News Headlines 6/8/21

U.S. RECOVERS MOST OF RANSOM PAID BY COLONIAL PIPELINE TO HACKERS: Justice Department officials announced Monday (June 7th) that the U.S. has recovered most of the $4.4 million paid by Colonial Pipeline to hackers who carried out a ransomware attack against the company last month that caused the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to shut down operations for several days. FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said the FBI was able to identify a virtual currency wallet used by the Russia-backed hacker group and recovered from it 85 percent of the Bitcoin that was paid by Colonial Pipeline. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the operation that seized the cryptocurrency is the first of its kind carried out by a specialized ransomware task force created by the Biden administration.

HARRIS, IN GUATEMALA, SAYS ‘DO NOT COME’ TO THOSE CONSIDERING TRYING TO CROSS U.S. BORDER: Vice President Kamala Harris met with President Alejandro Giammattei in Guatemala Monday (June 7th) on her first foreign trip since taking office, with addressing the surge in migrants from Central  America traveling north to try to cross the U.S. border a central focus. Harris said, “I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” so they don’t feel they have to try to get to the U.S. for better opportunities. But she also warned against trying to make the journey, saying, “[I] want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come, do not come.” The U.S. yesterday also announced the creation of an anti-corruption task force and another to fight human trafficking and drug smuggling in the region, as well as a $7.5 million commitment to support entrepreneurs and innovators in Guatemala, and other economic investments. Harris will be in Mexico today, where she will meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

MAN DRIVES PICKUP INTO MUSLIM FAMILY OF FIVE IN CANADA, KILLING FOUR OF THEM, IN TARGETED ATTACK: A man drove a pickup truck into a Muslim family of five people, killing four of them, in the Canadian city of London, Ontario, Sunday night, with police saying Monday (January 7th) that they were deliberately targeted because they were Muslim. The only survivor, a boy, was seriously injured. Mayor Ed Holder said, “This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims. It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.” Officials said a  20-year-old man, Nathaniel Veltman, was arrested in the parking lot of a nearby mall after the attack and is facing four counts of first-degree murder. Detective Superintendent Paul Waight said they hadn’t determined yet if Veltman was a member of any specific hate group, but stated that the attack was planned. The dead were identified as 46-year-old Salman Afzal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and a 74-year-old grandmother whose name wasn’t released.

SUPREME COURT DECLINES CASE OF WHETHER MALE-ONLY  DRAFT REGISTRATION IS DISCRIMINATORY: The Supreme Court yesterday (June 7th) declined to hear a case over whether the requirement that only men must register for the draft is discriminatory. Three of the justices said in a statement that Congress is considering whether to change the legislation that only requires men to register, saying that was a reason to let lawmakers address the issue. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for them, “[A]t least for now, the Court’s longstanding deference to Congress on matters of national defense and military affairs cautions against granting review while Congress actively weighs the issue.”

CARBON DIOXIDE IN ATMOSPHERE NOW 50 PERCENT HIGHER THAN PRE-INDUSTRIAL LEVELS: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said yesterday (June 7th) that the amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 50 percent higher than it was when the industrial age began. The reading was from May, the annual peak of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, just before plant life that blossoms in the Northern Hemisphere begins to take some of it out of the air, and that level was the highest in four million years. The scientists also said the average rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is faster than ever.