Ransom group linked to Colonial Pipeline hack is new but experienced


Projection of cyber code on hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture
FILE PHOTO: A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

May 11, 2021

By Raphael Satter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The ransomware group linked to the extortion attempt that has snared fuel deliveries across the U.S. East Coast may be new, but that doesn’t mean its hackers are amateurs.

Who precisely is behind the disruptive intrusion into Colonial Pipeline hasn’t been made officially known and digital attribution can be tricky, especially early on in an investigation. A former U.S. official and two industry sources have told Reuters that the group DarkSide is among the suspects.

Cybersecurity experts who have tracked DarkSide said it appears to be composed of veteran cybercriminals who are focused on squeezing out as much money as they can from their targets.

“They’re very new but they’re very organized,” Lior Div, the chief executive of Boston-based security firm Cybereason, said on Sunday.

“It looks like someone who’s been there, done that.”

DarkSide is one of a number of increasingly professionalized groups of digital extortionists, with a mailing list, a press center, a victim hotline and even a supposed code of conduct intended to spin the group as reliable, if ruthless, business partners.

Experts like Div said DarkSide was likely composed of ransomware veterans and that it came out of nowhere in the middle of last year and immediately unleashed a digital crimewave.

“It’s as if someone turned on the switch,” said Div, who noted that more than 10 of his company’s customers have fought off break-in attempts from the group in the past few months.

Ransom software works by encrypting victims’ data; typically hackers will offer the victim a key in return for cryptocurrency payments that can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. If the victim resists, hackers are increasingly threatening to leak confidential data in a bid to pile on the pressure.

DarkSide’s site on the dark web hints at their hackers’ past crimes, claims they previously made millions from extortion and that just because their software was new “that does not mean that we have no experience and we came from nowhere.”

The site also features a Hall of Shame-style gallery of leaked data from victims who haven’t paid up, advertising stolen documents from more than 80 companies across the United States and Europe.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the group’s various claims but one of the more recent victims featured on its list was Georgia-based rugmaker Dixie Group Inc which publicly disclosed a digital shakedown attempt affecting “portions of its information technology systems” last month.

A Dixie executive did not immediately return a message seeking further comment.

In some ways DarkSide is hard to distinguish from the increasingly crowded field of internet extortionists. Like many others it seems to spare Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian-speaking companies, suggesting a link to the former Soviet republics.

It also has a public relations program, as others do, inviting journalists to check out its haul of leaked data and claiming to make anonymous donations to charity. Even its tech savvy is nothing special, according to Georgia Tech computer science student Chuong Dong, who published an analysis http://chuongdong.com/reverse%20engineering/2021/05/06/DarksideRansomware of its programming.

According to Dong, DarkSide’s code was “pretty standard ransomware.”

Div said that what does set them apart is the intelligence work they carry out against their targets beforehand.

Typically “they know who is the manager, they know who they’re speaking with, they know where the money is, they know who is the decision maker,” said Div.

In that respect, Div said that the targeting of Colonial Pipeline, with its potentially massive knock-on consequences for Americans up and down the Eastern seaboard – may have been a miscalculation.

“It’s not good for business for them when the U.S. government becomes involved, when the FBI becomes involved,” he said. “It’s the last thing they need.”

As for DarkSide, which usually isn’t shy about putting out press releases and promises registered journalists “fast replies within 24 hours,” the group has stayed uncharacteristically silent.

The reason is not clear. Requests for comment Reuters left via its main site and their media center have gone unanswered.

(Reporting by Raphael Satter; editing by Grant McCool)



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Covid-19 school closings linked to increase in depression and suicide, study finds


When Covid-19 hit China in January, the Ministry of Education postponed the start of spring semester to late April. That closure separated children from their friends and their broader community network, and seems to have had an impact on their mental well-being.

The study, published Friday in JAMA Network Open, compared reports of mental health problems in November — before the pandemic started — to mid-May, two weeks into the new spring semester when schools had re-opened.

Researchers from Anhui Medical University got results back from surveys for 1,241 students who were in grades 4 through 8, and in junior high. The kids lived in Chizhou, Anhui Province, an area that did not have a large number of Covid-19 cases.

Nearly 25% of the students reported depressive symptoms in May, when only about 19% did in November. Suicide attempts more than doubled — at 6.4% in May compared to the 3% who made suicide attempts in November. There were no similar increases seen in reports of children who reported feeling an increase anxiety.

