Furnaces and heaters working overtime thanks to the extreme cold weather across the province have caused a near record-breaking demand for power, according to the Alberta Electric System Operator.
As an extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada remains in effect across the province, the cold snap has affected the operations of some generation facilities and low wind across the province prompted the AESO to active an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) protocol Monday evening.
An EEA is based on a 0-3 tiered alert system with protocols and processes to balance supply and demand for power. Zero is normal conditions.
At 5:18 p.m. Monday, AESO declared an EEA 1 followed by an EEA 2 at 7:15 p.m. While both alerts were issued, power needs continued to be met across the province but AESO had to dip into reserves, AESO said in a release Tuesday.
If AESO has to declare an EEA3, it’s anticipated power would be lost in parts of the province until generation returns to the grid or power usage is reduced to a point where supply and demand can be balanced.
However, AESO did not specify what areas could be affected if a level three is declared.
As the extreme cold weather — with Environment Canada warning the coldest wind chill values will be between minus 45 and minus 50 — continues into the week, AESO said they are closely monitoring the system and will notify Albertans if the grid conditions worsen.
Energy conservation tips include:
Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances
Minimize the use of air conditioning/space heaters
Delay the use of major power-consuming appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers until after the peak hours of 5 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Use cold water for washing clothes — most of the energy used goes to heating the water. Only running full loads helps, too
Cook with your microwave, crockpot or toaster oven instead of the stove
Limit the use of kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans
Use motion-detector lights in storage areas, garages, and outdoors when possible
Work on a laptop instead of a desktop computer — laptops are more energy-efficient than desktop units
Edmonton’s air quality health index was sitting at a 3, or low risk, on Tuesday but is expected to climb to a 4, or moderate risk, on Wednesday.
For those brave enough to do outdoor activities, it’s recommended to adjust appropriately by reducing intensity, duration and more frequent rest periods.
The city is also asking residents to look out for those in need during the cold snap. Call 911 for someone in serious distress or 211 for non-emergency support. Donations can also be made to one of Edmonton’s social agencies.
A list of shelters and drop-in centres can be found online at wer-yeg.ca
The United Nations is joining the chorus of those concerned about allegations Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in hacking Jeff Bezos’ phone. UN experts have issued a statement calling for an “immediate investigation” into claims the Crown Prince’s account was used for a WhatsApp hack as well as his reported “continuous, multi-year, direct and personal” role in efforts to target opponents. These allegations are particularly “relevant” in light of looks into the Saudi royal’s role in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the UN experts said.
The team added that this was evidence of the problems with the unregulated sale and use of spyware for surveillance purposes. These tools should be governed by “the most rigorous control” to prevent abuse, and that there should be a “moratorium” on selling and transferring the technology.
Saudi Arabia has called the WhatsApp hack claim “absurd” and has previously rejected assertions that it has campaigns to hack, intimidate and assassinate critics. It insisted that Khashoggi’s murder was a “rogue operation” despite a CIA investigation implicating the Crown Prince’s involvement.
The UN can’t force a US investigation into the case. However, this does increase pressure on authorities to look into the allegations and treat this as more than just a typical data breach. It also puts Saudi Arabia under closer scrutiny. While the UN isn’t definitively blaming Saudi Arabia, it is acknowledging that the kingdom has a mounting reputation for using digital ‘warfare’ in a bid to silence opposing views.
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UN investigators said on Wednesday there are reasonable grounds to believe that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in a hack of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone.
“UN human rights experts are gravely concerned by information they have received suggesting that, in contravention of fundamental international human rights standards, a WhatsApp account belonging to the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2018 deployed digital spyware enabling surveillance of The Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO, Jeffery [sic] Bezos,” the UN investigators said in their statement released on Wednesday.
“The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia,” special rapporteur David Kaye said in a statement.
Kaye and fellow special rapporteur Agnes Callamard are independent experts appointed by the UN to examine human rights violations and violations of freedom of expression.
A forensic investigation concluded a number belonging to Crown Prince Mohammed hacked Jeff Bezos via WhatsApp
A number belonging to Crown Prince Mohammed is thought to have sent Bezos a WhatsApp message with a video file that contained malware that infiltrated the billionaire’s phone.
In their report, the UN investigators included a technical analysis of Bezos’ phone which suggested that he had been subject to “intrusive surveillance” from Saudi Arabia. That report linked Crown Prince Mohammed to the hack.
The investigators wrote: “Mr. Bezos was subjected to intrusive surveillance via hacking of his phone as a result of actions attributable to the WhatsApp account used by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
The investigators also note in their statement that Crown Prince Mohammed sent Bezos messages in November 2018 and February 2019 containing “private and confidential information about Mr. Bezos’ personal life that was not available from public sources.
The New York Times earlier reported on Wednesday that the forensic analysis of the phone had been performed by business advisory firm FTI Consulting.
The technical analysis released on Wednesday pointed to Pegasus, invasive software from secretive Israeli security firm NSO Group. NSO Group is currently being sued by WhatsApp’s owner Facebook for compromising users’ accounts. The technical analysis confirmed the use of a malicious video file, but did not detail its contents.
In a statement to Business Insider NSO Group denied any involvement: “As we stated unequivocally in April 2019 to the same false assertion, our technology was not used in this instance. We know this because of how our software works and our technology cannot be used on US phone numbers. Our products are only used to investigate terror and serious crime,” a spokesman said.
In an additional statement published on its website NSO Group added it was “shocked and appalled” by the alleged hack. “If this story is true, then it deserves a full investigation by all bodies providing such services to assure that their systems have not been used in this abuse,” it said.
This is part of a long-running saga between Jeff Bezos and Saudi Arabia
The alleged hack is the latest in a long-running saga involved Jeff Bezos, his phone communications, and Saudi Arabia.
After US tabloid the National Enquirer obtained and published texts and intimate pictures shared between Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez last year, Bezos commissioned his private head of security Gavin de Becker to find out who was behind the leak.
In an extraordinary blog post in February 2019, Bezos pointed to links between American Media Inc (the National Enquirer’s parent company) and Crown Prince Mohammed. Bezos also pointed out he owns the Washington Post, the paper which employed murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi’s killing is widely believed to have been ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed, and the UN investigators described the alleged Bezos hack as relevant to the ongoing investigation into Khashoggi’s murder.
A month later de Becker wrote in the Daily Beast that his investigation had concluded with “high confidence” that the Saudis had gained access to Bezos’ phone.
In their statement the UN investigators called for a more thorough investigation. “The alleged hacking of Mr Bezos’s phone, and those of others, demands immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents,” said Kaye.
UN human rights experts have demanded an immediate investigation into allegations Saudi Arabia’s crown prince hacked Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ phone.
They said Mohammed bin Salman should also be investigated for “continuous, direct and personal efforts to target perceived opponents”.
A message from a phone number used by the prince has been implicated in a breach of Mr Bezos’s data.
The kingdom’s US embassy has called the story “absurd”.
But the independent UN experts – Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on summary executions and extrajudicial killings, and David Kaye, special rapporteur on freedom of expression – said the crown prince’s “possible involvement” had to be investigated.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Mr Bezos – who also owns the Washington Post – worsened after Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi government and one of the newspaper’s staff, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
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