Web reactions to the arrest of an Algerian hacker accused of pirating US bank accounts. NGOs express concern over Syrian refugees facing harsh winter conditions. And net users follow the adventures of a baby panda at San Diego zoo by webcam.
US-wanted Algerian hacker arrested in Thailand
Already nicknamed the ‘smiling hacker’ and arrested on Sunday in Thailand while transiting through Bangkok airport, Hamza Bendelladj boasted a beaming smile when presented to the press in handcuffs. However, the 24 year-old Algerian faces a heavy sentence. He is set to be extradited to the US, where an arrest warrant has been issued against him. On the FBI wanted list for three years, he is accused of stealing millions of dollars by pirating the accounts of over two hundred US banks. Sums he is thought to have used to finance an extravagant lifestyle, with first class trips and stays in luxury hotels.
In Algeria, while some criticise the young hacker’s actions, many net users consider him to be a national hero. For this Twitter user, his cyber-attacks against the finance world, have turned him into a modern-day Robin Hood. Furthermore, several support groups have been set up on Facebook in recent days, calling for his release.
The ‘N’tic web’ site applauded the genius of this computer engineer, who graduated from an Algerian University, but regrets the fact that he did not use his skills to help his country, as to avoid prison, Hamza Bendelladj may end up working for the US intelligence services.
Concern for Syrian refugees as winter weather deepens misery
Since the start of the Syrian conflict, approximately four hundred thousand people are thought to have left the country in seek of refuge in camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Men, women and children are all living in precarious conditions and now face a harsh winter. A particularly worrying situation for many NGOs, who have decided to send out alarm signals online.
This is notably the case for Unicef, who use this web video to present the very difficult living conditions of the seven hundred people living in Lebanon’s Dalhamieh camp. The video shows tents constructed with limited means by refugees. Makeshift shelters that do not stave off the wind and rain and offer no protection from the sub-zero temperatures which are typical of this region in winter.
The main victims of such extreme conditions are children, as recalled by the organisation, ‘Save the children’. In their video a young female refugee from Syria explains how she suffers daily from the cold weather and lacks suitable winter clothing.
To keep warm, some people light fires among the makeshift dwellings, often with dramatic consequences, as seen in these images. An amateur video illustrating the damage caused to a Jordanian camp after flames spread uncontrollably to neighbouring tents.
The UN-coordinated World Food Programme considers that urgent action is needed and attempts are being made to raise international public awareness. The aim is to encourage people to make donations in order to buy clothes, blankets and food to help refugees withstand the harsh winter conditions.
Live "panda cam" from San Diego zoo
Xiao Liwu was only presented to the public on Thursday but the panda cub has already been a web-star since his birth last July at San Diego zoo in California. A webcam set up in his enclosure allows web users around the world to see him grow day by day alongside his mother. A twenty year old female who is on loan from China in the framework of a research programme aiming to save this endangered species.
Now trending on social networks
Online a debate is underway to solve the problem of the US public debt ceiling with a single coin; it is enough to type in the key-words, ‘Mint the coin’. At the centre of the discussions is a platinum coin worth a trillion dollars, which the US Treasury could issue, as they have the power to mint commemorative coins in this metal. The coin would then be credited to the federal government account, offering them immediate additional flexibility, although some warn of a risk of inflation.
Video of the day
US director, Devin Graham, better known on the net by the nickname, ‘Devin Supertramp’, recently travelled to Hungary to film the members of ‘Faceteam’, a group of acrobatic basketball players. In this supercharged video, we see the athletes carry out a stunning performance which should be seen without delay on any of the share sites.