Four arrested over Taiwan’s first bitcoin robbery

Four arrested over Taiwan’s first bitcoin robbery
Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions and its value has soared since it came into being in 2009. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2018

Four arrested over Taiwan’s first bitcoin robbery

Four arrested over Taiwan’s first bitcoin robbery

TAIWAN: Taiwan police have arrested four men over a bitcoin robbery worth 5 million Taiwanese dollars in what they said was the first case of its kind on the island.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code that allows anonymous transactions and its value has soared since it came into being in 2009.
Taiwan police said three men in their early twenties lured a man surnamed Tai to the central city of Taichung, pretending to be interested in buying bitcoins.
After Tai showed proof of his bitcoins on his phone, the scammers assaulted him and his friend, then transferred 18 bitcoins worth 5 million Taiwanese dollars from Tai’s account via his phone.
The suspects attempted to pass off the heist as a drunken row by forcing the victim to drink Kaoliang, a strong Taiwanese liquor, Taichung city police said in a statement.
Police arrived at the scene after receiving a call about a dispute and one man was detained. The other two had fled.
“The police saw bloodstains at the scene ... after further investigation, it was discovered to be a bitcoin virtual currency robbery,” the statement released Wednesday said.
It described the case, which happened earlier this month, as “the first domestic case of bitcoin robbery.”
The two other suspects were later arrested, one on the outlying island of Kinmen where he had gone to escape police.
The fourth man, surnamed Shih, believed to be the mastermind behind the robbery, was also detained.
Britain saw its first Bitcoin armed robbery last month, according to reports, in which a virtual currency trader and his wife were threatened with a gun.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are independent of governments and banks and use blockchain technology, where encrypted digital coins are created by supercomputers.
But calls are mounting for virtual currencies to be regulated, and prices have fluctuated in recent months amid concerns over tightened control.


Over 1,000 reported arrested at Navalny rallies in Russia

Over 1,000 reported arrested at Navalny rallies in Russia
Updated 21 April 2021

Over 1,000 reported arrested at Navalny rallies in Russia

Over 1,000 reported arrested at Navalny rallies in Russia
  • Police arrested over 1,000 demonstrators, according to a human rights group that monitors political repression
  • Navalny’s team called for unsanctioned demonstrations after weekend reports that his health is deteriorating

MOSCOW: More than 1,000 people were arrested across Russia in connection with nationwide demonstrations calling for imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s release on Wednesday, said a human rights group.
Thousands of Navalny supporters marched in central Moscow as part of nationwide protests calling for his freedom as his health reportedly is in severe decline while on a hunger strike.
Russian police arrested over 1,000 demonstrators, according to the human rights group that monitors political repression. Many were seized before the protests even began, including two top Navalny associates in Moscow.
Navalny’s team called for the unsanctioned demonstrations after weekend reports that his health is deteriorating.
“The situation with Alexei is indeed critical, and so we moved up the day of the mass protests,” Vladimir Ashurkov, a close Navalny ally and executive director of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, told The Associated Press.
“Alexei’s health has sharply deteriorated, and he is in a rather critical condition. Doctors are saying that judging by his test (results), he should be admitted into intensive care.”
Navalny’s organization called for the Moscow protesters to assemble on Manezh Square, just outside the Kremlin walls, but police blocked it off.
Instead, a large crowd gathered at the nearby Russian State Library and another lined Tverskaya Street, a main avenue that leads to the square. Both groups then moved through the streets.
“How can you not come out if a person is being murdered — and not just him. There are so many political prisoners,” said Nina Skvortsova, a Moscow protester.
In St. Petersburg, police blocked off Palace Square, the vast space outside the Hermitage museum and protesters instead crowded along nearby Nevsky Prospekt.
It was unclear if the demonstrations would match the size and intensity of nationwide protests that broke out in January after Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent, was arrested. Turnout estimates varied widely: Moscow police said 6,000 people demonstrated in the capital, while an observer told Navalny’s YouTube channel that the crowd was about 60,000.
The OVD-Info group reported 1,004 arrests in 82 cities.
Navalny’s team called the nationwide protests for the same day that Putin gave his annual state-of-the-nation address. In his speech, he denounced foreign governments’ alleged attempts to impose their will on Russia. Putin, who never publicly uses Navalny’s name, did not specify to whom the denunciation referred, but Western governments have been harshly critical of Navalny’s treatment and have called for his release.
In Moscow, Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh and Lyubov Sobol, one of his most prominent associates, were detained by police in the morning.
Yarmysh, who was put under house arrest after the January protests, was detained outside her apartment building when she went out during the one hour she is allowed to leave, said her lawyer, Veronika Polyakova.
She was taken to a police station and charged with organizing an illegal gathering.
Sobol was removed from a taxi by uniformed police, said her lawyer, Vladimir Voronin.
OVD-Info reported that police searched the offices of Navalny’s organization in Yekaterinbrug and detained a Navalny-affiliated journalist in Khabarovsk.
In St. Petersburg, the State University of Aerospace Instrumentation posted a notice warning that students participating in unauthorized demonstrations could be expelled.
The 44-year-old Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin. Russian officials have rejected the accusation.
Soon after, a court found that Navalny’s long stay in Germany violated the terms of a suspended sentence he was handed for a 2014 embezzlement conviction and ordered him to serve 2 1/2 years in prison.
Navalny began the hunger strike to protest prison officials’ refusal to let his doctor’s visit when he began experiencing severe back pain and a loss of feeling in his legs. The penitentiary service has said Navalny was getting all the medical help he needs.
Navalny’s physician, Dr. Yaroslav Ashikhmin, said recently that test results he received from Navalny’s family showed sharply elevated levels of potassium, which can bring on cardiac arrest, and heightened creatinine levels that indicate impaired kidneys and he “could die at any moment.”
On Sunday, he was transferred to a hospital in another prison and given a glucose drip. Prison officials rebuffed attempts by his doctors to visit him there.
Russian authorities have escalated their crackdown on Navalny’s allies and supporters. The Moscow prosecutor’s office asking a court to brand Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his network of regional offices as extremist organizations.
Human rights activists say such a move would paralyze the activities of the groups and expose their members and donors to prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Navalny’s allies vowed to continue their work despite the pressure.
“It is, of course, an element of escalation,” Ashurkov told the AP. “But I have to say we were able to regroup and organize our work despite the pressure before. I’m confident that now, too, we will find ways to work. ... We have neither the intention nor the possibility to abandon what we’re doing.”


