Berlin probe: Xmas market attacker could have been thwarted

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A special investigator appointed by the German state of Berlin says the Tunisian man who carried out last year’s deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin could have been detained months earlier.

Anis Amri, a failed asylum-seeker, killed 12 people in the Dec. 19, 2016, attack that was later claimed by the Islamic State group. Public inquiries and German media have since uncovered a series of mistakes by security agencies in tracking a man who authorities believed had posed a public threat.

Bruno Jost, a former federal prosecutor, said Thursday that Amri could have been held for several months for alleged forgery and other crimes when he was detained in southern Germany on July 30, 2016. But Jost said no police agencies familiar with his case reacted to the arrest.

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Uber may face probe over foreign bribery allegations

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Uber has expanded to more than 70 countries, sometimes ruffling feathers along the way.


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The US Justice Department is taking a preliminary look at whether managers at Uber violated a law against foreign bribery, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The agency is reviewing allegations that managers at the ride-hailing startup violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribing foreign officials to secure favorable action from that government, anonymous sources told the newspaper. Based on its findings, the Justice Department may decide whether to open a full FCPA investigation.

It wasn’t immediately clear which country or countries the Justice Department may be focusing on. A Justice Department representative declined to comment on the existence of an investigation as a matter of policy.

An Uber spokesman said the company is cooperating with the Justice Department on the preliminary investigation.

Since its founding in 2009, Uber has grown to become one of the biggest ride-hailing services on the planet, with more than 40 million monthly active riders, and operations in more than 450 cities in more than 70 countries. But along the way, it has occasionally run afoul of local laws.

Uber didn’t seek permission when it launched its service in San Francisco in 2010. It also didn’t seek a permit to launch self-driving cars in California. The company has run into regulatory roadblocks from a handful of states and countries such as Brazil, France, Germany, India and Italy.

The allegations emerge as the San Francisco-based startup tries to transition to new executive leadership after the departure of co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick. Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of online travel company Expedia, has reportedly been named to replace Kalanick, who was forced out of the job two months ago amid a slew of scandals, including sexual harassment allegations.

Uber is also under federal scrutiny for use of its so-called Greyball tool, secretive software for evading local authorities in cities where the service isn’t yet legal. The Justice Department reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the tool in May. Uber has said it would stop using the tool.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET’s newsstand edition.

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about “women in tech.”

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Terror probe as man with weapon arrested outside Buckingham Palace

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Counter-terror police are investigating after two police officers were injured while arresting a man with a knife outside Buckingham Palace.

Officers saw a “large bladed weapon” in the man’s car when it stopped near the palace on Friday evening.

As they arrested him, both men suffered minor arm injuries, police said.

The 26-year-old man was also treated for minor injuries. He was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and assault, and under the Terrorism Act.

No members of the Royal Family were in Buckingham Palace at the time.

The incident happened outside the Mall roundabout near Spur Road – which runs along the corner of the Palace grounds – at about 20:35 BST, police said. The man had stopped his car in a “restricted area” and police saw the weapon.

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Media captionVideo captures the police arriving on the scene.

Det Supt Guy Collings said the “quick and brave” actions of the officers meant the man was detained very quickly, and that no members of the public had any contact with him.

The two officers and the suspect had all since been discharged from hospital and the suspect was taken to a central London police station for questioning, police said.

Enquiries into the full circumstances are ongoing, they added, and there was still a police cordon at the scene.

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Image caption

The incident happened at the roundabout in front of Buckingham Palace

Eye-witness Kiana Williamson said: “We turned up and there was one police van and one car; there was also a civilian’s car that had veered towards the police car.

“They were trying to get the man out of the car, shouting; more police were arriving on to the scene and the man was fighting back.

“I saw one injured policeman with an injury to his arm, although it didn’t look severe.

“He was being tended to by another officer.

“The man had been restrained and looked almost unconscious by the side of the road.”

Another passer-by, who did not want to be named, said her partner initially thought he had seen a sword.

She told the Press Association: “The police didn’t just run up to the car. There was some shouting prior to this; I couldn’t tell you what, I was a bit panicked…

“My partner saw a sword, which I didn’t see, as well as a policeman with blood on him, looking like his hand or chest was injured.

“The police officer had it in his hand, walking away with it.”

