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Hackers Can Now Cause Blackouts On America’s Electrical Grid, Report

September 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Rick Moran via AmericanThinker.com,

It was inevitable that someday, hackers would have the ability to exert control over the U.S. electrical grid.  According to the computer security firm Symantec, someday is today.

Hacking attacks over the last several months that targeted U.S. energy companies have been able to gain “operational control” over systems, thus threatening blackouts across the U.S., says Symantec.

 The hacker group known as DragonFly 2.0 was able to gain control in at least 20 places, according to the firm.

Wired:

Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey – none of which Symantec will name – their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.

 

“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”

 

Never before have hackers been shown to have that level of control of American power company systems, Chien notes. The only comparable situations, he says, have been the repeated hacker attacks on the Ukrainian grid that twice caused power outages in the country in late 2015 and 2016, the first known hacker-induced blackouts.

 

Security firms like FireEye and Dragos have pinned those Ukrainian attacks on a hacker group known as Sandworm, believed to be based in Russia. But Symantec stopped short of blaming the more recent attacks on any country or even trying to explain the hackers’ motives. Chien says the company has found no connections between Sandworm and the intrusions it has tracked. Nor has it directly connected the Dragonfly 2.0 campaign to the string of hacker intrusions at US power companies – including a Kansas nuclear facility – known as Palmetto Fusion, which unnamed officials revealed in July and later tied to Russia.

 

Chien does note, however, that the timing and public descriptions of the Palmetto Fusion hacking campaigns match up with its Dragonfly findings. “It’s highly unlikely this is just coincidental,” Chien says. But he adds that while the Palmetto Fusion intrusions included a breach of a nuclear power plant, the most serious DragonFly intrusions Symantec tracked penetrated only non-nuclear energy companies, which have less strict separations of their internet-connected IT networks and operational controls.

The first question I would want answered is, if they have that sort of control, why not exercise it?  Why no blackouts or service interruptions in the U.S.?

Hacking Sony or another private business is one thing.  Fooling with our electrical infrastructure is many orders of magnitude more serious.  If a sovereign nation were behind such an event, it would be tantamount to a declaration of war.  Unless the attacking nation was supremely confident that the hack couldn’t be traced back to it, the nation would be unlikely to attempt it.

Causing a blackout in a major urban area would almost certainly result in many deaths.  We know this from previous blackouts in New York City, where the 2003 power outage is estimated to have resulted in 100 deaths.  This would be intolerable, and if the attack could be traced back to Russia or China, it would result in retaliation by the U.S.  We’re no slouches ourselves when it comes to cyber-warfare, and we could almost certainly make any country pay dearly.

But in a time of war, that kind of control over our electrical grid could wreak havoc and sow confusion and fear among the populace.  In the meantime, it would behoove the government to work with industry to harden our systems to prevent that kind of catastrophe.

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Deutsche: “Recession Risk Is The Highest In Ten Years; It’s Time For The Fed To Pause Tightening”

September 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Even before Harvey and Irma were set to punish Texas and Florida, erasing at least 0.4% GDP from Q3 GDP according to BofA and costing hundreds of billions in damages (contrary to the best broken window fallacy, the lost invested capital more than offsets the “flow” benefits from new spending, which is why the US does not bomb itself every time there is a recession to “stimulate growth”), things were turning south for the US economy, so much so that according to the latest Deutsche Bank model, which looks at economic data that still has to incorporate the Irma/Harvey effects, the risk of a recession starting in the next 12 months is near the highest it has been since the last recession.

As Deutsche Bank’s Dominic Konstam writes, at first glance, the modeled probability is admittedly low at about 8% as of the end of August (down a touch from near 10% in June), but it has been generally trending higher despite a brief post-election dip. As a result, the bank “sees appeal to buying SPX put spreads and bull flatteners in Eurodollars given the emergence of downside risks.”

How does Deutsche estimate recession risk?

We use a probit model to estimate the probability that a recession will start in the next 12 months using the 1s10s Treasury yield curve, the unemployment rate less CBO’s NAIRU, annual core CPI ex-shelter inflation, aggregate hours worked growth, and the year-on-year change in oil prices. Unemployment’s proximity to NAIRU and soft core inflation are the key factors contributing to the appearance of some recession risk currently. Aggregate hours worked remains on a relatively healthy trend and oil prices are slightly positive year-on-year, however. While it has flattened significantly, the yield curve is also relatively steep.”

