E.U. and Britain Move to Impede Belarus’s Access to Air Travel

Airlines are often forced to adjust operations in response to major disruptions, geopolitical and otherwise. This month, for example, several U.S. airlines canceled flights to and from Israel as a conflict there escalated. Some carriers also adjusted procedures, including adding fueling stops, after the hacking of a fuel pipeline company that serves airports on the East Coast of the United States.

In 2014, nearly 300 people were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, where hostilities were raging, on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. Western governments blamed the Russian government and Russian-backed rebels fighting the Ukrainian government, while Moscow denied involvement. The Netherlands sued Russia in the European Court of Human Rights last year in an effort to secure evidence that would be useful to families of the victims.

From 2017 until this year, Qatar Airways was forced to avoid airspace over Saudi Arabia and several neighboring countries after they imposed an air, land and sea embargo against Qatar. In some cases, that meant flying longer routes around the Arabian Peninsula. The neighbors accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Qatar has denied those accusations.

The movement to isolate Belarus will have little effect on U.S. passenger airlines, which rarely fly over the country, according to Flightradar24. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned the forced landing of the Ryanair flight, calling it a “shocking act” that “endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the safety of U.S. flights over Belarus should be assessed.

But cargo carriers could be affected. On Sunday, for example, more than a dozen flights operated by U.S. airlines flew over Belarus, according to Flightradar24, including five by FedEx, four by UPS and two by Atlas Air.

In a statement, UPS said that its network remained unaffected, but that it was “evaluating other flight route options that will provide for the safety of our crews and aircraft, as well as maintain service for our customers” in case it had to make changes. FedEx said it was “closely monitoring the issue.”

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations and the European Cockpit Association said in a statement that aviation authorities should investigate what had happened and “take swift measures” to prevent similar disruptions. They described Sunday’s episode as a “hazard to the safety of passengers and crew.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The Latest Coronavirus Comes From Dogs

It also had an unusual genetic mutation, a deletion in what is commonly known as the N gene, which codes for an important structural protein. This deletion has not been documented in other canine coronaviruses, Dr. Vlasova said, but similar mutations have appeared in the viruses that cause Covid and SARS. “So what does this mean?” Dr. Gray asks. “Well, you know, we don’t know exactly.”

Although much more research is needed, one possibility is that the mutation may help animal coronaviruses to adapt to human hosts, the researchers said.

It is too soon to say whether this virus poses a risk to humans. Researchers have not yet proved that this virus is the cause of the pneumonia that sent patients to the hospital. And they have not yet studied whether people who may contract the virus from animals can spread it to other people.

“We have to be careful, because things show up all the time that don’t become outbreaks,” said John Lednicky, a virologist at the University of Florida who was not an author of the study.

Nevertheless, the study is “extremely important,” he said. “The fact that it’s a coronavirus again once again tells us this is a group of viruses that deserves further study.” He added, “We should take this seriously and look for it, because if we start seeing more cases, that’s when the alarm bells should go off.”

Indeed, one possibility is that coronaviruses may be spreading between humans and other species, including dogs, far more frequently than has been known.

“At this moment we do not really have any reason to believe that this virus is going to be causing a pandemic,” Dr. Vlasova said. “What kind of attention we want to draw to this research is that transmission of coronaviruses from animal sources to humans is probably a very, very, very common event. And up until now it was mostly ignored.”

View Source

Irish Hospitals Are Latest to Be Hit by Ransomware Attacks

A cyberattack on Ireland’s health system has paralyzed the country’s health services for a week, cutting off access to patient records, delaying Covid-19 testing, and forcing cancellations of medical appointments.

Using ransomware, which is malware that encrypts a victims’ data until they pay a ransom, the people behind the attack have been holding hostage the data at Ireland’s publicly funded health care system, the Health Service Executive. The attack forced the H.S.E. to shut down its entire information technology system.

