhones had been infected with Pegasus after they performed forensic analysis on the devices. Amnesty International’s Security Lab peer reviewed the analysis and confirmed the findings.
Fakih’s phones were infected with a “zero-click” exploit, meaning that her devices were compromised without the need for any action by Fakih such as clicking on a link. This is an advanced and sophisticated attack technique that is effective at compromising devices, while also being very difficult for the target to detect or prevent.
The targeting of Human Rights Watch with Pegasus adds to the ever-growing list of human rights activists, journalists, politicians, diplomats, and others whose devices have been compromised by the spyware in violation of their rights. In July 2021, a consortium coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media nonprofit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, exposed that Pegasus software had been used to infect the devices of dozens of activists, journalists, and opposition figures in multiple countries. The consortium identifiedpotential NSO clients in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Togo, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In response to evidence that Pegasus has been used to target human rights defenders, journalists, and dissidents, NSO Group has saidrepeatedly that its technology is licensed for the sole use of providing governments and law enforcement agencies the ability to lawfully fight terrorism and crime, and that it does not operate the spyware it sells to government clients.
NSO Group responded to Human Rights Watch’s request for commentsaying that it is “not aware of any active customer using [its] technology against a Human Rights Watch staff member” and that it would open an initial assessment into our allegation to determine if an investigation is warranted. The company said it takes “any allegation of the misuse of [its] system against a human rights defender most seriously,” and that such misuse would violate their policies and the terms of its contracts with customers. It referred us to its Whistleblower Policy and Transparency Report, which outline how they respond to such allegations.
Recent actions by governments and others against surveillance firms are positive steps, but coordinated and more ambitious government regulation is needed to rein in the burgeoning surveillance technology industry that includes NSO Group and others, Human Rights Watch said. Governments should implement a moratorium on the sale, export, transfer, and use of surveillance technology until human rights safeguards are in place.
“Governments need to act on the damning evidence of rights abuses that the unbridled sale of surveillance technology unleashes around the world,” Brown said. “Human rights defenders are calling for regulation, major companies are suing, while governments’ failure to take decisive action against the spyware industry constitutes a dangerous threat to fundamental human rights.”
For technical analysis of the targeting of Fakih, details of the development of surveillance technology, and recent actions by companies and governments against spyware companies, please see below.
Recent Actions Against Spyware Companies
In recent months, companies and governments have begun to take steps against spyware companies. On July 19, 2021, on the heels of the Pegasus Project reporting, Amazon Web Services announced it had disabled cloud accounts linked to NSO Group. On November 3, the US Commerce Department announced its decision to add NSO Group and Candiru, another Israel-based company that produces spyware, to its trade restriction list (Entity List), for “acting contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States.”
The decision prohibits the export from the US to NSO Group and Candiru of any type of hardware or software without a special license from the US Commerce Department. While the decision does not legally prohibit any material support (financial or technical), it effectively blacklists the two companies in the US.
On September 9, 2021, the European Union’s updated rules for the export of surveillance technology went into effect. The regulation does not go as far as human rights groups had wanted, for instance by banning the sale of surveillance technology to abusive governments. But it requires the EU Commission to publicly report the number of export license applications for each type of surveillance technology, for each member state, and the destination of the export. It also adds human rights risks as a criterion to be considered when granting an export license. The impact of the new regulation should be maximized through expansive interpretation and rigorous application, Human Rights Watch said.
In November, Apple began notifying users whom it suspects may have been targeted by a state-sponsored spyware attack, leading to the notification that Fakih received.
On November 23, 2021, Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users. This follows a lawsuit by WhatsApp over allegations that NSO Group spyware was used to hack 1,400 users of the app in 2019.
Long History of Abuse Using Spyware
Human rights organizations, academics, and journalists have been reporting on government use of commercial spyware to violate rights for more than two decades.
Commercially sold surveillance technology includes hardware, software, and services to enable covert and non-covert surveillance by and of digital systems with the goal of monitoring, extracting, collecting, and analyzing data. As people’s dependence on digital tools and technologies has grown exponentially over the past two decades, so has many governments’ interest in surveillance technology. The development of ever more advanced and intrusive surveillance technology has also increased the risk its misuse poses to human rights.
Commercial surveillance technology can perform a variety of functions, including surreptitious data extraction from personal devices; location tracking, which can contain sensitive and revealing insights about a person’s identity, location, behavior, associations, and activities; deep packet inspection, which enables the monitoring, analysis, and redirection of internet traffic and can be used to infect devices with malware and block them from accessing certain websites; and facial and affect recognition technology, which seeks to capture and detect a person’s facial characteristics or infer their emotions or intentions from facial expressions, based on highly questionable classification systems.
Many companies selling commercial spyware are based in the US, Canada, Europe, the UK, and Israel, though the opacity under which the commercial surveillance industry operates makes it impossible to know the full scope or scale of its reach.
Targeting the Devices of a Human Rights Watch Staff Member
Apple notified Lama Fakih, Crisis and Conflict director at Human Rights Watch, via email, iMessage, and an alert on the AppleID login screen that state-sponsored attackers might be targeting her iPhone on November 23 and 24, 2021.
