TORONTO — Elton John paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at his final concert in Toronto on Thursday night, saying he was inspired by her and is sad she is gone.
“She led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace and decency and genuine caring,” John said.
“I’m 75 and she been with with me all my life and I feel very sad that that she won’t be with me anymore, but I’m glad she’s at peace,” he said. “I’m glad she’s at rest and she deserves it. She worked bloody hard.”
The singer-songwriter then performed his 1974 track “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
John was knighted by the queen in 1998, a year after the death of his friend Princess Diana. Prince Charles also anointed the musician and charity patron as a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor last year.
John’s concert was the second of two nights at Toronto’s Rogers Centre and part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, billed as his final tour.
— Prince Charles became king immediately after his mother’s death
— Will Charles be loved by his subjects, like his mother was?
— Elizabeth has been the only monarch that most people in Britain have ever known
— Her death is being mourned by British politicians from across the political spectrum
— Fifteen prime ministers served during Elizabeth’s seven decades on the throne
— Here’s the order of succession after Charles became king
— Key milestones in the life of Queen Elizabeth II
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol tweeted his condolences on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“She had a strong belief in the cause of human freedom and left great legacies of dignity,” he said. He wrote that her kind heart and good deeds will remain in people’s memories.
The foreign affairs minister for Myanmar’s National Unity Government, an underground parallel government spearheading the fight for democracy in Myanmar against its military-led government, posted her condolences on Twitter.
“I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of @NUGMyanmar and the people of Myanmar, I extend our deepest sympathies to the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth,” wrote Zin Mar Aung.
Myanmar, then called Burma, gained independence from British colonial rule in 1948.
CANBERRA, Australia — Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of a failed campaign to have an Australian president replace the British monarch as Australia’s head of state and who later became prime minister, came close to tears on Friday in paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
Turnbull was chair of the Australian Republican Movement in 1999 when Australians voted at a referendum against the nation becoming a republic, severing its constitutional ties to the queen. He was prime minister between 2015 and 2018, during which time the queen gave him a photograph of herself with her husband Prince Philip.
Turnbull’s voice trembled as he recalled looking at the photo on Thursday night before he and his wife Lucy Turnbull went to bed with a sense of dread because of news from Buckingham Palace of the queen’s failing health.
“I took the portrait of the queen out and set it up and we just thought, ‘What an amazing life. What amazing leadership,’” Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“It’s the end of an era and let’s hope that the future, after the queen’s passing, is one where we will have leadership as dedicated and selfless as she has shown,” Turnbull added.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia have offered their condolences over the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Statements carried early Friday in Saudi state media quoted King Salman as saying that Queen Elizabeth was “a model of leadership that will be immortalized in the history.”
He added: “We recall with appreciation the efforts of the deceased in consolidating the friendship and cooperation relations between our two friendly countries, as well as the high international status that Her Majesty enjoyed throughout the decades during which she acceded to the throne of your friendly country.”
His young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, similarly offered his condolences, saying that the queen was “an example of wisdom, love and peace.”
He added: “The world remembers today the great impact and deeds that she had throughout her reign.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Queen Elizabeth was “the very heart and soul of the United Kingdom” and that her passing was greatly mourned by everyone in the city-state.
“She performed her duties with devotion, grace, and humility. Her contributions to the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and indeed to the world will be recorded in history, and she will always be remembered fondly as a great world leader,” Lee said in a post on Facebook. The post included a photo of Lee shaking hands with the queen in 2018 during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
Lee’s office said in a statement to local media that state flags at all government buildings will be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral as a mark of respect. Parliament will also observe a minute of silence at the beginning of its sitting on Monday.
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his condolences on the death of Queen Elizabeth II via his official Twitter account, both in Japanese and in English.
“On the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family, the government and the people of the United Kingdom,” he said. “The loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a great loss not only to the British people but also to the international community. Japan’s thoughts are with the United Kingdom as the British people overcome this deepest sadness.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Malaysia, a former colony before its independence from Britain in 1957, extended its sincere condolences to the queen’s family and the people of the United Kingdom.
