World Briefs: Asteroid allows test of warning systems

Asteroid allows test of warning systems

PARIS • A house-sized asteroid will give Earth a near-miss today, passing harmlessly inside the Moon's orbit while giving experts a rare chance to rehearse for a real-life strike threat.

Dubbed 2012 TC4, the space rock will shave past at an altitude of less than 44,000km - just above the 36,000km plane at which hundreds of geosynchronous satellites orbit the Earth. The object, which is 15m to 30m wide, was first spotted five years ago.


Russia may tell US to cut diplomatic staff

MOSCOW • Russia's Foreign Ministry does not rule out ordering the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia to 300 people or below, the RIA news agency cited Mr Georgy Borisenko, the head of the ministry's North America Department, as saying yesterday.

In July, Moscow ordered the US to cut the number of its diplomatic and technical staff working in Russia by around 60 per cent, to 455, amid a diplomatic row.

The figure of 455 was meant to mirror the total number of Russian diplomats working in the US, but also included Russian nationals working at the United Nations in New York, Mr Borisenko said.


Hackers 'use Russian anti-virus software'

WASHINGTON • Israeli intelligence officials spying on Russian government hackers found they were using Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software that is also used by 400 million people globally, including US government agencies, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky's network over two years ago then warned their US counterparts of the Russian intrusion. That led to a decision in Washington only last month to order the software removed from government computers.

The Russian operation is known to have stolen classified documents from an employee of the US National Security Agency who had improperly stored them on his home computer, which had Kaspersky anti-virus software installed on it.

It is not yet publicly known what other US secrets the Russian hackers may have discovered by turning the Kaspersky software into a sort of Google search for sensitive information.


10th person charged over Brussels blasts

BRUSSELS • The Belgian authorities have arrested and charged a man with terrorism offences over the March 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels, the latest in the ongoing case, prosecutors said yesterday.

The 39-year-old Belgian national identified as Brahim T. was arrested on a warrant from an investigating judge and is due to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing in the next few days.

Prosecutors gave no details about his ties to the suicide bombers who killed a total of 32 people at Brussels international airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.

But the announcement comes a day after Belgian media reported that police had made around a dozen counter-terrorism raids in which four people were arrested.

Nine people have previously been charged over the attacks.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe