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Ayman al-Zawahiri: From Cairo doctor to al-Qaeda leader

  • Join the teenage Muslim Brotherhood
  • From a respectable family in Cairo
  • He took control of al-Qaeda after the killing of bin Laden
  • He exercises his influence as an ideological and strategic organizer
  • I lack bin Laden’s charisma

DUBAI (Reuters) – Ayman al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden in the leadership of al Qaeda after years as a key al Qaeda organizer and strategist, but his lack of charisma and competition from rival Islamic State fighters hampered his ability to launch major attacks on al Qaeda. the West.

US President Joe Biden said in a live television broadcast on Monday evening that Al-Zawahiri, 71, was killed in a US drone strike. US officials said the attack took place on Sunday in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Read more

In the years following bin Laden’s death in 2011, US airstrikes killed a succession of Zawahiri’s deputies, weakening the veteran Egyptian militant’s ability to coordinate globally.

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He had seen al-Qaeda virtually marginalized by the Arab revolutions of 2011, launched primarily by middle-class activists and intellectuals opposed to decades of authoritarianism.

Despite his reputation as an inflexible and combative figure, al-Zawahiri succeeded in nurturing loosely affiliated groups around the world that had grown to wage devastating insurgencies, some rooted in the turmoil caused by the Arab Spring. The violence has destabilized a number of countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

But the days of al-Qaeda as the hierarchical, centrally directed network of conspirators that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, are long gone. Instead, militancy has returned to its roots in conflicts at the local level, spurred by a combination of local grievances and incitement by transnational jihadist networks using social media.

Al-Zawahiri’s origins in Islamic militancy go back decades.

The first time the world heard of him was when he stood in a cage in a courtroom after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

"We have sacrificed and we are still ready for more sacrifices until the victory of Islam," al-Zawahiri chanted, wearing a white abaya, while angry at Sadat’s peace agreement with Israel.

Al-Zawahiri served a three-year prison sentence for illegal weapons possession, but was acquitted of the main charges.

A trained surgeon – one of his nicknames was a doctor – al-Zawahiri went to Pakistan on his release where he worked with the Red Crescent treating wounded Islamic mujahideen in Afghanistan fighting Soviet forces.

During that time, he became acquainted with bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi who joined the Afghan resistance.

Al-Zawahiri took over the leadership of Islamic Jihad in Egypt in 1993, and was a leading figure in the mid-1990s campaign to overthrow the government and establish a purely Islamic state. More than 1,200 Egyptians were killed.

The Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown on Islamic Jihad after the attempted assassination of President Hosni Mubarak in June 1995 in Addis Ababa. Al-Zawahiri, a gray-haired man in a white turban, responded by ordering a 1995 attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. Two cars packed with explosives crashed into the gates of the complex, killing 16 people.

In 1999, an Egyptian military court sentenced al-Zawahiri to death in absentia. By that time he was living the Spartan life of the militants after he helped bin Laden form Al Qaeda.

A video broadcast by Al Jazeera in 2003 showed the two men walking on a rocky mountainside – an image that Western intelligence hoped would provide clues to their whereabouts.

Global jihad threats

For years it was believed that al-Zawahiri was hiding along the forbidden border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This year, US officials determined that al-Zawahiri’s family — his wife, daughter, and children — moved to a safe house in Kabul and identified al-Zawahiri at the same location, according to a senior administration official.

The official said he was killed in a drone attack when he emerged from the balcony of the house on Sunday morning. No one else was injured. Al-Zawahiri took over the leadership of al-Qaeda in 2011 after the US Navy killed bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan. He has since repeatedly called for global jihad, with an Ak-47 next to him during video messages.

In a eulogy for bin Laden, al-Zawahiri vowed to continue attacks on the West, recalling the threat of the Saudi-born mujahid that "you will not dream of security until we live it on the ground and until you leave Muslim lands."

As it turned out, the emergence of the more radical Islamic State in 2014-2019 in Iraq and Syria drew as much, if not more, attention from Western counterterrorism authorities.

Al-Zawahiri often tried to stir up feelings among Muslims by commenting online on sensitive issues such as US policies in the Middle East or Israeli actions against the Palestinians, but his extradition was deemed to lack bin Laden’s appeal.

On a practical level, al-Zawahiri is believed to be involved in some of al-Qaeda’s largest operations, as he helped orchestrate the 2001 attacks, when planes hijacked by al-Qaeda were used to kill 3,000 people in the United States.

He was charged with his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The FBI put a $25 million bounty on his most wanted list.

notable family

Al-Zawahiri did not emerge from the slums of Cairo, like others who were drawn to militant groups that promised a noble cause. Born in 1951 to a prominent family in Cairo, al-Zawahiri was the grandson of the imam of al-Azhar, one of Islam’s most important mosques.

