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What you should know about data privacy

A data breach refers to an incident in which secure, sensitive, and confidential information is accessed and exposed to an unauthorised and untrusted environment. The breach can be intentional or accidental. Technically, a data breach is a violation of security protocol for an organisation or individual in which confidential information is copied, transmitted, viewed, and stolen by an unauthorised person. This occurs when unauthorised individuals gain access to data they are not permitted to view. Upon access, they can steal the data and sometimes modify it. The repercussions vary depending on the nature of the data breach, ranging from database destruction or corruption to the exposure of confidential information, intellectual property theft, and obligations to inform and potentially provide restitution to affected parties as per regulatory requirements. The different types of data include the following: Personally Identifiable Information: This includes data such as social security numbers, contact information, birth dates, education and other personal information. Financial Information: This includes charge card numbers and expiry dates, bank accounts, investment details and similar data. Health Information: This includes details on health conditions, prescription drugs, treatments and medical records. Intellectual Property: This includes product drawings and manuals, specifications, scientific formulas, marketing texts and symbols, proprietary software and other material that the business has developed Competition Information: This includes data on competitors, market studies, pricing information and business plans. Legal Information: This includes documentation on court cases the company may be pursuing, legal opinions on business practices, mergers and acquisition details and regulatory rulings. IT Security Data: This includes lists of user names and passwords, encryption keys, security strategies and network structure. Threats targeting different types of data can come from your employees, from suppliers and consultants who have access to your network and from individuals outside your organization. They can access your data from inside your network, through external email accounts, mobile devices and the cloud if your business stores data there. Causes of Data Breaches Data breaches typically stem from vulnerabilities within systems and user actions. Hackers continuously seek out these weaknesses to exploit. The proliferation of smartphones and social media has heightened device interconnectivity, while rapid technological advancements often outpace efforts to bolster cybersecurity measures. The following outlines various scenarios leading to data breaches: Accidental Internal Breach: This occurs when an employee gains unauthorized access to a colleague’s information at the workplace or views data on a manager’s computer without permission. Despite not sharing the information, the unauthorised access still constitutes a breach. Intentional Internal Breach: Involves an employee accessing company data, with or without authorization, with the intent to share it with unauthorized parties or cause harm for personal gain. Physical Loss or Theft of Devices: Involves the loss or theft of devices containing sensitive, unencrypted information, potentially exposing it to unintended individuals. Cybercrime: Involves cybercriminals or hackers conducting reconnaissance on an organization’s information systems before launching targeted attacks to breach and steal data for malicious purposes. Drive-by download: Involves misleading users to unintentionally download malware by visiting compromised websites. It happens through exploiting out-of-date browsers, applications, and operating systems. System vulnerabilities: Outdated firewalls and software pose vulnerabilities in the system, providing hackers with opportunities to infiltrate and deploy malware, leading to data theft. Malware Attack: Targeted malware attacks leverage spam and phishing emails to deceive users into divulging their network credentials. Users may be coerced into downloading malicious attachments or directed to harmful websites via spam. Exploiting vulnerabilities in hardware and software security, malware operates covertly, with spyware being a specific type used to stealthily steal data. Data privacy holds significant importance for several reasons: Safeguarding Personal Information: Data privacy ensures the protection of individuals’ sensitive data, such as social security numbers, financial records, and health information, from unauthorized access. This protection helps mitigate risks such as identity theft, fraud, and other malicious activities. Building Trust and Confidence: Prioritizing data privacy fosters trust between individuals and organizations. When companies demonstrate a commitment to protecting personal information, they establish a reputation for reliability and integrity, fostering customer confidence and long-term loyalty. Ensuring Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to data protection laws and regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, is essential for organizations to ensure compliance and avoid legal repercussions, hefty fines, and damage to their reputation. Upholding Ethical Data Practices: Respecting data privacy is an ethical responsibility. Organizations must obtain proper consent for data collection, use, and sharing to demonstrate their commitment to respecting individuals’ rights and promoting transparency. Driving Data-Driven Innovation: Data privacy fuels innovation by encouraging individuals to willingly share their data when they trust that it will be handled responsibly. This data can be used to derive valuable insights, drive personalized experiences, and advance research and development. Empowering Individual Autonomy: Data privacy empowers individuals to maintain control over their personal information, allowing them to decide how it is collected, used, and shared. This respect for autonomy ensures that personal information is not exploited or misused without consent. Today, major data breaches are a frequent occurrence, putting millions of customers’ data at risk of falling into the hands of criminals. Here are some essential tips to safeguard your personal information and prevent it from being compromised: Generate secure passwords Craft robust passwords by avoiding easily guessable combinations such as your birthday. Opt for a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Periodically update passwords for enhanced security. Avoid reusing passwords across multiple platforms; consider using a password manager for efficient management. Don’t overshare on social media We all know someone who shares too much personal information online. Apart from being annoying, this habit can also jeopardize your privacy. Review your privacy settings to control who can view your posts. Exercise caution when sharing details like your location, hometown, birthday, or other personal information. Be cautious using free Wi-Fi networks A little online shopping never hurt anyone…or did it? Most free public Wi-Fi networks have very few security measures in place, which means others using the same network could easily access your activity. You should wait until you’re at home or on a secure, password-protected network before whipping out that credit card. Watch out for links and attachments Criminals in cyberspace are adept at crafting phishing scams that mimic genuine communications from banks, utility companies, or other reputable organizations. Look out for red flags such as spelling errors or email addresses differing from the usual sender, as these can indicate spam emails. Data encryption What you require is a data-focused solution that provides precise control over access to specific files and datasets. Encryption offers this level of control, but it must be implemented correctly. When a file or email is appropriately encrypted, you can dictate who has access to it at all times. This ensures that even in the event of a data breach where unauthorized individuals gain access, they are unable to read the encrypted data, effectively mitigating the risk of a data breach. Implementing such a solution can significantly reduce your exposure to data breach risks. In summary, prioritizing data privacy is essential for protecting personal information, building trust, complying with regulations, upholding ethical standards, driving innovation, and empowering individuals. This focus on data privacy benefits both individuals and organizations by fostering a secure and responsible data ecosystem.

