Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jul 25 2015, Page 81

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - July 25, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE D5 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Somali jihadis have moved in along Kenya’s coast as more and more places in sub- Saharan Africa become no- go zones. ERIC RISBERG/ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES With everything from refrigerators to thermostats becoming networked, computer- security experts worry about exposure to hackers. your world gps 2 SATURDAY, JULY 25, 2015 D5 T HE descent from tourist destination to no- man’s land has been a short one on Kenya’s coast. The only foreign visitors of interest on the beach in recent months are Somali jihadis. They have taken over mosques, installed hate preachers and raised black flags. Local youngsters are joining their ranks by the hundred. Christians have been lined up in gravel pits or pulled off buses and shot by the dozen. The governor of Mandera, an ethnic- Somali Kenyan county, Ali Roba, describes the situation as “ extremely hopeless.” At this rate, the coast may come to resemble northern Nigeria. One Nairobi- based ambassador frets about the “ birth of a Kenyan Boko Haram” ( a reference to Nigeria’s most brutal group of Islamists). After recent attacks in Tunisia, Europeans began worrying about extremists taking aim at them across the Mediterranean. But it seems more likely the jihadi superbug will turn south. The Sahel, an arid belt on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, has already caught the fever from Algeria and Libya. Ever more places in sub- Saharan Africa are no- go zones, including parts of Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger. Northern Mali has been off limits to outsiders ( and especially westerners) since an Islamist- backed uprising in 2012, despite a French military intervention in 2013 that stopped the jihadis from advancing on Mali’s capital. Recent attacks by Boko Haram have killed hundreds in Nigeria and Chad, prompting Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, to dismiss his military chiefs. On the continent’s eastern side, violent Islamism has crossed south of the equator, spreading as far as Tanzania. Using homemade bombs, handguns and buckets of acid, extremists have attacked Christian leaders and tourists. Tanzania has also become a transit point for European extremists. “ Jihadi John,” a British member of the Islamic State known for beheading people on camera, passed through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s biggest city, before heading to Syria. More than a dozen sub- Saharan countries are now dealing with jihadism at home. They include Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Jihadi attacks in many places are a daily or weekly occurrence. Weapons are widely available, often left over from secular civil wars. Tens of thousands have died. The two major brands of violent jihadism, the Islamic State and al- Qaida, compete for the allegiance of various groups of African jihadis. Yet the connections between groups are more complex than mere pledges of fealty. Cross- border links often originate paradoxically not when extremists are strong, but when they are weak. During a crackdown on Boko Haram in 2009 many of its leaders went to Chad, Sudan and Somalia. Since then, Sudanese Arabic voices have been heard in Boko Haram propaganda videos. Local defeats of Islamist groups, followed by their flight, are accelerating a continental metastasis. The cancer of jihadism in sub- Saharan Africa will probably spread outward from conflicts now underway involving groups in Libya and Nigeria; their members are likely to flee into the sandy expanse that covers much of Africa above the equator, as happened after French forces tried to wipe out extremists in northern Mali in 2013. Borders in the Sahel have never had much meaning, and politics have long been intertwined with commerce. Jihadi groups such as Ansar al- Sharia, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa ( MUJAO) and al- Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb ( AQIM) grew out of trans- Saharan smuggling networks. They are capable of traversing vast distances following centuries- old but obscure desert trade routes. Although the extremist groups are backed by wellfinanced elites, they could not survive without popular support. Every one of them taps into well- known local grievances. From Mali and Nigeria to Kenya and Tanzania the story is the same: extremists emerge from and woo Muslim populations on the national periphery who are fed up with decades of neglect, discrimination and mistreatment by their rulers. Jihadis are able to exploit existing religious tensions and latch onto disgruntled Muslim communities. In addition, the conflicts they stir up have created ever bigger populations of refugees, who are either vulnerable to radicalization or likely to cause the sort of resentment that fuels it. A distinct flavour of poisonous thinking has spread across thousands of miles. Islamism is the continent’s new ideology of protest. As such it is almost uniquely powerful. African politics tends to revolve around tribal and ethnic loyalties. But that leaves a wide political space unclaimed. A group like the Somalis’ Shabab is able to position itself as “ above tribe.” Only genuine political competition could change this dynamic. Yet most ethnic and tribal leaders have little interest in upsetting their own hold on power. African and western governments are thus left to counter jihadism by force of arms. France has set up a 3,000- strong rapid- response force in Chad with six fighter jets and 20 helicopters. America has built drone bases across the continent. Such brawn has little chance of succeeding alone. In Somalia the western- aided fight against jihadis has made some progress. Al- Shabab has lost both members and territory. But it is