Abir Ghattas, associate director for information security at Human Rights Watch, confirmed the legitimacy of Apple’s notifications, then performed forensic analysis on Fakih’s current iPhone and previous iPhone that were associated with the same AppleID to establish whether the devices had been infected. Human Rights Watch analysis indicated that two devices (iPhone 12 and iPhone XS) were infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
Examination of the logs showed traces of processes on both devices that Amnesty International Security Lab’s research previously connected to NSO’s Pegasus.
Human Rights Watch shared the forensic data with Amnesty International’s Security Lab, which peer reviewed and independently confirmed the findings (see key technical findings below).
To address the high risk of abuse associated with all surveillance technology, Human Rights Watch recommends:
Governments should immediately impose a moratorium on the sale, export, transfer, and use of surveillance technology until adequate human rights safeguards are in place. They should also disclose any existing contracts or use of such technology.
Governments should ensure that any use of surveillance technology in their countries is subject to domestic laws that only permit their use in accordance with the international human rights standards of legality, necessity, proportionality, and legitimacy of objectives. Governments should meaningfully enforce or reform those laws, as appropriate; remove legal or other barriers to effective remedies for victims of unlawful surveillance; and ensure that both judicial and nonjudicial paths are available for victims to seek a remedy for the harm surveillance technology may have caused.
Governments should allow the sale, export, and transfer of surveillance technology to resume only when they have enforceable legal frameworks requiring human rights due diligence that prevents surveillance technology from reaching governments that do not have human rights safeguards in place. Governments that have demonstrated substantial disregard for human rights and a pattern of abusive use of technology should be on a “no sale” list.
Governments should also require private companies based in their countries to disclose information on products and services offered, the results of their regular due diligence, their sales and exports, including the identity of clients, and potential clients rejected for failing to meet standards of human rights or good governance. Governments should establish independent oversight to monitor private companies’ compliance with due diligence and transparency requirements. Governments should make this information available in public registries. The purchase of surveillance technology by law enforcement in any country should be transparent so that it can be subject to public debate.
To encourage accountability, the relevant experts associated with the United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms should monitor and investigate the use of spyware by governments and sales of spyware by companies, and report to member states on abuses involving the use of such spyware.
Key Technical Findings from Human Rights Watch’s Forensic Analysis
Fakih’s two devices contained traces of Pegasus infection. Forensic traces from the devices indicate that both phones were compromised using a vulnerability in iMessage. These traces are consistent with the use of the NSO Group’s Megalodon/FORCEDENTRY zero-click exploit, which has previously been reported by Amnesty International and Citizen Lab. In September 2021, Apple patched Megalodon/FORCEDENTRY in iOS 14.8. The attacks in this report coincided with the time period when this vulnerability is known to have been exploited.
Target: Lama Fakih
Position: Crisis and Conflict director and director of the Beirut office at Human Rights Watch
The iPhone XS was used between January 2019 and July 2021. It was replaced by an iPhone 12 in July 2021.
The XS device was infected with Pegasus on three occasions:
April 6, 2021
June 3, 2021
June 23, 2021
Table 1 shows records of suspicious processes found on the iPhone XS attributed to Pegasus. Human Rights Watch’s analysis is based on known indicators of processes linked to Pegasus. There may be other instances of infections using Pegasus processes that have not yet been identified.
Traces related to iMessage exploitation observed before Pegasus processes ran on the device
Targeting iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 was successfully infected with Pegasus on July 5, 2021, and August 23, 2021. Table 2 shows records of suspicious processes found on the iPhone 12 attributed to Pegasus.
Traces related to iMessage exploitation observed before Pegasus processes ran on the device
unnamed process linked to Pegasus
Analysis of the extracted phone data, specifically an iOS file called “com.apple.identityservices.idstatuscache.plist,” which contains a list that indicates when apps like Facetime and iMessage first established contact with other registered Apple IDs, revealed an entry showing an email address, provided below, that connected with Fakih’s Apple ID over iMessage. Fakih is not familiar with this address and never communicated with it, which makes it a suspicious account. The email address also matches the patterns used to register iCloud accounts in other known Pegasus attacks. Research into the infrastructure Pegasus relies on suggests that NSO Group may create those email and iCloud accounts on behalf of their clients.
A similar technique of compromising iPhones with Pegasus using the Megalodon /FORCEDENTRY exploit was documented in cases that Citizen Lab has linked to Saudi Arabia, a suspected NSO client. However, it is possible for other NSO clients to use the same technique.
Determining that a government is an NSO Group client is challenging because the company does not publish its client list and it is rare for governments to confirm they purchased Pegasus. However, the existence of a Pegasus operator in a country, confirmed cases of devices being targeted with Pegasus, and a pattern of unlawful and arbitrary surveillance of their citizens and external critics are good indicators that a government may be a client.
The email address is included in this report in case it is useful for others who are also investigating Pegasus attacks.
