A whole lot of ground to cover, catching up from feeling a tad unwell.

First, from Deutsche Welle:

Anti-austerity ‘Million Mask March’ sweeps the globe

Activists protesting against austerity, mass surveillance and oppression have taken to the steets in some 481 cities worldwide. The Million Mask March was organized by the activist group Anonymous.

Protesters from around the world united on Wednesday night in the Million Mask March against austerity, mass surveillance and oppression. The worldwide demonstration took place for the third consecutive year in some 481 towns and cities around the globe.

Obscuring their faces with masks, made famous by the 2005 film “V for Vendetta,” protesters gathered in countries as far apart as the UK, China, Germany, Australia, Sweden and the US, to name but a few.

The global demonstration was organized by Anonymous, which describes itself as “a truth movement advocating hacktivism as self-defense for unconstitutional government.”

Hints of dark secrets in Old Blighty, via the Independent:

The Dickens Dossier: Secret file on establishment paedophiles may be opened

A secret file which is said to contain the names of paedophiles with links to the British establishment and which is rumoured to be locked away in archives at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, could be made public as part of the Government’s child abuse inquiry.

Inquiry panel members Barbara Hearn and Sharon Evans, along with Ben Emmerson QC, counsel to the inquiry, assured campaigners at their meeting last week – shortly before Fiona Woolf announced she would be the second person to resign as chair – that they would have top-level security clearance and access to restricted or closed files.

The whereabouts of the “Dickens Dossier”, containing allegations of paedophiles linked to the British establishment and compiled by former Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens, is unknown. It went missing after the politician handed it to the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, in 1984, as are more than 100 documents concerning child abuse allegations that had been held by the Home Office. It is rumoured it may be in the Barbara Castle archives within the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

Obama calls for more war, via BuzzFeed:

Obama Calls On Congress To “Update” Military Force Authorization

“The idea is to right size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights,” Obama says.

President Obama said Wednesday he will work with Congress to “update” his authorization to conduct the ongoing war with ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking to reporters during a post-election press conference, Obama listed updating the 2001 Authorized Use of Military Force — a sweeping, 60-word law that has been used to launch attacks against terrorists in Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world.

Obama said he would “begin engaging Congress over a new authorization to use military force against ISIL. The world needs to know we are united in this effort and the men and women of the military deserve our clear and unified support.”

From Al Jazeera America, oops:

US anti-ISIL strategy faces major setback in Syria’s second city

As Aleppo goes, so go prospects for a viable rebel force to fight both Assad and extremists

A growing chorus of alarm has warned the Obama administration that its strategy to combat Islamic State forces in Syria is on the verge of unraveling in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city. But with regime forces now in control of all but one road into Aleppo, the remaining residents of areas controlled by the rebels designated “moderate” by the U.S. are bracing for the worst.

“We started planning for the siege,” Zaina Erhaim, a journalist living in Aleppo, told Al Jazeera. “I have a friend who is a theater director who is learning how to use a pump action [shotgun]. If the regime attacks the city, he’d have to defend himself.”

Forces fighting for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have taken advantage of the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) targets elsewhere in Syria to press their offensive in Aleppo and are now within firing range of Castello Road, the rebels’ last remaining supply route. “They can close it whenever they like,” Erhaim said, speaking by phone. “Maybe they’re still opening it for those who want to escape, before applying the siege.”

Another campaign, same war, another outlay, via the London Telegraph:

US army ‘loses’ military equipment worth $420 million in Afghanistan

Missing hardware includes sensitive weapons systems, encryption devices and vehicles, according to internal Pentagon investigation that highlights challenges of $7 billion Afghan withdrawal

The US army has “lost” $420 million (£260m) worth of military equipment, including weapons systems, vehicles, encryption devices and communications gear, in Afghanistan, according to an embarrassing internal investigation.

The report by the Pentagon’s inspector general criticised Army officials for being slow to report and investigate the losses of equipment, much of it highly sensitive, from its main operating bases at Bagram and Kandahar.

The investigation did not conclude how the “inventory losses” of 156,000 pieces of hardware for the 2013 financial year occurred, but noted a series of failings in oversight, accounting and record-keeping.

It was not clear if the any of equipment may have fallen into enemy hands, but the report underscored the costs and challenges facing the US as it winds down its military operations in Afghanistan after 13 years. The withdrawal could cost a further $7 billion, according to Pentagon estimates.

Another grim assessment, via United Press International:

U.S. General: Number of Aghan troop deaths ‘unsustainable’

According to the commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Afghanistan’s National Security Force has lost 9,000 members since the beginning of 2013, a number that is “not sustainable in the long term.”

The losses suffered by Afghanistan’s National Security Forces is unsustainable, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command said Wednesday.

According to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, ANSF has lost 9,000 members since the beginning of 2013, a number that is “not sustainable in the long term.”

The U.S., by comparison, has lost 2,346 troops since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001.

“Their first priority right now is to get their recruiting back up,” Anderson told reporters via video conference from Kabul, citing the fact that Afghanistan’s police and army forces have filled only 89 and 81 percent of their slots respectively.

From TheLocal.de, German blowback:

Berlin rapper brandishes severed head in Isis clip

A German rapper turned jihadist has appeared in an Islamic State (Isis) video holding a severed head.