Al-Zawahiri grew up in the leafy Cairo suburb of Maadi, a place favored by expats from the Western countries he criticizes. Al-Zawahiri, the son of a pharmacology professor, first embraced Islamic fundamentalism at the age of fifteen.

His ideas were inspired by the revolutionary ideas of the Egyptian writer Sayed Qutb, an Islamist who was executed in 1966 on charges of trying to overthrow the state.

People who studied with al-Zawahiri at Cairo University’s Faculty of Medicine in the 1970s describe a lively young man who went to the movies, listened to music, and joked with friends.

"When he got out of prison he was a completely different person," said a doctor who studied with al-Zawahiri and declined to be named.

In a courtroom cage after Sadat was assassinated in a military parade, al-Zawahiri addressed the international press, saying that the militants had suffered severe torture including flogging and wild dog attacks in prison.

"They arrested wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and sons in a trial to put psychological pressure on these innocent prisoners," he said.

His fellow prisoners said that these conditions further radicalized al-Zawahiri and set him on the path of global jihad.

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Editing by Howard Guller, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Stephen Coates

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Stephen King will strike in favor of the US government in a case against book publishing and mass merger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal judge on Monday to block the merger of two "Big Five" book publishers, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, in a trial expected to draw distinctive testimony from horror writer Stephen King.

"It’s real money for real people," said John Reed, an attorney for the Department of Justice.

Also Monday, in the same Washington federal court, the Department of Justice argued before a different judge that UnitedHealth’s (OH.N) $8 billion deal to buy Change Healthcare (CHNG.O) It must stop. Read more

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In the publisher consolidation experiment, the government is not focusing on what consumers pay for books but on advances paid to the most successful authors, especially those with $250,000 or more.

"Evidence will show that the proposed merger will likely result in expected bestseller authors receiving smaller upfront payments, meaning that authors who work for years on their manuscripts will be paid less for their efforts," the government said in a pre-trial brief.

The government also intends to show that there are concerns among the merging parties that the deal is illegal. It previously revealed an email sent by Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp, who wrote: "I’m pretty sure the Department of Justice won’t allow Penguin Random House to buy us, but that’s assuming we still have the Department of Justice."

King, author of "The Shining," "Carrie" and other blockbuster films, will testify to the government, along with publishing executives and author agents.

Michael Beach, CEO of Hachette Book Group, is due to testify on Monday, while King is expected to testify on Tuesday.

Penguin Random House, the largest book publisher in the United States, said it plans to buy rival Simon & Schuster in November 2020. Penguin Random House is owned by German media company Bertelsmann. (BTGGg.F). Simon & Schuster is owned by ViacomCBS, now known as Paramount Global (PARA.O). The Ministry of Justice filed its lawsuit in November 2021. Read more

Defense led by attorney Daniel Petrushelli who defeated the Trump administration’s 2018 bid to stop AT&T Inc (Tennessee) From buying Time Warner, he argued that the market for books and publishers to win best-selling authors is a competitive market and that a merger would make it more competitive.

Petroselli said in opening arguments that the government is asking the court to block the merger for "less than 100 books a year," rejecting the idea that the biggest booksellers would be able to reduce advances.

Publishers will argue that the evidence shows that when bidding for potential bestsellers, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster "are rarely the best bidders."

The top five publishers are Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette, with Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) Also in the market. HarperCollins is owned by News Corp (NWSA.O).

U.S. District Judge Florence Bane for the District of Columbia will decide whether the deal can go ahead. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

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(cover) by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson in Washington. Editing by Matthew Lewis and Mark Porter

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US House Speaker Pelosi begins her Asian tour, without mentioning Taiwan

  • Pelosi is touring Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan
  • Taiwan is not mentioned on its agenda
  • Chinese Air Force confirms determination to defend Earth
  • Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kicked off a four-nation Asian tour on Sunday without mentioning Taiwan, her office said, amid intense speculation that she might visit the self-governing island claimed by China.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan," her office said. statement.

She said the visit would include those countries, but did not specify whether Pelosi, who is third in the presidential succession streak, would stop again.

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"The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region," she added.

Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was among the delegation.

Pelosi is expected to arrive in Singapore on Monday for a two-day visit, CNA reported, citing the country’s foreign ministry. The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore was scheduled to host a reception with her on Monday afternoon, on its website.

China views US officials' visits to Taiwan as an encouraging sign for the island’s pro-independence camp. Washington does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is obligated by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

Pelosi’s visit would be a dramatic, if not unprecedented, display of US support for Taiwan. Republican Newt Gingrich was the last House Speaker to visit Taiwan in 1997.