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U.S. Navy to launch fleet-wide probe as search for 10 missing sailors goes on

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Ships, aircraft and divers from an international search-and-rescue operation were still looking for 10 missing U.S. sailors on Tuesday after a collision between a U.S. warship and a merchant vessel in waters near Singapore and Malaysia.

The USS John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided early on Monday while the guided-missile destroyer was nearing Singapore for a routine port call. The collision tore a hole in the warship’s port side at the waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area.

The collision – the fourth major accident in the U.S. Pacific fleet this year – prompted a fleet-wide investigation and plans for temporary halts in operations to focus on safety.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement late on Monday that aircraft from the amphibious assault ship the USS America, which was in port at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base, would continue searching for the missing sailors.

They join aircraft and vessels from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia already searching in the area.

Damage control efforts on board the USS John S. McCain were focused on draining water from the ship and restoring auxiliary systems, and divers had started assessing the warship’s damaged hull, the statement said.

A public affairs officer for the U.S. Seventh Fleet told Reuters the USS John McCain remained pierside at Changi Naval Base and that a repair plan would be put in place after assessments were complete.

Admiral Scott Swift, who serves as the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was in Kuala Lumpur on Monday and was scheduled to arrive in Singapore on Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017.Ahmad Masood

Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority said search efforts had continued through the night. Video footage and still pictures showed that a wide hole was ripped in the John S. McCain’s aft port side.

Five sailors were also injured in the accident, although the U.S. Navy said none of those injuries was life-threatening.

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017.Ahmad Masood

On Monday, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said there were no indications so far the collision was intentional or the result of cyber intrusion or sabotage.

“But review will consider all possibilities,” he said on Twitter.

Richardson said he was asking his fleet commanders worldwide for a one-to-two-day, staggered “operational pause” to discuss action to ensure safe and effective operations. He envisaged this could begin within a week.

He also said a comprehensive review would examine the training of U.S. forces deployed to Japan “to make sure we are doing everything we can to make them ready for operations and warfighting”. The U.S. Seventh Fleet is headquartered in Japan.

This would include looking at “operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment,” Richardson said.

(To view a graphic on the U.S. navy ship collision, click tmsnrt.rs/2wi5QFg)

Reporting by Sam Holmes and Karishma Singh; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE and David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali in WASHINGTON; Editing by Paul Tait

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Finnish police search new sites, talk to suspect in knife rampage probe

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HELSINKI (Reuters) – Police searched premises in the city of Turku and interviewed the chief suspect on Sunday as part of an investigation into Finland’s first suspected Islamist militant attack.

The National Bureau of Investigation said it had organised a reconstruction of Friday’s knife rampage in the western city of Turku and raided addresses in its Runosmaki district.

“The investigation is proceeding and the picture is getting more accurate,” said Detective Chief Inspector Crista Granroth, who is in charge of the investigation.

An 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker was arrested on charges of killing two women in a knife rampage and wounding eight other people – six of them women – in Turku’s main market square.

The rampage was halted when police shot the attacker in the leg. He was interviewed under guard in a hospital in Turku, a city on Finland’s Baltic coast 160 km (100 miles) west of the capital Helsinki.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, though police are investigating possible links to Thursday’s deadly van attack by suspected Islamic militants in the Spanish city of Barcelona in which 13 people were killed.

Violent crime is relatively rare in Finland and police say the knife attack is the first suspected terrorist incident in modern Finland.

People attend a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of Friday’s stabbings at the Turku Market Square in Turku, Finland August 20, 2017. Lehtikuva/Vesa Moilanen via REUTERS

Four other Moroccan men detained over possible links to the Turku attack have cooperated with police but their role has yet to be fully established, Granroth added.

The main suspect, who had lived in Turku’s immigration centre after arriving in Finland last year, appeared to have targeted women, police said on Saturday.

Arya Rashidi, a fruit merchant of Kurdish origin, witnessed Friday’s attack and tried to intervene.

Hassan Zubier, one of the people that were stabbed in Central Turku on Friday, is seen at the Turku Market Square, in Turku, Finland August 20, 2017. Lehtikuva/Vesa Moilanen via REUTERS

“I saw the man stabbing several times a woman who was pushing strollers. I shouted to people to give me something to go fight him with. Then I saw a man trying to stop the attacker but he got struck with a knife too,” he told Reuters.