Date: 2021-06-29 06:33 UTC
Use of Pegasus in Lebanon
Fakih is the first publicly reported confirmed case of Pegasus being used to target a worker for a nongovernmental organization in Lebanon. Previous known targets in Lebanon include:
The New York Times bureau chief in Beirut, Ben Hubbard, was repeatedly targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware over a three-year period from June 2018 to June 2021, according to forensic analysis carried out by Citizen Lab. Citizen Lab reported that the targeting resulted in confirmed Pegasus infections in July 2020 and June 2021. It concluded with high confidence that an iPhone belonging to Hubbard was successfully infected with Pegasus spyware on June 13, 2021, and found traces consistent with the FORCEDENTRY zero-click exploit that was used to infect Fakih’s devices. Hubbard has investigated rights abuses and corruption in Saudi Arabia and wrote a recent biography of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the Lebanese online magazine Daraj, which is a member of the Pegasus Project consortium, around 300 Lebanese phone numbers (country code +961) were included on a list of 50,000 numbers that Forbidden Stories and members of their consortium made public and identified as potential Pegasus targets. Le Mondereported that among the phone numbers on the list were those of President Michel Aoun; former Prime Minister Saad Hariri; former Minister of Foreign Affairs Gibran Bassil; Abbas Ibrahim, head of one of the main security services; the central bank governor, Riad Salamé; Hezbollah officials; and a plethora of ministers, journalists, and ambassadors. So far, none of these targets is confirmed through forensic analysis.
NSO Group has denied that the list consisted of potential or actual Pegasus targets, but none of the Pegasus Project partners has retracted their reporting. A phone number belonging to Hubbard reportedly appeared on the Pegasus Project list in July 2019. However, according to Citizen Lab forensic evidence is not available for this timeframe.
An Al Akhbar journalist, Radwan Mortada, also posted on Twitter on November 24 and 26, 2021, that Apple notified him that state-sponsored attackers may be targeting his iPhone. Human Rights Watch has not verified whether his device was infected with Pegasus.
According to a lawsuit against DarkMatter, an Emirati cybersecurity company that Reuters reported in 2019 was under investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ghada Oueiss, a Lebanese broadcast journalist at Al Jazeera, was infected with Pegasus in 2020. It’s unclear if she was in Lebanon or using a Lebanese number when targeted.
Resources for Checking Whether Devices Have Been Infected with Pegasus:
#AceNewsReport – Jan.28: Calling on the UK government to pass a new Automated Vehicles Act, the commissions said there must be a “clear distinction” between the rules governing cars that assist drivers and those that are self-driving.
#AceDailyNews says according to a joint report published on Wednesday by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission has set out a series of proposals to allow for the “safe and responsible introduction of self-driving vehicles.”
The report urges politicians to ensure that legislation regulating autonomous vehicles guarantees that “the person in the driving seat would no longer be responsible for how the car drives.”
The commissions propose that legislation should remove the responsibility from the person behind the wheel by classing individuals in autonomous vehicles as the “user-in-charge,” rather than a driver. That would prevent them from being prosecuted for driving offenses, such as dangerous driving, speeding, or failing to stop at a red light.However, people in self-driving vehicles would not be entirely free of legal liability.
As a “user-in-charge,” they would still be responsible for having insurance, checking loads, and ensuring children wear seat belts. The company or the authority regulating the cars would be liable for sanctions if anything goes wrong with the vehicle or an incident between two drivers occurs.
Following the release of the report, UK Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said “the development of self-driving vehicles in the UK has the potential to revolutionise travel, making everyday journeys safer, easier and greener.”
The government will formally respond to the findings of the report “in due course.”You can share this story on social media:
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: Emad Al Swealmeen was the passenger in a taxi which was destroyed by his bomb: A previously confidential 2015 asylum judgment, released to the BBC, reveals how his claim of being a Syrian refugee lacked basic facts.
#AceDailyNews says according to a media report Liverpool bomber lied to stay in UK, documents released to BBC show that according to the documents, released after legal representations from BBC News, Al Swealmeen arrived in the UK on 30 April 2014 and claimed asylum six days later: He claimed to be fleeing from his native Syria, which was then in the grip of a worsening civil war.
BBC By Dominic Casciani Home and legal correspondent
Al Swealmeen, an Iraqi, lost that case but the Home Office did not remove him before he tried again under a new name.
The Home Office will not comment on his case and no review has been announced.
It is not clear whether officials spotted his second application from checking his fingerprint records.
But the papers raise further questions about why he was not removed from the UK before the attack.
The fresh details about Al Swealmeen’s asylum claim are in the 2015 judgment from the tribunal that rules on appeals against Home Office immigration decisions.
It shows how he told obvious lies in an attempt to stay in the UK, and that his application lacked basic facts about his home and the danger he faced.
He claimed to be fleeing from his native Syria, which was then in the grip of a worsening civil war.