President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden on Thursday that Washington must adhere to the one-China principle and "those who play with fire will die because of it."

Biden told Xi that US policy on Taiwan has not changed and Washington is firmly opposed to unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Read more

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said Friday after the call between Xi and Biden that Taiwan will continue to deepen its close security partnership with the United States.

State media quoted Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinqi as saying on Sunday that Beijing "will resolutely maintain national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

At a military air show, Chen said the Air Force has many types of combat aircraft capable of circling the "precious island of our motherland," referring to Taiwan.

"The Chinese Air Force has the firm will, full confidence and sufficient capacity to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

A comment from a Chinese People’s Liberation Army unit on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter-like social media, posted on Friday – "Get ready for war!" He got 1.87 million thumbs up.

South China Sea

With the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group back in the South China Sea by Thursday, the Chinese military has stepped up exercises in the vicinity.

On Saturday, the Chinese military conducted live-fire exercises in the waters off Fujian Province, more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Taiwan, according to local authorities.

The Chinese Coast Guard will conduct exercises in the South China Sea off Guangzhou Province on Monday, according to another notice issued by the Maritime Safety Administration.

Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin said on Saturday he had deleted a tweet warning of military retaliation if US fighter jets accompanied Pelosi on a visit to Taiwan, after Twitter blocked his account. Read more

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday that the United States has not seen any evidence of looming Chinese military activity against Taiwan. Read more

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he believes the US military believes Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan "is not a good idea right now."

Pelosi’s Asian tour comes at a politically sensitive time for Chinese and American leaders.

Xi is expected to seek an unprecedented third term in Congress later this year, while in the United States, Biden’s Democratic Party will face a fierce battle to retain control of the US House of Representatives in the November midterm elections.

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(Reporting by Yu Lun Tian) Editing by William Mallard, Himani Sarkar and Sandra Maller

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Analysis: The world’s largest bond markets are back in favour, as recession fears mount

Global indices are displayed on a screen on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, US, August 19, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) – One day you get out of the house, the next you go in: Collapsing global sovereign bond markets are back for better as fears of a global recession mount.

Government borrowing costs from Germany to France and Australia fell sharply this month, with 10-year bond yields down nearly 50 basis points each in July, and braced for their biggest monthly drop in at least a decade.

US 10-year Treasury yields are down about 80 basis points from 11-year highs in June, as decades of high inflation fueled expectations of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

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Steady inflation certainly means that not everyone is buying bonds and Friday’s data that showed eurozone inflation at another record high was a catalyst for new bond sales.

But there appears to be a shift as signs of slowing economic growth point towards a peak in official interest rates. This means that government bond investors who shunned in the first half of 2022 are regaining their allure.

German bond yields head for biggest monthly drop since 2011

Bond funds saw inflows of $3.6 billion in the week to Wednesday, the largest since March, Bank of America’s weekly analysis of inflows released on Friday showed.

Antoine Buffett, chief interest rate strategist at ING, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the German 10-year bond yield tested 0.5% in the coming months. It was at 0.9% on Friday and rose to nearly 2% in June.

"The tide has really turned, and bonds are back to behaving like recession hedges," Buffett said.

Thursday’s data showed the US economy contracted again in the second quarter. Eurozone data on Friday showed that the bloc is holding up better than expected even though strong Germany is on the brink of deflation. Read more

Reuters graphics

long game

Investors are increasing their exposure to long-term debt due to growth concerns.

It is beginning to increase the term, which is sensitive to moves in base rates, said Flavio Carpenzano, chief investment officer at Capital Group, which manages $2.6 trillion in assets.

"We recently reduced the duration of the underweight (positions) because Europe may go into a recession, in which case we want to have core assets like German bonds," he said.

“From this perspective, we are gradually starting to increase the duration through German bonds in the 10-year part of the curve to protect the portfolio from a downside.”

Total returns, including capital gains and coupon payments, on Austria’s 100-year bonds rose 33% in July, according to Refinitiv data. But as with most very long-term debt, an investor who bought in at the start of 2022 would be down significantly so far.

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points last week and markets fully recovered in another big move in September. They now attribute a nearly 42% chance of raising another half a point.

Markets are pricing in the highest US interest rate of 3.2% by the end of this year and 50 basis points for rate cuts in 2023. Before the Federal Reserve raised rates by 75 basis points in mid-June, it had priced US interest rates at Peak by more than 4% in 2023 and cut the interest rate by a quarter point by the end of next year.

Earlier this week, the Fed introduced another rate increase of 0.75%. Read more

Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, said the company had increased its exposure to US Treasuries and investment-grade corporate debt due to recession risks.

