Tuesday, November 08, 2022


But if you think of invasion of Ukraine as a mob hit to intimidate states from exiting the protection racket that delivers corrupt rent streams to Russia’s ruling kleptocrats, then it at least made sense–until Ukraine fought back.

The ‘Tony Soprano’ theory of Russian geopolitics

Todd: Bitner And The FBAR’s Muddy Morass—Shining A Light With Interpretive Tools

Complete Phil Gaetjens report into sports rorts scandal released under FOI laws

The migration agent and the Liberal ministers: How one man gamed Australia’s visa system

A company run by Jack Ta, who boasted of “cosy” dinners with former Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton, has been used by more than a dozen drug offenders to remain in Australia on bogus asylum seeker claims.


It wasn’t until 1984 that the government got involved in telling us how much to knock back

In defence of booze The war on drinking has gone too far

Elon Musk’s Disastrous Weekend on TwitterAtlantic 

‘Gutsy’ immigration review flags bigger industry role

I had to screenshot rather than embed this tweet since Twitter does not allow tweets with “sensitive content” to be viewed. Even worse as you in the second screenshot below, Twitter suggest to nonTwitter account holders that the tweet is sexual! You can watch the video here.

What happened to this bombshell legal advice is one of the central questions being investigated by a royal commission into what a judge called a “shameful chapter” when he signed off on a $1.8bn settlement with hundreds of thousands of victims last year.

How was it that the legal advice, finally revealed this week, was dismissed, discarded or overruled? And, crucially, how far up the chain did these initial legal concerns go?

‘A shameful chapter’: how Australia’s robodebt saga was allowed to unfold

Australian Parliament backflips, ‘sincerely apologises’ to Julian Assange’s family for confiscating books 

The Australian Parliament has apologised and admitted security officers made a mistake when they seized a bag of books from Julian Assange’s family during a visit to MPs. 

Crikey can reveal a top Parliament official wrote to Assange’s father John Shipton this week to extend his “sincere apologies” for the August incident

Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Rob Stefanic also wrote to Greens Senator David Shoebridge to say his department’s screening procedures had been clarified “to ensure that books are not categorised as protest material”. 

The backflip came after the department initially defended the decision to seize the booksCrikey revealed last month the department had justified the seizure by mistakenly claiming the books had been identified as “protest material” because Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, and his father had apparently arrived at Parliament as part of a group of demonstrators rallying outside for Assange’s political rescue.

Elon’s current Twitter strategy

Not macro, but super-micro.  Relative status is what gets people talking, and what is more relative status than “Blue Check” on Twitter.  And so everyone is talking about Twitter over the last few days.


Here is the latest pricing proposal:

People are going spare about Prince Harry’s memoir. Just don’t ask them why Guardian 

ENDORSED:  Break Up the FBI.

Certain parts of the FBI, especially in its top ranks, are cesspools of politicization and abusive treatment of citizens. A House Republican report highlights some of the problems, and a National Review essay proposes one significant corrective.

The Republican staff of the House Judiciary Committee released a 1,000-page report on Friday on the “politicization of the FBI and Justice Department.” While sometimes overwrought and sometimes overbroad in its claims, the report supports well its fundamental assertion that “the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the stewardship of Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, is broken. The problem lies not with the majority of front-line agents who serve our country, but with the FBI’s politicized bureaucracy.”

Garland and Wray have repeatedly stonewalled legitimate attempts at congressional oversight, sometimes (by this observer’s reckoning) almost criminally. In a Nov. 2 letter to Garland, ranking committee Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio listed an astonishing 32 outstanding requests for information (stemming from eight different inquiry letters from committee Republicans) that Garland or his agents have yet to fulfill. Likewise, Wray has failed to fulfill 38 informational demands from eight other letters.

Even accounting for a tendency for the minority party in Congress to make some demands for information seemingly more crafted for political “gotcha” theatre than for legitimate oversight, the recalcitrance of Garland and Wray on obviously substantive demands is an affront to the public. Instead of the transparency due in a government based on the citizenry’s consent, this behavior looks like the sort of cover-up common to authoritarian rule.

LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cybersecurity issues – October 30, 2022 – Privacy and cybersecurity issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and online security, often without our situational awareness. 

Four highlights from this week: Thomson Reuters collected and leaked at least 3TB of sensitive data; Criminals are starting to exploit the metaverse, says Interpol. So police are heading there too; Public Entities in Nearly Every State Use Federally-Banned Foreign Tech, Report Says; and Should you log in with Facebook or Google on other sites or apps? Short answer: No!

Thomson Reuters collected and leaked at least 3TB of sensitive data - Cybernews: “Thomson Reuters, a multinational media conglomerate, left an open database with sensitive customer and corporate data, including third-party server passwords in plaintext format. Attackers could use the details for a supply-chain attack.  The Cybernews research team found that Thomson Reuters left at least three of its databases accessible for anyone to look at. One of the open instances, the 3TB public-facing ElasticSearch database, contains a trove of sensitive, up-to-date information from across the company’s platforms. The company recognized the issue and fixed it immediately. 

Thomson Reuters provides customers with products such as the business-to-business media tool Reuters Connect, legal research service and database Westlaw, the tax automation system ONESOURCE, online research suite of editorial and source materials Checkpoint, and other tools. The size of the open database the team discovered corresponds with the company using ElasticSearch, a data storage favored by enterprises dealing with extensive, constantly updated volumes of data.

  • Media giant with $6.35 billion in revenue left at least three of its databases open
  • At least 3TB of sensitive data exposed including Thomson Reuters plaintext passwords to third-party servers
  • The data company collects is a treasure trove for threat actors, likely worth millions of dollars on underground criminal forums
  • The company has immediately fixed the issue, and started notifying their customers
  • Thomson Reuters downplayed the issue, saying it affects only a “small subset of Thomson Reuters Global Trade customers”
  • The dataset was open for several days – malicious bots are capable of discovering instances within mere hours
  • Threat actors could use the leak for attacks, from social engineering attacks to ransomware

Why businesses fail

This paper is about micro-enterprises in Brazil, by Priscila de Oliviera:

Micro firms in low and middle income countries often have low profitability and do not grow over time. Several business training programs have tried to improve management and business practices, with limited effects. We run a field experiment with micro-entrepreneurs in Brazil (N=742) to study the under-adoption of improved business practices, and shed light on the constraints and behavioral biases that may hinder their adoption. We randomly offer entrepreneurs reminders and micro-incentives of either 20 BRL (4 USD) or 40 BRL (8 USD) to implement record keeping or marketing for three consecutive months, following a business training program. Compared to traditional business training, reminders and micro-incentives significantly increase adoption of marketing (13.2 p.p.) and record keeping (19.2 p.p.), with positive effects on firm survival and investment over four months. Our findings, together with additional survey evidence, suggest that behavioral biases inhibit the adoption of improved practices, and are consistent with inattention as a key driver of under-adoption. In addition, our survey evidence on information avoidance points to it as a limiting factor to the adoption of record keeping, but not marketing activities. Taken together, the results suggest that behavioral biases affect firm decisions, with significant impact on firm survival.