Thursday, August 4, 2011

Australian teenager safe after bomb scare

Police patrolling the streets as bomb squad officers work to defuse a suspicious device in the home of an 18-year-old woman in Burrawong Avenue at Mosman, Sydney, yesterday.
AUSTRALIAN bomb squad officers yesterday safely removed a teenager from a "suspicious device" media reports said had been strapped around her neck, ending a 10-hour drama.

Police were alerted by the 18-year-old schoolgirl, said to be a member of one of Sydney's wealthiest families, in the exclusive suburb of Mosman in the early afternoon and fire crews and paramedics were placed on standby.

The Sydney Morning Herald said a balaclava-clad man had earlier entered the house and placed the device on the girl, although police would not confirm the suggestion that it was strapped to her or if it was indeed a bomb.

Other reports said a ransom note was attached to her neck and it was a case of extortion, with the Sydney Daily Telegraph citing a senior police officer referring to the device as a "collar bomb ".

Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch later told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) that the girl had been freed from the device, which was intact, and reunited with her parents. "We still don't know if it was explosive," he said, declining to say if the incident had been an extortion attempt.

UN, Asean targets of cyber spying

File photo shows US Department of Homeland Security analysts work at the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) located just outside Washington in Arlington, Virginia. Security experts have discovered the biggest series of cyber attacks to date, involving the infiltration of the networks of 72 organisations.
THE governments of the United States and several other countries, US defense contractors, the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the International Olympic Committee have been targets of a massive global cyber spying campaign, US computer security firm McAfee said yesterday.

California-based McAfee did not identify the "state-actor" believed to be behind the sophisticated hacking effort dubbed "Operation Shady RAT," which it traced back to at least 2006, but analysts pointed the finger at China.

The report identified 72 "compromised" parties including the governments of Canada, India, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Vietnam.

Others included computer networks of the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the International Olympic Committee, Asian and Western national Olympic committees, the World Anti-Doping Agency, a Department of Energy Department lab, and around a dozen US defense firms, McAfee said.

McAfee vice president for threat research Dmitri Alperovitch, the lead author of the report, said "Operation Shady RAT" was a "five-year targeted operation by one specific actor."

"What we have witnessed over the past five to six years has been nothing short of a historically unprecedented transfer of wealth," Alperovitch said.

"What is happening to all this data - by now reaching petabytes as a whole - is still largely an open question," he said.

"However, if even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products or beat a competitor at a key negotiation (due to having stolen the other team's playbook), the loss represents a massive economic threat," he said, "not to mention the national security impact of the loss of sensitive intelligence or defense information."

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the evidence may not be "conclusive in a legal sense," but suspicion points towards China.

"You can think of at least three other large programmes attributed to China that look very similar," Lewis told AFP. "It's a pattern of activity that we've seen before. It's in line with other activities."

In June, Google said that a cyber spying campaign originating in China had targeted Gmail accounts of senior US officials, military personnel, journalists and Chinese political activists.

In January of last year, Google announced it was halting censorship of its Internet search engine in China after coming under attack along with 20 other companies from hackers based in China.

In February, McAfee said in another report that hackers in China have penetrated computer networks of global oil companies, stealing financial documents on bidding plans and other confidential information.

McAfee said it had discovered the "Shady RAT" series of cyber attacks by gaining access to a command and control server used by the intruders and examining their logs. "After painstaking analysis of the logs, even we were surprised by the enormous diversity of the victim organizations and were taken aback by the audacity of the perpetrators," McAfee said.

"In all, we identified 72 compromised parties," McAfee said, although "many more were present in the logs but without sufficient information to accurately identify them."

McAfee said attacks on Asian and Western national Olympic committees, the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency occurred in the lead-up and immediate follow-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It described this as "particularly intriguing and potentially pointed a finger at a state actor behind the intrusions, because there is likely no commercial benefit to be earned from such hacks."

Other targets included a private Western organization focused on promoting democracy, two US national security think tanks, South Korean steel and construction firms, a Danish satellite communications company, a Singapore electronics company, a Taiwanese electronics firm, Vietnam's government-owned technology company and US state and county governments, McAfee said. It said a major US news organisation - identified as the Associated Press by The Washington Post - was "compromised at its New York headquarters and Hong Kong bureau for more than 21 months."

