Thai army chief to press political rivals on compromise

Thai army chief to press political rivals on compromise

BANGKOK Thu May 22, 2014 2:37am EDT

Soldiers take up a position at a checkpoint on a main road near a pro-government 'red shirt' supporters' encampment in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok May 22, 2014. REUTERS-Chaiwat Subprasom
A member of the pro-government 'red shirt' group wearing a hat with a picture of ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok May 22, 2014. REUTERS-Chaiwat Subprasom
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thai soldiers take up a position on a highway in Thailand's Ayutthaya province, May 21, 2014. REUTERS-Chaiwat Subprasom

1 OF 15. Soldiers take up a position at a checkpoint on a main road near a pro-government ‘red shirt’ supporters’ encampment in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok May 22, 2014.

CREDIT: REUTERS/CHAIWAT SUBPRASOM

 
 

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(Reuters) – Thailand’s military chief will press political rivals on Thursday to end a drawn-out power struggle that has polarized the country and battered its economy, after neither side gave ground in a first round of army-brokered talks.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial law on Tuesday to prevent more violence between government supporters loyal to ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and anti-government protesters backed by the royalist establishment.

Thailand’s gross domestic product contracted 2.1 percent in January-March from the previous three months, adding to fears the country is stumbling into recession.

The army has rejected accusations that martial law amounts to a coup.

It has let rival protesters remain on the streets but banned them from marching to prevent clashes. It has also clamped down on media, including partisan television channels, and warned people not to spread inflammatory material on social media.

Prayuth has called on the two sides to agree on a compromise that is likely to hinge around the appointment of an interim prime minister, political reforms and the timing of an election.

“I want to see every problem settled within this forum before I retire,” the Nation newspaper quoted Prayuth as telling the rivals at a first round of talks on Wednesday. He is due to step down in September. “I don’t want my juniors to take up this job.”

Wednesday’s talks ended inconclusively with neither side backing down from their entrenched positions, participants said. Another session is scheduled for Thursday.

Former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin has lived in self-exile since 2008 to avoid a jail term for graft, but still commands the loyalty of legions of rural and urban poor and exerts a huge influence over politics, most recently through a government run by his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck was forced to step down as premier by a court two weeks ago, but her caretaker government remains nominally in power, despite the declaration of martial law and six months of sometimes violent protests aimed at ousting it.

“The administration is limited in its capacity to mobilize fiscal resources in order to stimulate economic growth, highlighting the importance of a resolution to ongoing political turmoil,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a report.

REFORMS OR ELECTION?

The instability in Thai politics stretches back to Thaksin’s premiership, which began with a landslide election victory in 2001 – repeated in 2005 – and ended with his ouster in military coup on 2006.

The protesters say Thaksin is a corrupt crony capitalist who commandeered Thailand’s fragile democracy, using taxpayers’ money to buy votes with populist giveaways.

They want a “neutral” interim prime minister to oversee electoral reforms aimed at ridding the country of the Shinawatra family’s political influence before any new vote.

The government sees a general election that it would likely win as the best way forward and it has proposed polls on August 3, to be followed by reforms.

Public sector workers have joined the campaign to get the government out and began a strike on Thursday, although one union leader said there would be no disruption to utilities, transport or other public services in Bangkok.

Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister in a government run by the pro-establishment Democrat Party, told his supporters victory was imminent.

“We will show our full strength on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, prepare a candle each … we will light them and announce our victory,” Suthep told a rally near the U.N. regional headquarters in central Bangkok.

Thaksin’s “red shirt” loyalists, rallying in Bangkok’s outskirts, have warned of violence if the caretaker government is thrown out.

Twenty-eight people have been killed and 700 injured since this latest chapter in the power struggle between Thaksin and the royalist elite flared up late last year.

Both sides have armed activists in their ranks and the army is trying to prevent more weapons falling into their hands with a ban on the transport of arms and checks on roads.

“We now have three main checkpoints on major roads leading to Bangkok checking for weapons,” Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a security adviser to the prime minister, told Reuters.

Life in Bangkok was going on largely as normal with no heavy troop presence. Paradorn said 10,000 police who had been deployed at protest sites had been taken off the streets.

(Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Alan Raybould and Alex Richardson)

Hackers raid eBay in historic breach, access 145 million records

Thu May 22, 2014 1:41am EDT

John Donahoe, chief executive of eBay, speaks at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco, June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

John Donahoe, chief executive of eBay, speaks at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco, June 17, 2013.

CREDIT: REUTERS/STEPHEN LAM

 
 
 

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* Poised to go down as 2nd largest breach in U.S. history

EBay says encrypted passwords were taken

* Says no reason to believe they have been unscrambled

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) – EBay Inc said that hackers raided its network three months ago, accessing some 145 million user records in what is poised to go down as one of the biggest data breaches in history, based on the number of accounts compromised.

It advised customers to change their passwords immediately, saying they were among the pieces of data stolen by cyber criminals who carried out the attack between late February and early March.

EBay spokeswoman Amanda Miller told Reuters late on Wednesday that those passwords were encrypted and that the company had no reason to believe the hackers had broken the code that scrambled them.

“There is no evidence of impact on any eBay customers,” Miller said. “We don’t know that they decrypted the passwords because it would not be easy to do.”

She said the hackers gained access to 145 million records of which they copied “a large part”. Those records contained passwords as well as email addresses, birth dates, mailing addresses and other personal information, but not financial data such as credit card numbers.

Miller also said the company has hired FireEye Inc’s Mandiant forensics division to help investigate the matter. Mandiant is known for publishing a February 2013 report that described what it said was a Shanghai-based hacking group linked to the Peoples Liberation Army.

EBay earlier said a large number of accounts may have been compromised, but declined to say how many.

Security experts advised EBay customers to be on the alert for fraud, especially if they used the same passwords for other accounts.

“People need to stop reusing passwords and should change their affected passwords immediately across all the sites where they are used,” said Trey Ford, global security strategist with cybersecurity firm Rapid7.

Michael Coates, director of product security with Shape Security, said there is a significant risk that the hackers would unscramble the passwords because typically companies only ask users to change passwords if they believe there is a reasonable chance attackers may be able to do so.

Still, eBay said it had not seen any indication of increased fraudulent activity on its flagship site and that there was no evidence its PayPal online payment service had been breached.

EBay said the hackers got in after obtaining login credentials for “a small number” of employees, allowing them to access eBay’s corporate network.

It discovered the breach in early May and immediately brought in security experts and law enforcement to investigate, Miller said.

“We worked aggressively and as quickly as possible to insure accurate and thorough disclosure of the nature and extent of the compromise,” Miller said when asked why the company had not immediately notified users.

The breach could go down as the second-biggest in history at a U.S. company, based on the number records accessed by the hackers.

Computer security experts say the biggest such breach was uncovered at software maker Adobe Systems Inc in October 2013, when hackers accessed about 152 million user accounts.

It would be larger than the one that Target Corp disclosed in December of last year, which included some 40 million payment card numbers and another 70 million customer records.

(This version of the story corrects the first, fifth and third-to-last paragraph after company corrects its statement to say that 145 million records were accessed, but hackers only copied “a large part” of that database. Story originally said that hackers copied the entire database.

(Additional Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

 
 
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