Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Reputational Damage: Luna Year

"We all know that funny feeling of filthiness, of contagious ickiness. It's a feeling we call the prick of conscience when we make a compromise that we have doubts about. So we think about it again and again, and... we even worry about it somewhat, even though the compromise may have made life easier, compared to what would have happened had we not made it. But for myself...I see that my bravery comes out of cowardice, because I am afraid of feeling that ickiness of feeling that I've done something wrong, that I've made an undesirable compromise, that I've side-stepped; and conversely when I do something that I know is right, I can even have a feeling of euphoria."
Vaclav Havel

A senior Chinese diplomat referred to Australians who criticise China as “scumbags” in a speech to business leaders last week – but the insult was quietly omitted from the English-language translation.

Speaking at a Lunar New Year dinner in Canberra last Thursday night, China’s Deputy Head of Mission Wang Xining defended the country’s handling of COVID-19 and hit out at media organisations in particular, saying there were “some people in Australia who choose to make enemies to sustain a living” and that they had “brainwashed” the public with “negative portraits of China”.

RELATED: One way traffic: China enjoys trade boom

Microsoft: Chinese Hackers Have Been Exploiting Our Email Product to Steal Data

Lucas Ropek

Published 9 hours ago: March 3, 2021 at 12:55 pm

In the latest in a string of security-related headaches for Microsoft, the company warnedcustomers Tuesday that state sponsored hackers from China have been exploiting flaws in one of its widely used email products, Exchange, in order to target American companies for data theft. 

In several recently published blog posts, the company listed four newly discovered zero-day vulnerabilities associated with the attacks, as well as patches and a list of compromise indicators. Users of Exchange have been urged to update to avoid getting hacked.

Chinese Australians discriminated against as Canberra-Beijing tensions boil over: Lowy Kevin W: “There are 1.2 million people who have Chinese ancestry in Australia so everything is going to plan.”

Facebook stops collection of user health data after New York investigation

 Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, February 27, 2021 – Privacy and security 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 security, often without our situational awareness. 

Four highlights from this week: Algorithms That Curate Feeds & Tech Company Secrecy; Public Employees’ Use of Personal Phones, Tablets Puts Local Governments at Risk; How to Find Hidden Cameras Using Your Mobile Phone; and Why non-human workers can increase security issues in your business.

Facebook stops collection of user health data after New York investigation

Source: Becker’s Health IT

 Bruce Schneier’s CRYPTO-GRAM, 15 Feb 2021
Source: RISKS Digest Bruce Schneier’s CRYPTO-GRAM, 15 Feb 2021 – Peter Neumann <>Mon, 15 Feb 2021 10:52:16 PST

 Public Employees’ Use of Personal Phones, Tablets Puts Local Governments at Risk
Source: Route Fifty

A cybersecurity report found that 25% of state and local government employees use personal digital devices to telework while only 9% of federal employees do so. Nearly a quarter of state and local government employees use personal phones and tablets for work, putting them at higher risk for phishing attacks and other cyber intrusions, according to a new cybersecurity report.

AI can write a passing college paper in 20 minutes

The OECD, a club of rich nations, credited ICIJ investigations for fostering public interest in targeting the facilitators of sophisticated financial crimes in its first-ever report on what countries can do to crack down on lawyers, accountants, offshore specialists and other “professional enablers” who help rogue actors hide money and outsmart law enforcement.

The UN FACTI panel convened world leaders and high-level stakeholders to discuss international strategies to rein in rampant tax abuse costing countries urgently-needed revenue to tackle poverty, climate change, inequality and the post-pandemic economic recovery. Here’s what they had to say about the recommendations.

Journalist Maria Ressa, founder of the Philippine news outlet Rappler, faces up to six years in prison on cyber libel charges for reporting connected to President Rodrigo Duterte. Last week, journalists around the world showed their support with a video series by Forbidden Stories chronicling Rappler’s investigations on financial crime and corruption.

