• All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

    28/Oct/2015 // 139 Viewers

    © AFP/File / by Anna Malpas | The full moon rises above Washington on June 23, 2013. This "super Moon” also known as the "perigee" full moon appears about 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a regular full moon, according to NASA scientists. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM


    MOSCOW (AFP) - 

    Six Russian women on Wednesday clambered into a mock spaceship to begin a unique experiment testing how an all-female crew would interact on a trip to the Moon and back.

    For eight days, the female volunteers will live inside a wood-panelled suite of rooms at Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems, renowned for its wacky research into the psychological and physical effects of space travel.

    The institute in 2010 locked six male international volunteers in an isolation experiment lasting 520 days, to simulate a flight to Mars and back.

    "Such a crew is taking part for the first time in a simulation experiment. It's interesting for us to see what is special about the way a female crew communicates," said Sergei Ponomaryov, the experiment's supervisor.

    "It will be particularly interesting in terms of psychology," said the institute's director Igor Ushakov.

    "I'd like to wish you a lack of conflicts, even though they say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together," he added.

    The volunteers include scientific researchers, a doctor and a psychologist.

    The test period simulates a flight to the Moon and back, with the women carrying out 10 experiments covering psychology and human biology.

    Russia sent the first woman into space, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963 but has lagged behind since. Last year it sent its fourth female cosmonaut into space, Yelena Serova.

    Serova complained of a flurry of media interest in how she would wash her hair aboard the International Space Station, pointing out that male cosmonauts did not face the same line of questioning.

    Ponomaryov called the latest experiment an effort to make up for lost time.

    "There's never been an all-female crew on the ISS. We consider the future of space belongs equally to men and women and unfortunately we need to catch up a bit after a period when unfortunately there haven't been too many women in space."


    - 'Beautiful without makeup' -


    Despite the mission being presented as a giant step for gender equality, the women -- who wore red jumpsuits -- found themselves fielding questions at a press conference about how they would cope without men or makeup for eight days.

    "We are very beautiful without makeup," parried participant Darya Komissarova.

    Her colleague Anna Kussmaul was more direct: "We are doing work. When you're doing your work, you don't think about men and women."

    Like their counterparts on the International Space Station the women will have no shower, washing with wet wipes instead.

    They plan to spend their 1 1/2 hours per day of free time watching films, reading and playing board games.

    Team leader Yelena Luchnitskaya said she expected the women to deal with any conflict.

    "I'm sure we all have the education, personal qualities and the upbringing, at the end of the day," she said.

    "So far I can't imagine what would rattle us."

    by Anna Malpas

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  • Italian military prepares for cyber combat

