Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

1st June Brexit Fishing Wars, May Elections, Another Israel-Palestine War, Ransomware Attacks, Sad Hong Kong, Cummings keeps on Coming

Brexit Fishing Wars

Fishing tensions escalated again on May 6th, with dozens of French fishermen gathering around the port in Jersey to protest against new permits required for them to continue to fish.

British and French governments sent a few navy vessels to show strength and French politicians threatened to cut electricity supplies to Jersey which are supplied via under water cables from France. I think this sort of thing will become a regular event unfortunately. Well done to Brexit Boris, who benefits politically from a good old fashioned show of strength.

French and British fishermen are at it again, thanks to Brexit changes

May Elections

The elections held in May were both surprising and unsurprising.

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party increased their lead and ended up one short of a full majority in the Scottish Parliament. With the Greens, together they hold a majority for Independence.

In Wales, the Labour party also increased its lead, wining half the seats in the Welsh Parliament.

In England, the Conservatives increased their lead in the local elections at Labour's expense.

In London, Sadiq Khan won another term as Mayor.

What does this tell us after 127,000 people died of Coronavirus, the worst record per capita in the rich world?

What does this tell us after Boris Johnson's lies and the emerging damage from Brexit?

Surely it can't all be down to a successful vaccination programme? Perhaps it's a mixture of lacklustre opposition, vaccinations and short memories? I think most people have forgotten how badly the pandemic was managed last year and are crediting their current leaders with a good vaccination roll out and the re-opening up of the economy. 

There's nothing like a good war to boost a leader's poll rating. (The Falklands, Fishing rights in Jersey, etc.).

Another Israel-Palestine War

Another 11 days of fighting ended with more than 240 people killed, most of them in Gaza. Both sides accuse each other of all the same crimes. Trouble started in the holy Temple Mount site in Jerusalem in the Arab quarter. (It's not entirely clear why and who is responsible). This prompted the first rocket attack by Hamas from Gaza which then escalated into a treacherous set of reprisals, following the same pattern as usual.

Hamas fire missiles (right); the Israeli defences destroy most of them (left)

My niece is at University in Tel Aviv and has had to use the bomb shelters, often several times a day. Her flight back home has been cancelled.

Ransomware Attacks

During May, a number of high profile ransomware attacks have taken place on high profile organisations leading to serious disruption in daily lives. The first big one to hit the headlines was the on the Colonial Pipeline, the American pipeline operation that supplies nearly half the gas, diesel and jet fuel to the East Coast of America. That attack prompted Colonial Pipeline to shut down its pipeline operations, for one week. triggering panic buying at the pump and gas and jet fuel shortages along the East Coast. Colonial Pipeline agreed to pay its extortionists, a different cybercriminal gang called DarkSide, nearly $5 million to decrypt its data.

Hospitals in Ireland, New Zealand and Scripps Health in San Diego USA are also suffering from digital extortion attacks. A cyberattack on Ireland’s health system has paralysed the country’s health services for a week, cutting off access to patient records, delaying Covid-19 testing, and forcing cancellations of medical appointments. The criminals, thought to be a Russian-speaking cybercriminal group known as Wizard Spider, have threatened to publish the health network’s stolen data, unless officials pay a $19,999,000 ransom. The Taoiseach, Miche├íl Martin, has made it clear that they won't be paying and that the impact will be felt for weeks. 
Multiple hospitals across California and New Zealand are suffering from similar attacks that will clearly hinder the care provided to their patients.

I expect we will see more of this in the future as criminal hackers can extort vast amounts of money for just a few days of their time. Once again, it goes to show the importance of good cyber-security, particularly for large organisations.

HSE is the Irish Health Service Executive

Interestingly, after 8 days of chaos and cancelled operations, the criminals unexpectedly provided the keys to allow the Irish Health Service to get their IT back up; they still insisted on payment or they would sell the data. The damage will leave a lasting legacy; all elements of health services were affected, including major disruption to radiotherapy services; all urgent radiation patients were to be treeated in private hospitals; there were cancellations across all outpatient services, with colonoscopies down by as much as 80% and chemotherapy and daily elective procedures down by 50%.

Hong Kong losing its freedom

An artist in Hong Kong risks the wrath of the Chinese authorities. Below is Siu Wai Hang's photograph of the 2019 pro-democracy protests with the faces cut out.

Cummings Keeps on Coming

Dominic Cummings, the former adviser to Boris Johnson and his right hand man at No 10 until he was sacked last year, went on a seven hour verbal killing spree when testifying to a parliamentary committee investigating the government's handling on the coronavirus pandemic.

The now discredited former advisor who drove from London to Barnard Castle in Durham for an eye-test during lockdown, went for the kill, savaging several of his former colleagues. After apologising for his part in the disaster, in which he claims tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily, he attacked Boris Johnson who he said lurched between policies "like a shipping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other" and Matt Hancock who he accused of being a liar (a trait he may have in common with may of his colleagues) and who he advised Johnson to sack on many occasions.

Free advertising for Specsavers Opticians

Cummings said that "the problem in this crisis was very much lions being led by donkeys". I assume he classified himself as a lion and Johnson and Co as the donkeys. This is the man credited with being the brains behind Brexit; I am quite sure I know what he was spending most of his time doing in the critical lead up to the pandemic - and that was not pandemic planning! The Brexit 'deal' was formally adopted at 11pm on January 31st 2020, just as the 

I don't think history will be kind to Cummings.

"Depending upon whom you ask, Mr Cummings is a bullshitter, the Machiavellian mastermind of Brexit or a selfish joker who flaunted lockdown rules" The Economist May 27th 2021.

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