Hacker behind Microsoft, Sony attack sentenced to prison

A hacker who broke into Microsoft and Sony gaming services in 2013-14 has been sentenced to 27 months in prison in the US.

Utah-born 23-year-old Austin Thompson, known as ‘DerpTrolling’, launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Electronic Arts’ Origin service and the Sony PlayStation Online, The Inquirer reported on late Thursday.

Arrested four years later in 2018, he pleaded guilty to the cyber-attacks.

Thompson said he carried out the DDoS attacks “to spoil everyone’s holiday”, “to make people spend time with their families” and “for the lulz”.

In a DDoS attack, multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or other network resource, and cause a denial of service for users.

“Thompson has also been ordered to pay $95,000 in restitution to Daybreak Games, formerly Sony Online Entertainment,” said the report.

Thompson is believed to have been the brain behind the “DerpTrolling” hacking group, active since 2011.



Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar mounts first attack on Mayawati

Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar on Wednesday accused Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati of trying to weaken the movement for social justice initiated by her mentor late Kanshi Ram.

Though Mayawati has always been critical of Chandra Shekhar — even calling him the B team of the BJP, this is the first time the latter has mounted an attack on the BSP President.

Talking to reporters here, Chandra Shekhar said that Mayawati had weakened the Bahujan movement by breaking off the alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP).

“This decision is not in favour of the weaker sections who would have gained strength from the alliance,” he said.

Chandra Shekhar said that the BSP was losing its strength in Uttar Pradesh. “When she announced the alliance with SP, the BSP workers convinced themselves that the party would move forward, but just then, she disappointed everyone by calling off the alliance,” he said.

The Bhim Army leader also slammed Mayawati for promoting nepotism and appointing her brother Anand Kumar and nephew Akash Anand to top party positions.

“This is a major blow to the ideology and principles of Kanshi Ram, who worked with the poorest of the poor in mind. Kanshi Ram never promoted his family members and worked tirelessly for the Dalits,” he said.

Asked whether his party would contest the Assembly elections in UP in 2022, Chandra Shekhar said that no decision had yet been taken on this issue.

“We will reveal our strategy very soon. The Bahujan Samaj needs a strong leadership that can empower the weaker sections,” he said almost positioning himself as an alternative to Mayawati.

He further said that ‘jungle raj’ was prevailing in Uttar Pradesh and the law and order situation had hit rock bottom. “We will be sending a memorandum to the President of India, seeking dismissal of the Yogi Adityanath government,” he added.


India World

US President Trump steps back from air attack on Iran

 US President Donald Trump wages wars of trade and words, but he has pulled back from an air attack on Iran that could have led to an armed conflict — an actual war.

Countermanding the hawks surrounding him, Trump aborted air strikes on Iran in retaliation for Tehran shooting down an unmanned American surveillance drone a mere 10 minutes before its launch on Thursday.

He tweeted on Friday: “We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. One hundred-fifty people, sir, was the answer from a General. Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone”.

Trump laying down proportionality as a factor is a marked departure from previous administrations.

Both the Bushes, senior and junior, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan as collateral damage in their wars.

This picture of Trump caring for 150 Iranian lives may seem incongruous, but he is a man of complex psyche. Despite his bluster and threats – even to annihilate North Korea – he appears reluctant to start a military war, perhaps having learnt the lessons of the US wars of the last half a century and is against military adventures abroad.

Iranians can retaliate causing widespread economic harm by disrupting traffic in the Gulf region by shutting down the Strait of Hormuz, the area where they had shot down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone on Thursday, claiming it was over their territory, which Trump has denied.

Tehran has shown that it can almost masochistically absorb pain, as during the war with Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or through years of international sanctions.

It is estimated that about 20 per cent of the world’s total crude oil passes through this choke point, about 40 kilometre at its narrowest point. India, which relies for much of its energy needs on the region, has sent two Navy ships to the region to protect its shipping.

The area presents other risks of immense magnitude for unintended escalation. In 1988, the US shot down a civilian Iran Air passenger Airbus killing 290 people, including 10 Indians, while it was over Iranian territory. The US made the fantastic claim that it had been mistaken for an F-14 Tomcat jet fighter.

A businessman by profession, Trump instead prefers to wield the economy as a weapon to beat down his foes. He has imposed painful sanctions on Iran – which causes collateral damage to countries like India and Venezuela. He earlier prevailed on Russia and China to more closely observe the UN sanctions on North Korea.

