Philippine leader signs $49 bn anti-poverty budget

Updated 19 December 2012
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Philippine leader signs $49 bn anti-poverty budget

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday signed into law a 2.005 trillion-peso ($49 billion) budget for 2013, vowing to use higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol to boost programs to reduce poverty.
Education, health, agriculture and a cash-transfer scheme for the poor are the key priorities of the appropriations, which are 10.5 percent higher than the 2012 national budget, he said during the signing ceremony.
“We designed this budget as an instrument to give the common man the power to control and improve his life,” Aquino said.
He thanked parliament for passing earlier this month a controversial rise in “sin taxes” on tobacco and alcohol products, which is expected to bring in over $800 million in extra revenues next year.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the budget law includes 44.2 billion pesos for “conditional cash-transfer,” up 12 percent from this year.
The three-year-old scheme gives up to $34 a month to the poorest families who meet certain criteria, like keeping their children in school and getting them as well as pregnant family members regularly to visit government health clinics.
Government officials say this gives their children a better opportunity to climb out of destitution.
More than 26 percent of the Philippines’ population of about 100 million are deemed by the government to be living in poverty.


FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers

Updated 15 min 58 sec ago
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FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers

WASHINGTON: The FBI warned on Friday that Russian computer hackers had compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic.
The US law enforcement agency urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday’s warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.
Infections were detected in more than 50 countries, though the primary target for further actions was probably Ukraine, the site of many recent infections and a longtime cyberwarfare battleground.
In obtaining the court order, the Justice Department said the hackers involved were in a group called Sofacy that answered to the Russian government.
Sofacy, also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear, has been blamed for many of the most dramatic Russian hacks, including that of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Earlier, Cisco Systems Inc. said the hacking campaign targeted devices from Belkin International’s Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear Inc, TP-Link and QNAP.
Cisco shared the technical details of its investigation with the US and Ukrainian governments. Western experts say Russia has conducted a series of attacks against companies in Ukraine for more than a year amid armed hostilities between the two countries, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and at least one electricity blackout.
The Kremlin on Thursday denied the Ukrainian government’s accusation that Russia was planning a cyberattack on Ukrainian state bodies and private companies ahead of the Champions League soccer final in Kiev on Saturday.
“The size and scope of the infrastructure by VPNFilter malware is significant,” the FBI said, adding that it is capable of rendering peoples’ routers “inoperable.”
It said the malware is hard to detect, due to encryption and other tactics.
The FBI urged people to reboot their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and help identify infected devices.
People should also consider disabling remote-management settings, changing passwords and upgrading to the latest firmware.