The video, uploaded by activists reporting on war crimes in Syria from the eastern province of Dair as-Saur, shows Denis Cuspert, whose rap names was Deso Dogg, with other fighters who are seen killing several people.

The jihadists kill three people during the video, with one shot and another beheaded.

Austrian, too, via TheLocal.at:

Austrian jihadist poses in front of corpses

Austrian Islamist Mohamed Mahmoud, who was released from custody in Turkey in August, has published a photo of himself on the Internet posing in front of several half naked, decapitated corpses.

The photo is reported to have been taken a few days ago, in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, considered to be the unofficial capital of the Islamic State extremist group Isis.

Mahmoud served four years in an Austrian prison for joining and actively supporting al-Qaeda and its affiliates. He is now linked to Isis and calls himself Abu Usama al-Gharib.

He is reported to have married Ahlam Al-Nasr, an Isis propaganda official known as the “poet of the Islamic State” a few weeks ago.

And the French in the ranks, from Der Spiegel:

The Lost Children: France Takes Stock of Growing Jihadist Problem

More than 1,000 young people from France have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, more than from any other European country. The recruits are no longer just coming from the margins of society.

Extremism is infecting young French people like a slow but steadily progressing disease. And like a disease, its course varies slightly among individuals, and yet in each case it passes through similar stages.

There are believed to be about 1,000 French citizens in Iraq and Syria, or en route to those countries, more than from any other European nation. Entire families have joined jihadist movements, including about 100 young French women. Many have already been married off to fighters in the Turkish-Syrian border region. Once a girl is married and pregnant, it becomes more difficult for her to flee. The terrorist groups that are targeting France in their recruitment efforts include Islamic State and Syria’s Al-Nusra Front.

“Young people are being deliberately targeted, boys and girls, each for different purposes,” says Dounia Bouzar, who has been studying the radicalization of French youth for 15 years. Bouzar, 50, an anthropologist specializing in religion, had already analyzed the phenomenon of self-proclaimed holy warriors when officials at the French Interior Ministry were still dealing with isolated cases. She wrote a book on the subject in 2006, a sort of guide for parents. Bouzar says that she saw this wave of radicalization of French youth coming, but that she would have preferred to be wrong.

ISIS afloat from BBC News:

Jihadists ‘using cruise ships’ to reach Middle East war zones

Would-be jihadists have been travelling on cruise ships to reach conflict areas in the Middle East, Interpol has said.

The international police body said some of those trying to join militant groups in Iraq and Syria had used cruise lines to get to countries including Turkey.

It said checks to passenger lists should be extended from airlines to cruise operators before the issue became more of a problem. No figures were put on how many militants had travelled in this way.

Speaking in Monaco, Interpol’s outgoing chief, Ronald Noble, said countries should conduct checks on all passengers using airports “and, more and more, cruise lines”.

Division Down Under from CNN:

Sectarian tensions running high, say Australian Muslim leaders

Muslim community leaders in Australia say sectarian tensions are soaring, as radicalized Sunni youth, inspired by ISIS, seek to import the religious conflicts wracking the Middle East.

“The tensions are very high and will continue to be high,” said Jamal Daoud, a Shia community leader in Sydney, where a 47-year old Shia leader was shot in the shoulder early Monday morning, as worshipers observed the Shia ritual of Ashura.

He said Rasoul Al Mousawi, a leader in the Shia community focused around the Islamic center in Greenacre, south-west Sydney, had been released from hospital on Tuesday and was doing well.

And on the other extreme, via Der Spiegel:

Germany’s New Right: The Unholy Alliance of Neo-Nazis and Football Hooligans

The riots in Cologne at the end of October show there is a new danger on Germany’s extremist right. Neo-Nazis and football hooligans have teamed up to go after Islamist Salafists. Many are wondering why officials didn’t recognize the development sooner.

Hours after their coup, the rabble rousers were still reveling in their unexpected success. One hooligan going by the nom de guerre “Bo Ne,” happily posted: “We made it into the news around the entire world. Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, Spain, France — first goal achieved!”

It was a view shared by almost everyone in the four closed forums belonging to the group called Hooligans gegen Salafisten (Hooligans against Salafists). With more than 3,000 members, the network is a loose association of neo-Nazis, nationalists and football rowdies — and their posts made it clear that they didn’t think they were being monitored. One regretted not having brought an axe to the demonstration to “destroy all of Islam.” Bo Ne and others, however, were totally satisfied. Germany, he wrote, has now seen “what it means to deceive a people for 70 years.”

The rally took place on the last weekend in October and saw almost 5,000 demonstrators, right-wing extremists and football hooligans march through Cologne, many of them clearly looking for trouble. Riled up by the right-wing rock band Kategorie C (which sings lyrics like: “Today they are slitting the throats of sheep and cows, tomorrow it may be Christian children”), they filled the Cologne city center with their hate. Tourists and passersby got out of their way.

More of the same further to the south, also via Der Spiegel:

Sun Sets on Golden Dawn: Greek Party Accused in Killings and Racist Attacks

Greece’s public prosecutor claims the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party bears all the characteristics of a ‘criminal organization’. Party members stand accused of murder and other acts of violence. Will Greek officials soon move to ban Chrysi Avgi?