Emad al-Swealmeen and the UK: October 1989: Born in BaghdadDecember 2013: Applied for a visitor’s visa and is fingerprintedApril 2014: Arrived and sought asylum November 2014: Rejected and appealedApril 2015: Lost appeal August 2015: Lost challenge to that appealUnknown date in 2017: Applied again under a new nameBy end of 2020: Lost that second claimJanuary 2021: Lodged another appeal During his interview with a Home Office assessor, Al Swealmeen confirmed he had been living in the United Arab Emirates for 14 years and gave a vague account about returning to Syria to visit family, despite the raging conflict.He said he had then left out of fear for his life, returned to the UAE and flown on to the UK to claim asylum. That flight, on a genuine Jordanian passport, came four months after he had already applied for a UK visa – meaning that British immigration officials had a copy of his fingerprints before he arrived.When a Home Office asylum case worker questioned Al Swealmeen closely about his travels, he couldn’t explain why he had been in danger or describe his purported family’s situation in Syria – such as basic facts about the geography of where they lived. An expert in Arabic also analysed Al Swealmeen’s speech and concluded he was almost certainly Iraqi.Carl BessantPictures of the burning car outside the hospital were widely shared on social mediaAl Swealmeen was housed in Liverpool while he waited for a decision – which came in a rejection letter in November 2014. He then appealed – but did not attend the 2015 hearing in Manchester. He had been detained under the Mental Health Act, after he had been found waving a knife at people in a Liverpool underpass. The judge handling the case concluded that Al Swealmeen’s account was straightforward and so lacking in credibility that it could be dealt with immediately.First-tier Tribunal”His account of his time in Syria gives the impression of someone quoting information that is in the public domain rather than having first-hand experience,” ruled the judge. “The appellant did not identify himself with any particular faction or indicate that he would be at risk other than in a general sense. “In view of all of the evidence, I reject his account of events in Syria and his fears on his return in their entirety and dismiss his asylum appeal.” That conclusion meant the Home Office had the green light to send Al Swealmeen back to Iraq or Jordan, as it had previously warned him it would do. During 2015 and the years that followed, the government was forcibly sending some people back to both countries – but Emad Al Swealmeen was not one of them. Enforced returns were falling during this period as the government pursued its so-called “hostile environment” policies designed to encourage people to leave of their own choice. First-tier TribunalPresents himself as Christian Instead of going, Al Swealmeen tried to appeal again in August 2015, failed, and then joined Liverpool Cathedral’s course on the foundations of Christianity, presenting himself as a potential convert. By 2017 he had converted and Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott, a couple who volunteered in the local Christian community, gave him a bed.It’s around this time he made a new asylum application under the name Enzo Almeni. As part of that claim, officials would have expected him to volunteer his fingerprints, so they could verify he had not claimed before – but it’s not clear whether these checks were carried out. Malcolm HitchcottEmad Al Swealmeen (on right in light grey jacket) during a service at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, alongside the bishop Right Reverend Cyril AshtonThe Home Office eventually rejected this second application – but instead of being removed from the UK, Al Swealmeen was yet again able to lodge an appeal in January 2021. That challenge was outstanding when he detonated his homemade bomb.The Home Office has declined to comment on the specific circumstances of Emad Al Swealmeen’s case but said it was “fixing the broken asylum system” in its current legislation. “The new plan for immigration will require people to raise all protection-related issues up front, to tackle the practice of making multiple and sequential claims and enable the removal of those with no right to be in our country more quickly,” said a spokesman.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: At the show’s outset, he admitted that observers logically conclude that Moscow risks appearing weak if it deescalates the situation without forcing concessions from Washington, but he added that international relations aren’t always logical. Furthermore, Lukyanov said, the democratization of information flows has reshaped aspects of diplomacy, perhaps allowing new responses to old problems.
Pozner then asked him if “certain forces” in Ukraine might deliberately provoke Russia into a war on the assumption that an expanded conflict would hurt Moscow more in the long run. Lukyanov acknowledged that Ukraine’s political system doesn’t exert strict control domestically or internationally, which raises the risks of a provocation in the Donbas, but he insisted that ultimate decision-making power in the crisis belongs to Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden.
Lukyanov offered mixed comments about Biden, speculating that the U.S. president knows privately that he won’t win a second term in office, which grants him the freedom to pursue unpopular but geostrategically necessary foreign policies, such as the embarrassing U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. On the one hand, this underscores America’s weakness relative to its days as an uncontested hegemon in the 1990s and early 2000s, but Biden has also demonstrated his resolve as a leader.
Asked why Mikhail Gorbachev and his team didn’t negotiate a better post-Cold War peace for Moscow, Lukyanov said Soviet leaders genuinely embraced utopian ideas about a new welcoming European community, failing to conceive of any alternatives, but the principal factor was the USSR’s sudden dissolution, which the West viewed as capitulation that freed it even from vaguely implied promises about NATO expansion. By the time the Russian Federation arrived at the negotiating table, says Lukyanov, the Kremlin was simply too weak to assert its interests. He recognized that the current dialogue between Moscow and Washington has led to no concessions, but he argued that the talks themselves have kickstarted a mainstream discussion in the United States about the utility of NATO expansion. (He cites Michael Kimmage’s January 17 “Time for NATO to Close Its Door” essay in Foreign Policy.)