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Govt needs to automate land documentation – Tilt Group CEO

How did you venture into business? I got myself into real estate years ago. I worked a bit in London before I came back to Nigeria in 2007 and started a real estate business by buying hectares of land and selling them to cooperatives. From there, we grew up doing business with the governments in terms of civil construction and structural procurement. We started with Lagos State and Lagos State launched us to the world. Our first project then was for Joseph Odunlami in Ogba. It was a small road. When we were done with that, we were given another opportunity in Alimosho; and then the time came when we took the next level, which was going to Abuja. We started building houses for the Nigerian Air Force; we started doing water barge and fuel barge for the Nigerian Navy. We started doing transmission lines for the Niger Delta Power Holding Company. We did the Visual Art Centre for Kwara State. It is nonstop. What other things does your organisation do? Under Tilt Group we have subsidiary companies. We have Tilt Energy, Tilt Construction, Tilt Agro Allied, Tilt Property Rescue and Tilt Production. So, we have loads of subsidiaries under the Tilt Group. How will you describe the real estate business in Nigeria? Globally, Nigeria is one of the places where you find out that the cost of houses and the value of houses are way too high. Nigeria is growing from the basics to the luxury in terms of real estate now, but the only thing is too pricey. Then, marching it to what is happening with the economy now; I think the real estate market might slow down a bit because of the high cost of living, high cost of materials and other things going on. So, we foresee the real estate business not being on the average side. Checking out what is going on globally in terms of recession, we have nothing but to make sure that we still strive regardless of the economic situation. Don’t you think this will widen the housing deficit gap in Nigeria? The present government led by President Bola Tinubu, at the moment, is building mass houses in every state under the Ministry of Housing. I’m aware of the 100 housing scheme he has just started less than one year into the government. In Oyo State, for example, they have started the 100 housing, fully paid for. They have engaged the contractor and mobilised them to the site and other states. So, for a President, who is trying to close up the gap, what I think is, other investors that are in the private sector should try to support him to achieve the closure of these deficits. We have been having cases of building collapse, what do you think should be done to address it? The governments need to create more measures; they need to tick more dots. You find out that the governments are not the problem; people are trying to compromise the governments in terms of doing what they are not supposed to do. If we should go by the rules and regulations of the government, I don’t think we will have structural damage or collapse of buildings. But you find out that these same developers go back to the government to cut down on the materials needed for a particular building. So, governments are not the problem, the masses are the problem. If the people are the problem, what should the government do? The government should create more rules and regulations that will strengthen that particular agency or ministry that will bring in a to-do list that every developer must follow through. What do you see to the issue of land grabbers and fake land sellers? I started my career by buying land and reselling it to cooperatives. So, the omo-onile issue is something I believe that the state governments and the state governors should seriously look into. We can have the data of who has bought from whom. So, everything has to be automated into a system so that it will curb fraud, corruption and theft. You find out that regardless of what you do to the omo-oniles, once they are faced with two or more challenges, they go back to their drawing board and start selling lands. For instance, in Mopo Onibeju, somewhere around Okun Ajah, in 2008, I bought over 200 plots and was paying them in bits; once I sold, I paid them. Before we knew it, some people that have not done their fencing, started encroaching into their land and even mine. I had to take some enforcement group there before they could sit up and we retrieved that property. I must commend the Lagos State Government for trying to automate land, because the moment the automation comes into it, it eliminates fraud. So, the state governments are trying to do something good by making sure these things work. What should people do before buying land to avoid falling into the wrong hands? The first thing is proper search. You don’t buy land with just documents. Once you get your documents, try and get a surveyor from the surveyor-general’s office. Let them pick the coordinator and see that the land does not fall into acquisition and that it is an exercised land. It must have a C of O or the governor’s consent or it has a cession. Afterwards, you do your thorough investigation to see which family owns that land. Hopefully, the government would have automated all these things so that there can be collaboration between the government and the family. The moment the collaboration is there, once the family receives the money, they pay what is due to the government and the government can now tick it off and say, “This land is owned by a particular person.” In Lagos, for example, you can go to Alausa and easily know who owns the land. The solution to land matters is still the government and automation. The moment technology comes in on sales of land; there won’t be omo-onile issue. The first thing the government needs to do is collaborate with the omo-oniles and automate the process of sales. Once that is done there won’t be fraud. How can the government provide affordable housing through mass housing schemes? The present government is the most serious in the history of Nigeria. There is nothing as good as a leader that takes ownership and responsibility. In the history of Nigeria, have you ever seen the Third Mainland Bridge as fine as it is now? Raji Fashola was there before; did he do something like that? Now I’m telling you that the man (Tinubu) started a scheme of 100 houses in each state under nine months. So, somebody that is doing this in nine months, what will he do in two to three years? Now going back to whether is it going to be affordable? That is why it is called mass housing. The ones they are doing now are bungalows, just to make it affordable. Yes, it will be affordable and there will be a payment plan. Once you have a guaranteed income, you have a salary that they can debit every month; they can give you 25 to 30 years to pay. Are you also into politics? You’ve been talking like one No, but when people do what is right let’s commend them so that we can get more from them. I’m not into government; I don’t have a government interest. We need to encourage the government so they can do more. We see on social media how people speak ill of the government. Now when somebody saw the Third Mainland Bridge, he came with his drone and said, ‘This is Lagos’. In case we don’t know, social media bridges the gap between China and Nigeria. The world is looking at us. The way we portray our country is how they see us. If we don’t showcase the good things