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As the UK readies its first nationwide Emergency Alerts test this Sunday, here’s everything you need to know

After officially unveiling itseEmergency Alerts system last month, the U.K. government is preparing to launch the first nationwide this Sunday (23 April)….

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After officially unveiling itseEmergency Alerts system last month, the U.K. government is preparing to launch the first nationwide this Sunday (23 April). The system is designed to notify the public of impending danger to life in a specific area.

At 3pm, all 4G- and 5G-enabled smartphones in the U.K. will receive a message directly to their device, accompanied by a siren-like sound and vibration for up to 10 seconds. The message will say:

This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK government service that will warn you if there’s a life-threatening emergency nearby. In a real emergency, follow the instructions in the alert to keep yourself and others safe. Visit gov.uk/alerts for more information. This is a test. You do not need to take any action.

Similar alerting systems have been used in other countries for some time, including the Netherlands with NL-Alert; the U.S. which has deployed Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for more than a decade; and Canada, which launched its Alert Ready system in 2015. There has been a steady increase in other countries rolling out nationwide alert systems in recent months, including in Germany, Spain, Denmark, and Norway.

The need-to-knows

The new alert system is built around so-called cell broadcast technology, meaning it will transmit messages even if a phone is on silent, and also if it’s not connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi. However, it won’t work on devices that are turned off or in airplane mode; devices that are connected to 2G or 3G networks; or devices that don’t have any built-in cellular functionality (e.g. devices that are Wi-Fi only). Also, cellular iPad models don’t support Emergency Alerts.

But if you have an Android smartphone or tablet running Android 11 or later that is at least 4G-enabled, or an iPhone running iOS 14.5 or later, you will automatically receive a emergency alert test at 3pm on Sunday.

Given that this is a test only, recipients don’t actually have to take any action, and the sound and vibration will stop automatically after 10 seconds. To get rid of the message, it’s just a case of swiping it away as you would with any other homescreen notification, or hitting the “OK” button.

UK emergency alert in action

Only the emergency services or government departments will be able to send these alerts to people’s devices, and in the future users may receive alerts about critical or hazardous events, such as flooding, fires, or terrorist attacks.

However, there have been a number of false alarm relating to emergency alerts around the world, including in 2018 when Hawaiian residents were informed of an impending missile attack, which turned out to be a simple case of human error. And just a couple of days ago, Florida residents were awoken at 4:45am local time by a test alert that was supposed to have been sent out to televisions rather than smartphones.

Red alert

The U.K. launch has been a long time coming. Back in 2010, the former Conservative-Liberal coalition government published The Strategic Defence and Security Review, a paper that addressed many facets of the U.K.’s  defence strategy including its response mechanism to national emergencies. For this, the government said it would “evaluate options for improved national public alert systems for use in major emergencies.”

The focus, ultimately, was to develop a capability to issue alerts to mobile devices in defined areas where an emergency is unfolding. In 2013, the government launched a series of trials in partnership with three of the country’s mobile network operators (MNO) and emergency responders, using different methods to see what was most effective. It initially concluded that location-based SMS was likely the best solution given the existing MNO infrastructure, plus it didn’t require any device-level configuration, with all mobile phone numbers registered to a mobile phone network able to receive alerts.

Not a great deal happened with the U.K.’s emergency alert system in the subsequent years, though the government did use an SMS-based system to send out messages around pandemic-era lockdown rules in 2020, as well as alerts for vaccine accessibility the following year.

But there are downsides to location-based SMS mechanisms. For example, traffic load spikes (e.g. during an emergency) can impact the speed at which messages are delivered, while privacy issues around SMS’s reliance on access to individuals’ mobile phone numbers can be a concern. Cell broadcast technology, on the other hand, allow senders to dispatch messages to all phones in a defined area (i.e. proximity to a cell tower) without requiring access to any mobile phone numbers.

Moreover, cell broadcasts circumvent concerns around traffic load, as cell broadcasts operate on a different channel to voice and SMS.

And that is essentially why the U.K. has elected for a cell broadcast-based system. Some users around the U.K. received cell broadcast-based test alerts in 2021, constituting part of an early pilot in preparation for the broader rollout and nationwide test this weekend.

