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Saturday,06-March-2021

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Brexit: Theresa May to ask European Union for further extension

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British Prime Minister Theresa May will ask the European Union for an extension to the Brexit deadline to “break the logjam” in Parliament.

The Prime Minister says she wants to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to agree a plan on the future relationship with the EU, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

But she insisted her withdrawal agreement — which was voted down last week — would remain part of the deal.

May said she wanted the extension to be “as short as possible” — before May 22 so the UK does not have to take part in European elections.

The UK has until April 12 to propose a plan – which must be accepted by the EU – or it will leave without a deal.

The UK was supposed to leave the EU on March 29 but May agreed a short extension after realising Parliament would not agree a deal by the deadline.

MPs have twice held indicative votes to try to find a consensus, but none of the proposals won a majority.

May met her cabinet for more than seven hours on Tuesday, and afterwards gave a statement from Downing Street.

She said she wanted to agree a new plan with Corbyn and put it to a vote in the Commons before April 10 – when the EU will hold an emergency summit on Brexit.

If she and Corbyn do not agree a single way forward, she proposed putting a number of options to MPs “to determine which course to pursue”.

The Prime Minister said she understood some people were “so fed up with delay and endless arguments” they would prefer to leave without a deal, and she believed the UK “could make a success of no-deal in the long term”.

But she added that leaving with a deal was “the best solution”.

“This is a difficult time for everyone,” said May. “Passions are running high on all sides of the argument, but we can and must find the compromises that will deliver what the British people voted for.

“This is a decisive moment in the story of these islands and it requires national unity to deliver the national interest.”

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‘China hit Mumbai with blackout as troops clashed in Ladakh last year’

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Gateway

China launched a cybercampaign hit against India’s power grid targeting Mumbai on October 13 last year, in a warning message after the tension at Ladakh border.

The New York Times reported that a new study lends weight to the idea that those two events may have been connected – as part of a broad Chinese cyber campaign against India’s power grid, timed to send a message that if India pressed its claims too hard, the lights could go out across the country.

“The study shows that as the battles raged in the Himalayas, taking at least two dozen lives, Chinese malware was flowing into the control systems that manage electric supply across India, along with a high-voltage transmission substation and a coal-fired power plant”, NYT said.

The report said the flow of malware was pieced together by Recorded Future, a Somerville, Massachusetts, company that studies the use of the internet by state actors. It found that most of the malware was never activated.

“And because Recorded Future could not get inside India’s power systems, it could not examine the details of the code itself, which was placed in strategic power-distribution systems across the country. While it has notified Indian authorities, so far they are not reporting what they have found”, NYT said.

Stuart Solomon, Recorded Future’s chief operating officer, said that the Chinese state-sponsored group, which the firm named Red Echo, “has been seen to systematically utilize advanced cyber intrusion techniques to quietly gain a foothold in nearly a dozen critical nodes across the Indian power generation and transmission infrastructure.”

The discovery raises the question about whether an outage that struck on October 13 in Mumbai, one of the country’s busiest business hubs, was meant as a message from Beijing about what might happen if India pushed its border claims too vigorously, NYT said.

It added that news reports at the time quoted Indian officials as saying that the cause was a Chinese-origin cyberattack on a nearby electricity load-management center. Authorities began a formal investigation, which is due to report in the coming weeks. Since then, Indian officials have gone silent about the Chinese code, whether it set off the Mumbai blackout and the evidence provided to them by Recorded Future that many elements of the nation’s electric grid were the target of a sophisticated Chinese hacking effort.

NYT said the investigators who wrote the Recorded Future study, which is set to be published Monday, said that “the alleged link between the outage and the discovery of the unspecified malware” in the system “remains unsubstantiated.” But they noted that “additional evidence suggested the coordinated targeting of the Indian load dispatch centers,” which balance the electrical demands across regions of the country.

“I think the signaling is being done” by China to indicate “that we can and we have the capability to do this in times of a crisis,” said retired Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, a cyber expert who oversaw India’s borders with Pakistan and China. “It’s like sending a warning to India that this capability exists with us”, NYT quoted.

In the Indian case, Recorded Future sent its findings to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT-In, a kind of investigative and early-warning agency most nations maintain to keep track of threats to critical infrastructure. Twice the center has acknowledged receipt of the information, but said nothing about whether it, too, found the code in the electric grid, NYT said.

Repeated efforts by The New York Times to seek comment from the center and several of its officials over the past two weeks yielded no response.

In India, a patchwork of state-backed hackers were caught using coronavirus-themed phishing emails to target Chinese organizations in Wuhan last February. A Chinese security company, 360 Security Technology, accused state-backed Indian hackers of targeting hospitals and medical research organizations with phishing emails, in an espionage campaign.

Four months later, as tensions rose between the two countries on the border, Chinese hackers unleashed a swarm of 40,300 hacking attempts on India’s technology and banking infrastructure in just five days. Some of the incursions were so-called denial-of-service attacks that knocked these systems offline; others were phishing attacks, according to the police in Maharashtra, as per NYT.

Yashasvi Yadav, a police official in charge of Maharashtra’s cyber-intelligence unit, said authorities found “suspicious activity” that suggested the intervention of a state actor.

But Yadav declined to elaborate, saying the investigation’s full report would be released in early March. Nitin Raut, a state government minister quoted in local reports in November blaming sabotage for the Mumbai outage, did not respond to questions about the blackout, NYT reported.

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India and China begin military talks to de-escalate tension at Hot Springs, Gogra, Depsang

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Indian and Chinese military dialogue to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control started on Saturday morning. The 10th round of Corps Commander meeting started at 10 a.m. at Moldo on Chinese side.

Indian military delegation is led by Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon, Commander of 14 Corps based in Leh. The Corps Commander will discuss disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013.

However, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the current round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake.

However, just a day ahead of the meeting, China began a “psywar”, where it released a video of Galwan Valley clashes on social media accusing Indian Army of being aggressive and leading to the clash.

Indian Army didn’t react to the video of the clash released by China and maintained silence over the issue.

The video was released on a private news channel in China and thereafter it went viral.

It is after eight months that China has released a video of the clash which took place on June 15 last year. India had lost 20 soldiers and China only this week claimed clearly its four casualties, earler it had been evasive.

China, for the first time, has released the names of their soldiers killed in the clashes on Friday.

So far disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake has taken place.

It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing has agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) team are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

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India and China military talks on Saturday for further disengagement

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Indian-Army

India and China military delegates will meet on Saturday for the tenth round of talks to discuss disengagement at other friction places at the Line of Actual Control, sources said.

During the tenth round, the Corps Commanders will discuss other friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang Plains. The talks will start at 10 a.m. at Moldo on the Chinese side.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the tenth round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of Pangong Lake.

The disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake is expected to complete till February 20. It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake. “It is a joint inspection team, both from Indian Army and Chinese PLA,” said a senior government officer.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be a temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

The confrontation later spilled over to the southern bank following which Indian Army occupied crucial heights irking the Chinese also leading to incidents of gun shots being fired in the air.

Last year on June 15, India lost 20 soldiers during clash at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh. China back then never revealed about casualties.

For the first time, China on Friday accepted that they lost soldiers and honoured its four People’s Liberation Army soldiers killed and one injured during clashes with Indian Army troops at Galwan.

The China Global Television Network (CGTN), Chinese state media, claimed that five PLA soldiers were honoured with honorary title and first-class merit citation.

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