Blog: Afternoon Coffee: US blames China for hacking; UK may alter Brexit deal on EU border; more Covid vaccines sent to Asia – Spend Matters

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The US and Western allies on Monday formally alleged that China worked with hackers to carry out the Microsoft Exchange hack and other illegal cyber activity.

“U.S officials allege that China’s Ministry of State Security has been using criminal contract hackers who have engaged in cyber extortion schemes and theft for their own profit,” the AP said, attributing information to officials.

Russian hacking is another threat that the US has been trying to take on, the AP said.

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Also Monday, the US charged four Chinese nationals with coordinated state hacking that included corporate espionage like stealing trade secrets and business information.

UK to revisit N. Ireland terms of Brexit deal

Reuters reports that the UK may seek to alter Brexit terms on Northern Ireland, throwing into question how the UK will trade with the EU. The UK seeks more flexibility from the original EU terms, which focused on Northern Ireland because it has a physical border with an EU nation, Ireland. The region remains a political balancing act for the UK because the Brexit deal effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU for trade and inspection purposes, but pro-British loyalists in Northern Ireland said the Brexit deal threatens to break terms with the 1998 peace deal between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

COVID-19 vaccine deliveries gain speed in Asian countries battling record infections

While some Asian countries battle their worst surges of COVID-19 infections, a flow of vaccine shipments from around the world is picking up speed, according to the Associated Press.

Countries around the world, like the United States, Canada and those in Europe, are delivering vaccines to Asian countries. More are coming with the United Nations effort COVAX, which promised to send vaccines to countries with fewer resources. Around 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived Thursday to Indonesia, which has become a hot spot with record high infections and deaths, the AP reported.

Still, many vaccine pledges remain unfilled, and rates of infection are spiking across multiple countries. Many experts have noted the vaccine inequalities.

“It’s a shame it didn’t happen earlier and can’t happen faster,” Alexander Matheou, the Asia-Pacific director of the Red Cross, told the AP of the uptick in deliveries. “There’s no such thing as too late — vaccinating people is always worth doing — but the later the vaccines come, the more people will die.”

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