On the other hand, as we discussed two months ago when observing the imminent Y/Y contraction in C&I loans, traditionally a guaranteed leading indicator of future recessions, other metrics demonstrate a far higher recession risk:

Konstam admits as much, saying that “if we look elsewhere we can find reasons to believe our 8% estimate is too conservative. We noted the slowing in C&I loan growth last week, which has rolled over from a recent peak near 13% to just 1.6% y/y at the end of July. This type of rolling over is consistent with what is typically seen during recessions, not in the build up to them. As we’ve noted, Fed reserve draining against the backdrop of a flat yield curve and potentially tepid loan demand may simply result in an outright contraction of bank lending as banks choose cash assets over loans, which would push this indicator further into what would be “recession levels” by historical standards.”

When considering the more practical recession indicators, the Deutsche economist concedes that when working with the bank’s rates strategy team, who previously produced a recession probability model that used the yield curve adjusted for the level of yields, shown a few higher recession probability:

Regressing the curve on front end rates shows that the curve is quite flat versus the level of short rates, and when we re-estimate our recession probability model using this metric instead we find a recession risk closer to 20%, having been as high as 25% in the Brexit aftermath. Outside of the last several years, such divergence between the two recession probability estimates has been highly unusual.

So what does the above mean for risk asset returns? Here is Konstam’s answer for equities:

Given its construction and purpose to predict recessions over the next 12 months, there should be some forward looking information for asset returns. There is some evidence of a bias in risk assets in the months following a recession probability of greater than 15% (as is currently reflected in the adjusted yield curve probit model). On a 6m look ahead, the S&P sells off 32% of the time since 1968, but that rises to 45% in the 6m following a recession probability of at least 15%, and the median return falls about 2%. A recession probability of 30% is consistent with the S&P selling off 50% of the time. In addition to the negative skew to returns, delivered volatility rises more frequently in instances of an elevated recession probability. We have previously discussed the risk of volatility/ risk-off feedback loops, which the modeled recession risk suggests are a higher likelihood in the months ahead.

Next, for junk bonds:

High yield widening increases in frequency from 47% to 65% (since 1985) after conditioning on a 15% recession probability, and the median 6m change is a 40bp widening (versus ~10bp tightening unconditionally). Note in high yield there is a significant increase in probability of widening up to +250 bps (to date recent widening is quite muted, around +30 bps). Despite these biases in risk assets, there is less evidence of any consistent behavior in yields or FX when the recession probability breaks above a given threshold.

The biggest take-home message, however, is what these rising recession odds mean for the Fed’s upcoming tightening actions, and while there is a discrepancy between various measures and indicators of recession risk which in turn complicates the ability to draw a firm conclusion, there are enough warning signs for Deutsche Bank to say that this uncertainty in and of itself “furthers our argument that the Fed would do well to take a pause in its tightening for the time being.” 

In other words, a Fed Funds rate just above 1.00% may be all the massively levered US economy can take before rolling over into recession, something first suggested by the various R-star analyses conducted here in 2015. It also means that in just a few months the US may be discussing NIRP and QE4 all over again.

DB’s conclusion: “while we are relatively optimistic in our medium term equity view – falling equity risk premia in a low inflation equilibrium world mean equities are more likely to rally to bonds than bonds sell-off to equities – we maintain our near-term caution. While we don’t see recession as imminent, the blinking yellow lights mean that upside may be contained for now.”

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“It’s A Killer” – Florida Orders A Third Of The Population To Evacuate As Irma Hurtles Toward Tampa

September 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Florida’s highways and backroads are clogged with motorists after Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an unprecedented 6.2 million residents of central and southern Florida to evacuate. Meanwhile, Miami, along with many towns and cities along the state’s southeastern coast, resembles a ghost town, according to the New York Post.

To recap: The category 4 storm has already carved a path of destruction through the Caribbean, leaving 90% or Barbuda uninhabitable and nearly a million people without power in Puerto Rico. And now, with the storm’s outer bands already battering the southern part of the state, meteorologists are saying Irma has suddenly shifted westward and is now heading toward Florida’s Gulf Coast – specifically, the Tampa Bay area.