The 697-page report from the public prosecutor’s office reads like a thriller. But it addresses things that people in Greece long would have considered inconceivable. It paints a picture of a neo-Nazi party that is both openly and forcefully attacking the democratic system in a way not seen in Europe in decades.

Directly or indirectly, the report accuses 69 members or supporters of the Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, political party — among them 16 members of Greek parliament — of participation in murder or attempted murder, serious bodily injury, violent hate crimes, theft, blackmail or arson. Chief Prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos describes in meticulous detail the structures of a criminal organization that is being directed from inside the Greek parliament.

Eight members of parliament from the party are currently being held in pre-trial detention, including party spokesman and chief ideologist Ilias Kasidiaris in addition to party chief Nikos Machaloliakos. Three additional parliamentarians are currently under house arrest while five others have been forbidden from leaving the country. Investigators are hoping to take the case to trial early next year.

More internal disorder in Europe from Deutsche Welle:

Clashes at anti-austerity reforms protest in Brussels

A mass demonstration of some 100,000 workers in the Belgian capital has ended in clashes between protesters and police. The march was the first in a series of protests against new austerity measures.

Belgian riot police fired tear gas and water cannon during clashes with demonstrators on Thursday, at the first of a series of anti-austerity demonstrations and strikes planned for the coming weeks. More than 100,000 people were on the streets of Brussels where they marched peacefully for almost two hours before violence broke out.

Car windows were smashed, other vehicles were overturned or set alight, and protsetors threw paving stones and fireworks. There were also reports of serious injuries among police as well as demonstrators.

As part of the reforms and cost-cutting measures, Belgium’s one-month old, center-right government has pledged to raise the retirement age and limit scope for early retirement. An inflation-linked wage hike, due next year, will also be cancelled, and health and social security budgets are to face cuts.

Video from RT:

Clashes, water cannon, tear gas in EU’s ‘capital’: Anti-austerity anger in Brussels

Program notes:

Violent clashes broke out in Belgium as more than 100,000 protesters marched in Brussels against the government’s austerity measures. Police deployed water cannon and tear gas as the protesters started upturning cars.

After the jump, Cold War 2.0 gets hotter, another ratchet up, a Russian missile test, British spookshops want Russian speakers, British spies bug lawyer/client parlays and apply their digital vacuums to journalists, Austrian drones under digital attack in the Ukraine, drones keep flying over French nuke plants, an American spy drone heads to an Okinawan base, and Goggle drone delivery rolls along, Snowden abandons German asylum hopes, Google in your kitchen, confidential messaging proclaimed, Word under siege, an iWorm warning, Gmail hacking gets personal, Facebook goes to the dark side, major messaging fails, on to Mexico and a march in solidarity with missing college students, what Mexican police fear most, and a question of tipping points as a murdered journalist’s body is found, murderous Brazilian police, and Argentine cops raid the press, next to Libyan and an oil field seized, mass arrests and protests over the murder of Pakistani Christians as a cop takes an axe to an alleged [and mentally ill] blasphemer, Pakistan looks to China for tanks, Myanmar journalist beaten to death in police custody?, Taiwan hit by Watergate of its own, on to China and a security scandal prolonged, a Hong Kong protest increasingly unpopular as the last British governor trades charges with Beijing and the latest clash breaks out, China deploys its anti-drone lasers, Game of Zones claims a Korean construction contract, Washington shuts down a Korean air show, Chinese ships test the Japanese line in the water, and that vexing olde shrine rears its ugly head again. . .

Cold War 2.0, getting warmer, via the Guardian:

Finland warns of new cold war over failure to grasp situation in Russia

Finnish president Sauli Niinisto set to meet David Cameron and other northern European leaders at conference in Helsinki

Western countries are at the gates of a new cold war with Russia sparked by the Ukraine crisis and a continuing failure to grasp the depth and seriousness of Vladimir Putin’s grievances with the US and EU, the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, has warned.

Speaking to the Guardian at his official residence before a conference in Helsinki on Thursday attended by the UK prime minister, David Cameron, and leaders of the Nordic and Baltic states, Niinistö said Finland had a long tradition of trying to maintain friendly relations with Russia. But it was not prepared to be pushed around.

“The Finnish way of dealing with Russia, whatever the situation, is that we will be very decisive to show what we don’t like, where the red line is. And that is what we are prepared to do,” Niinistö said, referring to a recent spate of violations of Finnish airspace by Russian military aircraft.

Another ratchet upward, via Reuters:

Russia told U.S. it will not attend 2016 nuclear security summit

Russia has told the United States that it will not attend a 2016 nuclear security summit, the State Department said on Wednesday, in the latest sign of frosty ties between Washington and Moscow.

Explaining why it would stay away, Moscow said it doubted the value of the summit, which is to be held in Chicago in 2016, and believed the views of states which disagreed with the event’s organizers would be ignored.

