Bell Canada customers hit by hackers

Bell Canada has been hacked and its customers’ emails accessed illegally, the telecoms giant said Monday, stressing there was no link to the “WannaCry” malware case.The illegally secured date include about 1.9 million active email addresses and some 1,…

Bell Canada has been hacked and its customers' emails accessed illegally, the telecoms giant said Monday, stressing there was no link to the "WannaCry" malware case.

The illegally secured date include about 1.9 million active email addresses and some 1,700 names and phone numbers.

"There is no indication that any financial, password or other sensitive personal information was accessed," the company stressed, including an apology.

Bell Canada said there were no apparent links to the "WannaCry" malware that hit more than 300,000 people in more than 150 countries since Friday.

In the first clues of the origin of the massive ransomware attacks, Google researcher Neel Mehta posted computer code that showed similarities between the "WannaCry" malware and a vast hacking effort widely attributed to Pyongyang.

Syria peace talks restart in Geneva

A new round of Syria peace talks opens on Tuesday, the latest United Nations push to resolve a six-year conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people. Five previous rounds of UN-backed negotiations have failed to yield concrete results and hopes fo…

A new round of Syria peace talks opens on Tuesday, the latest United Nations push to resolve a six-year conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people.

Five previous rounds of UN-backed negotiations have failed to yield concrete results and hopes for a major breakthrough remain dim.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has strengthened his position on the ground, with the rebels reeling from a major setback in the capital Damascus.

Assad has also recently called the Geneva process "null", telling Belarus's ONT channel that it had become "merely a meeting for the media".

The Syrian leader has however given more credit to a separate diplomatic track in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, which is being led by his allies Russia and Iran along with opposition supporter Turkey.

The Astana track produced a May 4 deal to create four "de-escalation" zones across some of Syria's bloodiest battlegrounds.

The UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has dismissed suggestions that the Astana negotiations were overshadowing the Geneva track.

"We're working in tandem" he told reporters on Monday.

The UN negotiations are focused on four separate "baskets": governance, a new constitution, elections and combating "terrorism" in the war-ravaged country.

With Assad's negotiators and the main opposition High Negotiations Committee expected to be in the Swiss city until the weekend, de Mistura said he wanted to drill down on several issues in hopes of generating solid proposals.

But one issue -- Assad's fate -- remains a daunting roadblock.

The HNC has insisted the president's ouster must be part of any political transition, a demand unacceptable to the Syrian regime.

- Regime gains in Damascus -

Aron Lund, a fellow at The Century Foundation, said the Geneva talks were revolving around the "dead end" issue of Assad and were not "moving forward in any visible way."

De Mistura, who has lasted as Syria envoy far longer than his two predecessors, has consistently tried to resist pessimism.

The alternative to peace talks is "no discussion (and) no hope", he said.

The Syrian regime delegation is being headed as usual by UN ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari and the HNC will be led again by Nasr al-Hariri and Mohammad Sabra.

The opposition position has weakened since the last round ended on March 31 after the government secured the evacuation of three rebel-held districts, bringing it closer to exerting full control over the capital for the first time since 2012.

Another shifting force influencing the talks is the role of the United States, an erstwhile opposition supporter that largely withdrew from the process under President Donald Trump.

De Mistura said Monday he was "encouraged by the increasing engagement, the increasing interest, by the US administration in finding a de-escalation".

However, Washington late Monday warned Russia to not turn a blind eye to Assad's crimes, with the State Department releasing satellite images that it said backed up reports of mass killings at a Syrian jail.

Trump accused of divulging top secret intelligence to Russians

Embattled US President Donald Trump faced explosive allegations that he divulged top secret intelligence to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office, a charge the White House scrambled to rebut Monday.The Washington Post reported that Trump revealed highly…

Embattled US President Donald Trump faced explosive allegations that he divulged top secret intelligence to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office, a charge the White House scrambled to rebut Monday.

The Washington Post reported that Trump revealed highly classified information on the Islamic State group during a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moscow's man in Washington Sergey Kislyak.

In a shock twist, the intelligence reportedly came from a US ally who did not authorize Washington to share it with Moscow. That development that could shatter trust that is essential to intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation.