Here’s the Associated Press:

Forecasters expect Irma’s core to come ashore Sunday and strike the Keys, southwestern Florida and the Tampa Bay region, which hasn’t felt a major hurricane since 1921. The eye is expected to miss heavily-populated Miami, which may have dodged a bubble in the last minute, but that area will still get life-threatening hurricane conditions even without a direct hit, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

MORE: #Irma 175 miles SE of Key West, FL, moving west at 9 mph; expected head up western coast of Florida. https://t.co/phlp5E0BAL pic.twitter.com/b6XtIF92YI

— ABC News (@ABC) September 9, 2017

Irma weakened slightly to Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph on Saturday morning, but it was expected to pick up strength again as it closes in on Florida.

Damaging winds bombarded Key Biscayne and Coral Gables on Saturday morning with gusts of up to 56 mph (90 kph) recorded at Virginia Key, near Miami, according to the National Weather Service.

It’s not just the wind that is deadly, the storm surge could well be life-threatening too…

In one of the country’s largest evacuations, a record 6.2 million people in Florida, or 30% of the state’s population, have been ordered to leave, and another 540,000 were ordered out on the Georgia coast. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued evacuation orders for Hilton Head Island and six of the state’s other barrier islands, according to the Associated Press. Hotels as far away as Atlanta were filling up with evacuees.

 

RT DileneNbeta “RT nytimes “No other hurricane has matched the strength of Irma’s winds so far east in the Atl… pic.twitter.com/rTzwDEx7yB“”

— Rogerio Nbeta (@RogerioNbeta) September 9, 2017

 

Scott warned that those who choose to stay will be on their own, before urging everybody in the Keys to get out as fast as possible.

“If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday.

 

“It’s getting late … if you’re not on the road on the west coast by noon you need to get to a shelter…get off the road,”

Ray Scarborough and girlfriend Leah Etmanczyk left their home in Big Pine Key and fled north with her parents and three big dogs to stay with relatives in Orlando. Scarborough was 12 when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 and remembers lying on the floor in a hallway as the storm nearly ripped the roof off his house.

“‘They said this one is going to be bigger than Andrew. When they told me that, that’s all I needed to hear,’ said Scarborough, now a 37-year-old boat captain. “That one tore everything apart.”

Their house in the Keys, up on 6-foot (1.8-meter) stilts, has flooded before.

“This isn’t our first rodeo. Andrew was a wicked storm. Wilma was a wicked storm. This one is going to be worse. Then we’ll go home and rebuild, like we always do,” said Etmanczyk, a 29-year-old teacher.”

While it might take some residents along the state’s gulf coast by surprise, the storm’s westward shift means “a less costly, a less deadly storm,” according to University of Miami. Still, forecasters warned that Irma’s winds could reach from coast to coast, testing the rapid development of more stringent hurricane-proof building codes in the last decade or so.

As residents flee, streets were nearly deserted early Saturday in Palm Beach County as the first squalls hit the state’s Atlantic coast. Gas stations ran out of fuel, grocery stores were closed and only a few fast-food restaurants were open.

Meanwhile, Gov. Scott took to CBS This Morning to warn residents that the storm was going to have “a big impact” on the state, calling it a “killer.” for large swaths of southern and central Florida. He has ordered all schools in the state shut, and was scrambling to set up emergency shelters for residents, according to an interview with CBS This Morning.

“People are going to shelters, but I just want to make sure everybody understands this is an unbelievable, massive, destructive storm, and it’s a killer,” he said.

Meanwhile, some of the worst-case projections will likely leave the southernmost parts of the state uninhabitable for months. According to one forecaster, a reasonable worst case scenario has over half of Key West underwater due to storm surge.

