Facebook finds 'sophisticated' efforts on its platforms to disrupt US mid-term elections

Facebook says it has uncovered "sophisticated" efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to influence US politics on its platforms.

The company says it removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in "coordinated" behavior and appeared to be fake.

The company says it doesn't know who is behind the efforts, but said there are may be connections to Russia.

Facebook says it has found some connections between the accounts it removed and the accounts connected to Russia's Internet Research Agency that it removed before and after the 2016 US presidential elections.

The earliest page was created in March 2017.

Facebook says more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the fake pages.

The most followed Facebook Pages were "Aztlan Warriors," ''Black Elevation," ''Mindful Being," and "Resisters."

It's the social network itself waving the red flags. Source: 1 NEWS

Generals from rival Koreas end talks with no agreement

Rare general-level talks between the two Koreas ended with no agreement on Tuesday (local time), but the top delegates said they had a meaningful discussion on easing their countries' decades-long military standoff.

North Korean Lt. Gen. An Ik San, center left, shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Maj. Gen. Kim Do-gyun upon his arrival at the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Generals from the rival Koreas met Tuesday at their shared border for talks meant to ease a decades-long military standoff, Seoul officials said. (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)
Source: Associated Press

Experts said it was still unclear whether the rivals can reach any breakthrough agreement on reducing tensions in the near future because South Korea, in close consultations with the United States, must link any expansion of ties to progress in North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

The Washington Post reported Monday that U.S. intelligence agencies have obtained evidence that indicates North Korea is building new long-range missiles despite ongoing disarmament talks with the United States. It cited anonymous officials "familiar with the intelligence" as saying that work on at least one and possibly two intercontinental ballistic missiles was underway.

Tuesday's meeting at the Koreas' shared border village of Panmunjom was the second such high-level military contact since the two countries' leaders held a landmark summit in April and pledged to reduce the danger of another war on the peninsula.

The chief South Korean delegate, Maj. Gen. Kim Do Gyun, said the two sides had a common view in principle on disarming a jointly controlled area at Panmunjom, removing some guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone that bisects the countries, halting hostile acts along their disputed sea boundary, and conducting joint searches for soldiers missing from the 1950-53 Korean War in DMZ areas. He said the Koreas will continue talks on details of the issues, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.

Kim described Tuesday's talks as "sincere" and "candid," saying he believes the two militaries could contribute to establishing a lasting peace between the countries. His North Korean counterpart, Lt. Gen. An Ik San, said the talks were "productive" and that he also believes many pending military issues can be resolved.

During the April summit and a June meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his commitment to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." But there have been concerns that North Korea hasn't taken any serious disarmament measures since then.

North Korea suspended its missile and nuclear tests and shut down its nuclear test site, and recent satellite photos indicate it also began dismantling key facilities at its main rocket launch site. But many foreign experts believe those are not enough to prove it's serious about disarmament, saying the North must first submit a list of nuclear assets to be dismantled.

North Korea entered talks with the United States and South Korea earlier this year apparently because it urgently needs to revive an economy hit hard by American-led U.N. sanctions. Kim has made it clear that he prefers a step-by-step disarmament process that is matched by reciprocal outside rewards and concessions for each step. Many experts say North Korea merely intends to weaken the sanctions and has no intention of fully giving up its nuclear weapons.

Last Friday, North Korea returned what were said to be dozens of remains of American soldiers missing from the 1950-53 Korean War, something Kim promised during his summit with Trump. Trump thanked him for "fulfilling a promise" to send back U.S. remains and said it was a step in the right direction following their summit.

In exchange for returning the U.S. war dead, North Korea may demand that the United States agree on a declaration to end the Korean War as a U.S. security guarantee.

The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war. North Korea has long argued its nuclear weapons are a response to U.S. military threats, and that it wants to sign a peace treaty with the United States to formally end the war. That could then allow the North to demand the pullout of 28,500 U.S. troops deployed in South Korea.

The military talks are part of a number of recent steps toward reconciliation by the Koreas that began with North Korea's participation in the February Winter Olympics in South Korea. The Koreas are to field combined teams in basketball, rowing and canoeing during the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia. On Tuesday, North and South Korean athletes trained together in rowing and canoeing in southern South Korea.



Twin wildfires threaten 10,000 Northern California homes

Twin wildfires tearing through vineyards and brushy hills threatened some 10,000 homes in Northern California Tuesday (local time)— yet another front in the seemingly endless summer of wildfires that have ravaged some of the most scenic areas of the state.

The Carr fire is now 20 per cent contained, one of eight major blazes burning in the state.
Source: 1 NEWS

The two fires straddling Mendocino and Lake counties had burned seven homes by Monday night along with some 277 square kilometres of rural land.

About 160 kilometres north, the so-called Carr Fire that has burned more than 800 homes and killed six people has become the ninth most destructive wildfire in California history, said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In Lake County, evacuation orders were in effect for the 4,700-resident town of Lakeport along with some smaller communities and a section of Mendocino National Forest. In all, some 10,000 people have been warned to flee, fire officials said.

Lakeport, north of San Francisco, is the county seat and a popular destination for bass anglers and boaters on the shores of Clear Lake. But by Monday night it was a ghost town, the main streets deserted.

A few miles away embers, ash and smoke swirled through vineyards where at least one home had gone up in flames. Firefighters set blazes at the bottom of hills in order to burn up the tinder-dry brush before flames cresting the ridge tops could feed on it and surge downhill. A fleet of aircraft made continuous water and fire retardant drops on the blaze, filling the air with the roar of their engines.

But not everyone heeded orders issued Sunday and Monday to evacuate.

Derick Hughes II remained behind at his property in Nice, California, where he ran sprinklers on his roof and removed yard plants that could catch fire.

The 32-year-old Marine Corps veteran sent his wife and two daughters to safety along with three carloads of belongings. But he said he had too much at stake to leave himself. He bought his three-bedroom house last year using a loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"This is everything I bled for, and I've worked really hard to get to where I am, and I'm just not willing to give it up so easily," he said over the phone. "Some people may think that's selfish of me, and I have insurance. But the way things go, I'd rather not start over."

Farther north, police said five people were arrested on suspicion of entering areas evacuated due to the explosive wildfire around Redding.

The blaze, which killed two firefighters and four civilians including two children, has now destroyed 818 homes and 311 outbuildings and damaged 165 homes, McLean said.

More than 27,000 people remained evacuated from their homes although another 10,000 were allowed to return Monday as fire crews reinforced lines on the western end of Carr Fire.

Some 12,000 firefighters were battling the blaze. Fire officials were hopeful that they could make progress containing the blaze, which was 23 percent contained.

The fire's northwestern corner continued to be active.

"It's still putting up a fight," McLean said.

Those fires were among 17 burning across the state, where fire crews were stretched to the limit.

Firefighters from 10 other U.S. states are helping to battle the blazes in California, with six more states expected to send firefighting resources to California this week

In Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, an arson fire that destroyed seven homes last week was 82 percent contained Monday.

Fire crews also have battled numerous small brushfires this summer, most charring only a few acres but still threatening homes in built-up areas along parched foothills. A 10-acre fire damaged 13 homes and apartments Monday in Santa Clarita, northwest of Los Angeles, county fire officials said.

McLean, the state fire spokesman, said there was no guarantee of safety in a state that has been ravaged by years of drought that has turned trees and brush to tinder.

"Anything could happen anywhere. That's the nature of the beast for all of these fires," he said. "The vegetation is so dry all it takes is a spark to get it going."