“Her Majesty was a towering figure and led a lifetime of dedication and service to the people of the UK and the Commonwealth,” he wrote on Facebook.
NEW YORK — The U.S. Tennis Association held a moment of silence before the first U.S. Open women’s semifinal match Thursday night — won in straight sets by Ons Jabeur over Caroline Garcia.
“We would like to pause to remember Queen Elizabeth II,” the stadium announcer said. “Our thoughts are with the people today of the United Kingdom. Remember to be part of us in a second of silence.”
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters she was awoken a little before 5 a.m. by a police officer shining a torch into her bedroom to tell her the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Under New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements, the queen was also New Zealand’s monarch and head of state.
“The last days of the queen’s life captures who she was in so many ways,” Ardern said. “Working until the very end on behalf of the people she loved.”
Ardern said the queen was an extraordinary woman who she’d remember for her laughter. Ardern said that like many other people, she was feeling not only deep sadness but also deep gratitude.
“Here is a woman who gave her life, utterly, to the service of others. And regardless of what anyone thinks of the role of monarchies around the world, there is undeniably, I think here, a display of someone who gave everything on behalf of her people, and her people included the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Ardern said New Zealand had moved into a period of official mourning, and would hold a state memorial service after the official funeral in Britain.
ABUJA, Nigeria — President Muhammadu Buhari expressed “immense sadness” over the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“Her late Majesty was the only British sovereign known to 90 percent of our population,” the Nigerian leader said, describing the late queen’s reign as “unique and wonderful.”
“The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader. She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place,” Buhari added.
Nigeria gained independence from the British in 1960, four years after the late queen’s official visit to the West African nation. When Elizabeth last visited in 2003, she spoke of Nigeria’s critical role in the Commonwealth and applauded the country for its “leading part in the new partnership for Africa’s development.”
SAO PAULO — Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree for three days of national mourning in the South American nation for the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
He also said on Twitter that Elizabeth “wasn’t the queen for the British only; she was a queen for all of us.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the death of Queen Elizabeth II is a time of mourning for the people in Britain, across the Commonwealth and around the world.
In a statement, he said she is the only reigning monarch most Australians have known and the only one to ever to visit their country.
“And over the course of a remarkable seven decades, Her Majesty was a rare and reassuring constant amidst rapid change,” he said. “Through the noise and turbulence of the years, she embodied and exhibited a timeless decency and an enduring calm.”
The British monarch is Australia’s official head of state, although these days the role is considered primarily ceremonial.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden went to the British Embassy on Thursday to offer condolences for the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The U.S. leader sat at a desk and signed the condolence book at the embassy. His wife, Jill Biden, brought a bouquet of flowers. She stood next to him before she, too, wrote in the book.
The president then spoke with embassy staff and could be overhead saying of the former British monarch, “We mourn for all of you. She was a great lady.”
PARIS — Britain’s historic rival and contemporary ally France lowered flags at the presidential palace and public buildings to half-staff in honor of Queen Elizabeth II who died at the age of 96.
President Emmanuel Macron said no other foreign sovereign had visited the Elysee Palace more than Elizabeth, who knew all eight presidents of contemporary France.
He hailed her “immutable moral authority,” her intimate knowledge of French and the stability she brought “across the fluctuations and upheavals of politics, a permanence with the scent of eternity.”
“The woman who stood alongside the giants of the 20th century on the path of history has left to join them,” he said in a statement, sharing condolences to Britain from “the French Republic and the French people.”
At the British Embassy in Paris, a 20-year-old fashion student was among many who gathered, moist-eyed, with flowers and candles, to bid her adieu.
“When we learned the news we said to ourselves that Queen Elizabeth had followed us a good part of our lives,” said fashion student Theo Maillet. “We wanted to pay homage to her tonight, think of her family, and tell her one final goodbye.”
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness noted that ever since she was crowned in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II visited the island every decade until 2002.
