Cyber attack hits 2nd-largest meat producer – National & International News – WED 2Jun2021

The US' second-largest meat producer has been with another cyber attack.

Cyber attack hits 2nd-largest meat producer. White House: now or never for bipartisan infrastructure deal. Israeli opposition’s midnight deadline to unseat Netanyahu.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Cyber attack targets US’ second-largest meat producer

Brazilian-owned meat-processor JBS has had to shut down some of its processing centers and cancel shifts at some facilities this week after a cyber attack. The hack caused hiccups in some of JBS’ North American and Australian facilities, but it’s Brazilian plants were unaffected.

Before you rush out to buy meat and poultry, the company says all its facilities should be back to full operation by today. JBS supplies about 20% of the nation’s meats and the sporadic outages at plants has raised wholesale prices by about 1% this week.

It could have been worse

JBS is the largest meat producer worldwide and the second-largest provider in the US. The company has not specified whether this was a ransomware attack, but that seems most likely to be the case. The company believes that a Russian cyber gang was behind the attack. Last month, Russian hackers closed the Colonial oil pipeline for almost a week, leading to panic buying and a rise in gas prices across the east coast.

Major meat processors like JBS could be prime targets for ransomware hackers. Many of their processes are computer-automated for food and worker safety. And, according to ransomware expert Brett Callow, cybersecurity at meat plants is generally more lax than other private industries. Callow adds that, “They play a critical role in the food supply chain and threat actors likely believe this increases their chances of getting a speedy payout”.

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Biden signals time running out for GOP infrastructure deal

President Biden has set a soft deadline of June 7 to reach a bipartisan infrastructure deal with Republicans. Last week, the GOP published its counter offer, which came in at just under $1 trillion. This is well above their previous offer, but still nowhere near Biden’s target of $1.7 trillion.

The GOP bill focuses narrowly on “traditional” infrastructure of roads, ports, bridges, etc. This excludes Biden’s plans to expand US investment in its “human” infrastructure, such as education, healthcare, childcare and affordable housing.

More than the price tag, the key sticking point in the negotiations is who will pay for the plan. According to an anonymous White House advisor, Biden considers the GOP plan unworkable because it calls for repurposing COVID relief money. Biden believes this would unduly burden middle-class and low-income families and small businesses still recovering from the pandemic. Of the COVID money so far appropriated, 90% is either spoken for or already spent. Under the GOP plan, eligible recipients would see their aid either reduced or cut off entirely.

Once aid is taken from needy families, the GOP wants average Americans to foot the rest of the bill via hikes on gas taxes, tolls and other user fees. This is a far cry from Biden’s plan, which would pay for the spending over 8 years by raising corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%. The GOP side rules out any rise in the corporate tax rate as part of a compromise.

What if there’s no deal?

If a workable bipartisan deal doesn’t materialize, Biden will have to go it alone with the narrow Democratic majority in Congress. This will pose its own procedural and political challenges. The procedural challenge will test whether Congress can pass the bills through reconciliation, which only needs a simple majority. Democrats believe this is possible, but it is by no means a certainty.

The main political challenge comes in the form of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who both oppose ending the 60-vote filibuster. Manchin, who hails from West Virginia coal country and has personal holdings in coal, is also likely to object to the green energy components of Biden’s bill.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Israel: opposition faces midnight deadline to unseat Netanyahu

The leaders of Israel’s political opposition, centrist Yair Lapid and ultra nationalist Naftali Bennett, have until midnight local time to announce whether or not they can form a governing coalition. Potential coalition members are from all over Israel’s political spectrum including centrist, center-right, far-right, leftist and Arab parties. The test is whether the ultra-nationalist and Arab parties can work together to unseat Netanyahu. Despite their ideological differences, all parties agree Netanyahu has overstayed his welcome in the prime minister’s seat.

Netanyahu has been playing on these divisions, urging right-wing parties still on the fence not to back what he calls a “leftist” government.

As of now, negotiations appear stuck. One member of Bennett’s Yamina party is threatening to blow the whole deal unless she gets a choice committee seat. One of the Arab parties is also demanding concessions for Israel’s Arab community, which the right-wing bloc is unlikely to accept.

If there’s no deal by midnight, Netanyahu will remain as prime minister. That is, until Israel can call its 5th round of elections in just over 2 years.

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