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Biden to convene private sector leaders for cybersecurity talks in August
21 July 2021, 4:35 PM

President Joe Biden and senior US officials will meet private sector leaders on August 25 to discuss ways to beef up cyber security, a White House spokesperson said on Wednesday, underscoring the need for collective action.

Members of Biden’s national security team and officials from across the administration will meet business executives to “discuss how we can work together to collectively improve the nation’s cybersecurity,” the spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said.

No details were immediately available on which private sector executives would attend.

“Today more than ever, cybersecurity is an economic security and national security imperative, and both the federal government and the private sector play a critical role,” the spokesperson said.

News about the meeting comes amid a surge in costly ransomware attacks and steps by the Biden administration to shore up the defense of critical infrastructure sectors, such as pipelines, against cyber attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday required owners and operators of critical pipelines that transport hazardous liquids and natural gas to implement “urgently needed protections against cyber intrusions.”

It was the second security directive issued by the department’s Transportation Security Administration since May, when a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline disrupted fuel supplies in the southeastern United States.

The attack forced the 5 500-mile (8 900-km) pipeline to shut much of its network for several days, leaving thousands of gas stations across the US Southeast without fuel. It was the most disruptive cyberattack on record.

Next month’s high-level meeting continues a big push by the Biden administration to engage with private companies on how to increase cybersecurity, including among small businesses.

A pilot programme focused on industrial controls launched in April has seen more than 145 of 255 priority electricity entities adopt cybersecurity monitoring technologies, and that number is growing, the spokesperson said.

Inflation rate slows to 4.9% in June
21 July 2021, 3:58 PM

Consumer inflation moderated in June, in line with market expectations.

Stats SA data shows that the annual consumer inflation rate slowed to 4.9% in June from 5.2% in May.

The consumer price index increased by 0.2% between May and June 2021.

The main contributors to the 4.9% annual inflation rate were food and non-alcoholic beverages; housing, utilities and transport.

Food inflation has continued an upward trajectory – increasing for the fourth consecutive month.

The prices of the oils and fats sub-category as well as sugar remained elevated, while 5 kilograms of maize meal cost 19 cents more in June than it did in May.

The price of 2.5 kilograms of sugar was nine cents higher in June, when compared to May, while 750ml of sunflower oil cost six cents more in June than it did the previous month.

Inflation is expected to continue to moderate going forward.

Economists says the global oil prices have decreased and this will likely offset the impact of the weaker rand.

The South African Reserve Bank expects inflation to average 4.2% this year.

“The reality is that after the severe strike action that SA has experienced, this will see a sharp moderation in economic growth this year, we had expected to see GDP at 4.5% for 2021, and now it may come out at 3.9% instead, but actually the third quarter sees a significant contraction of about 6% annualised bases and of course this will then feed in to weaker forecast for the reserve bank itself in its GDP and we believe we will interest rates remain unchanged this year and in to next year. The reality of the situation though is that business confidence does not return soon and the consumer confidence as well, there will be less investment in the economy and of course less jobs as well,” says Investec chief economist, Annabel Bishop.

The contained inflation environment and the weak economic prospects will boost chances of the Reserve Bank keeping interest rates at the current low levels for some time, to support economic recovery.

Discussion on the latest inflation figures:

Taxi
Eastern Cape Santaco says fight against recent unrest united taxi associations
21 July 2021, 3:33 PM
The South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) in the Eastern Cape says the unrest in the country in the past weeks has brought unity amongst the taxi associations in the province.
Taxi operators in the Eastern Cape came together and averted possible lootings in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, during unrest that brought everything to a standstill last week in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces as businesses were looted and property destructed.
The taxi operators were applauded for their stand, with some South Africans saying their action showed the other side of the industry they didn’t know existed.
In South Africa, taxi operators are perceived as people who have no respect for road regulations and are known for infighting within associations over routes leading to loss of life.
Provincial Santaco secretary, Mthuthuzeli Madwara, says the unrest has given the industry new perspective in solving differences without involving violence.
Madwara says many people have lost lives due to infighting in the taxi industry over the years. He says although there are ongoing challenges, they are trying to solve them in an amicable manner.