ICIJ’s Emilia Díaz-Struck and Miguel Fiandor Gutiérrez will be presenting a session on how AI can help investigative journalism at MozFest on Tuesday, March 9, sharing what they’ve learned and uncovered from ICIJ’s experiments with machine learning.


 Fast Company, Doug Aamoth – “For a tool most of us use every day to find stuff on the web, Google has more than a few helpful tricks up its sleeve that aren’t super apparent unless you know where to look. Here are a few I’ve found recently that have saved me countless clicks, spared me visits to garishly designed apps, and generally made things a little less complicated…[order food, search with a friend, find something to watch, follow stocks, and find flights]

AI can write a passing college paper in 20 minutes -

  • AI manages to score a “C” average across four subjects, failing only one paper.
  • Feedback on human and AI papers looks remarkably similar.
  • AI wrote shallow, less descriptive papers, compared to its human counterparts.

“A world where computers think like humans is no longer limited to science fiction movies. The world has been in a race for artificial intelligence (AI) for over a decade now. Tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple all have a stake in the game, but they’re also competing against entire countries. France, Israel, and the United Kingdom are on equal footing with the United States in their AI strategic strength, with China, Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea closely following.  Long-term winners aside, the AI world was shaken by the latest technological development known as GPT-3. OpenAI, a research business co-founded by Elon Musk, developed the revolutionary AI which can create content with a human language structure better than any of its predecessors.  We hired a panel of professors to create a writing prompt, gave it to a group of recent grads and undergraduate-level writers, and fed it to GPT-3, and had the panel grade the anonymous submissions and complete a follow up survey for thoughts about the writers. AI may not be at world-dominance level yet, but can the latest artificial intelligence get straight A’s in college? Keep reading to find out…”

Record-high Arctic freshwater will flow to Labrador Sea, affecting local and global oceans PhysOrg 

Francis Gooding · G&Ts on the Veranda: The Science of Man London Review of Books 

The Power and the Silence The Unbound


Degrowth: A Response To Branko Milanovic Jason Hickel

Applause for Perseverance Ignores Plutonium Bullet We Dodged FAIR

PPE is the new plastic waste nightmare threatening the environment Euronews

Will the climate crisis tap out the Colorado River?High Country News

We Fought to Keep Frackers Out of the Delaware River Food and Water Watch

Did teenage ‘tyrants’ outcompete other dinosaurs?ScienceDaily 

Atlantic Ocean circulation at weakest in a millennium, say scientists Guardian

Tom Stevenson · Where are the space arks? Space Forces London Review of Books

Mr Potato Head and the cult of gender neutrality The Spectator 

The importance of technology competence when communicating electronically

Undercover cop’s splurge on Aussie identities

The Dark Web: What is it?


An AFP officer spent six months undercover snapping up Aussie ids on the Dark Web where drivers’ licences sell for as little as $2.

    An undercover cop using a fake identity and bitcoin currency bought hundreds of passports, drivers’ licences and a raft of other personal identity documents of unsuspecting Australians. 

    Cyber CRC backs ‘extraordinary’ AFP hacking powers 

    The government-funded cybersecurityresearch centre has thrown its support behind the proposed “extraordinary” new hacking powers for the Australian Federal Police, its position that is at odds with human rights, civil liberties and digital rights groups, as well as a group of Senators who have all raised significant concerns about the new laws.

    In a submission to government, the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC) said the Identify and Disrupt Bill, which hands sweeping new powers to the AFP and the Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to hack into the devices and networks of suspected criminals, is proportionate, appropriate and safe.

    Cybercrime groups are selling their hacking skills. Some countries are buying

    Nation-state hacking groups don't need to do the work themselves anymore: they can hire criminal gangs to breach targets for them - with the added bonus that it's harder to trace the attack back to them, say researchers.

    Deloitte paid $1.5m to run ATO social platforms

     Denham Sadler  Senior Reporter

    The federal government will pay consulting giant Deloitte more than $1.5 million for its off-the-shelf online forum platform and social media management tools for use by the tax office.