 

A reasonable worst case scenario has over half of Key West underwater due to storm surge

This is why @NWSKeyWest is saying to get out #irma pic.twitter.com/2xfv0anPsY

— Greg Diamond (@gdimeweather) September 9, 2017

The storm, which is presently battering parts of Cuba, is expected to make landfall early Sunday, bringing winds well over 100 miles per hour and dangerous water levels…

#Katia se debilitó y fue degradado a depresión tropical (vientos ~50km/h); #Irma y #Jose son ambos Huracanes Categoría 4 (vientos >250km/h). pic.twitter.com/sqONIwCWip

— Antarctica.cl (@Antarcticacl) September 9, 2017

…meanwhile, Hurricane Jose – a Category 4 storm – is following closely behind.
 

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US Dollar/Yen- Slip here, bear trend could start!

September 9, 2017 kimblecharting 0

Since 2011, it has paid to be long the US$/Yen, could that trend be about to change? Big test in play friends!
Below looks at the US$/Yen over the past 8-years-

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE
The trend is your friend and the trend in the US$/Yen still rem…

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Conor McGregor – Worth His Weight In Gold?

September 9, 2017 GoldCore 0

Conor McGregor – Worth His Weight In Gold?

– Conor McGregor, MMA champion has gold statue made of him
– If McGregor was cast in investment grade gold bullion he would be worth …
– If Mayweather were cast in gold he would be worth $2.7m
– Ali once fought equivalent of MMA fighter and nearly lost use of his legs
– Gold continues to be seen as the ultimate prize in sport
– Gold a great prize but true value is as a safe haven

At the moment there are some heated debates going on about statues that some believe should no longer stand.

Many of the figures previously cast in bronze, gold or stone are no longer seen as heroes. Time has changed some people’s perspective on what were once seen as heroic endeavours and achievements.

Today we have different measures of success and while statues of now divisive historical figures are being pulled down, statues of modern millennial heroes are being raised. Last week a statue was created of the ‘Notorious’, world champion Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, Dublin-born Conor McGregor.

In one of the most hyped fights of all time last week, McGregor was defeated by the 50-times unbeaten boxing champion Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.

McGregor’s achievement of stepping out of his comfort zone and his actual sport and taking on the legend that is Floyd Mayweather was applauded by most and it is something that has not gone unnoticed by Irishman Eamon Heneghan.

Last week Heneghan unveiled a life-size gold statue of Conor McGregor, ‘I’m such a big fan and find him so inspirational.’ the amateur sculptor told the Irish Independent.

Heneghan is currently out of work. He saw that McGregor has a keen interest and penchant for gold and gold statues and decided that he would make one for him.

His hopes are that the MMA champion will notice it. We hope he does as statues are getting bad rep at the moment and this one was only made out of admiration for someone who has made history.

The gold-sprayed chicken wire and papier-mâché statue has been called a mixture of things but it was definitely one headline that declared the statue ‘belongs in the pantheon of horrible sports sculptures’ that grabbed my attention.

Whatever you think of the statue you have to admire the effort that went into it. We thought we would look at some other headline-grabbing sports statues and look at what may have happened if they had been cast in gold.

Ugly statues

A lot of sports stars have been confronted with statues that perhaps aren’t the most…flattering.

One of the most famous is Ronaldo.

The bust was cast out of bronze, but we suspect if Ronaldo had ben cast in gold he might feel a little happier about it.

Is Ronaldo worth his weight in gold? Ronaldo was bought by Real Madrid for €94 million in 2009. At the time his weight in gold was worth €1.76m, today he is worth over €2.8m in gold. This is nothing to do with Ronaldo’s performance, instead the simple climb in price of gold.

How does that compare to the other competitor for world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi. The Barcelona Forward €250m. Weighing in at 72kg, Messi’s weight in gold today is worth €2.25m.

Wimbledon champs

Photo credit: AP

In 2011, Andy Murray was ‘honoured’ with a Terracotta Army statue in Shanghai.

The Chinese are obviously known for their love of gold. Had they decided to make Andy’s 84kg frame into a gold statue in 2011 then it would have fallen slightly from £2.856m to £2.688m.

Murray’s statue in Shanghai was in good company. Just the year before Roger Federer had been gifted with a statue in a similar style. In contrast to Murray’s 2011 statue, Federer’s 2010 statue has climbed in value from £2.295m to £2.72m. It shows what difference a year can make.

All about the gold

What’s most interesting about the coverage surrounding this new statue is that it wouldn’t have happened if Heneghan hadn’t decided to paint it in gold.

