WikiLeaks destroys privacy of many innocent people


WikiLeaks’  crusade to expose the government secrets of some countries, but not those of Russia or China, is violating the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill.

The Japan Times reports: “In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality is punishable by death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom.”

Meanwhile, there has been increasing speculation that Julian Assange, who runs WikiLeaks, is  either effectively acting as an agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin or declines to hack Russian or Chinese information because, especially in dealing with the former, he could end up dead. And, of course, democracies and open societies such as the U.S. are much easier to hack than police states like Russia and China.

To read  The Japan Times’s story on this, please hit this link.

U.S. political parties need to boost cybersecurity fast

U.S. political parties and government need to boost cybersecurity

Politico article shows why it’s past time for both major U.S. political parties to get much serious about tightening cybersecurity to protect the American political system from being sabotaged by the likes of Vladimir Putin. Hit this link for the full story.

Turkey attacks both ISIS and Kurds in Syria


After Turkey virtually gave ISIS a pass for many months, the Turkish military and allied forces are seriously attacking both U.S.-backed Kurdish militia and Islamic State group positions across the border in Syria. The Turkish government has fought the Kurds for many years because the latter want to carve out a nation of their own in the region, including in part of Turkey.

“The fundamental aim in the latest operation is to open a corridor for moderate rebels,” a Turkish official said.

Turkey’s foreign minister had vowed to “completely cleanse” the country’s border regions of Isis militants, after a  suicide bomber with links to the group killed 54 people at a Kurdish wedding.

To read The Guardian’s story, please hit this link.

China’s hidden unemployment rate


China’s real jobless rate may be considerably higher than the official 5 percent.

Bai Peiwei, an economics professor at Xiamen University, estimates, in the words of Bloomberg News, that the rate “may be 10 percent in industries with excess capacity, such as unprofitable steel mills and coal mines that have slashed pay, reduced shifts and required unpaid leave.”

Bloomberg adds:  “Many state-owned firms battling overcapacity favor putting workers in a holding pattern to avoid mass layoffs that risk fueling social unrest. While that helps airbrush the appearance of duress, it also slows the shift of workers to services jobs, where labor demand remains more solid in China’s shifting economy.”

“Other projections indicate the employment situation is even worse. An indicator of unemployment and underemployment produced by London-based research firm Fathom Consulting has more than tripled since 2012 to 13.2 percent.

“The official jobless rate isn’t much help for economists: it’s been virtually unchanged at about 4.1 percent since 2010 even as the economy slowed. The gauge only counts those who register for unemployment benefits in their home towns, which doesn’t take into account 277 million migrant workers. Total employment is 775 million, National Bureau of Statistics data show.”

To read the Bloomberg article, please hit this link.

Eurozone’s Big Three to meet on post-Brexit planning

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy — the Eurozone’s three largest countries — are meeting on a small southern Italian island for talks on how the European Union should proceed  following Britain’s  vote to leave.

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande are on  Ventotene, off  Naples, for a second round of trilateral talks before an informal E.U. summit in  Slovakia next month  that will map out some post-Brexit scenarios.

T0 read The Guardian’s article on this, please hit this link.


Twitter steps up its anti-terrorism efforts

Twitter  has suspended 235,000 terrorist-related accounts over the last six months, a doubling of its  suspension rate.

The Wall Street Journal reported that “Twitter, which relies mostly on users to flag content before it takes action, said in a blog post it has recently invested in bigger teams reviewing reports 24 hours a day, and better spam-detection tools and language capabilities.

“One third of the suspended accounts were identified thanks to the spam tools, Twitter said.

“There is no one ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the internet,” Twitter said in its blog post.

“The efforts come after Twitter came under fire for allowing terrorist-related content to proliferate on its site,” the WSJ reported.

To read The Wall Street Journal story, please hit this link.


Many young Europeans leave future behind


An increasing number of young people in Europe are neither working, nor in school nor being trained. This bodes ill for the socio-economic future of the Continent.

Bloomberg reports that “The problem isn’t only that they are currently without a job. They ‘face a permanent disadvantage on the labor market,’according to Guntram Wolff, director of the Brussels-based policy group Bruegel. ‘They will never be as productive as people who have a normal start.”’

To read the Bloomberg story, please hit this link.

Obama prepares for last Asia trip as president


President  Obama next month will make what is expected to be his final trip to Asia. There he will  meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders.

During his time in the White House,  Mr. Obama has sought to “rebalance” America’s defense and economic policy to counter China’s rising influence.

During the trip, from Sept. 2-9, he will attend the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, where he will  meet privately with Mr.  Xi.

He also will travel to Laos to  take part in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and East Asia Summit, where leaders have grappled with China’s increasingly menacing territorial claims in the South China Sea.

