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McDonald’s becomes latest company to be hit by data breach

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The latest company to be hit by data breach is the popular fast food chain McDonald’s in South Korea and Taiwan. Few days back, unauthorized activity on its network revealed the personal details of some customers in the two countries. The details included names, emails and phone numbers of some delivery customers.

After the information leak, the burger chain said that they had quickly identified and curbed the incident and that a thorough investigation was in process. They also mentioned that post identification, the access was promptly closed off. Only a small number of files that contained personal data were exposed.

McDonald’s said that according to their investigation, only South Korea and Taiwan data personal data had been accessed and they would be notifying the regulators and the customers who may have been impacted. Any sort of customer payment information was not exposed.

The Wall Street Journal, the first channel to report the news, reported that a data breach also affected McDonald’s operation in the United States where data had been accessed, including restaurant information, such as square footage, but no sensitive or personal information regarding customer or employee data had been leaked.

The business at its restaurants remained unaffected as the breach did not involve a ransomware attack in which hackers demand payment to return control of data and operations to companies. Neither was McDonald’s asked for ransom, nor did it pay money to any hackers.

The chain has said that it will look into studying the investigator’s findings along with inputs from security resources and identify ways to further improve its existing security measures.

It also revealed that the increased investment in cybersecurity defence mechanisms on its part in the previous years helped it battle the recent attack. The hackers were cut off soon after the breach was identified.

With the pandemic looming large and businesses all around the world being dependent on virtual modes of communication, businesses across various sectors are being targeted and exploited by cyber criminals, including some very high-profile cases too.

Last week, JBS SA, world’s largest meat processing company revealed that it lost around $11 million to hackers who cracked into its computer system in May, 2021.

Colonial Pipeline, which transports around half of the fuel consumed on the East Coast suffered a loss of 75 bitcoin valued at approximately $4.4 million in hope of getting its system running smoothly online again.

Last week, even Volkswagen reported that an illegal third party got access to limited personal information about customers and prospective buyers from a vendor used by its Audi and Volkswagen brands as well as some U.S. and Canada-based dealers for digital sales and marketing. Around 3 million customers were affected.

Putin Says Ties Between the US and Russia Declined to Lowest Points Over the Years

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Vladimir Putin, Russian President in an interview ahead of his meeting with Joe Biden, US President next week, said that US and Russia relations have deteriorated to the lowest points in recent years. Joe Biden and Putin are going to meet in Geneva on June 16. In the interview, Mr. Putin praised former US President Donald Trump for being a talented and extraordinary individual. He further added as a career politician was completely different from Trump.

When Putin was asked about Joe Biden calling him a killer, Putin said that he had to head many such accusations, and this is not something he would worry about. Biden, at the beginning of an eight-day trip to Europe, said that the US is not seeking any conflict with Russia and always wanted a stable relationship. However, if the Russian government involves in harmful activities, the US will give respond in a strong and meaningful way.

The Russian President was asked about many Russian dissidents’ deaths that are blamed on Moscow, along with the case of poisoning ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. He immediately dismissed the question saying it as verbal indigestion. He further said some of those who are responsible for deaths are still in prison.

The United States has traced Russia for the issue of a ransomware attack, and when asked on the topic, Putin denied the knowledge of any hackings and called on Joe Biden for reaching an agreement with him on cyberspace.

Putin Hopes Joe Biden to Be Less Impulsive Unlike Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he hopes Joe Biden to be less impulsive, unlike his predecessor Trump, ahead of his meeting with the new US leader. He described Biden in an interview as a career man who spent his entire life in politics after the colorful Donal Trump. He further said that there might be some advantages and disadvantages, but he wishes there will not be any movements based on impulse on behalf of the present US president.

Biden plans to raise several US complaints, including the Russian election interference and hacking with Putin in the summit on June 16 in Geneva at the ending of the US president’s first overseas trip. Putin had admitted that in the 2016 elections, he supported Trump, who voiced admiration for the President of Russia, and at their first summit, he appeared to accept his denials of election interference.

