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North Korea’s hackers targeting multiple health organisations with ransomware, warns US

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other investigation agencies have warned that the North Korean government-backed hackers could increase the cyberattacks like last year and added the health service providers to upgrade their security to avert such a situation. According to the intelligence agencies, the Korean hackers targetted a number of health service providers, resulting in the disruption in their operations. In some cases, it said the operations were affected for quite a long time. In an updated advisory released on Wednesday, the FBI, Department of Treasury and US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), appealed to the hospitals to upgrade their system security in order to avert any possible attacks by North Korean hackers.

Explaining last year’s incident, the intelligence agencies claimed that North Korea used ransomware to encrypt computer systems hosting electronic health records and diagnostics and imaging services which resulted in disruption in hospital operations. In a statement released on July 6, it said the FBI, CISA, and Treasury highly discourage paying ransoms as doing so does not guarantee files and records will be recovered and may pose sanctions risks.

“Specifically, the updated advisory encourages U.S. entities to adopt and improve cybersecurity practices and report ransomware attacks to, and fully cooperate with, law enforcement. The updated advisory states that when affected parties take these proactive steps, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) would be more likely to resolve apparent sanctions violations involving ransomware attacks with a non-public enforcement response,” it added. 

It has also released points for the health services sector to prevent ransomware attacks: 

  • Install updates for operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as they are released. 
  • Timely patching is one of the most efficient and cost-effective steps an organization can take to minimize its exposure to cybersecurity threats.
  • Regularly check for software updates and end-of-life notifications and prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities. 
  • If you use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), or other potentially risky services, secure and monitor them closely.
  • Limit access to resources over internal networks, especially by restricting RDP and using virtual desktop infrastructure.
  • Monitor remote access/RDP logs, enforce account lockouts after a specified number of attempts to block brute force campaigns, log RDP login attempts, and disable unused remote access/RDP ports.
  • Review the security posture of third-party vendors and those interconnected with your organization. Ensure all connections between third-party vendors and outside software or hardware are monitored and reviewed for suspicious activity.
  • Require administrator credentials to install the software.
  • Audit user accounts with administrative or elevated privileges and configures access controls with the least privilege in mind.
  • Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware software on all hosts.
  • Only use secure networks and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. Consider installing and using a VPN.
  • Consider adding an email banner to messages coming from outside your organization.
  • Disable hyperlinks in received emails.

Image: AP/Pixabay

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Music lineup announced for Troy’s River Festival

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The music lineup has been announced for the Troy River Festival on Sunday, July 17. The free family-friendly festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and celebrates art, music, handmade crafts, and culture with more than 100 vendors and shops.

The festival is centered along River Street and attracts thousands of guests each year, according to the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District. Attendees can hear live music from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the RadioRadioX Stage located at the corner of State and River Streets.

Lineup

  • Gus Unplugged (Blackcat Elliot) at 1 p.m.
  • The Blanks FKA The Bremners at 2 p.m.
  • Scotty Mac Trio at 3 p.m.
  • The Chris Busone Band at 4 p.m.

Vendors

Goods and crafts

  • 10:Two Boutique
  • Anchor No. 5 Boutique
  • Annick Designs
  • Artcentric Marketplace
  • Breakout Press Co
  • The Broken Mold Studio
  • CJ’s Reflections
  • Context Clay
  • Diane Carol Design
  • Duck Pond Productions
  • Egyptian Influence
  • Flying Eye Press
  • H Squared Designs
  • Her Love Collections
  • Left Brain Creations
  • Lisa Nejame Jewelry
  • LYF Supply
  • Meg’s Media
  • No Fun / Pint Sized
  • Phases Curated
  • Primo Botanica
  • River Rocks Jewelry & Bead Shop
  • River Street Beat Shop
  • Sam Spinner
  • Sawtooth Jewelry Studio
  • Scorpios Witch
  • T&J Handcrafted Soaps
  • Troy Threads
  • Trojan Horse Antiques
  • Truly Rhe
  • Veteran Made Woodworks LLC
  • Weathered Wood
  • Woodland Treasures and Décor
  • Z&B Works