“Someone gave me a baseball bat and I ran after the man along with some other people. We tried to shout and warn people, as he was running ahead of us.”

“Then, police came and shot him in the leg. I was furious and I hit him with the bat, and then stepped back,” he said.

Three people remained in hospital on Sunday in a stable condition following the attack, medical officials said.

“Someone called the hospital and threatened to come and kill the main suspect. We reported this to the police. We have also reinforced security in the hospital,” said Leena Setala, the head of the hospital district.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, additional reporting by Tuomas Forsell; editing by Mark Heinrich and Jon Boyle

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Utkal Express derailment: Utkal Express derailment: ‘Work was being carried out on tracks, probe on’ | India News

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MUZAFFARNAGAR: Investigators were on Sunday looking into what caused one of the deadliest train accidents in recent times as rescue operations continued, checking to see if there were people still trapped in the mangled coaches of the Utkal Express that derailed here yesterday.

The railway ministry said 21 people were killed and 97 injured, 26 of them grievously, in the accident near Khatauli in western Uttar Pradesh.

“Prime facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks. An investigation will reveal what caused the accident,” Mohammed Jamshed, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, told reporters in Delhi.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu directed the chairman of the Railway Board to fix responsibility on “prima facie evidence by the end of day” for the derailment. He had ordered an inquiry into the accident yesterday.

The railways have deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks near Khatauli.

Two 140-tonne cranes were being used from early morning today to clear derailed coaches, from which survivors had been rescued and bodies pulled out till late last night.

Rescue operation by the National Disaster Response Force got over at around 3 AM.

Thirteen coaches of the high-speed Utkal Express, on its way from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, jumped the rails yesterday, with one coach crashing into a house near the tracks.

Minister Prabhu said he was monitoring the situation and that restoration of the tracks was his top priority.

“Restoration is top priority. Seven coaches tackled. Also ensuring best possible medical care for the injured,” he tweeted today.

A senior Uttar Pradesh official said 156 people were injured in the derailment.

“A total of 156 people were injured in the Utkal Express train accident and among them many remain critical,” Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Principal Secretary (Information), UP government, told PTI on the phone.

Curious onlookers gathered at the accident site this morning, as two coaches were hauled off the track and placed on the ground.

Linesmen and other workers shovelled away stones as new concrete sleepers were laid to reinforce the tracks.

“We have come from Panipat to work on the clearing of the tracks,” a linesman said.

Work is currently underway to haul an overturned coach, which had rammed into the facade of a local college, while another sleeper coach, which crashed into a house, is still to be removed.

“The train had 23 coaches out of which 13 had derailed. It was running at a speed of about 100 kmph when the accident took place,” said Delhi Division DRM, R N Singh.

Six of the derailed coaches were severely damaged.

A posse of security personnel from the UP Police, the RPF, PAC and RRF has been deployed at the site of the accident since last evening.

Minister Prabhu has directed senior officials and medical personnel to provide assistance to injured passengers and all possible help to the relatives of the affected passengers.

He also announced a Rs 3.5-lakh ex-gratia compensation to the next of kin of those who lost their lives, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those who received minor injuries.

The injured have been taken to hospitals in Muzaffarnagar and Meerut and both the Railways and the local administration have issued helplines.

Trains passing through the Meerut line of the Northern Railway have either been cancelled or diverted till 6 pm today, a senior railway official said.

“All services on Meerut line, on which Khatauli falls, have been either cancelled or diverted through other routes till 6 PM, as the tracks are yet to be cleared of mangled train coaches,” Singh told PTI.

Singh said the diverted trains would run through Shamli till the restoration work was over.

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U.N. Security Council members urge new probe into killings of monitors

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Several members of the U.N. Security Council called on U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to establish an international investigation into the murders of two U.N. investigators in Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year.

Michael Sharp, an American who was coordinator of a sanctions monitoring group that reports to the council, and Zaida Catalan, a Swede, were killed on March 12 while carrying out investigations in central Congo’s insurrection-ravaged Kasai region.

An internal board of inquiry said in a report this week that the assassins were likely militia members from the area. In a separate report this month, discussed by the Security Council on Thursday, Sharp and Catalan’s colleagues said they could not preclude the involvement of state security services.

At the council meeting, the United States, Britain, France, Sweden and Japan urged Guterres to establish a follow-up investigation to determine responsibility. The United States has called for such an inquiry since June.