“We were fighting a lot, we manage to sit down and find one another and say to ourselves guys we are losing every day by fighting because of the routes and other things. So we said to ourselves we are sick and tired of this thing, we don’t want anything that is going to stop our vehicles. That is why we said no looting because our vehicles are repossessed now and then because of the pandemic,” adds the Eastern Cape Santaco secretary.

The Eastern Cape province has over 90 taxi associations. According to Santaco. if the looting had taken place, the industry could have suffered a daily loss of half-million rand.

Taxi driver Siyabonga Ndaba says some of the targeted malls are close to taxi ranks, hence they took a decisions to prevent the looting.

“One it will take the business away from us because if we cannot carry passengers, then there will be no one in town. But the Looting is the thing that we were against . So we trying to urge everyone in the Metro that to stay away from the looting.”

Meanwhile, two taxi bosses were fatally shot in two separate incidents this past weekend in Gqeberha and East London. The cause of the incidents is unknown, but police are investigating.

Police, SANDF conclude operation to recover goods looted in recent unrest in KZN:

Durban wildlife center receives much needed food aid from Gauteng pilot
21 July 2021, 2:00 PM

A Gauteng pilot has flown to the rescue with food and milk formula to assist the Durban Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW).

Centre operational director, Clint Halkett-Siddal, says they were unable to go and buy food for the more than 300 animals in their care after the unrest broke out on Monday last week.

Halkett-Siddal says they need special lactose intolerant baby formula for the baby antelope and primates they are hand-rearing.

He says the donation by members of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa came about after he registered their organisation with the KwaZulu-Natal Aviation Coordination Relief Fund at Lanseria airport.

” We were literally down to our last tin of Lactose when Andrew Aitken flew us down a donation which included, I think it was 10 tins of the lactose intolerant Isomil. That really was a lifesaver for our animals and for all of us down here at CROW to manage the situation.  It was quite a war zone this side and we were lucky enough that our community stood by and actually protected the entrances and exits to Yellowwood Park so that we were safe.”

Recovered looted goods to be used as evidence and then destroyed: Ntshavheni
20 July 2021, 8:20 PM

Government says all recovered stolen goods will only be used as evidence in criminal cases where suspects will be appearing in courts on charges of theft and looting.

Last week some residents went on a looting spree in both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Briefing the media acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says police are conducting home searches for stolen goods.

She, however, says all recover goods will be destroyed as their resale will negatively affect the economy.

Looters urged to return stolen goods

Meanwhile, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure has called on looters to voluntarily hand in the goods they have taken to the nearest police station.

This as recovery operations continue following the widespread unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last week.

The unrest and looting in these provinces followed protests outside the Estcourt prison where former president Jacob Zuma was incarcerated.

In a statement, the police referred to the violence as a failed insurrection.

At least 212 people have died and over 2 000 others have been arrested.

National police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters says the value of the recovered stolen property is yet to be determined.

“Looters called upon to voluntarily surrender looted property or face possible arrest and criminal records as the integrated recovery operations continue. The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) has welcomed the influx of calls and tip-offs received via the MySAPS app from various communities in both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which have seen the integrated security forces recover volumes of suspected stolen property whose value is yet to be determined.”

Peters also says people have been arrested for being in possession of stolen property.

“In Gauteng, during integrated operations at a number of hostels in mostly Tembisa, Johannesburg, Alexandra and Moroka over the weekend, 14 suspects were arrested for being in possession of suspected looted property. Amongst the goods recovered were bed mattresses, television sets, couches, fridges, sound systems, computer screens laptops, steel frames, grocery and clothing items.

 SAPS, SANDF and eThekwini metro recover looted goods in Hammarsdale:

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