    28/Sep/2015 // 242 Viewers

    Attaining deep cybersecurity knowledge is essential in the ongoing war against hackers and other cyber criminals. CSC experts conducted an extensive three-month training program for a team of Italian military officers that resulted in each of them successfully passing a key cybersecurity qualification exam.
    Across the globe, enterprises and government entities – including the military – must contend with ongoing cybersecurity threats. Organizations that provide IT security are required to comply with minimum security baselines, and common standards have been established for specifying and evaluating security in IT products and systems.
    The Common Criteria for Information Technology (IT) Security Evaluation, also known as ISO 15408, is endorsed by government bodies around the world as the standard for IT security testing and evaluation. Common Criteria evaluator certificates in participating countries are issued to those who successfully complete a rigorous evaluation of their cybersecurity knowledge.
    The Italian Defence Ministry sent four of its officers to CSC’s offices in Ottawa, Canada to be trained by a team of experts from CSC’s Security Testing and Certification Laboratory (STCL). In addition to offering training, CSC provides a wide range of Common Criteria and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) related services, such as consulting, feasibility assessments, evidence preparation and evaluation and testing of IT security products and cryptographic modules. A global leader in cybersecurity, CSC is the only company accredited to perform Common Criteria IT security evaluations on three continents.
    The Italian military team was familiar with basic security issues but not highly experienced in advanced cybersecurity testing and evaluation. Carlo Fabiani, a colonel in the Italian Army and director of Italian Ministry of Defence’s Information Technology Defence Common Criteria Testing Laboratory, says, “The tough challenge was to meet the different technical and professional experiences of the four visiting officers. Nobody on the team had previous experience with Common Criteria.”
    CSC’s training was initiated by Lachlan Turner, STCL’s technical director, a recognized expert in all aspects of Common Criteria. CSC senior evaluator, Changying Zhou, conducted the majority of the intensive training program in three phases, with four weeks devoted to each phase. CSC subject matter experts (SMEs) participated in the training sessions to share their knowledge in areas such as cryptography and quality management.
    The first phase consisted of the four officers gaining a basic understanding of Common Criteria and associated evaluation methods. The next phase included on-the-job training focused on handling real-world situations as well as preparing the students to take the Common Criteria evaluator certification exam.
    Phase three included additional on-the-job training that focused on areas such as penetration testing, quality processes and relevant security standards. A LAN was set up so the students could perform functional and penetration testing using cybersecurity tools such as WebGoat and Nessus.
    The training also included vulnerability analysis, an overview of quality management systems and cryptographic evaluation. The cryptography-related training included an introduction to the (FIPS 140-2), which is used to validate cryptographic modules.
    The most significant milestone of the training was that each of Italian military officers successfully passed the Common Criteria evaluator qualification exam, which was administered by Communications Security Establishment Canada, a Canadian independent third-party evaluation and certification service for measuring the trustworthiness of IT security products.
    “CSC delivered an effective training course, whose success has been ‘combat proven,’” Fabiani says. In addition to leveraging decades of cybersecurity knowledge and experience, a key to the success of the training for CSC was fostering a positive learning environment for the students. Fabiani says the CSC team was very welcoming to the Italian officers, creating a friendly atmosphere that included several social events. He says the positive work atmosphere helped the officers increase their competence level quickly.
    Another success factor was that CSC tailored the course around the particular profile of the targeted audience. After the course got underway, periodic meetings were arranged to get feedback and the course curriculum was adjusted as needed. “The CSC training team made a concerted effort to fully understand what the four officers needed and were able to clearly define the best ways to achieve the results that were expected,” he says.
    Common Criteria includes a series of Evaluation Assurance Levels (EALs) that signify the rigor of an evaluation. The level for a security evaluation that indicates rigorous assurance requirements have been met is EAL4, and that is the level the four Italian military officers were certified for as evaluators. Now, the officers are fully qualified to perform security evaluations on IT security products and services up to EAL4.
    CSC background in Common Criteria-related work spans the globe and encompasses many areas such as feasibility assessments, security evaluations and assurance maintenance. Maureen Barry, program manager, CSC, who participated in instruction in management-related areas, says, “I believe working with the Italian military on training is a real complement to all of the Common Criteria services we provide. It clearly demonstrates to our clients that we have the expertise to manage their Common Criteria evaluations.”

    Source: CSC Logo - A global leader in providing technology enabled business solutions and services.

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  • German minister concerned migrant numbers via Libya, Italy will rise

    29/Apr/2016 // 277 Viewers


    POTSDAM, Germany (Reuters) - Migrants should no longer be able to get to Germany and Europe via the Balkan route, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday, adding he was concerned refugee numbers would rise with people now coming to Italy by sea from Libya.

    "It's clear that the Balkan route is a thing of the past and no longer will or should be a place again from where people will be waved through to Germany and Austria and to the centre of Europe," he said at a joint news conference with Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka in Potsdam near Berlin.

    "Now the issue is alternative routes ... we are of course concerned that we'll get rising refugee numbers again as they come via Libya and Italy," he added.

    De Maiziere said he agreed with Austria that the situation at Italy's northern border should not replicate the situation on the Balkan route last year.

