June 2017

I guess so really

Victims of a major ransomware cyberattack that has spread through the US and Europe can no longer unlock their computers even if they pay the ransom.

The “Petya” ransomware has caused serious disruption at large firms including the advertising giant WPP, French construction materials company Saint-Gobain and Russian steel and oil firms Evraz and Rosneft.

Infected computers display a message demanding a Bitcoin ransom worth $300. Those who pay are asked to send confirmation of payment to an email address. However, that email address has been shut down by the email provider.

“We do not tolerate any misuse of our platform,” said the German email provider Posteo in a blog post.

This means that there is no longer any way for people who decide to pay the ransom to contact the attacker for a decryption key to unlock their computer.

“This is not an experienced ransomware operator,” said Ryan Kalember, senior vice-president of cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint.

How will this become Tory Austerity?

More than 1,000 fire doors have been found to be missing from a number of tower blocks, which were evacuated over ‘safety fears’ following the Grenfell Tower fire.
Camden Council announced on Friday evening that more than 800 households had been told to temporarily leave their homes to allow ‘urgent fire safety works’ to take place.

It’ll be interesting to see the twists and turns which make it so. But do not doubt that it will become so.

The Infinite Monkey types

The Conservatives have not won a decent majority since the 1980s but have ruled. Labour managed a majority but it did not result in good government on all issues. If first past the post is meant to deliver strong government it does not work. And it does not deliver good coalitions either.

So, err, if the Tories haven’t won decent majorities but have ruled then FPTP has produced strong government in the absence of decent majorities, no?

The interesting thing about this isn’t the sexism

A nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic was pelted with criticism for holding a bikini beauty contest to win an internship.
Women stripped down to their swimwear to pose up for photographs in the plant’s cooling tower and Facebook users were asked to vote for their favourite.
Activists and critics reacted furiously to the the competition at CEZ Temelín plant, calling it an ‘ignorant and stupid’ move.

How you look in a swimsuit does not determine how good you’re going to be in a nuclear power plant, obviously. No, not even what if.

No, the interesting thing is what it does to a society when those are 10 rather standard and average examples of the local womanhood. Wandering down the street here on a summer’s day is rather enjoyable, for example.

Queen Lizzie uses Windows XP

Navy chiefs boasted the defence system on the UK’s biggest ever warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be NASA standard – rather than like the NHS system that was hacked into several months ago.
But computers in the flying control room on the £3.1billion state-of-the-art carrier showed the system was still running on Windows XP.
This was the same software used by the NHS computers which were hit by a global cyber-attack in May this year.

That’s the Windows XP which is so outdated that it cannot load, let alone pass on, modern viruses?

Seems pretty safe really…..

My tribe’s so much better than yours!

On Friday evening, outside Camden town hall, council leader Georgia Gould defended the decision to evacuate the nearby Chalcots estate due to safety concerns. Gould seemed genuinely worried, and told the BBC that Camden had been first in the queue to test its cladding, finding on Thursday that the panels fitted were “not to the standard that we had commissioned” and announcing they would be removed. At a public meeting the same night, Gould says residents raised other safety concerns she’d been unaware of: Camden council and the London fire brigade assessed the block, and the council was advised to evacuate.

The contrast to the actions of Kensington and Chelsea council following the fire at Grenfell Tower the previous week could hardly be more stark.

Rather missing the point that this Labour council did in fact install the same cladding. So, you know, it’s not all about evil Tories, is it?

Paul Mason’s demand

Brexit should be the moment that anomaly is ended. On top of the right to settle, claim benefits and access the NHS, those who choose to stay after Britain leaves the EU should be offered full citizenship and, en route to that, be given the right to vote in Westminster elections.

Err, Paul matey. We have rules about who gets to be a citizen. And if you follow them then you get the vote. It’s rather what it means in fact.

Yes, obviously

John McEnroe has reopened a timeworn debate by saying that Serena Williams would “be like 700 in the world” if she played on the men’s tour. That would put Williams (career earnings: $84.4m) just behind Brazil’s Wilson Leite (career earnings: $74,000) in the men’s world rankings.

McEnroe’s comments came during an NPR interview on Sunday to promote his memoir, But Seriously. “Perhaps [her ranking] would be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower,” he said. “And on a given day Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke because she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, the US Open etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.”

That’s why we have male and female competitions, isn’t it?

Williams herself agrees by the way. What will be fun is to wait and see who bites on this. Amanduh?

Amazingly, this result does not come from Britain

Sex is good for the heart because it reduces the levels of a harmful chemical in the blood, scientists believe – but the effect is only seen in men.

Having sex several times a week can cut lead to better circulation and healthier blood vessels in men, which researchers say is crucial for preventing a build-up of the chemical homocysteine.

