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US Fuel Supplies Tighten As Energy Pipeline Outage Enters Fifth Day

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Supplies of gasoline tightened further in parts of the United States yesterday as the shutdown of the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline by hackers entered its fifth day, raising concern about price spikes at the pumps ahead of the summer driving season.
The Colonial Pipeline said it was working toward a substantial restart of operations by the end of this week after a cyberattack forced it to cease operations on Friday, choking off nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply and underscoring the vulnerability of U.S. energy infrastructure to hackers.
Colonial’s website was down early on Tuesday, which Colonial said was a “temporary service disruption” unrelated to the ransomware.
The FBI has accused a shadowy criminal gang called DarkSide of the ransomware attack. DarkSide is believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe and avoids targeting computers that use languages from former Soviet republics, cyber experts say.
Russia’s embassy in the United States on Tuesday rejected specu-ation that Moscow was responsible for the attack.
President Joe Biden on Monday said there was no evidence thus far that Russia’s government was involved, but said there was evidence that the culprits’ ransomware was in Russia.
Ransomware is a type of malware designed to lock computers by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access.
A statement issued in DarkSide’s name on Monday said: “Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society.”
It is unknown how much money the hackers are seeking, and Colonial has not commented on whether it would pay.
The top U.S. energy regulator issued a call on Monday for mandatory cybersecurity standards for pipeline operators. “Encouraging pipelines to voluntarily adopt best practices is an inadequate response,” said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Richard Glick.
Fuel supply disruption has driven gasoline prices at the pump to a three-year high and demand has spiked in some areas served by the pipeline as motorists fill their tanks.
National average pump prices are approaching their highest levels since May 2014, the American Automobile Association said. The association warned against hoarding, saying that thins supplies further.
Florida resident Katina Willey told Reuters on Monday she went to five gas stations before she found one that had fuel available. “There were lines at three of the five stations I tried,” she said. Other motorists said they were also seeking to fill up for fear the situation could worsen.
If the disruption stretches on, fuel suppliers could ship by trucks and rail instead to make up for some of the shortfalls. The Department of Transportation on Sunday lifted driver restrictions on fuel haulers in 17 states affected by the shutdown.
Citgo Petroleum Corp [RIC:RIC:PDVSAC.UL] cut production at its 418,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Lake Charles, Louisiana, refinery and Total (TOTF.PA) reduced gasoline production at its 225,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas due to the pipeline outage, sources told Reuters on Monday.
U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, including Marathon Petroleum (MPC.N), Valero Energy (VLO.N), Phillips 66 (PSX.N) and PBF Energy (PBF.N), booked at least four tankers to store fuel off the Gulf Coast.
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Key Suspect In Haitian President’s Murder Extradited To US

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Rodolphe Jaar, a key suspect in the murder of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise, was yesterday extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic, media reported.
Earlier, media reported that Jaar, a Haitian businessman and convicted drug trafficker, was arrested in the Dominican Republic.
On Wednesday, the suspect was detained by United States federal agents in Miami upon his arrival from the Dominican Republic, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.
Moise was shot dead at his residence on July 7, 2021, while his wife sustained injuries and subsequently received medical treatment in the United States.
Haitian authorities have detained over 40 suspects in Moise’s assassination, including 18 Colombian citizens and five United States citizens.

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Otto Warmbier’s Family Awarded $240,000

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The family of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea for 17 months and died in 2017 shortly after being returned to the United States in a coma, was awarded more than $240,000 in seized assets from Pyongyang, a New York federal court ruled.
Why it matters: The payment is part of a $500 million wrongful death lawsuit, in which Warmbier’s family alleged that North Korea took him hostage, tortured him and was responsible for his death.
Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student at the time, travelled to North Korea in 2015, where he was arrested and accused of stealing a propaganda poster from a restricted area of his hotel.
After publicly confessing to the crime with a script that some experts have said was likely drafted by North Korean officials, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
After a total of 17 months in captivity, he was flown back to the United States on June 13 with severe brain damage that North Korea attributed, without evidence, to botulism, and he died six days later in a Cincinnati hospital.
A federal judge in December, 2018 ruled that North Korea was responsible for Warmbier’s death and ordered Pyongyang to pay his family $500 million.
The big picture: The $240,000 awarded by the Northern District Court of New York last week was seized from the country’s Korea Kwangson Banking Corp after the government and bank did not respond to multiple court orders and notices.

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‘Why Schumer Picked A Filibuster Fight He Couldn’t Win’

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Chuck Schumer doesn’t typically lead his caucus into losing votes that divide Democrats. He made an exception for election reform.
The Senate majority leader has run a 50-50 Senate for a year now, longer than anyone else. The whole time, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have consistently communicated to Schumer that he wouldn’t get their votes to weaken the filibuster, no matter the underlying issue. But his decision to force the vote on the caucus anyway – and get 48 Democrats on the record for a unilateral rules change dubbed “the nuclear option” – will go down as one of Schumer’s riskiest moves as leader.
The New Yorker was a defender and wielder of the filibuster while serving as minority leader during Donald Trump’s presidency. But Democrats’ year of work on writing elections and voting legislation – and GOP opposition to an effort designed to undo state-level ballot restrictions – turned Schumer into a proponent of scrapping the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, at least for this bill.
He and most of his members have endorsed what they see as a limited change to chamber rules. Even so, Schumer has set the table for a future majority with a slightly bigger margin, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, to follow through where he fell short and perhaps go further.
Schumer gave Manchin months of space to work on a compromise elections bill, despite activists pushing him to move quicker. The leader’s insistence on a vote that will split his caucus has only trained more ire on the West Virginian and Sinema of Arizona, whom he needs to execute the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Yet Schumer says he had no choice.
“We sent our best emissary to talk to the Republicans. That was Joe Manchin. And we gave him months,” Schumer said in an interview on Wednesday. “The epiphany that occurred on a rules change? He didn’t even get any bites.”
Though social spending, coronavirus relief and infrastructure have at times consumed the Senate this Congress, no topic has riveted Democrats like voting and election reform. Schumer designed Democrats’ first version of the bill “S. 1” – denoting it as the party’s top priority. Even when senators were digging into other legislation, Schumer was still maneuvering on elections, convening weekly meetings with a small group of senators for months.

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