World News

  • Moroccan Man Admits Deadly Stabbing Attack in Finland

    TURKU, Finland — A young Moroccan man has admitted to his role in a deadly stabbing rampage last week, which the authorities have called Finland’s first terrorist attack in decades, officials announced on Tuesday.

    Police said that the man — who has been tentatively identified as Abderrahman Mechkah, 18, and who appeared in court here on Tuesday via a video feed from his hospital bed — had admitted to the stabbings.

    But Chief Inspector Olli Toyras, a police detective, told journalists that much was unclear: whether Mr. Mechkah acted alone, whether his actions were guided or influenced by someone else and even his true name and age.

    Finnish officials said Mr. Mechkah was believed to have arrived in Finland in the spring of 2016, after living several months in Germany. He is believed to have used several aliases. He was denied asylum at the beginning of this year.

    Police and witnesses say that Mr. Mechkah used two knives to attack women in the center of Turku, a city of 180,000 in southwestern Finland, on Friday afternoon.

    Two women, one in her mid-50s and the other in her early 30s, were killed; six other women were injured, along with two men who had tried to protect them. Mr. Mechkah was shot in the thigh.

    Police and intelligence agencies had gotten a tip about Mr. Mechkah earlier this year, warning that he might harbor extremist views, but the tip was not given priority because it was too vague to act on. He was not one of some 350 people whom Finnish authorities have been monitoring as potential security threats.

    The young man’s defense lawyer, Kaarle Gummerus, said on Tuesday that his client had admitted to the rampage, but that investigators had not yet presented enough evidence to classify the case as a terrorist crime.

    The case has raised urgent legal and political questions for Finland, a Nordic nation of 5.5 million that is known as one of the world’s safest countries.

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  • After Spain Attacks, Four Suspects Appear In Court

    Four men —Mohamed Houli Chemlal (from left), Driss Oukabir, Salah El Karib and Mohamed Aallaa — suspected of being part of a terror cell accused of killing 15 people in attacks in Spain leaves a Civil Guard base on the outskirts of Madrid prior to their court appearance on Tuesday.
    AP

    The four suspected members of a terror cell — the only members believed to be alive — appeared in a Madrid court Tuesday in connection with the attacks in Spain last week that killed 15 people.

    The hearing took place behind closed doors. But numerous Spanish and international news outlets say multiple suspects testified that a former imam was the mastermind of a failed plot to use explosives in a large-scale attack.

    Suspect Mohamed Houli Chemlal testified that the initial targets included monuments in Barcelona, including the famed Sagrada Familia cathedral, the BBC reported, citing judicial sources.

    Authorities say the imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, was killed in an explosion in the city of Alcanar the day before the vehicle attacks in Barcelona and the resort town of Cambrils. As The Two-Way has reported, "authorities believe the explosion was the result of a failed attempt to make a bomb and that the deadly vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils were a fallback plot."

    The Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that Es Satty had planned to immolate himself.

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  • Attacks on the Cloud Increase by 300%

    The number of attacks on cloud-based accounts has increased by 300%, according to Microsoft’s Security and Intelligence report.

    It claimed that consumer and enterprise Microsoft accounts are a tempting target for attackers, and the frequency and sophistication of attacks on cloud-based accounts are accelerating. “The Identity Security and Protection team has seen a 300% increase in user accounts attacked over the past year” it said, claiming that a large majority of these compromises are the result of weak, guessable passwords and poor password management, followed by targeted phishing attacks and breaches of third-party services.

    Elsewhere, the number of Microsoft account sign-ins attempted from malicious IP addresses has increased by 44% in comparison to Q1 of 2017 to Q1 of 2016. “Security policy based on risk-based conditional access, including comparing the requesting device’s IP address to a set of known ‘trusted IP addresses’ or ‘trusted devices’, may help reduce risk of credential abuse and misuse,” the report advised.

    Oliver Pinson-Roxburgh, EMEA director at Alert Logic said: “There are a number of sophisticated attacks that rely on new detection capabilities most organizations do not have today and they are increasing as organizations get better at security best practices.”

    In the recent Alert Logic Cloud Security report for 2017, it claimed that it saw close to 37% more incidents in on-premise data centers, leaving each public cloud deployment to withstand just over (on average) around 400 incidents in the 18-month period covered by this report. “Even lower incident rates do not necessarily translate to lower risk—especially when, as is increasingly more common, businesses rely on the public cloud to handle their highest-value assets,” he said.