In a media briefing on Thursday, Paul Reid, chief executive of the H.S.E., said the attack was “stomach churning.”

Caroline Kohn, a spokeswoman for a group of hospitals in the eastern part of the country, said the hospitals were forced to keep all of their records on paper. “We’re back to the 1970s,” she said.

upended the lives of cancer patients whose chemotherapy treatments had to be delayed or recreated from memory.

The attacks come on top of a similar ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the American pipeline operation that supplies nearly half the gas, diesel and jet fuel to the East Coast. That attack prompted Colonial Pipeline to shut down its pipeline operations, 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.

The attack in Ireland has caused backlogs inside emergency rooms from Dublin to Galway, and patients have been urged to stay away from hospitals unless they require urgent care.

In many Irish counties, appointments have been canceled for radiation treatments, MRIs, gynecological visits, endoscopies and other health services. Health authorities said the attack was also causing delays in Covid-19 test results, but a vaccine appointment system was still working.

Irish health officials said Thursday that H.S.E. was working to build a new network, separate from the one that has been affected. Hundreds of experts have been recruited to rebuild 2,000 distinct systems. The effort is likely to cost tens of millions of euros, Mr. Reid said.

The H.S.E. said Thursday that it had been provided with a key that could decrypt the data being held for ransom, but it was unclear if it would work.

a separate legal fight by Microsoft — to take down a major botnet, a network of infected computers, called Trickbot, that served as a major conduit for ransomware.

In the weeks that followed those efforts, cybercriminals said they planned to attack more than 400 hospitals. The threat caused the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to warn health care operators to improve their protection from ransomware.

Ransomware groups continue to operate with relative immunity in Russia, where government officials rarely prosecute cybercriminals and refuse to extradite them. In response to the Colonial Pipeline episode last week, President Biden said Russia bore some responsibility for ransomware attacks because cybercriminals operate within its borders.

Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm, said members of Wizard Spider, the group responsible for the attack on Ireland’s health systems, spoke Russian and researchers “have high confidence that they are Eastern European, likely Russian.”

Last month, the data of a school district in Florida was held hostage by Wizard Spider. Broward County Public Schools, the sixth largest school district in the United States, was hacked by cybercriminals who demanded $40 million in cryptocurrency. The criminals encrypted data and posted thousands of the schools’ information online after officials declined to pay.

Last December, the chip maker Advantech was also hit by Wizard Spider. Its data was posted to the so-called dark web after it refused to pay.

Some cyber insurance companies have covered the costs of ransom payments, calculating that the ransom payments are still cheaper than the cost of rebuilding systems and data from scratch. Regulators have started to pressure insurance companies out of paying ransom demands, arguing that they are only fueling more ransomware attacks and emboldening cybercriminals to make more lucrative demands.

AXA, the French insurance giant, said last week that it would no longer cover ransom payments. Within days of its announcement, AXA was hit with a ransomware attack that paralyzed information technology operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

“This is just business as usual,” John Dickson, a cybersecurity expert at the San Antonio-based Denim Group, said in an interview Thursday. “These attacks should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.”

View Source

What Can and Can’t Be Learned From a Doctor in China Who Pioneered Masks

In late 1910, a deadly plague started spreading in the northeast reaches of China, reaching the large city of Harbin. Tens of thousands of people coughed up blood; their skin pruned and turned purple. They all died.

This outbreak sent the Qing government into a tailspin: They didn’t know what illness was causing these deaths, let alone how to control it. So they brought in one of the best trained doctors in Asia at the time, Dr. Wu Lien-Teh. After performing autopsies, Dr. Wu found Yersinia pestis, a bacterium similar to the one that had caused bubonic plague in the West. He recognized Manchuria’s plague as a respiratory disease and urged everyone, especially health care professionals and law enforcement, to wear masks.