Researchers hope school leaders will use this research to prepare the necessary mental health services to help children as they return to school following the lockdowns.

This study is consistent with others that have found that enforced social isolation can cause mental health challenges for children.

Benefits of in-person school outweigh virus risks

As states grappled with how to safely reopen schools earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics led a push for students to be physically present in classrooms rather than continue in remote learning for the sake of their well-being.

The group, which represents and guides pediatricians across the country, updated its back-to-school recommendations in June to say evidence shows the academic, mental and physical benefits of in-person learning outweigh the risks from the coronavirus.
“The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” the group said on its website.

“”The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” the group said.

What it looked like when schools reopened

This overhaul of the traditional school day become reality in August, as schools in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana opened their doors for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic abruptly shuttered classrooms across the United States — all while the virus remained largely uncontrolled.

More students and teachers tested positive for Covid-19, some schools were forced to suddenly change plans, while others opted to delay the start of the school year giving educators more time to prepare for in-person classes.

The return to remote learning this fall came with system outages, cyberattacks and other problems

“What we do know is children have a harder time social distancing. And we can’t put a whole bunch of them in a classroom with a teacher right now,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in an August briefing announcing a delay.

“Other states that have tried to open this new school year are now having to close. We don’t want to start and stop. That may be more difficult on our children,” he said.

Now, many have embraced virtual learning, which has posed its own set of challenges.

Schools across the country have reported system outages, cyberattacks and other issues that prompted some districts to postpone the first day of class.

If you’re experiencing a suicidal crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text line by texting HOME to 741741 to get help.

CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Christina Maxouris and Alicia Lee contributed to this story.

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Anthony Milford contract, linked to the Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos, Jazz Tevaga, Bulldogs, Transfer whispers, signings


Anthony Milford’s future at the Broncos was already murky but now with the signing of Adam Reynolds set to be confirmed in the coming days, it leaves even bigger question marks over Milford.

Brisbane has already indicated that they have plans to play boom centre Kotoni Staggs at five-eighth. With Reynolds all but signed, Milford finds himself on the outer.

The 26-year-old has struggled with form the last two seasons. He has come under a tremendous amount of pressure as the playmaker on a multimillion-dollar deal, that simply hasn’t lived up to expectations.

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Coach Kevin Walters swung the axe ahead of Round 6 and Milford was dropped to reserve grade for the first time in his career. Three weeks later he was recalled — but it’s been his rookie halves partner, Tyson Gamble who’s been stealing the show.

Milford’s $1 million-per-season deal expires at the end of 2021. There has been doubts over not only if he can land a new deal anywhere near that, but also if he could land a deal in the NRL at all.

Sam Walker inks 2 more years with Chooks | 01:36

But it seems Milford has got options — and he may not even have to leave Queensland.

Channel Sevenis reporting the Gold Coast Titans have “opened discussions” with Milford’s management.

It comes after it was revealed that the Sharks had turned their attention to Milford after losing hope on Reynolds.

The Titans see Milford as an option to replace Ash Taylor — another player that’s struggled under the pressure of a lucrative contract.

According to Seven, Taylor is willing to take a pay-cut to remain at the Titans but the club has indicated to him that they will look elsewhere.

The 26-year-old was a late scratching from last week’s game and was not named for Sunday’s clash with the undefeated Panthers. There’s been mixed messages around whether Taylor was dropped or has been recovering from a niggly hip injury.

Fifita to miss two weeks | 00:25

Titans coach Justin Holbrook has previously said he needs to see Taylor to keep improving before any contract talk can start.

“Taylor just needs to play well. It’s an obvious answer but it’s true,” he said.

“He is getting better every week and we just need him to keep improving and keep working hard.”

EARLY MAIL: Walker ‘50/50’ sparking theory for young gun’s debut, Titans lose Fifita

TRANSFER WHISPERS: Lodge player swap for Knights star, Storm skipper’s future

WARRIOR OPEN TO CHANGE

Utility forward Jazz Tevaga is hopeful of staying with the Warriors but has confirmed he has had interest from rival clubs.

It comes after it was reported that the Bulldogs were keen on the 25-year-old’s services.

While Tevaga would like to stay put, he is well aware that rugby league is a cutthroat industry and he only has so many years in the game to make money.