National Security Advisor HR McMaster denied the president had revealed "intelligence sources or methods," but acknowledged that Trump and Lavrov "reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation."

The Post, citing unnamed officials, said that Trump went off script during the meeting, describing details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes, revealing the city where the information was gathered.

The Trump administration recently barred the use of laptops in the passenger cabin from several countries in the Middle East and is mulling the expansion of that ban to cover jets originating in Europe.

"There's nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false," McMaster said without elaborating on which elements were wrong.

"Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn't happen."

McMaster earlier refused to answer questions to a group of journalists gathered in the West Wing, saying "this is the last place I wanted to be" before leaving.

The revelations are the latest in a wave of crises to hit the White House, which late Monday was in a state of shock, with aides frantically trying to put out the fire and determine the source of such damaging leaks.

Since coming to office in January, Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis, lampooning the intelligence services, law enforcement and the media along the way.

Last week, Trump threw his administration into turmoil by taking the virtually unprecedented step of firing his FBI director James Comey.

Comey had been overseeing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia to skew the 2016 election.

The meeting came a day after that firing, and was already controversial in itself, a red carpet welcome for top aides of Vladimir Putin just months after being hit with US sanctions for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump's administration was left red-faced after Moscow surprised them by releasing pictures of what was meant to be a closed-door meeting.

- Ryan wants 'full explanation' -

For Trump's already weary allies in Congress, the latest crisis brought more headaches and demanded yet more explanation from an administration that is struggling to leave its legislative mark.

"We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation's secrets is paramount," said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration."

Senior Republican Senator John McCain told CNN that "if it's true, it's obviously disturbing." But he cautioned: "Let's wait and see what this was all about first."

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer accused Trump of potentially putting American lives at risk.

"If the report is true, it is very disturbing. Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country," he said.

"The president owes the intelligence community, the American people and Congress a full explanation."

‘King Arthur’ falls on its sword with dismal debut

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” proved an epic failure in its opening weekend, taking a calamitous $15.4 million in North America, data showed on Monday, less than a tenth of its budget.Movies tend to make by far their biggest box office earnings in…

"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" proved an epic failure in its opening weekend, taking a calamitous $15.4 million in North America, data showed on Monday, less than a tenth of its budget.

Movies tend to make by far their biggest box office earnings in their opening weekend, often dropping by 50 percent the following week, meaning the revisionist saga directed by Guy Ritchie, 48, is doomed to be one of the flops of the year.

Starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, the lavish $175 Warner Bros. movie has an average rating of 4.6 out of 10 from more than 140 reviews collated by movie website Rotten Tomatoes.

"To that hallowed list of great expensive follies -- 'John Carter,' 'Ishtar,' 'Heaven's Gate' -- let us ceremonially add another name: 'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,'" said Nico Lang of Salon magazine.

The epic's global take was arguably worse, standing at a woeful $45 million by Monday morning from 51 markets, including a disappointing third-place opening in the lucrative Chinese box office.

Ritchie -- once seen as the whip-smart enfant terrible of British filmmaking -- announced himself on the scene with critically acclaimed crime capers "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1998) and "Snatch" (2000).

He has struggled to maintain his early momentum, earning derision for 2002 romantic comedy "Swept Away," starring then-wife Madonna, while "Revolver" (2005) and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E," (2015) disappointed at the box office.

The domestic performance landed "King Arthur" in third place in the weekend top 10, industry monitor Exhibitor Relations said.

Comedy space romp "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" dropped 55 percent on its massive opening weekend in the United States and Canada, but still maintained its top spot with $65.3 million.

The Marvel tale of a band of misfit space adventurers accounted for more than half of the cash hauled in by the 12 top-selling movies, placing it a long way ahead of second-placed Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn comedy vehicle "Snatched," which took $19.5 million.

"The Fate of the Furious," the eighth part of the long-running Universal franchise, managed $5.4 million in the fifth week of a lucrative run that has seen it make $1.2 billion worldwide.

