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Iran nuclear negotiators have reached broad understanding, says UK

UK foreign secretary says detailed and technical issues still to be resolved but he is optimistic further progress will be made on broad framework agreed.

89a36bae299f5dab7c57f48f8f7a03c4dbe5dec4Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has said negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland have reached “a broad framework of understanding”, but that details still have to be agreed.

Hammond was speaking after the negotiations missed a midnight deadline to produce a preliminary accord on the main issues in dispute in Iran’s nuclear programme. After breaking off in the early hours of the morning, talks among foreign ministers and senior diplomats resumed on Wednesday.

“I think we have a broad framework of understanding but there are still some key issues that have to be worked through,” the foreign secretary told a group of British broadcasters.

“Some of them are quite detailed and technical so there is still quite a lot of work to do, but we are on it now and we’ll keep going at it.”

He added: “We have made significant progress over the last few days but it has been slow going. We decided to break last night because some of the staff had been working through the previous night. We wanted people to be fresh as we tackle the last few isssues that remain.

“We are now working on them this morning. I’m optimistic that we will make further progress this morning, but it does mean the Iranians being willing to meet us where there are still issues to deal with. Fingers crossed and we’ll hope to get there during the course of the day.”

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, predicted there would a joint press statement tonight. But he added: “We are in the overtime but the contents are more important for us than the time. ..We have had good progress, especially on Tuesday, but until we have resolved all issues, we can’t say we have a resolution.”

Over the course of the night, three of the seven foreign ministers at the talks – Wang Yi of China, Sergei Lavrov of Russia, and Laurent Fabius of France left the talks to fly back to their capitals, leaving senior diplomats to lead their delegations. Hammond, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, stayed behind for a seventh day of talks in the Swiss lakeside town.

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US diplomats had earlier denied that the agreement had been finalised, saying there were still issues to resolve. In a sign, however, that the talks could be approaching a critical moment, Barack Obama held a video-conference on Tuesday night with his national security team to be briefed on developments by the US negotiators: Kerry and the energy secretary, Ernest Moniz.

The talks went past a midnight deadline but appeared to have gathered momentum as they approached the cutoff point.

Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, said in statement on Wednesday there had been “significant progress in core issues” and the positions of all parties involved in the talks had become closer.

“One can say with relative certainty that we at the minister level have reached an agreement in principle on all key aspects of the final settlement of this issue,” Russian media quoted the Russian foreign minister as saying.

After a marathon 17-hour day of talks, ministers from seven nations adjourned just after the midnight deadline and agreed to reconvene at 9am Lausanne time.

Speaking to reporters after midnight, Iran’s Zarif, said: “It has been a very long day for all delegations. We have accomplished quite a bit but people needed to get some rest and start over early in the morning.

“I hope that we can finalise the work on Wednesday and hopefully start the process of drafting tomorrow.”

Hammond said the negotiators would not be rushed into making a shoddy compromise.

“We have said throughout that we won’t do a bad deal,” he said. “We have to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, and by working through this in a methodical way we’ll make sure if we get the deal done it is a deal that is good for us, good for Iran, good for the world, and ensures peace in the region in the future.”

 

 

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U.S. Commits To Slashing Emissions Up To 28 Percent By 2025

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WASHINGTON – The United States officially submitted its emissions-cutting target to the United Nations on Tuesday morning, formalizing its commitment to reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Obama administration had previously announced the goal in its work with Chinaon a bilateral climate agreement. The Tuesday submission makes the pledge official.

“With today’s submission of the U.S. target, countries accounting for more than half of total carbon pollution from the energy sector have submitted or announced what they will do in the post-2020 period to combat climate change,” wrote Brian Deese, senior adviser to the president, in a blog post Tuesday morning.

Under a system established through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, individual countries are putting forward their own emissions commitments, referred to as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs. Countries are supposed to submit their INDCs to the U.N. by March 31. The submissions will be the basis for an international climate agreement, which leaders expect to reach at the upcoming negotiation session in Paris at the end of 2015.

The U.S. described its target as “fair and ambitious” in the U.N. document, and said that the country has already undertaken “substantial policy action to reduce its emissions.” The submission says that the U.S. is already on a path to reach its previously submitted goal of cutting emissions 17 percent by 2020, and the new commitment will require the country to speed up its rate of emissions reduction.

The European Union, Norway and Mexico submitted their commitments last week.

The Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, which includes 34 Democratic senators and 83 Democratic House members, sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday praising the commitment. “One of the three pillars of the Climate Action Plan is to lead international efforts to address global climate change. As a nation that has contributed more than a quarter of all global carbon pollution, it is our responsibility to lead,” they wrote. “As a nation already feeling the effects and costs of climate change, it is also in our national interest to do so.”

Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, called the U.S. target “a serious and achievable commitment” in a statement. Based on WRI’s research, the U.S. can meet the goal by using existing federal authority, and make even further reductions as technology advances, Morgan said.

Other environmental groups were more critical of the submission, arguing that the U.S. could make a more ambitious commitment. Greenpeace legislative representative Kyle Ash said in a statement that the pledge “begins to treat the wound, but does not stop the bleeding.” “As the world’s second largest emitter, the US must strengthen its commitment to climate solutions before Paris to ensure an agreement that immediately spurs the necessary transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100 percent renewable energy,” said Ash.

The Obama administration is expected to face staunch opposition from the Republican-led Congress to any sort of international climate agreement. It remains unclear at this point whether the international agreement will be finalized as a treaty, which would require Senate approval, or take some other legal form that does not require approval. The Obama administration has long sought an alternative format to try to avoid a battle with the Senate.

 

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Bangladesh blogger becomes second to be murdered in a month

Another blogger hacked to death in the Bangladeshi capital
A blogger known for his atheist views has been stabbed to death in Bangladesh, in the latest of a series of attacks on independent writers in the developing south Asian nation.

Washiqur Rahman, 27, died of serious injuries inflicted in the assault on Monday morning in Dhaka, the capital.

Police have arrested two men for the murder, which comes just weeks after an American atheist blogger was killed in Dhaka, in a crime that triggered international outrage.

Local police chief Wahidul Islam told Agence France-Presse the victim had been “brutally hacked to death this morning with big knives just 500 yards [460 metres] from his home at Dhaka’s Begunbari area”.

Islam said the two detained men were arrested immediately after the attack as they tried to flee the scene.

The suspects have so far been identified only as Zikrullah, said to be a student at a religious school near the city of Chittagong, and Ariful Islam, who police say was studying at the Darul Ulum religious school in Dhaka. Police are hunting a third man.

“Those who killed him differed on his ideologies about religion. He was not an atheist. He was a believer. But the way he followed religion was different from the way radical groups insist,” Biplob Kumar Sarkar, deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan police, told the Guardian.

However, Tamanna Setu, a friend of Rahman said: “He used to write a satirical column on facebook about against believers. He was an atheist. His killing has to be connected to his writing,”

One social media activist said that he used to write “against religious fundamentalism”.

“It appeared Rahman used to write using a pen name, Kutshit Hasher Chhana [Ugly Duckling],” Imran Sarker, head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, said. “He was a progressive free thinker and was against religious fundamentalism.”

Ibrahim Khalil, a fellow blogger who knew Rahman through events they organised, said Rahman was a “progressive” who wrote against religious extremism and repression of ethnic minorities.

“I can say he was a very humble man,” Khalil said.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that the dead man was a member of eight Facebook group pages including Atheist Bangladesh.

Rahman, who worked at a travel agency as an IT manager, is the third such blogger to have been murdered in the Muslim-majority country in the past two years.
Atheist blogger Avijit Roy ‘was not just a person … he was a movement’
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Police have also arrested a suspect over the killing in February of American atheist writer and blogger Avijit Roy.

Roy, an engineer of Bangladeshi origin, was killed by machete-wielding assailants near Dhaka University as he and his wife were returning from a book fair last month. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger. She later returned to the US for treatment.

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“While Avijit and I were being ruthlessly attacked, the local police stood close by and did not act,” Rafida told Reuters.

Roy’s death sparked uproar at home and abroad, with hundreds of secular activists protesting for days to demand justice. They also criticised the country’s government for not doing enough to protect secularist writers.

An adviser to Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, appeared in comments earlier this month to pass the blame for the murder of Roy on to the police.

“Identify the black sheep among the force and bring them under law and justice to uphold your image,” HT Imam told senior officers.

A suspect in the killing, named as Farabi Shafiur Rahman, had previously threatened Roy several times, including on Facebook, where he said Roy would be killed upon his arrival in Dhaka. Rahman was arrested in 2013 for making threats to a cleric for administering Islamic funeral rites to another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was murdered.
Bangladesh seeking police ‘black sheep’ on duty when US blogger was killed
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Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.

In 2004, assailants attacked Bangladeshi writer Humayun Azad, also with machetes. Azad survived the attack, but died in mysterious circumstances later that year in Germany, where he had gone on an academic visit.