Food

  • 518 Craft
  • Bacchus Wood Fired
  • Birch Baked
  • Bootleggers Bar and Grill
  • Cafe Euphoria
  • Collar City Cold Pressed Juice
  • Donna’s Italian
  • The Dutch Udder Ice Cream
  • Four Flights Distilling
  • Jacob Alejandro
  • Little Pecks
  • Monya Confectionary
  • Mr. Ding-A-Ling
  • Motor Oil Coffee
  • Muddaddy Flats Quesadilliary
  • Seasons Cafe and Tea House
  • Slidin’ Dirty
  • Tara Kitchen
  • This is Pork and Greens
  • Tony’s Concession Chicken Fingers
  • The Whistling Kettle
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Amit Shah to chair North Zonal Council meeting in Jaipur on July 9

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will chair the ‘North Zonal Council’ meeting to held here on July 9.

Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governor of eight states, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, are scheduled to participate in the meeting at Hotel Rambagh Palace.

States expected to participate in the event are: Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The meeting shall start from around 10 a.m. and will deliberate on state’s internal security, border security, cyber crime, formation of collective work force, cross-border drug trade and developing a system of mutual exchange of information along with rise in incidents of rape of women and minor.

Amit Shah is the chairman of the Northern Zonal Council. The Chief Ministers will discuss challenges faced by their states with the Home Minister and attempt to find a solution to the problems.

The meeting also gains significance against the backdrop of the brutal murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur.

The killers of Kanhaiya Lal have also threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi by making the video viral. Agencies like SIT, ATS and SOG of Rajasthan Police are probing the terrorist connections of the attackers.

The Central Government has also handed over the investigation to the NIA (National Investigation Agency). Both the killers Riyaz Attari and Ghaus Mohammad are being interrogated by taking them on remand.

Later, three more accused have been arrested and investigation is under progress.

Incidents of violence and communal tension were also reported in Karauli, Jodhpur, Bhilwara and Bharatpur in the past.

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Republican Lawmakers Seek to Crack Down on Beijing’s ‘Trojan Horse’ Activities in US Universities

A Republican congressman and his colleagues are hoping to crack down on the Chinese Communist Party’s “trojan horse” activities taking place in U.S. universities.

Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) recently introduced H.R.7779, which proposes “to establish Department of Homeland Security funding restrictions on institutions of higher education that have a relationship with Confucius Institutes.” There are currently 15 Republican co-sponsors of the bill.

Speaking to The Epoch Times in late June, Pfluger explained that “the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] is utilizing Confucius Institutes to infiltrate American university campuses to engage in espionage, steal our intellectual property, intimidate Chinese dissidents, promote communist propaganda, and funnel information back to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).”

He also said that “under no circumstances should American taxpayer dollars be used to enrich the CCP or the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” adding that “Congress must ensure taxpayer dollars are cut off from these programs for good.”

As Confucius Institutes (CIs) became more exposed and began to shut down across the country, a new report by the National Institute of Scholars (NAS) suggests that many of the public educational and cultural promotion programs are rebranding themselves—continuing the CCP’s effort to influence operations within the United States.

Although over 100 of the 118 CIs in the United States have closed or are in the process of closing, Beijing remains committed to influencing U.S. universities. At least 38 programs have been replaced by comparable substitutes, according to the NAS report.

NAS senior research fellow and co-author of the report, Rachel Peterson, stated at a June 21 discussion forum that “the Chinese government is betting that if it takes away the name ‘Confucius Institute’ and tweaks the structure of their program, no one will be the wiser and realize that Chinese government influence remains alive and well on American higher education.”

As a result, Pfluger’s bill includes not only the many CIs across the country, but other Chinese entities of concern as well. To that end, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese Entities of Concern Act prevents DHS funds from flowing to U.S. universities that host a CI or maintain a relationship with a Chinese entity of concern.

“The bill will require DHS to create a list that identifies entities and individuals affiliated with the CCP that pose the same risks as Confucius Institutes to American universities and distribute that list to universities,” Pfluger explained.

And based on the list of names, he said, universities would be required to report donations to DHS.

“By forcing universities to disclose these individuals,” he said, “Congress and the American people can have a more comprehensive look at the entities who are attempting to exploit DHS grant dollars to enrich the PLA.”

Accompanied by over a dozen Republican colleagues, Pfluger said he also introduced H.R.7851 to “amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require institutions of higher education to disclose certain ties to China-affiliated organizations.”

According to the congressman, the bill will “increase transparency requirements for universities that receive funding from individuals, universities, think tanks, cultural/educational/language programs, any Chinese state-owned entities, or organizations that have CCP members sitting on their board of directors.”

If this bill were enacted, Pfluger said it would require universities that receive donations of more than $5,000 from any entities affiliated with the CCP to publicly report these donations to the Secretary of Education and on a webpage that can be easily found on the university’s website.

A human rights group urges Tufts University to close its Confucius Institute in Somerville, Mass., on March 13, 2021. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)

The CCP’s ‘Trojan Horse’

Pfluger is hoping his legislative actions will continue to sound the alarm and combat the CCP’s nefarious activities and propaganda inside America’s universities. He said the CCP had used CIs as “a trojan horse” to infiltrate Western universities and engage in malign activities that support the CCP and the PLA.

“Confucius Institutes have used their influence to silence academics who speak out against the CCP and PLA, spread propaganda campaigns on behalf of the CCP to influence public opinion, recruit influence agents on U.S. campuses, and engage in espionage and intellectual property theft, much of which supports the PLA,” he said.

As a result, he said, “any foreign entity looking to undercut the democratic values [America holds] dear should be viewed as a direct threat to the nation’s democracy.” Time and time again, he said, the CCP has shown that it will “stop at nothing to exert its control over the free world.”

“The CCP’s ability to suppress free speech and debate in the United States is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” Pfluger said.

“Congress and the Biden administration must send a strong, unified message that our nation will not tolerate the CCP’s malign activity.”

J.M. Phelps

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J.M. Phelps is a writer and researcher of both Islamist and Chinese threats.

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Issue of the Day: Who hacked the Army?

THE British Army is investigating after its Twitter and YouTube accounts were reportedly hacked after videos on cryptocurrency and images of billionaire businessman Elon Musk appeared on the YouTube channel. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the British Army’s account “was compromised and has since been locked and secured.

“The account holders have now regained access and the account is back up and running,” the spokesperson told CNBC via email.

What happened?

The Twitter account’s name was changed to “pssssd,” and its profile and header pictures were changed to a nonfungible token (NFT) collection called “The Possessed”. The hacker deleted all the account’s videos and replaced them with live stream videos of old clips taken from a conversation between Elon Musk and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

What is a cryptocurrency?

It’s a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network that is not reliant on any central authority, for example, a bank. The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009 and remains the best known today.

What is Elon Musk’s link with Crypto?

Elon Musk is a big supporter of cryptocurrency. He has previously revealed in his tweets that he owns three cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin. In February 2021, Musk announced that his company, Tesla, had bought Bitcoin worth £1.2 billion. The company also announced that it would begin accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. The news led to an increase in the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In March, he announced that Tesla would accept Bitcoin as a payment method. In April, Bitcoin reached its all-time high of around £52,000.

What will happen next?

The Army confirmed the breach, saying it took information security “extremely seriously” and was resolving the issue. Both accounts have now been restored.

A spokesperson said: “Whilst we have now resolved the issue an investigation is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Is this a security issue?

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee, said what had happened “looks serious”.

“I hope the results of the investigation and actions taken will be shared appropriately,” he added.

This is not the first time that a high-profile Twitter account has been hacked?

In July 2020, numerous high-profile accounts were taken over by hackers in an apparent Bitcoin scam. Accounts affected included those of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West.

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War Advances Ukrainian EU Membership, Potentially Undermining EU on China

Commentary

As European countries rally to better support Ukraine in fighting off the invasion of its homeland—with admittedly mixed results—European Union candidacy for Ukraine has yet again become a topic of conversation.

Last month, the EU gave Ukraine official candidacy status, beginning formal talks about possible membership. Yet Ukraine’s membership in the EU could spell serious trouble for the organization in the future—if this process is not handled delicately.

A Ukraine fit to be in the EU would be ideal. European countries have largely failed, with some exceptions, to provide the military and financial aid Ukraine needs and deserves. The EU needs to do more—and do better. Western European powerhouses—such as France and, above all others, Germany—have been particularly weak.

A divide between western and eastern EU member states is appearing, with the latter having taken a more realistic view of Russia and its future behavior after the Ukraine war concludes. Germany and France, meanwhile, seem intent on trying to ignore the ever more clear warning signs.

However, Ukraine is not trouble-free.