Hanging on for fifth place was Disney blockbuster "Beauty and the Beast," starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, which hauled in another $4.8 million, taking it to nearly half a billion dollars in nine weeks.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

"The Boss Baby" ($4.5 million)

"How to be a Latin Lover" ($3.9 million)

"Lowriders" ($2.4 million)

"The Circle" ($1.8 million)

"Baahubali 2: The Conclusion" ($1.6 million)

Conte expects Chelsea great Terry to play on

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expects departing captain John Terry to play beyond the end of the season, despite the former England centre-back hinting he may retire.Speaking after scoring in Chelsea’s 4-3 victory over Watford on Monday, their first ou…

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expects departing captain John Terry to play beyond the end of the season, despite the former England centre-back hinting he may retire.

Speaking after scoring in Chelsea's 4-3 victory over Watford on Monday, their first outing since winning the Premier League, Terry said: "I still haven't ruled out Sunday being my last game and retiring."

Chelsea finish the season at home to Sunderland on Sunday, before tackling Arsenal in the FA Cup final, and while Conte has come to terms with Terry's decision to leave, he believes he will not hang up his boots.

"No, absolutely not. No, no, John wants to continue to play," said Conte, whose side prevailed courtesy of an 88th-minute strike by substitute Cesc Fabregas.

"I wish for him and his family the best. Chelsea will always be his home because John, first of all, is a great man and a great legend and player for Chelsea -- and in future for the team he decides to play for."

He added: "I'm looking forward to see him lift the (Premier League) cup and I think all the players want to see this. This is the right final for John.

"John took this decision to continue to play regularly and play every game and for this reason he preferred to leave Chelsea and to play every game I don't know where. For sure, for us this is a big loss next season."

Terry, making his 716th Chelsea appearance, put his side ahead in the 22nd minute at Stamford Bridge, but it was from the 36-year-old's loose header that Etienne Capoue equalised two minutes later.

Goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Michy Batshuayi restored and then extended Chelsea's lead, only for Watford to reply through Daryl Janmaat and substitute Stefano Okaka.

But Fabregas came off the bench to sweep in Willian's pass and keep Chelsea on course to become the first team to win 30 games in a 38-game season in England's top division.

Conte made nine changes to the team that had secured the title by winning 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion on Friday, but suggested he would pick a strong side for the visit of relegated Sunderland.

- 'A bit of cake' -

"The FA Cup final, you don't play that on Saturday. You start to play the final 10 days before," Conte explained.

"For this reason, in my head I have a plan to try to arrive to play the final in the best condition, in the best situation for my players.

"At this moment I have 13 or 14 players and they deserve to play the FA Cup, and many players in good form.

"I have to take my time in these 12 days to make the decision. But, for sure, I have to pick the players who, for me, are in better form."

Watford finished the game with 10 men after centre-back Sebastian Prodl received a pair of late yellow cards for untidy challenges on Batshuayi and Pedro.

Beaten manager Walter Mazzarri played down an on-pitch argument between Okaka and his captain Troy Deeney that occurred late in the game, but said he would speak to the pair about the matter.

"They're friends, they're always together. Nobody told me anything," said the Italian, whose side remain 16th in the table.

"I want players with character who talk to teach other on the pitch. Tomorrow I will investigate, but I don't think it was anything."

Conte, meanwhile, feigned offence after being told that striker Diego Costa, who was an unused substitute, had visited the buffet in the media room at half-time.

"In this case I'm very angry with him," Conte smiled.

"He must think to give me a bit of chocolate cake to share. I was suffering during the game. To eat a bit of cake or chocolate, that would be good.

"Next time I'll tell him to think of me as well and share."

Disney blackmailed over apparent movie hack: reports

Disney chief Bob Iger said on Monday hackers claiming to have access to one of the company’s unreleased movies were demanding a “huge” ransom, according to US media reports.He did not reveal which film had been stolen but said the company would not be …

Disney chief Bob Iger said on Monday hackers claiming to have access to one of the company's unreleased movies were demanding a "huge" ransom, according to US media reports.

He did not reveal which film had been stolen but said the company would not be giving in to the blackmail attempt, according to The Hollywood Reporter, quoting Iger from a meeting in New York with employees of the Disney-owned ABC television network.

The weekly reported on its website -- citing multiple unnamed sources -- that Disney is working with federal agents and monitoring for leaks online.

Movie website Deadline identified "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," which opens on May 26, as the target, without revealing its sources, while some film writers speculated on Twitter that Pixar's "Cars 3," due for release next month, might have been hit.