Echoing others like Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitry Trenin, Lukyanov insisted that reintegrating the Donbas into Ukraine by compelling Kyiv to implement its obligations under the Minsk agreements would deescalate today’s tensions by giving Russia what he says would amount to a safeguard against NATO expansion into Ukraine. (Unlike Trenin, Lukyanov says it is self-evident — even visiting aliens would see it — that NATO’s presence in Ukraine constitutes a military threat to Russia.)
Potential diplomatic breakthroughs, said Lukyanov, include the United States agreeing to discuss Ukraine’s future structure (though it wouldn’t offer what Russia wants here) and perhaps a nonbinding statement that negates no standing policy on NATO enlargement but at least indicates the alliance’s new willingness to review the principles of European security differently. Also, there is room for Moscow and Washington to reach new agreements on arms control and other military limits.
Though the Kremlin enjoys escalatory dominance in Ukraine, given that it is a core interest for Moscow but not Washington, Russia’s biggest challenges are still domestic, concluded Lukyanov.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: In 2003, the European Union launched its European Neighborhood Policy. It became reinforced as the Eastern Partnership in 2009. The big task of the Eastern Partnership was to conclude Association Agreements with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The Association Agreement with Ukraine was concluded after Euromaidan in 2014 and subsequently ratified by all the EU members.
#AceDailyNews OPED Report: Most of the Association Agreement of more than 2,000 pages consists of the Free Trade Agreement, but it also contains a substantial and sound reform program of a few hundred pages. This is the most comprehensive reform program to which Ukraine has committed itself: By Anders Åslund senior fellow at the Stockholm Free World Forum.
On the basis of the Association Agreement, the EU should be in the forefront of Ukraine’s transformation to a full-fledged democracy, a country with the rule of law, and a well-functioning state apparatus. Alas, that is not the case. The EU is surprisingly ineffective. Its Kyiv representatives might try to do whatever they can, but they lack political leadership, mandate or operative program.
Instead, among the international institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) remains in the forefront, followed by the United States, the G-7, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The problems with the EU in Ukraine can be summarized in three points:
1. A lack of political leadership; 2. A lack of cohesive and effective executive 3. The absence of any operative reform program after the adoption of the Association Agreement.
The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski founded the Eastern Partnership in 2009. They were and are great enthusiasts for Ukraine, but unfortunately they are no longer foreign ministers. Today, the European Council has no politician of such dignity and engagement, so the Eastern Partnership has dwindled.
The European Commission has gone through a similar decline. During the Orange Revolution in late 2004, the EU was marvelously represented by its high representative for foreign policy Javier Solana and Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski. Their achievement was great and laudable.
During the difficult Yanukovych term and Euromaidan, Štefan Füle, a Czech diplomat who served masterly as the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy drove EU policy on the Eastern Partnership and Ukraine. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, was also greatly involved and became honorably hated by Putin.
The Jean-Claude Juncker Commission paid much less attention to Ukraine. The Austrian Johannes Hahn succeeded Füle, but he kept a much lower profile. Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis was probably the main EU profile in Ukraine, being responsible for the substantial macroeconomic finance.
Another Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, laudably led EU energy policy, in spite of much German resistance within the commission, and the independent Energy Community did a great job. Juncker however went AWOL, as did the High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, who visited Cuba more than Ukraine.
The current EU Commission is sadly lacking. Dombrovskis remains the high point, with his responsibility for macroeconomic assistance and now also trade policy. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has paid more attention to Ukraine than Juncker, but has not done anything apart from some good statements.
The same is true of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, who has traveled to Kyiv and expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the Russian threat, but not much more.
Unfortunately, the EU has neither a central policymaker such as Solana or Füle, nor a policy on Ukraine. The low point in the current commission is the Hungarian Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, who is a Viktor Orban loyalist who does not even appear to work.
Similarly, the EU commissioner for energy, Kadri Simson, has done little about the current EU energy crisis. Disturbingly, the outstanding EU competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, seems to ignore Gazprom’s gross gas market manipulation.
As a natural outcome of this lack of EU leadership on Ukraine, the EU does not have much of a policy on Ukraine, beyond the old Association Agreement, so the EU apparatus is not very relevant for Ukraine. The implementation of the Association Agreement continues, but primarily at a technocratic level.
The greatest achievement has been the decentralization reform.
Yet, when the chips are down in Ukrainian domestic politics, the EU lacks weight.
This must not continue. The EU must get organized. It can’t continue to stand aside from the reform process in Ukraine. In the current critical situation, the EU needs to get serious about Ukraine again. First of all, some real EU politicians need to take the lead on Ukraine in the European Council.
Second, a strong and serious commissioner needs to be given overall responsibility for Ukraine, as Solana and Füle had. It has to be a strong commissioner, who has sufficient time and resources for the Eastern Partnership.