Political violence in recent months has claimed the lives of more than 100 people and left hundreds more injured. Clashes have pitted activists from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), which boycotted general elections a year ago, and other parties against security forces. The latest protests have been called by Khaleda Zia, leader of the BNP, who wants Hasina to resign and call fresh polls. Hasina has said her government would remain in office until her term ends in 2019. Allies of the BNP include Islamist parties.

The country of more than 160 million people has struggled to resolve profound disagreements over the role of religion in politics and society in recent years.

 

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Hypergrowth

by Seth  icn.seths.head

Fast growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that so delights that they insist that their friends and colleagues use it. And hypergrowth is a version of the same thing, except those friends and colleagues quickly become even bigger fans, and tell even more people.

Often, we get sidetracked when we forget about “smallest possible.” If you make the audience you’re initially serving too big, you will dilute the very thing you set out to make, avoid critical mass, and compromise the magic of what you’re building. You’ll make average stuff for average people instead of something powerful for the few.

By “smallest possible” I don’t mean, “too small.” I mean the smallest number that eventually leads to the kernel of conversation that enables you to grow.

 

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COMPUTER SECURITY BASICS

Many organizations do not think about computer security until there is a breach or information being leaked for malicious purposes. Creating insecure passwords such as your name or a common word, could compromise your information or network. The video gives you some basic principles to mitigate security risks of your information.

 

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2015:  The Year of mCrime

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Cybercrime Goes Mobile Thanks To Insecure
Mobile Banking, mCommerce and mWallet Apps

By Mark Laich

Millions of consumers no longer visit a bank to deposit checks or conduct financial transactions. Instead they rely on the convenience of using their mobile devices to send money, view account balances and bank online.

The same is true for how they spend their money – the shift from brick and mortar to e-commerce to m-commerce is already well underway.  Think about it – how many times do you use your smartphone to research a product or purchase one?

Maybe you’re going out to dinner tonight and you’ve already filled your Apple Pay, Google Wallet or other wallet technology with all of your credit-card information. Ever wonder if you could be pickpocketed wirelessly? Could an app you trust already be stealing your personally identifiable information (PII)? Sadly, the answer is yes.

Many financial institutions and retailers have launched mobile apps in the past 18 months to respond to demands from their customers who want the convenience of 24-hour, anytime/anywhere banking and shopping. Mobile banking apps help build customer loyalty, and mobile-banking transactions are significantly cheaper for banks compared with transactions that require employee interaction. 

Mobile-retail apps capture consumers’ buying impulse at the moment they occur, and allow for easy comparison shopping – the potential for finding an item cheaper is a quick tap away. Because more and more banks and retailers are making the investment to develop a mobile app, having one has gone from being a competitive differentiator to a “must have” to compete for consumers’ business.

And once a bank has made that investment, there is a concerted effort to encourage customers to use their mobile-banking platform. The same holds true for retail. Amazon and others will do anything to get you to shop online from your smartphone or your tablet.

But the growth of mobile banking and retail apps also means that more people are at risk for identity theft and the hacking of sensitive personal and transaction data by cyber criminals who plan to commit fraud. These apps are used on devices that often aren’t safeguarded from security holes. Most people have between 30 and 75 apps on their mobile device, and of course, when apps are installed on a device, users must grant multiple permissions for accessing a device’s location, SMS capabilities, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera and other device resources.

Some of these resources are used for the apps to do their intended task, but often apps demand resources that can open up a device to security vulnerabilities.  Unfortunately, when consumers install an app on their mobile devices, few of them read all the permissions the app requests to make sure it isn’t asking to use device resources that might be suspicious. 

This issue is highlighted by a report from Gartner Inc., the technology research company, which concluded 75 percent of apps in the major app stores fail basic security tests. Gartner defines this as an app using mobile-device resources that have nothing to do with the intended function of the app. Rather they can be used to eavesdrop on other apps that are running concurrently to collect data about the consumer. The rationale is that the collected information can be used for data analytics to help with targeted mobile advertising. 

However, this has given cyber criminals a rather large attack vector to commit ID Fraud by using malware that looks like trustworthy apps to steal PII and financial transaction data from mobile banking apps, or to steal your credit-card information from your retail apps that reside on the same mobile device.  This type of malware disguised as “trusted” apps has hundreds of millions of downloads from the major app stores.

Worse yet, this new form of malware is undetected by anti-virus and able to circumvent encryption, biometrics, tokenization, sandboxes and authentication. The result is that using mobile-banking apps to conduct transactions is similar to using an ATM to withdraw cash in a dangerous area with criminals lurking around, or handing your credit card to a stranger, in public, who is using the old-fashioned carbon copy credit card imprinter to take your order.