“Undoubtedly, she formed a special bond with the people of Jamaica during her reign,” he said. “We are saddened that we will not see her light again, but we will remember her historic reign.”
In March, when Prince William and Kate visited Jamaica as part of an official trip to the Caribbean, Holness made an unexpected announcement in public that the British commonwealth intended to become fully independent.
Since then, Jamaica has established a Constitution Reform Committee and is scheduled to hold a referendum in 2025. If approved, it would join other republics in the region including Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
LONDON — Police in Scotland have removed barriers blocking the gates to Balmoral Castle to allow the public to lay flowers for Queen Elizabeth II.
The area had been blocked off as members of the royal family arrived earlier Thursday.
In London, the wrought iron gates at Buckingham Palace were brightened by dozens of colorful bouquets laid by mourners.
On the Mall, the main road leading to Buckingham Palace, around 50 black cabs lined up to pay tribute to the monarch. In nearby Green Park, hundreds of people streamed down the pavements winding through the park on their way to the palace.
“As a young person, this is a really huge moment,” said Romy McCarthy, 20. “It marks the end of an era, particularly as a woman – we had a woman who was in power as someone to look up to.”
LONDON — Several sporting events in Britain were called off as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Organizers of the BMW PGA Championship golf event immediately suspended play, with many players still out on the course at Wentworth. The course and practice facilities will be closed Friday.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said Friday’s play in the second test between England and South Africa at the Oval would not take place.
Horse racing meetings in Britain were suspended on Thursday night and Friday, with the governing body wanting to “remember her extraordinary life and contribution to our sport and our nation.”
Domestic rugby matches in England and Scotland were called off on Thursday and games will not be played over the weekend, either.
Friday’s stage in cycling’s Tour of Britain was canceled, with a decision on the final two stages over the weekend to be taken in due course.
LONDON — People grieved in the crowds outside Buckingham Palace when officials carried a notice confirming the Queen Elizabeth II’s death to the gates of her London home.
Thousands gathered in the pouring rain to mark their respects for the late monarch, who died Thursday at age 96.
Royal superfan John Loughrey, 67, wept outside the palace as he paid tribute to the “inspirational” queen. He compared her and the late Prince Philip to swans, which are said to die of broken hearts when they lose their mate. She and Philip were married for 73 years until his death in April of last year.
“She went downhill after the Duke of Edinburgh died,″ Loughrey said. “They were like two swans.
“God save the Queen.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the sea of world leaders who expressed their condolences to the British royal family over the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.
Despite the tensions between Russia and Britain over the war in Ukraine, Putin reached out to King Charles III in a telegram. He wrote: “The most important events in the recent history of the United Kingdom are inextricably linked with the name of Her Majesty. For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage.
“I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss. I ask you to convey the words of sincere sympathy and support to the members of the royal family and all the people of Great Britain.”
Elizabeth died peacefully Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. All four of her children and other members of her family traveled there to be at her side.
ROME — Pope Francis told King Charles III in a telegram that he is praying for “eternal rest” for Charles’ late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The pontiff said he was deeply saddened to learn of the queen’s death on Thursday at her Scotland estate, Balmoral Castle. He offered “heartfelt condolences to Your Majesty, the Members of the Royal Family, the People of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”
Francis, who met with the queen in 2014, said, “I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her unstinting service to the good of the Nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises.”
Elizabeth, who as queen was head of the Church of England, first visited the Vatican while a princess in 1951. The first pontiff she met at the Vatican as queen was John XXIII, in 1961.
LONDON — Politicians from across the political spectrum in Britain united in sorrow at the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a passing that brought fractious everyday politics in the country to a halt.
Prime Minister Liz Truss said the country was “devastated” by the death of the monarch, calling her “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”
“We are now a modern, thriving, dynamic nation,” Truss said outside 10 Downing St. in London. “Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.
“She was the very spirit of Great Britain – and that spirit will endure,” ending on words no British leader has said for 70 years: “God save the king.”
Truss was appointed by the queen just two days ago, becoming the 15th prime minister to serve during Elizabeth’s reign.