Opting out

The government reckons that its Emergency Alerts system will cover some 90% of all mobile phones in a given area. And while it goes without saying that it would rather people didn’t opt out to maximize its reach, there may be a multitude of reasons why someone might want to do so. Here’s how you can do so.

On iPhones, head to Notifications in the Settings menu, and then scroll to the very bottom where you’ll see sliders for Extreme Alerts and Severe Alerts which you can toggle to the Off position. On Android, in settings you can navigate to Safety and Emergency, scroll to Wireless Emergency Alerts, and then toggle the Allow Alerts slider.

Android emergency alerts

Android emergency alerts Image Credits: Screenshot/TechCrunch

There have in fact been some concerns from organizations representing vulnerable groups, such as women and children who may be subject to domestic abuse and who may have secondary phones that they conceal from their perpetrators.

“We are concerned about the impact of the Emergency Alerts system on survivors of domestic abuse,” Women’s Aid head of policy Lucy Hadley said in a statement published online. “For many survivors, a second phone which the perpetrator does not know about is an important form of communication with friends or family — as some abusers confiscate or monitor and control their partner’s phone. It may also be their only lifeline in emergencies. The Emergency Alerts pose a risk, not only because an abuser could discover a survivors’ second phone, but also because they could use this as a reason to escalate abuse.”

The government  also says it has also been working with U.K. transport sector to ensure drivers are aware of the alert and aren’t inadvertently panicked into checking their device when the alarm rings. Needless to say, the normal rules of the road apply with Emergency Alerts — no looking at or interacting with phones while in control of a moving vehicle.

As the UK readies its first nationwide Emergency Alerts test this Sunday, here’s everything you need to know by Paul Sawers originally published on TechCrunch

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Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?…

This past Wednesday, President of the European…

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Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?...

This past Wednesday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivered a speech before the 2023 Atlantic Council Awards in New York, where she sounded the alarm over the specter of nuclear war centered on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But while invoking remembrance of the some 78,000 civilians killed instantly by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WWII, she said her warning comes "especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again". She  actually framed the atomic atrocity in a way that made it sound like the Russians did it. Watch:

There was not one single acknowledgement in Von der Leyen's speech that it was in fact the United States which incinerated and maimed hundreds of thousands when it dropped no less that two atomic bombs on Japanese cities.

Here were her precise words, according to an Atlantic Council transcript...

You, dear Prime Minister, showed me the meaning of this proverb during the G7 summit in Japan last year. You brought us to your hometown of Hiroshima, the place where you have your roots and which has deeply shaped your life and leadership. Many of your relatives lost their life when the atomic bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground. You have grown up with the stories of the survivors. And you wanted us to listen to the same stories, to face the past, and learn something about the future.

It was a sobering start to the G7, and one that I will not forget, especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again. It is heinous. It is dangerous. And in the shadow of Hiroshima, it is unforgivable

The above video of that segment of the speech gives a better idea of the subtle way she closely associated in her rhetoric the words "once again" with the phrase "shadow of Hiroshima" while focusing on what Russia is doing, to make it sound like it was Moscow behind the past atrocities.

Via dpa

Russian media not only picked up on the woefully misleading comments, but the Kremlin issued a formal rebuke of Von der Leyen's speech as well:

In response to von der Leynen's remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the European Commission president of making "no mention whatsoever of the US and its executioners who dropped the bombs on populated Japanese cities."

Zakharova responded on social media, arguing that von der Leyen's assertions on Moscow's supposed intentions to employ nuclear weapons "is despicable and dangerous" and "lies."

Some Russian embassies in various parts of the globe also highlighted the speech on social media, denouncing the "empire of lies" and those Western leaders issuing 'shameful' propaganda and historical revisionism.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 13:15

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl…

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl to 18 years in jail and a travel ban for posting tweets in support of political prisoners, according to a rights group.

On Friday, ALQST rights group, which documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court handed out the sentence in August to 18-year-old Manal al-Gafiri, who was only 17 at the time of her arrest.

Via Reuters

The Saudi judiciary, under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has issued several extreme prison sentences over cyber activism and the use of social media for criticising the government.

They include the recent death penalty against Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a retired teacher, for comments made on Twitter and YouTube, and the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma al-Shehab over tweets last year.