about Nigeria, then how will investments come? We need to embrace and embark on showcasing our country in the right way. What does your company do in energy? Currently, we are working on the Olorunsogo Power Plant. We are repairing the steam turban and exchanging the rotors and the generators in the power plant. We are also embarking on the 330kva transmission lines from Kaduna to Shiroro. It is a huge project. We are currently working in Kastina for the 31kva transmission line. We are also in the oil and gas space under Tilt Energy. In the oil and gas sector, during exploration, they do a lot of exchange of valves, day-to-day exchange of screws. Some assets may call us to supply one thing or the other. We are also part of the marginal bid rounds that went under the last administration. We are quite busy. How do you describe the oil and gas sector today? Well, it can be better because the current government has a welcoming spirit. The way the President is even going to reassure investors to come to Nigeria, I think it is going to boom like never before. Look what he said in Qatar that anybody that asks them for money to do anything, should reach out to him. That is a word of assurance for any serious investor to come on board. But the country’s oil exploration is depleting. We will do better because investors are coming in and they are having more confidence in us. The way they want to explore our assets, we might also surpass what OPEC has given us. The Qataris are coming in, the Kuwait guys are coming in with their money; the FPSO is on water. Look at Eko Atlantic; in the last administration, not too many activities. The day they brought in this President, the dredger on the water was over eight, they are expanding. The President himself is a business President; he understands business. So, he would create an enabling environment for businesses. Some are concerned over the divestment of international oil companies like Shell and other multinationals. Are you not bothered too? That shouldn’t give anybody concern because if you look at Russia, these people don’t exist, and Russia is doing great. So, let’s give other investors opportunities. Ask Shell, what has happened to the Ogoni cleanup? What are they doing to the place they are doing the exploration and making that kind of money? Go and look at the history, have they made money anywhere in the world like they made in Nigeria? Let’s give other people room to work and you will see that Mr C is better than Mr A. Shell, Chevron, MTN, etc. made their money from Nigeria. This is an emerging market where the opportunities are. So, if I bring in a name that is not known from Qatar, but has money, what’s my business with Shell? We need productivity; we need solutions, not big names. Some said the divestment might be a blessing in disguise for local investors, but there are also concerns that indigenous investors may not be able to match the investing power of those multinationals. What is your take on this? Collaboration is the new initiative. If I have the right synergy with somebody from Bahrain, I don’t need Shell. We don’t need the big names; we need people with resources and vision. People also worry about the delay in getting approval for businesses as well as insecurity. This administration knows how to play the business politics. Investors are gushing in because they believe in President Tinubu. He is tackling insecurity as we speak. Look at the FCT, the minister took action and in less than two weeks, they got the kidnappers. We can also ask other politicians to join the President in moving the country forward. It is not about politics. Nigerians are complaining of hunger, yet you said the President was performing. They can do better. It is not only in Nigeria they are complaining. In London, globally people are lamenting. We just need to give the government the room to address the problems of many years. The fact that he communicates means he is aware of the hardship. I believe in no time we are going to fizzle out of this. You’re also in the power sector, how would you describe the electricity supply in Nigeria today? Power is very important. The distribution companies have got a lot of subsidies and power is still not working. I know the government is in talks with the Discos to see what solution they want to bring on board. If the power sector is not stable, industrialisation will leave. There won’t be industries in Nigeria. It is something the government is looking into, trust me, it will work. Do you support electricity subsidy removal? Of course, I do. I am sorry to use these words, but we Nigerians are being spoilt by the government. This is the country where you find the cheapest fuel. I know how much they buy fuel in Saudi and London. By the time government of the day solves the problem of hardship, and solve the problem of minimum wage, I think the masses should also comply with what the government wants. The power projects you’re working on, how will they impact power supply? Olorunsogo, which is a 750MW power plant, by the time we are done, the rate at which they will be transmitting electricity out of Olorunsogo to other parts of the country, will be boosted. The Air Force bases we are building across the country are meant to improve the housing deficit. These things have impacts on the economy and the people at large. You have many government contracts you are working on, how were you able to get those contracts? Is it by connections? It is about doggedness. The connection might be there, but a connection without preparedness will fetch you nothing. The only way to tap opportunities is when you are prepared. It is not only about connection, it is about being dogged; it is about the tenacity of purpose, being committed. I hope you’re not one of those contractors who abandon projects after being paid. No, we are not. For the ones we cannot do, even if we have been paid, we return the money, because we can’t handle it and we don’t want to go into debt. Sometimes inflation sets in. It is just like people who are into construction now, what the government needs to do is to come to the round table and look at the reality of things, in order not to have abandoned projects. We all know what inflation is saying at the moment. Are you considering having a modular refinery or something similar? For now, with our collaboration with the new investors coming in, we don’t know what their demands will be, but we are open to it, so far it will stabilise things in the economy. Which companies are you partnering with? We are discussing with some people in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. We are looking at what their wish lists are and the ones that can stand the test of time in Nigeria. The Federal Government is very emphatic about making gas the transition fuel, are you tapping into that? Yes, we are. We are seriously looking at that with our partners. There are some things we don’t know of; we try to meet with people who have the expertise and the resources because these are not small investments. We must make sure we have a partner with resourceful capacity and bring in the expertise for us to take advantage of the opportunities. What is your advice for young investors? Let us collaborate with the government. Let’s make Nigeria a great place and portray it in a good light because it will also affect us for good or bad soon. We are the young shall grow; let’s synergise more and make Nigeria a great place.