"We expect a recession in 2023 and believe the Fed will start cutting rates towards the end of next year, and it’s hard to see a higher move in US bond yields," she said.

Reuters graphics

Investors said the outlook for European bond markets such as Italy is more complex, given growth concerns and political instability.

It is still underweight in Italian bonds, Carpizano of the Capital Group said.

Others said the drop in bond yields wasn’t a one-way bet as the fight against inflation was a far cry from the won – eurozone price growth hit a new record high of 8.9% in July.

"I feel the rise in interest rates is overstated," said Tim Graf, head of macroeconomic strategy for EMEA at State Street.

“German 10-year bond yields at 0.9%, looking at the inflation picture, is not something I would like to have,” he said, noting that Bond yields could dip towards 1.25-1.5% by the end of the year.

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Reporting by Dara Ranasinghe. Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee and Sujata Rao; Editing by Tommy Rigory Wilkes and Thomas Janowski

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Biden begins his fifth call with the Chinese president, as he looks to de-escalate tensions in Taiwan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping began their fifth call as leaders on Thursday, as concerns mounted over a possible visit to Taiwan demanded by China, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The White House said the call began at 8:33 a.m. (1233 GMT) and US officials said it would have a broad agenda, including a discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which China has not yet condemned.

In essence, US officials see the exchange as another opportunity to manage competition between the world’s two largest economies, whose relations are increasingly skewed by tensions over democratically governed Taiwan, which Xi has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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Beijing has issued mounting warnings of repercussions for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, a move that would be a dramatic, if unprecedented, display of US support for the island, which it says faces growing Chinese military and economic threats.

Washington has no official relations with Taiwan and follows a "one China" policy, which recognizes Beijing and not Taipei diplomatically. But it is obligated by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself, and pressure has grown in Congress for more visible support.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.

One of the people briefed on the planning for the call said the Biden administration believes that leader-to-leader engagement is the best way to reduce tensions over Taiwan.

Some analysts believe Xi also has an interest in avoiding escalation as he seeks an unprecedented third term in office at China’s ruling Communist Party congress expected in the fall.

Biden also wants to discuss climate issues and economic competition, the person briefing said, as well as the idea of ​​capping the price of Russian oil to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine, an issue Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised with her Chinese counterparts earlier. July. Read more

The Biden administration is debating whether to raise some tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to mitigate rising inflation, but US officials said the decision was not expected before the call. Read more

When Biden last spoke to Xi in March, he warned of "consequences" if Beijing provided material support for Russia’s war, and the US government believes that red line has not been crossed in the months since.

Taiwan has complained of intensifying Chinese military exercises over the past two years to try to force it to accept Beijing’s sovereignty. Just before the phone call Thursday, Taiwan’s military said it had fired flares to warn a drone that had "peeked" at a strategically located and heavily fortified island near the Chinese coast that may have been searching its defenses. Read more

Toxic links

The White House has reiterated that the "one China" policy has not changed despite speculation about Pelosi’s possible visit, which the speaker has not yet confirmed.

The last time the speaker of the US House of Representatives visited Taiwan was in 1997, and as an equal branch of government, the US executive has little control over travel within Congress.

China has grown militarily and economically powerful since then, and some analysts fear that such a visit at a time of fraught relations could lead to a crisis across the 100-mile (160 kilometer) wide waterway separating China and Taiwan.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund in the United States, said.

She said Biden and Xi need to focus their advocacy on de-escalation, including potential mechanisms to reduce the risk of mishaps.

Kirby said the administration is in touch with Pelosi’s office to make sure it has "all the context" it needs to make decisions about her travel.

China has offered little indication of specific responses it might take if Pelosi, a longtime critic of China, especially on human rights issues, goes to Taiwan.

Raising the Taiwan issue could serve as a domestic distraction from the slowing Chinese economy, said Martin Chorzimba, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, but "any reaction strong enough to impose US sanctions will do serious damage to China and the world economy." Read more

Chinese state media said Thursday that the country will try hard to achieve the best possible results for the economy this year, ignoring previous calls that it will strive to achieve its 2022 growth target. This came after a high-level meeting of the Communist Party chaired by Xi. Read more

Scott Kennedy, of the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he did not believe the two sides were on the brink of a crisis, but that "the risk of a major crisis is well above zero" and it was important to avoid Biden’s invitation to Xi. Unwelcome clash.

"Beijing, Taipei, and Washington are full of people immersed in how to send and interpret signals that convey threats and reassurance, and I’m sure no one wants war right now."