“There’s been interest from other clubs but nothing’s been finalised yet, that’s all I’ll say,” Tevaga told reporters on Wednesday.

“I know this is a business first and I’ll go where I see a good opportunity or where the money is right but I really hope we can sort a deal out here.

“I really just want what’s fair.”

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Off-contract Tevaga has come up through the ranks at the Warriors before making his NRL debut in 2016.

He’s gone on to play another 77 games and in 2018 was named the Dally M Interchange Person of the Year. The memories he’s made at the club are not lost on him.

“Obviously money plays a crucial part in it, but I really want to stay at the Warriors,” he said.

“I love the Warriors and I love where we’re headed, I love the coaching staff and the team.”

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Victorian COVID case ‘linked’ to Adelaide medi-hotel


UPDATED: SA Health has confirmed a recent Victorian COVID-19 case is linked to another positive case in an Adelaide medi-hotel, prompting authorities to scramble to isolate and test those who stayed on the same floor as the infectious men.

It comes as South Australia this afternoon enforced a ban on people travelling into the state if they visited a high-risk infectious site in Melbourne.

The sites are listed on the Victorian Department of Health website and include businesses in the suburbs of Altona North, Craigieburn, Docklands, Epping and Melbourne.

In a statement issued late this afternoon, South Australia’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said that genomic results showed that the Melbourne case is linked to a recent case currently in quarantine at the Tom’s Court medi-hotel.

Both infectious men were quarantining in neighbouring rooms on level three of Adelaide’s Playford medi-hotel earlier this month.

She said that investigations into the precise cause of transmission are ongoing.

“In an abundance of caution, those people who were on level three of the hotel during the period of concern who have subsequently been discharged will be required to quarantine for a further 14 days,” she said.

“This includes ten South Australians who will be able to quarantine at home, if the home setting is suitable.”

Spurrier said that SA Health had confirmed that the “vast majority” of staff at the Playford medi-hotel who were working at the time had their required daily testing.

She said SA Health was still trying to follow-up five staff.

“At this stage, there have been no new cases linked to this case,” she said.

Spurrier told reporters yesterday that the Melbourne man, who arrived in Adelaide from overseas, was quarantining at the Playford medi-hotel on North Terrace and stayed in a room next to another overseas arrival who tested positive for COVID-19 during his stay.

That man was later transferred to Tom’s Court medi-hotel, which is a dedicated facility set up for positive cases.

The Melbourne man, who did not test positive for COVID-19 during his quarantine stay, took a flight to Melbourne on May 4.

Authorities believe the man was not infectious while he was on the flight.

Before his infection was detected on Tuesday, he visited several public sites throughout Melbourne, prompting Victorian health authorities to issue an alert ordering anyone who visited the sites at designated times to quarantine and get tested.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told reporters this afternoon that he had signed a direction banning anyone who visited the sites from travelling into South Australia.

He said anyone who is already in South Australia and who visited the at-risk sites will be ordered to quarantine for 14 days and get tested.

“This means that anybody who has visited one of those sites at specific times of designated days will be prohibited from entering South Australia and it’s important to note that those people should be quarantining in Victoria at this time,” he said.

“This is being done in order to ensure we are protecting the South Australian community from the positive case that has been identified in Victoria.”

Stevens said flights from Victoria had arrived in Adelaide yesterday, but he was unsure how many people were in South Australia who could have visited the high-risk sites.

“At this time the list is quite limited so we don’t imagine this is going to have a significant impact on people’s plans to travel from Victoria to South Australia, or those who are returning at this point in time,” he said.

“If you’re planning to travel to Victoria or New South Wales it’s important to remember that there are elements of risk associated with those jurisdictions at this time.

“There is no concern about where you visit specifically because the high-risk locations relate to specific times on specific days.

“Obviously those days and times have passed, so there is no further ongoing concern for those locations, but it is about being mindful of the fact that whilst we have some element of concern, there is a possibility that the circumstances might change and we’d encourage people to be flexible with their travel arrangements so they can make changes if necessary.”

Meanwhile, SA Police has today launched “Taskforce Trace”, with plainclothed police officers to patrol businesses to ensure people check-in using QR codes or paper registers upon entering.

Stevens said the taskforce was established following “a level of complacency in the community regarding people QR coding into businesses and venues where that’s an obligation”.

He said from May 13, police officers would check people’s compliance with checking-in to businesses such as supermarkets and restaurants.