US Lawmakers Introduces Anti-Trust Bills Targeted to Limit the Power of Big Tech

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A bipartisan lawmakers’ group in the US House of Representatives introduced five bills on June 11 targeting to limit the power of tech giants. The drafting of bills happened after an investigation of 16 months into the powers of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. The draft addresses the topics including mergers, data, and the competitive behavior of all these companies. It will ultimately result in forcing them to sell some of the assets. However, there is not unanimous support for the bills aiming at big tech.

Bills that target certain companies, instead of emphasizing business practices, are a bad policy and could be ruled unconstitutional, said Neil Bradley from the US Chamber of Commerce. Before sending to the House Floor, the bills are going to be referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill to become a law, needs to be passed through the House of Representatives, through the Senate, and ultimately to be signed by US President Joe Biden.

More Information about the Bills

The co-sponsor of the bills, David Cicilline, and the Democratic chair of the Anti-trust Panel wrote a breakdown of the bills on Twitter which says that it will strengthen the laws to hold tech companies’ monopolies accountable and will create a stronger online economy. The bills include the American Choice and Innovation Online Act to prevent organizations from manipulating marketplaces for promoting their own products. Further, the 2021 Platform Competition and Opportunity Act will make it difficult for companies to purchase and kill off competitors. The bill also consists of Ending Platform Monopolies Act that will restrict Big Tech monopolies from selling their products in marketplaces they control.

Furthermore, the bill makes it easy to leave a social media platform and taking your data to a competitor as per the ACCESS Act of 2021. The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act allows the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice all the resources they require to police the monopoly powers with no additional cost to taxpayers.

Two of the bills reflect the issue of big companies like Amazon and Google for creating a platform for several other businesses and then again competing against the same businesses.

The president of the advocacy group Public Citizen, Robert Weisman, said that the big technology companies’ unchecked expansion and dominance have resulted in incredible abuses of power and has hurt many consumers, small businesses, workers, and innovation. The unchecked power got its end now.

A Massive Power Outage and Cyber-attack Cause Blackouts across Puerto Rico

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In Puerto Rico, a massive fire at the electricity substation of a new electricity provider named Luma Energy broke out power for hundreds of thousands of residents living in the Islands on June 10. Nearly around 800,000 customers suffered from power cuts as per Luma. Around 60,000 customers still remained in the dark by midnight. Luma Energy tweeted that the fire caused severe blackouts across the whole island while assessment is done on the situation and work is progressing to restore the system.

The fire and blackout are not only the crisis Luma is facing. Earlier the same day, the company said that its portal, as well as the mobile application, also fell victim to a cyberattack that disturbed customer access to the company’s online services. The distributed denial of service attack or DDoS attack generated over 2 million visits per second to the mobile app and client portal, thus impacting customer’s ability to get account information. The Company, Luma, further stated that it regrets the inconvenience customers have to face due to the attack, and the company is looking forward to providing them exceptional customer service experience again.

It is still very unclear that the DDoS attack and the fire are interconnected. Luma is a new company of just ten days and is in the role of the power authority of the island. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the earlier energy provider for the island, had notorious struggles with power outages, bankruptcy, mismanagement in Hurricane Maria’s wake in 2017. According to Associated Press, more than one million customers lost power in one month alone, without counting those who got affected by the substation fire. Officials had cautioned the resident to remain patient in the beginning days of transition as Luma Energy inherited frail electric infrastructure.

Governor of Puerto Rico Calls for an Investigation

At Luma Energy’s Monacillo Substation in San Juan, a fire broke out in a transformer, and the fire services, as well as police, rushed to the scene. There were no injuries reported. Governor Pedro Pierluisi, in a message shared on social media, said the incident was a massive explosion. Both state authorities and federal law enforcement authorities are doing their investigation. He further added that whoever was held responsible for the incident will have to answer the People living in Puerto Rico. FBI authorities of San Juan said that they were evaluating the matter and encouraged people who have information to come forward.