The crown prince confirmed Ghamdi's sentence during a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Wednesday. He blamed it on "bad laws" that he cannot change

"We are not happy with that. We are ashamed of that. But [under] the jury system, you have to follow the laws, and I cannot tell a judge [to] do that and ignore the law, because... that's against the rule of law," he said.

Saudi human rights defenders and lawyers, however, disputed Mohammed bin Salman's allegations and said the crackdown on social media users is correlated with his ascent to power and the introduction of new judicial bodies that have since overseen a crackdown on his critics. 

"He is able, with one word or the stroke of a pen, in seconds, to change the laws if he wants," Taha al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, told Middle East Eye this week.

According to Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ghamdi was sentenced under a counterterrorism law passed in 2017, shortly after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince. The law has been criticised for its broad definition of terrorism.

Similarly, two new bodies - the Presidency of State Security and the Public Prosecution Office - were established by royal decrees in the same year.

Rights groups have said that the 2017 overhaul of the kingdom's security apparatus has significantly enabled the repression of Saudi opposition voices, including those of women rights defenders and opposition activists. 

"These violations are new under MBS, and it's ridiculous that he is blaming this on the prosecution when he and senior Saudi authorities wield so much power over the prosecution services and the political apparatus more broadly," Shea said, using a common term for the prince.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 11:30

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Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

In a symbolic, photo-op…

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Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

In a symbolic, photo-op gesture to win union votes, Biden will head to Michigan for a token visit.

Biden to Walk the Picket Line

Taking Sides

CNN had some Interesting comments on Biden Talking Sides.

Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, said he doesn’t believe any president has ever visited a picket line during a strike.

Presidents, including Biden, have previously declined to wade into union disputes to avoid the perception of taking sides on issues where the negotiating parties are often engaged in litigation.

On September 15, the day the strike started, Biden said that the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Some Democratic politicians have been urging Biden to do more. California Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday told CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich that Biden and other Democrats should join him on the picket line.

“I’d love to see the president out here,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party needs to demonstrate it’s “the party of the working class.”

UAW Announces New Strike Locations

As the strike enters a second week, UAW Announces New Strike Locations

UAW President Shawn Fain called for union members to strike at noon ET Friday at 38 General Motors and Stellantis facilities across 20 states. He said the strike call covers all of GM and Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities.

The strike call notably excludes Ford, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, suggesting the UAW is more satisfied with the progress it has made on a new contract with that company.

General Motors plants being told to strike are in Pontiac, Belleville, Ypsilanti, Burton, Swartz Creek and Lansing, Michigan; West Chester, Ohio; Aurora, Colorado; Hudson, Wisconsin; Bolingbrook, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Roanoke, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Brandon, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Lang Horne, Pennsylvania.

The Stellantis facilities going on strike are in Marysville, Center Line, Warren, Auburn Hills, Romulus and Streetsboro, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Plymouth, Minnesota; Commerce City, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; Ontario, California; Beaverton, Oregon; Morrow, Georgia; Winchester, Virginia; Carrollton, Texas; Tappan, New York; and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Contract Negotiations Are Not Close

Good Luck Getting Repairs

Party of the Working Cass, Really?

Let’s discuss the nonsensical notion that Democrats are the party of the “working class”.

Unnecessary stimulus, reckless expansion of social services, student debt cancellation, eviction moratoriums, earned income credits, immigration policy, and forcing higher prices for all, to benefit the few, are geared towards the “unworking class”.

On top of it, Biden wants to take away your gas stove, end charter schools to protect incompetent union teachers, and force you into an EV that you do not want and for which infrastructure is not in place.

All of this increases inflation across the board as do sanctions and clean energy madness.

Exploring the Working Class Idea

If you don’t work and have no income, Biden may make your healthcare cheaper. If you do work, he seeks to take your healthcare options away.

If you want to pay higher prices for cars, give up your gas stove, be forced into an EV, subsidize wind energy then pay more for electricity on top of it, you have a clear choice. If you support those efforts, by all means, please join him on the picket line for a token photo-op (not that you will be able to get within miles for the staged charade).

But if you can think at all, you understand Biden does not support the working class, he supports the unworking class.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 10:30

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