Much has been said comparing Russian actions in Ukraine to possible Chinese actions (and invasion) of Taiwan. It is becoming clear that greater leverage on the Chinese regime is needed to discourage it from acting rashly and doing something shortsighted, like launching an invasion.

That means raising the potential cost of any such invasion—to the level where the damage would be so great as to overshadow any potential positives. To do so, EU member states need to be able to act together. The EU, the world’s largest trading power, has immense economic power and is China’s most important trading partner—but a lack of cohesion often undermines its strengths.

We have seen the same with the Russia-Ukraine situation, in which one country, Hungary, manages to slow down, reduce, and weaken EU responses. Hungary and countries like Greece have been used the same way by China to weaken EU responses to Chinese acts of aggression or violations of international law in the past.

The EU is structured so that unanimity is needed for major decisions. Dictatorships know this well. Both Russia and China have used it by targeting one or two—often smaller—countries, making them feel dependent on them, and then ensuring that those countries veto any real action against them.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R), Romanian President Klaus Iohannis (L), Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi (C), Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (2nd L), and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 16, 2022. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

How will Ukrainian membership in the EU impact this situation?

It is true that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has grown into arguably the greatest European statesman of our generation, has issued strong declarations of support for Taiwan. Likewise, even though language has been muted, Kyiv is certainly aware that Beijing is, to a large extent, funding Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Domestically, China shows clear support for Russia.

Upon conclusion of the war, with Ukraine hopefully returning to its 2014 borders and Russia defeated strongly enough to discourage further military adventures, it is unlikely that the current or future administration of Ukraine will forget the Chinese regime’s behavior. The Ukrainians are likely to adopt a more realist position on China, much like Eastern Europe did with Russia.

So what is the problem?

If the Chinese regime ever attempts an invasion of Taiwan, it will use an aircraft carrier sold to it by Ukraine—but the sale would have taken place long ago. However, until the COVID-19 pandemic, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest weapons exporters to China. It is not bound by the EU’s weapons embargo. In fact, almost 40 percent of its weapons exports go to China.

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Airmen and civilians from the 436th Aerial Port Squadron palletize ammunition, weapons, and other equipment bound for Ukraine during a foreign military sales mission at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Jan. 21, 2022. (U.S. Air Force/Mauricio Campino/Handout via Reuters)

Ukraine has also been considered very unsafe for Chinese asylum seekers. Many have faced almost farcical bad asylum or extradition hearings, during which their guaranteed rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) were utterly ignored—showing a country keen on appeasing Beijing. In fact, in the late 1990s, Ukraine followed Belarus in signing an extradition treaty with China, helping China gain legitimacy for its long-arm policing in a greater swatch of Europe.

Ukraine is no angel, or at least it was not in the past. Therefore, for the EU, the question now is not only how the current administration acts or feels, but how will likely future administrations act on the issue of China. And what is the general position of the population that elects these administrations? Years after this war is concluded and Russia is neutralized, the EU will start to face the real main threat—communist China. Can we trust that Ukraine will not, like Hungary, become another Trojan horse, weakening the EU and its ability to defend itself?

I sincerely hope these fears are unfounded, but they must be considered. After all, the damage was done by Hungary, if not fatal, is so severe that a similar Trojan horse cannot be allowed, no matter what.

This time around, EU leaders need to think ahead and realize that the quality of its members is what matters, not the quantity. Bigger is not always better. Let’s pray these concerns are unfounded, and we can welcome Ukraine into the EU as soon as possible.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Peter Dahlin

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Peter Dahlin is the founder of the NGO Safeguard Defenders and the co-founder of the Beijing-based Chinese NGO China Action (2007–2016). He is the author of “Trial By Media,” and contributor to “The People’s Republic of the Disappeared.” He lived in Beijing from 2007, until detained and placed in a secret jail in 2016, subsequently deported and banned. Prior to living in China, he worked for the Swedish government with gender equality issues, and now lives in Madrid, Spain.

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Scammers stole over $2 billion from Australians last year — more than double 2020’s total: ACCC

Days after the call from “the man from Microsoft”, Brian realised he had been scammed of his life’s savings.

The well-spoken caller had rung out of the blue, offered to fix a problem, taken control of Brian’s computer, and withdrawn $38,700 from the retiree’s online bank account, leaving $300.

“It’s my complete life savings,” Brian, 76, said.

