Pro-Syria group hacks NYT, Twitter, Huffington Post sites

The attack on major media organisations comes as the US weighs a limited military strike on Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons against its own people

The websites of the New York Times (NYT), the Huffington Post and Twitter were hacked by a group known as the Syrian Electronic Army, which posted messages supporting the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


In a message posted on its website, the New York Times, said, “Our website was unavailable to users in the US for a period of time yesterday. The outage was the result of an external attack on our domain name registrar, and we are at work on fully restoring service”.


The attack on America’s major media organisations comes as the US weighs a limited military strike on Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons against its own people.


Frons said the attack was carried out by a group known as “the Syrian Electronic Army or someone trying very hard to be them“.


The Syrian Electronic Army is a group of hackers who support President Assad.


The NYT website first went down after 3PM (local time); once service was restored, the hackers quickly disrupted the site again. Shortly after 6 PM, Frons said that “we believe that we are on the road to fixing the problem.”


Matt Johansen, head of the Threat Research Centre at White Hat Security, posted on Twitter that he was directed to a Syrian Web domain when he tried to view the Times’ web site, the daily said.


“In terms of the sophistication of the attack, this is a big deal. It’s sort of like breaking into the local savings and loan versus breaking into Fort Knox. A domain registrar should have extremely tight security because they are holding the security to hundreds if not thousands of websites,” Frons said.


The Syrian Electronic Army also claimed credit for an attack on the Huffington Post UK’s site, and for hacking into Twitter’s registry account and changing information there.


In a statement, Twitter said it appears that for nearly two hours, records “for various organizations were modified, including one of Twitter’s domains used for image serving,”


The Syrian Electronic Army has frequently targeted the US news media. The group has hacked into the Twitter feeds of the Associated Press and The Washington Post, and on 15th August they briefly hacked the websites of several major news organisations, including CNN, redirecting them to a SEA page.


REC Tax Free Bonds issue opens 30th August

REC’s public issue of Secured Redeemable Tax-Free Bonds closes 23rd September, but the opportunity may be over soon in case the company gets necessary funds

State-run Rural Electrification Corp (REC) public issue of Secured Redeemable Tax-Free bonds will open for subscription on 30th August. The issue closes 23rd September, but the opportunity may be over soon in case the company gets necessary funds quickly from early subscribers.

The tranche issue by the issuer is of bonds for an amount of Rs1,000 crore with an option to retain oversubscription upto Rs2,500 crore aggregating upto Rs3,500 crore. REC will use the capital raised through this bonds for lending purposes.

The tax-free coupon rate on these bonds will be 8.26%, 8.71% and 8.62% for 10, 15 and 20 years respectively. Non-retail investors will get 0.25% lower rate; it will be 8.01%, 8.46% and 8.37% for 10, 15 and 20 year respectively.

The issue will have a 40% reservation for retail investors, while 20% each for high-networth individuals (HNIs), corporates and qualified institutional buyers (QIBs).

The lead managers to the issue are ICICI Securities, A K Capital Services, Axis Capital and Edelweiss Financial Services.


RTI Judgement Series: Citizens forced to use RTI route to get their rightful entitlements

Complete arbitrariness in the functioning of the department of food and supply in GNCTD was forcing citizens to take the RTI route to get their rightful entitlements, the CIC noted. This is 163rd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed special food commissioner of Department of Food And Supply (DFS) in the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), to conduct an enquiry into the matter where below poverty line (BPL) card holders are not getting rations. While the Public Information Officer (PIO) and food and supply officer (FSO) were blaming computer systems for the problems, the food commissioner stated that complaint about computer systems were unjustifiable.


While giving this judgement on 27 June 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “This appears to show complete arbitrariness in the functioning of the department which can only be a fertile breeding ground for corruption. The Bench directs Special Food commissioner to inquire into the matter and send the report to the appellant and the CIC before 30 July 2011.”


Delhi resident Raj Kumari, on 7 January 2011, sought from the PIO information about the status of her ration card. Here is the information she sought under the RTI Act...


With respect to the complaint in your department dated 27 September 2010 for providing me ration on my BPL Ration Card operational:


1) Provide the Daily Progress Report on my complaint.

2) Provide the details of the officer to whom the complaint was forwarded, for how many days did the complaint remain with each of the officers and what action was taken by each of the with regards to the complaint.

3) Provide the name and designation of the officers who were supposed to take action on my complaint but failed to do so.

4) What action will be taken against such officers and by when will such an action be taken?

5) Within how many days will action be taken on my complaint?


In his reply on 24 January 2011, the PIO said, "With reference to your letter dated 03/01/2011, repeated attempts are being made that ration be provided to all the card holders at the earliest."


On 7 March 2011, the PIO sent another reply stating, "In reference to your letter under the RTI, with respect to your BPL Card No3330320, your name is not available on the list. Attempts are being made to update your name on the list after which ration will be provided to you."


Citing the PIO did not provide any reply even after the stipulated time, Raj Kumari, the applicant filed her first appeal.


The copy of the order by the First Appellate Authority (FAA) was not attached (in the second appeal) but the appellant claimed that the FAA directed the FSO to update the list of the ration card holders and provide ration to all whose ration card number was on the list.


Raj Kumari, citing the information sought for had not yet been provided by the PIO and no action was taken on the complaint, approached the CIC with her second appeal.


During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that the appellant was another victim of the wayward methods of the Food and Supplies Department.


"The FSO and deemed PIO claims that computers and computer systems are creating problems whereas the Food Commissioner met the undersigned last week and claimed that field staff is complaining about computer systems unjustifiably. The FSO admits that nearly 300 BPL ration cardholders are not getting their rations since July-August 2010. The FSO claims that the biometric data of these card holders was taken and but was not available with the main computer branch at headquarters. He stated consequent to this; BPL cardholders are not getting rations. He also informed the Bench that there are some Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cardholders, who are also on the same plight.


Raj Kumari stated that when she has gone for the first appellate hearing she was asked to go to the third floor at computer branch, where she was informed that her ration entitlement was being allocated to the shop.


"The appellant made enumerable trips everywhere and stated that she was able to get ration only in April 2011. This appears to show complete arbitrariness in the functioning of the department which can only be a fertile breeding ground for corruption," Mr Gandhi noted.


While allowing the appeal, the Bench directed the special food commissioner to inquire into this (matter) and take appropriate measures to see that the appellant and others get their rations. "It is distressing that number of such cases keep coming through the RTI route to get their rightful entitlements," Mr Gandhi, the then CIC noted in his order.




Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/001192/13106

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/001192


Appellant                                         : Raj Kumari,        

                                                                 Delhi- 110062


Respondent                                    : Alok Bhattacharya

                                                            Deemed PIO & FSO(C-47)

                                                            Department of Food and Supply,

                                                            Cuircle-47, Asian Market, 

                                                            Pushp Vihar, Phase-III,

                                                            New Delhi 110062


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