Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years kills 9 people, 50 missing

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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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This photo taken and released by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) on April 3, 2024 shows commuters on a Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) platform as transport was temporary stopped following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Taiwan's east. (AFP)
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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a man checks a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, residents rescue a child from a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a woman stands near a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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A view from behind a window as debris falls from a building, during an earthquake just off the eastern coast of Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Administration, in New Taipei City, Taiwan, April 3, 2024, in this still image obtained from a social media video. (REUTERS)
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People evacuate to higher ground after a tsunami warning following a powerful earthquake in Naha, Okinawa prefecture, Japan, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP)
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A view of a damaged apartment following an earthquake offshore, in New Taipei City, Taiwan April 3, 2024. (REUTERS)
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A view of a damaged apartment following an earthquake offshore, in New Taipei City, Taiwan April 3, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 03 April 2024
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Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years kills 9 people, 50 missing

  • The city’s mayor, Hsu Chen-Wei, said all residents and businesses in buildings that were in a dangerous state had been evacuated
  • Video showed rescuers using ladders to help trapped people out of windows

HUALIEN, Taiwan: Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in at least 25 years killed nine people on Wednesday and injured more than 900, while 50 workers traveling in minibuses to a hotel in a national park were missing.
Some buildings tilted at precarious angles in the mountainous, sparsely populated county of Hualien, near the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude quake, which struck just offshore at about 8 a. m. (0000 GMT) and triggered massive landslides.
Linda Chen, 48, said her apartment in downtown Hualien city had been so badly damaged in an earlier earthquake in 2018 that they had to move house. But her new apartment block was damaged too in the latest earthquake.
“We worry the house could collapse anytime. We thought we had already experienced it once in Hualien and it would not hit us again, because God has to be fair,” she said.
“We are frightened. We are so nervous.”
The city’s mayor, Hsu Chen-Wei, said all residents and businesses in buildings that were in a dangerous state had been evacuated. Demolition work was beginning on four buildings, the mayor said. The power of the quake was captured live as news anchors delivered their bulletins, steadying themselves against giant screens as their sets swayed and lighting rigs rocked back and forth overhead. The earthquake hit at a depth of 15.5 km (9.6 miles), as people were headed for work and school, setting off a tsunami warning for southern Japan and the Philippines that was later lifted.
Video showed rescuers using ladders to help trapped people out of windows. Strong tremors in Taipei forced the subway system to close briefly, although most lines resumed service.
Fire authorities said they had already evacuated some 70 people trapped in tunnels near Hualien city, including two Germans.
But they had lost contact with 50 workers aboard four minibuses heading to a hotel in a national park, Taroko Gorge, they said, and rescuers were looking for them. Another 80 people are trapped in a mining area, though it was not immediately clear if they were inside a mine. On a highway through the mountains, huge boulders from a landslide were strewn across the road. The Fire Bureau of Taichung City Government said it rescued a man in his 50s who was unconscious in a truck.

FIGHTER JETS
A woman who runs bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Hualien city said she scrambled to calm her guests who were scared by the quake.
“This is the biggest earthquake I have ever experienced,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only by her family name, Chan.
The government put the number of injured at 946.
“At present the most important thing, the top priority, is to rescue people,” said President-elect Lai Ching-te, speaking outside one of the collapsed buildings in Hualien.
The rail link to the area was expected to re-open on Thursday, Lai, who is set to take office next month, told reporters.
The White House said the US stood ready to provide any assistance necessary.
Taiwan’s air force said six F-16 fighter jets had been slightly damaged at a major base in the city from which jets are often scrambled to see off incursions by China’s air force, but the aircraft are expected to return to service very soon.
In Japan, the weather agency put the quake’s magnitude at 7.7, saying several small tsunami waves reached parts of the southern prefecture of Okinawa, while downgrading its tsunami warning to an advisory.
In the Philippines, seismology officials warned coastal residents in several provinces to move to higher ground.
Chinese state media said the quake was felt in the southeastern province of Fujian, while a Reuters witness said it was also felt in the commercial hub of Shanghai.