Instead, Russia would focus on a similar conference to be held also in 2016 by the United Nations nuclear body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A Russian missile test from Al Jazeera America:

Russia tests long-range missile fired from submarine

Putin has underlined importance of nuclear deterrent, while Obama has ordered upgrade of US nuclear fleet

Russia test-fired a Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile from a submerged submarine in the far-northern Barents Sea on Wednesday as part of a check on the reliability of the navy’s strategic forces, the Defense Ministry said. The move follows alleged Russian testing of a cruise missile last summer,  and a far-reaching $355 billion upgrade of the U.S. nuclear weapons fleet over the next decade ordered by President Barack Obama.

The liquid-fueled Russian ICBM, which can carry nuclear warheads, was fired from the Tula submarine to the Kura Test Range in the far eastern Kamchatka region, the RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying. It gave no other details.

The Sineva, which has a range of about 7,500 miles, entered service in 2007 and is part of efforts to prevent the weakening of Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

And British spookshops want Russian speakers, via intelNews:

British spy agencies launch recruitment drive for Russian speakers

Amid mounting tensions between Russia and the West, British spy agencies have announced an ambitious recruitment campaign aimed at hiring a new generation of Russian-language specialists. The Security Service, known as MI5, which is responsible for domestic security and counterintelligence, posted an advertisement on its website this week, alerting potential applicants that the job search for Russian-language speakers will officially launch “in mid-November 2014″.

The recruitment campaign, which is described on the spy agency’s website as “an exciting opportunity to match your language skills to a position in MI5″, appears to be jointly administered with the General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s signals intelligence agency, which is tasked with intercepting foreign communications.

The move takes place in a wider context of deteriorating relations between Moscow and Western Europe, notably in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of southeastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

All the better to frame them with? From the Independent:

Government admits secret services eavesdrop on lawyer-client communications

MI5 and GCHQ have for years operated a policy allowing their staff to intercept communications between lawyers and their clients and use the legally protected material “like any other intelligence”, according to documents released today.

The Government has for months resisted legal attempts by two Libyan victims of rendition to force it to disclose whether it sanctions intelligence agents to eavesdrop on lawyer-client communications after arguing that disclosure of its policy would damage national security.

But documents now disclosed in the case confirm for the first time that the intelligence services allow staff to “in principle target the communications of lawyers” and use the resulting material for covert work, including disclosing it to “an outside body”.

The principle of legal professional privilege (LPP), which allows advice and discussions between lawyers and their clients to remain confidential, is one of the oldest and considered as one of the most inviolable in the English legal system.

An important addition from the Intercept:

British Spies Are Free to Target Lawyers and Journalists

According to the documents released Thursday, in at least one case legally privileged material that was covertly intercepted by a British agency may have been used to the government’s advantage in legal cases. One passage notes that security service MI5 identified an instance in which there was potential for “tainting” a legal case after secretly intercepted privileged material apparently ended up in the hands of its lawyers.

The policies note that the targeting of lawyers “must give careful consideration to necessity and proportionality,” but the GCHQ policy document notes that each individual analyst working at the agency is “responsible for the legality” of their targeting, suggesting that a large degree of personal judgement is involved in the process. Notably, there is no judicial oversight of eavesdropping conducted by GCHQ or other British security agencies; their surveillance operations are signed off by a senior politician in government, usually the Foreign or Home Secretary.

The categories that allow the agencies to spy on lawyers or others working with “confidential” material, such as journalists, are extremely broad.

Austrian drones under digital attack in the Ukraine via TheLocal.at:

Attack on Austrian-made drone in east Ukraine

One of two Austrian-made drones monitoring a truce in eastern Ukraine has been subjected to serious electronic jamming whilst flying over rebel-controlled Chermalyk on Tuesday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said.

This comes after numerous anti-aircraft rounds were fired at one of the drones on Sunday. The United States blamed pro-Russian rebels for that attack.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – deployed to help monitor the ceasefire between government forces and separatists – was not hit and it later landed safely, the Vienna-based OSCE said.

In regard to Tuesday’s incident the OSCE said in a statement that “initial analysis of the SMM UAV flight log data indicated that the SMM UAV was subjected to military-grade GPS jamming… The SMM UAV left the area and landed safely.”

Droning nukes from TheLocal.fr:

Who’s flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?

The French public has been left concerned and authorities befuddled after unidentified drones were detected flying over nuclear plants across the country in recent weeks. So who’s behind them and should we be worried?

France’s state-run power company EDF rang alarm bells last week when it announced it had filed a complaint with police after detecting the small unmanned aerial vehicles zipping over not one, not two, but seven atomic plants in October.

Since then, more have been spotted and there have been at least 16 fly-overs throughout France, usually at night, leaving jittery authorities clueless as to who is piloting these helicopter-type machines at a time of heightened vigilance in the face of terror threats from Islamic extremists.

France’s minister for the environment Ségolène Royal admitted this week that authorities didn’t have a clue who might be flying drones over power stations, which is illegal in France.

An American spy drone heads to an Okinawan base, from the Yomiuri Shimbun:

U.S. to deploy spy drone to Okinawa

The U.S. Navy plans to deploy the Triton large unmanned surveillance aircraft, now under development, to Okinawa Prefecture, according to Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations.

The navy aims to complete the deployment by the end of 2017, Greenert said in a speech Tuesday.