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Additional reporting by Michael Martina, Trevor Honeycutt, David Bronstrom and Garrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing. Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Philippa Fletcher and Bernadette Bao

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Russia tells that NASA’s space station withdrawal is less imminent than previously reported

The International Space Station (ISS) is photographed by the Expedition 56 crew of the Soyuz spacecraft after dismantling, October 4, 2018. NASA/Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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A senior NASA official told Reuters on Wednesday that Russian space officials have told their American counterparts that Moscow wants to continue transporting its astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) until their orbital site is built and operational. .

Combined with comments by a senior Russian space official published on Wednesday, the latest indications are that Russia still has at least six years to end an orbital cooperation with the United States dating back more than two decades.

A split in the International Space Station program seemed closer to hand on Tuesday, when Yuri Borisov, the newly appointed director general of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, surprised NASA by announcing that Moscow intended to withdraw from the space station partnership "after 2024." Read more

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Russian officials told the US space agency later on Tuesday that Russia’s Roscosmos wanted to remain in the partnership while Russia operates its planned orbital position, called ROSS, NASA chief space operations officer Kathy Lueders said in an interview.

"We are not getting any indication at any level of work that anything has changed," Luders told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that NASA’s relationships with Roscosmos remain "business as usual."

The space station, a science laboratory that spans the size of a football field and orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth, has been continuously occupied for more than two decades under a partnership led by the United States and Russia that also includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

It offers one of the last vestiges of cooperation between the United States and Russia, though its fate has been in question since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, straining bilateral relations on several fronts as the Biden administration imposed economic sanctions on Moscow.

The Ukraine conflict has also raised tensions between the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

No formal agreement has yet been reached to extend Russia’s participation in the International Space Station beyond 2024. Lueders said that NASA, Roscosmos, ESA and other station partners plan to discuss the possibility of extending each other’s presence in the lab until 2030 during a regular meeting Friday of the board, which Supervising the management of the station.

On its website, on Wednesday, Roscosmos published an interview with Vladimir Solovyov, flight director of the Russian section of the space station, who was quoted as saying that Russia should remain at the station until Russia works.

Solovyov said he expects the ROSS to be fully assembled into orbit sometime in 2028.

"We, of course, need to continue operating the ISS until we create a fairly tangible backlog of ROSS," Solovyov said. "We must bear in mind that if we stop manned flights for several years, it will be very difficult to restore what has been achieved."

The American and Russian parts of the space station were intentionally built to be so interconnected and technically interconnected, that any abrupt withdrawal of Russian cooperation aboard the International Space Station could seriously disrupt one of the main pillars of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

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(Reporting by Joey Rowlett) Editing by Jonathan Otis and Will Dunham

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Exclusive EU found evidence that employees' phones were hacked with spy message

(Reuters) – The European Union’s chief justice official said in a letter seen by Reuters that the European Union had found evidence that smartphones used by some of its employees had been hacked by an Israeli company’s spyware.

In a July 25 letter sent to European lawmaker Sophie at 't Veld, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said iPhone maker Apple told him in 2021 that his iPhone had been hacked using Pegasus, a tool developed and sold to customers government through Israeli surveillance. NSO Group Corporation.

The letter said that the warning from Apple led to the inspection of Reynders' personal and business devices as well as other phones used by European Commission staff.

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Although the investigation found no conclusive evidence that Reynders' phones or EU employees had been hacked, investigators discovered "indications of compromise" – a term security researchers use to describe evidence showing a hack.

Reynders' letter did not provide further details and said, "It is absolutely impossible to attribute these indications to a specific perpetrator." She added that the investigation is still ongoing.

Letters left with Reynders, the European Commission and Reynders spokesman David Marechal were not immediately returned.

A spokeswoman for NSO said the company would willingly cooperate with the EU investigation.

"Our assistance is even more important as there is still no concrete evidence of a breach," the spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters. "Any illegal use by a client targeting activists, journalists, etc., is considered serious abuse."

The NSO Group is being sued by Apple Inc (AAPL.O) for violating its User Terms and Services Agreement.

Lawyers Questions

Reuters first reported in April that the European Union was investigating whether phones used by Reynders and other senior European officials had been hacked using software designed in Israel. Reynders and the European Commission declined to comment on the report at the time.

Reynders' admission in the letter to the hacking activity came in response to inquiries from European lawmakers, who earlier this year set up a commission to investigate the use of surveillance software in Europe.

The commission announced last week that its investigation found that 14 EU member states had purchased NSO technology in the past.

Reynders' letter – which was seen by Reuters by committee rapporteur In Field – said officials in Hungary, Poland and Spain were or were under questioning about their use of Pegasus.