    A contract posted publicly last week revealed the global consultancy will be paid $1.543 million for “online community and social media platform services” for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with the work running for a year from February.

    Expats unwittingly recruited as drug mules for organised crime

    Publish date: 

    The Australian Federal Police is warning the community, particularly members of the Iranian community, over the dangers of unsolicited job offers to receive and store international packages, following a spate of illicit drug imports linked to organised crime. 


    Identity crime is one of the most common types of crime in Australia. Victims spend 34 hrs on average reparing the damage of identity crime.


    U.S. Tax Court's Diversity & Inclusion Series, Tax Trailblazers: Mentoring the Next Generation:

    ArgrettPlease join the United States Tax Court in honoring Black History Month and kicking off the first in a series of monthly programs celebrating diversity and inclusion in tax law. Moderated by Chief Judge Maurice B. Foley, February’s webinar will focus on Loretta Collins Argrett and her path to—and success in—the field of tax law. Today at 7:00-8:15 PM EST (register here).

    The importance of technology competence when communicating electronically

    Sui Generis – Nicole Black: “I’m sure that by now you’ve already seen the now infamous cat filter court hearing video. If not, Google it and watch it. I’ll wait. Now that you’re back, let’s talk about how you can avoid replicating that unfortunate predicament. The short answer? By maintaining technology competence when using electronic methods to communicate with clients and colleagues.

     It’s always been important to ensure that you understand how to use the technologies that you use regularly in your practice. But now that many of us are working – and appearing in court – remotely, it’s imperative that lawyers are technologically competent when communicating electronically. If you’re not sure what your obligations are when it comes to electronic communications or aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck. The Florida Bar issued an updated guide last year that’s right on point: “Best Practices for Professional Electronic Communication.”  This 25-page ebook offers a comprehensive overview of the ins and outs of different types of electronic communication and the issues lawyers need to understand when using said technologies.

     The types of electronic communications covered include texting, email, social media, telephones and cellphones, laptops, and court appearances via videoconference. I recommend that you read the guide in its entirety since it contains at ton of useful information about securely and ethically communicating electronically. In the meantime, here are some highlights to get you started…”

    Speculative crypto art market takes off  Axios: “Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms. Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house. How it works: Most crypto assets are like dollars, or stocks: They’re fungible, which means that one bitcoin, or share of IBM, is worth exactly the same as any other bitcoin, or share of IBM. NFTs, by contrast, are non-fungible tokens: They’re unique objects that live on a blockchain and are valued as collectors’ items.

    • By the numbers: Nyan Cat sold for 300 ETH (the Ethereum cryptocurrency), or about $580,000 at the time the bid was entered on Feb. 19. An artist going by the moniker “Beeple” sold 20 artworks for $3.5 million in December, and has consigned a major digital work to auction house Christie’s in an online auction that will end on March 11.
    • One fake Banksy, by an artist calling themselves Pest Supply, sold for more than 60 ETH, or about $100,000. The artwork featured a stencil saying “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this NFT…” It’s not clear where or how the buyer could resell the work, given that the Opensea platform has now disabled all future sales by that artist.
    • A short clip of a LeBron James dunk from 2019 sold for $208,000, on a daywhen more than 20,000 buyers spent more than $45 million in total buying NBA TopShot clips…”

    Washington’s Most Influential People - Washingtonian – “The 250 experts and advocates—outside the government—who’ll be shaping the policy debates of the years to come. Contents:

    1. Antitrust
    2. Banking and Finance
    3. Business and Labor
    4. Civil Rights and Criminal Justice
    5. Climate/Environment
    6. Economic Policy
    7. Education
    8. Energy
    9. Foreign Affairs
    10. Good Government
    11. Healthcare
    12. Immigration
    13. Infrastructure and Transportation
    14. Legal Intelligentsia
    15. National Security and Defense
    16. Tech and Telecom