Truss’ predecessor, Boris Johnson, said “this is our country’s saddest day.”
He said the death of the only monarch most Britons have ever known would provoke “a deep and personal sense of loss – far more intense, perhaps, than we expected.”
He said her heir, King Charles III, would “amply do justice to her legacy.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer also paid tribute.
“Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon. As Britain changed rapidly around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world,” he said. “So as our great Elizabethan era comes to an end, we will honor the late Queen’s memory by keeping alive the values of public service she embodied.”
LONDON — Royal officials have confirmed that Britain’s new monarch will be known as King Charles III, ending speculation about whether would use another name during his reign.
The former Prince of Wales has been known as Prince Charles since his birth in 1948, but British monarchs have in the past selected new names when they ascent to the throne.
The late Queen Elizabeth II said earlier this year that she hoped Charles’ wife, Camilla, would be know as queen consort.
U.S. presidents past and present expressed their condolences over the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement that Elizabeth was “more than a monarch” and that “she defined an era.”
“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” the Bidens said. “She helped make our relationship special.”
Biden’s predecessor in the White House, Donald Trump, said in a statement that Elizabeth “will always be remembered for her faithfulness to her country and her unwavering devotion to her fellow countrymen and women.
“Melania and I will always cherish our time together with the Queen, and never forget Her Majesty’s generous friendship, great wisdom, and wonderful sense of humor. What a grand and beautiful lady she was — there was nobody like her!”
Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, also recalled the queen fondly.
“Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity,” the Obama’s said in a statement. “Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance.”
Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter also issued statements expressing their condolences.
LONDON — Prince Charles has been preparing to be king his entire life. Now his moment has arrived.
Following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday, Charles is now the oldest person to take the British throne.
No date has been set for his coronation. And it’s not immediately clear whether the new monarch would call himself Charles III or choose another name, as his grandfather did.
But Charles faces the enormous challenge of building the same sort of affection that characterized the relationship between his mother and the British public.
Will Charles be loved by his subjects, like his mother was? It’s a question that has overshadowed his entire life.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Liz Truss says the country is “devastated” by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, calling her “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”
Truss said the news is “a huge shock to the nation and to the world” but that the queen’s spirit will endure.
Truss was appointed by the queen just two days ago, becoming the 15th prime minister to serve during Elizabeth’s reign.
The Union Jack flag atop the prime minister’s 10 Downing Street residence was lowered to half-staff after the monarch’s death was announced.
Elizabeth died peacefully Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. All four of her children and her grandson Prince William traveled there to be at her side.
LONDON — Prince Charles says the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, “is a moment of the greatest sadness” for him and his family.
In a statement issued Thursday following the 96-year-old monarch’s death at her Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland, Charles said: “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”
Charles, who became king upon his mother’s death, said, “During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.”
LONDON — Condolences are pouring in from around the world following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Thursday that the queen “embodied continuity and the unity of the British nation over 70 years. I retain the memory of a friend of France, a queen of hearts who marked as never before her country and her century.”
Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, expressed sadness at the news, tweeting: “Germany remains forever grateful that she stretched out her hand to us in reconciliation after the terror of World War II.”
Italian Premier Mario Draghi in a condolence message hailed the queen as having been “the absolute protagonist of world history of the last 70 years.” Draghi, who is now acting in a caretaker role ahead of Italian parliamentary elections later this month, said Elizabeth had represented the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth “with equilibrium, wisdom, respect for institutions and for democracy.”
Elizabeth died peacefully Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. All four of her children and her grandson Prince William traveled to Balmoral to be at her side.
The Royal Family’s Twitter feed posted a black and white photograph of the queen smiling as they announced her death.
Outside Buckingham Palace, the news was posted on the railings as crowds gathered.
LONDON — Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II has died.
The 96-year-old queen died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. All four of her children and her grandson Prince William traveled to Balmoral to be at her side.
The palace says her son Charles, who is now king, and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, will stay at Balmoral overnight and travel to London on Friday.
Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, she marked 70 years on the throne this year.