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Sudan is on course to become the world’s worst hunger crisis, with children already dying, UN says

The nearly year-long conflict between Sudan’s military and paramilitary forces has put the African nation on course to become the world’s worst hunger crisis with malnutrition soaring and already claiming children’s lives, the U.N. humanitarian office warned Wednesday. Edem Wosornu, the director of humanitarian operations, told the U.N. Security Council that already one-third of Sudan’s population – 18 million people – face acute food insecurity, and catastrophic hunger levels could be reached in some areas of the western Darfur region by the time “the lean season” arrives in May. “A recent assessment revealed that one child is dying every two hours in Zamzam camp in El Fasher, North Darfur,” she said. “Our humanitarian partners estimate that in the coming weeks and months, somewhere in the region of around 222,000 children could die from malnutrition.” Wosornu called the harrowing violent situation that has seen appalling accounts of ethnic-based attacks, sexual violence including gang rapes, and indiscriminate attacks in densely populated areas, “the stuff of nightmares.” With the global spotlight now on the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza and to a lesser extent on the war in Ukraine, she lamented that “A humanitarian travesty is playing out in Sudan under a veil of international inattention and inaction.” Sudan plunged into chaos last April, when long-simmering tensions between its military led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo broke out into street battles in the capital, Khartoum. Fighting quickly spread to other parts of the country, especially urban areas, but in Darfur it took on a different form, with brutal attacks by the Arab-dominated Rapid Support Forces on ethnic African civilians. Thousands of people have been killed. Two decades ago, Darfur became synonymous with genocide and war crimes, particularly by the notorious Janjaweed Arab militias against populations that identify as Central or East African. In late January, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, said there are grounds to believe both sides in the current conflict are committing possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Darfur. The U.N.’s Wosornu said there has been no respite from fierce fighting in Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan which are home to 90% of the people facing emergency levels of food insecurity. Farmers have been forced to abandon their fields and cereal production has dropped since hostilities moved into Sudan’s breadbasket, Jazeera state, in December, she said. In these circumstances, the delivery of humanitarian aid should be a lifeline, Wosornu said, but the U.N. appeal for $2.7 billion for Sudan in less than 5% funded – receiving just $131 million. She expressed hope that a high-level donors conference for Sudan and its neighbors in Paris on April 15 will lead to “tangible commitments” to support aid operations “in the face of looming famine.” In addition, Wosornu said, the U.N. must have access to reach the most vulnerable people in Khartoum, Darfur, Kordofan and Jazeera states which “continues to be severely obstructed” by the fighting. It also needs more cross-border openings and approvals to deliver aid across conflict lines, she said. Carl Skau, the U.N. World Food Program’s deputy executive director, told the council the rapidly worsening food security situation in Sudan also has “profound regional implications.” In addition to the 18 million people facing acute food insecurity in Sudan, he said 7 million people in neighboring South Sudan and nearly 3 million in Chad which borders Darfur also face dire hunger. Currently, Skau said, 90% of people who are a step away from the catastrophic level of food security and urgently need life-saving food “are trapped in areas that are largely inaccessible to humanitarian agencies,” including Khartoum, Jazeera, Kordofan and Darfur. “If we are going to prevent Sudan from becoming the world’s largest hunger crisis, coordinated efforts and joined up diplomacy are urgent and critical,” he said. “We need all parties to provide unrestricted access: across borders and across conflict lines.” Echoing Wosornu’s call for funding, he said WFP had to cut assistance to 3 million acutely hungry people in South Sudan and reduce rations to others in need because of a lack of money. And in Chad, he said, WFP will have to end assistance to 1.2 million refugees and nearly 3 million Chadians. Skau expressed concern that hunger will spike even higher when Sudan’s lean season arrives, and could reach catastrophic food insecurity unless there is sustained access and resources . Rein Paulsen, Director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience, told a news conference that an agency report on Sudan issued Tuesday demonstrates the conflict’s damage to agricultural production: cereal production in 2023 dropped 46% below 2022, and up to 80% below in areas where the conflict was most intense. “The outlook for food production in 2024 is bleak,” he said.