Chinese authorities, heeding his call, coupled masking with stringent lockdowns enforced by the police. Four months after the doctor was summoned, the plague ended. Although often overlooked in Western countries, Dr. Wu is recognized in world history as a pioneer of public health, helping to change the course of a respiratory disease spread by droplets that could have devastated China in the early 20th century, and perhaps spread far beyond its borders.

While the Chinese of that era complied with these strategies, public health professionals in the United States and other Western countries have struggled to get people to listen to them during the Covid-19 pandemic. China, too, ran into challenges early on, but the country’s institutional memory from previous viral outbreaks helped turn the tide. And as many Americans abandon masking, push to restore normality in places where risks of infection remain high and hesitate to get vaccinated, some public health experts have looked to Dr. Wu’s success, seeking lessons on handling not only Covid, but also future epidemics.

masks became a political flash point in the United States and elsewhere during the Spanish flu pandemic, the idea of using them persisted in China, and gauze masks became an important tool in the political agenda of the Nationalist Party when it took over in 1928. Public health officials recommended all citizens wear gauze masks in public spaces during outbreaks of meningitis or cholera.

Kyle Legleiter, the senior director of policy advocacy at The Colorado Health Foundation.

Another factor that might have contributed to Dr. Wu’s success in China would be the reverence residents and officials had for him as a figure of authority, Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said.

In some ways, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser on Covid to President Biden and a prominent public health figure since the 1980s, served in a role similar to the one Dr. Wu played in China, Dr. Huang said. But, his message perhaps didn’t always get through because Americans are more polarized in their political identities and beliefs.

Dr. Legleiter added that public health messaging only penetrates if the public identifies with or trusts that figure of authority.

“An individual person is a stand-in for a broader set of institutions or systems that they’re speaking on the behalf of,” Dr. Legleiter said. Those who lean conservative, for instance, may put Dr. Fauci and other scientists in the category of “the elites.” As such, they’re more likely to flout public health policies that such authority figures promote, and comply with proclamations from individuals they identify with the most.

Others say that public health is intrinsically tied to the legitimacy of the state promoting it. At the turn of the 20th century, China was in distress, Dr. Hanson said. Dr. Wu helped bring China out of a tumultuous period, and the enforcement of public health measures gave the country more legitimacy.

Similarly, because the current pandemic has laid bare shortcomings in the public health systems in the United States, Britain and other Western countries, some experts believe it can be a catalyst for change.

“Since the mid-19th century, the West has generally seen its ability to control infectious disease as a marker of their civilizational superiority over much of the rest of the world,” Dr. White said. While China was seen as the sick man of the world then, some commentators in China now attempt to brand the United States with that label.

Ruth Rogaski, a medical historian at Vanderbilt University who specializes in studying the Qing dynasty and modern China, believes that the coronavirus crisis similarly offers an opportunity for reflection, which can be very motivating.

“Epidemics can serve as inflection points,” Dr. Rogaski said. “Opportunities to rethink, retool and even revolutionize approaches to health.”

View Source

The State of the Pandemic

A few months ago, there was widespread talk about the possibility of a “fourth wave” of Covid-19 in the U.S. this spring. Many states were relaxing restrictions, and many Americans, tired of sitting at home, were beginning to expose themselves to greater Covid risk even though they weren’t yet vaccinated.

Fortunately, however, the fourth wave has not arrived.

Cases and hospitalizations rose only modestly in late March and early April, and they have since begun falling again. Deaths have not risen in months.

natural immunity by already having had Covid. The vaccination program expanded rapidly. And even as some Americans behaved recklessly, others continued to wear masks indoors. (Outdoor masks, as regular Morning readers know by now, seem to make little difference in most circumstances).

by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 13 percent of adults said they would definitely not get a shot; 6 percent said they would do so only if required by their employer, their school or another group; and 15 percent said they were waiting to see how the vaccines affected others.

(Related: A new Times story focuses on the millions of Americans who say they are open to getting the vaccine but have not yet managed to do so.)

politically conservative communities, for the most part — are also hesitant about the vaccine. So long as a large number of Americans over 40 remain unvaccinated, Covid deaths are unlikely to fall near zero anytime soon.