Elizabeth sat on the throne as the U.K. rebuilt from war, lost an empire, transformed its economy and both entered and left the European Union.
She was a constant presence, the only monarch most Britons have ever known, and she guided the institution of the monarchy through choppy waters.
The BBC played the national anthem over a portrait of the queen in full regalia as the queen’s death was announced.
The flag over Buckingham Palace was lowered to half staff.
For more AP coverage of Queen Elizabeth II: https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii
Lawyers for the US tell a UK court why WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange should face spying charges
LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange won’t find out until next month at the earliest whether he can challenge extradition to the U.S. on spying charges, or if his long legal battle in Britain has run out of road.
Two High Court judges said Wednesday they would take time to consider their verdict after a two-day hearing in which Assange’s lawyers argued sending him to the United States would risk a “flagrant denial of justice.”
Attorneys for the U.S., where Assange has been indicted on espionage charges, said he put innocent lives at risk and went beyond journalism in his bid to solicit, steal and indiscriminately publish classified U.S. government documents.
Assange’s lawyers asked the High Court to grant him a new appeal — his last roll of the legal dice in the saga that has kept him in a British high-security prison for the past five years.
The judges overseeing the case reserved their decision, and a ruling on Assange’s future is not expected until March at the earliest.
If judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson rule against Assange, he can ask the European Court of Human Rights to block his extradition — though supporters worry he could be put on a plane to the U.S. before that happens, because the British government has already signed an extradition order.
The 52-year-old Australian has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified U.S. documents almost 15 years ago. American prosecutors allege Assange encouraged and helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published, putting lives at risk.
Lawyer Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. government, said Wednesday that Assange damaged U.S. security and intelligence services and “created a grave and imminent risk” by releasing the hundreds of thousands of documents — risks that could harm and lead to the arbitrary detention of innocent people, many of whom lived in war zones or under repressive regimes.
Dobbin added that in encouraging Manning and others to hack into government computers and steal from them, Assange was “going a very considerable way beyond” a journalist gathering information.
Assange was “not someone who has just set up an online box to which people can provide classified information,” she said. “The allegations are that he sought to encourage theft and hacking that would benefit WikiLeaks.”
Assange’s supporters maintain he is a secrecy-busting journalist who exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have long argued that the prosecution is politically motivated and he won’t get a fair trial in the U.S.
Assange’s lawyers argued on the first day of the hearing on Tuesday that American authorities are seeking to punish him for WikiLeaks’ “exposure of criminality on the part of the U.S. government on an unprecedented scale,” including torture and killings.
Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said there is “a real risk he may suffer a flagrant denial of justice” if he is sent to the U.S.
Dobbin said the prosecution is based on law and evidence, and has remained consistent despite the changes of government in the U.S. during the legal battle.
She added that the First Amendment does not confer immunity on journalists who break the law. Media outlets that went through the process of redacting the documents before publishing them are not being prosecuted, she said.
Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted, though American authorities have said the sentence is likely to be much shorter.
Assange was absent from court on both days because he is unwell, WikiLeaks said. Stella Assange, his wife, said he had wanted to attend, but was “not in good condition.”
Assange’s family and supporters say his physical and mental health have suffered during more than a decade of legal battles, including seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
“Julian is a political prisoner and he has to be released,” said Stella Assange, who married the WikiLeaks founder in prison in 2022.
“They’re putting Julian into the hands of the country and of the people who plotted his assassination,” she added, referring to unproven claims by Assange’s lawyers that he was a target of a CIA plot to kidnap or kill him while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Supporters holding “Free Julian Assange” signs and chanting “there is only one decision — no extradition” protested outside the High Court building for a second day.
Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. In 2012, Assange jumped bail and sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police immediately arrested and imprisoned him for breaching bail in 2012. Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.
A U.K. district court judge rejected the U.S. extradition request in 2021 on the grounds that Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions. Higher courts overturned that decision after getting assurances from the U.S. about his treatment. The British government signed an extradition order in June 2022.
Meanwhile, the Australian parliament last week called for Assange to be allowed to return to his homeland.
