Spain rescues 24, continues search for 53 migrants at sea

A migrant rescued in the Atlantic Ocean disembarks from a Spanish coast guard vessel in the port of Arguineguin on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, February 18, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 February 2020

Spain rescues 24, continues search for 53 migrants at sea

  • Among the 24 migrants rescued late Tuesday, there were nine women and one baby, the Canary Islands’ emergency service said on its Twitter account
  • Spanish authorities had originally begun searching for some 140 missing people aboard five migrant boats after they received several alerts Monday afternoon

BARCELONA, Spain: Spain’s maritime rescue service said Wednesday that it rescued 24 migrants near the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa but was still looking for 53 people in two migrant boats that have been reported missing in the area for at least two days.

A maritime rescue service plane was deployed early Wednesday to search for the boats in waters between the Spanish island of Gran Canaria and Dakhla on the Western Sahara coast, authorities said, but bad weather was complicating the search.

Among the 24 migrants rescued late Tuesday, there were nine women and one baby, the Canary Islands’ emergency service said on its Twitter account. They were brought to a port on Gran Canaria island, one of seven in the Canary Islands archipelago.

Spanish authorities had originally begun searching for some 140 missing people aboard five migrant boats after they received several alerts Monday afternoon. Following rescues carried out by both Morocco and Spain, the service said Wednesday it had narrowed the search down to two boats carrying 26 and 27 people, respectively.

The deadly Atlantic route from northwest Africa to the Canary Islands has become increasingly popular among migrants desperate to reach European soil following an increase in migrant controls in western Mediterranean routes between Morocco and mainland Spain further north.

More than 1,000 migrants reached the Canary Islands from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, compared to 66 in the same period last year, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry. At least 210 people perished on that route in 2019, the International Organization for Migration said.


US ‘cloud’ supremacy has Europe worried about data

Updated 8 min 29 sec ago

US ‘cloud’ supremacy has Europe worried about data

  • Europe is sitting on a wealth of data that is the 21st century equivalent of a precious metal mine
  • Europeans may be allowing American tech giants to gain control of all the excavation equipment

PARIS: Europe is sitting on a wealth of data that is the 21st century equivalent of a precious metal mine during the gold rush.
But instead of exploiting it themselves Europeans may be allowing American tech giants to gain control of all the excavation equipment, some experts say, pointing to a flurry of European companies announcing deals with US tech players for cloud services.
Renault, Orange, Deutsche Bank, and Lufthansa recently plumped for Google Cloud. Volkswagen signed up with Amazon Web Services. The French health ministry chose Microsoft to house its research data.
The cloud is a term for offering data storage and processing services externally so clients don’t need to invest as much in costly gear.
This trend has sparked concern particularly in Germany, which has a rich trove of data thanks to its powerful industrial sector.
The EU is “losing its influence in the digital sphere at the moment it is taking a central role in the continent’s economy” warned a recent report by a group of experts and media leaders under the leadership of the former head of German software firm SAP, Henning Kagermann.
“The majority of European data is stocked outside of Europe, or, if stocked in Europe, is on servers that belong to non-European firms,” it noted.

A senior French official recently delivered an even more blunt assessment in a meeting with IT professionals.
“We have an enormous security and sovereignty issue with clouds” said the official at the meeting, which AFP attended on the condition of respecting the anonymity of participants.
“In many cases it is convenience or a sellout” by European companies and institutions “because it is simpler” to sign up with US tech giants than find European options, said the official.
“However we have very good firms offering cloud and data services,” he added.
One of the causes of concern for Europeans comes from the Cloud Act, a piece of legislation adopted in 2018 that gives US intelligence agencies access in certain cases to data hosted by US firms, no matter where the server may be physically located.
“My company is American and I know very well what the implications are of the legislation,” said a Franco-American executive.
“And given what is happening in US policy debates, that situation won’t be getting better.”
Beyond the integrity of data, it is the capacity to analyze and exploit that information that worries many European experts and policymakers.

If in Europe “we are just capable of generating data and need others to exploit it then we are going to end up in the same situation as countries with mineral resources that rely on others to process it and end up with meagre economic benefits,” said the French official.
The French and Germans unveiled in June the GAIA-X project that aims to develop a competitive European cloud offer.
Rather than encourage the development of a European champion — in the mold of Airbus in response to Boeing — that would offer the full gamut of services, the project takes a different tack.
It aims to set standards so different firms could offer storage, processing, security and artificial intelligence services seamlessly. It would operate as a marketplace of sorts where each client could find the services they need without having to leave European jurisdiction.
It is hoped GAIA-X’s decentralized model might prove a better fit with the issues raised by treatment of data from connected devices.