Google drones, via Aviation Week & Space Technology:

Google Details ‘Project Wing’ Unmanned Package-Delivery R&D

How recipients react could help determine whether self-flying package delivery works

The biggest challenge to the plans of Amazon, Google and others to deliver packages directly to customers using unmanned aircraft may be the recipients themselves, including their unfortunate tendency to reach up to grab  packages while they are still attached to the aircraft.

The man who launched and led Google’s Project Wing for its first two years thinks package delivery by unmanned aircraft “absolutely is going to happen,” but has revealed some of the challenges identified by the search giant in its research and development effort.

“The biggest challenge for precision delivery is going to be the user,” says Nick Roy, a professor who took a sabbatical from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to start the project, including conducting real-life delivery trials in August on a farm in Australia.

Snowden abandons German asylum hopes, from TheLocal.de:

Snowden gives up Germany asylum hopes

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has given up seeking asylum in Germany, a parliamentary question has revealed.

In response to a question from Die Linke (Left Party) in the Bundestag, the government said: “Edward Snowden has not made a renewed asylum application to the Federal Republic of Germany,” Tagesspiegel reported.

Snowden’s original application for asylum was denied by the government in July 2013.

The government said that Snowden deserved no praise for his revelations about massive global surveillance by US National Security Agency (NSA) spies, in collaboration with allies including Germany.

Google in the fridge, via PandoDaily:

Google just removed the biggest obstacle to its real-world surveillance system’s spread

Nest plans to offer its smart thermostat to Irish consumers for free when they sign up for a two-year contract with Electric Ireland. Nest chief executive Tony Fadell said at the Web Summit in Dublin that the deal could put his company’s thermostats in up to 1.6 million homes, according to CNET, and claimed that similar deals would be announced for other countries in the future.

It makes sense for Nest to give away its thermostat. Most consumers are unlikely to spend $250 on an Internet-connected thermostat, but they might be willing to have one installed if one is offered for free whenever they sign a contract with a utilities company. (Though they might also do what Samsung’s customers did when it offered free smartwatches and try to resell them online.)

This is a familiar tactic. It’s probably how you purchased your smartphone: You signed on for a two-year contract with a wireless carrier, purchased a subsidized device, and paid it off as part of your inflated monthly payments. The only difference is that Nest is applying the model to something besides phones, and it’s giving the devices away for free instead of cutting the price.

All of which means that Google has now removed the biggest obstacle standing between its real-world surveillance system and the people from whom it so desperately wants to gather its data.

Confidential messaging proclaimed, from MIT Technology Review:

How to Exchange Encrypted Messages on Any Website

A new tool brings simple encrypted messaging to any webmail or social

Strong encryption is the best way to ensure that no one can read messages you send online.

After last year’s revelations about U.S. Internet surveillance raised interest in privacy tools, Google and Yahoo both announced they were working on software to let people who use their e-mail services easily exchange encrypted messages.

Now a prototype browser extension called ShadowCrypt, made by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Maryland, goes even further. It makes it easy to send and receive encrypted text on Twitter, Facebook, or any other website.

Using ShadowCrypt, a person who writes or is authorized to read a tweet or e-mail sees normal text. The site operator or anyone else looking at or intercepting the posting would see a garbled string of letters and numbers.

Word under siege, from PCWorld:

‘Dridex’ malware revives Microsoft Word macro attacks

A recent piece of malware that aims to steal your online banking credentials revives a decade-old technique to install itself on your PC.

Called Dridex, the malware tries to steal your data when you log into an online bank account by creating HTML fields that ask you to enter additional information like your social security number. Thats not unusual in itself: Dridex is the successor to a similar piece of malware called Cridex which also targets your bank account.

Whats different is how Dridex tries to infect your computer in the first place. Its delivered in the form of a macro, buried in a Microsoft Word document in a spam email message.

Cybercriminals started using macros more than a decade ago but they fell out of favor after Microsoft strengthened its security defenses against them. But some hackers are apparently trying them again.

An iWorm warning from Network World:

Apple security checks may miss iWorm malware

Apple’s security technologies for Mac OS X may still miss iWorm, a piece of malware discovered in late September that infected thousands of computers.

Apple released an update for its XProtect antivirus engine to detect iWorm, but the update only detects when iWorm’s installer is launched, which is a one-time operation, said Patrick Wardle, director of research with Synack, a computer security company based in Redwood City, California. He wrote a paper describing his findings.

It means that computers already infected with iWorm before the update would still be compromised.

Gmail hacking gets personal, from the Los Angeles Times:

Hackers get personal with ‘manual hijacking,’ Google finds

When hackers target Google users’ accounts, they get a lot closer than you might think, the company says.

Typically, automated spam bots send out messages and use hacked accounts to send out spam en masse. But in a study released Thursday, Google looked at “manual hijacking” for the first time.

With this type of hack, the attack is far more personal: Manual hijackers are groups of professionals who spend time going through accounts one by one to determine their worth and exploit them.

Though rare — only nine incidents per million users per day were reported — the attacks are severe, often pulling a user’s bank records or targeting the account’s contact list through phishing. About 20% of hacked accounts are broken into within 30 minutes of an attacker receiving login information, the report said.