Andrew Wilkie, an Australian lawmaker who attended the hearing, said he hoped that sent a strong message to the U.K. and U.S. governments to end the legal fight. “This has gone on long enough,” he said.
Associated Press video journalists Kwiyeon Ha and Jo Kearney contributed to this report.
Biden to create cybersecurity standards for nation’s ports as concerns grow over vulnerabilities
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order and created a federal rule aimed at better securing the nation’s ports from potential cyberattacks.
The administration is outlining a set of cybersecurity regulations that port operators must comply with across the country, not unlike standardized safety regulations that seek to prevent injury or damage to people and infrastructure.
“We want to ensure there are similar requirements for cyber, when a cyberattack can cause just as much if not more damage than a storm or another physical threat,” said Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser at the White House.
Nationwide, ports employ roughly 31 million people and contribute $5.4 trillion to the economy, and could be left vulnerable to a ransomware or other brand of cyberattack, Neuberger said. The standardized set of requirements is designed to help protect against that.
The new requirements are part of the federal government’s focus on modernizing how critical infrastructure like power grids, ports and pipelines are protected as they are increasingly managed and controlled online, often remotely. There is no set of nationwide standards that govern how operators should protect against potential attacks online.
The threat continues to grow. Hostile activity in cyberspace — from spying to the planting of malware to infect and disrupt a country’s infrastructure — has become a hallmark of modern geopolitical rivalry.
For example, in 2021, the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline had to temporarily halt operations after it fell victim to a ransomware attack in which hackers hold a victim’s data or device hostage in exchange for money. The company, Colonial Pipeline, paid $4.4 million to a Russia-based hacker group, though Justice Department officials later recovered much of the money.
Ports, too, are vulnerable. In Australia last year, a cyber incident forced one of the country’s largest port operators to suspend operations for three days.
In the U.S., roughly 80% of the giant cranes used to lift and haul cargo off ships onto U.S. docks come from China, and are controlled remotely, said Admiral John Vann, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s cyber command. That leaves them vulnerable to attack, he said.
Late last month, U.S. officials said they had disrupted a state-backed Chinese effort to plant malware that could be used to damage civilian infrastructure. Vann said this type of potential attack was a concern as officials pushed for new standards, but they are also worried about the possibility for criminal activity.
The new standards, which will be subject to a public comment period, will be required for any port operator and there will be enforcement actions for failing to comply with the standards, though the officials did not outline them. They require port operators to notify authorities when they have been victimized by a cyberattack. The actions also give the Coast Guard, which regulates the nation’s ports, the ability to respond to cyberattacks.
Jill Biden is announcing $100 million in funding for research and development into women’s health
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden on Wednesday announced $100 million in federal funding for research and development into women’s health as part of a new White House initiative that she is heading up.
The money is the first major deliverable of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, which was announced late last year. The money comes from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, which is under the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The first lady announced the ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health during an appearance in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Biden has said women don’t know enough about their health because the research historically has been underfunded and lacking. The White House initiative aims to change the approach to and increase funding for women’s health research.
The $100 million will be used to invest early in “life-changing” work being done by women’s health researchers and startup companies that cannot get private support, Biden said.
“We will build a health care system that puts women and their lived experiences at its center,” she said. “Where no woman or girl has to hear that ‘it’s all in your head,’ or, ‘it’s just stress.’” Where women aren’t just an after-thought, but a first-thought. Where women don’t just survive with chronic conditions, but lead long and healthy lives.”
President Joe Biden created the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health in 2022 to work on advancing solutions to health issues. The agency is part of what he called his “ unity agenda.”
In the coming weeks, the agency will solicit ideas for groundbreaking research and development to address women’s health, according to the White House.
The first lady said last year when the White House initiative was announced in November that it grew out of meeting she had had with Maria Shriver, a women’s health advocate and former California first lady. Shriver, Biden said, spoke of the need for a public-private effort to close the gaps in women’s health research. Shriver also participated in Wednesday’s announcement in Massachusetts.
The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research is led by Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council.