Stories like this have become increasingly common, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reporting a record increase in scams last year, many of them targeting vulnerable elderly victims.

Scammers stole more than double the amount from Australians in 2021 than they did the previous year, according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report, released on Monday.

The report compiles data from the scam-reporting portals Scamwatch (operated by the ACCC) and ReportCyber (developed by state and federal police and Australian security agencies), as well as major banks, money remitters, and other government agencies.

Reported losses to all organisations totalled almost $1.8 billion. Factoring in the estimated number of unreported scams, actual losses were over $2 billion, ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Even our figure of plus $2 billion is still underestimating the amount lost,” she said.

“It’s a very scary figure, and we know this year is going to be worse still.”

What’s behind the rise?

Losses from scams offering fake investment opportunities more than doubled to $700 million in 2021, according to the ACCC report.

A major cause of this was the rise of cryptocurrency investment scams, which saw reported losses increase 270 per cent to $99 million.

A typical method involved scammers setting up fake investment and cryptocurrency trading platforms to steal money from people looking to invest in cryptocurrency.

This sometimes morphed with romance scams, so that the targets were introduced to the fake investment platforms through their love interest.

“As a consequence, we’re seeing so many people lose large sums of money.”

There was also a large increase in losses relating to pyramid and ponzi scams, largely due to ponzi investment scam apps.

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Conference heads anything but honest

PITTSBURGH — The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC entered into some sort of “historic alliance” to work together toward making a better future for college athletics. It was in response to the SEC raiding the Big 12 for Oklahoma and Texas, and the three conference commissioners issued statements and had video conferences to tell the world they were unified and ready to move college athletics forward.

This move, which included a scheduling alliance in which teams from the three conferences would play against each other, was seen as a strengthening of the power base of the three leagues. It was described by Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren as ” … that we do all we can to protect our conferences and build strong relationships to protect our student-athletes.”

That was August of last year, and despite the fact all three commissioners said it was based in trust and honesty, well, less than a year later the whole thing got blown up. I mean, at this point, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff must feel really good about just how much integrity and trust Warren and his conference cronies operate with.

It turns out Warren was more like a trojan horse sent to the Pac-12 in peace but with marching orders to come back with the Trojans and Bruins. In case you are under a rock, UCLA and USC were just poached by the Big Ten, meaning the Pac-12 is suddenly crippled and without a team in the Los Angeles market and the Big Ten took a giant step toward SEC slimebaggery.

Of course, the same could be said about the ACC destroying the Big East, so Warren just basically beat ACC Commissioner James Phillips to the punch because no doubt he would have tried to poach USC and UCLA if he thought it was possible.

Here is a memo to every school president, every college conference commissioner, every coach and every athletic director:

If you are confused as to why student-athletes have no loyalty, are willing to sell their souls to the highest bidder, run to the transfer portal at the first opportunity and have their hands out and want every dime they think they are owed, look in the mirror. They have had great role models, as all of you operate the same way, and the only thing that is different is the amount of money being handed out.

The next time a coach whines about players wanting NIL, point to Oklahoma, Texas, USC, UCLA, the Big Ten and the SEC. The next time a coach or administrator whines about the “transfer culture,” point to Kevin Warren, Lincoln Riley, Greg Sankey, former ACC commissioner John Swofford — who led the raid of the Big East — and every other one of these “role models’ whose word is obviously worthless.

And please, here is one other thing: Spare me the crap about how this is “what’s best for student-athletes” or the garbage that was spewed from places like Penn State about how these moves are good for academics or made with academics in mind. I’ve read about five of these statements from Big Ten administrators welcoming USC and UCLA, and I wish I would have had boots on and a shovel it was piling up so quick.

I read some version of “academics that favor graduation rates and GPAs” in just about every one of them, and that is laughable. I mean, this isn’t Vanderbilt and Duke the Big Ten picked up, but it would have been had academics been the primary, secondary or even third or fourth-ary reasons this move was made. It has nothing to do with the fact USC and UCLA happen to be in the second-biggest media market in the country and one is a blue blood in basketball while the other is one of the top five football programs of all-time.

Nope, that can’t be it at all.

I have long ago resigned myself to the fact eventually the top football programs will all align themselves and maybe even form their own league separate from the NCAA. I am OK with it, just like I am OK with players getting NIL money and being able to transfer.