His visit to Laos will be the first for an U.S. president. There, he will meet  with Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith and attend a town hall with young leaders.

The trip will be a chance for  Mr. Obama to promote the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a key part of his Asia strategy but one that faces a lot of opposition in  the U.S. Congress.

To read a Reuters article on this, please hit this link.

Inside Assad’s giant torture chamber


This Guardian piece takes you inside Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s giant prison and torture chamber, where people seized by Assad’s forces undergo horrific abuse.

“Now ex-detainees and architects have built an accurate model, using ‘ear-witness’ testimony, of the dictator’s hellish torture house, ” the news service reports.

To read the story, please hit this link.



Syrian city’s recapture seen as model for taking ISIS ‘capital’


U.S. officials see the recapture of an Islamic State stronghold in Syria  —  the city of Manbij — as a model for future U.S.-backed operations against the murderous terror group, and especially for  supporting a march by allied forces on Raqqa, the group’s “capital.”

Fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-supported group that includes Kurdish militias and local Arab groups, regained control of Manbij, near the Turkish border and what had been a key logistics point for the Islamic State.

U.S. officials said the offensive showed the value of the small force of U.S. Special Operations troops on the ground in Syria, as they coordinated U.S. airstrikes and advised Syrian forces during intense urban fighting.

“Our operating concept has been validated,” a senior defense official told The Washington Post. “Utilizing local forces and our own Special Operations forces, partnered with overwhelming coalition air power, and enough time — the Islamic State really doesn’t have an answer to it.”

To read The Post’s story, hit this link.

Hackers claim to sell NSA hacking code


Computer hackers assert that they’re selling high-powered hacking tools developed by the U.S. National Security Agency.

CNN reports that computer code — whose purpose is to break into other computers — was leaked to the public  on Aug. 12 by an anonymous entity called “The Shadow Brokers.”

“The same mysterious entity also promised an upcoming ‘cyber weapons auction’ — the digital equivalent to putting stolen military missiles up for sale.”

CNN reported that the gang asserts that the stolen hacking tools were developed by “the Equation Group” —  thought to be the U.S. National Security Agency and spying departments from four international allies: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Computer security experts worldwide now worry that sensitive NSA spying tools are accessible to common criminal hackers or such Western adversaries as China, North Korea and Russia.

To read the CNN story, please hit this link.

Senior North Korean diplomat defects


Thae Yong Ho, a senior diplomat in Britain of the regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has defected to South Korea, although he may be in hiding in Britain, given the  three-generation communist Kim dynasty’s frequent use of murder. Thae’s defection (along with his wife and children) could provide the West with highly useful knowledge of the brutal and secretive regime.

The incident is apparently the   first such case of its kind since official ties were established  between the Kim regime and Britain  13 years ago.

A South Korean official said that  the diplomat was “sick and tired of the Kim Jong-un regime,” yearned for a liberal, open and democratic country and worried about his children’s future.

To read more, please hit this link.

Possible ‘no first use’ policy scares U.S. allies


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and  leaders of some other major U.S. allies are worried about  the possible policy of “no first use”  of nuclear weapons being considered by the Obama administration. The fear is that such a policy would weaken  the ability to deter aggressive dictatorships such as North Korea.

South Korea, France and Britain are also said to have privately communicated their concerns to U.S. officials about a potential declaration by President Obama of such a policy.

If Mr. Obama were to declare a no-first-use policy, it would represent a  major change in the U.S. nuclear posture.

To read a Japan Times story on this topic, please hit this link.


New Apple center another opportunity for Chinese theft?


Despite the increasing difficulties for foreign companies operating in China, Apple Inc. will build its first Asia-Pacific research and development center in the country, Chief Executive Tim Cook said Aug. 14.

The pledge comes after China’s industry and technology regulator in May told Apple  that China could deepen its cooperation with the country in research and development and stressed information security. Given China’s record of engaging in massive intellectual-property theft and in cracking down on Internet freedom in China while its government engages in frequent cyberattacks against the United States, it’s unclear how beneficial the center will be to Apple,  other U.S. technology companies or, indeed to U.S. and other Western nations’ national security in general.

The regime of President Xi Jinping may see the new Apple center as yet another way of undermining American technology superiority.

To read a Reuters story on the new center, please hit this link.

Russian jets use Iran airbase to attack Syrian rebels


Russian  airstrikes against, Russia asserts, Islamic State in Syria from an airbase in Iran were the first time in 70 years in which Russian forces have operated on Iranian soil. It’s major expansion in the collaboration among the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s and his two main allies — Russia and Iran.

The Guardian noted that hosting Russian jets on Iranian territory is a major change by Tehran from its previous history of  mostly just covert operations in regional conflicts.

To read The Guardian’s article, please hit this link.