G7 Leaders to Commit Using All Resources for Unveiling Global Anti-Pandemic Plan

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G7 leaders are expected to disclose the anti-pandemic plans on June 12 and are committed to utilizing all the resources for ensuring that the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic is never repeated in the future. On the summit’s second day in Cornwall, they are going to issue a declaration that includes a series of measures intending to achieve this result. The aim is to cut down the time needed for developing vaccines to under 100 days.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on June 11, opened the summit with a pledge to tackle global inequality. Mr. Johnson committed that the UK will donate over 100 million Covid vaccines to the poor countries by the end of 2022, while Joe Biden promised to donate 500 million vaccine doses of Pfizer to 92 low as well as middle-income nations along with the African Union. However, some campaigners and charities have criticized the scale of the plan of the UK, under which only 5 million doses will be given out within September and 25 million doses by the end of 2021 while the remaining will be provided during 2022.

Mr. Johnson, who is conducting the three-day gathering at Carbis Bay’s Cornish seaside resort, said that it was important to learn from the 2008 mistakes of the financial crisis and deal with the scar of inequality.

Measures to Be Unveiled

Carbis Bay Declaration will be issued by the G7 leaders after the special session on June 12, which will set out plans for preventing any repetition of economic or human devastation wreaked by Covid-19. More than 175 million people across the globe have gone through the infection since the outbreak happened. Over 3.7 million deaths occurred due to Covid, as per the Johns Hopkins University of America.

The G7 declaration will reflect a series of concrete measures, including the cutting down of time taken for preparing and licensing vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for any disease in the future under 100 days. It also spells out to reinforce genomic sequencing capacity and global surveillance networks. Moreover, the declaration included support for reforming or strengthening the WHO or World Health Organization.

The declaration is anticipated to incorporate recommendations mentioned in a report by a group of experts in the field, government, and scientific institutions. WHO director Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will also take part in the session on June 12.

Read More News on: Newsmantraa

Amnesty International Says China Created a Dystopian Hellscape in Xinjiang

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Far western Xinjiang region of China has become a dystopian hellscape for the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities where they face state-organized and systematic torture as well as mass internment amounting to crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a report. The published report by Amnesty also called the UN to investigate China’s Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other Muslim minorities to mass detention and surveillance.

The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, accused Chinese authorities of making a dystopian hellscape on a lurching scale. It will astound the conscience of humanity that such great numbers of people are subjected to brainwashing, degrading treatment in internment camps, and torture. She further added that millions of people still live in fear, surrounded by a vast surveillance apparatus. Her statements also accused António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General that he failed to act as per his mandate and not calling for an international investigation. It is his responsibility to safeguard the values upon which the UN has been founded and not to remain silent in front of the growing crimes against humanity, said Ms. Callamard.

In a 160-page report on the basis of interviews with 55 former detainees, the organization said there is evidence about the Chinese state committing crimes against humanity, deprivation of physical liberty in violating the international law’s fundamental rules, imprisonment, torture, and persecution. Even the findings of Human Rights Watch concluded the same and believed that the Chinese government is causing several crimes against humanity. The nation China has been accused by certain Western countries too for pursuing genocide against Xinjiang’s Turkic ethnic groups. Even though there is still a dispute over the actions of the state constitute genocide.

Above all of this, China is continuously denying all the accusations of human rights abuses happening in Xinjiang.

Harsher Violence and Intimidation

Several experts agree on the topic that China has detained nearly a million Uyghurs and many other Muslims and jailed hundreds of thousands in its crackdown in Xinjiang, which started in 2017. Many reports also say about the physical as well as psychological torture people are facing inside prisons and in detention camps in Xinjiang. The torture included beatings, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and many more. China has been accused of utilizing forced sterilization, population transfer, abortion, and targeting religious leaders to break all traditions. In response, China denies those accusations saying that the camps are voluntary vocational and de-radicalization programmes to combat terrorism in the region.

Ilhan Omar: US Congresswoman Defends Her Offensive and Anti-Semitic Israel Remarks

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Tension among the democrats over Israel risen on June 10 when a group of 12 Jewish democratic lawmakers criticized Ilhan Omar, a US congresswoman, over a tweet that she wrote. In the tweet, she compared the actions of Israel and the United States with those of the Taliban and Hamas. The lawmakers felt it offensive and demanded to clarify her words. But the Minnesota representative, Ms. Omar, slammed the tropes of the group.

