TDB Top 5 International Stories: Monday 27th March 2017

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5: Cyber Arms Race
4: Grief and questions amid wreckage of Mosul air strikes
3: Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised
2: In Major Defeat to Trump & Ryan, House GOP Pulls Bill To Repeal Obamacare
1: Shell-shocked Mosul survivors tell of intense airstrikes

5: Cyber Arms Race

The U.S. government is stockpiling lists of “zero day” software bugs that let it hack into iPhones.

When the U.S. government couldn’t force Apple to give it access to the iPhone used by the shooter in the San Bernardino massacre, it reportedly paid $1 million for a secret software vulnerability that gave it full access to the phone. These undiscovered software bugs — so-called “zero day” vulnerabilities — are highly coveted by intelligence agencies, which consider them essential tools in the war on terror.

This month’s leak of top secret CIA documents, together with a recent leak of NSA hacking tools, shows that the U.S. government is an avid user of these undiscovered software bugs, and the agencies stockpile them as part of an expanding global cyber-arms race. What they don’t do is disclose those vulnerabilities to the companies that make the products they want to penetrate, such as Apple in the San Bernardino case.

“It would mean unilaterally disarming themselves in cyberspace,” security expert Robert Graham told VICE News. “The biggest use for zero days is for hacking phones — iPhones and Android — because that is what terrorists have as their primary computing platforms. Taking those zero days away from [the intelligence community] would probably have a big impact on what they do.”

Vice News

4: Grief and questions amid wreckage of Mosul air strikes

It was just past 8am (05:00 GMT) on January 11 when an air strike killed Ebtisam Ataallah’s neighbours.

The intermittent electricity had come on a few minutes earlier – a rarity in the al-Amel district of ISIL-held western Mosul – so Ataallah, 44, had begun baking bread in a corner of their courtyard. Her four children remained indoors.

Two large blasts in quick succession knocked her to the ground, filling the air with dust, rubble and confusion. Inside the house, an external wall collapsed on top of her 16-year-old son Imran where he slept. He awoke covered in bricks and screaming, his leg badly broken.

In the now ruined room above him lay the body of a man thrown clear of the adjacent building by the impact, a young girl miraculously still alive in his arms.

Zaidan, 55, was having dinner with his family a street away when he heard the blasts. He rushed to the scene with his brother and two younger cousins.

“When we got there, we heard women and children screaming under the rubble,” the silver-haired 55-year-old, who declined to provide his last name, told Al Jazeera. “So, we went to help.”

As he extricated a young girl and took her to a nearby house, a third air strike hit, landing on top of the rescuers. His brother and one cousin were killed, and another cousin,19, was injured. Zaidan eventually found the top half of his brother’s corpse in the grounds of a school one block over; his legs were tangled in the remains of an awning over the Ataallah’s house.

Aljazeera

3: Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

FROM THE START of his presidency, Donald Trump’s “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy — that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found — and in doing so, has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded a week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALs, in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

In sum: Although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria — already quite high under Obama — has increased precipitously during the first two months of the Trump administration. Data compiled by the site Airwars tells the story: The number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama but has now skyrocketed in March under Trump.

The Intercept

2: In Major Defeat to Trump & Ryan, House GOP Pulls Bill To Repeal Obamacare

House Republicans have pulled a bill to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act after failing to secure enough votes despite heavy lobbying from President Trump. The bill was opposed by the entire Democratic party as well as some moderate Republicans and many members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

House Republicans have pulled a bill to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act after failing to secure enough votes despite heavy lobbying from President Trump. The bill was opposed by the entire Democratic party as well as some moderate Republicans and many members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

The bill was projected to leave 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 than under Obamacare. The bill also included over $275 billion in tax breaks for wealthy Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) praised the news. “The defeat of the disastrous Trump-Ryan health care bill is a major victory for the working families of this country and for the hundreds of thousands who attended rallies and town hall meetings in opposition to this bill,” Sanders said. “What the defeat of this bill shows is that the American people will not accept legislation that provides huge tax breaks to billionaires while 24 million people are kicked off their health insurance, massive cuts are made to Medicaid and Planned Parenthood and premiums for senior citizens are dramatically increased. Our job is to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it. Our job is to guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege.”

Democracy Now

1: Shell-shocked Mosul survivors tell of intense airstrikes

Covered in dust, their hands raw from digging, Ali Assad and his cousin made a desperate choice – to leave their family under the rubble of their west Mosul home and flee while they still could.

The two men were among hundreds to be evacuated on Sunday, during a lull in the fighting prompted by outrage over the high civilian toll caused by multiple airstrikes that have battered the city and its trapped population over the past eight days.

With the ground war now suspended as a result, families that have sheltered in ruins or taken their chances in what is left of their homes have been leaving Mosul in droves, many arriving shell shocked and starving at refugee processing centres on its southern outskirts, where they spoke of more than a week of terror.

“There are six of my family still under our house,” said Assad, 32, cupping his raw hands. “My father, I saw him die in front of me, my brother, two sisters and two cousins. My mother survived, but then she was hit by some other explosion and a concrete slab fell on her. She’s badly hurt.”

Both men said that 15 people remained buried under three homes in the Yarmouk area of Mosul after a series of airstrikes on 22 March. The attacks took place amid a barrage of strikes by jets in support of a ground push by Iraqi forces that started around 17 March. On that afternoon, the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood was also repeatedly hit, leading to what could be the highest civilian toll of any airstrike in the region since the invasion of Iraq 14 years ago. At least 150 people are thought to have been killed, many of whom died during the five days it took for help to arrive.

The Guardian 

 

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