The taskforce will be reassessed on May 21.

“The purpose here is not to issue expiation notices in the first instance unless we see blatant disregard for the requirements, but to remind people of their obligation and pull people up who are simply walking past those QR codes,” Stevens said.

“This is a small part that we can play as SA Police to remind people of their obligations.”

Stevens said police would also remind businesses of their obligations to ensure QR codes are displayed near their entrance.

“These steps are being taken to make sure if we do have an outbreak in South Australia, SA Health are in the best position to respond and minimise the likelihood of us having to move to more harsh restrictions as a result,” he said.

“I think the outbreak from South Australia’s medi-hotel is a great reminder to us that whilst this particular individual travelled to Victoria they could have just as easily have moved back into the South Australian community.”

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Exposure sites linked to Victoria Wollert COVID-19 case revealed



Victorian health authorities have revealed the potential COVID-19 exposure sites after a man tested positive to COVID-19 at Wollert, north of Melbourne.

Tier one exposure sites were listed as:

  • TIC Group (front office) in Altona North at any time on Thursday, May 6
  • The Curry Vault Indian restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD on Friday, May 7 between 6.30pm and 9.30pm
  • Epping Indiagates Spices and Groceries on Saturday, May 8 between 5:00pm and 6:00pm
  • Epping Woolworths on Saturday, May 8 between 5:40pm and 6:38pm.

Anyone who visited those sites at the listed times has been urged to self-isolate, get tested, quarantine for 14 days and contact the Department of Health.

Tier two exposure sites were listed as:

  • TIC Group (warehouse) in Altona North at any time on Thursday, May 6.
  • 7-11 Epping, High Street on Thursday, May 6 between 6:30pm and 7:00pm and on Saturday, May 8 between 11:10 and 11:40am

Victoria Health Minister Martin Foley said this was the “first iteration” of the exposure sites, which would likely change and be added to.

He said the man departed India and travelled via the Maldives through Singapore and on to Adelaide.

Health officials are looking at the flight from Adelaide to Melbourne and “judgements will be made about that”, Mr Foley said.

“The important thing is to get this information out to the people of Victoria as soon as we possibly can so they can take steps to keep themselves safe,” he said.

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Damage to white matter is linked to worse cognitive outcomes after brain injury — ScienceDaily


A new University of Iowa study challenges the idea that gray matter (the neurons that form the cerebral cortex) is more important than white matter (the myelin covered axons that physically connect neuronal regions) when it comes to cognitive health and function. The findings may help neurologists better predict the long-term effects of strokes and other forms of traumatic brain injury.

“The most unexpected aspect of our findings was that damage to gray matter hubs of the brain that are really interconnected with other regions didn’t really tell us much about how poorly people would do on cognitive tests after brain damage. On the other hand, people with damage to the densest white matter connections did much worse on those tests,” explains Justin Reber, PhD, a UI postdoctoral research fellow in psychology and first author on the study. “This is important because both scientists and clinicians often focus almost exclusively on the role of gray matter. This study is a reminder that connections between brain regions might matter just as much as those regions themselves, if not more so.”

The new study, published in PNAS, analyzes brain scans and cognitive function tests from over 500 people with localized areas of brain damage caused by strokes or other forms of brain injury. Looking at the location of the brain damage, also known as lesions, the UI team led by Reber and Aaron Boes, MD, PhD, correlated the level of connectedness of the damaged areas with the level of cognitive disability the patient experienced. The findings suggest that damage to highly connected regions of white matter is more predictive of cognitive impairment than damage to highly connected gray matter hubs.

Network hubs and brain function

Research on cognition often focuses on networks within the brain, and how different network configurations contribute to different aspects of cognition. Various mathematical models have been developed to measure the connectedness of networks and to identify hubs, or highly connected brain regions, that appear to be important in coordinating processing in brain networks.

The UI team used these well accepted mathematical models to identify the location of hubs within both gray and white matter from brain imaging of normal healthy individuals. The researchers then used brain scans from patients with brain lesions to find cases where areas of damage coincided with hubs. Using data from multiple cognitive tests for those patients, they were also able to measure the effect hub damage had on cognitive outcomes. Surprisingly, damage to highly connected gray matter hubs did not have a strong association with poor cognitive outcomes. In contrast, damage to dense white matter hubs was strongly linked to impaired cognition.