Third, while no major adjustment of the Association Agreement is needed, the EU should elaborate an implementation program with the Ukrainian government, which focuses on the key policy points rather than technocratic details.
The EU should cooperate with the other heavyweights of the collective West, the IMF, the United States, the G-7, and the other international financial institutions.
The obvious four top priorities should be:
1. Judicial and law enforcement reform.
2. State administration reform.
3. Corporate governance of state-owned enterprises and banks.
4. Energy market reform.
The EU can no longer stay passive and ineffective in Ukraine. It is high time for the EU to get serious about Ukraine, which today defends Europe against the onslaught of kleptocratic authoritarianism.
#AceDailyNews US Coast Guard Report: The six survivors were traveling aboard the 35-foot sailing vessel Sojourner in international waters east of Mona Island, Puerto Rico, when their vessel reportedly started taking on water.
Editor’s note: Click on image to download.
“Thanks to the skill and professionalism of the crews of Winslow Griesser and Air Station Borinquen, we were able to rescue six lives under extremely challenging circumstances,” said Lt. Ben Williamsz, Winslow Griesser commanding officer. “This case highlights the dangers of putting to sea and the vital importance carrying and maintaining all required safety equipment.”
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan, received a mayday call at 7:04 p.m. Thursday via a VHF Channel-16 transmission from the vessel Sojourner, which was relayed from a Rescue 21 tower in Puerto Rico. From the transmission, watchstanders identified the general location of the distress, and they immediately diverted a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser to search for the sailing vessel and find the boaters.
Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard helicopter and the cutter Winslow Griesser arrived on scene with the sailing vessel Sojourner. The Coast Guard aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer to the sailing vessel to assess the situation and the condition of the boaters, while the Winslow Griesser launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon small boat to come alongside the vessel.
The Coast Guard rescue swimmer confirmed the sailing vessel Sojourner lost its sails and steering and had flooded up to the deck plate and cabin level, and that the vessel was also equipped with flares and lifejackets.
The crew of the Winslow Griesser cutter boat, with the assistance of the rescue swimmer, embarked the survivors and transferred them to the safety of the cutter.
“We were able to find this vessel by homing in on their VHF radio mayday calls. Everyone on board had a life jacket, and they knew how to use the boat’s emergency equipment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jacob London, Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk pilot for the case. “These mariners were well prepared, and that allowed us to quickly get this crew to safety in challenging wind and sea conditions.”
Following the rescue, the Coast Guard aircrew recovered its rescue swimmer and returned to Air Station Borinquen.
Cutter Winslow Griesser transported the survivors to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Customs and Border Protection authorities received them and transported them to the Luis Munoz Marin International airport, where they are being assisted with further immigration processing.
The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Rescue 21 is the Coast Guard’s advanced command, control and direction-finding communications system, was created to better locate mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea and on navigable rivers. By harnessing state-of-the-market technology, Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to execute its search and rescue missions with greater agility and efficiency.
#AceNewsReport – Jan27: Semiconductor facilities are operating at maximum utilization while demand remains up 17 percent since 2019
#AceDailyNews Commerce Semiconductor Data Report: Confirms Urgent Need for Congress to Pass ‘U.S. Innovation and Competition Act’ Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the results from the Risks in the Semiconductor Supply Chain Request for Information (RFI) issued in Sept. 2021. Key findings from the report provided data-driven information about the depths of the semiconductor shortage and underscored the need for the President’s proposed $52 billion in domestic semiconductor production: Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2022:
The RFI showed that median inventory held by chips consumers (including automakers or medical device manufacturers, as examples) has fallen from 40 days in 2019 to less than 5 days in 2021. If a COVID outbreak, a natural disaster, or political instability disrupts a foreign semiconductor facility for even just a few weeks, it has the potential to shut down a manufacturing facility in the U.S., putting American workers and their families at risk.
“The semiconductor supply chain remains fragile, and it is essential that Congress pass chips funding as soon as possible,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “With sky-rocketing demand and full utilization of existing manufacturing facilities, it’s clear the only solution to solve this crisis in the long-term is to rebuild our domestic manufacturing capabilities. President Biden has proposed $52 billion to revitalize our domestic semiconductor industry, and every day we wait on this funding is a day we fall further behind. But if we address this problem, we can create good jobs, rebuild American manufacturing, and strengthen our supply chains here at home for years ahead.”
Key Findings from the Semiconductor RFI:
Demand for semiconductors is as much as 17 percent higher in 2021 than it was in 2019, and consumers aren’t seeing commensurate increases in the available supply.
The majority of semiconductor manufacturing facilities are operating at or above 90 percent utilization, meaning there is limited additional supply to bring online without building new facilities.
Bottlenecks are most concentrated in a specific semiconductor inputs and applications, including legacy logic chips (used in automobiles, medical devices, and other products), analog chips (used in power management, image sensors, and radio frequency), and optoelectronics chips (including for sensors and switches).
