Category Archives: Politics

Japanese Woman Honored by Guinness as Oldest Person at 116

TOKYO A 116yearold Japanese woman who loves playing the board game Othello was honored Saturday as the world’s oldest living person by Guinness World Records.

The global authority on records officially recognized Kane Tanaka in a ceremony at the nursing home where she lives in Fukuoka, in Japan’s southwest. Her family and the mayor were present to celebrate.

Tanaka was born Jan. 2, 1903, the seventh among eight children. She married Hideo Tanaka in 1922, and they had four children and adopted another child.

She is usually up by 6 a.m. and enjoys studying mathematics.

The previous oldest living person was another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako, who died in July at age 117. The oldest person before Miyako was also Japanese.

Japanese tend to exhibit longevity and dominate the oldestperson list. Although changing dietary habits mean obesity has been rising, it’s still relatively rare in a nation whose culinary tradition focuses on fish, rice, vegetables and other food low in fat. Age is also traditionally respected here, meaning people stay active and feel useful into their 80s and beyond.

But Tanaka has a ways to go before she is the oldest person ever, an achievement of a French woman, Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to 122 years, according to Guinness World Records.

Guinness said the world’s oldest man is still under investigation after the man who had the honors, Masazo Nonaka, living on the Japanese northernmost island of Hokkaido, died in January at 113.

Source: Voice of America

ChinaBased Hacking Group Goes After US Military Secrets, Political Targets: Reports

Hackers based in China have targeted at least 27 universities in the United States in search of maritime military secrets, security research firm iDefense has found as part of ongoing research.

According to a threat report by iDefense, the security research arm of Accenture, Chinese hacking groups have targeted 27 U.S. universities, and the number may rise as their research continues.

The hackers use spear phishing, meaning that they pose as partner universities to the target.

If the emails are opened, they unleash malware that allows hackers based in China to access stored research, iDefense reported.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was among the targets, which also included the University of Washington, it said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Penn State and Duke University were also targeted.

All of the targets had researchers working on submarine technology or related fields, including oceanography.

iDefense said the hackers are likely affiliated with a group known as MUDCARP, and also referred to as TEMP.PERISCOPE, Periscope and Leviathan.

“Collection requirements appear to include several very specific submarine technologies produced by multiple cleared defence contractors (and their respective supply chains),” iDefense’s report said.

“Any technology or program that involves the delivery or launching of a payload from a submerged submarine, or undersea autonomous vehicles, is of high interest to MUDCARP,” it said.

State backing

The report comes after a March 4 report by FireEye, where researchers looking into the activities of MUDCARP, which it names APT40 (advanced persistent threat) were fairly confident that it had Chinese state backing.

It said the group targets organizations operating in Southeast Asia, especially relating to recent elections there, or linked to the South China Sea disputes and other actors who could affect the Chinese Communist Party’s Belt and Road infrastructure development plan, the FireEye report said.

“APT40 uses a variety of malware and tools to establish a foothold, many of which are either publicly available or used by other threat groups,” it said. “APT40 will often target VPN and remote desktop credentials to establish a foothold in a targeted environment.”

Once the foothold is established, APT40 “uses a mix of custom and publicly available … tools to escalate privileges,” it said, including online dumps of leaked user data.

Naval development

Chieh Chung, a research fellow at the National Policy Foundation on the democratic island of Taiwan, said China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been putting huge resources into to developing its navy in recent years.

“[Information about] the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the hydrological environment associated with the South China Sea are very important for maritime operations, especially for submarines,” Chieh told RFA.

“If [they] use such methods to collect data stored in other countries over a long period of time, they will succeed in filling the gaps in their own data pretty quickly,” he said.

“Much of this information, especially seabed topography, seawater salinity changes, and so on, are deemed classified by many countries.”

Chieh said it wouldn’t always be obvious to victims that they are being “phished,” because emails could be sent by researchers in the same field, while attachments could be articles or reports on hydrology.

“They may even pretend to be a sender with whom [the target] has a reallife connection, and trick them into opening the email that way,” he said.