“We reiterate … our call for the secretary general to immediately put in place … a special mechanism of investigation to allow the competent judicial authorities to carry out effective proceedings so that justice is rendered,” said France’s deputy permanent representative, Anne Gueguen.

A still image from an undated video of Swedish national Zaida Catalan taken in an unknown location in Sweden. TV4 Sweden/Handout via Reuters TV

Congolese authorities have arrested nine suspects in the killings but some Western governments and rights groups are sceptical that the real masterminds have been identified.

In a letter to the president of the Security Council this week, Guterres said he planned to discuss the establishment of a “follow-on mechanism” to the board of inquiry with Congo officials and council members.

“Accountability has yet to materialise,” said Jonathan Allen, Britain’s deputy permanent representative. “Those who ordered their killings remain at large.”

The violence in Kasai has killed more than 3,300 people since the start of an insurrection nearly a year ago by the Kamuina Nsapu militia, which wants the withdrawal of military forces from the area. The United Nations has repeatedly accused Congolese forces of using excessive force.

Congo’s government denies its troops have engaged in systemic abuses and reiterated its opposition to an international probe on Thursday, with Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu telling the Security Council that authorities are already cooperating with American and Swedish investigators.

It received support from Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who told the council: “We would like to warn about attempts to put all the blame about what is taking place on the Congo army and police without any evidence.”

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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A High-Ranking FBI Investigator Has Left Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe

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One of the top FBI investigators, who only recently joined Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, has stepped down from Mueller’s team.

Peter Strzok is an FBI veteran who has spent much of his career working counterintelligence cases. It’s unclear why he’s stepped away from Mueller’s team at a time when they recently executed a search warrant on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and enlisted a grand jury in Washington. According to ABC News, Strzok is now working in the Bureau’s human resources division.

Strzok is no stranger to high-profile cases:

As chief of the FBI’s counterespionage section last year, he helped oversee the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and he took part in the FBI interview of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Within weeks of the Clinton probe ending, Strzok found his office facing a new challenge: investigating Russia’s alleged efforts to influence last year’s presidential election, including a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee.

Strzok leaving Mueller’s investigation is the first public indication that the probe may be running into problems, as the investigation has fallen out of the 24-hour news cycle due to the specter of nuclear war and racially charged violence in Charlottesville.

Still, in the last week, investigators have made it known they want to question Trump’s long-time secretary, and news has leaked that Paul Manafort tipped off investigators to Donald Trump Jr.’s attempts to set up Russia meetings. And there have been reports that another campaign advisor tried to set up meetings with Russian government representatives.

(Via ABC News)

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Uber agrees to 20 years of privacy audits to settle FTC data mishandling probe

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The legacy of Travis Kalanick’s fast and loose management style at Uber continues to serve up fresh embarrassments for the embattled, still CEO-less company.

Today the ride-hailing giant has settled a Federal Trade Commission investigation into data mishandling, privacy and security complaints that date back to 2014 and 2015 — ostensibly agreeing with the FTC’s complaint that it misrepresented its practices to consumers.

The FTC said Uber has agreed to put in place a comprehensive privacy program, including undergoing regular independent privacy audits.

The FTC’s order extends for a period as long as 20 years.

In its complaint docket the FTC cites news reports in 2014 of Uber’s so-called ‘God view’ real-time interface that had apparently allowed its employees to spy on users’ rides, and Uber’s response at the time — when it claimed to have “a strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data”, and to be “closely” monitoring and auditing this policy.

“Despite [Uber’s] representation that its practices would continue on an ongoing basis, [Uber] has not always closely monitored and audited its employees’ access to Rider and Driver accounts since November 2014,” the complaint states. “[Uber] developed an automated system for monitoring employee access to consumer personal information in December 2014 but the system was not designed or staffed to effectively handle ongoing review of access to data by [Uber’s] thousands of employees and contingent workers.”

The FTC also calls out a subsequent automated monitoring system that Uber developed, stating: “From approximately August 2015 until May 2016, [Uber] did not timely follow up on automated alerts concerning the potential misuse of consumer personal information, and for approximately the first six months of this period, [Uber] only monitored access to account information belonging to a set of internal high-profile users, such as Uber executives. During this time, [Uber] did not otherwise monitor internal access to personal information unless an employee specifically reported that a co-worker had engaged in inappropriate access.”