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M. Emmet Walsh, unforgettable character actor from ‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Blade Runner,’ dies at 88

M. Emmet Walsh, the character actor who brought his unmistakable face and unsettling presence to films including “Blood Simple” and “Blade Runner,” has died at age 88, his manager said Wednesday. Walsh died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, his longtime manager Sandy Joseph said. The ham-faced, heavyset Walsh often played good old boys with bad intentions, as he did in one of his rare leading roles as a crooked Texas private detective in the Coen brothers’ first film, the 1984 neo-noir “Blood Simple.” Joel and Ethan Coen said they wrote the part for Walsh, who would win the first Film Independent Spirit Award for best male lead for the role. Critics and film geeks relished the moments when he showed up on screen. Roger Ebert once observed that “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.” Walsh played a crazed sniper in the 1979 Steve Martin comedy “The Jerk” and a prostate-examining doctor in the 1985 Chevy Chase vehicle “Fletch.” In 1982’s gritty, “Blade Runner,” a film he said was grueling and difficult to make with perfectionist director Ridley Scott, Walsh plays a hard-nosed police captain who pulls Harrison Ford from retirement to hunt down cyborgs. Born Michael Emmet Walsh, his characters led people to believe he was from the American South, but he could hardly have been from any further north. Walsh was raised on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, just a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border, where his grandfather, father and brother worked as customs officers. He went to a tiny local high school with a graduating class of 13, then to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He acted exclusively on the stage, with no intention of doing otherwise, for a decade, working in summer stock and repertory companies. Walsh slowly started making film appearances in 1969 with a bit role in “Alice’s Restaurant,” and did not start playing prominent roles until nearly a decade after that when he was in his 40s, getting his breakthrough with 1978’s “Straight Time,” in which he played Dustin Hoffman’s smug, boorish parole officer. Walsh was shooting “Silkwood” with Meryl Streep in Dallas in the autumn of 1982 when he got the offer for “Blood Simple” from the Coen brothers, then-aspiring filmmakers who had seen and loved him in “Straight Time.” “My agent called with a script written by some kids for a low-budget movie,” Walsh told The Guardian in 2017. “It was a Sydney Greenstreet kind of role, with a Panama suit and the hat. I thought it was kinda fun and interesting. They were 100 miles away in Austin, so I went down there early one day before shooting.” Walsh said the filmmakers didn’t even have enough money left to fly him to New York for the opening, but he would be stunned that first-time filmmakers had produced something so good. “I saw it three or four days later when it opened in LA, and I was, like: Wow!” he said. “Suddenly my price went up five times. I was the guy everybody wanted.” In the film he plays Loren Visser, a detective asked to trail a man’s wife, then is paid to kill her and her lover. Visser also acts as narrator, and the opening monologue, delivered in a Texas drawl, included some of Walsh’s most memorable lines. “Now, in Russia they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else. That’s the theory, anyway,” Visser says. “But what I know about is Texas. And down here, you’re on your own.” He was still working into his late 80s, making recent appearances on the TV series “The Righteous Gemstones” and “American Gigolo.” And his more than 100 film credits included director Rian Johnson’s 2019 family murder mystery, “Knives Out” and director Mario Van Peebles’ Western “Outlaw Posse,” released this year. Johnson was among those paying tribute to Walsh on social media. “Emmet came to set with 2 things: a copy of his credits, which was a small-type single spaced double column list of modern classics that filled a whole page, & two-dollar bills which he passed out to the entire crew,” Johnson tweeted. “’Don’t spend it and you’ll never be broke.’ Absolute legend.”