Although both films are expected to do well for Disney, their profits are likely to be dwarfed by another film on the company's slate -- "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," which hits theaters on December 15.

"IMO, if it were 'Last Jedi,' he would pay in a heartbeat. But 'Pirates'... meh," Ryan Parker, a staff writer on the Hollywood Reporter, speculated on Twitter.

The cyber-thieves demanded to be paid in online currency Bitcoin and are threatening to release five minutes of the movie, followed by 20-minute segments until the ransom is delivered.

The hack follows a recent cyber attack on internet streamer Netflix that led to 10 episodes of "Orange is the New Black" being leaked ahead of release.

"Dead Men Tell No Tales" is the fifth in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, which stars Johnny Depp and has taken $3.7 billion at the box office since 2003.

Sci-fi novelist Paul Tassi, who comments on technology and the internet for Forbes Magazine, said "Pirates" would be unlikely to suffer were it the target, since its release date is so near.

"Yes, going to a movie in theaters is one of the more exhausting media experiences still left in society, but the kinds of people who are willing to pay money to see Johnny Depp stumble his way through a fifth 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie in theaters are probably not the type to download a stolen copy of it right before it comes out," he said.

"And like all movies, 'Pirates' would appear on torrent sites regardless practically the day of its release, so the hackers seem to be really over-estimating their impact here."

More than 200,000 computers in 150 countries were hit by a ransomware cyberattack, described as the largest-ever of its kind, over the weekend.

Since Friday, banks, hospitals and government agencies have been among a variety of targets for hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

Microsoft president Brad Smith said the US National Security Agency had developed the code used in the attack.

The Walt Disney Company didn't respond to requests for comment.

Changing EU treaty ‘not taboo’ for France anymore – Macron after meeting Merkel

Preview The European Union’s need for deep reforms is so dire that even the idea of changing the EU treaty is “not taboo,” new French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview The European Union’s need for deep reforms is so dire that even the idea of changing the EU treaty is “not taboo,” new French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday.
Read Full Article at RT.com

UN Security Council vows sanctions over N. Korea missile test

The UN Security Council on Monday strongly condemned North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test and vowed to ratchet up the pressure on the regime, including sanctions, ahead of an emergency meeting to discuss the launch.North Korea on Sunday launched…

The UN Security Council on Monday strongly condemned North Korea's latest ballistic missile test and vowed to ratchet up the pressure on the regime, including sanctions, ahead of an emergency meeting to discuss the launch.

North Korea on Sunday launched what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead" in a test aimed at bringing the US mainland within reach.

In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council vowed strong measures in response to Pyongyang's "highly destabilizing behavior" and demanded a halt to "further nuclear and ballistic missiles tests".

Pyongyang has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of 2016, with the Security Council adopting two sanctions resolutions last year to ramp up pressure and deny leader Kim Jong-Un the hard currency needed to fund his military programmes.

"There's a lot of sanctions left that we can start to do, whether it's with oil, whether it's with energy, whether it's with their maritime ships, exports," US Ambassador Nikki Haley told ABC television's "This Week".

"We can do a lot of different things that we haven't done yet. So our options are there."

The United States is in talks with China -- Pyongyang's sole major ally and main trading partner -- on a possible new sanctions resolution and the council is expected to discuss its steps during a closed-door meeting starting around 2000 GMT Tuesday.

- 'A substantial advance' -

Kim personally oversaw Sunday's test, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said, and pictures by state media showed him gazing at the missile in a hangar before the launch.

In others he gleefully clasped hands with officers and staff after the black missile -- named as the Hwasong-12 -- ascended into the sky in the dawn light, atop a column of fire.

Under UN resolutions, North Korea is barred from developing nuclear and missile technology, with six sets of sanctions imposed on the isolated regime since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres and travelled 787 kilometres before coming down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

That suggests a range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said.

Aside from Pyongyang's space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the US told AFP: "This is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested."

On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the US base at Guam" in the Pacific, 3,400 kilometres away.

"More importantly," he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)".

The North has made no secret of its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States -- something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen".

KCNA cited Kim as saying the North would never succumb to what it called the "highly ridiculous" US strategy of "militarily browbeating only weak countries and nations which have no nukes".