Habits, awareness

Lin Yingyu of Taiwan’s Chungcheng University said the key to preventing cyberattacks still resides with people, rather than defensive software.

“The focus is on users’ habits and awareness of information security,” Lin said. “All students and employees need to know that this threat exists.”

He said cyber attacks originating in China have shown a resurgence in recent years after a relatively quiet period.

Chinese rights activist and tech expert Pu Fei said the only effective way to prevent such attacks is through “air gaps”: physical barriers between classified material and the internet.

“There is no such thing as a firewall that is 100 percent effective,” Pu said. “I still think that the best method is to cut computers that need toplevel security off physically.”

“They shouldn’t be connected to the internet, or to any internal network,” he said. “That is a pretty safe way to go.”

Copyright (copyright) 19982016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

China Congress Meeting About Politicking, Not Legislating

BEIJING Thousands of delegates from around China are gathering in Beijing for next week’s annual session of the country’s rubber-stamp legislature and its advisory body. The event is more a chance for the authoritarian ruling Communist Party leadership to directly communicate its message than for actual debate or passage of laws.

The session known as the two meetings provides an opportunity for party leaders to sum up the past year’s achievements and lay out their priorities for the coming 12 months. It also offers a rare glimpse of President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other top officials going about the business of governing Chinese style, as the world’s most populous nation faces challenges from a slowing economy to a radical decline in its birthrate.

Here are some facts and figures about the event. Many speeches and reports

As always, the 2019 session will include reports, speeches and media events, starting with Premier Li Keqiang’s lengthy Report on the Work of the Government, a sort of State of the Nation address, that kicks off the session Tuesday.

Li will reveal the economic growth target for the year and the annual defense budget, now the world’s second largest after the United States.

Reports will also be issued on the work of the Supreme People’s Court and the state prosecutor, the budget and the latest plan for economic and social development. The foreign and commerce ministers also meet with journalists, and the entire 10- to 11-day session ends with Li presiding over the premier’s traditional annual news conference broadcast live nationwide.

Thousands of delegates

This year, 2,975 delegates have been selected to sit in the National People’s Congress (NPC), the symbolic legislature, representing cities, provinces and regions from across China, along with the People’s Liberation Army.

They are joined by 2,158 members of the legislative advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which meets concurrently. Delegates, led mostly by retired government officials, can discuss proposals for legal and regulatory changes, but have no powers of enforcement. Rather than geographic regions, they generally represent social and professional sectors, including farmers, workers, government officials and professionals in the field of science, technology, business, finance, education, agriculture and entertainment.

Famous faces, some very wealthy

While the NPC is made up mainly of politicians and soldiers, CPPCC delegates cut a broad swath through society. Its ranks include economist Lin Yifu, former senior vice president of the World Bank, movie directors Feng Xiaogang and Jia Zhangke, actor Jackie Chan and some of China’s wealthiest businessmen including Ma Huateng of internet giant Tencent Holdings and Lei Jun of mobile phone maker Xiaomi.

Ma is believed to be the richest delegate, with a personal fortune of $45.3 billion, followed by real estate developer Xu Jiayin, with $30.3 billion, chairman of automaker Geely, Li Shufu, at $14.8 billion, and Xiaomi’s Lei with $11.4 billion, according to Forbes’ 2018 data. Their wealth leaves U.S. politicians in the shade and has raised questions about China’s growing gap between rich and poor and the power of money within the county’s largely opaque political system, despite President Xi Jinping’s ongoing campaign to root out official corruption.

Agenda light on legislative goals

The session will deliberate the Foreign Investment Law whose second draft was passed by the Standing Committee in January. It seeks to promote foreign investment while prohibiting the forced transfer of sensitive technology by administrative measures, a practice at the heart of U.S. complaints over unfair trading practices that have sparked punishing bilateral tariffs.

The measure, which replaces previous laws, essentially bars local governments from interfering with national foreign investment laws and policies and requires local governments to strictly fulfill their commitments and contracts with foreign investors.