If he’d not painted it at all or just gone for a plain colour then no-one would be interested.

We have a fascination with gold that means it makes headlines. Most people have an interest in gold.

We reward people in gold. Last week the belt McG and Mayweather were fighting for was made of 1.5kg gold (plus 3,360 diamonds 600 sapphires and 160 emeralds).

The desire to reward and be rewarded in gold has been around since time immemorial. It is not a recent phenomenon of rising gold prices or flashy Instagram photos.

We know deep down inside that to be rewarded in gold is to be rewarded with something that will last long past the victories and should even secure your financial future.

Watch gold in the long-term

The last few examples of how gold can change in over time are merely short-term ones.

To bring it back to Mayweather we can take each of his fighting weights from his 50 fights and see how the equivalent weight in gold has climbed since.

The graph below shows the percentage gain in the gold price since Mayweather’s first fight in 1996 and in 2017. Since his 1996 fight against Roberto Apodaca the price of gold has climbed by over 226%.

Gold hasn’t demonstrated as big gains if you bought in recent years but the lesson here is that gold takes its time. A bit like property or indeed fine wine.

Conclusion: Gold’s the champion but it takes its time and doesn’t show off

The most famous boxer of all time is of course Muhammad Ali.

What’s interesting about Ali in light of the Mayweather vs McGregor fight is that the legendary boxer once took on a similar challenge.

In 1976 Ali fought Antonio Inoki, a Japanese professional wrestler. The fight was fought under special rules  and is seen as a precursor to the MMA sport which McGregor is famous for today.

The result was a draw but Ali was arguably left worse off. He was left with two blood clots in his legs. These hindered him for the rest of his career with amputation even being discussed at one point. The fight is considered one of the most embarrassing of Ali’s career.

Ali was so convinced that he could show that he was ‘The Greatest’ that he stepped out of his comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory. As a result he nearly ruined his entire sporting future and his health.

An analogy can be drawn with Ali’s challenge with what we see today in the financial world and governments controlling the monetary system. They feel they are infallible. They are taking on riskier and riskier matches, with rules that are unfamiliar and the consequences known.

What has survived the test of time and all of the risk taking and speculative punts whether in sports or finance?

Gold has. Gold cannot be beaten to a pulp whether figuratively or literally. It has stood strong through financial crisis and crashes throughout history and will continue to protect people in the coming uncertain years.

Conor McGregor has done very well financially in recent years and is believed to have made €100 million from the Mayweather fight alone.

We sincerely hope that in order to protect his financial well being, he diversifies into physical gold bullion.

News and Commentary

Gold climbs to 1-year high as U.S. dollar sees fresh weakness (MarketWatch.com)

Gold rises to one-year high amid sluggish dollar (Reuters.com)

Dollar Tumbles as Yen, Euro Rally on Irma, ECB (Bloomberg.com)

ECB keeps door open to even more stimulus (Reuters.com)

Hurricane Harvey lifts U.S. jobless claims to more than two-year high (Reuters.com)

Source: Bloomberg

Yen Losing its Haven Sheen to Gold on North Korea (Bloomberg.com)

Gold to reach $1400 on dollar weakness and North Korea (CNBC.com)

Flight to quality may see further gains for gold bullion (CNBC.com)

Gold prices boom as fears grow over North Korea nuclear crisis (Independent.co.uk)

Own Gold for Long Term as Fiat Money is Doomed – Frisby (MoneyWeek.com)

Gold Prices (LBMA AM)

08 Sep: USD 1,350.90, GBP 1,026.82 & EUR 1,120.71 per ounce
07 Sep: USD 1,340.45, GBP 1,026.52 & EUR 1,119.54 per ounce
06 Sep: USD 1,340.15, GBP 1,028.03 & EUR 1,122.11 per ounce
05 Sep: USD 1,331.15, GBP 1,029.51 & EUR 1,120.43 per ounce
04 Sep: USD 1,334.60, GBP 1,030.98 & EUR 1,120.53 per ounce
01 Sep: USD 1,318.40, GBP 1,020.18 & EUR 1,107.98 per ounce
31 Aug: USD 1,305.80, GBP 1,013.17 & EUR 1,098.31 per ounce