The second major Covid problem is outside the U.S.: Vaccination rates remain extremely low in most of the world, especially in poorer countries.

Worldwide, there are still some encouraging signs. Global cases have been falling over the past two weeks. Africa and much of Asia continue to report low levels of Covid, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Even in India, the site of a dire outbreak, caseloads have declined slightly in the past few days.

has been horrific. Cases have also been rising in Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand. Brazil and much of South America are struggling, too. All of these countries serve as reminders that the world remains vulnerable to new waves.

The biggest Covid issue for the rest of 2021 is probably the speed of vaccinations in lower-income countries. It will determine both the future death toll and the likelihood that dangerous new variants take hold, in all countries. Roughly 90 percent of the world’s population has not yet received a shot.

Peggy Noonan argues. It will also hurt Republican electoral prospects, says Commentary’s Noah Rothman.

  • Cheney’s focus on Trump’s flaws, rather than on Democrats, puts her out of step with the rest of her party’s leadership, Eliana Johnson counters in Politico.

  • “It is because she is such a partisan, conservative Republican that her dissent is so significant,” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait has written. But Maureen Dowd argues that Cheney deserves some blame for Republicans’ comfort with lies.

  • where you can find “bulk bins of fish balls, live lobsters brooding in blue tanks, a library of tofu.”

    Dunbar’s number: Can you have more than 150 friends?

    A Times classic: Why songs of the summer sound the same (and you may want to turn up the volume).

    Lives Lived: Pat Bond was a foundational figure in the B.D.S.M. community. Two people showed up for the first meeting of the Eulenspiegel Society, which Bond started in the early 1970s; membership eventually grew to more than a thousand. He died at 94.

    letter-of-recommendation feature. And he explains why you might like them, too. “The check mark is more important than whatever comes of the daily work whose completion you’re marking,” he argues. “The first represents actual living; the second, merely a life.”

    Related: Atul Gawande’s 2007 piece in The New Yorker on the power of checklists. — Claire Moses, a Morning writer

    Here are recipes, including namoura, a syrup-soaked Lebanese cake.

    play online.

    Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Pack of cards (four letters).

    If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.


    Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

    P.S. Nineteen years ago today, Jimmy Carter became the first U.S. president, in or out of office, to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution. He delivered part of his address in Spanish, The Times reported.

    You can see today’s print front page here.

    Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about Liz Cheney. On “The Argument,” a debate over D.C. statehood.

    View Source

    Hong Kong Pushes ‘Fake News’ Label as Media Face ‘Worst of Times’

    HONG KONG — The glossy pamphlet from the police, delivered to newsrooms in Hong Kong, declared: “Know the Facts: Rumors and Lies Can Never Be Right.” With it was a letter addressed to editors, decrying the “wicked and slanderous attacks” against the police.

    The 12-page magazine, distributed Wednesday to news outlets including The New York Times, described the police’s efforts to push back against misinformation. In one instance, the department countered rumors that officers had attended a banquet with gang members, saying the police had held their own private dinner. In another, it accused a local TV station of smearing the police in a parody show.

    “Fake news is highly destructive,” read one graphic carrying the hashtag #youarewhatyousend.

    Officials in Hong Kong are increasingly seizing on the label of “fake news,” a common authoritarian refrain. The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, said on Wednesday that the government was looking at laws to tackle “misinformation, hatred and lies.” The city’s police chief has said a fake-news law would help fight threats to national security.

    The rhetoric is raising fears among activists that the label could be used as a new tool to muzzle dissent.

    traditionally unfettered news media, known for coverage that has been critical of the establishment, has been under attack for months. The national security law, which calls for increased regulation of the media, has given the police and local officials powerful tools to constrain the press, but they are seeking more.