He has repeatedly said he doesn’t want war with Iran. Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a rare agreement with Trump said: “I don’t think the President wants to go to war. There’s no appetite to go to war in our country”.

Even before he ran for President, he called the Iraq war “a mistake” after supporting it in the initial phase. He said during his election campaign that he would bring home US troops from Afghanistan.

While in office, he pulled back US forces from Syria leading to a public break with his Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest.

Before his decision to call off the air strikes, Trump had created wiggle room to avoid military action. He hinted that the Iranian leadership may not be behind it, saying: “I imagine someone made a mistake” – someone “loose and stupid”.

Earlier this month, two petroleum tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The US blamed Iran for the attacks but Tehran has denied any involvement. Trump later downplayed the incident, too, tamping down the calls for retaliation.

He is surrounded by hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton, whom he once said would have gotten the US involved in many wars if he had his way, and Secretary of State Pompeo.

Bolton wants regime change in Iran and Venezuela – and possibly most countries around the world and a display of US might.

In reality, the US does not have the power that Bolton imagines – or if it did, it has squandered it away.

Iran is larger and even more complex than Afghanistan or Iraq.

Trump also realizes that a large segment of his base – which contributes a sizable part of the US military personnel – is wary of wars, even if they sometimes sound jingoistic nationalists.

Iran is not entirely off the hook either even if it has avoided US retaliation this time. “I am in no hurry, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” Trump tweeted.

The current tensions began after Trump renounced the multinational agreement with Iran to stop nuclear proliferation and lift sanctions on Tehran. He then reimposed the sanctions.

On Monday, Iran said that it had increased production of low-grade uranium and would exceed the limits set by the nuclear pact unless the Europeans, who were co-signatories to the agreement intervened.

The Shia Islamic leadership’s continuing response may be to test Trump, while his hawks look for or engineer provocations.




Atmosphere of fear is wrong: Mahie on ‘Fixer’ set attack

Actress Mahie Gill, who is a part of web series “Fixer” — the cast and crew of which was attacked by a group of men at an outdoor locale — is convinced that the government will take necessary action to ensure such an incident is not repeated in the future.

At least four drunken miscreants allegedly barged onto the sets of ALTBalaji’s “Fixer” in a factory premises on the picturesque Ghodbunder Road on Wednesday afternoon creating a ruckus and vandalising the sets with sticks and rods.

Mahie, apart from director Soham Shah, producer Sakett Saawhney and others were shooting when the incident took place.

On Thursday, the team met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to apprise him of the brutal attack and sought protection.

After the meeting, Mahie told the media: “They (the miscreants) came to hit me, but I was rescued from that place. It was very scary. They were hitting everyone who was coming in front of them. Today, we came to meet Fadnavis sir because we don’t want this to happen to anyone in the future.

“Everyone shoots in that place. After two days, I will be shooting in that same place. They have created an atmosphere of fear over there, which is really wrong. I think after our meeting with Fadnavis sir, everyone will be benefited while shooting their projects.”

Saawhney said the Chief Minister ensured action was taken.

Urging everyone to follow law and order in the city, Saawhney said: “Lack of respect for law and order needs to be tackled. How will every person in this city go outside with a bouncer? In a unit which consists of around 100 people, how will we hire 100 bouncers? Everybody must respect law and order. We are tax paying professionals. We pay our money and shoot.”

The accused Krishna Sonar, Sonu Das and Suraj Sharma were nabbed from different parts of Thane district early on Thursday.

“We have charged them under Indian Penal Code sections 326, 143, 180 and others,” Senior Police Inspector of Kasarvadawali Police Station Kishore Khairnar told IANS.



Prayagraj, 4 get life term in 2005 Ayodhya terror attack

A special court in Prayagraj on Tuesday convicted four accused in the conspiracy behind the 2005 Ayodhya terror attack case that had caused death of two civilians, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The fifth accused, Mohammad Aziz, was acquitted in the verdict which took 14 years to come by.

All the accused are presently lodged in the Naini Central Jail in Prayagraj.

On July 5, 2005, a terrorist had carried out a suicide bombing attempt, breaching the security of the makeshift Ram temple. Five terrorists subsequently attempted to attack the ‘Sita Rasoi’.

All the five terrorists were later gunned down by the Central Reserve Police Force personnel in an hour long encounter. Two civilians Ramesh Pandey and Shanti Devi were also killed in the cross fire.