Some significant achievements

While most laws are passed by the NPC’s standing committee, which meets bimonthly, some important pieces of legislation have been passed by the whole body at its annual session.

They include a 2018 supervision law that sought to facilitate the anti-graft campaign; general provisions of the civil law in 2017 that laid out the first such guidelines since the founding of the communist state in 1949; tax and charity laws in 2007; and the 2005 anti-succession law that laid down the conditions under which China would attack Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy it claims as Chinese territory to be recovered by force if necessary.

Source: Voice of America

China Congress Meeting About Politicking, Not Legislating

BEIJING Thousands of delegates from around China are gathering in Beijing for next week’s annual session of the country’s rubber-stamp legislature and its advisory body. The event is more a chance for the authoritarian ruling Communist Party leadership to directly communicate its message than for actual debate or passage of laws.

The session known as the two meetings provides an opportunity for party leaders to sum up the past year’s achievements and lay out their priorities for the coming 12 months. It also offers a rare glimpse of President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other top officials going about the business of governing Chinese style, as the world’s most populous nation faces challenges from a slowing economy to a radical decline in its birthrate.

Here are some facts and figures about the event. Many speeches and reports

As always, the 2019 session will include reports, speeches and media events, starting with Premier Li Keqiang’s lengthy Report on the Work of the Government, a sort of State of the Nation address, that kicks off the session Tuesday.

Li will reveal the economic growth target for the year and the annual defense budget, now the world’s second largest after the United States.

Reports will also be issued on the work of the Supreme People’s Court and the state prosecutor, the budget and the latest plan for economic and social development. The foreign and commerce ministers also meet with journalists, and the entire 10- to 11-day session ends with Li presiding over the premier’s traditional annual news conference broadcast live nationwide.

Thousands of delegates

This year, 2,975 delegates have been selected to sit in the National People’s Congress (NPC), the symbolic legislature, representing cities, provinces and regions from across China, along with the People’s Liberation Army.

They are joined by 2,158 members of the legislative advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which meets concurrently. Delegates, led mostly by retired government officials, can discuss proposals for legal and regulatory changes, but have no powers of enforcement. Rather than geographic regions, they generally represent social and professional sectors, including farmers, workers, government officials and professionals in the field of science, technology, business, finance, education, agriculture and entertainment.

Famous faces, some very wealthy

While the NPC is made up mainly of politicians and soldiers, CPPCC delegates cut a broad swath through society. Its ranks include economist Lin Yifu, former senior vice president of the World Bank, movie directors Feng Xiaogang and Jia Zhangke, actor Jackie Chan and some of China’s wealthiest businessmen including Ma Huateng of internet giant Tencent Holdings and Lei Jun of mobile phone maker Xiaomi.

Ma is believed to be the richest delegate, with a personal fortune of $45.3 billion, followed by real estate developer Xu Jiayin, with $30.3 billion, chairman of automaker Geely, Li Shufu, at $14.8 billion, and Xiaomi’s Lei with $11.4 billion, according to Forbes’ 2018 data. Their wealth leaves U.S. politicians in the shade and has raised questions about China’s growing gap between rich and poor and the power of money within the county’s largely opaque political system, despite President Xi Jinping’s ongoing campaign to root out official corruption.

Agenda light on legislative goals

The session will deliberate the Foreign Investment Law whose second draft was passed by the Standing Committee in January. It seeks to promote foreign investment while prohibiting the forced transfer of sensitive technology by administrative measures, a practice at the heart of U.S. complaints over unfair trading practices that have sparked punishing bilateral tariffs.

The measure, which replaces previous laws, essentially bars local governments from interfering with national foreign investment laws and policies and requires local governments to strictly fulfill their commitments and contracts with foreign investors.

Some significant achievements

While most laws are passed by the NPC’s standing committee, which meets bimonthly, some important pieces of legislation have been passed by the whole body at its annual session.

