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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

China Rejects U.S. Claims of Cyber Warfare

Today Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, roundly rejected an American report released yesterday that explicitly accused China’s military of attacking the computer systems of the U.S. government and defense contractors. “China has repeatedly said that we resolutely oppose all forms of hacker attacks,” she said. “We’re willing to carry out an even-tempered and constructive dialogue with the U.S. on the issue of Internet security. But we are firmly opposed to any groundless accusations and speculations, since they will only damage the cooperation efforts and atmosphere between the two sides to strengthen dialogue and cooperation.” Monday’s report was blunt and direct in its accusation saying, “in 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military.” Though the report was critical of Chinese ventures in cyber warfare, it neglected the fact that the U.S. government has funded similar programs, such as the Stuxnet attack on Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities in 2009.

Fuel Tanker Explodes in Mexico City

Twenty people, half of them minors, are dead due to a gas tanker truck which crashed and exploded this morning in the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec. Mayor Pablo Bedolla believes the crash was an accident and asked that community members pitch in to help their neighbors. Thirty-three others were injured in the explosion, and at least 45 houses were damaged in the resulting conflagration. Hundreds of police officers, firefighters and military personnel were on hand to extinguish the flames and assist survivors. The driver of the truck was not drunk, but police suggested he may have been speeding.

Brazil to Hire 6,000 Cuban Doctors

Brazil has launched a diplomatic campaign aimed at securing at least 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in underserved rural areas in Brazil. Both Cuba and Brazil have initiated efforts to convince the Pan American Health Organization to allow Cuban doctors to legally practice in Brazil; currently foreign doctors must go through a lengthy re-certification process. The Brazilian doctors organization, Conselho Federal de Medicina (CFM), objects to the government campaign, saying that sidestepping the certification process is “irresponsible”. But doctors are sorely needed in the massive country, where almost 15 percent of people live in rural areas. Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriota attempted to allay the CFM’s fears, saying, “Cuba is very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.” Cuba is well known for using its doctors to reaffirm relations with friendly countries. Since 1963, tens of thousands of Cuban medical professionals have been sent both to countries undergoing socialist revolutions, like Angola, and countries in need of medical assistance, like Honduras or Venezuela.

Gazan Children Allowed to Visit Imprisoned Parents

For the first time since 2006, Israel has allowed the small children of Gazan prisoners to visit them in jail. Israel suspended all visits to Gazan prisoners when Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Shalit was swapped for 1000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011. Last year, more than 2000 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike which ended when the imates signed an agreement with the Israeli government that provided visitation rights for parents and spouses of detainees, among other things. Today’s policy change has only allowed children under the age of 8 to visit, but Israel Prison Service spokesperson Sivan Weizman said that the restrictions have been eased step by step since the 2012 hunger strike, and that older children would likely also be able to visit in the future.

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