Newsbud Daily Picks

The Wired Guide to Digital Security

IN AN AGE of nonstop breaches and hacks, getting a handle on your own digital security matters more than ever. But everyone has their own threat model—a set of concerns unique to themselves. The average smartphone user doesn’t need to know what a Faraday cage is; an NSA contractor probably already has a good grasp of security basics. (Or … do they?) In this guide, we’ve included a few ways to improve your online security posture based on those different levels of risk. These won’t prevent the next megabreach or banish ransomware from the earth. They’re not all-encompassing. But they’ll help get you in the mindset of the types of steps you should be taking based on your particular situation. And they’ll help ensure that the next time you read one of those paralyzing headlines, it doesn’t apply to you.

Nepal, Maldives Poised to Move out of Indian Orbit

The South Asian region’s political map is transforming phenomenally. The early counting from Nepal’s parliamentary elections, which concluded on Thursday, suggests that the Left Alliance, which comprises the country’s communist parties, is surging ahead and will form the next government in Kathmandu. The Left Alliance is notionally ‘pro-China’ in outlook. Simultaneously, the President of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has begun a four-day state visit to China.

Lugansk People’s Republic President Is Overthrown, Flees to Moscow

Igor Plotnitsky, the President of the People's Republic of Lugansk, one of the two pro-Russian rebel republics in East Ukraine, has been overthrown by his Interior Minister, Igor Kornet. The struggle began when Plotnitsky moved to remove the Interior Minister. Rather than comply, Kornet struck back and started arresting people around Plotnitsky, while his loyalists demanded Plotnitsky face a "people's court" for having a hand in a number of murders of prominent rebel commanders in Lugansk. After a brief standoff Plotnitsky has already fled to Moscow and calm has returned to the city:

China’s Belt And Road Initiative: Prospects And Pitfalls – Analysis

Chinese President Xi Jinping initially mooted the idea of Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October, 2013, respectively. Subsequently, the two projects together came to be known as ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) Initiative. The Concept was re-christened as ‘’Belt and Road Initiative’’ (BRI) when opposition surfaced to the idea of one nation dictating the existence of ’one belt, one road’ in a globalised world in which ‘many belts and many roads’ exist. Greater clarity was provided on the idea at the Belt Road Forum (BRF) organized in Beijing in mid-May, 2017. According to Chinese authorities, more than 100 countries participated in the Forum, many of them at Head of State/Government level. India was the only major country that did not attend.

Pakistan Militant Leader in Alliance Talks With Ex-Dictator

Two days after former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf (Retired) declared on a TV show that he is open to forming a coalition with Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Islamist militant group that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group’s political affiliates have confirmed that the alliance in “under consideration.” “It will be on the agenda in the next meeting, where we will discuss all possibilities of the coalition,” said Nadeem Awan, the Information Secretary of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the political front of the LeT, while talking to Asia Times.

The West Backed the Wrong Man in Ukraine – Editorial

It's become increasingly clear that Obama-era U.S. politicians backed the wrong people in Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko's moves to consolidate his power now include sidelining the anti-corruption institutions he was forced to set up by Ukraine's Western allies. Poroshenko, who had briefly served as Ukraine's foreign minister, looked worldlier than his predecessor, the deposed Viktor Yanukovych, and spoke passable English. He and his first prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, knew what the U.S. State Department and Vice President Joe Biden, who acted as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, wanted to hear. So, as Ukraine emerged from the revolutionary chaos of January and February 2014, the U.S., and with it the EU, backed Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as Ukraine's next leaders. Armed with this support, not least with promises of major technical aid and International Monetary Fund loans, they won elections, posing as Westernizers who would lead Ukraine into Europe. But their agendas turned out to be more self-serving.

Missouri Bill Would Close Federal Asset Forfeiture Loophole in Most Cases

A bill prefiled in the Missouri House would close a loophole in most situations that allows state and local police to circumvent stringent state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the feds. Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-St. Louis) prefiled House Bill 1501 (HB1501) on Dec. 5. The legislation would prohibit Missouri law enforcement agencies or prosecutors from entering into agreements to transfer property seized through asset forfeiture to a federal agency unless it includes more than $100,000 in cash.

Atlanta Targets Good Samaritans Sharing Food with Homeless

Police in Atlanta are the latest blunt instrument around the country used to crack down on people sharing food with those in need. Though the Fulton County permit requirement Atlanta police claim to be enforcing has been on the books for many years, it appears Atlanta's mayor only decided recently to enforce it, just in time for Thanksgiving. Violators face potential fines. This crackdown is part of a larger, awful, and national trend.

DHS Deploying Stingrays Hundreds Of Times A Year

It's no secret most law enforcement agencies own or have access to Stingray devices. But some deployment totals can still raise eyebrows. The Baltimore PD, for example, deployed Stingrays 4,300 times over an 8-year period -- more than once per day. And it hid these behind pen register orders, so that judges, defendants, and defense lawyers had no idea exactly how the PD located suspects.

Defector Says Thousands of Islamic State Fighters Left Raqqa in Secret Deal

A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city’s fall, saying thousands of IS fighters - many more than first reported - left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal. Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the SDF arranged to bus all remaining Islamic State militants out of Raqqa even though it said at the time it was battling diehard foreign jihadists in the city.

Astroturfing, Twitterbots, Amplification – Inside the Online Influence Industry

Heather Davis, born April 1991, lives in Jamestown, New York. She joined Twitter in June 2011 but doesn't use it much. In over six years she's tweeted just 331 times, the last time over a year ago when she wrote: "Heading to bed can't wait to watch #ClashofChampions tomorrow night". Her bio mentions her kids – a couple of them peek out of the banner photo at the top of her page – and offers a short vignette of her personality: "I speak the truth I'm a loyal friend I don't like drama I'm honest." Her Twitter handle is @TwIzTeD_bItCh.

China’s Technocracy: ‘Ghost Collateral” And ‘Yin-Yang’ Property Deals

One lesson from the 2007-08 crisis was that the vast majority of financial market participants, never mind the general public, were unfamiliar with subprime mortgages until the crisis was underway. Even now, we doubt many have much understanding of repo, the divergence between LIBOR and Fed Funds from 9 August 2007 and Eurodollar liquidity. In a similar way, when China’s bubble bursts, we doubt the majority will be that familiar with “ghost collateral” and “yin-yang” property contracts either.

Western Journalists Use Bangkok For Regional Agitation – Editorial

The so-called Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) is located in downtown Bangkok and includes the regional offices of many of the United States’ and Europe’s largest media organizations. It also includes a large, swank clubhouse complete with a restaurant and bar, where events are held. The FCCT on its website offers a lengthy, self-aggrandising and somewhat incoherent explanation as to what function it actually serves, claiming:

State Department, Meet the New Boss, Same/Worse as the Old Boss? – Editorial

The rumors of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s demise may finally not be greatly exaggerated. A marked man, it was only about a month ago the media speculated on how soon United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley would replace Tillerson. Two weeks ago a trial balloon floated up with Mike Pompeo’s name in trail. But a burst of nearly-identical stories over the last few days,spearheaded by the New York Times, signals the end for Tillerson and names Pompeo, currently Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as his successor. What lies ahead?

Rise of the Killer Machines – Editorial

Asian military forces are rolling out killer robots for a range of battlefield roles as diplomats wrestle with legal semantics over efforts to control artificial intelligence (AI) powered weapons that many fear could trigger the next arms race. Experts at a session of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva this week, attended by delegates from more than 80 nations, could not even agree on how to define the weapons. They have been struggling to answer the same question since 2013.