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Facing flak for phone hack, WhatsApp says user security ‘highest priority’

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Facing heat over the privy breach issue, social networking giant WhatsApp said on Tuesday that safety and security of users remain its highest priority.

“..which is why in May we blocked the attack and have taken action in the courts to hold NSO accountable,” a spokesman of the company said in a statement.

WhatsApp said it provides industry leading end-to-end encryption to help protect user privacy and security.

“In May, our security team caught and stopped a cyber attack designed to send malware to mobile devices. Unable to break end-to-end encryption, this kind of malware abuses vulnerabilities within the underlying operating systems that power our mobile phones,” the spokesman said.

The government had sought an explanation from WhatsApp after nearly 1,400 users in India and across the world were targeted in a hacking.

“Government of India is concerned at the breach of privacy of citizens of India on WhatsApp. We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens,” Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had tweeted.

WhatsApp had alleged that an Israeli firm has misused its platform to aid spying on around 1,400 people across the world.

Several rights activists, lawyers, and journalists last week said they had been identified as targets of a phone hack aimed at snooping on them.

The Congress on Sunday said its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also informed by WhatsApp that her phone data was suspected to have been breached.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accusing the Centre of being involved in a “surveillance racket”. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back, saying the Congress was “imagining things” that do not exist.

WhatApp’s statement comes a day after opposition said it plans to approach President Ram Nath Kovind over the privacy breach issue and will also raise the matter in the winter session of Parliament.

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‘India, China dumping garbage into sea that floats into Los Angeles’: Trump

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US President Donald Trump has said countries like China, India and Russia are doing “absolutely nothing” to clean up their smokestacks and industrial plants and the garbage that they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles.

Terming climate change as a “very complex issue”, Trump said he considers himself to be, “in many ways, an environmentalist, believe it or not”.

“So …I’m very much into climate. But I want the cleanest air on the planet and I want to have — I have to have clean air — water,” Trump said in remarks at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday. Trump told the audience that the US withdrew from the “one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ‘close your businesses down within three years,’ ‘don’t frack, don’t drill, we don’t want any energy’ — the horrible Paris Climate Accord that killed American jobs and shielded foreign polluters.”

He said the Paris Climate Agreement was a “disaster” for the US, adding that the deal would have resulted in “trillions and trillions of dollars” of destruction to America. “And it is so unfair. It doesn’t kick in for China until 2030. Russia goes back into the 1990s, where the base year was the dirtiest year ever in the world. India, we are supposed to pay them money because they are a developing nation. I said, ‘We’re a developing nation, too’,” Trump said amidst laughter from the audience.

Responding to a question about how he thinks about risk as it relates to trade policy and issues like climate change, Trump said, “when people ask the question…about climate — I always say: You know, I have a little problem.

“We have a relatively small piece of land — the United States. And you compare that to some of the other countries like China, like India, like Russia, like many other countries that absolutely are doing absolutely nothing to clean up their smokestacks and clean up all of their plants and all of the garbage that they’re dropping in sea and that floats into Los Angeles, along with other problems that Los Angeles has, by the way.”

“But when you see this happening, it’s — nobody wants to talk about it. They want to talk about our country. We have to do this. We have can’t have planes any longer. We can’t have cows any longer. We can’t have anything. I said, “What about China?”,” he said.

He said he wants clean air and crystal-clean, clear water and the US today has the “cleanest air we’ve ever had in our country, meaning, over the last 40 years. I guess, 200 years ago was cleaner, but there was nothing around.” “But I want clean air. I want clean water, environmentally,” he said.

The US last week formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate accord, a landmark global agreement which brought together 188 nations, including India, to combat global warming.

The Paris Agreement, in which Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi played instrumental roles, was adopted at the UN climate conference “COP 21” held in the French capital in 2015 with an aim to reduce the hazardous greenhouse gas emissions.

Although Trump had announced his decision to withdraw from the historic agreement on June 1, 2017, the process began on November 4 with the formal notification and the US will be out of the pact on November 4, 2020.

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In wedding pics, Nagaland rebel leader’s son, bride pose with assault rifles

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Guests at a wedding reception in Nagaland’s Dimapur were taken aback last Saturday when the groom and his bride started posing for photographs with automatic assault rifles.

The photos, which have gone viral on social media, belong to the son and daughter-in-law of Bohoto Kiba, ‘kilo kilonser’ (home minister) of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Unification (NSCN-U)—a Naga rebel outfit engaged in peace talks with the Centre.

According to reports, the wedding reception took place at Nagaland’s commercial hub Dimapur and many guests were present at the venue when the groom and bride started displaying the assault rifles—a AK56 and M16—and posed with smiles for cameras.

NSCN-U leader Kiba had been in the limelight earlier for threatening to kill journalists for using the phrase “self-styled” used by media to mention military designations given to members of the rebel outfit.

NSCN-U is a breakaway faction of NSCN-Isak Muivah, the largest and oldest of the Naga rebel outfits.

It is a part of the seven rebel outfits (except NSCN-IM), which are in peace talks with the Centre under the banner of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs).

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Lata Mangeshkar ‘stable’ after being admitted to hospital for chest infection, says family

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Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar is ‘on a path to recovery’ after being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Breach Candy hospital early Monday morning, her family has said. The singer, who turned 90 on September 28, was admitted to the hospital at 2:30 am after she started complaining of breathing problems.

“Lata didi suffered from a viral chest infection so we got her to the hospital. But now, she is on a path of recovery. Thank you for your concern,” Rachana Shah, the singer’s niece, said in a statement. “Keeping her age in mind, as a precautionary measure, she has checked in to Breach Candy Hospital in order to ensure antibiotics on time to prevent any more infection. She is stable and recovering,” another statement read.

Currently, she is undergoing treatment at Intensive Care Unit and kept under observation. Though the hospital is yet to release any official comment, an official from the hospital said, “She is serious. She has been kept under senior cardiologists and undergoing series of medical diagnosis.”

Mangeshkar, who has lent her voice to over 1,000 songs in Hindi alone, was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in the country, in 2001.

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