Seven CRPF personnel were also injured in the encounter, three of them seriously.

Special judge Dinesh Chand said that those involved in the conspiracy behind the 2005 attack were equally guilty as those who actually carried out the attack.

The four accused had provided logistic and material support to the terrorists, who were Jaish-e-Mohammad operatives.



Maoist attack; Congress demands Fadnavis’ resignation

A day after 15 C-60 commandos were killed in a Maoist attack in Maharastra’s Gadchiroli district, the Congress sought the resignation of state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and said the incident reflected failure of the Union Home Ministry.

“We demand the resignation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the attack. The Home Ministry’s failure was also evident,” Congress spokesperson Rajeev Shukla said.

Congress leader Ragini Nayak also slammed the Centre over the alleged intelligence failure, saying the area had been declared Maoist-free but there were recent reports that the extremists were regrouping there.

“Why did the government not launch massive surveillance in the area when there were reports of the Naxals regrouping there,” Nayak asked.

She cast a doubt over the origin of the explosive material in the attack and compared it to the Pulwama terror attack where the attacker was reportedly carrying 300 kg of explosives in the car he rammed into a convoy of CRPF troops.

“The government has no reply as it had nothing to say after the Pulwama blast,” said Nayak.

Citing data, the Congress leader said there had been 1,086 Maoist attacks over the past five years in which 351 jawans were martyred and 582 civilians injured.



Sri Lankan intelligence warns of attack on Buddhist temples

Sri Lankan intelligence has received information on an attack targeting Buddhist temples by the National Thowheed Jamaath extremist group, using female bombers, the media reported on Monday.

Intelligence officers have found white pairs of skirts and blouses from the safehouse which was raided on Friday night in Sainthamaradu area, 364 km from Colombo, reports the Daily Mirror.

On March 29, 29 Muslim women had spent 29,000 SL rupees to purchase nine sets of such clothing from a textile shop in Giriulla, the officers said.

So far, five sets of the white clothing had been found from the house and the intelligence services are continuing their efforts to find the remaining ones.

CCTV footage of the shop shows the women who purchased clothes from the shop.

The Friday night raid was part of a nationwide hunt for the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 253 people and injured hundreds.



Police Arrested Ex-Army Man for Making Hoax Call About Terror Attack

Bengaluru police on Friday late night arrested a 65 year old ex army man Swamy Sundara Murthy on charges of making hoax call about a terror threat, to Bengaluru police control room on Friday.

The arrested person had been identified as a resident of Munivenkatappa Layout, Avalahalli. He is a retired army person, now working as a truck driver

Karnataka DG-IGP had written to his counterparts of 6 states and an Union Territory –Tami Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Goa, Maharashtra –warning of terror attacks.



Afghan Information Ministry under attack in Kabul

An explosion and gunfire was heard in the Afghan capital on Saturday as the Ministry of Information headquarters came under attack by gunmen, officials said.

The explosion happened at around 11.30 a.m. (local time), Ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi was cited as saying by the BBC.

An eyewitness told TOLO News that attackers entered the ministry building and were currently engaged in a gunfight with security forces on the first floor of the building. Others said firing was still being heard from the area.

The blast took place in a busy area near one of the city’s most popular hotels, as well as the presidential palace, reports said.

“We heard a huge blast followed by gun fire outside the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and Serena Hotel and the whole place has now been sealed off,” according to a witness, Najib Rustami.

The incident caused panic among the people and there was fear of possible casualties, he said, adding that the media and people are not being allowed to enter the site and no one knows what exactly is going on there.

No group has yet said it carried out the attack, but it follows the suspension of talks between the government and Taliban insurgents.



Mayawati and Mulayam come together, attack Modi

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav on Friday shared a stage for the first time in 25 years where they blasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Samajwadi Party founder declared that this will be his last electoral battle.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief, addressing her first public meeting after a 48-hour curb on her by the Election Commission, was at her aggressive best, praising Mulayam Singh Yadav “as a tall leader” and dubbing Modi as a “fake backward”.

Addressing a public meeting in Mainpuri, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s bastion, Mayawati thundered: “Mulayam Singh is not a fake backward like Modi.

“He (Mulayam) is a real backward as he was born in a backward community while Modi is a fake backward and everyone knows that during his tenure in Gujarat he made his forward community backward.”

