Our 2030 New Year’s Resolution
February 11, 2020
“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”
― Warren Buffett
Netanyahu’s Voting App Israeli Awful
The Iowa-caucus-vote-count-app-debacle now has a competitor for worst software screw up: the election app used by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A software flaw tied to a mobile app’s website, used by the PM and his Likud party to communicate with voters, exposed the personal data — full names, addresses, identity card numbers — of every eligible voter in Israel, all 6.5 million of them.
It’s uncertain how the flaw (first reported on Sunday) occurred, but a software developer for Verizon Media said he received a tip about the problem Friday night. Whether or not it was accessed, until the glitch was fixed, the government’s entire voter registry was available for viewing and downloading.
This is just the latest in a long string of large-scale software failures and data breaches. The evidence continues to accumulate that governments and corporations seem incapable of safeguarding people’s private information, protecting vital systems against cyberattacks and ensuring the integrity of electoral systems.
Sophisticated, often officially-backed hacking operations were responsible for last year’s theft from the Bulgarian government database, as well as 2017’s cyberattacks on Britain’s health care system and the government of Bangladesh. Credit reporting agency Equifax, the Marriott International hotel chain and Yahoo have also been victims of major cyberattacks. Then there’s Russia’s intrusion into the 2016 US election.
However exploiting the Israeli flaw, which was linked to an app made by Elector Software, didn’t require special hacking skills. The vulnerability of huge voter databases is another reason cybersecurity officials world-wide warn that new election technology should not be readily available to political parties and election officials.
If You Got The Time, Do The Cybercrime
- Despite President Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against North Korea, the country has managed a 300 percent increase in internet use since 2017, opening up new opportunities for cybercrime to prop up leader Kim Jong-un’s government. A study released Sunday concludes that nearly half that traffic flows through a new connection in Russia, thereby avoiding the North’s longtime dependency on a single digital pipeline through China.
- The report — compiled by Recorded Future, a Cambridge, Massachusetts group known for its deep examination of how nations use digital weaponry — says the surge has a clear purpose: circumventing financial pressure and sanctions by the West. “What this tells you is that our entire concept of how to control the North’s financial engagement with the world is based on an image … that is fixed in the past,” said the study’s director, a former National Security Agency analyst and expert on North Korea and Iran. “They have succeeded at an easy-to-replicate model of how to move large amounts of money around the world, and do it in a way our sanctions do not touch.”
- Bottom line: in the three years Trump has been in office, North Korea has improved its ability to both steal and “mine” cryptocurrencies, hide its footprints in gaining technology for its nuclear program and cybercorporations, and use the internet for day-to-day control of its government. (NYT)
- U.S. charges Chinese military hackers with massive Equifax breach (Politico)
If You Pipedown They’ll Put Pipe Down
- The Wetʼsuwetʼen are a First Nations people, population less than 5,000, who live in the northwestern Central Interior of British Columbia. They have inhabited their territories for thousands of years, never signing treaties or selling their land to Canada.
- The chiefs of the five clans say they have never given permission for Coastal GasLink’s proposed 416 mile long pipeline to cross their lands, and supporters across the country have protested the proposed multi-billion dollar pipeline project. Wetʼsuwetʼen land defenders erected camp and built a gate to prevent access to their territories.
- But early Monday morning a convey of Canada’s federal police force (RCMP) — backed by helicopters, heavy machinery and dogs, and armed with an injunction ordering the road cleared — moved in on the remote camp, dismantling the gate and forcibly removing the land defenders. Seven activists were arrested, including three female leaders. (Canadian Press, Guardian)
Additional World News
- Sharp rise in brain injuries from Iran raid on US base (BBC)
- ‘Under Siege’: desperate Mexico region uses guns, children to fend off cartels (Reuters)
- Yemen: World’s biggest humanitarian emergency nears breaking point (BBC)
- Russian antifascist group given ‘monstrous’ jail terms (Guardian)
- Philippines to terminate troop agreement with US | World news (Guardian) & Philippines moves to strip biggest media group of its franchise (Guardian)
- Exclusive: India readying $2.6 billion U.S. naval helicopter deal ahead of Trump trip (Reuters)
- Coronavirus ‘could infect 60% of global population if unchecked’ (Guardian)
- ‘Let’s Not Shake Hands’: Xi Jinping Tours Beijing Amid Coronavirus Crisis (NYT, $)
- The global fight against coronavirus (BBC)
- China launches coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app (BBC)
- Cruise ship coronavirus infections double, exceeding the total for any country but China (WaPo, $)
Ezra Shaw via Getty Images
Everyone Gets A Good Monopoly Roll
- Prosecutors and lawmakers have begun rallying against a controversial change to the bail system which has resulted in the early release of dangerous criminals. The shifts, adopted by more than 20 states and numerous counties, were a recent example of bipartisan cooperation in which politicians from both parties agreed cash bail was unnecessarily keeping nonviolent offenders in jail before trial due to a lack of financial means.