She said it was necessary to find out who targeted the EU Commission, noting that it would be particularly scandalous if an EU member state was found to be responsible.

The European Commission also raised the issue with the Israeli authorities, asking them to take steps "to prevent their products from being misused in the European Union," according to the letter.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple’s alerts, sent out late last year, told targeted users that a hacking tool, called ForcedEntry, may have been used against their devices to download spyware. Apple said in a lawsuit that ForcedEntry was the work of NSO Group. Reuters also reported earlier that another smaller Israeli company called QuaDream has developed an almost identical tool.

In November, the administration of US President Joe Biden gave the NSO Group a designation that would make it difficult for US companies to deal with it, after confirming that its phone hacking technology had been used by foreign governments to "maliciously target" surrounding political opponents. the scientist.

NSO, which has kept its customer list confidential, said it sells its products only to "vetted and legitimate" government customers.

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(Reporting by Raphael Satter and Christopher Bing in Washington); Editing by Grant McCall

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Microsoft is allaying market concerns by anticipating strong revenue growth

The Microsoft logo appears in Los Angeles, California, US, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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July 26 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corporation (MSFT.O) On Tuesday, it forecast revenue this fiscal year to grow by double digits, driven by demand for cloud computing services and sending stocks up 5%.

The strong outlook shows that Microsoft continues to benefit from the pandemic-led shift to hybrid business models and comes at a time when investors are bracing for an economic downturn, with inflation rising and consumers cutting back on spending.

Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at TECHnalysis Research, said Microsoft’s forecast shows that despite negative economic trends, companies continue to move more business and work online.

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"I don’t think it’s unique to Microsoft," he said of the outlook. "Microsoft is very well positioned because of its portfolio of businesses and the critical role that its software and services for enterprises play."

Despite positive expectations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Microsoft’s fourth-quarter results were slightly wrong, weighed down by a stronger dollar, slowing PC sales and lower advertiser spending.

Microsoft still had the best quarter for its cloud business with record bookings for its cloud service called Azure, said Brett Iverson, Microsoft’s general manager of investor relations.

Azure’s growth was 40%, and it missed the 43% analyst target collected by Visible Alpha. It rose by 46% if foreign exchange factors were eliminated. In the broader smart cloud division, revenue rose 20% to $20.9 billion, beating Wall Street’s average target of $19.1 billion, according to Refinitiv.

For the first quarter ended September 30, the smart cloud division was expected to bring in $20.3 billion to $20.6 billion, with the upper end slightly higher than analysts' expectations.

“We are seeing larger and longer-term engagements and won a record number of deals in excess of $100 million and over $1 billion this quarter,” said CEO Satya Nadella. "We have more data center regions than any other provider and will launch 10 within the next year."

Microsoft is facing pressure from the strong dollar as it gets about half of its revenue from outside the US. This led the company to lower its earnings and revenue forecast for the fourth quarter in June. Shares of the Redmond, Washington company are down about 25% this year. Read more

The US dollar index is up more than 2% in the quarter ending in June and about 12% this year, compared to a 1% decline a year earlier for the same period.

Without the stronger dollar, Iversen told Reuters the company’s 12% year-over-year revenue growth would have been 4 percentage points higher. Three major factors reduced fourth-quarter revenue by nearly $1 billion.

Foreign exchange negatively impacted revenues by about $600 million. The slowdown in the PC market has caused Windows OEM revenue of more than $300 million. The slowdown in ad spend has also affected LinkedIn, search and news ad revenue by more than $100 million.

“Because Microsoft is as big as it is, it’s hard for it not to reflect the overall economy," said John Freeman, vice president of equity research at CFRA Research. "We have inflation and it is clear that this will reduce consumer demand."

The company said the slump in consumer demand also affected gaming revenue, which fell 7% year-on-year due to lower Xbox hardware, content and services. It is expected to decline in low to mid single digits this quarter, driven by lower first-party content.

Microsoft reported revenue of $51.87 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to $46.15 billion a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected revenue of $52.44 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Net income rose to $16.74 billion, or $2.23 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, from $16.46 billion, or $2.17 per share, a year earlier.

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Additional reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru and Jane Lee in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Schumaker

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Cutting off Russian gas from Europe hits economic hopes, and Ukraine reports attacks on coastal areas

  • Gazprom says that stopping the turbines will increase gas cuts for Germany
  • The United Nations hopes to export grain within days
  • The United States is exploring land routes after the Russian strike
  • A fire broke out in an oil depot in the territory occupied by Russia

Kyiv (Reuters) – Russia said it would cut gas supplies to Europe from Wednesday in a blow to countries that have backed Ukraine, while missile attacks in coastal areas on the Black Sea raised doubts over whether Russia would stick to a deal to allow Ukraine. Grain export.