Another popular technique for cyber criminals is spear-phishing attacks – which take the form of email and text messages that appear to be from an official source or someone you know, usually garnered via a social-networking site. These messages can then install monitoring software covertly on the mobile device. Monitoring software can access most mobile device activity and resources, thereby stealing consumer data just like the malware downloaded from an app store.

Most consumers are unaware of these types of threats, and even when they are aware, they don’t take actions to protect their security and privacy until it is too late. On the other hand, financial institutions carry the liability associated with the fraud that results from data stolen from mobile banking and retail apps. In a U.S. landscape where almost 1 billion PII records have been compromised and there is identity fraud totaling $24.7 billion in losses – according to statistics from Privacyrights.org and the Department of Justice – greater safeguards are needed to protect consumers’ financial data. 

At the same time, it is important not to intrude or detract from consumers’ mobile banking or retail experiences. Financial institutions and retailers can’t solely depend on consumer awareness and training, nor can they make it complicated for consumers to protect themselves.

For better or worse, the modern-day consumer has become enamored with using their mobile devices for apps such as social networks, location-based services, and games on the same device on which they want to do mobile banking and mobile commerce, thereby compromising their security and privacy. What financial institutions and retailers need is new, innovative security technologies that deliver an optimal balance between protecting consumer data and being un-intrusive to consumers’ total mobile-device experience. 

In this way, their mobile banking and mCommerce apps can operate in a safe and trusted environment even when multiple applications are running concurrently. By working with companies that specialize in these types of new security technologies designed to thwart zero-day threats and malicious eavesdropping apps, financial institutions and retailers will not only protect themselves from liabilities, they will also be successful at convincing more of their customers to use mobile banking and mobile commerce, thereby increasing the ROI of their mobile-app investment and their operating efficiency.

Finally, as we look forward to what many believe will be the rapid adoption of mWallets in 2015, you must understand that they are inherently insecure because they operate on already infected devices. It’s time to take a completely radical, proactive approach to securing consumers’ data as the financial, transaction-based world shifts onto our smartphones and tablets. 

This year marks the beginning of a new wave of enablement, opportunity and mCrime.  Where there is mobile banking, mCommerce and mWallet there will be mCrime.  Assume it comes in the apps as innocent as that flashlight app you recently installed, because if you don’t, you’ll be left in the dark missing your identity and your wallet.

About The Author
Mark Laich, VP of Security Solutions, SnoopWall, Inc. (www.snoopwall.com)

Mark joined Snoopwall with a 30-year track record of successful sales in the high-tech industry, generating over a half billion dollars in revenues. His expertise includes successful customer and market development in the mobile, CE, and telecommunications market sectors. He has a long track record of leading successful sales campaigns and developing business at major accounts like Samsung, Microsoft, Philips, Canon, Nikon, Thomson, Cisco, Alcatel, Siemens, and Compaq.

 

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Strongest beer in the world. Served in a dead squirrel. $750

© BrewDog

Utilizing road kill is a tricky subject. We’ve seen recycled squirrel decanters before, and even had discussions on whether eating roadkill is vegan or veganish. The result was always heated debate. Now a crew of rogue Scottish brewers will surely add fuel to the fire, serving their record breaking 55% beer in dead squirrels and stoats. But you’ll never guess the price tag. (Nor believe the rather unlikely story about why it’s being done.)Scottish brewers BrewDog were already well known for pushing boundaries. Having previously brewed the 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin and the 41% Sink the Bismarck!, the crew decided to break records once again with the 55% concoction known as The End of History.

But as the BBC reports, not content with pushing alcohol boundaries, BrewDog decided to push taste boundaries too—serving their beer in taxidermied squirrels and stoats(reportedly roadkill). The result has been some controversy, with a group called Advocates for Animals describing the project as “pointless and […] very negative”, and Alcohol Focus Scotland warning that their focus on high alcohol beers sends out the wrong message about drinking responsibly. (Presumably the group is also opposed to whiskey.)

I must admit, I find the whole idea of drinking beer from a dead squirrel disgusting, and more than a little pointless. But from an animal rights or an environmental standpoint, I can’t see what the fuss is about. After all, worrying about the “dignity” of a dead roadkill squirrel seems to be a case of projecting our values on the animal kingdom. You could even argue that brewing 55% ABV beer cuts down on glass waste, but I guess that would be pushing it.

What I do find crazy is the price tag on one of these beers—a bottle (or squirrel?) of which will set you back 500GBP (about US$750)!

In case you are wondering, the name of the beer is a tribute to philosopher Francis Fukuyama:

“The beer is the last high abv beer we are going to brew, the end point of our research into how far the can push the boundaries of extreme brewing, the end of beer.”

 

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