still lethally active. Once operating purely in Somalia, it now seeps across the border into Kenya. In this endeavour, al- Shabab has found an unexpected ( and unwitting) ally in government forces. In Kenya, as elsewhere, official brutality has been the best recruitment tool for extremists. Armies have locked up and tortured thousands without reason. Everyone knows a victim. More than 20 Muslim clerics have been killed along the Kenyan coast in the past two years. Yet the more governments feel under threat, the freer the rein they give their generals. This dynamic not only stirs opposition but also turns “ fragile states into brittle ones,” warns Alex Vines of Chatham House, a British think- tank. — Distributed by New York Times Syndicate Growing up poor has long been linked to lower academic test scores. And there’s now mounting evidence it’s partly because kids can suffer real physical consequences from low family incomes, including brains that are less equipped to learn. An analysis of hundreds of magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI) brain scans found children from poor households had smaller amounts of grey matter in areas of the brain responsible for functions needed for learning, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics . The anatomical difference could explain as much as 20 per cent of the gap in test scores between kids growing up in poverty and their more affluent peers, the research says. Children in households below the American poverty level — an annual income of about US$ 24,000 for a family of four — had greymatter volumes seven to 10 per cent lower than what would be expected for normal development. About 20 per cent of American children lived at this income level in 2013, according to census data. — Bloomberg News C OMPUTER security is tricky. Just ask the U. S. Office of Personnel Management: On July 9, it admitted hackers had purloined the sensitive personal information of 22 million government employees. Or Anthem, a big insurance firm that reported in January 80 million customer records had been stolen. Or the National Security Agency, which in 2013 suffered the biggest leak in its history when Edward Snowden, a contractor, walked out with a vast trove of secret documents. Unfortunately, computer security is about to get trickier. Computers have already spread from people’s desktops into their pockets. Now they are embedding themselves in all sorts of gadgets, from cars and televisions to children’s toys, refrigerators and industrial kit. Cisco, a maker of networking equipment, estimates there are 15 billion connected devices in the world today. By 2020, Cisco says, that number could climb to 50 billion. Boosters promise a world of networked computers and sensors will be a place of unparalleled convenience and efficiency. They call it the Internet of Things. Computer- security experts call it a disaster in the making. They worry that, in their rush to bring cyber- widgets to market, the companies that produce them have not learned the lessons of the early years of the Internet. The big computing firms of the 1980s and 1990s treated security as an afterthought. Only once the threats — in the forms of viruses, hacking attacks and so on — became apparent, did Microsoft, Apple and the rest start trying to fix things. But bolting on security after the fact is much harder than building it in from the start. The same mistake is being repeated with the Internet of Things. Examples are already emerging of the risks posed by turning everyday objects into computers. In one case, a hacker found he could remotely control the pump that dispensed his drugs. Others have disabled the brakes and power steering on new cars. Three things would help make the Internet of Things less vulnerable. The first is some basic regulatory standards. Widget makers should be compelled to ensure their products are capable of being patched to fix any security holes that might be uncovered after they have been sold. If a device can be administered remotely, users should be forced to change the default username and password, to prevent hackers from using them to gain access. Security- breach laws, already in place in most American states, should oblige companies to own up to problems instead of trying to hide them. The second defence is a proper liability regime. For decades, software makers have written licensing agreements disclaiming responsibility for any bad consequences of using their products. As computers become integrated into everything from cars to medical devices, that stance will become untenable. Software developers may have to agree to a presumption of how things should work, for instance, which would open them to legal action if it were breached. It is never too early for insurers, manufacturers and developers to begin to explore such issues. Third, companies in all industries must heed the lessons computing firms learned long ago. Writing completely secure code is almost impossible. As a consequence, a culture of openness is the best defence, because it helps spread fixes. When academic researchers contacted a chipmaker working for Volkswagen to say they had found a vulnerability in a remote- car- key system, Volkswagen’s response included a court injunction. Shooting the messenger does not work. Indeed, firms such as Google now offer monetary rewards, or “ bug bounties,” to hackers who contact them with details of flaws they have unearthed. Thirty years ago, computer makers that failed to take security seriously could claim ignorance as a defence. No longer. The Internet of Things will bring many benefits. The time to plan for its inevitable flaws is now. — Distributed by the New York Times Syndicate HACKING THE PLANET THE ECONOMIST POVERTY HURTS A CHILD’S BRAIN THE ECONOMIST Sub- Saharan areas devolving into no- go zones AFRICA’S JIHADIS D_ 05_ Jul- 25- 15_ FF_ 01. indd D5 7/ 23/ 15 5: 17: 05 PM

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