They include a 2018 supervision law that sought to facilitate the anti-graft campaign; general provisions of the civil law in 2017 that laid out the first such guidelines since the founding of the communist state in 1949; tax and charity laws in 2007; and the 2005 anti-succession law that laid down the conditions under which China would attack Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy it claims as Chinese territory to be recovered by force if necessary.

Source: Voice of America

Mother’s Death in Childbirth Sparks Outcry in Cambodia

BATI COMMUNE, SVAY RIENG PROVINCE, CAMBODIA Prak Soda and Suon Sakhen, high school sweethearts, married seven years ago. Lifelong residents of Svay Rieng province, one of Cambodia’s poorest, they were expecting an uneventful delivery of their second child earlier this month.

Prak Soda had taken a few days off work at a nearby garment factory to rest up and prepare.

But 27-year-old Prak Soda, a woman who knew how to add fun and laughter to a party, died from severe bleeding shortly after delivering her baby boy with a midwife’s assistance.

Her death sparked a national conversation.

Suon Sakhen, also a garment worker, said his wife appeared to be in good health immediately after giving birth.

My wife was OK. She asked the baby after delivering: ‘Can you cry?’ he told VOA Khmer in a recent interview at his home.

But Prak Soda kept bleeding, bleeding so severe Suon Sakhen said he argued with the midwife until she dispatched the new mother to the provincial hospital.

Prak Soda died from the loss of blood en route to the hospital.

Inside the ambulance, the medical person told me that my wife died, but I couldn’t believe it. So I asked the driver to continue driving until we reached the provincial hospital, Sakhen said. They confirmed that my wife died.

The next day, Feb. 5, he filed a complaint with district police alleging negligence by the midwife. VOA Khmer obtained a copy of the filing, which detailed how tragedy struck. Maternal mortality

Prak Soda’s death highlights how women risk death with each birth in developing nations such as Cambodia even though pregnancy is a normal phase of life for women of childbearing age.

Approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth each day, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which reports that 99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

Reducing maternal deaths, defined as any death that occurs during pregnancy, childbirth or within two months after a birth or terminating a pregnancy, is a UN goal.

Postnatal care is critical. According to a 2003 report by the Population Research Bureau, of the women worldwide who die of pregnancy-related causes, about a quarter die during pregnancy, about 15 percent at delivery, and 61 percent after delivery.

Under the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, world leaders pledged to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030. Between 1990 and 2015, maternal mortality worldwide dropped by about 44 percent, according to the World Health Organization. Maternal mortality is higher among women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.

The maternal mortality rate in Cambodia has decreased since 2005, from 472 deaths per 100,000 births in 2005 to 161 deaths per 100,000 births in 2015, according to official data.

Earlier goal achieved

Cambodia achieved the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal to cut maternal deaths by at least 75 percent by 2015, having decreased its ratio by 84 percent between 1990 and 2015.

Because many women die during childbirth because of the dearth of trained personnel, the government trained midwives and sent them to rural areas with high infant and maternal mortality rates. To discourage unattended home births, the government paid midwives $10 for a live birth at a hospital and $15 for one at a health center.

Ten years ago, we had from 15 to 18 deaths per year, said Ker Rotha, who heads the health department in Prak Soda’s Svay Rieng province.

Today, Cambodia’s improved local health centers provide basic delivery services, but any sign of complications is supposed to result in a quick transfer to the provincial referral hospital.

Chan Theary, executive director of the NGO Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA), said the new protocols had significantly reduced maternal mortality, but more work is needed, including providing more extensive training to midwives. RACHA focuses on improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

These advances seemingly failed Prak Soda, the first woman to die in childbirth in several years in Svay Rieng province.

News of her death triggered online discussions of unsafe childbirth in Cambodia. Mam Bunheng, the minister of health, and Or Vandin, the health ministry spokeswoman, could not be reached for comment.

So much blood’

Feb. 4 was the first day of the Lunar New Year. While not an official holiday � Cambodians celebrate the new year, Choul Chhnam Thmey, in April � life often slows down a little in the big cities and larger provincial towns.