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Winner of Cook County state’s attorney race may not be decided until end of the week — or later

As many as 100,000 votes or more are still to be counted in the close race for Cook County state’s attorney, and it will likely be days before a winner is declared in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Two dozen precincts in the city have not reported their totals yet in the race between Eileen O’Neill Burke and Clayton Harris III. Election officials said judges in those precincts left before the results were “properly transmitted.” No other details were released, but officials hoped the votes will be counted by Thursday. The Associated Press said around 80,000 ballots could have been cast in those precincts. As of Wednesday afternoon, less than 10,000 votes separated Burke and Harris. Election officials said there could also be as many as 109,000 mail-in ballots still waiting to be counted from Chicago voters. In the suburbs, election officials say as many as 46,000 mail-in ballots were waiting to be counted. Most results from mail-in votes will likely be known by Friday, but election officials said votes could continue to trickle in for at least two weeks. Neither Burke nor Harris has declared victory or conceded defeat. In emails sent out the day after the election, both candidates thanked their supporters and volunteers while urging them to be patient as the “democratic process” unfolds. Burke, a retired appellate justice, told supporters she was hopeful, grateful and “cautiously optimistic.” “We carried the lead in votes all night, and we’re cautiously optimistic that will remain,” she wrote. “It’s critical that we allow our democratic process to continue.’ About 10 minutes later, the Harris campaign sent his own update to the campaign’s mailing list. “We are within 9,500 votes of Eileen O’Neill Burke, and the margin between us has been consistently shrinking,” Harris said, promising “to make sure every single vote is counted.” Burke took an early lead Tuesday night based on her strong showing the suburbs, where she ended up with an eight-point lead. But as the night wore on, votes in the city chipped away at the gap between the candidates. Harris eventually took the lead in the city vote, with 51.1% to Burke’s 48.9%. With the city and suburbs combined, Burke was leading Harris 50.9% to 49.1% with 84% of the estimated vote counted Wednesday evening, according to the Associated Press. Harris, who had the backing of the county’s Democratic Party, appeared to do well in areas of the city that voted in favor of changes to the real estate transfer tax pushed by the Democratic mayor. His support appeared to track closely with State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in her last primary against Ald. Bill Conway (34th). Like Foxx, Harris outperformed his opponent on the city’s South and West sides. Harris also won areas that have recently gone for progressive candidates, including North Side neighborhoods along the lakefront, but did not appear to perform as well as Foxx had. While some of the wards tilted heavily to either Burke or Harris, the results in the 44th Ward showed the race was within a point, despite progressive Ald. Angela Clay winning that City Council seat by more than 10 points only last year. Despite losing to Burke in the suburbs, Harris actually fared slightly better than Foxx did when she won the 2020 primary against Conway. The alderman finished in second place in the suburbs, splitting the anti-Foxx vote with two other Democrats — including former Ald. Bob Fioretti, who is the Republican nominee for state’s attorney this year. Foxx got just over 43% of the suburban Democratic vote that year.

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Michael Soroka looks part of No. 2 starter

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Shortly after Michael Soroka was named the White Sox’ No. 2 starter in the rotation Wednesday, he looked the part, striking out five batters and allowing only an unearned run against the Reds over four innings at Camelback Ranch. Manager Pedro Grifol said Erick Fedde will pitch the third game. After that, Chris Flexen and perhaps Nick Nastrini could be 4-5, although a fifth starter wouldn’t be needed until April 6 because of an off day. “Can’t go there yet,” Grifol said. “We’ll leave it up to the next couple days.” Grifol tabbed Soroka, who owns a 1.38 ERA this spring, over Fedde to face the Tigers next Saturday. Garrett Crochet gets the opener Thursday. “It’s awesome. It means I did what I wanted to do in camp,” Soroka said, “and that was to come and attack and show I belong. Where I was in the rotation wasn’t all that important to me, I just wanted to be out there and know they have a chance to win every time I take the mound.” “He came in motivated, he made some adjustments, he’s done it before,” Grifol said of Soroka, a 2019 Braves All-Star who started Atlanta’s opener in 2020. “He’s a good second day starter.” Soroko threw 65 pitches, he said, and 10-12 more in the bullpen. He’s slated to start on the last day of camp against Triple-A Charlotte on Monday. Cost efficient A rotation of Crochet ($800,000), Soroka ($3 million), Fedde ($7.5 million), Flexen ($1.75), and Nick Nastrini (major league minimum $770,000) would cost $13.79 million in salary this season. Lee among roster cuts Catcher Korey Lee was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, and recovering righty relievers Joe Barlow and Corey Knebel were reassigned to minor league camp in the latest round of cuts. The Sox have 45 players remaining in camp: 25 pitchers, three catchers, eight infielders and nine outfielders. Lee is having a very good camp, both defensively and at the plate with three homers, a .326 average and .404 on-base percentage. Decisions Grifol said tough roster decisions remain. Those could entail Zach Remillard or Danny Mendick as the utility infielder if Braden Shewmake’s sprained ankle isn’t healed, although Shewmake was making good progress the last two days and is “in play,” Grifol said. Mike Moustakas might rate an edge over Gavin Sheets (who has an option left) as a left-handed bat because he can play third base, but Sheets’ new approach has translated into a .326 average with three homers in 19 games. Moustakas is batting .195. “Normally at this time your team is set,” Grifol said. “Ours is not yet. “[The front office] put together a group of players this year that are flat-out competing. There’s some decisions to be made.” This and that Right-hander John Brebbia went through drills a day after pitching in a minor league game, maintaining hope he’ll be ready by Opening Day. *Shewmake was walking around the clubhouse with no sign of discomfort. “He kind of shocked me really,” Grifol said. “When he came off the field the ankle didn’t look great. He’s out there taking BP and ground balls yesterday on the day off. I him in the training room, then he took ground balls, that’s just another sign of character, will and passion to be part of this.” Reds 3, Sox 1 Using close to their regular lineup, the Sox out-hit the Reds 10-3 but were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and fell to 8-17-2, the worst spring record in the majors. This after manager Pedro Grifol said the game would be “treated like Game 1” as the Sox ramp up for the season. “We had a day off [Tuesday] and starting today, these [last] five days are really important before we head to Chicago,” Grifol said. *No. 2 starter Michael Soroka pitched four innings without allowing an earned run, the run resulting from catcher Martin Maldonado’s throwing error on an Elly De La Cruz stolen base. Maldonado later ended a scoreless inning for Michael Kopech by throwing out De La Cruz. Jake Cousins was sharp in relief but Chad Kuhl was not, allowing two home runs. *Andre Vaughn (.333/.365/.500) extended his hitting streak to seven games with two hits including his fifth double. Mike Moustakas (.195), starting for late scratch Yoan Moncada (illness) had two hits including a double. On deck Sox at Royals, 3:05 p.m., Surprise, Garrett Crochet vs. Jordan Lyles