    Austria has said it might reintroduce border controls at the Alpine Brenner pass to keep migrants from coming from Italy and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said Austria's plans to build a fence there were "shamelessly against European rules".

    Sobotka said the measure was necessary to prevent the route from turning into a major corridor for migrants seeking to reach northern Europe after they arrive to Italy through the Mediterranean from Libya and other north Africa nations.

    "What we have demonstrated is that the rule of law, the essential measure for us is that we want to register people who come to Austria, that our borders are not overrun," Sobotka said.

    He added: "This border management that has been in place since February is effective and we have applied this on the border with Hungary ... and we are preparing for this on the border with Italy."

    De Maiziere and Sobotka both piled pressure on Italy to take responsibility.

    "What is happening at the Brenner border crossing lies first and foremost in the hands of Italy," de Maiziere, said, adding that on the issue of border controls, states were working together but still needed a few more days to reach a European solution.

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  • Islamic State supporters call for more holiday attacks in Europe

    29/Dec/2016 // 493 Viewers


    CAIRO (Reuters) - A pro-Islamic State group on Wednesday urged supporters of the jihadists to carry out attacks on targets such as markets and hospitals in Europe over the Christmas holiday period and urged Muslims to stay away from Christian celebrations.

    The threat came as European authorities have stepped up security following an attack claimed by Islamic State in which a truck ploughed into crowds in a Berlin Christmas market and killed 12 people this month.

    The Nashir Media Foundation, which backs Islamic State, posted its message online, accompanied by images of fighters with guns and knives, Santa Claus, reindeer and a Christmas tree, according to the according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups online.

    "Their celebrations, gatherings, clubs, markets, theatres, cinemas, malls and even their hospitals are all perfect targets for you," the online message to Islamist "lone wolves" in Europe said.

    It said Islamic State would "replace their fireworks with explosive belts and devices, and turn their singing and clapping into weeping and wailing".

    The message reminded Islamic State supporters of a call earlier this month by the group's new spokesman, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer, who said they should also attack Turkish consulates and embassies.

    Turkey may have been chosen as a target because it has backed rebels in Syria against Islamic State.

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  • Breaking News: Syria declares countrywide cease-fire effective at midnight - President Putin announces

    29/Dec/2016 // 207 Viewers


    PARIS, DECEMBER 29, 2016: (DGW) A cease-fire is to come into force between the Syrian government and the rebel groups with effect from midnight (22:00 GMT), on Thursday, Russian President Vladmir Putin announced on state television a few minutes ago.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier that Turkey and Russia would act as guarantors under the plan.

    The two countries back opposing sides in the conflict, which has raged for more than five years.

    The truce does not apply to two of the main jihadist groups in Syria, so-called Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly the Nusra Front), Turkish sources say.

    But it reportedly does cover the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, which had been a sticking-point in negotiations.

    Earlier this month, Moscow and Ankara negotiated a ceasefire in Syria's second city, Aleppo, that led to tens of thousands of rebel fighters and civilians being evacuated from an enclave besieged by government forces.
    Previous ceasefire initiatives this year brokered by the UN, or the US acting with Russia, have quickly collapsed.

    Mr Putin announced that three documents had been signed:
    An agreement between the Syrian government and the armed opposition on a ceasefire
    Measures for overseeing the ceasefire
    An agreement to start peace talks

    He described the deal as "fragile" but he praised the agreements as the result of the work of Russia's defence and foreign ministries with Moscow's partners in the region.

    He added that he agreed with a proposal by the defence ministry to reduce Russia's military presence in Syria but made it clear Moscow would "continue fighting international terrorism and supporting the Syrian government".

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  • Breaking: Russia vows retaliation against OBAMA sanctions

    29/Dec/2016 // 978 Viewers


    The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow rejects accusations that it hacked US political parties and the new sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on Thursday, The Washington Post reports.