Burying a quarter century of political animosity, Mayawati appealed to the voters to ensure the victory of Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri with a record margin and accused the BJP of diverting the attention of the people from real issues.

“Now their (BJP) theatrics and rhetoric will no more work. Their new theatrics of chowkidari will also fail in this Lok Sabha election.”

She insisted that the Bharatiya Janata Party had fared poorly in the first two rounds of the staggered Lok Sabha elections and vowed to oust the Modi government.

Targeting the Congress too, Mayawati called its NYAY scheme “a drama”.

“Congress remained in power at the Centre for over 60 years but they did not work and they were thrown out. And now to get votes of the poor they are promising money to them. This will also not get them votes.”

Mayawati referred to the June 1995 episode at a guest house in Lucknow that ruptured the BSP-SP alliance until Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav decided to shake hands ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

“Despite the episode, we are fighting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in an alliance… At times looking at the country’s future one has to take difficult decisions in larger interest.”

The BSP leader added: “We have come together to take on the communal forces.”

Mulayam Singh Yadav earlier welcomed Mayawati and thanked her for supporting the Samajwadi Party.

“Today Mayawatiji has come and we welcome her. Always respected Mayawatiji because even in bad times she has always stood by our side. And I am happy that she has come in my support. I shall never forget this favour.”

He said this will be his last election and so urged the people to help him win with a record margin.

Akhilesh Yadav, speaking for himself and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, accused Modi of fooling the electorate. He said Modi presented himself as a ‘chaiwala’ in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle and was now calling himself a ‘chowkidar’.



Microsoft issues security alert over cyber attack; Reports

Microsoft has alerted some of its webmail users of possible hacker attacks that could access their email accounts illegally, media reports said.

In an email notification to some affected users on Saturday, Microsoft said it became aware of an issue involving unauthorised access to some customers’ web-based email accounts by cybercriminals.

“We have identified that a Microsoft support agent’s credentials were compromised, enabling individuals outside Microsoft to access information within your Microsoft email account” between Jan. 1 and March 28,” Xinhua quoted Microsoft as saying in the email.

The unauthorised access could have allowed unauthorized parties to view or access information of Microsoft email user accounts, such as email address, folder names, and the subject lines of emails, it said.

However, the software giant said the content of attached documents to emails would not be read or viewed, and it did not specify how many users of its mail service were affected.

“Microsoft regrets any inconvenience caused by this issue,” said the company, recommending that affected users reset their login passwords.

The company assured its users that it has immediately disabled the compromised credentials to prevent their use for any further unauthorised access.

Microsoft has offered contact information for its data protection officer to help possible hacking victims to better protect their email accounts.



Man accused over Christchurch terror attack to face 89 charges

The Australian man accused of killing 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques here on March 15 will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges, New Zealand police said on Thursday.

“Police can now confirm the man arrested in relation to the Christchurch terror attacks will face 50 murder and 39 attempted murder charges when he appears in the High Court in Christchurch on Friday 5 April,” the New Zealand Police said in a tweet.

The charges against Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, comes ahead of his second appearance at the High Court in Christchurch on Friday, reports The New Zealand Herald.

He first appeared a day after he carried out the massacre at the city’s Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre which also left over 50 others injured.

The police said that other charges were still under consideration.

Tarrant has turned down his legal counsel and said he wanted to defend himself against the charges.

The High Court received 12 applications from both New Zealand media and foreign organisations to film, take photographs, or make audio recordings at Friday’s hearing.

But Justice Cameron Mander declined the applications.

Justice Mander also ruled the accused will appear in court on Friday via audio-visual link from New Zealand’s only maximum security prison in Paremoremo, Auckland.

Tarrant will not be required to enter pleas to charges he currently faces.





Arrested J&K suspect planned suicide attack on CRPF convoy

The suspect arrested after the car explosion on Jammu-Srinagar highway on Saturday was planning to carry out a suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said on Monday.

Addressing a media conference here, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said the suspect had escaped from the site on Saturday but was traced and arrested on Monday.

The arrested youth, identified as Owais Amin of Shopian district in the Kashmir Valley and a member of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen group, was also produced before the media.

“We recovered 50 gelatin sticks of super power 90 brand, urea, sulphur, ammonium nitrate, two bottles of petrol, and two LPG cylinders. These high grade explosive materials were recovered spread around the burning car.

“We had immediately started an operation to trace the driver of the car who had somehow managed to escape and we were successful in arresting him today (Monday),” the DGP said.