This is not the first time where Ms. Omar’s criticism of Israel has put her at odds with all her party members. In 2019, she apologized after a backlash on tweets over Israel. On June 7, Ms. Omar tweeted that they have seen unimaginable atrocities committed by Hamas, the US, Israel, the Taliban, and Afghanistan. They must have an equal level of justice and accountability for all the victims of crimes against humanity, Omar wrote, including a video of her asking questions to Antony Blinken, Secretary of State. The row comes weeks after the hostilities ended in the Middle East in ceasefire and surrounded by increasing reports of anti-Semitic strikes against American Jews.

However, mentions of Ms. Omar of militant Islamist groups of Taliban and Hamas in the same breath as Israel and the US disturbed some of her fellow democrats. A New York Democrat, Jerry Nadler’s group, wrote that equating Israel and the US to Taliban and Hamas is extremely offensive and misguided. Ignoring the contrast between democracies governed by law rules and contemptible organizations engaging in terrorism discredits the intended argument of a person and, at worst, showcases deep-seated prejudice. Making false equivalencies provide cover to terrorist groups, said the group.

Ilhan Omar’s Response to Backlash

Early on June 10, Ms. Omar, who is a Somali-born former refugee and the first Muslim elected to Congress, responded back at the group, saying them shameful and accusing them of involving in Islamophobic tropes. She tweeted that it is shameful for all the colleagues who call her at the time of need and now asking for her clarifications.  The Islamophobic tropes in the statements are offensive. The silencing and harassment from signers of this letter are intolerable.

Her fellow squad member of left-wing Democratic lawmakers, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, came forward in her defense, saying that she is tired of the constant vilification, public targeting of Ms. Omar is happening. Later on, on June 10, Ms. Omar issued a statement that she intended to inquire Mr. Blinken about particular incidents presented to the ICC or International Criminal Court.

Singapore to Ease COVID19 Rules in Two Phases and Other International COVID News

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Singaporean Government said on June 10 that they would ease some of the social restrictions that were strictly taken to contain the outbreak of coronavirus. After nearly a month of stringent measures, the people will now be able to gather but within a group of five. The city-state also stated that the government would maximize its vaccination campaign by allowing all the Singaporeans at the age of 12 or above to register for shots starting from June 11. They are planning to extend the eligibility of the remaining population in the upcoming months.

The announcement was made a day after the country of 5.7 million people recorded only two new coronavirus cases, the least number in months. After an outbreak at the international airport of Singapore resulted in dozens of infections in mid-May, the government restricted gatherings or dining in restaurants of more than two people.

The Health Ministry said that they have decreased the chains of transmission and lessened the number of community cases through tight measures. Now the government is in a position to ease the measures a little bit. The ministry further added that people would be allowed to have a gathering of five, and gyms, as well as restaurants, will be permitted to open again to the customers in a week or so, only if the cases remain low.

About one-third of Singaporeans are completely vaccinated, and it is one of the highest rates in entire Asia. But the nation kept its cases low by making masks compulsory, strictly tracing contacts, and restraining overseas travel. The further lifting of restrictions will depend on the number of people getting vaccinated, said the officials.

Other COVID news across the globe

Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, is going to restrict access to restaurants, shopping malls, cafes, and other public areas to those who are vaccinated against the coronavirus and to those who have tested negative. The new rules were announced on June 9 as the cases in UAE increased daily. The restrictions will also apply to hotels, gyms, parks, beaches, swimming pools, cinemas, and museums, said Abu Dhabi’s media office.

The vaccination confirmation app of Germany was introduced on June 10, nearly half a year after the vaccinations started there. The application is called CovPass and will present a QR code confirming that the user is completely vaccinated.

Spike in prices tightens the squeeze on US consumers

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American consumers were faced by another spike in prices in May. The price increased 0.6 percent over April and 5 percent over the past year, causing the biggest 12 months inflation spike since 2008.

As reported by the Labor department, the spike reflected in a certain range of goods and services like shop, travel, dine-out, entertainment etc. as people were increasingly attracted to these in a rapidly reopening economy.

The increased consumer demand is exceeding the supply in industries like lumber and steel, chemicals, semiconductors, autos, computer equipment etc. causing shortage of components and inflated prices.