    Mrs. Lam, the city’s chief executive, has said that the government was exploring legislation to curb fake news, which she said spread online during the protests and the pandemic.

    “We have seen the internet, especially social media, flooded with doxxing, hateful and discriminatory remarks and fake news,” she said in remarks to lawmakers in February. Mrs. Lam has said that the proposed legislation had yet to be drafted because the government was still examining how such laws were handled elsewhere.

    a 14-month prison sentence for protesting in 2019, and is accused of fraud and colluding with a foreign country.

    The police have also bristled at coverage by RTHK, a government-funded public broadcaster with a tradition of independent coverage. The police complained about a parody program that portrayed officers as trash, with an actor portraying an officer in a garbage can.

    The government has moved to rein the broadcaster in, replacing its top editor with a civil servant with no journalism experience in February. Under the new leadership the broadcaster has cut two radio programs known for sharp political commentary and added a new show hosted by Mrs. Lam, the city’s leader, discussing an electoral overhaul imposed by Beijing that critics say would cripple the opposition.

    The broadcaster was also at the center of a closely watched court case last month in which a former freelance producer for RTHK was convicted of making false statements to obtain public records for a report that was critical of the police. The journalist, Choy Yuk-ling, used the records for a documentary that examined how the police were slow to respond to an attack by a mob on protesters at a train station in 2019.

    On Thursday, Ms. Choy’s documentary was honored in Hong Kong with a human rights award. “Chasing the smallest clues, interrogating the powerful without fear or favor,” wrote the judging panel, which called it an “investigative reporting classic.”

    The broadcaster has said that it would not accept the award.

    Tiffany May contributed reporting.

    View Source

    Indonesia Submarine Crew Sang a Farewell Song, Weeks Before Sinking

    Below deck on their submarine, Indonesian sailors crowded around a crewman with a guitar and crooned a pop song called “Till We Meet Again.”

    Weeks later, the same sailors vanished deep beneath the Pacific Ocean while descending for a torpedo drill, setting off a frantic international search. Indonesian military officials said on Sunday, four days after the vessel disappeared, that it had broken into three pieces hundreds of meters below the surface, leaving no survivors among the 53 crew members.

    Now, the video of the submariners singing is resonating across Indonesian social media, in a nation where many people are jaded by a steady stream of bad news: devastating earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and sinking ferries.

    composed the song, wrote on Instagram below a clip of the sailors’ performance.

    paid their respects to the spirit world, consulting with seers or collecting what they believed were magic tokens, for example.

    told The New York Times in 2018 that he made a point of incorporating local wisdom and traditional beliefs while communicating the science of disasters.

    “The cultural approach works better than just science and technology,” Mr. Sutopo said. “If people think that it is punishment from God, it makes it easier for them to recover.”

    The latest diaster struck last week, when a 44-year-old submarine, the Nanggala, disappeared before dawn during training exercises north of the Indonesian island of Bali. Search crews from the United States, India, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore later helped the Indonesian Navy hunt for the vessel in the Bali Sea.

    For a few days, naval experts worried that the sub might run out of oxygen. Then the navy confirmed over the weekend that it had fractured and sank to a deep seabed.

    Among the items a remote-controlled submersible found at the crash site was a tattered orange escape suit.

    a melancholic version by the Indonesian singer Tami Aulia has more than nine million page views on YouTube.

    But Mr. Soekamti said his band now avoids playing it and recently declined to include it on an upcoming live album.

    “I am sad,” he said, “and, in a way, afraid.”

    View Source

    Myanmar Coup Leader Arrives in Indonesia for Asean Summit

    The army general who has ruled Myanmar since leading the overthrow of its civilian government arrived on Saturday in Indonesia for a meeting with leaders of other Southeast Asian nations, after some of them expressed concern about the army’s killing of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters.

    It was the first time since the Feb. 1 coup that the army’s commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, had ventured outside Myanmar. Critics feared that his presence with heads of state at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting would give him the appearance of legitimacy.