British-Muslim family offered pork burgers in ‘nightmare’ quarantine 

British-Muslim family offered pork burgers in ‘nightmare’ quarantine 
Updated 21 April 2021

British-Muslim family offered pork burgers in ‘nightmare’ quarantine 

British-Muslim family offered pork burgers in ‘nightmare’ quarantine 
  • ‘It’s been extremely hard in this situation. We’re not even being treated like humans’
  • Judge: ‘The genuine difficulties they are experiencing in quarantine ought to be addressed immediately’

LONDON: A British-Pakistani Muslim family has been served pork burgers in the enforced hotel quarantine for arrivals in the UK, as government ministers face legal challenges over the conditions and service.

The family, who paid £4,025 ($5,610) for the hotel, was given the food that they cannot eat due to their religious beliefs.

Other families have reported waiting hours for water deliveries, in what lawyers describe as “morally reprehensible and plainly unlawful” conditions.

In pandemic measures since Feb. 15, all arrivals to Britain who visit countries that are on the so-called “red list” — of which there are now 50 — are required to quarantine for 10 days. 

The Muslim family said when they were offered food other than bacon and pork burgers, it was “stale and rock hard.”

Naheeda Khan, the mother, said the enforced hotel stay was a “nightmare,” adding: “The food has been terrible. It arrives cold and is really tasteless — hardly eatable. They have given us pork burgers and paninis which we cannot eat because we are Muslim. The kids have just been eating cereal and crisps.

She said: “Because we only have one chair, most of us have been having to eat on the bed, which made a mess. Then for three or four days we were ringing and asking them to bring us clean bed sheets. We had no choice but to sleep on it. It was really disgusting.”

Khan added that the situation was worsened by restrictions on exercise, keeping them to their room with windows that did not open, which was contrary to what they were told on arrival, where hotel staff informed the family that they could exercise in the car park on request. 

This was particularly difficult for their 10-year-old son, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“When we’re at home he will go to his room, go to the garden. He cries a lot, but he doesn’t like to cry in front of us. It’s been extremely hard in this situation. We’re not even being treated like humans,” she said.

Last week, lawyers acting on behalf of the family lodged a claim about the conditions to the High Court.

On Friday, a judge ordered the government to “take all necessary steps” to urgently change all conditions by Monday morning.

“The genuine difficulties they are experiencing in quarantine, in particular the health and wellbeing of their children, and the lack of respect for their dietary needs as Muslims, ought to be addressed immediately,” Mrs Justice Lang’s order read.

However, the Khan family’s lawyers returned to the High Court on Monday afternoon after reforms had not been made. 

Mr Justice Henshaw said the court was “not satisfied” that Mrs Justice Lang’s order had carried out, adding that the situation was unjustifiable.


At least 4 dead, 12 injured in southwestern Pakistan hotel blast

At least 4 dead, 12 injured in southwestern Pakistan hotel blast
Updated 21 April 2021

At least 4 dead, 12 injured in southwestern Pakistan hotel blast

At least 4 dead, 12 injured in southwestern Pakistan hotel blast
  • Blast tore through the parking area of the Serena hotel which is currently hosting the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan
  • No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion in which all casualties are Pakistani nationals

QUETTA/KARACHI: An explosion at a five-star hotel in Quetta, Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, killed four people and injured 12 others, authorities said on Thursday morning.

The blast tore through the parking area of the Serena hotel which is currently hosting the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan.

“At least four dead bodies and 12 injured have been brought to the hospital and of the injured two are in critical condition," Dr. Waseem Baig, spokesperson of the Civil Hospital in Quetta told Arab News Pakistan.