"If the US dares opt for a military provocation against the DPRK, we are ready to counter it," it said.

- 'Reckless provocation' -

Last week South Korea elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

But he slammed the latest test as a "reckless provocation" and said dialogue would be possible "only if the North changes its attitude".

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday the North's latest missile test was dangerous, but warned against attempts to "intimidate" Pyongyang.

"We consider (the missile test) counter-productive, harmful and dangerous," Putin told reporters after an international forum in Beijing.

But he added: "We must stop intimidating North Korea and find a peaceful solution to this problem."

In April Pyongyang put dozens of missiles on show at a giant military parade through the capital, including one that appeared to be the type launched on Sunday.

There are doubts whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, and no proof it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth's atmosphere.

SpaceX launches Inmarsat communications satellite

SpaceX launched a communications satellite for Inmarsat, marking its first launch for the London-based mobile broadband company.The Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite, built by Boeing, blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 7:21 pm (23…

SpaceX launched a communications satellite for Inmarsat, marking its first launch for the London-based mobile broadband company.

The Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite, built by Boeing, blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 7:21 pm (2321 GMT).

"We've had confirmation of spacecraft separation," said a SpaceX commentator about 30 minutes after launch, signaling that the satellite was successfully deployed to a distant, geostationary orbit.

"We've had good orbits, good separation, all you can ask for today."

The satellite is the fourth in the company's Global Xpress (GX) constellation, aimed at providing high-speed mobile broadband service.

"Inmarsat, the only operator of a global Ka-band network, created the GX platform to enable communities across the world to benefit from the emerging digital society," said a company statement.

SpaceX, which is headed by Elon Musk, did not attempt to bring the first stage of the rocket back to Earth for an upright landing following the launch.

The payload weighed some 13,500 pounds (6,100 kilograms), and the force needed to propel it to orbit would not leave enough fuel for the rocket to maneuver back to Earth.

Reward offered for info on ‘White Lady’ wolf shot at Yellowstone

A conservation group on Monday more than doubled a reward for information on who was behind last month’s shooting of a rare white wolf at Yellowstone National Park.The severely injured female wolf dubbed “White Lady” was found by hikers on April 11 nea…

A conservation group on Monday more than doubled a reward for information on who was behind last month's shooting of a rare white wolf at Yellowstone National Park.

The severely injured female wolf dubbed "White Lady" was found by hikers on April 11 near Gardiner, Montana, and had to be euthanized.

Park officials last week offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information on who shot the animal described as "one of the most recognizable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph."

An advocacy group in Montana said on Monday it would more than match the award offered by Yellowstone officials.

"We are receiving more money and I suspect the award we are offering is getting up to $5,500," Marc Cooke, president of the Montana-based Wolves of the Rockies, told AFP.

"There is an outcry on the part of wildlife enthusiasts to get the individual that is responsible for this."

Cooke said he suspects hunters angered by the presence of wolves in Yellowstone were behind the shooting.

"What's going on is because of the individuals that make a living in that area off of hunting, the wolves have disrupted their ability to acquire or to hunt trophy elk," he said.

"Somebody is taking matters into their own hands and doing their own form of private wildlife management -- in other words poaching wolves."

The wolf that was shot was 12 years old -- twice the age of an average wolf in the park -- and had 14 living pups, park officials said.

It was one of only three white wolves in Yellowstone.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995, in part to manage the rising elk park population.

Officials say the number of wolves in the park has fluctuated between 83 and 104 since 2009.

Majka wins Tour of California second stage

Poland’s Rafal Majka won the second stage of the Tour of California on Monday, timing a late burst to perfection to claim victory and the overall leader’s yellow jersey.Majka was part of a four-man group that pulled away in the closing stages of stage …

Poland's Rafal Majka won the second stage of the Tour of California on Monday, timing a late burst to perfection to claim victory and the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Majka was part of a four-man group that pulled away in the closing stages of stage two, an 89.5-mile (144.5-kilometer) run from Modesto to the rolling hills outside San Jose in northern California.

LottoNL-Jumbo's George Bennett and Bora-Hansgrohe rider Majka broke for the finish from Ian Boswell of Sky and Lachlan Morton of Dimension Data.

Bennett, however, had gone off too soon and Majka waited on his wheel before producing one devastating late burst to win in 3hrs 43min 46sec. New Zealander Bennett finished just behind in second place.

Boswell took third while Morton finished in fourth, with the main body of the peloton crossing roughly 37 seconds later led by Bennett's teammate Robert Gesink.

Majka's victory left him in first place in the general classification of the seven-stage race, which culminates on Saturday in Pasadena, just outside Los Angeles.

Bennett is second overall, two seconds off Majka's outright time of 7:29:14.

Boswell is third, 14 seconds off the pace, with Australia's Morton 16 seconds back.

Dutch Lotto rider Gesink is fifth in the standings, 48 seconds off Majka.

Tuesday's third stage sees the peloton take a 119.6-mile loop from the coastal town of Pismo Beach before winding up in Morro Bay.

Amnesty lambasts police ‘impunity’ in Brazil

Amnesty International on Monday lambasted “impunity” for Brazilian police who kill suspects during operations after a regional rights court ruled against Brazil in a spate of slayings in the 1990s.The Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Righ…

Amnesty International on Monday lambasted "impunity" for Brazilian police who kill suspects during operations after a regional rights court ruled against Brazil in a spate of slayings in the 1990s.

The Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled last week that Brazil must reopen investigations into the killings of 26 people in a Rio de Janeiro favela two decades ago and should provide compensation.

"This judgment shines a long overdue light on the appalling human rights violations perpetrated by Rio's police force against young, poor, black individuals who were unarmed,? said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil.

Marisa Vassamon, head of campaigns for Amnesty in Brazil, called the court ruling "a victory in the context of police violence in Brazil. It's been more than 20 years of impunity."

The shootings, as well as the rape of three women, took place in October 1994 and May 1995 in the Complexo do Alemao favela, a sprawling slum of alleys inhabited by working class Brazilians and partly ruled over by powerful narco gangs.

To this day, heavily armed Rio police remain locked in confrontation with the gangs. Shootouts between the two sides often lead to injuries and deaths among bystanders, while Amnesty and other human rights organizations accuse police of continuing to use extrajudicial killings and torture.

- 'Summary executions' -

More than 60 police offices have died in Rio de Janeiro state already this year in what officers describe as an undeclared war. Amnesty said that Rio police had killed 920 people last year, up from 416 in 2013.

"Police violence is still a reality in favelas and marginalized areas of Brazil. We hope this judgment will go some way towards stemming the horrific violence that seems to have become embedded in Brazil?s police operations," Werneck said.

Vassamon said that the deadly violence was a nationwide phenomenon, noting that a quarter of homicides across the country in 2015 were the result of police action.

"This court decision could change the strategy for fighting this violence here, because it creates a precedent for pressuring the state and different governments to set targets for reducing homicides," Vassamon added.

Teresa de Cassia, the sister of one of the victims of the killings in the Rio favela two decades ago, told AFP that people were executed without trial during the police operation.

"The ruling today is a great victory because it shows that someone has recognized that police executed these young people. There were summary executions," she said.

Bruna Fonseca da Costa, who also lost her brother, noted that caskets often couldn't be opened at funerals because the victims had shots to the head or neck.

"My brother was killed with a shot to the neck and another to the back. I learned that someone else was shot in the face. These were summary executions," she said.

IMF austerity has consequences for children’s health: study

Austerity policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund may harm parents’ ability to care for their children’s health, according to a study published Monday.The steep cuts in social spending the IMF often demands can curtail the availability of e…

Austerity policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund may harm parents' ability to care for their children's health, according to a study published Monday.

The steep cuts in social spending the IMF often demands can curtail the availability of education, leaving parents poorer, less employable and more vulnerable to economic change, according to the study.

Those who do benefit from an education can suffer from reduced quality teaching -- with notable consequences for the health of their children, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In the absence of a (IMF) program, children living in an educated household have a reduced odds of being malnourished by 38 percent compared with children of uneducated households," the study's authors write.

However, the presence of IMF programs eroded "the protective effect of education against child malnourishment by no less than 17 percent in rural contexts," they said.