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Calgary council supports motion urging tree protection measures on private properties

That depletion has been the result of several factors, Wong said, including increased mixed-use development throughout the city and a rise in the number of severe weather events. “The status quo itself has seen us lose trees,” he said. Dissenting councillors support intent, but see problems with proposal While Calgary has an urban tree protection plan, that strategy is limited to preserving trees on public lands. About 75 per cent of the city’s trees are on private property, according to a 2022 study from Nature Canada. After debating the logistics of what options could be explored, council voted 7-6 in favour of Wong’s motion. Councillors Dan McLean, Jennifer Wyness, Sean Chu, Richard Pootmans, Sonya Sharp and Jasmine Mian voted against the motion. Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Peter Demong were absent. Councillors who supported the motion said that even though implementing such policies may be difficult, it’s worth at the very least directing staff to explore the concept. Mian said she supported the intent of Wong’s proposal, but acknowledged staff’s claim that implementing a tree protection bylaw would be logistically challenging and expensive.

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M. Emmet Walsh, unforgettable character actor from ‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Blade Runner,’ dies at 88

By ANDREW DALTON (AP Entertainment Writer) LOS ANGELES (AP) — M. Emmet Walsh, the character actor who brought his unmistakable face and unsettling presence to films including “Blood Simple” and “Blade Runner,” has died at age 88, his manager said Wednesday. Walsh died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, his longtime manager Sandy Joseph said. The ham-faced, heavyset Walsh often played good old boys with bad intentions, as he did in one of his rare leading roles as a crooked Texas private detective in the Coen brothers’ first film, the 1984 neo-noir “Blood Simple.” Joel and Ethan Coen said they wrote the part for Walsh, who would win the first Film Independent Spirit Award for best male lead for the role. Critics and film geeks relished the moments when he showed up on screen. Roger Ebert once observed that “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.” Walsh played a crazed sniper in the 1979 Steve Martin comedy “The Jerk” and a prostate-examining doctor in the 1985 Chevy Chase vehicle “Fletch.” In 1982’s gritty, “Blade Runner,” a film he said was grueling and difficult to make with perfectionist director Ridley Scott, Walsh plays a hard-nosed police captain who pulls Harrison Ford from retirement to hunt down cyborgs. Born Michael Emmet Walsh, his characters led people to believe he was from the American South, but he could hardly have been from any further north. Walsh was raised on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, just a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border, where his grandfather, father and brother worked as customs officers. He went to a tiny local high school with a graduating class of 13, then to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He acted exclusively on the stage, with no intention of doing otherwise, for a decade, working in summer stock and repertory companies. Walsh slowly started making film appearances in 1969 with a bit role in “Alice’s Restaurant,” and did not start playing prominent roles until nearly a decade after that when he was in his 40s, getting his breakthrough with 1978’s “Straight Time,” in which he played Dustin Hoffman’s smug, boorish parole officer. Walsh was shooting “Silkwood” with Meryl Streep in Dallas in the autumn of 1982 when he got the offer for “Blood Simple” from the Coen brothers, then-aspiring filmmakers who had seen and loved him in “Straight Time.” “My agent called with a script written by some kids for a low-budget movie,” Walsh told The Guardian in 2017. “It was a Sydney Greenstreet kind of role, with a Panama suit and the hat. I thought it was kinda fun and interesting. They were 100 miles away in Austin, so I went down there early one day before shooting.” Walsh said the filmmakers didn’t even have enough money left to fly him to New York for the opening, but he would be stunned that first-time filmmakers had produced something so good. “I saw it three or four days later when it opened in LA, and I was, like: Wow!” he said. “Suddenly my price went up five times. I was the guy everybody wanted.” In the film he plays Loren Visser, a detective asked to trail a man’s wife, then is paid to kill her and her lover. Visser also acts as narrator, and the opening monologue, delivered in a Texas drawl, included some of Walsh’s most memorable lines. “Now, in Russia they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else. That’s the theory, anyway,” Visser says. “But what I know about is Texas. And down here, you’re on your own.” He was still working into his late 80s, making recent appearances on the TV series “The Righteous Gemstones” and “American Gigolo.” And his more than 100 film credits included director Rian Johnson’s 2019 family murder mystery, “Knives Out” and director Mario Van Peebles’ Western “Outlaw Posse,” released this year. Johnson was among those paying tribute to Walsh on social media. “Emmet came to set with 2 things: a copy of his credits, which was a small-type single spaced double column list of modern classics that filled a whole page, & two-dollar bills which he passed out to the entire crew,” Johnson tweeted. “’Don’t spend it and you’ll never be broke.’ Absolute legend.”