The complaint also details problems with Uber’s data security practices, with the FTC asserting that despite Uber’s privacy policy claiming consumers’ personal information was “securely stored within our databases”, and despite its customer service representatives offering frequent “assurances” about the strength of its security practices, nonetheless  the company “failed to provide reasonable security to prevent unauthorized access to Rider and Driver personal information”.

Among the security failures the FTC alleges in the complaint are that Uber failed —

  • to require the use of distinct access keys, “instead permitting all programs and engineers to use a single AWS access key that provided full administrative privileges over all data in the Amazon S3 Datastore”;
  • to restrict access to systems based on employees’ job functions
  • to require multi-factor authentication for access to the Amazon S3 Datastore;

Uber also did not implement “reasonable security training and guidance” until around September 2014, according to the FTC. Nor did it have a written information security program until that date.

Until approximately March 2015 Uber is alleged by the FTC to have stored sensitive personal information in its Amazon S3 Datastore in clear, readable text — rather than encrypting the information.

The venture-backed company, which has raised some $8.81 billion in funding to date, could have “prevented or mitigated” various security failures through “relatively low-cost measures”, the FTC asserts, adding that the lack of reasonable security provided for consumers’ personal information stored in Uber’s databases — including geolocation information — created “serious risks” for Uber users.

The FTC’s complaint also alleges that Uber’s various security failures also led directly to a data breach.

In May 2014 an intruder was able to access consumers’ personal information in plain text in Uber’s Amazon S3 Datastore — using an access key that one of its engineers had publicly posted to GitHub. A file containing sensitive personal data of more than 100,000 Uber drivers’ was accessed during this breach.

The existence of the breach was not discovered by Uber until September 2014, according to the FTC.

More details on the breach from the FTC complaint:

The publicly posted key granted full administrative privileges to all data and documents stored within Respondent’s Amazon S3 Datastore. The intruder accessed one file that contained sensitive personal information belonging to Uber Drivers, including over 100,000 unencrypted names and driver’s license numbers, 215 unencrypted names and bank account and domestic routing numbers, and 84 unencrypted names and Social Security numbers. The file also contained other Uber Driver information, including physical addresses, email addresses, mobile device phone numbers, device IDs, and location information from trips the Uber Drivers provided.

In its decision and order docket, the FTC orders a prohibition against “misrepresentations” by Uber pertaining to how it monitors or audits internal access to consumers’ personal Information; and to the extent to which it protects the privacy, confidentiality, security, or integrity of any personal information it handles and stores.

The mandated privacy program that Uber has agreed to put in place must be documented, both in content and implementation, in writing, and include what the FTC describes as “controls and procedures appropriate to [Uber’s] size and complexity, the nature and scope of [Uber’s] activities, and the sensitivity of the personal information” — including identifying “reasonably foreseeable risks” (so, in other words, a formal risk assessment process); and the design and implementation of “reasonable controls and procedures to address such risks and regular testing or monitoring of the effectiveness of those controls and procedures”.

Uber has also agreed to external privacy audits by an independent expert to assess its compliance with the FTC order — with an initial assessment due 180 days after the order, and then one every two years for the next 20 years.

The FTC’s order also requires Uber to submit its own compliance reports — beginning in a year’s time, and “sworn under penalty of perjury”.

The company has also agreed to create certain records for a period of 20 years and retain each for a period of five years — including keeping records of all consumer complaints.

In a statement responding to the FTC’s order, an Uber spokesperson told us: “We are pleased to bring the FTC’s investigation to a close. The complaint involved practices that date as far back as 2014. We’ve significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since then and will continue to invest heavily in these programs. In 2015, we hired our first Chief Security Officer and now employ hundreds of trained professionals dedicated to protecting user information. This settlement provides an opportunity to work with the FTC to further verify that our programs protect user privacy and personal information.”

The FTC said the vote to issue the administrative complaint and accept Uber’s consent agreement was unanimous — further noting that it issues administrative complaints when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears that a proceeding is in the public interest.

It will now (“shortly”) publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register, and open the agreement for public comment for 30 days — beginning today and continuing through September 15, 2017, after which it will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final.

FTC consent orders issued on a final basis carry the force of law with respect to future actions, and each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $40,654, it adds.

Featured Image: REUTERS/Shu Zhang

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