- Created to help nonviolent offenders who could not afford previously expensive bail prices, the new regulations have been exploited, leading to the release of “dangerous criminals.” A state commission is currently examining what changes may be needed and lawmakers are expected to address the issue this year.
- Some prosecutors said the changes were well-intentioned, but there have been too many instances where offenders were let out and continued committing crimes, sometimes violent ones. A constant back-and-forth has occurred between prosecutors arguing boths sides, but until officials are able to settle internal disputes, the laws will remain in effect in cities and states which have already adopted the new systems. (WSJ, $)
Rockets To The Moon, Rockets To The Middle East, Rockets To Medicare
- President Trump released a $4.8 trillion budget Monday for the next fiscal year that proposes steep reductions in foreign aid, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, and other social-safety-net programs like food stamps and disability benefits. At the same time he wants to increase military spending. The proposals reveal Trump’s fiscal policy objectives should he win reelection in November, and are likely to be reflected in his campaign messaging.
- NASA is among the agencies to receive the biggest boosts in spending; Trump wants to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. The plan also calls for $2 billion in new funding for wall construction on the southern border.
- At the same time, Trump proposes to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 26 percent. It is unlikely the new budget will become law, since Democrats control the House and spending bills in the GOP-led Senate. (WSJ)
- Defense Department expected to announce billions more will go to border wall (CNN)
- An area sacred to indigenous groups is being destroyed for Trump’s border wall (Vox)
- Amazon wants to question Trump over loss of $10bn ‘war cloud’ contract (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- US election 2020: Focus switches to New Hampshire primary (BBC)
- Sheldon Adelson to donate $100m to Trump and Republicans, fundraisers say (Guardian)
- Paid social media influencers dip toes in U.S. 2020 election (Reuters)
- ‘Can’t even run a caucus’: Trump tries to rattle Democrats on eve of New Hampshire (Guardian)
- Crackdown on 5,000 Reckless Drivers: Take Safety Course or Lose Car (NYT, $)
- Why Ranked-Choice Voting Is Having a Moment (NYT, $)
- Silicon Valley venture capital firms are adding female partners, but too few “general partners” (Vox)
- After years of skyrocketing costs, lawmakers across the US push for caps on life-saving insulin payments (CNN)
Well, At Least We Know What Our 2030 New Year’s Resolution Will Be
- Medical scientists have projected that by 2030, nearly half the adult population in the United States will be obese, and a quarter of all adults will be “severely obese.” Well-intentioned efforts such as limiting access to huge portions of sugar-sweetened soda have been largely thwarted by Big Sugar’s ability to dwarf the impact of educational efforts by health departments that have tiny budgets in comparison.
- As a society, Americans have been noted to having unhealthy lifestyle habits in terms of both exercise and food consumption – which have led to the dire predictions of a future which may come in just a decade.
- Experts on the topic have paired the unhealthy eating habits of Americans with the issue of climate change. “If we pull more meat out of the American diet, it would help both the environment and weight loss,” said Dr. Bleich, a professor of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “From a policy perspective… prevention is the way to go.” (NYT, $)
- Colorado’s Fortitude Ranch Is A Doomsday Timeshare For The Middle Class (NPR)
- Girls beginning puberty almost a year earlier than in 1970s (Guardian)
- Wrecked cars, homicide and bags of meth: Inside the wild ride of peer-to-peer car rentals (NBC)
- Altruistic babies: Psychology study shows altruism may begin in infancy (Vox)
- It’s better to focus on where you are going than how you are feeling (Aeon)
- David Brooks: The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake (Atlantic, $)
- What makes Vanuatu one of the happiest places in the world? (BBC)
- Is workplace rudeness on the rise? (BBC)
- As someone who has heard a fair number of startup pitches, I can’t count the number of times I have had physical surveillance startups pitch, “our product will be the Google Analytics of real world tracking” and it looks like this nightmare vision of the world is starting to happen: The straight line from Google Maps to Clearview AI (Verge) & Opinion | The Government Uses ‘Near Perfect Surveillance’ Data on Americans (NYT, $)