What I am done with, however, is this nonsensical hypocrisy that comes from the top of these “institutions of higher learning.” They are all mercenaries, all power- and money-hungry, and all would sell each other out for the chance to fill their coffers with more money. Stop talking to us like fools. Stop talking to us about academics and student-athletes and all the other virtue-signaling garbage they all repeat, mostly to convince themselves they are somehow more noble than the next guy.

If there is a “transfer culture” and it is indeed ruining college athletics, don’t be mad at the student-athletes because they are only following the lead of those people put in charge of their future. USC and UCLA are no different than any player searching for greener pastures and a more lucrative spot.

College athletics are a cesspool of snakes and hypocrites, and it is time they all just embraced it, wore it and stopped wasting our time with silly statements about how the welfare of student-athletes and graduation rates are the most important thing. It is all a lie. They know it; we know it; and the athletes all know it, too, and all they are doing is following the lead of the adults.

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Actress Pavithra Lokesh lodges complaint against stalking

Published: Published Date – 12:24 PM, Sun – 3 July 22

source: IANS.

Mysuru: Multi-lingual actress Pavithra Lokesh has lodged a complaint against some people for stalking her in V.V. Puram police station in Mysuru city, police said on Sunday.

Pavithra Lokesh, who hails from Karnataka, is talked about being married to Naresh, step son of Telugu superstar Krishna, who is also the father of superstar Mahesh Babu. Naresh’s third wife Ramya Raghupathy has alleged him of cheating and exploitation.

Naresh has clarified that Pavithra Lokesh is his companion, guide, philosopher and best friend. He also said that with her support, he is able to lift himself up from the depths of depression.

Pavithra Lokesh has stated that she has not married Naresh and their relationship should not be misunderstood. She also underlined that no one can violate her privacy and right to make decisions as an individual. She maintains that Naresh and Ramya Raghupathy should resolve their personal issues.

Pavithra Lokesh has stated that some representatives of media are stalking and following her, destroying her peace of mind. She has also explained that it has caused her tremendous mental trauma. She has urged the police to take action against media houses which are indulging in this.

Pavithra Lokesh had already lodged a complaint with the cybercrime police. She stated in her complaint that many fake accounts have been created in her name and defamatory posts have come up in those accounts. The actress has also stated that miscreants after creating fake accounts are spreading rumours and false news about her.

The Cyber Crime police have taken up the investigation. Pavithra Lokesh, daughter of senior Kannada actor Late Mysuru Lokesh is an established artist in Kannada and Telugu languages.

She has made a mark in both small and big screens as a character artiste. Her husband Suchendra Prasad and brother Aadi Lokesh are also established actors in Kannada film industry.

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The contraction of all vices into one

Luis Dias

Growing up in a bibliophilic family, I’ve been surrounded by books that go back several generations, in various languages. They range from medical textbooks from three generations before mine, in French, Portuguese, German, English, (and even Russian, for some reason) to philosophy and literature from a similar mix of languages. Some books I’ve merely browsed or leafed through, others have at various points in my life been Alice-in-Wonderland doors to all sorts of discoveries.

An academic paper “Against British Rule and Indian Castes: The first Portuguese-language Goan novel, ‘Os Brahmanes’ (1866) by Francisco Luís Gomes” by Everton V Machado, published in 2019 made me dust off one of those books in our home library. It was the English translation (‘The Brahmins’, published in 1931) of the Portuguese novel by Francisco Luís Gomes (1829-1869).

Much has been written lately about him, and ‘Os Brahmanes’ surfaces almost every time. I decided to read the historic novel myself.

It took me a while; the novel is divided into two parts, the first containing 21 chapters, and the second, 17.

‘Os Brahmanes’ was written exactly a century before my birth, and reading it today with a 21st century perspective, and in translation, its language obviously comes across as a little dated. Nevertheless, the power of Gomes’ conviction in his beliefs still comes across, 156 years later.

It is, as Machado terms it, a Roman à thèse (French: ‘thesis novel’), that is to say, a novel which is didactic, “that puts forward an argument or proposes a solution to some problem of politics, morality, or philosophy.”

This is why Gomes quite often in the course of ‘Os Brahmanes’ temporarily drops the storyline to launch into a lecture on matters that he, the author, feels strongly about. In some cases, Gomes uses the character of Frei Francisco, his alter ego, for didactic purposes, but he also seems to address the reader directly, as himself.

