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Monday 1 July 2013

South Korean presidential website loses data in hacking

South Korea says personal information was stolen from its presidential website in a cyber attack last week that coincided with a shutdown of North Korean websites. Yonhap news agency reported on Monday that about 100,000 subscribers' accounts were hacked on the presidential website.

It cited an unidentified presidential official. The president's office acknowledged the loss of data but couldn't confirm the details.

The Blue House has apologized on its website for allowing names, birth dates and IDs to be stolen. Passwords were not compromised. Several North and South Korean websites shut down on Wednesday, the anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce. Seoul blames hacking for last week's shutdown. North Korea hasn't commented.

Five killed in anti-Mursi protests across Egypt

At least five people were killed and scores injured when millions took to the streets across Egypt demanding the resignation of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, with media outlets describing it as the largest demonstration seen in the history of the most populous Arab country.

In the Egyptian capital, tens of thousands of people on Sunday assembled at the iconic Tahrir Square - the centre of pro-democracy protests in 2011 - under the banner of Tamarod (Rebellion) movement which is driving the campaign with a petition of signatures seeking Mursi's ouster and a snap election, just as he completed a year in office.

At least one person was killed in clashes at Cairo's headquarters of the governing Muslim Brotherhood movement, raising fears of an escalation in violence in the country.

Four others died in clashes elsewhere during the protests, which has united liberal and secular opposition groups, media reports said today. Around 250 were injured.

Thousands of ordinary Egyptians - angered by Mursi's political and economic policies - also took part in the rallies, described as the biggest protest in the history of Egypt. Despite no independent way to verify this estimate, some international media outlets have said this could have been the largest demonstration seen in the world's history.

The opposition National Salvation Front said protesters will remain in the streets until the fall of the regime. Opposition activists claim more than 22 million people in the nation of 84 million have signed the petition and have urged the signatories to come out in Tahrir Square.

Thousands spent the night at Tahrir Square, focus of the Arab Spring protests which brought down longtime president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The current protests come on the first anniversary of Mursi's election as the country's first Islamist president.

61-year-old Mursi's opponents say he has failed to tackle economic and security problems. Critics also say he has put the Islamist agenda of his Muslim Brotherhood party ahead of the country's wider interests.

In Cairo, anti-Mursi supporters waving red cards chanted: "Irhal! Irhal!" ("Leave! Leave!"). Similar rallies were held in Alexandria, Kafr al-Sheikh, Desouq city, Sidi Salem, Damietta, Gharbiya, Suez, Monofia, Sharqiya - the birthplace of Mursi, and other cities.

Supporters of the president are also holding their own rallies. Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, vowed that the pro-Mursi coalition will remain in sit-ins to defend until opposition end their rallies.

Egyptian presidency urged all political forces to commit to peaceful protest, insisting 'dialogue' is only way out of impasse. "Dialogue is the only way to reach consensus," said a presidential spokesman on Sunday.

BJP, Congress in a bitter tweet war on final day of U'khand rescue operations

Even as rescue operations in Uttarakhand looked all set to wind up on Monday, the politics over the tragedy raged on. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj demanded that the Uttarakhand state government be dismissed for handling the disaster incompetently.

Her tweet came after Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari hit out at her and BJP Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley for not visiting the disaster-struck state. He tweeted that while the BJP can criticise government proposals on CBI autonomy, it has no time to visit Uttarakhand. "H'onble LOP's have mindspace to critique govt proposals on CBI autonomy that are yet to be placed before SC but no time to visit Uttrakhand," he tweeted. One more tweet said, "Did anyone see LOP's in both houses express sympathy/visit disaster hit Uttrakhand This from a party that criticizes visits of. Cong leaders."

The war of words continued on Twitter with Swaraj hitting back at Tewari and saying they didn't visit Uttarakhand because Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde made a public statement that visits by dignitaries would hamper the rescue efforts. She added that it was she who woke Congress up about "the scale of the tragedy" when she spoke to Shinde on June 18.

Congress party's newly appointed head of its media cell took the opportunity to reply to Swaraj and tweeted "@SushmaSwarajbjp Pyre of many Victims of this Natural Calamity still warm. First BJP tried to take credit of evacuating 15000 in a day! 1/2 Instead of helping in relief works in U'khand, don't try to use this calamity as a Political Opportunity! #NoPoliticsOverCalamity," he tweeted.

Swaraj then launched an attack on the government saying it is terming enforcement of accountability politics. "What has your state Government done ? Nothing. The living are starving. The dead are being robbed. And you are patting you. Those who cannot govern in crisis do not deserve to be in the Government even for a day" she tweeted angrily.

This is not for the first time politics has played over the tragedy in which hundreds have perished. Earlier, Congress and the BJP squabbled over visits of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi to the state. Post that war of words, in which Congress compared Modi to "Rambo", Congress and TDP leaders from Andhra Pradesh traded blows to each other at a Dehradun airport over who will transport the stranded pilgrims of their state back to their native places.

