Power pylons in the US - illo for russian power grid hack brief - 16march2018

Weekly news wrap – Stuff you may have missed

Russia accused of cyber power grid sabotage plan

The Trump Administration today accused Russia of having hacked computer management systems at nuclear power plants and other public utilities, planting malware that would allow Moscow to sabotage or switch off critical power supplies. Though no sabotage had been conducted, the Administration said, there was clear evidence that Russian government’s cyber attacks had been aimed at giving Moscow the ability to control power plants and water supplies.

The New York Times reports that US intelligence departments have been monitoring multiple Russian attempts to compromise the West, from stealing political documents to planting false information on social media. There has been no indication yet of what retaliatory or punitive measures the US will take.

Earlier this week the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced a package of measures to punish Russia for the attempted murder of a former Soviet spy living in England. Britain accuses Russia of using a banned military-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on Sergei Skripal. May expelled 23 Russian diplomats and said British officials and royalty would snub the Soccer World Cup in Moscow this (northern) summer.

Drivers killed as bridge collapses on highway

At least four people were killed when a 950-tonne bridge collapsed on a highway in Miami yesterday.  Rescue services are using sniffer dogs to locate more people trapped in vehicles crushed when the partially built bridge fell.  Eight people were admitted  to hospital, two in critical condition.

Perry kisses boy – and he didn’t like it

A 19-year-old innocent collapsed to the floor in shock during American Idol’s Sunday night broadcast after judge Kate Perry stole a kiss. Benjamin Glaze, asked by Perry “if he’d kissed a girl, and liked it”, said no, he hadn’t. She invited him to kiss her on the cheek, then pounced, kissing him on the lips, and sparking accusations that she had harassed the lad.

Katy Perry supposedly steals a kiss from a naive youth during an American Idol audition. Screengrab from ABC Television video clip.
Screengrab from ABC Television video clip.

He was so shocked, he mucked up his performance and was eliminated. He later told media that he’d have refused if given the chance, saying “I was raised in a conservative family … I wanted my first kiss to be special.”

The eyes have it for Xi Jinping

A Chinese reporter, Liang Xiangyi, stole the show at China’s National People’s Congress this week when video of her rolling her eyes at a sycophantic question went viral.

Chinese_eyeroll CPCongress 16march2018
Liang Xiangyi struggles to control her emotions as a colleague asks a Dorothy Dixer.

Her obvious and undisguised despair overshadowed coverage of President Xi Jinping’s appointment as leader for life until Chinese authorities censored the footage, even blocking her name from web searches. Even that was too little, too late: the incident has now spawned dozens of web memes and parodies – and the web clip is available for all to see on YouTube.

Physicist Hawking dies age 76

World-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday, aged 76. Dr Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative nervous system disease, at the age of 21 in 1963. Despite being wheelchair-bound for most of his life he conducted groundbreaking work on black holes and relativity and authoring several books popularising astrophysics.

The Guardian published an excellent obituary written by Hawking’s longtime fellow researcher Roger Penrose. – Compiled from web sources by Aidan Fedorow, Diana Hills and Keanu Villavicencio-Prado

Top photo by Oran Viriyincy of US power lines used under Creative Commons licence.