I’d like to point out one of the latter instances. As can be imagined from the title of Machado’s paper, ‘Os Brahmanes’ denounces two types of ‘Brahmins’: the obvious kind in India’s caste system, and the colonial powers, the ‘Brahmins’ of Europe. That he seems to take a more indulgent view of Portuguese colonial rule is another matter, and something that today’s babus might be embarrassed to learn, if they actually read his writings.

But Gomes holds forth even more generally on the moral values in society. In just a few years, in 2029, it will be Gomes’ birth bicentenary. One has to ask: if Gomes were alive today, in a post-colonial Goa, how would the Prince of Intellectuals feel?

I think he would be aghast. I say this based on what he writes in Chapter XVI of Part One. Every single chapter in ‘Os Brahmanes’ has a title that reflects the plotline; all but this one, titled, quite unequivocally, ‘The Consequences of Gambling’.

It’s very first line has become one of Gomes’ most quotable quotes: “Gambling is the contraction of all vices into one.” Gomes elaborates on this contraction of vices: “the rapid and successive transformation of pastime into vice, of vice into crime, of crime into outrage; the worship of an impious divinity which first asks for money, then for poverty, then for honour, then for family, then for life, and finally for the soul; a luck which leads its credulous and unsuspecting victim over ways lined with flowers, then to cast him headlong into a precipice amidst loud laughter. Gambling is the vicious cycle of hope; the infinitude of avarice; the idol of the wilderness cast from the dowries of daughters and the jewelry of wives; the tyranny of chance! The gambler, losing his first stake, hopes for the second; losing the second, hopes for the third; losing the third, hopes for the fourth; he would hope for the fifth, if there were a fifth. Hope ends when the game ends.”

This is what he says of the ‘tools of the trade’: “The gaming table! The vast and horrible market of the patrimonies of families, of the capital of industries, of all the riches of body and soul! The card, like the lever of Archimedes, raises and displaces in a moment colossal fortunes! And what sensations, what anxieties, what fears, what shocks of surprise are not experienced around that small table!….. In gambling what is lost least is money. The perdition is greater than the loss.”

Gomes has much more to say; I’ve picked just a few choice sentences from his hard-hitting chapter. If you have a copy of his novel, I urge you to take the time to read it, if only this chapter. I had to pause a while to reflect on the wisdom of his thoughts, and how eloquently he puts them across.

I struggle even today to comprehend how and why we Goans allowed the casino industry, like the proverbial Trojan horse into our land. I cannot understand how one can cold-bloodedly talk in mere material terms about the subject of gambling, about the revenue it brings the state, the employment it provides, and giving nary a consideration to the evils that are its inevitable flip side.

The neighbourhood I live in suffers daily and nightly from the deleterious spillover of the gambling industry, from parking and traffic chaos, shortchanging long-suffering residents, to the noise pollution well into the wee hours, and of course garbage everywhere. But even without these, at the most fundamental level, from a moral, ethical, spiritual and public health viewpoint, gambling is unconscionably wrong.

In case you think of my views as prudish, I refer you also to a paper published just last year in The Lancet, the influential weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal that is among the world’s oldest and best-known medical journals, ‘A public health approach to gambling regulation: Countering powerful influences’ ( June 21, 2021). Although the researchers and academicians focus their attention on gambling in the United Kingdom, the home truths apply just as well to our Goan situation: “Often portrayed as a harmless leisure activity,…gambling is being increasingly recognised as a public health concern. However, a gambling policy system that explicitly tackles public health concerns and confronts the dependencies and conflicts of interest that undermine the public good is absent….. Too often, government policy has employed discourses that align more closely with those of the gambling industry than with those of the individuals, families, and communities affected by the harms of gambling. In view of the well described commercial determinants of health and corporate behaviour, an immense effort will be needed to shift the gambling discourse to protect public health.”

Francisco Luís Gomes, that brilliant polymath, was also a physician, let us not forget. He would have heartily agreed.

When I pass his statue in the Campal garden that bears his name, a stone’s throw from his alma mater where he earned his medical qualifications, he seems to be gazing disapprovingly, hand on hip, piercing past the forest department at the floating dens of “the contractions of all vices into one” in the heart of the land he so loved.