Facebook goes to the dark side, from MIT Technology Review:

“Dark Web” Version of Facebook Shows a New Way to Secure the Web

A new way to access Facebook securely and anonymously via the “dark Web” could provide a model for other sites.

Facebook.com is one of the most frequently accessed URLs in the world, but on Friday the social network unveiled a new one: facebookcorewwwi.onion.

That address serves up a version of Facebook’s service accessible only via the Tor anonymity software. Tor users include dissidents trying to avoid censorship, criminals, and U.S. government workers who need to escape scrutiny from foreign security services.

Facebook says it launched the site to better serve people who already access its services via Tor but are sometimes blocked by its automatic security controls. The organization behind Tor says hundreds of thousands of people access the site this way, for example from within Iran and China, countries where government authorities block Facebook access.

The new .onion site will prevent Tor users from being blocked and also offers additional security. Security experts that advised Facebook on its new service say it shows how Web companies can help people preserve their security and anonymity online.

From Network World, major messaging fails:

Popular messaging apps fail EFF’s security review

Some of the most widely used messaging apps in the world, including Google Hangouts, Facebook chat, Yahoo Messenger and Snapchat, flunked a best-practices security test by advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The organization evaluated 39 messaging products based on seven criteria it believes such tools should meet in order to ensure the privacy and security of digital communications.

The reviewed products included mobile texting apps, instant messaging clients, voice and video calling software and email services. The results were published Tuesday under the form of a Secure Messaging Scorecard.

On to Mexico and a march in solidarity with missing college students from BBC News:

Mexico missing case: Students march in solidarity

Thousands of Mexicans have been marching through the streets of Mexico City to protest against the pace of investigations on the whereabouts of 43 missing student teachers.

They disappeared after clashing with police in the south-western state of Guerrero more than five weeks ago.

University students have begun a 72-hour strike in support of the teachers.

The mayor of Iguala, suspected of involvement in their disappearance, was arrested on Tuesday after a manhunt.

The nationwide strike is the latest in a series of protests aimed at putting pressure on the authorities to step up the search for the missing students from a teacher-training college in the town of Ayotzinapa.

And a video clip from euronews:

Mexico: students strike as 43 trainee students still missing

Program notes:

University students in Mexico have begun a 72-hour strike following the disappearance of 43 trainee teachers in the south of the country over a month ago.

The striking students are demanding that authorities step up efforts to find the missing trainees, who went missing after a protest turned violent, and who are feared dead.

As a search for them continues, the fugitive mayor from the southern city of Iguala, where the trainees went missing, and his wife have been arrested.

Via Borderland Beat, what Mexican police fear most [a graffito]:

And a question of tipping points from the Christian Science Monitor:

Mexico’s missing students: Will case prove a tipping point?

The disappearance of 43 college students in September has reverberated deeply in Mexico, bringing together disparate protest movements and raising hopes that leaders will finally have to address the ongoing corruption and impunity it exposes.

The number 43 is cropping up across Mexico City these days: Written large on banners near Revolution Plaza and scribbled small on posters advertising office space for rent. In a public park, one wall bears the graffiti message: “It hurts 43 times.”

The signs all refer to the mass kidnapping in September of 43 students from a teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero. It is not the biggest or bloodiest crime in Mexico’s recent history, but it has struck a national nerve. It has exposed alleged connections between local officials, police, and organized crime. And many here hope it can be a turning point for Mexico, which has struggled to address the corruption and impunity that grip the nation, even as President Enrique Peña Nieto tries to highlight its economic promise.

Since he took office, the international conversation about Mexico has changed markedly. From the start, Mr. Peña Nieto rallied politicians from rival parties to join a “Pact for Mexico,” enabling passage of landmark reforms including energy, education, and telecommunications. Homicides have fallen by 29 percent since 2012 according to government statistics, and after six years of headlines focused on beheadings and mass graves, suddenly the international media were heralding “Mexico’s Moment” for development and economic growth.

But the students’ abduction in Iguala, about 120 miles south of Mexico City, after a run-in with local police has drawn back the curtain once again, exposing the continuing grip of corruption and insecurity.

Another body found, via the Guardian:

Missing Mexican journalist’s body found riddled with bullets

Jesús Antonio Gamboa Urías, a Mexican journalist who edited the online news site Nueva Prensa, was found dead a week after being abducted.

His body, riddled with gunshots, was found in a village near the city of Los Mochis, in the north-western state of Sinaloa, which is one of Mexico’s most violent regions.

The International Press Institute (IPI) has called for a full investigation into his death.

“This case represents yet another blow to press freedom in Mexico, a country that has been ravaged by violence and impunity for several years now,” said Vanessa Garnica, IPI’s press freedom adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean.

From BBC News, murderous Brazilian police:

Brazil probes deaths in Belem police ‘revenge attacks’

The authorities in Brazil say they are investigating reports that off-duty policemen killed nine people on Tuesday night in the northern city of Belem in revenge attacks.

The incidents happened hours after a policeman was shot dead by unknown gunmen outside his home.

Witnesses say men on motorbikes went on a six-hour killing spree, shooting nine people in several areas of Belem.

Six of the killings were carried out like executions, police said.