The United Nations said the first ships from Ukraine could sail within days under an agreement agreed on Friday, despite a Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian port of Odessa at the weekend, and a spokesman for the military administration said another missile came under fire. Hit the Odessa region on Tuesday morning.

High energy costs and the threat of starvation facing millions in poor countries show how Europe’s largest conflict since World War II, now in its sixth month, has had an impact beyond Ukraine.

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European Union countries are set to agree, Tuesday, to a weak emergency proposal to curb their demand for gas, as they try to distance themselves from Russian energy and prepare for a possible shutdown. Read more

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military announced Russian cruise missile strikes in the south and that Ukrainian forces had hit enemy targets. Serhiy Prachuk, a spokesman for the Odessa military administration, told a Ukrainian TV channel that a missile fired from the direction of the Black Sea hit the region, but did not provide any information on casualties.

East Odessa along the Black Sea coast, port infrastructure in Mykolaiv was damaged in an attack, according to Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to an out-of-hours request for comment.

A major fire broke out at an oil depot in the Budyonovsky district of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine after Ukrainian forces shelled the province, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, citing a reporter at the scene. There were no reports of injuries or injuries.

Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM)Citing instructions from the industry watchdog, he said on Monday that the flow of gas to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would drop to 33 million cubic meters per day from Wednesday.

This is half of the current flows, which is already only 40% of the normal capacity. Before the war, Europe imported about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia. Read more

The Kremlin says the gas outages are caused by maintenance issues and Western sanctions, while the European Union accuses Russia of energy blackmail.

Politicians in Europe have repeatedly said Russia may turn off gas this winter, a move that would push Germany into recession and hurt consumers already hit by rising inflation.

Moscow says it is not interested in a complete halt to gas supplies to Europe.

Adding to energy concerns, Ukraine’s state pipeline operator said Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) Without prior notice, the pressure increased sharply in the pipeline that passes through Ukraine to deliver Russian gas to Europe. Read more

The Ukrainian company said such pressure surges could lead to emergencies including pipeline ruptures, and pipeline operators are required to inform each other about them in advance. Gazprom could not be reached for comment.

grain ships

Before the invasion and subsequent sanctions, Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports.

Officials from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations agreed on Friday that there would be no attacks on merchant ships passing through the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait and in markets. Read more

Moscow shrugged off fears that Russia could be derailed by a Russian attack on Odessa on Saturday, saying it only targeted military infrastructure.

The White House said the strike cast doubt on Russia’s credibility and that it was watching closely to see whether commitments were met.

"We will also continue to actively explore other options with the international community to increase Ukrainian exports via land routes," she said.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet has prevented grain exports from Ukraine since the invasion of Moscow on February 24. Moscow blames Western sanctions for slowing its exports of food and fertilizer, and Moscow blames Ukraine for mining its ports.

Under Friday’s agreement, pilots will guide ships along safe channels through naval minefields. Read more

A Ukrainian government official said he hopes the first shipment of grain will be shipped from Chornomorsk this week, with shipments from other ports within two weeks.

Zelensky was adamant about resuming trade and said, "We’ll start exporting, and let partners take care of security."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during a tour of African countries, said that there are no obstacles to the export of grain and nothing in the agreement prevents Moscow from attacking military infrastructure.

The Kremlin also said the United Nations must ensure that restrictions on Russian fertilizers and other exports are lifted for the grain deal to succeed.

Airstrikes

The Kremlin says it is engaged in a "special military operation" to disarm and "disarm" Ukraine. Both Kyiv and Western countries say the war is an unjustified act of aggression.

Thousands of civilians died and millions fled during the war. Artillery shells and Russian air strikes destroyed cities.

With Western arms bolstering the Ukrainians, Putin’s forces are making slow progress, but they are believed to be preparing for a new push in the east.

Ukraine said on Monday its forces had used US-supplied HIMARS missile systems to destroy 50 Russian munitions depots since receiving the weapons last month.

Russia has not commented, but its Defense Ministry said its forces destroyed an ammunition depot for HIMARS systems. Read more

(This story is corrected to include the dropped word)

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Costas Pettas and Stephen Coates; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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World condemns Myanmar military junta for 'brutal' execution of activists

  • Executed include the character of democracy, an ally of Suu Kyi
  • Families say they were not allowed to retrieve the bodies
  • Executions Aim To Send Chilling Messages – Rights Groups
  • The United States assesses how to punish the military junta in Myanmar

July 25 (Reuters) – Myanmar’s ruling military announced on Monday it had executed four democracy activists on charges of aiding "acts of terrorism", drawing widespread condemnation of the country’s first executions in decades.