The main bottleneck that respondents identified is the need for additional fab capacity. Additional bottlenecks that respondents identified include a lack of raw material inputs for both semiconductors and the other components paired with semiconductors to assemble sub-parts for electric devices.
The RFI asked all parts of the semiconductor supply chain – producers, consumers, and intermediaries – to voluntarily share information about inventories, demand, and delivery dynamics. With Secretary Raimondo’s engagement, more than 150 responses from the world responded to the RFI:
The Department of Commerce will continue to work on the short- and long-term challenges of the semiconductor supply chain through engagement with Congress to pass and fund USICA, coordination with the private sector to ensure more transparency within the supply chain, and the continuation of the early alert system to help address real-time semiconductor supply chain disruptions.
The results of the RFI are included in a report and blog released by the Department of Commerce.
#AceDailyNews says according to local media report last year the the Scottish Sentencing Council recommended an “individualistic approach” for under 25s which takes into account their life experiences: Human rights lawyer John Scott told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland that the guideline also recognises that many young offenders have suffered abuse or neglect.
It argued that the proposed changes would help reduce reoffending.
The council said its decision was based on scientific evidence that the brain is not fully developed below that age.
But Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene told the programme lighter sentences would send out the wrong message to victims.
Lady Dorrian said it was hoped the guideline would reduce reoffending
At the time Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and chairwoman of the council, described the sentencing of young people as a “complex and challenging exercise which requires a more individualistic approach”.
She added it needed to take into account their unique personal circumstances as well as their intellectual and emotional maturity.
The guideline will apply to the sentencing of all those who are under the age of 25 at the time of their conviction.
The guidance gives more detail on how the assessment of a young person’s maturity has a bearing on culpability, and gives more clarity on how the impact on victims is to be taken in account.
It suggests factors common to many young people who commit offences, such as childhood trauma, should be considered.
But it makes it clear that the full range of sentencing options will remain open to courts when sentencing a young person.
John Scott QC said the courts always get details about the harm that a crime has caused.
But, as the guidelines go live, he told Good Morning Scotland: “They don’t always get full information about the maturity of the individual, the trauma that they may have suffered and therefore the blame that maybe appropriately attached to them.
“This guideline is about getting more information as well as maximising the opportunities for rehabilitation, which obviously, benefit us all and avoid future victims.”
Mr Scott said the sentencing process involves not only assessing the offence but also the person who has offended.
He added: “In some cases, especially for those under 25, they may have been the victims of crime themselves.
“One of the mistakes that is often made is to categorise victims in one place and those who offend somewhere else.
“Actually there is a huge overlap and very many who end up in our criminal justice system have themselves been victims of either neglect or abuse as children.”
Mr Scott said those experiences can have a “damaging effect” on the growing brain.
Evidence from across the world was analysed by experts at the University of Edinburgh to identify the cut off age of 25, he said.
The QC added the guideline does not tie the hands of judges but rather will enable them to do their jobs better, for example through handing out Community Payback Orders instead of short custodial sentences.
But Jamie Greene MSP said he has some concern as he believes the justice system is already “weak”.
He told Good Morning Scotland: “I think that many victims of crime will be quite worried and concerned about the sort of language that we are using here, especially those who have been the victims of, for example, gender-based violence or sexual crimes, wondering why on earth 24-year-olds will have a shorter sentence than someone who is just a few months older.
“This arbitrary line in the sand that has been drawn will, I think, be contentious.”
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: He was taken to hospital for treatment and has since been discharged: Officers are continuing to carry out forensic, CCTV, house-to-house and witness enquiries, and to speak to the local community:
#AceDailyNews Merseyside Police UPDATE Report: At around 7.10pm we received a report that a 33-year-old man had been shot to the torso at a car park at the Netherton pub on Church Road as he entered a car: At this stage, the shooting is believed to have been targeted:
Further enquiries have revealed that the offender who was reported to be around 5ft 6in tall and was wearing a light grey or blue jacket, arrived and left the Netherton Pub on foot. He left, heading in the general direction of Litherton Moss Primary School, crossing Dunnings Bridge Road.
Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Wilson said:
This was a reckless and dangerous act of violence that could have left a man gravely injured and we hope he makes a fully recovery from this frightening incident.
“The use of firearms in our communities can have catastrophic consequences and will not be tolerated which is why we are continuing to appeal to residents or anyone we have not yet spoken to who witnessed the incident, or saw or heard anyone acting suspiciously in the area on New Years Day at around 7.10pm to contact police.
“If you were passing the area in a vehicle and have dashcam or CCTV footage, that could help us find the person who did this please let us know.
“Through intelligence from our communities and a number of proactive policing operations and tactics, we have seen a decrease in firearms incidents over the past two years.
“We’re determined to keep preventing them from happening so that our communities can continue to live, work and enjoy going out of an evening free from the fear of such incidents.”
If you have information, get in contact with reference 22000003342 via DM our social media desk on Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: The original ending saw Edward Norton’s narrator killing his imaginary alter-ego Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, before bombs destroyed buildings in the climax to a subversive plot to reorder society, dubbed Project Mayhem.