“The brain isn’t a blank canvas where all regions are equivalent; a small lesion in one region of the brain may have very minimal impact on cognition, whereas another one may have a huge impact. These findings might help us better predict, based on the location of the damage, which patients are at risk for cognitive impairment after stroke or other brain injury,” says Boes, UI professor of pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry, and a member of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. “It’s better to know those things in advance as it gives patients and family members a more realistic prognosis and helps target rehabilitation more effectively.”

UI registry is a unique resource for neuroscientists

Importantly, the new findings were based on data from over 500 individual patients, which is a large number compared to previous studies and suggests the findings are robust. The data came from two registries; one from Washington University in St. Louis, which provided data from 102 patients, and the Iowa Neurological Registry based at the UI, which provided data from 402 patients. The Iowa registry is over 40 years old and is one of the best characterized patient registries in the world, with close to 1000 subjects with well characterized cognition derived from hours of paper and pencil neuropsychological tests, and detailed brain imaging to map brain lesions. The registry is directed by Daniel Tranel, PhD, UI professor of neurology, and one of the study authors.

Reber notes that the study also illustrates the value of working with clinical patients as well as healthy individuals in terms of understanding relationships between brain structure and function.

“There is a lot of really excellent research using functional brain imaging with healthy participants or computer simulations that tell us that these gray matter hubs are critical to how the brain works, and that you can use them to predict how well healthy people will perform on cognitive tests. But when we look at how strokes and other brain damage actually affect people, it turns out that you can predict much more from damage to white matter,” he says. “Research with people who have survived strokes or other brain damage is messy, complicated, and absolutely essential, because it builds a bridge between basic scientific theory and clinical practice, and it can improve both.

I cannot stress enough how grateful we are that these patients have volunteered their time to help us; without them, a lot of important research would be impossible,” he adds.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Iowa Health Care. Original written by Jennifer Brown. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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NSW Police believe drive-by attack in Guildford is linked to Sydney gangland war


Police believe a gangland war between two rival crime families in Sydney’s west is escalating, after a house in Guildford was sprayed with bullets early this morning.

Seven shots were fired into a home on Woodstock Street in a targeted drive-by attack about 1:00am — the second shooting on the street in less than a year.

A man was home at the time and was not injured in the incident.

Police said he was not cooperating with detectives.

Investigators believe the shooting could be linked to a deadly feud between the Hamzy and Alameddine families.

In October, 44-year-old Mejid Hamzy, was murdered just metres away from his wife and children outside his Condell Park home by two balaclava-clad gunmen.

His brother Bassam Hamzy is currently serving a 40-year jail sentence for murder.

“[It’s the] early stages of our investigation but we do strongly believe it is linked between the conflict of organised crime groups in this area,” Detective Superintendent Darryl Jobson said.

Shots were fired at a home in Guildford in the early hours of this morning.(

ABC News

)

Police raided the house on Tuesday as part of an operation targeting eight properties.

They seized a Mercedes-Benz and a jetski.

“The occupants at the location are not assisting us with our inquires at this stage but suffice to say we will revisit to see if they will cooperate some time in the future,” Detective Superintendent Jobson said.

Police said they would “not tolerate” public acts of violence.

“We will continue to investigate the matters, regardless of whether [the victim] comes on board and assists or not, we need to do this because we’re not tolerating this level of criminal violence on the streets,” Superintendent Jobson said.

In July, a 17-year-old girl was injured after gunshots were fired into a home with eight occupants, including six children on the same street.

Detective Superintendent Jobson said police would be investigating the links between the two matters.

Police are hunting multiple offenders, and are appealing for witnesses.

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‘Very low’ number of diners checked in to XOPP restaurant now linked to COVID-19 case


Very few diners at a restaurant in Sydney’s CBD checked into the venue at the time a person with coronavirus ate there, making contact tracers’ job incredibly difficult.

NSW Health said today the number of people who used the QR code to sign in the XOPP restaurant in Haymarket was “very low”.

The XOPP restaurant in Sydney's Chinatown has been identified as a venue of concern by NSW Health.
The XOPP restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown has been identified as a venue of concern by NSW Health. (9News)

“This highlights the need for everyone in NSW to check in and out of every venue you visit, as this allows NSW Health to complete rapid contact tracing when required,” a statement said.

