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23 killed as tornadoes wreak havoc in US

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Washington, March 4 : As many as 23 people were killed in the US state of Alabama as a cluster of storms ripped through the country’s Southeast region, spawning multiple tornadoes and leaving a trail of destruction.

The first tornado warning in central Alabama went out at around 1 p.m. on Sunday. As the storms pushed east, the tornadoes left a path of destruction that stretched from Alabama into Florida and Georgia, the New York Times reported.

The reported deaths were all in Lee County, Alabama, where two tornadoes, one at least a half-mile wide, wrecked homes and uprooted trees.

Sheriff Jay Jones described massive damage that appeared “as if someone had taken a blade and just scraped the ground”. He estimated a path of destruction about half a mile wide that stretched several miles to the east from where the tornado touched down, CNN reported.

It appeared two tornadoes hit Lee County back-to-back within an hour, according to CNN Meteorologist Gene Norman. At least a dozen tornadoes touched down in Alabama and Georgia on Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

Footage broadcast by CNN affiliate WRBL showed trees destroyed by the powerful winds and debris from levelled homes piled up on the side of the road.

Many homes suffered significant damages, sheriff Jones said, adding multiple agencies were working to assist in the search for injured people inside their homes.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey extended the state of emergency, issued last month, statewide due to tornadoes and severe weather.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today,” she tweeted. “Praying for their families and everyone whose homes or businesses were affected.”

President Donald Trump tweeted “to the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe.” He also said “to the families of the victims, and to the injured. God bless you all!”

In 2011, 230 people were killed after more than 60 tornadoes hit Alabama.

World

Six French tourists among eight killed by gunmen in Niger

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PARIS, Aug 9 : Six French tourists were among a group of eight people killed by gunmen in Niger, AFP reported on Sunday, citing a local governor.

Eight people including six French and two Nigeriens were killed Sunday by armed men who came on motorcycles in the Kouré area in Niger, which is home to the last herds of West African giraffes, an official source has learned. .

“There are eight dead: two Nigeriens including a (tourist) guide and a driver, the other six are French,” Tillabéri governor Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella told AFP.

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China starts blocking HTTPS connections with encrypted SNI: Report

TLS 1.3 introduced Encrypted SNI (ESNI) that encrypts the SNI so that intermediaries cannot view it, said the report.

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San Francisco, Aug 9 : In an update to its national censorship tool, known as the Great Firewall, China has reportedly started blocking HTTPS connections with Encrypted Server Name Indication.

The ban has been in place for over a week now, three organisations tracking Chinese censorship — iYouPort, the University of Maryland, and the Great Firewall Report – said this week in a joint report.

“We confirm that the Great Firewall (GFW) of China has recently begun blocking ESNI – one of the foundational features of TLS 1.3 and HTTPS,” said the report.

TLS is the foundation of secure communication on the web (HTTPS). It provides authenticated encryption so that users can know whom they are communicating with. It also ensures that an intermediary does not read or tamper with your information.

But even though TLS hides the content of a user’s communication, it does not always conceal with whom the user is communicating.

The TLS handshake (a process that kicks off a communication session) optionally contains a Server Name Indication (SNI) field that allows the user’s client to inform the server which website it wishes to communicate with.

Nation-state censors have used the SNI field to block users from being able to communicate with certain destinations, said that report, adding that China has long been censoring HTTPS in this manner.

TLS 1.3 introduced Encrypted SNI (ESNI) that encrypts the SNI so that intermediaries cannot view it, said the report.

The Great Firewall of China blocks ESNI connections by dropping packets from client to server, it added.

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Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong calls for resilience in face of economic downturn

The prime minister added that he is confident that Singaporeans will get through this current crisis, though it may take longer time.

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Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore, Aug 9 : Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday called for resilience in the face of severe economic downturn on the 55th National Day.

When delivering his National Day message, Lee said Singaporeans are understandably anxious and worried as business closures, retrenchments and unemployment are all likely to go up in the coming months, Xinhua news agency reported.

“But this is not the first economic crisis we have experienced,” he said. “Each time the outlook was ominous, and we feared the worst, but each time we worked hard to secure our position, gritted our teeth, and came through together.”

The prime minister added that he is confident that Singaporeans will get through this current crisis, though it may take longer time.

He said unity and resilience are needed more than ever. Many countries that had brought COVID-19 under control and eased restrictions see their cases rise sharply again, and this can happen to Singapore too despite all the precautions, he added.

Lee forecast that it will most likely take a year or two before a vaccine is widely available, and the threat of the virus is blunted. “Until then, we have to maintain our vigilance and resolve, to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours all safe,” he said.

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