CHIP SUPPLIES
Aftershocks could still be felt in Taipei, with more than 50 recorded, weather officials said.
Most power has been restored after the quake, electricity utility Taipower said, with the island’s two nuclear power stations unaffected.
Taiwan’s high-speed rail operator said no damage or injuries were reported on its trains, although services would be delayed as it made inspections.
A major supplier of chips to Apple and Nvidia , Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, said it had evacuated some fabrication plants and safety systems were operating normally.
It said later its workers were safe and had returned to their workplaces shortly after the earthquake. It said impacted facilities were expected to resume production during the night.
TSMC’s Taipei-listed shares ended down 1.3 percent, but the benchmark index largely brushed off the quake’s impact to close down 0.6 percent.
The official central news agency said the quake was the biggest since one of magnitude 7.6 in 1999 that killed about 2,400 people and damaged or destroyed 50,000 buildings.
Taiwan weather officials ranked Wednesday’s quake in Hualien as “Upper 6,” or the second-highest level of intensity on a scale ranging from 1 to 7.
Such quakes collapse walls unless they are made of reinforced concrete blocks, while people cannot stand upright and must crawl in order to move, experts say.


China could arrange Russia-Ukraine peace conference, Lavrov tells RIA

Updated 5 sec ago
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China could arrange Russia-Ukraine peace conference, Lavrov tells RIA

  • Russia has repeatedly called for talks with a precondition that Kyiv and the West recognize its territorial gains in Ukraine
  • Lavrov criticized the United States for aiding Ukraine, which Russian invaded in February 2022

China could arrange a peace conference in which Russia and Ukraine would participate, the RIA news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Thursday.
Lavrov said such a move would be a continuation of Beijing’s efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
“We share (China’s) position that the root causes of the conflict need to be addressed in the first place and legal interests of all parties need to be protected, with subsequent agreements based on the principle of equal and indivisible security,” Lavrov said in an interview with the agency.
“Let me underscore again, this entails respecting realities on the ground, which reflect the will of people living there.”
Russia has repeatedly called for talks with a precondition that Kyiv and the West recognize its territorial gains in Ukraine. Kyiv has rejected those proposals.
Lavrov criticized the United States for aiding Ukraine, saying Washington has become “an accomplice in the crimes of the Kyiv regime.” In the Middle East, Lavrov said, the United States was also “fanning the flames of conflict.”

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, left, greets one of the Ukrainian soldiers who are being trained here on the Patriot ground-based air defense system at a military training area in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on  May 29, 2024. (dpa via AP)

 

 

 

 

 

 


‘Are you with me?’ Biden and Harris launch Black voter outreach and warn of a second Trump term

Updated 30 May 2024
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‘Are you with me?’ Biden and Harris launch Black voter outreach and warn of a second Trump term

  • Speaking at Girard College, which has a predominantly Black student body, Biden argued that an “unhinged” Trump is peddling misinformation in an effort to win back the White House