    Myanmar politicians who have formed what they call a National Unity Government called on Interpol and the Indonesian police this week to arrest the general upon arrival in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, for crimes against humanity, including the ethnic cleansing campaign that drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the country in 2017.

    The National Unity Government, which asserts that it is the legitimate government of Myanmar, also urged the 10-nation regional association, known as Asean, to give it a seat at the summit meeting and refuse to meet with General Min Aung Hlaing until he halts the killing of civilians.

    targeted sanctions on regime leaders and military-owned businesses, but diplomatic efforts to stop the killing have been unsuccessful. The United Nations Security Council, where China and Russia can be counted on to support the Myanmar regime, has taken no action.

    Asean, which has a policy of noninterference in the affairs of member nations, issued a statement in March calling on “all parties to refrain from instigating further violence,” seemingly ignoring the one-sided nature of the killings.

    Among those expected to attend Saturday’s summit were the leaders of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei. The Philippines, Thailand and Laos were expected to send representatives.

    The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia have separately expressed concern about the coup, and Indonesia played a leading role in convening the meeting.

    Some members of Asean, including Singapore and Thailand, have close business ties with Myanmar and its military, known as the Tatmadaw, which owns two of the country’s largest conglomerates.

    Three Asean members, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, sent representatives to the Tatmadaw’s Armed Forces Day celebration on March 27. On that day, soldiers and the police killed at least 160 protesters in its largest single-day killing spree since the coup.

    slaughter of thousands in its war on drugs and Vietnam’s practice of giving long prison sentences to dissidents.

    Asean stood by in 2017 as the Tatmadaw waged a ruthless campaign of murder, rape and ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims, who fled in large numbers across the border into Bangladesh, which is not an Asean member. Nearly all the Rohingya refugees are still there, living in squalid, overcrowded camps.

    As the Tatmadaw’s commander in chief, General Min Aung Hlaing oversaw the military operations against the Rohingya.

    International human rights groups urged Asean not to meet with the general. Rather, they said, the group should impose sanctions on the junta’s leaders, press for the release of detainees and seek an end to the killings.

    “Min Aung Hlaing, who faces international sanctions for his role in military atrocities and the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, should not be welcomed at an intergovernmental gathering to address a crisis he created,” said Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

    View Source

    For Indonesian Submarine, Oxygen and Time Are Running Out

    A steel-hulled submarine can hold only a certain amount of breathable air. It goes faster when 53 people are crammed into the tight space.

    At some point early on Saturday morning, the life force for the sailors onboard the KRI Nanggala-402, an Indonesian Navy submarine that has been missing since Wednesday, could run out.

    Search crews from the United States, India, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore, along with the Indonesian Navy, have been desperately converging on the waters north of the Indonesian island of Bali, in hopes of locating the submarine and rescuing its crew.

    So far, the Nanggala is nowhere to be found.

    “If the rescue takes longer, the chances get smaller,” said Susaningtyas Nefo Handayani Kertopati, an Indonesian military and intelligence analyst. “The chance of survival is very small. The hope gets thinner.”

    seven sailors on board a Russian Navy submarine that had gotten tangled in a fishing net were rescued just a few hours before their oxygen would have dissipated.

    Russian Navy submarine, the Kursk, sank to the seabed after an explosion on board. All 118 people died after rescue teams took days to gain access to the submarine, and oxygen ran out for the 23 sailors who had survived the blast.

    On Monday, an Indian ship, which is outfitted with a mini submersible that can conduct underwater rescues, should arrive in the Bali Sea to help with the search effort. If the backup air filtration system is fully operational, Indonesian defense experts said that any surviving sailors may be able to last until then.

    “I am optimistic,” said Ms. Bakrie, who is friends with some of the crew on board the Nanggala. “But, again, if it’s 700 meters, forget it. Nothing can help.”

    John Ismay contributed reporting.

    View Source