Provincial Home Minister Zia Ullah Langau said all casualties were Pakistani nationals. He added that the Chinese envoy was not at the hotel at the time of the explosion.

“The Chinese ambassador was present at cantonment when the blast occurred,” Langau said. "The Chinese ambassador is in Quetta and his spirit is high. He will resume his routine engagements tomorrow morning."

Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry condemned the blast and said a preliminary investigation is underway.

"The government will issue a statement as soon as the nature of the blast and the damage are determined," he said.

Balochistan Police Inspector General Muhammad Tahir Rai told reporters that investigators are still assessing the intensity of the blast and the explosives used.

Separatists have been fighting security forces for years in the province over what they see as unfair exploitation of its vast mineral wealth.

They also claim security forces have pushed them to take up arms because of a long history of human rights abuses against the Baloch people, which security forces and subsequent governments in Balochistan have vehemently denied.

Insurgents have attacked projects linked to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.


Syrian refugee boy received death threats after far-right leader’s accusations: UK court hearing

English Defense League founder StepEnglish Defense League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (L), known as Tommy Robinson, arriving at court for a libel case for accusations made against Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal Hijazi, filmed in 2018. (AFP/Screenshot)hen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson, arriving at court for a libel case for accusations made against Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal Hijazi, filmed in 2018. (AFP/Screenshot)
English Defense League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (L), known as Tommy Robinson, arriving at court for a libel case for accusations made against Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal Hijazi, filmed in 2018. (AFP/Screenshot)
Updated 21 April 2021

Syrian refugee boy received death threats after far-right leader’s accusations: UK court hearing

English Defense League founder StepEnglish Defense League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (L), known as Tommy Robinson, arriving at court for a libel case for accusations made against Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal Hijazi, filmed in 2018. (AFP/Screenshot)hen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson, arriving at court for a libel case for accusations made against Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal Hijazi, filmed in 2018. (AFP/Screenshot)
  • Jamal Hijazi was filmed being attacked in English school playground in November 2018
  • High Court told Stephen Yaxley-Lennon used online platform to spread anti-Muslim, ‘extremist’ views

LONDON: A Syrian refugee schoolboy in the UK faced death threats and was forced to flee his home with his family due to social media posts from a far-right extremist, a British court heard on Wednesday.

Jamal Hijazi, 17, is suing English Defense League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson to his followers, for libel following accusations of assault and threatening behavior.

Yaxley-Lennon posted two videos to Facebook, which attracted more than 900,000 views, saying Hijazi had “participated in a violent assault on a young girl” at his school and had also “threatened to stab” a fellow student.

His comments came after Hijazi was filmed being attacked at a school playground near where he lived in Huddersfield, northern England, in November 2018. In the footage, his fellow pupils assaulted him and “simulated waterboarding him,” a preliminary hearing at the High Court in London was told.

The video was watched millions of times after it was posted on social media and prompted outrage and public sympathy for the refugee schoolboy, who fled Homs in Syria with his family in 2016.

In his own videos, Yaxley-Lennon claimed Hijazi was “not innocent and violently attacks young English girls in his school,” while also claiming that he “beat a girl black and blue.”

His comments had turned Hijazi “into the aggressor” and the boy filmed bullying him into a “righteous white knight,” Hijazi’s lawyer Catrin Evans said on the first day of the libel case.

She said that Yaxley-Lennon’s allegations had a “devastating effect on Jamal and his family” and were instrumental in them having to relocate from the area in 2019.

Yaxley-Lennon “used his social media platforms, in particular his Facebook account, to spread his extremist views,” and did so “without any direct knowledge of the events in question,” Evans added.

Representing himself, Yaxley-Lennon defended his comments, claiming they were “substantially true.”

In written submissions, he said he had “uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive, and deceitful behavior by the claimant, including acts which speak the truth to the matters complained of.”

The eight-day trial at the Royal Courts of Justice will hear evidence from both Hijazi and Yaxley-Lennon, as well as pupils and teachers at Hijazi’s former school, and is expected to conclude on April 30.


New drugs could stop COVID-19 in early stages of infection

New drugs could stop COVID-19 in early stages of infection
Updated 21 April 2021

New drugs could stop COVID-19 in early stages of infection

New drugs could stop COVID-19 in early stages of infection
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cited dexamethasone, remdesivir and tocilizumab
  • Tocilizumab, an intravenous antibody drug, has shown promising results in reducing hospital deaths

LONDON: A new group of drugs has been touted as a way to prevent COVID-19 infection and improve survival rates in hospital.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cited dexamethasone, remdesivir, tocilizumab and other potential options to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Dexamethasone, a steroid tablet, has already been shown to aid the recovery of hospital patients, and has been credited by health chiefs with saving 22,000 lives.

Tocilizumab, an intravenous antibody drug, has shown promising results in reducing hospital deaths. 

Mild benefits have been seen with remdesivir in the most extreme COVID-19 cases. It was developed to treat hepatitis C, and while it has not been proven to save lives, it is hoped that it will prevent severe disease from developing.