Silver Prices (LBMA)

08 Sep: USD 18.21, GBP 13.80 & EUR 15.09 per ounce
07 Sep: USD 17.79, GBP 13.59 & EUR 14.85 per ounce
06 Sep: USD 17.77, GBP 13.62 & EUR 14.90 per ounce
05 Sep: USD 17.88, GBP 13.80 & EUR 15.03 per ounce
04 Sep: USD 17.80, GBP 13.75 & EUR 14.95 per ounce
01 Sep: USD 17.50, GBP 13.53 & EUR 14.69 per ounce
31 Aug: USD 17.34, GBP 13.47 & EUR 14.62 per ounce


Recent Market Updates

– ‘Things Have Been Going Up For Too Long’ – Goldman CEO
– Physical Gold In Vault Is “True Hedge of Last Resort” – Goldman Sachs
– Bitcoin Falls 20% as Mobius and Chinese Regulators Warn
– Gold Surges To $1338 as U.S. Warns of ‘Massive’ Military Response
– Precious Metals Outperform Markets In August – Gold +4%, Silver +5%
– 4 Reasons Why “Gold Has Entered A New Bull Market” – Schroders
– Gold Reset To $10,000/oz Coming “By January 1, 2018” – Rickards
– Gold Surges 2.6% After Jackson Hole and N. Korean Missile
– Diversify Into Gold On U.S. “Political Instability” Advise Blackrock
– Trump Presidency Is Over – Bannon Is Right
– The Truth About Bundesbank Repatriation of Gold From U.S.
– Cyberwar Risk – Was U.S. Navy Victim Of Hacking?
– Global Financial Crisis 10 Years On: Gold Rises 100% from $650 to $1,300

Important Guides

For your perusal, below are our most popular guides in 2017:

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Switzerland

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore

Essential Guide to Tax Free Gold Sovereigns (UK)

Please share our research with family, friends and colleagues who you think would benefit from being informed by it.

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“Diiferent Type Of Bubble”: Markets, The Sports Illustrated Jinx, And The Dodgers

September 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Submitted by Gary Evans of Macromon
Markets, The Sports Illustrated Jinx, And The Dodgers
Why do stocks and assets markets crash? Why is there is a Sports Illustrated jinx and magazine cover stories often signal a sign of a top or bottom of the subject…

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UN: Don’t leave Saudi-backed commission to probe Yemen abuses

September 9, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The United Nations must take over responsibility for investigating rights violations in Yemen’s civil war as the country’s government is not up to the job, the global body’s human rights office said. In a report published on Tuesday, the office challenged the U.N. Human Rights Council, which meets this month, to agree to look into atrocities committed during what it called an “entirely man-made catastrophe”. The 47-country council has shied away from that task for two years, leaving the job to Yemen’s National Commission, which reports to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He is backed by a Saudi-led coalition that is one of the combatants. Mohammad Ali Alnsour, the office’s head of Middle East and North Africa,  said, I …join you in […]

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Hamas leader in Cairo to discuss Gaza blockade

September 9, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Chief of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas,  Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Saturday to hold talks with senior Egyptian officials on his first such visit as leader, a Hamas spokesman said. In the past few months Hamas has sought to mend relations with Egypt, which controls their one border crossing and has, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, been highly wary of ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, ousted from power by Sisi after mass protests. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, a densely populated coastal territory that shares borders with Egypt and Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008. For much of the last decade, Egypt has joined Israel in enforcing a partial land, sea and air […]

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Amnesty says after year of ‘repression’ in Bahrain, West remains silent

September 9, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Bahrain’s government has crushed dissent and violently cracked down on protests in the past year, Amnesty International said on Thursday, and it accused Britain and the United States in particular of turning a blind eye to its abuses. Amnesty said in a report on Thursday that it had documented how the Bahraini government, from June 2016 to June 2017, arrested, tortured, threatened or banned from travel at least 169 activists and opponents or their relatives. Bahraini authorities could not immediately be reached for comment. Bahrain has repeatedly denied systematic rights abuses. Entitled “No one can protect you: Bahrain’s year of crushing dissent”, the report said that at least six people were killed, including a child, in the crackdowns. The report […]

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