Sentenced to death in secret trials in January and April, the men were accused of aiding a civilian resistance movement that has fought the military since last year’s coup and the bloody suppression of protests across the country.

Among those executed were Democratic activist Kyaw Min Yoo, better known as Jimmy, and former lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyew Zia Tao, an ally of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The other two executed were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

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State media said the "punishment was carried out" but did not say when or in what way. Previous executions in Myanmar were carried out by hanging.

The Shadow National Unity Government (NUG), which is leading efforts to undermine the junta’s attempts to rule Myanmar, said it was time for an international response.

"The international community must punish their cruelty," said Kyaw Zaw, a spokesman for the National Unity Government Prime Minister’s Office.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the coup, as the military, which has ruled the former British colony for five of the past six decades, has been engaged in battles on multiple fronts with newly formed militia groups.

The UN human rights coordinator, Michelle Bachelet, described the executions as a "cruel and reactionary step" that would "deepen its involvement in the crisis that it created itself."

The United States condemned the measure and said there was no longer a "business as usual" with the Myanmar military council. Read more

Amnesty International’s death penalty adviser, Chiara Sangiorgio, said the executions represented a "massive setback" and that the junta was "not going to stop there".

It was a "very tough act" aimed at "pacifying the anti-coup protest movement," said Eileen Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

One of the videos showed several masked protesters chanting and holding a large banner in a Yangon street reading "We will never be afraid" before they started running.

hide corpses

The executions were the first of about 117 death sentences handed down by military-run courts since the coup, according to the Association to Aid Political Prisoners (AAPP), which tracks arrests, killings and court rulings in Myanmar.

Thazin Nyunt Aung, wife of Phyo Zeyar Thaw, said the families of the executed men were denied the opportunity to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones, likening them to murderers covering up their crimes.

"This is killing and hiding bodies away," she told Reuters. "They underestimated the people of Myanmar and the international community," he added.

Nilar Thein, Kyaw Min Yeo’s wife, said she wouldn’t have a funeral without a body.

"We must all be brave, determined and strong," she wrote on Facebook.

The men were held at Insein Prison in Yangon, where families visited him last Friday, according to a person familiar with the events, who said prison officials only allowed one relative to speak to the detainees via a video call.

"I asked at the time why you didn’t tell me or my son that this was our last meeting," Khin Win Mai, the mother of Phew Zyar Tho, told BBC Burmese.

The military council did not mention the executions in its evening television newscast on Monday.

Its spokesperson last month defended the death sentences as justified and used in many countries. Read more

gruesome execution

The White House condemned the "grotesque execution of pro-democracy activists and elected leaders." US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington is considering taking further measures in response to the military council, adding that "all options" are on the table, when asked specifically about possible sanctions on the country’s gas sector. Read more

Price urged countries to ban sales of military equipment to Myanmar, and not to do anything that could give the junta any international credibility.

In a statement, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez urged President Joe Biden to impose sanctions against the Myanmar Oil and Gas Company and others.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has close ties to Aung San Suu Kyi, called on Myanmar’s neighbors to respond. "If they don’t step up and impose significant costs on the junta, the Biden administration should use the powers that Congress has already granted it to punish Burma’s energy sector," he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), last month sent a letter appealing to junta chief Min Aung Hlaing not to carry out executions, conveying deep concern among Myanmar’s neighbors.

France condemned the executions and called for dialogue between all parties, while Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the executions would further isolate Myanmar.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has urged all parties in Myanmar to properly resolve disputes within its constitutional framework.

Others have called for quick penalties.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, told Reuters that the UN Security Council should "pass a strong resolution not only of condemnation, but of clear strategic actions, sanctions, economic sanctions and arms embargoes". Read more

The association says more than 2,100 people have been killed by security forces since the coup. The military council says this number is exaggerated.

It has been difficult to assess the true picture of the violence, as the clashes have spread to remote areas where ethnic minority rebel groups are also fighting the army.

The United Nations estimates that nearly a million people have been displaced due to the unrest that followed the coup.

The Arakan Army, one of more than a dozen ethnic minority armies in Myanmar who have fought the army for years, said the executions dashed hopes of any peace deal.

Analyst Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group said the executions would eliminate any chance of ending the unrest across Myanmar.

"This is the system that proves it will do whatever it wants and won’t listen to anyone," said Horsey.

"She sees this as a sign of strength, but it could be a huge miscalculation."

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Reporting by Reuters staff. Writing by Ed Davies, Michael Perry, Martin Petty, and Susan Heffy; Editing by Toby Chopra, Thomas Janowski and Grant McCall

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