"The longest compromise was recorded at an Olympic Committee of a nation in Asia; it lasted on and off for 28 months, finally terminating in January 2010," McAfee said.

McAfee said the attacks involved sending infected emails to employees of the targeted companies. When opened, the emails implanted malware and established a backdoor communication channel to the command and control server.

Tailors rush to finish Raya orders

MANY tailors and dressmakers have already stopped taking orders for baju kurong and baju cara Melayu (Malay traditional attire), with less than a month away from Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

Orders for dresses and baju melayu for Hari Raya had been coming in as early as three months ago, said Tika, an Indonesian seamstress at a small tailor shop in Kg Madang.

She said they have been working on customers' orders specifically for Hari Raya over the past three months with each order bringing in at least three to four dresses.

The Hari Raya rush is an annual experience for local tailors and dressmakers and is considered the most lucrative time of the year.

Another Indonesian seamstress working at the same tailor shop in Madang said that since they started working on the Hari Raya orders three months ago, they have accepted about 400 orders.

Even with five other seamstresses working on the orders with her, the shops still operate around the clock to make sure that they complete their customers' orders within the deadline, and preferably provide ample time for customers to test the finished item and make any necessary adjustments.

The owner of a tailoring and dressmaker shop in Lambak who only wanted to be known as Raymond, said women usually tend to go all out to make their Hari Raya clothes as cost was not a problem.

He said the women who come in to order dresses will usually run up a hefty bill as each dress with its own specific style and design can cost several hundreds of dollars.

Most tailor shops during this time of the year will be operating around the clock as they need to finish as soon as possible just to satisfy their customers, said Raymond.

He added that the long hours and sleepless nights spent working on the dresses is worth it as even the employees do not complain since they too receive an added bonus for their extra time working during the Hari Raya rush.


An endangered sea turtle, known locally as Penyu Kangkam/Penyu Hijau or Green Turtle (scientific name Cheloniamydas), rescued by fishermen in the Pelompong waters. The turtle is being treated and quarantined at the Fisheries Department before it is released back to sea.

Brunei globetrotter plans to set up driving school

Global trekker Norhayati Abu Bakar sharing her experiences about her previous expedition to WBC-BD members during the NGO's 10th anniversary recently held at the Hadfa Recreational Garden.
GLOBETROTTER Norhayati Abu Bakar is planning to set up a driving school in the country which will not only teach Brunei residents technical and practical aspects of driving, but also "aquaplaning" which she says has led to numerous road accidents.

According to a website,"hydroplaning or aquaplaning" by tires of a vehicle occurs when a layer of water builds between the rubber tires and the road surface, leading to the loss of traction and thus preventing the vehicle from responding to control inputs such as steering, braking or accelerating.

It added if aquaplaning occurs along all four wheels, the vehicle becomes, in effect, an uncontrolled sled.

Norhayati told The Brunei Times that if she was given the green light to set up the driving school, they will be teaching skidding practices, where water will be placed in an area to teach new-learners in tackling aquaplaning.

"The driving school will also include basic knowledge of the car's engine, car repairs and how to change tyres," she said, adding lessons will be charged at a reasonable price.

She said that driving lessons did not merely mean the school will only cater to new road-users, but for those who already have driving licenses.

"These lessons can be for those who already have a license and want to know more about the car. We will teach them all they need to know about driving, which is common in Europe," she said.

Norhayati said the purpose of setting up the school was for road-users to know to react to aquaplaning, so "horrible accidents" caused by it could hopefully be avoided.

She added the driving school will also generate employment to some Bruneians, as driving instructors.

Asked how she came up with the idea of setting up a driving school,she said it was something she thought would help Bruneians, when she went to the Land Transport Department in March to sit for her international driving license test.

"So I applied to open the driving school in March, and in July I received a reply saying that my application would still be open, but according to the Land Transport Department, the demand for driving schools are sufficient at the moment, " she explained.

Nevertheless, Norhayati said if setting up the driving school is approved, she would attend all courses necessary to qualify as an instructor.

She related that after travelling on her four-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser, "Jambo", across over 60 countries during her expeditions over the last few years, both Norhayati and her husband have gained experience with aquaplaning and that they had not involved in accident during their travels.