    The new measure include the sanctioning of agencies and individuals tied to the hack and removal of 35 top government officials from the United States

    This is a developing story and will be updated.

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  • B-U-S-T-E-D! See faces of 14 of Europe’s most wanted criminals captured in commando raid

    29/Jul/2016 // 1013 Viewers


    European police forces have tracked down and arrested 14 people on a “most wanted” list in the six months since its launch, many thanks to public tip-offs, officials said Friday.

    “In at least eight of these arrests, the leads provided via the online platform played a direct role in locating the fugitives,” the European police agency, Europol, said in a statement.

    Police forces from across the European Union came together to launch www.eumostwanted.eu after criticism over a lack of coordination in the wake of November’s jihadist attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead.

    Those now behind bars include Belgian-born Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the attacks, and Ibrahim Abrini, the brother of Mohamed Abrini, a Moroccan-Belgian implicated in both the Paris assault and the March Brussels bombings.

    Their arrests were not directly linked to the website, which has received millions of views since it was launched on January 29.

    But in February Romanian “yoga teacher and spiritual mentor” Gregorian Bivolaru, 64, was captured in a Paris book store after years on the run thanks to a tip-off.

    AFP reported in June that a French court has ordered him to be extradited to Romania to face charges of exploiting children and child pornography between 2002 and 2004.

    Bivolaru was targeted on the most wanted list along with other fugitives including a Belgian tracked down to Gabon, a Pole discovered in Malta and a wanted Swede located in Britain.

    Italian mafia boss Ernesto Fazzalari, 46, wanted for murder, was captured in a remote part of Italy late last month after two decades on the run, according to media reports.

    “Many of those on the list were caught in different European countries,” Europol press officer Tine Hollevoet told AFP, adding it showed the benefits of cooperation.

    Twenty-eight of the original 45 names on the list still remain, and Hollevoet urged people to look again at the site as new names have been added.

    “You never know if you will recognise someone,” she said.

    Each national police force can post two people onto the list, and once someone is arrested their names and profiles are removed and a new fugitive selected.

    A second woman has now been added to the list. Cypriot Efi Irodotou, 29, is wanted for murder after a 17-year-old boy died in a 2007 hit-and-run car accident in the island’s southern resort of Limassol.

    She joins Cecilia Kettunen, 30, still wanted by Finnish authorities for “aggravated fraud… worth a significant amount of money”.

    Men from different countries are also wanted on a variety of charges including rape, murder, extortion and drug trafficking.

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  • EgyptAir plane hijacked to Cyprus, most passengers freed

    29/Mar/2016 // 286 Viewers


    By Yiannis Kourtoglou


    LARNACA, Cyprus, March 29 (Reuters) - An Egyptian plane on a flight between Alexandria and Cairo was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus by a man apparently distressed over a family matter.

    After the EgyptAir plane landed at Larnaca airport, the hijacker released all the people onboard except four foreign passengers and the crew following negotiations, EgyptAir said.

    About 60 people, including seven crew, had been onboard the Airbus 320, Egyptian and Cypriot officials said.

    The pilot reported that the man was strapped with explosives, although this was not confirmed.

    Citing security sources, Cypriot state media said that the motives of the hijacker appeared personal and he had asked to contact his ex-wife, who lives in Cyprus.

    "It is not something which has to do with terrorism," Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told reporters.

    Asked if a woman was involved he said "There is always a woman involved."

    There was some confusion over the identity of the hijacker.

    Egyptian state media named him as Ibrahim Samaha, an Egyptian, but gave no other details about him.

    However, Gamal al-Omrawi, a deputy dean at Alexandria University, said that Samaha was a passenger on the plane and not the hijacker. He said he had spoken by phone to Samaha, who confirmed that he was one of the passengers who was released.

    The Civil Aviation Ministry said the plane's pilot, Omar al-Gammal, had informed authorities that he was threatened by a passenger wearing a suicide explosives belt who forced him to land in Larnaca.