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Fake 500 peso bills in circulation in Yucatán

The Bank of Mexico (Banxico) warned that Yucatán shows an upward trend in counterfeit banknotes so far this year, especially those of 500 pesos. Banxico warned this month that in Yucatán the counterfeit bill that reflected the most circulation was the 500 pesos. Likewise, he released figures for 2023, which indicate that in January Yucatán started with 338 counterfeit bills and ended in December 2023 with 437 counterfeit bills, the highest figure of the year. Due to this situation, Banxico advises that every time users withdraw or receive cash, they should look carefully at the bills, as this can happen even in the ATMs of the banking houses. It must be remembered that the 100, 200, 500 and 1000 peso bills are made of cotton paper and have touch-sensitive reliefs, an element that changes color, 3D thread, micro-printed texts, security thread, linear backgrounds, watermark and fluorescence. What to do if you get a counterfeit bill?Go to any bank branch to request that your banknote be sent to Banco de México for analysis. The bank branch where you went will give you a receipt with the ticket information: denomination, folio number, series and date of issue; as well as your personal information: Name, address, telephone number, as well as bank branch information. The receipt must have a receipt number and date, so that Banco de México can track it. If the ticket turns out to be authentic, the same bank branch will refund the amount. TYT Newsroom

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Mexican official says Grupo Salinas owes the government 63 billion pesos (US$3.8 billion)

Four companies controlled by Ricardo Salinas Pliego owe the government 63 billion pesos ($3.8 billion), the head of the country’s tax authority said on Wednesday, March 20th, amid a deepening dispute between President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the billionaire. The tax claims stem from 17 different court cases covering audits from 2008 to 2018, Antonio Martinez, the head of the tax service SAT, said during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s morning press conference. Lopez Obrador, whose term ends in September, said he hoped that Salinas “will not keep using delay tactics so that my administration ends and the matter remains there, pending.” Officials made the presentation on the tax claims the day after the banking, retail, TV and cable magnate had posted a video on X where he said he and his companies pay plenty of taxes. He accused the government of using him as a distraction from criminal violence and corruption and he called on people to vote for the “less bad” option in elections this June, when Lopez Obrador’s party is expected to win handily. Known tax disputes involve Grupo Elektra SAB, Salinas’s appliance dealer and bank, as well as cable and internet provider Total Play, though officials refrained from naming companies in their presentations. A spokesman for Salinas’s companies referred to the billionaire’s video and said he would keep fighting in court. Earlier this month, Lopez Obrador said that he had discussed with Salinas the possibility of reducing the tax claim by 8 billion pesos, but that they had not reached an agreement. Meanwhile another dispute with the billionaire escalated last week when national guard troops were sent into a golf course in the resort of Huatulco that was operated by Salinas. The troops were sent in after the government had declared the property a nature reserve. Salinas has said he has a valid concession to operate the resort and called the government’s move arbitrary. In his video, Salinas said the government was routinely extorting businessmen by approaching them with big tax bills, while saying they will “pardon” them if they pay half. “We do not give in to extortion and that is why we do not accept any discounts. We are not going to pay more than what is correct,” Salinas said. “And for no reason are we going to pay double or even triple as this administration intends.” Salinas said he and his companies pay an “obscene” amount of taxes and he called on the government not to interfere in the court cases. Martinez said some 38 billion pesos were flagged in initial audits, but adjusted for inflation and fines, the total tax claim would reach 53 billion pesos. The company owes an additional 10 billion pesos in tax liabilities, he said. TYT Newsroom

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