#AceDailyNews says according to BBC Asia News Report: China changes Fight Club film ending so the authorities win: In China, before the explosions, a message now says the police foiled the plot, arrested the criminals and sent Durden to a “lunatic asylum”.
The new finale tells viewers:
” Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.
“After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Director David Fincher’s film has recently been added to streaming platform Tencent Video, and Human Rights Watch described the changes as “dystopian”.
Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the 1996 novel that Fight Club was adapted from, wrote sarcastically on Twitter: “This is SUPER wonderful! Everyone gets a happy ending in China!”
Fight Club director David Fincher pictured with actors Brad Pitt and Edward Norton at a 2009 awards ceremony
US senator Ted Cruz, a Republican representing Texas, wrote: “The second rule of Fight Club is ‘we will do and say whatever the Chinese communist censors tell us to do and say.'”
The changes were flagged up on social media by outraged viewers who had previously seen pirated copies of the original.
It’s not uncommon for Chinese censor to make cuts to Western films, but it’s more rare for them to change an ending.
Some social media users flagged up films that have had a similar treatment in the past, however, such as Nicolas Cage’s 2005 crime drama Lord of War and 1985’s Blood Debts.
The ending to Blood Debts (1985 dir Teddy Page) compared to the Chinese version of Fight Club (1999 dir David Fincher) streaming on Tencent Video pic.twitter.com/0qg3aLnTHv— Aaron Stewart-Ahn (@somebadideas) January 24, 2022
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: 2022: Police were called at 09:01hrs on Monday, 24 January to reports of a stabbing on Chippenham Road, W9: Officers, the London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade attended the scene: Yasmin Chkaifi was found at the scene with stab injuries: Also at the location was Leon McCaskre, who had been struck by a car: Both were pronounced dead at the scene: Next of kin have been informed and Family Liaison Officers are helping to keep them updated and supported: Post-mortem examinations will take place on Tuesday, 25 and Thursday, 27 January.
#AceDailyNews MET UPDATE Report: The deceased woman has been named as Yasmin Chkaifi, who was aged 43 and from Maida Vale & the man has been named as Leon McCaskre, who was aged 41 and also from Maida Vale.
25 January 2022 15:20
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Rawlinson, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said:
Enquiries are under way to establish the full circumstances, but we can confirm the two deceased were known to each other and had previously been in a relationship.
A 26-year-old man, the driver of the car, remained at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
He was fully cooperative with the investigation and has been bailed to return to a police station on a date in late February while the evidence is evaluated.
” We are gaining a clearer idea of what happened at the scene thanks to information supplied by the public and by reviewing CCTV. Firstly, it is apparent that members of the public bravely tried to intervene to stop the attack and their actions were very courageous.
“We are speaking to the families of those concerned and doing all we can to support them at this terrible time. We can now confirm that both the deceased were previously known to each other and there are no outstanding suspects.
“A man, who was the driver of a car, has been arrested and bailed for a very serious offence and we must carry out a full investigation, looking at all the circumstances. I would ask the media not to speculate on the causes of the deaths while we are awaiting the outcome of two post-mortems, it is important that we deal with facts.
“Lastly, we appreciate the support we have received from the public. A number of people have already come forward, but we are still asking for anyone who has not to make contact with us. Any information could be vital in helping us fully understand why this dreadful incident happened.”
Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or contact via Twitter @MetCC. Please quote reference CAD 1496/24JAN: To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
#AceNewsReport – Jan.27: Officers are continuing to strike against organised crime gangs and the drugs factories they’re running to fund their criminality.
#AceDailyNews WM Police Report: The biggest was uncovered in a building in Slaney Road, Walsall, on 24 May when more than 6,000 cannabis plants were found crammed into 40 rooms.
Most of these industrial-size cannabis production set-ups are linked to organised crime gangs who are making big money on the back of others’ suffering.
We often find people have been trafficked here illegally to tend the crop, living in squalid conditions in the drugs dens, while children or vulnerable people are used to deal drugs or move them across the country.
They are exposed to risk of serious harm, notably from rival gangs intent on stealing the drugs or disrupting the ‘business’. We’ve seen many cases of armed robberies on cannabis factories where people have been seriously injured and sadly killed.
These drugs factories also need large amounts of electricity and we usually find the power supply has been bypassed. It means, due to the dodgy wiring, they are a fire hazard and it’s not unusual for them to go up in flames.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Dale is from our Serious Organised Crime & Exploitation team. He said:
” We’re not talking about some recreational drug use here…this is top-level organised criminality, linked to exploitation and violence.
“The cannabis factories can be in industrial units or disused factories but often we find them in residential streets surrounded by family homes or even near schools.
“They are a magnet for anti-social behaviour and crime.
“Increasingly people are getting fed up with being blighted by these drug factories and are calling us with information. That’s helping us uncover more and more illegal premises and damaging the revenue making streams for crime gangs.”
If you suspect a property near you is being used to deal or produce drugs then please let us know so we can take action.
It’s best to message us on Live Chat through our website or you can call 101 or the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.