    A Cyprus Foreign Ministry official said he could not confirm the man was rigged with explosives. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus's flight information region.

    Witnesses said the hijacker threw a letter on the apron of the airport in Larnaca, written in Arabic, asking that it be delivered to his ex-wife, who is Cypriot.

    Passengers on the plane included eight Britons and 10 Americans, three security sources at Alexandria airport said. The Dutch Foreign Ministry said a Dutchman was among the foreigners still onboard the aircraft.

    Israel scrambled warplanes in its airspace as a precaution in response to the hijacking, according to an Israeli military source.

    Egypt's vital tourism industry was already reeling from the crash of a Russian passenger plane in the Sinai in late October.

    President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said it was brought down by a terrorist attack. Islamic State has said it planted a bomb on board, killing all 224 people on board.

    Cyprus has seen little militant activity for decades, despite its proximity to the Middle East.

    A botched attempt by Egyptian commandos to storm a hijacked airliner at Larnaca airport led to the disruption of diplomatic relations between Cyprus and Egypt in 1978.

    In 1988, a Kuwaiti airliner which had been hijacked from Bangkok to Kuwait in a 16-day siege had a stopover in Larnaca, where two hostages were killed.

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  • Shipwrecks ‘kill up to 700 migrants’ in one week – UNHCR

    29/May/2016 // 798 Viewers


    (AFP) - At least 700 migrants are feared drowned in a series of shipwrecks off the coast of Libya in the last few days, the UN refugee agency says.
    The boats sank south of Italy on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as the migrants tried to reach Europe in unseaworthy vessels.

    Spring weather has led to a surge of people attempting the perilous crossing from Africa to Europe.
    EU ships have rescued almost 13,000 migrants this week, Italy says.
    Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for UNHCR, gave details of the shipwrecks:
    Almost 100 migrants are missing from a smugglers’ boat which capsized on Wednesday. Horrifying pictures of the incident and its aftermath were filmed by rescuers.

    About 550 other migrants are missing from a boat which overturned on Thursday morning after leaving the Libyan port of Sabratha on Wednesday.
    In a third shipwreck on Friday, 135 people were rescued, 45 bodies pulled from the water and an unspecified number of others are missing.

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  • The world's longest rail tunnel, in numbers

    29/May/2016 // 472 Viewers


    Geneva (AFP) - The world's longest rail tunnel, which runs under the Alps and took 17 years to build, is inaugurated on Wednesday.

    Here are four key numbers about the project, called the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT).

    - 57 -

    At a length of 57 kilometres (34.5 miles) the GBT will overtake Japan's 53.9-kilometre Seikan tunnel as the longest rail tunnel in the world.

    A total of 152 kilometres of tunnel was carved through the mountain. That figure includes separate tubes for northern and southern travel, as well as cross passages and access tunnels.

    - 1882 -

    That was the year the first rail route through the Gotthard pass opened, a landmark in Swiss history that helped boost trade through the Alpine nation, which had previously been arduous to cross.

    Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner first sketched the idea for a rail tunnel under the Alps at the Gotthard Pass in 1947.

    Sixty-nine years later, at a cost of just over 12 billion Swiss francs ($12 billion, 11 billion euros), the Gotthard Base Tunnel is set to open.

    - 43,800 -

    According to the Swiss federal rail service, it took that number of hours of non-stop work by 125 labourers rotating in three shifts to lay the GBT's slab track.

    The tunnel was carved by a massive 410-metre-long boring machine that removed roughly 28 million tonnes of rock.

    - 2 hours and 40 minutes -

    That is the estimated length of time it will take to get from Zurich to Milan once the GBT opens full service in December, roughly an hour shorter than the journey currently takes.

    The federal rail service projects a boom in rail travel in the coming years, including a surge in daily passengers from the current 9,000 people to 15,000 by 2020.

    Ultimately, 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains should pass through the GBT per day, at speeds of 200 kilometres per hour, the rail service said.

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