An IMF spokeswoman said Monday that the fund had not yet reviewed the new report and could not comment on it, but added that previous research had shown that health spending rises under IMF programs.

Produced by researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities, as well as the University of Amsterdam and the University of Waikato in New Zealand, the study sampled data covering 2.8 billion people derived from studies conducted within five years of the year 2000 and covering 67 poor and middle-income countries.

"What we are observing in our study is a type of indirect effect," Adel Daoud, one of the report's authors from the Cambridge Judge Business School at Cambridge University, told AFP.

"Our study shows that in those countries with an IMF program, parents in rural areas are struggling a bit more to care for children," he said. "In these groups, the levels of child health are indeed a bit lower than those exact same areas but without IMF programs."

The authors said they found no significant link between IMF programs and child health indicators, only the relationship between parental education and child health.

The results were more mixed for urban populations, where some advantages persisted for the children of educated parents.

IMF economists last year found that austerity had sometimes exacerbated income inequality, harming growth and stability. But the Washington-based fund said it remained committed to open and competitive markets and financial stability.

Treble-chasing Juventus need focus for Lazio Cup final

Massimiliano Allegri has called for treble-chasing Juventus to make amends for failing to secure the Serie A title last weekend, by beating Lazio in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday.Juventus, who face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on June…

Massimiliano Allegri has called for treble-chasing Juventus to make amends for failing to secure the Serie A title last weekend, by beating Lazio in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday.

Juventus, who face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on June 3, needed just a point at Roma on Sunday to secure a record sixth consecutive Italian league title.

But a stunning 3-1 reverse has left the increasingly-shaky Turin giants just four points ahead of Roma with two games remaining, adding unwelcome pressure ahead of their bid for a third successive league and Cup double and, in turn, an unprecedented club treble.

"It will serve us well, because we have to get right back on our feet for Wednesday and then again for Crotone," Allegri said at the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio will be hoping for a similar result against the champions.

"I'm not worried. On the contrary, we have to remain focused on our objective and understand where we went wrong so we avoid the same mistake in future.

"It's one step at a time: now, we've the Cup final, then we'll concentrate on the league and, lastly, the Champions League."

Juventus will claim an all-time Serie A record of six consecutive titles if they beat relegation-threatened Crotone in Turin next Sunday.

But, after losing shape, composure and ultimately the chance to celebrate securing the scudetto at the home of their arch rivals, the pressure is now on to make sure there is no repeat.

Winning a treble, seven years after Inter Milan achieved the feat under the helm of Jose Mourinho in 2010, has been Juve's ambition all season.

But the pressure is beginning to tell. Juventus have drawn two and lost one of their last three league outings, shipping six goals in the process.

"Lately, we've conceded a little more than we usually do in terms of our defence, although over the course of a season these things can happen," said Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci.

"We should have wrapped up the title tonight (Sunday), now we have to make sure we go and win the Cup on Wednesday and do the same against Crotone."

With six Cup wins but their last coming in 2013, Lazio's record in the competition pales in comparison. Juventus have won 11.

And though former Juventus striker Ciro Immobile, who has hit 22 league goals for the high-flying capital club, he belives the "perfect match" can put a dent in Juve's ambitions.

"They (Juventus) are a great side. They've reached the Champions League final," said Immobile.

"We know how strong they are so we're obviously very concentrated on the final. We knew we'll need the perfect match."

Allegri is set to welcome Paulo Dybala back to his starting line-up, after the Argentina front man came off the bench against Roma, but is still sweating on the fitness of hard-working Croatian front man Mario Mandzukic (back).

In a bid to end Lazio's four-year wait for silverware, coach Simone Inzaghi rested a number of key players, including defender Stefan De Vrij and striker Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, for a trip to Fiorentina that ended in a 3-2 defeat last Saturday.

The reverse had no bearing on Lazio's league position following their recent qualification for next season's Europa League, so may well pay dividends.

However, Inzaghi -- the brother of former AC Milan striker and coach Filippo -- is now sweating on the fitness of midfielder Marco Parolo (knee) and Belgian defender Jordan Lukaku (thigh) after both pulled up injured in Florence.

"It's not what we wanted," Inzaghi said. "But that's all part of football. I hope we get both back for the final."