Anyone who dined or worked there on Wednesday April 28 from 1.30pm to 2.30pm must get tested immediately and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

The couple have been praised by the premier and health authorities for diligently using QR codes to check-in at every venue or store they visited.

After the two cases were detected restrictions for Greater Sydney, including the Illawarra, Blue Mountains and Central Coast were introduced.

These include mandatory masks indoors and on public transport, and no more than 20 people allowed in a house.

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Five more blood clot cases likely linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine recorded across Australia



Five Australians over the age of 50 have developed blood clotting and low platelets after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in the past week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has confirmed. 

The TGA says it is also looking into three other reports of blood clotting in the last week but is yet to make a determination on them.

The five new cases were in a 74-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman from Victoria, a 66-year-old man from Queensland, a 64-year-old woman from Western Australia and a 70-year-old man from Tasmania.

TGA head Professor John Skerritt said many of those had “serious and significant” underlying health conditions, stressing blood clotting following vaccination remained a rare event.

“The evidence from TGA and the advice from ATAGI, the advisors to governments, that the benefits of this vaccine for the over 50s still very significantly exceeds the risks,” he said on Thursday. 

The latest figures take the total confirmed number of blood clot cases linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine since the start of the rollout to 11.

Four of those have already left hospital, the TGA said in a statement. 

“Encouragingly, of the five cases reported in our statement on 23 April 2021 as hospitalised with thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following vaccination, four have now been discharged from hospital and are either at home or have returned to work,” it said.

On Thursday, Tasmanian authorities announced a 70-year-old man was in hospital in a stable condition after reporting clotting symptoms seven days after receiving the vaccine.

Earlier that day, Queensland authorities announced a 66-year-old man was in intensive care in a Townsville hospital with thrombosis linked to the vaccine.

The man received the first dose of the vaccine on 30 March and then developed abdominal pain, before being admitted to the Townsville hospital.

Professor Skerrit said given the AstraZeneca vaccine was only being administered to those over 50, the results were not surprising.

“If you’re only giving a medicine or vaccine to people over 50 that’s the only group where you’ll see an adverse event,” he said.

As of 2 May, approximately 1.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered.

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ITV launches ‘woke’ self-care classes to help the well-being of staff – including origami, paint-pouring sessions and ‘racial fluency’ – in the wake of three suicides linked to its flagship show Love Island



ITV has launched a series of ‘woke’ self-care classes for its staff, including origami lessons, paint-pouring sessions and ‘racial fluency’ lessons.

The broadcaster has also launched a range of networking groups welcoming women, gay workers, those with disabilities, and minority ethnic staff, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

But one insider claimed some white, heterosexual men are irritated by the lack of a group to accommodate their needs.

‘This just shows that white men are now not considered,’ said the source. ‘It has gone out-of-control “woke” and it doesn’t seem right.’

The moves to improve the mental wellbeing of staff comes after the broadcaster was criticised for the quality of care provided to contestants on Love Island and guests on The Jeremy Kyle Show. And 18 months ago, this newspaper revealed its race failings, with the main ITV channel featuring just one non-white presenter on screen in an entire day’s programming.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall ordered the ‘woking up’ drive following the criticism.

The extracurricular activities, also including Workout Wednesday exercise classes, are optional. And sources at the network claim that slots for the origami and paint-pouring classes – where the items needed are delivered to those staff who are working at home – are filled as soon as they are offered.

Stressed staff can also drop into a new ‘frazzled cafe’ to share their woes over a coffee via a Zoom video chat.

ITV has recently come under fire from both sides of the ‘woke’ divide. It was accused of being too sensitive for forcing Piers Morgan to quit Good Morning Britain for saying he didn’t believe claims the Duchess of Sussex made in her Oprah Winfrey interview, but charged with doing too little to care for those who took part in Love Island and The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Sophie Graydon and Mike Thalassitis both took their own lives after appearing on the reality dating programme, while Kyle’s confrontational talk show was axed in 2019 after a guest committed suicide shortly after appearing.

ITV did not respond to a request for comment.

Thank you for stopping by and seeing this news release involving the latest United Kingdom news items called “ITV launches ‘woke’ self-care classes to help the well-being of staff – including origami, paint-pouring sessions and ‘racial fluency’ – in the wake of three suicides linked to its flagship show Love Island”. This article was brought to you by MyLocalPages as part of our local news services.

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