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  • Sudan braced for 'massive floods' as Nile levels hit one hundred-year highs

    Sudan is braced for "massive floods" along the Nile Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

    Torrential rains in neighbouring Ethiopia have swollen the Nile, which flows into Sudan.

    Khartoum is braced for "massive floods" along the Nile as the river's water levels hit one hundred-year highs, following warnings from Sudan's irrigation ministry.

    Torrential rains in neighbouring Ethiopia have swollen the Blue Nile which converges with the White Nile in Sudanese capital.

    "Water levels of Blue Nile and the Nile are rising, and today the level of the Nile reached its highest in 100 years in Khartoum," the irrigation ministry said in a statement on Monday (21 August).

    It added: "The water level touched 17.14 metres in Khartoum, and is expected to rise more."

    People living along the Nile have been asked to exercise caution in Khartoum with heavy flooding expected over the next two days, the ministry said.

    Every year Sudan battles heavy flooding from the Nile. Last year heavy rains in Sudan killed 76 people and destroyed thousands of homes, affecting 13 of the East African nation's 18 provinces.

    Raging floods destroyed 3,206 houses, and damaged 3,048 others in the eastern province of Kassala, one of the worst hit areas, according to the Interior ministry.

    Sudan suffers from an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, which makes it harder to cope with heavy rain and natural disasters.

    In 2013, 48 people were killed and more than 500,000 affected by the worst floods in Sudan in quarter of a century.

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  • Future Policy Award 2017: Conservation-Based Agricultural Development-Led Industrialization Winners of GOLD Ethiopia, Tigray Region

    Future Policy Award 2017: Celebrating best policies to combat desertification
    We must not let our future dry out! These seven laws and policies demonstrate that land restoration can be a reality. They work towards a land degradation-neutral world as envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goal 15, and tackle desertification, one of the most pressing challenges of our time.

    Desertification and land degradation are a threat to food security, livelihoods and health of hundreds of millions of people. It is estimated that 135 million people are at risk of being displaced by desertification, and drylands are the most conflict-prone regions of the world. Climate change, and the increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather in arid lands, makes combating desertification even more vital.

    In partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the 2017 Future Policy Award highlights laws and policies that effectively address land and soil degradation, and the related risks to food security and livelihoods, and help secure a sustainable and just future for people living in the world’s drylands.

    The Winners
    GOLD
    Ethiopia, Tigray Region: Conservation-Based Agricultural Development-Led Industrialization (1994), supported by Mass Mobilization Campaigns (1991) and the Youth Responsive Land Policy (2008)

    The Tigray region’s interpretation of Ethiopia’s development strategy focuses on food self-sufficiency and economic growth by conserving land and promoting sustainable agriculture. Thanks to a unique combination of collective action, voluntary labour and the involvement of youth, the people of Tigray are restoring land on a massive scale.

    SILVER
    Brazil: Cistern Programme (2003, enshrined into law in 2013)

    This programme is a participative,bottom-up way to provide water for consumption and for growing food and keeping livestock in Brazil’s drought prone Semiarid region using simple rainwater collection technology. It empowers millions of the region’s poorest people to be in control of their own needs, to generate income and enhance their food security.

    China: Law on Prevention and Control of Desertification (2002)

    This is the world’s first integrated law dedicated to combating desertification. It provides a framework for China’s National Action Programme and a host of projects aimed at rehabilitating land at risk. Over the last 15 years, China has reversed the trend of desertification. It is no coincidence that the country lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty during the same period.

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  • Lesotho's King arrives in Ethiopia to boost ties

     Lesotho's King Letsie III on Monday arrived in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on a visit to boost ties of the two African countries.

    King Letsie III, during his four-day visit to Ethiopia, is expected to meet senior Ethiopian government officials, including President of Ethiopia Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, according to the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry.

    The king is also expected to visit various infrastructure projects in the East African country, particularly the Bole Lemi industrial park on the outskirts of Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian Airline's Aviation Academy, it was indicated.

    Activities implemented by the Ethiopian government to improve country's food security are also said to be the areas the king will witness during his visit.

    Ethiopia's recently appointed Ambassador to Lesotho, Mulugeta Kelil, had previously revealed the two countries' ambition to strengthen their cooperation in various areas, mainly through economic and trade relations.

    Kelil has highlighted the relations of the two countries given Ethiopia's status as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and Lesotho's position as a top exporter of natural resources.

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