As people have started stepping out of home slowly after the pandemic, the demand for manufactured goods and services like airlines and hospitality has also increased accompanied by rising inflation in these areas.

The government reported on Thursday, June 10 that core inflation rose 0.7 percent in May after a bigger 0.9 percent increase in April and had risen 3.8 percent over the past year. This percentage was excluding the volatile energy and food costs. The price of new cars also rose 1.6 percent which was the largest jump since 2009.

The shortage of semiconductors has been due to the disturbance in supply chain because of a jump in new and used vehicles. The lack of computer chips has led to limited production of new cars which has reduced the supply of new cars. The demand for vehicles has soared and so have the prices.

Among other categories, higher prices were evident in household furnishings which rose 0.9 percent, airline fares rose 7 percent and food prices rose 0.4 percent with beef prices jumping 2.3%. Energy costs remain the same, still up 56.2 percent in the past year.

There has also been a rise in the government’s month-to-month readings of inflation which are not subject to any distortions by the coronavirus pandemic. According to some economists, if the situation worsens and prices continue to accelerate for too long, expectations of further price increases will take hold. This could intensify demands for greater pay and is likely to trigger the kind of wage-price spiral that plagued the economy in the 1970s.

As of now, rise in the prices of commodities is forcing Americans to pay more for everything ranging from meat to gasoline. Prices for corn, grain and soybean have shot up to the highest level since 2012. The price of lumber that is used to build homes and price of more expensive commodities like polyethylene and wood pulp have caused higher consumer prices for things like toilet paper, diapers and other products sold in plastic containers.

From industry perspective, Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex and Scott toilet paper is hoping to raise prices on about 60 percent products, Procter & Gamble is also planning to raise prices for its baby, feminine and adult care products. Many other businesses are also experiencing upward pressure on their costs such as higher wages.

How unprocessed foods became so unhealthy

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Food processing was an important innovation by human civilization. Over the years, it has become synonymous with a high-fat, high-salt and high-sugar alternative to fresh foods.

Early methods of food processing had clear goals: soften foods and add flavour to them by cooking so that root vegetables and legumes were easier to digest.

Processes like fermentation, milling and baking also make some foods more nutritionally available and easier to digest. For the human body, it is difficult to extract nutrients from a kernel of wheat but by fermenting it into beer or milling it into flour can make a calorie-rich food.

Other ways like salting or pasteurisation make foods safer and last for a longer duration. This allows for convenience while travelling and surviving cold winters or droughts.

All these food processing methods are focused at making food last longer and safer, ultimately leading to less food waste. But most of these processed foods are unhealthy.

Soda and fizzy drinks came into existence in Britain 250 years ago. Sea voyages in the 18th century were not as easy as now. Crews relied on provisions on sea and water used to be stored for months in the hold here it used to fester and go stale.

This is how sparkling water and carbonated drinks with high-acidic value, good enough to prevent them from getting stale were born.

Modern carbonated drinks are high in sugar and super vilified. Modern Coca Cola states natural flavours as its ingredients but the identity of these ingredients is kept secretive.

Today, sugar obtained by chemical synthesis i.e. the added sugar causes numerous health problems that people associate with packed and processed foods. They lead to an increase in 10 percent of calorie intake in people’s ordinary diet.

This sugar is used in large quantities in the food industry to impart flavour to foods, make them tastier and acts as sweeteners. Not only this, sugars have technological functions in food too like providing texture, bulk, pleasant colour and acting as preservative agents.

Lot of natural sugar is present in fruits too, but that form of sweetness is low for the sweetness contained in processed food packets and also considerably less harmful for the human body.

There have been many public health campaigns around excessive sugars, fats and salts but it is not simple to remove them from foods where they serve a chemical function.

This is the reason why plan-based diets are being given preference. A plant-based diet includes eating only from plants. These foods constitute fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. It means increasing the proportion of food from plant sources in the diet.

But it is not exactly a shift from food processing. It means extracting nutrients from plants to create products that consumers will want to taste, feel and smell and this means processing food. This is why, finding new ways to structure foods will be a new innovation in the food processing industry in the future.