PHILADELPHIA: President Joe Biden renewed his election-year pitch to Black voters on Wednesday, lashing out at Donald Trump’s “MAGA lies” and saying the winner of this year’s White House race will make crucial decisions, including on nominees for the Supreme Court, that could affect the country for decades.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, in a joint appearance at a Philadelphia boarding school, thanked Black voters in Pennsylvania and beyond for being the lynchpin to their 2020 victory and they made the case that their agenda has had an enormous impact on improving lives for Black voters.
The Democratic president also argued that an “unhinged” Trump is peddling misinformation in an effort to win back the White House.
“I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Donald Trump turn America into a place of anger, resentment and hate,” Biden said, calling on the crowd to help him and Harris win a second term. “My question is a simple one: Are you with me?”
At Girard College, which has a predominantly Black student body, Biden warned about the threat he said a second Trump presidency would pose and cited some of the racial controversies fanned by the presumptive Republican nominee during his life.
“This is the same guy who wanted to tear gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd’s murder. The same guy who still calls the Central Park Five guilty, even though they were exonerated,” Biden told the crowd. “He’s that landlord who denies housing applications because of the color of your skin.”
The Philadelphia visit was the start of what the Biden campaign describes as a summerlong effort to engage Black student organizations, community groups and faith centers. It reflects in part how much of their support of him has frayed as Trump aims to make inroads into the longtime Democratic constituency.
The issue of abortion rights and the judiciary also featured in the remarks from Biden and Harris. Biden pledged to codify the protections of Roe vs. Wade, the now-nullified Supreme Court decision that had legalized the right to an abortion, if he and enough Democratic lawmakers are elected, while Harris noted that Trump dramatically shaped the Supreme Court as she invoked the name of Thurgood Marshall, the high court’s first Black justice.
Trump, she said, “handpicked three members of the Supreme Court — the court of Thurgood — with the intention that they would overturn Roe vs. Wade,” the landmark abortion rights ruling. “And as he intended, they did.”
“Who sits in the White House matters,” she said.
Underscoring that point later, Biden said the next president is “going to be able to appoint a couple justices.” With some vacancies on the Supreme Court, Biden said he could “put in really progressive judges, like we’ve always had.”
“Tell me that won’t change your life,” he said.
Among Black adults, Biden’s approval has dropped from 94 percent when he started his term to just 55 percent, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published in March.
The economy has been a particular thorn in Biden’s side since 2022, when inflation hit a 40-year high. But there have also been signs of discontent in the Black community more recently over Biden’s handling of the seven-month Israel-Hamas war.
Turning out Black voters could prove pivotal for Biden’s chances in what’s expected to be among the most closely contested states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden beat Trump in all six states in 2020, but he could face a more difficult climb this year.
Trump has been offering himself as a better president for Black voters than Biden. At a rally last week in the Bronx, he railed against Biden on immigration and said “the biggest negative impact” of the influx of migrants in New York is “against our Black population and our Hispanic population who are losing their jobs, losing their housing, losing everything they can lose.”
The Republican National Committee zeroed in on gas prices and food costs under Biden’s presidency as it attacked his stop in Pennsylvania.
“No matter how much Biden lies, he cannot gaslight Pennsylvanians into supporting him — his approval ratings are abysmal,” RNC Chair Michael Whatley said. “President Trump continues to lead in polls in Pennsylvania and across the country. Pennsylvanians are ready to Make America Great Again, and they will vote for President Donald J. Trump in November.”
The Biden campaign wants to use the new engagement effort in part to remind Black voters of some of the Democratic administration’s achievements during his term. On Wednesday, Biden repeated the refrain “because you voted” as he rattled off a litany of his accomplishments for Black Americans, including record funding for historically Black colleges and universities, forgiveness of federal student loan debt and pardons for simple possession of marijuana.
“Black voters placed enormous faith in me,” Biden said. “I’ve tried to do my best to honor that trust.”
Biden later visited with Black business owners at SouthSide, an event space, and greeted supporters there while continuing to tout his accomplishments for Black voters and, in particular, the economic gains under his presidency. In the more intimate gathering, jointly hosted by the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, he also stressed to the crowd that “there’s not a damn thing that a white man can do that a Black man can’t do, or do better.”
The Black unemployment rate sits at 5.6 percent, according to the latest federal government data, compared with an average of about 8 percent from 2016 to 2020 and 11 percent from 2000 to 2015. Black household wealth has surged, and Biden’s effort to cancel billions in student loan debt has disproportionately affected Black borrowers.
Biden also points to his appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black female justice on the US Supreme Court and his pick of Harris as the first Black woman to serve as vice president.
The president’s visit to Philadelphia follows a series of engagements with Black community members in recent weeks, including hosting plaintiffs in the 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down institutionalized racial segregation in public schools, a commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and a virtual address to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s racial justice conference.


Russian forces launch missiles on Kharkiv, four injured, Ukrainian officials say

Updated 30 May 2024
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Russian forces launch missiles on Kharkiv, four injured, Ukrainian officials say

  • In the aftermath of the strikes, air raid alerts remained in force throughout the country

Russian forces launched a series of missiles early on Thursday on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, injuring at least four people and damaging infrastructure, local officials said.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said four people had been injured, a gas pipeline had been damaged and many windows had been broken.
Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said eight missiles had been fired at the city, a frequent Russian target in recent weeks. A community just north of the city had also been hit.
In the aftermath of the strikes, air raid alerts remained in force throughout the country.