But scientists say women benefit much less because sexual arousal is less dependent on having a healthy blood flow, which is a key factor in keeping homocysteine under control.

If it had we would just point out that it’s a result of lying back and thinking of England…..

Perhaps one of our readers has experience of Taiwan, where the result does come from, to see if there could be some similar explanation?

Nope, he’s still not got it, has he?

That is why I have always said writing off student debt and PFI are key, if only the start. Both could be done. But the symbolism is essential.

There’re two problems with writing off PFI debt.

One is that much of it isn’t in fact debt at all. It’s ongoing operation and maintenance costs. Which still have to be paid whoever’s pockets the money comes from.

The other is rather more important. Spudda is, as we know, the guy who insists that we could get all that private pension money, lots and lots of corporate cash as well, funding public sector projects like housing greenery and so on through a national investment bank or the like.

Government’s going to get a lot of investment in such schemes if it has just written off the debts from the last set of such private money into public investment schemes, isn’t it?

Top Tip – this is something not to do

When a tanker truck overturned on a road in eastern Pakistan on Sunday (June 25), hundreds of people rushed towards the vehicle to collect the leaking fuel.

Using buckets, bottles and cans, they scooped up some of the 5,500 gallons of fuel gushing onto the road. For about an hour, men, women and children from nearby villages, as well as some passers-by who pulled over in their cars and motorbikes, collected the “windfall”, despite attempts by police to warn them away from the scene.

Then, suddenly, the truck caught fire and exploded, killing at least 150 people and seriously injuring at least 100 others.

I recall at least one incident of this happening in Nigeria. What’s gasoline these days, $2 a gallon? (Untaxed, of course, not at European rates). $10,000 worth of gas, 150 deaths, these people were poor, no? Risking for that little each?

Well, y’know, there’re traditions and there’re traditions

Donald Trump has not hosted an iftar dinner during Ramadan, breaking a nearly 20-year tradition.

Is two decades a tradition?

And how many such religious festivities should the White House follow? Muslims are some 1% of Americans, Jews 2% (or so). Passover at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? 0.7% Hindu and Buddhist each. By some estimates Eastern Orthodox outnumber Muslims. Jan 6 th celebrations, just where are they?

There’s a fun argument to be had here

You know, the South Africa for Africans argument?

The first of these discoveries is genetic. Swedish and South African scientists have made the origin of us — modern human beings — an even more mind-bogglingly gradual phenomenon than we used to think. Here is what they found. A skeleton of a boy who died 2,000 years ago at a place called Ballito Bay has yielded a good sample of preserved DNA. He was a Khoe-San, that is to say an indigenous native of southern Africa of the kind once called “bushmen”, who still live in the Kalahari desert.

But unlike all today’s Khoe-San he had no DNA from black Africans or white Europeans in him. Neither had yet arrived in southern Africa. So comparing the Ballito boy’s DNA to all modern people’s DNA made it possible to calculate when we last shared a common ancestor with him.

That is, the Bantu are just as much invaders as whitey has been. Indeed, for the Western Cape, the Bantu came later. The same is true of almost all of Africa south of, about, Ghana. The Bantu there are as new as the Germanic tribes are to Western, or even Central, Europe.

Which does pose something of a problem for the idea that the land should belong to the indigenes. Which indigenes?

Not quite right here

McDonnell repeatedly drew cheers from the crowds when he spoke of the need for electoral reform and changes to the House of Lords. He called for a “progressive intellectual alliance” between parties to rebuild what was needed for a democracy. “The House of Lords – 92 of them are there on the basis of who Charles II shagged at some point in the past,” he said. “It can’t be right that we have a House of Lords that’s based upon those people appointed rather than elected.”

For of course the hereditaries are elected…..

This would actually be rather amusing

A human rights group has called on the International Olympic Committee “not to repeat the mistake of the 1936 Berlin Games” by permitting North Korea to host events as part of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Do Jong-hwan, the South Korean minister of sport, proposed last week that some of the skiing events at present scheduled to take place in the city of Pyeongchang instead be held at North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort.

Because they’d really never manage to cope at all. Tens of thousands of westerners there would be the mother of all disasters for the N Koreans. They simply would not comprehend how people would act.

Kristoff really is a one, isn’t he?

RIVERCESS COUNTY, Liberia — He’s a 2-year-old boy named Sunday Dahn, lying in a coma in a rural health center with cerebral malaria. Even if Sunday survives, he may suffer permanent brain damage.

In Washington, we’ll see debates about President Trump’s proposal to slash humanitarian aid, and politicians will emerge as winners or losers depending on the outcome. But the real winners and losers are kids like Sunday.

As it turns out the aid budget that Trump wants to cut has absolutely nothing at all to do with malaria in Liberia.

But, you know, got to have a dying kid to wave about, right Nicholas?