Prak Soda arrived at the local health center Mesor Thngork in Chantrea district about 5 a.m., according to the complaint. Suon Sakhen accompanied Prak Soda as did her sisters and mother-in-law, a traditional midwife.

Prak Soda’s sister, Prak Sinuon, 37, told VOA she called the midwife who had delivered Prak Soda’s first baby, a girl who is now 5 years old. The woman came to the center, checked Prak Soda’s health and found nothing amiss, according to Prak Sinoun.

The baby arrived around 2:30 p.m., attended by one midwife rather than the usual two, according to the complaint.

After delivering the baby, the midwife, Ouk Chamrong, asked all family members to leave the room so that she could dispose of the placenta.

The victim’s mother-in-law, Pov Sakhorn, 62, a traditional midwife, remained behind.

She and I were inside the room. I was watching her, said Pov Sakhorn. I was wondering why there was so much blood coming out.

Sent to hospital too late

Listening through a window, Suon Sakhen said he could hear his wife complaining of a pain in her stomach.

I asked the midwife, Ouk Chamrong, to send my wife to Svay Rieng provincial hospital, but the midwife said the bleeding and her overall condition was normal, read the complaint.

Thirty minutes passed. Prak Soda continued to bleed. Only after Suon Sakhen argued with the midwife did she call an ambulance, according to the complaint.

Prak Soda, a garment factory worker for 10 years, died en route to the hospital, about 40 kilometers from the local health center where she gave birth.

The wife who had helped her husband on their rice farm had 10 days off ahead of her birth, said Suon Sakhen. My wife’s health was fine. She went to the health center for checks and to take medicine every month.

Only one midwife

Central to Suon Sakhen’s complaint is the presence of only one midwife, rather than the usual two, during the birth, and the delay in sending his wife to the hospital. In the filing, he claimed health center officials, including the head of the center, Has Sophun, and his wife, Mu Narou, are responsible for his wife’s death. He has requested compensation of about $10,000.

Has Sophun runs a private clinic in his home treating children and the elderly. In an interview with VOA Khmer, Mu Narou said that while she was not on call the day Prak Soda died, she went in to examine her.

Suon Sakhen said Mu Narou and Has Sophun examined Prak Soda once her condition was deteriorating.

Mao Sopheary, another trained midwife and the deputy head of the health center, said it was her turn to oversee births at the time of Prak Soda’s death, but she had requested leave for the Chinese New Year.

I told my boss that if we have patients who are in labor and we can’t treat them, we could send patients [elsewhere], she said. So I don’t know why they accepted [Prak Soda].

When asked about why there was only one medical attendant present during the delivery, Has Sophun told VOA Khmer, Normally, there are two midwives delivering the baby. But at that time, there was only one, but when there was a problem, more people came to help.

He referred questions to his superiors at the provincial health department.

‘A weak uterus’

Svay Rieng provincial health director Ker Rotha said it was a mistake that there was only one midwife present during the delivery.

Normally, there are two midwives helping, but because of Chinese New Year, some didn’t come, he said, adding that the responsible staff would face administrative punishment.

He defended midwife Ouk Chamrong, saying, She has worked for six years and she has skills in helping mothers deliver babies safely.

Ouk Chamrong could not be reached for comment.

Ker Rotha said, We finally hypothesized that too much bleeding caused the death. The victim’s uterus was weak and could not curb the blood flow.

He added that if Prak Soda had reached the provincial hospital faster, she may have been saved.

After Prak Soda’s death, many commune residents have become wary of giving birth at the local health center.

I will send [pregnant women] to Svay Rieng provincial hospital. If there is any problem, they will be helped on time, said Chab Srey, 60, a villager in Bati commune.

The health center is nearby and it is good, but if there is any urgent problem, we can’t [get to the hospital fast enough], she added. I am scared when there is such a problem.

Prak Soda’s mother said that she wanted justice for her daughter and accused the midwife of negligence.

They killed my daughter. Who will feed her children? said Puth Saban. As normal people, [we] had to have faith in the midwife.

Source: Voice of America