Amin said he had been assigned the job of carrying out a suicide attack against the CRPF convoy passing on the highway on March 30 and was told that he would receive his instructions on phone. “I was only told to press the button after coming close to the CRPF vehicle,” he said.

The police said they had clearly established that militants had made plans to carry out a massive suicide attack which got aborted because the car carrying the high grade explosive caught fire before the driver could trigger the bigger improvised explosive device (IED).

The DGP said the blast occurred because a small IED inside the car went off before the driver could trigger the high-grade IED with which he had planned to carry out the suicide attack.


Science & Technology World

Facebook set to restrict livestreaming post NZ attack

Facing flak after the New Zealand terror attack that was livestreamed on its platform, the social media giant is now exploring restrictions on who can use its “Facebook Live” feature.

Facebook came under pressure after a white man livestreamed a terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch on Facebook Live.

The video of the terror attack in which 50 people were killed was viewed over 4,000 times before it was removed.

“We are exploring who can go Live depending on factors such as prior ‘Community Standard’ violations.

“We are also investing in research to build better technology to quickly identify edited versions of violent videos and images and prevent people from re-sharing these versions,” Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Facebook, said in a statement late Friday.

In the immediate aftermath, Facebook had taken down the terrorist’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, removed the video of the attack, and used Artificial Intelligence to find and prevent related videos from being posted.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on March 28 that Facebook needed to do a lot more to curb hate propaganda.

“We have heard feedback that we must do more — and we agree,” said Sandberg.

“In the wake of the terrorist attack, we are taking three steps: strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live; taking further steps to address hate on our platforms; and supporting the New Zealand community,” she added.

While the original New Zealand attack video was shared Live, the video spread mainly through people re-sharing it and re-editing it.

Facebook has identified more than 900 different videos showing portions of those horrifying 17 minutes.

“In the past week, we have also made changes to our review process to help us improve our response time to videos like this in the future,” the Facebook COO noted.

Facebook has identified a range of hate groups in Australia and New Zealand, including the Lads Society, the United Patriots Front, the Antipodean Resistance, and National Front New Zealand.

“These groups will be banned from our services, and we will also remove praise and support of these groups when we become aware of it,” informed Sandberg.

Facebook has also banned praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on its platform and Instagram.

Facebook users searching for terms associated with white supremacy will be directed to Life After Hate, an organisation set up by former violent extremists, which provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach.



Pulwama terror attack triggers dangers of virtual SIMs

As reports emerged of the suicide bomber behind the Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir using virtual SIMs for communication with his handlers, the country woke up to the dangers of allowing these kinds of app-based communication services.
What are these virtual SIMs and how do they work?
Virtual SIM is an application-enabled service that requires you to install an app to use a number. With this technology, it is possible for one to have numbers of different countries.
There are a number of apps that offer virtual SIMs for Android and iOS users. InstaVoice ReachMe, for example, offers virtual numbers from the US, UK, France and Canada. Incoming calls to the virtual number can be answered for free in the ReachMe app, over data or Wi-Fi.
FreeJe is another such app that offers virtual numbers of more than 70 countries.
These apps which often offer calling as well as messaging services generally work using the VoIP (voice over IP) technology.
There are several benefits of a virtual SIM. If you have to travel to a foreign country, you can give your virtual SIM number to a friend and make use of free incoming call services that many of these apps offer.
If you run a business, virtual SIMs can help you have a different number for business purposes while keeping your physical SIM number completely private.
However, there are also dangers of using virtual SIM as the verification process can easily be faked by bad actors.
Adil Dar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) bomber behind the Pulwama attack, reportedly used virtual SIM generated by a service provider in the US, prompting security agencies in India to seek more details about the terrorist and his associates from the US service providers.
“Now this is an issue, because first of all you will have to depend on how closely the other country would cooperate and the second issue is that the address and other details might be faked,” Faisal Kawoosa, Chief Analyst at market research firm techARC, told IANS.
The February 14 Pulwama attack killed 40 CRPF personnel and brought India and Pakistan on the brink of a conflict.
“The government must simply ensure that such virtual coordinates are blocked in India,” Kawoosa said, while adding that virtual SIMs should not be confused with eSIM or embedded SIM that users of the latest iPhone models can use.
In India, telecom operators Airtel and Reliance Jio offer eSIM, or digital SIM support.
“eSims first of all let you change the operator without any swap of SIMs and you would digitally go to a new operator. Upon registration your eSim would get reconfigured on a new operator network,” Kawoosa said.
“eSIMs are the inevitable future as regards the evolution of SIMs. It’s going to happen and more smartphones are going to be launched with eSIM,” he added.