Cops versus the Fourth Estate, via the Guardian:

Argentine police raid radio station to discover journalists’ sources

It isn’t only British and American journalists who are facing police action to discover their sources. Last week, police in Argentina raided a radio station in order to search for information on journalists’ computers.

The officers obtained a court order granting them the right to enter the headquarters of La Brújula 24, a radio station and news website, in the city of Bahía Blanca in Buenos Aires province.

They confiscated computers and thumb drives with recordings of phone calls involving a businessman who had been jailed on charges of money laundering and ties to drug trafficking.

One of La Brújula’s directors, Germán Sasso, told reporters that the outlet had aired and published parts of the businessman’s conversations, which the government obtained via wiretaps. The recordings are said to implicate police and government officials in criminal activity.

Next to Libyan and an oil field seized, via Reuters:

Libya’s El Sharara oilfield shut after armed group seizure -sources

Libya’s major El Sharara oilfield has ceased production after being seized by an armed group, oil ministry sources said on Wednesday.

An oil worker at the large southern field said there was shooting, but no further details were available.

Hours after the initial attack, workers were still trapped inside company buildings. “We cannot leave,” the worker said, asking not to be named. “There is shooting.”

The field produced at least 200,000 barrels per day before the shutdown, the sources said.

Mass arrest in killing of Pakistani Christians, via the Guardian:

Pakistan arrests dozens over Christian lynchings

Police seize 44 people after Christian couple were beaten to death and their bodies burned for allegedly desecrating a Qur’an

Dozens of people have been arrested in Pakistan after a Christian couple were beaten to death and their bodies burned for allegedly desecrating a Qur’an.

Blasphemy is a serious offence in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where those accused are sometimes lynched.

The couple had been accused of burning a copy of the holy book and throwing it in a bin in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab province, according to local media on Tuesday.

Police said their bodies were set alight in a brick kiln. “We have arrested 44 people, it was a local issue incited by the mullah of a local mosque,” Jawad Qamar, a regional police chief, said. “No particular sectarian group or religious outfit was behind the attack.”

As condemnations ensue via the Express Tribune:

Mob violence: Killing of Christian couple slammed province-wide

Members of the civil society and representatives of the Christian community on Wednesday condemned the killing of a Christian couple accused of blasphemy on Tuesday in Kot Radha Kishan in Kasur.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed grave concern over the incident in a statement issued on Wednesday.  The statement was based on the preliminary findings of a fact finding team that had visited the area. The commission said the team had found no evidence of the alleged desecration of Holy Quran. The HRCP said the incident appeared to be rooted in a dispute over wages and outstanding payments. Shehzad, one of the victims, had been asked by the kiln owner to repay the advance he had extended to the families of two Muslim labourers. The owner had asked him to repay the amount as Shehzad had introduced the men to him.

The commission said it appeared that Shehzad and his expectant wife, Salma, were locked up in a room after being beaten up at the kiln. Some bystanders said Shehzad had died while being thrashed. The HRCP said hundreds of people had started moving towards the kiln as word of the alleged desecration spread through loudspeakers mounted at mosques. The commission said four policemen had visited the scene and demanded the custody of the couple. The HRCP said the owner had instructed his employees to refuse to cede to the police’s request. The commission said the policemen were also beaten up.

And a cop takes an axe to an alleged [and mentally ill] blasphemer, via BBC News:

Pakistan police officer kills ‘blasphemer’ with axe

A Pakistani policeman has been arrested after allegedly killing a man with an axe because he suspected him of committing blasphemy.

Police say Faraz Naveed struck the victim, Tufail Naqvi, on the neck and head after the latter was arrested during a street fight on Wednesday.

The victim is reported to have had a history of mental instability.

His death comes after a Christian couple were killed by a mob on Tuesday for allegedly desecrating the Koran.

From Want China Times, Pakistan looks to China for tanks:

Pakistan to test its new China-built main battle tank

Pakistan is looking forward to testing its MBT3000 main battle tank designed by China North Industries Corporation based in Beijing this month, according to Kanwa Defense Review, a Chinese-language military magazine based in Canada.

Unlike the older AL-Khali or MBT2000, the MBT3000 is installed with a 1300 horsepower diesel engine manufactured in China. This is slightly more powerful than the engine currently used by the Type 99G, the most advanced main battle tank used by the People’s Liberation Army, with 1280hp. It indicates that the MBT3000 developed for the overseas market is indeed the most powerful tank made in China.

The MBT3000 also beats the Type 99G in other design aspects, Kanwa said. The tank has a remote-controlled 12.7mm machine gun which the Type 99G does not have. Furthermore, the thermal imaging systems designed for the export version of the MBT3000 is a generation ahead of the ones developed for the domestic version of the MBT3000 and the Type 99G. Kanwa said the 125mm main gun of the MBT3000 can fire the 125mm Gun anti-armor missle known as the PG7.

Suspicions confirmed, via BBC News:

Exhumed Myanmar journalist Aung Naing ‘beaten’

A Burmese freelance journalist killed in army custody may have been beaten before he died, reports say.

Aung Naing’s body was exhumed and has been sent for post mortem examination.

He was shot dead in army custody on 4 October after being arrested reporting on clashes at the Thai border.

