May 15, 2017

From VOA news in Washington.

The United Nations Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting Tuesday on North Korea's latest missile threat.

The United States, Japan and South Korea requested the emergency discussions after Pyongyang launched a missile Sunday in an unusual high altitude ballistic path that indicated it might be a new two-stage liquid fueled rocket capable of flying up to 4,500 kilometers.

The test, according to a White House statement, should "serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea."

Japan and South Korea quickly condemned North Korea's newest test as a grave threat to the region and a violation of U.N. resolutions.

Europe's police agency Europol says a global cyberattack has affected at least 100,000 organizations in 150 countries, with data networks infected by malware that locks computer files unless a ransom is paid.

"I'm worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday," Europol director Rob Wainwright told Britain's ITV television.

So far there has been no progress reported in efforts to determine who launched the plot.

Computer security experts have assured individual computer users who have kept their PC operating systems updated that they are relatively safe.

Computer security experts said the current attack could have been much worse but for the quick action of a young researcher in Britain who discovered a vulnerability in the ransomware itself, known as WanaCryptor 2.0.

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Countries across the globe scrambled to respond to a malicious "ransomware" virus as Internet security watchdogs said the attack had disproportionately targeted Russia.

The Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Labs was among the first to identify the malware - a viral worm that exploits a vulnerability in the Windows operating system to encrypt files without users permission.

A group of hackers known as "The Shadow Brokers" are widely believed to have stolen the program from the U.S. National Security Agency last April and deployed it as a means to ransom user data around the world for cash profits.

At least 1,500 Syrian rebels and their families abandoned another long-held district just outside of Damascus on Sunday as the army of President Bashar al-Assad and its allies push to seize full control of the capital and surrounding areas for the first time in nearly five years.

State media and witnesses said the evacuation began at dawn, less than a day after government forces captured the Qaboun district, and just days after hundreds of other beleaguered rebel fighters and their families departed two other nearby districts.

A government deal facilitating the Qaboun evacuation was announced late Saturday. It replicates earlier agreements under which rebels were granted safe passage to rebel-held territory near the Turkish border in exchange for an end to weeks of shelling and airstrikes by Syrian and allied Russian warplanes.

Authorities in Pakistan have unleashed a crackdown on social media activists accused of criticizing and "ridiculing" the army in their online postings.

An official announcement late Sunday said the cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency has been ordered to swiftly move against "elements" who are engaging in these "condemnable" activities.

"Ridiculing the Pakistan army or its officers on social media in the name of freedom of speech is unacceptable" and "a serious offense" under the law, it quoted the interior minister as warning.

A new public opinion poll shows more Americans than not are opposed to President Donald Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey in recent days said just 29 percent of those surveyed say they approve of Trump's dismissal of Comey, who was in the fourth year of a 10-year term leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the country's top criminal investigating agency, while 38 percent disapprove. The remainder said they did not know enough to have an opinion.

But among those who have been closely following news of Comey's unexpected ouster, 53 percent said they disapprove and 33 percent approve.

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That's the latest world news from VOA.