Dinakaran attack; Retired DSP gets four-year jail on Monday

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Monday sentenced a retired police official to four-year jail in the 2007 attack on the office of Tamil news daily Dinakaran that left three people dead.

Retired Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Rajaram was sentenced to imprisonment for dereliction of duties.

On March 21, the court sentenced nine to life imprisonment and seven others to five-year jail terms in the case.

The high court verdict came on an appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the lower court acquitted all the accused.

The high court also ordered the state government to pay Rs 5,00,000 compensation to the families of Gopinath, Vinod and Muthuramalingan — the three Dinakaran staffers who were killed in the attack.

Among those sentenced to life is V.P. Pandi, also known as `Attack Pandi’, a supporter of former Union Minister M.K. Alagiri, who was expelled from the DMK some years back.

In a 2007 survey published by Dinakaran on the preferred successor to late DMK President M. Karunanidhi, Alagiri was ranked below Stalin.

Angry Alagiri supporters attacked the newspaper’s office in Madurai with petrol bombs.



Nine sentenced to life in Dinakaran arson attack case

The Madras High Court’s Madurai bench on Thursday sentenced, to life imprisonment, nine people convicted in the 2007 Dinakaran newspaper burning case which left three persons dead.

The court also sentenced seven other accused to five-year jail terms.

The High Court’s verdict came on an appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the lower court acquitted all the accused.

The High Court also ordered the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 500,000 to the families of the three employees of Dinakaran daily – Gopinath, Vinod and Muthuramalingan – who were killed in the attack.

Amongst the accused sentenced for life is V.P. Pandi also known as `Attack Pandi’, a supporter of former Union Minister M.K. Alagiri, who was expelled from the DMK some years back.

In 2007, the Dinakaran daily published a survey report on who would be the preferred successor for late DMK President M.Karunanidhi.

As per the survey, Alagiri was ranked below Stalin which angered the supporters of the former and they attacked the daily’s office in Madurai with petrol bombs, resulting in fire and death of three employees.


Science & Technology

AI couldn’t catch NZ attack video streaming; Facebook

Facing flak for failure to block the live broadcast of the New Zealand terrorist attack last week, Facebook on Thursday said that its Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools were not “perfect” to detect the horrific video.

Vowing to improve its technology, the social networking giant, however, ruled out adding a time delay to Facebook Live, similar to the broadcast delay sometimes used by TV stations.

“There are millions of Live broadcasts daily, which means a delay would not help address the problem due to the sheer number of videos,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity, said in a statement.

“More importantly, given the importance of user reports, adding a delay would only further slow down videos getting reported, reviewed and first responders being alerted to provide help on the ground,” Rosen added.

Strapped with a GoPro camera to his head, the gunman broadcast graphic footage of the New Zealand shooting via Facebook Live for 17 minutes, which was later shared in millions on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

Fifty people were killed and dozens injured in the shootings at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Avenue Masjid in Christchurch on March 15 after 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant opened indiscriminate firings.

The circulation of the video on social media platforms attracted widespread criticism from different quarters.

In a letter to CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson asked the technology companies to brief the US Congress on March 27 regarding their response to dissemination of the video on their platforms.

Thompson also warned the technology companies that unless they do better in removing violent content, the Congress could consider policies to bar such content on social media.

Facebook on Thursday said it was exploring how AI could help it react faster to this kind of content on a live streamed video.

“AI has made massive progress over the years and in many areas, which has enabled us to proactively detect the vast majority of the content we remove. But it’s not perfect.

“However, this particular video did not trigger our automatic detection systems,” Rosen said, referring to the New Zealand attack video.



2008 Mumbai Attacks One Of The “Most Notorious” Terrorist Attacks; China

China has described as “one of the most notorious terror attacks” the 2008 Mumbai killings for which Pakistan was blamed.

The statement was made in a white paper called “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang” released by the Chinese government on Monday.

In the chapter “International Counter-terrorism Exchanges and Cooperation”, the white paper bracketed the Mumbai attack with the 2005 London bombings that killed 52 people, the Paris 2015 attack which left 132 dead and the 2017 Sinai mosque attack that killed 235 people.

“China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism. It opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions,” the white paper said.

It said that “as a responsible member of the international community”, China also supported the UN in “playing a leading and coordinating role in international cooperation against terrorism”.

The white paper came on the day when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Beijing on a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi under the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

The Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 was carried out at multiple locations within a small geographical area by members of the Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.




China and Pakistan to discuss Pulwama terror attack fallout

The recent India-Pakistan tensions after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF troopers, will figure in the talks between the Chinese and Pakistani Foreign Ministers which will begin on Tuesday.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Beijing earlier on Monday on a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi under the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

The meet comes at a time when India’s ties with China and Pakistan, who are close allies, have come under strain after the suicide attack claimed by the Pakistan-based terror outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) whose chief Masood Azhar, Beijing once again refused to declare as an international terrorist.

Though the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed that India-Pakistan tensions will be discussed during the meet, it said that it was not aware if the listing of Azhar as an international terrorist will figure in the talks.

“On March 19 in Beijing, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will have the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister to discuss the international and regional issues of mutual concern,” Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said here.

“As you said, the issues causing regional tensions will be discussed. As a neighbour, China would like to see the easing of tensions between the two countries and would like to see the two nations engage in dialogue for peace and stability in the region,” Geng said when asked if the aftermath of the Pulwama attack will be discussed.

Geng, meanwhile, welcomed India-Pakistan talks on the Kartarpur corridor which will enable pilgrims from India to travel to the Sikh shrine inside Pakistan through a dedicated corridor.

“India and Pakistan are neighbours and they will always live with each other. A harmonious relation serves the fundamental interests of both and the common aspirations of the international community. We hope that two sides can continue to show goodwill, meet each other halfway, resolve differences through dialogue and improve relations and uphold regional peace and stability.”

Asked if the Azhar issue will figure in the talks, Geng said: “Well, I cannot prejudge the topics that are going to be discussed in the meeting. But as I said, they will discuss the issues of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern.

“So, as for the listing issue, I believe you are well aware of China’s position so I will repeat here. China will continue to deal with this issue in a responsible and constructive manner and will maintain close communication with all parties, including India and Pakistan.”

On March 13, China for the fourth time put a technical hold on the proposal by the UK, US, and France to the UN to ban Azhar who is responsible for deadly terror attacks in India.

Following the Pulwama attack, the Indian Air Force pounded the JeM’s hideout at Balakot, Pakistan, after which Islamabad scrambled its fighters jets that resulted in a dogfight with Indian warplanes.

Each side downed one jet of the other side. An Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan but Islamabad released him as a “peace gesture”.


Science & Technology World

Christchurch attack; Ardern questions Facebook

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday said she intends to ask Facebook how the Christchurch gunman, who slaughtered 50 people during Friday prayers, was able to livestream the massacre.

Using a GoPro camera, the terrorist on Friday broadcast extremely graphic footage of him shooting people at the Al Noor Mosque via Facebook Live. The livestream was available to watch on social media for hours after the attack, reported.

Besides being livestreamed on Facebook, the video, lasting 17 minutes, was shared repeatedly on YouTube and Twitter, before being removed by the social media giant.

In a press conference, Ardern was quoted as saying that the New Zealand Government did its best to take down the video, but its power to do so is limited.

“We did as much as we could to remove or seek to have removed some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack.

“Ultimately, though, it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal and support their removal.”

She disapproved of the social media giant Facebook’s incompetence at allowing graphic content to be uploaded and shared thus widely.

“Obviously these social media platforms have wide reach. This is a problem that goes well beyond New Zealand, it has played out in other parts of the world.

“So whilst we might have seen action taken here, that hasn’t prevented (the footage) being circulated beyond New Zealand shores.

“This is an issue that goes well beyond New Zealand, but it doesn’t mean we can’t play an active role in getting it resolved,” Ardern said.

Facebook has on its part said that as many as 1.5 million videos of the attack were removed from its platform in the first 24 hours.

“We continue to work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people… ,” Mia Garlick, Facebook New Zealand, wrote in a tweet.

“In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload…

“Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content,” Garlick added.

Ardern also said that in the wake of the Christchurch attacks, she has been in continuous contact with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the report said.

“I haven’t spoken to her directly, but she has reached out in acknowledgement of what has occurred here in New Zealand. This is an issue that I will look to be discussing directly with Facebook,” Ardern noted.