China hosts Arab leaders at summit focused on trade and the Israel-Hamas war

Updated 15 min 14 sec ago
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China hosts Arab leaders at summit focused on trade and the Israel-Hamas war

  • “As war is raging causing tremendous suffering, justice can’t be absent and the two-state solution can’t be shaken,” Xi said in a speech opening the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum
  • The summit is attended by heads of state from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Tunisia among others

TAIPEI, Taiwan: Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an international peace conference focused on the Israel-Hamas war and promised more humanitarian aid as he opened a summit with leaders of Arab states Thursday in Beijing.
“As war is raging causing tremendous suffering, justice can’t be absent and the two-state solution can’t be shaken,” Xi said in a speech opening the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.
He called on Arab states to deepen cooperation in areas such as trade, clean energy, space exploration and health care.
The summit attended by heads of state from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Tunisia among others was set to focus on China’s expanding trade ties and on security concerns related to the Israel-Hamas war.
Beijing and the Arab states back the Palestinians in the conflict, where Israel is facing growing international condemnation after the strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah in which at least 45 were killed over the weekend. The overall Palestinian death toll in the war exceeds 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Beijing has long backed the Palestinians and denounced Israel over its settlements in the occupied territories. It has not criticized the initial Hamas attack on Oct. 7 — which killed about 1,200 people — while the United States and others have called it an act of terrorism. However, China does have growing economic ties with Israel.
“China’s priorities in the region are primarily economic,” said Maria Papageorgiou, a lecturer in politics and international relations at University of Exeter. “It wants to continue the momentum established in recent years with Gulf states and expand its investments, particularly in trade, technology (5G networks), and other cyber initiatives.”
Additionally, China wants to present itself as an alternative to the West and a more credible partner to the region, one that doesn’t interfere in the nations’ domestic affairs nor exert pressure, Papageorgiou said.
Present at the forum is Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who met Xi on Wednesday. The two leaders signed a series of cooperation agreements in areas such as infrastructure, technology and food imports meant to further their countries’ ties.
China has invested billions of dollars in Egyptian state projects, including a Suez Canal economic zone and a new administrative capital east of Cairo. Investments between Egypt and China amounted to around $14 billion in 2023, compared to $16.6 billion in 2022, according to Egypt’s statistics agency.
Also at the forum are Tunisia’s President Kais Saied, Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain King Hamad.
The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was established in 2004 as a formal dialogue mechanism between China and Arab states.
China is Tunisia’s fourth-largest trading partner after Germany, Italy and France. Beijing has financed hospitals and sports complexes in Tunisia, and its companies have been contracted to build strategic infrastructure such as bridges and deep-water Mediterranean ports.
 


Global team corners Chinese hacker allegedly running ‘likely world’s largest ever’ cybercrime botnet

Updated 30 May 2024
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Global team corners Chinese hacker allegedly running ‘likely world’s largest ever’ cybercrime botnet

  • Yunhe Wang was arrested on May 24 in Singapore, and authorities also seized $29 million in cryptocurrency: FBI
  • Wang is accused of selling access to the 19 million Windows computers he hijacked to criminals

WASHINGTON: An international law enforcement team has arrested a Chinese national and disrupted a major botnet that officials said he ran for nearly a decade, amassing at least $99 million in profits by reselling access to criminals who used it for identity theft, child exploitation, and financial fraud, including pandemic relief scams.

The US Department of Justice quoted FBI Director Christopher Wray as saying Wednesday that the “911 S5” botnet — a network of malware-infected computers in nearly 200 countries — was likely the world’s largest.
Justice said in a news release that Yunhe Wang, 35, was arrested May 24. Wang was arrested in Singapore, and search warrants were executed there and in Thailand, the FBI’s deputy assistant director for cyber operations, Brett Leatherman, said in a LinkedIn post. Authorities also seized $29 million in cryptocurrency, Leatherman said.
Cybercriminals used Wang’s network of zombie residential computers to steal “billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers and accountholders, and federal lending programs since 2014,” according to an indictment filed in Texas’ eastern district.

 

The administrator, Wang, sold access to the 19 million Windows computers he hijacked — more than 613,000 in the United States — to criminals who “used that access to commit a staggering array of crimes that victimized children, threatened people’s safety and defrauded financial institutions and federal lending programs,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the takedown.
He said criminals who purchased access to the zombie network from Wang were responsible for more than $5.9 billion in estimated losses due to fraud against relief programs. Officials estimated 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims originated from compromised IP addresses.
Wang allegedly managed the botnet through 150 dedicated servers, half of them leased from US-based online service providers.
The indictment says Wang used his illicit gains to purchase 21 properties in the United States, China, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and St. Kitts and Nevis, where it said he obtained citizenship through investment.
In its news release, the Justice Department thanked police and other authorities in Singapore and Thailand for their assistance.