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Hackers were paid a ransom, Colonial Pipeline boss confirms

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Colonial Pipeline's petroleum farm.

The boss of one of the United States’ biggest fuel pipelines says his company paid a $USD 4.4 million ransom to hackers.

The Colonial Pipeline experienced a cyberattack that shut down its nationwide network on 7 May. As such, millions of barrels of petrol, diesel and jet fuel stopped flowing.

Joseph Blount is the CEO of the Colonial Pipeline. He told the Wall Street Journal the ransom was a “highly controversial decision”. But he conceded it “was the right thing to do for the country”.

The 8,900 kilometre pipeline carries 2.5 million barrels a day, or 45 percent of the east coast’s supply of critical fuel supplies.

“I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this,” Mr Blount explained

However, President Biden believes there was evidence that Russian hackers were involved in the attack.

“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved. Although, there is evidence that the actors, ransomware is in Russia… they have some responsibility to deal with this.”

The hackers are from DarkSide, who allegedly steal from larger corporations and give the ransom funds to charity.

The group released a statement on the dark web. “From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.”

After the cyberattack, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen cybersecurity defences across the US.

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How China’s crackdown will be a game-changer for bitcoin mining

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China’s crackdown on mining has been an ongoing story since around 2013. But this time might be different.

According to bitcoin aficionado Stephan Livera this latest crackdown, on one of the main regions for bitcoin mining, is the real deal.

This time seems like a more serious time. The largest mining pool operators have come out…so for example the leader of F2Pool (has said) from our numbers we’re seeing a very large drop in the amount of hash rate that’s coming to our pool out of China.” 

STEPHAN LIVERA, MINISTRY OF NODES

Bitcoin has many complex layers, it’s important to remember we’re talking specifically about bitcoin mining.

Mining is simply the process that sees new bitcoins entered into circulation. It’s also a critical component of the maintenance and development of the blockchain ledger. Mining is performed using very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems.

Chinese authorities are clamping down on the local mining operations that accounted for over 65% of Bitcoin’s global hash rate in 2020.

You might want to Google ‘bitcoin hash rate’, essentially it’s how often computers verify bitcoin transactions to secure the network.

The total hash rate has hit a new six-month low as China continues its clampdown on operations within the country.

What does this change mean for the future of bitcoin mining?

Livera says “it might be a turning point, an actual change in the industry. In terms of the composition in terms of where does the mining hash-rate come from. Because bitcoin is a decentralised project, what we ideally want to see is the hash-rate distributed around the world.”

So where to next?

Miners in China say their firms will pack up shop and move to North America with some predicting that China will lose crypto computing power to foreign markets.

Livera predicts short-term pain for long-term gain.

“Yes there is a short-term drop in the hash rate in the here and now. It’s unfortunately bad for Chinese miners. But it is good for anybody outside of China who is able to set up a mining operation, and be more profitable on the margin.”

A sell-off across the crypto markets took hold over the weekend. The world’s two dominant tokens bitcoin and ethereum both declined following China’s continuing crackdown particularly on the southwest province of Sichuan.

How these changes in bitcoin mining affect the long term price is a wait and see.

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‘Emergency situation’ shuts down Iranian Power Plant

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Iran’s sole nuclear power plant has undergone an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown.

An official from the state electric company Tavanir, that the Bushehr plant shutdown began on Saturday and would last “for three to four days.”

The company has warned that the nation now faces power outages.

This is the first time Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of the plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

The plant went online in 2011 with help from Russia.

Iran is required to send spent fuel rods from the reactor back to Russia as a nuclear nonproliferation measure.

Tavanir released a statement stating that the nuclear plant was being repaired. The company did not offer any further details but confirmed the repair work would take until Friday.

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Goodbye angels? Victoria’s Secret’s major brand overhaul | ticker VIEWS

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Victoria Secret is abandoning its ‘angel’ ambassadors, in a dramatic re-brand attempt

Last week, Victoria’s Secret announced a new ambassador initiative that will spearhead a major re-branding strategy.

 “This is a dramatic shift for our brand, and it’s a shift that we embrace from our core,’ said CEO Martin Waters.

This means the multi-million dollar Fantasy Bras, bedazzled wings and the annual Victoria’s Secret Angels fashion show, will be replaced by the “VS Collective,” a group of seven famous, successful women — not all of whom are (just) models. 

In the past, the company has been criticised for its models being too thin or underweight.

Candice Swanepoel wears $10,000,000 fantasy bra in the Victoria Secret Fashion Show (2013)
There are 4,200 jewels included, all set in 18-karat gold. The Fantasy bra became one of the largest draws to the annual spectacle.

Angels are no longer ‘culturally relevant’

Victoria’s Secret announced it’d cancel its famous annual televised runway show indefinitely in 2019, as viewing figures fell to 3.3 million the year prior.

A spokesperson for Victoria’s Secret said that “As an entertainment brand, with a huge cultural footprint we are reimagining what a fashion show could look like for us in the future.”

Martin Waters, Victoria’s Secret chief executive told The New York Times that “right now” he did not see the Angels as being “culturally relevant”.

U.S soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, will be one of the new faces of Victoria’s Secret.

In the past, Rapinoe, an LGBTQIA+ activist, has described the brand as “patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired”.

“I am humbled to join this group of incredible women to drive change within the Victoria’s Secret brand and beyond,” said Rapinoe of her role in the VS Collective via a press statement.

“So often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry, and I’m thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of ALL women.”

“The VS Collective is an ever-growing group of accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change”

VICTORIA SECRET SAID IN A STATEMENT.

“These extraordinary partners, with their unique backgrounds, interests and passions, will influence and shape the future of the world’s largest and most recognizable brand for women.”

As part of the VS Collective roll-out, the women will share their stories via a podcast hosted by de Cadenet. 

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