The army said he was working for a rebel army and that they shot him trying to escape. But his wife’s lawyer and others present at the exhumation said his body had extensive injuries.

Taiwan hit by Watergate of its own, bugs and all, via the China Post:

Lien blasts Ko over alleged eavesdropping

Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien said yesterday that his opponent Ko Wen-je should drop out of the election if police are not able to confirm the existence of the alleged eavesdropping devices that Ko’s election team claimed they discovered connected to their office phone; Lien added that Ko is only trying to divert attention away from his recent human organ transaction scandal.

Ko’s campaign team told the media last night that they found two eavesdropping devices attached to Ko’s office phone line before calling the police to investigate. The police did not find any eavesdropping gadgets and Ko’s team retracted their statement, saying that they only discovered an extra audio cable.

The police have taken in all related evidence for inspection and fingerprinting.

On to China and a security scandal prolonged from Reuters:

China says probe into disgraced security chief could take time

The investigation into China’s former domestic security chief is expected to take a long time but the government is committed to releasing details to the public, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Zhou Yongkang is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption. He is the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communist Party took power in 1949.

There had been expectations that authorities would provide a public update about the case against Zhou last month at a meeting of members of the Communist Party elite to discuss legal reforms in the world’s second-largest economy.

But the party has been largely silent on Zhou’s fate since it first announced the probe in July.

Disillusionment? From the Asahi Shimbun:

POLL: More than 70% of Hong Kong residents want student protest to end

The majority of residents in Hong Kong want student protesters to call off their extended occupation of the city’s streets, according to a poll conducted by Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The results of the Nov. 1-2 telephone survey of 554 residents showed that 73 percent said “it’s about time to call off the occupation.” Results of the survey were released Nov. 4.

Known as the “Umbrella Movement,” the citywide protests began in late September after Beijing announced its reforms in the election process of Hong Kong’s chief executive. Despite continuous clashes with authorities, student-led protesters have continued to occupy the city’s main streets throughout October.

Yet with little progress made in the past month, Hong Kong residents appear to be growing weary of the protest movement.

Undiplomatic musings from the last British governor, via Reuters:

Britain loath to pressure China over Hong Kong because of trade: former governor

Britain is not putting enough pressure on China to stick to its side of a pact on the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty because it is worried about damaging trade links, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten said on Tuesday.

“When China asserts that what is happening in Hong Kong is nothing to do with us, we should make it absolutely clear publicly and privately that that is not the case,” Patten told a panel of British lawmakers holding an inquiry into Hong Kong’s progress toward democracy.

“There has always been quite a strong group in government and the business community which believes that you can only do business with China if you carefully avoid in all circumstances treading on China’s toes or saying anything the Chinese disagree with,” he said.

And Beijing’s response from Global Times:

China slams last colonial governor for remarks on HK Occupy Movement

China slammed Hong Kong’s last colonial governor Chris Patten and urged him to stop “inciting the illegal Occupy Central Movement in Hong Kong” on Wednesday.

“As the last governor of Britain’s colonial rule of Hong Kong, he should have awareness of his role and get a clear understanding of the change of time,” spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hong Lei told a daily press briefing.

Hong made the remarks while commenting on the remarks by Patten, who witnessed the return of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997.

Patten said Britain should push China on Hong Kong and claimed that the 1984 Joint Declaration provided obligations on China to Britain for 50 years.

And the latest clash from South China Morning Post:

Protesters, police clash in Mong Kok as ‘Guy Fawkes’ flash protests raise tensions

Scuffles broke out at the protest site in Mong Kok in the early hours of Thursday, where dozens of protesters were subdued and pushed to the ground by police officers.

At around 2am, scores of protesters gathering on a pavement near Portland Street clashed with police as officers tried to force them back into the protest site.

The protesters, some wearing construction helmets, shouted insults at police and complained about the way officers handled them earlier.

The scuffles broke out after a protester aimed a photographic flash at police before midnight, other protesters said. Television footage showed officers pushing the man, who was bleeding in his face, against metal barricades at a distance from a crowd.

China deploys the ray-guns, from Want China Times:

Beijing deploys new laser weapon for extra APEC security

China will deploy a laser weapon capable of shooting down low-flying objects to boost security at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing starting this week, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Co-developed by the China Academy of Engineering Physics, the “Low Altitude Sentinel” has a protection range of 12 square kilometers and can shoot down small aircraft within a 2km radius within five seconds of detecting its target.

Characterized by its speed, precision and low noise, the sentinel has been designed to destroy small unmanned drones flying within an altitude of 500 meters and at a speed below 50 meters per second, the academy said in a statement, adding that recent tests saw the machine shoot down more than 30 drones with a 100% success rate.

Game of Zones claims a Korean construction contract, via the Japan Times:

South Korea cancels bidding for Takeshima project: report

The South Korean government has reportedly canceled bidding for a construction project on the Sea of Japan islands at the center of a heated territorial dispute between Tokyo and Seoul.

South Korean diplomatic authorities’ are apparently concerned that if the country went ahead with the project, friction with Japan could adversely affect Seoul’s claim of sovereignty over the islands, the Yonhap n

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