'Bukit Teraja can start promoting ecotourism in two years


One of the 39 mapped waterfalls that can be found at the proposed Teraja Conservation Forest. Picture: Courtesy of Panaga Natural History Society
ECOTOURISM in the yet-to-be-gazetted Teraja Conservation Forest is planned to kick off in two years, provided that a dedicated and full-time project manager is appointed to oversee its progress and can facilitate dialogue between the government and the indigenous longhouse community.

"We think that is realistic, if the project manager is there to really steer and drive it," said Peter Engbers of the Panaga Natural History Society (PNHS).

The environmental non-government group proposed for the 27.11 square kilometre area in Belait district to be protected and allow scientific, educational and ecotourism activities to be carried out there. The government has recently approved the proposal.

Now the area is being gazetted, Engbers said, adding that this "might take a few years", involving several government agencies discussing issues such as land ownership rights in the area.

An action plan, the outcome of an "opportunity framing" workshop participated by stakeholders from the government and the private sector, anticipated that the gazette will be issued in August 2013, the same time which "Teraja ecotourism" was expected to be launched.

They expected to draft a business plan, which was required to secure initial funding for the project manager post, in November this year.

Engbers was speaking at a Heart of Borneo talk on the Teraja conservation initiative yesterday at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, which the Minister, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar attended.

The workshop participants were looking at "external sponsors" to fund the position, with an MoU planned to be drafted in March 2012. The appointment of the project manager is planned for July that year.

When asked whether the project manager had to be a government official, Engbers said, "not necessarily but can (be)".

"I think it should be a Bruneian who has good connections to the government and to the longhouse, and the local community. (Someone) who can be a bridge between the two," he said.

"He has to be dedicated, full-time, somebody who can manage it properly, steer it and build the bridge, and both (the) longhouse and government has confidence in trusting him."

In the meantime, other agencies such as the tourism authority will be training the local community in "green guiding" and homestay programmes, while also working with the natives in developing ecotourism products for the future Teraja Conservation Forest.

The area boast some 39 waterfalls, and is home to a host of plants and animals, some of which were unrecorded and unique to Brunei or the island.

Once appointed, the project manager will be responsible for leading the establishment of a masterplan for the area and the initial small-scale work such as setting up signages as well as establishing an operational organisation for guides, forest rangers and administration.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It was my time to work hard: Kawashima


eiji_kawashima_3x2_02Doha: Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said he knew it was his time to shine as he saved two penalties in a shootout against Korea Republic on Tuesday to send his side through to the AFC Asian Cup final.

Hwang Jae-won had sent the game at the Al Gharafa Stadium to penalties when he levelled the score for the Koreans at 2-2 with just seconds left in extra-time.

But Kawashima emerged as Japan’s hero, stopping spot kicks by Koo Jae-cheol and Lee Yong-rae while Hong Jeong-ho shot wide as the Blue Samurai won the shootout 3-0 to advance to meet Australia in Saturday’s final at the Khalifa Stadium.

The Lierse goalkeeper was feted by his teammates for his heroics in the shootout but he felt that he was simply doing his job on the pitch.

“Over 120 minutes, every player worked really hard so I was thinking that when it came to penalties, it was going to be my time to work,” the 27-year-old said.

With his team having allowed the Koreans to get back on level terms so late on, Kawashima was determined to lift his side in the shootout.

“I saw that everybody’s head was down and the atmosphere was a bit strange because we had conceded the goal so close to the end of the game. But I knew it was not finished so I just focussed on the penalties.

“Everybody on my team was coming and saying things but I just kept my mind on what I had to do. We are a team and we all work for each other and it was my time to work.”

Forward Kesiuke Honda had failed to dispatch a penalty in extra-time although he was bailed out by teammate Hajime Hosogai, who followed up to put the Japanese 2-1 up. But Honda kept his nerve in the shootout and put his side ahead with an unstoppable effort into the top right corner before Shinji Okazaki and Yasuyuki Konno also converted to send
Japan through.

“I feel good and I’m very happy,” said the CSKA Moscow player, who was named the Man of the Match.

“I don’t think we could have given any more than we gave today. It was a very difficult game so we can take great satisfaction with this victory.”

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