Soon, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman joined the social media war and tweeted "inept" handling of Uttarakhand tragedy cannot be tolerated. "If #NoPoliticsOverCalamity is used to cover up failure, is it ok? Using 15k story is deflecting from the issue. 15k story is questionable," she tweeted.

Swaraj had tweeted earlier in the day that, "I am sorry to say that the Government in Uttarakhand has not been able to rise to the occasion." "They ought to be dismissed for being inept and incompetent," a follow up tweet said. She went on to say, "Unfortunately, the Government in Delhi has also failed to provide the requisite leadership."

Off Twitter, the two parties continued to attack each other over the tragedy. "The casual attitude of the government even during such a tragic incident is unacceptable. The country is in a bad condition because of the Congress. The government's credibility is so bad that not even one country has offered help," said BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das, while referring to Swaraj and Jaitley said, "Both are responsible politicians. I do not understand why both of them could not visit the affected area to see the devastation."

AAP member's condition critical after she was hit by a car

Aam Aadmi Party activist and candidate from Seemapuri Santosh Koli was critically injured when a car hit her bike on Sunday. Koli has undergone a surgery in her head and is on life support. The next 72 hours are said to be critical.

She has been Kejriwal's aide for over a decade. Kejriwal is claiming that this was not an accident but a deliberate attempt to kill her. Kumar Vishwas of his party has alleged that Santosh Koli had received threats from the supporters of Veer Singh Dhingan, the local Congress MLA from Seemapuri.

Police say they are not ruling out anything and have filed an FIR for attempt to murder. Santosh Koli was critically injured when a car hit her bike in front of the Kaushambi metro station, Ghaziabad. The incident happened around 3:30 pm on Sunday when she was on her way to office.

Kuldeep Kanwar, an AAP volunteer from Seemapuri, who was driving the motorcycle had suffered minor injuries, said, "The car hit us from behind and immediately sped away... Our bike skid, fell and caught fire."

She is a recognized activist in Seemapuri, particularly remembered for her work towards making the Public Distribution System accountable. She was very active during the Janlokpal agitation and when the movement split, she favoured the political option and stayed with Kejriwal.

Kalawati, Koli's mother said, "There have been four attacks on her life before."

Farewell party for top IAF official causes flutters

In an incident that has caused flutters in government circles, a top Air Force official who retired from service on Sunday attended a farewell party hosted in his honour in which a large number of arms vendors and officials dealing with procurements in the force were present.

The party organised on June 7 for the Air Marshal-rank officer has raised the hackles of the top brass in the Defence Ministry and security agencies because of the presence of arms dealers and service officials in a private function, sources said here. Under rules governing the code of conduct of officials, "No Government servant shall, except with the previous sanction of the Government, receive any complimentary or valedictory address or accept any testimonial or attend any meeting or entertainment held in his honour; or in the honour of any other Government servant."

When asked if these officials had taken permission for attending the party, the IAF said it did not have any information about the event. "The IAF has no knowledge of any such private farewell party," an IAF spokesperson told PTI in response to the query.

The Defence Ministry also keeps issuing advisories to its officials and the Services against officers hobnobbing with arms vendors in order to maintain transparency and probity in defence deals. Major S S Pandey, an expert on military laws, said, "As per the code of conduct for military officers, any officer attending such parties or farewells has to seek permission from his superiors and also give proper reasons for doing so."

Over six years ago, a Lieutenant General was removed from a sensitive posting in the South Block for allegedly meeting with the officials of an embassy here in the capital.

Ban on polythene-packed edible items from Today

The sale and storage of all non-essential edibles like potato chips and candies in polythene packs will be banned in Himachal Pradesh from Monday, officials said in Shimla on Sunday. Himachal will be the first state in the country to ban polythene-packed edible items in compliance with the order of the state High Court which has completely prohibited use of polythene packaging for non-essential food items.

The High Court had ruled that non-essential eatables like potato chips, cookies, candy, chewing gum, ice cream, chocolates, noodles and candies are junk food and cannot be sold in polythene packings. However, essential items like milk and vegetable oils are exempted from the ban, the officials said. "There is a need to prevent degradation of environment," a division bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol had observed while hearing a petition on indiscriminate use of plastic.

The Court directed the government to impose a blanket ban across the state from April 1 but the government pleaded for affording some time to the traders to clear their stocks. "We are of the opinion that there should be a ban on only those non-essential items which fall in the category of junk food such as wafers, chips, sweets, noodles, chocolates, ice cream candy, biscuits and 'namkeen'", the Court said.

"These items should be brought into Himachal only in biodegradable packaging and even soft drinks should be brought in glass bottles or other biodegradable packaging but not in non-biodegradable packaging", the bench had said in its order. Earlier, the government had imposed ban on use of polythene bags made of non-biodegradable material and disposable plastic products.

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