Microsoft and US intelligence: Chinese hackers spy on our IT infrastructure
Today's headlines: private paediatric clinics close in Seoul; In India, opposition parties against the inauguration of the new parliament wanted by Modi; In Nepal at least 30 people accused of passing off citizens as Bhutanese refugees; Malaysia and Swatch at loggerheads over Pride watches; Iran develops missiles and underground nuclear power plants; More and more Russians take up the study of Chinese.
A hacker group sponsored by the People's Republic of China has spied on a number of key IT infrastructures, Western intelligence agencies and Microsoft reported yesterday. The group uses the codename 'Volt Typhoon' and has been operational since 2021. According to experts, it is one of the largest Chinese cyber espionage campaigns against the US.
According to a report published by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, one in 10 paediatric clinics in Seoul has had to close in the past five years, from 521 in 2017 to 456 last year. In addition to the lower birth rates of the Korean population, baby clinics have very little revenue compared to other healthcare facilities because there are no costs other than those covered by health insurance.
On 28 May the new Indian parliament wanted by the ruling BJP party is due to be inaugurated, but 19 opposition parties have said they will not attend the ceremony, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of 'constitutional irregularity' for not asking the Indian president to inaugurate the building. The PM was also criticised for the chosen date, which corresponds to the birth anniversary of the ideologist Hindutva VD Savarkar.
In Nepal at least 30 people, including some former ministers, were arrested and charged with bribery and falsifying documents to allow Nepalese citizens to enter the United States pretending to be Bhutanese refugees. According to the Kathmandu Post, the individuals involved allegedly 'swindled about 875 Nepalese citizens out of millions of rupees'. About 120,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin have been deported or have fled Bhutan to Nepal since the early 1990s and many have been resettled in third countries over the years.
Over the past week, there have been several raids on Swatch shops, which have been marketing watches with rainbows in support of Pride, the pro-LGBTQ rights movement, following pressure from the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia party. Ministry of Home Affairs officials withdrew hundreds of products from shopping centres. CEO Nick Hayek stressed that the products had 'nothing political'.
Iran successfully tested a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km, two days after the head of the Israeli armed forces raised the prospect of 'action' against Tehran to target its nuclear programme. In recent days some experts have also pointed out that in the Zagros Mountains, in the central regions of the country, a nuclear plant is being built so deep in the earth that it cannot be reached even by the latest US weapons.
According to a survey by the Vtsiom institute, Russians have downgraded German and French from the list of languages of world importance (in 2018 they were considered as such by 28% and 23%, now by 12% to 9%). Chinese is increasingly rated, from 40% to 48%, Russian is at 65%. Leadership remains with English, although in five years it has fallen from 91% to 80%.