DE VOLKSKRANT
De Volkskrant (The People's Paper) is a Dutch daily headquartered in Amsterdam. Founded in 1919, it was originally a center-left Roman Catholic publication, it took on a clear left-wing stance in the 1960s and later evolved to a more centrist stance. It was named the European Newspaper of the Year in the category of nationwide newspapers in 2013.
Geopolitics

Report: Russia Hacked Dutch Police Systems During MH17 Probe

Police in the Netherlands were working at the time of the cyber attack on the investigation into the downing of flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine.

AMSTERDAM — Russian hackers penetrated deep into the Dutch national police's digital system in 2017, during a period that Russian separatists were being investigated for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight that had departed from the Netherlands, Dutch daily De Volkskrant reports in an exclusive investigation.

The cyber attack, reportedly carried out by hackers belonging to the Russian security service SVR, was particularly troubling, De Volkskrant reports, because the police were working on the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine.

Of the 283 passengers and 15 crew that were killed on July, 17 2014, when MH17 was shot down, 196 were Dutch. Multiple investigations have shown that MH17 was hit by a BUK missile, fired from a field in eastern Ukraine that was in the hands of pro-Russian separatists at the time. Russia has been blamed for consistently trying to undermine the enquiries.

The news of this new hack comes to light following the opening day of the Dutch MH17 criminal trial.

Geopolitics

The Latest: Global Mob Sting, Internet Crash, Canadian Hate Crime

Welcome to Tuesday, where an encrypted messaging app leads to a major global organized crime bust, many of the world's biggest websites were hit by global internet outages and there's a new basketball-court-long dinosaur in town. Jeune Afrique also dives into the Rastafari ital diet, a precursor to some current food trends.

• Report: Intelligence breakdown prior to U.S. Capitol insurrection: A bipartisan Senate investigation has outlined how thousands of protestors were able to breach the Capitol building in January. New revelations show that intelligence agencies, including Capitol police, had greater prior knowledge than previously thought that violence could erupt.

• Global internet outage downs leading websites: A number of major websites such as Amazon, Target, CNN, Reddit and Twitch have been affected by global internet outages. Many of the impacted websites are displaying the error code: "Error 503 Service Unavailable." Early reports link the issue with the Cloud service, Fastly.

• Hundreds arrested in organized crime sting after cops enter encrypted app: More than 800 organized crime suspects have been arrested after communicating using ANOM, a messaging app infiltrated by the FBI. Law enforcement in the U.S., Europe and Australia were able to monitor encrypted messages on the app, many of which were related to organized crime.

• Killing of Canadian Muslim family premeditated, hate crime: A driver struck five people in Ontario, Canada, killing four of them on Monday. Police believe the attack was planned, and the victims are thought to have been targeted due to their Islamic faith.

• "Butcher of Bosnia" faces verdict: Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb warlord who took part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 after being found guilty of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. A final decision on Mladic's fate will be made today when the Hague announces its verdict on his appeal against genocide charges.

• U.S. recovers most of ransom paid to hackers: After the Colonial Pipeline hacking last month which severely impacted oil and gas production, particularly for the U.S. east coast, authorities have been able to recover 63.7 Bitcoin ($2.3 million). The ransom had been paid to the hackers from the eastern European based group, DarkSide, with the seizure being viewed as a potential message to dissuade future cyber criminals.

• Basketball-court length dinosaur discovered in Australia: Palaeontologists in Australia have discovered a new species of dinosaur: the Australotitan cooperensis. The dinosaur is among the top five largest to ever be discovered, measuring two stories in height and 82-98 feet in length — the equivalent of a basketball court.

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Geopolitics

The Latest: Assad v. West, Modi v. WhatsApp, Busted For Cheese

Welcome to Wednesday, where Assad is all set for reelection, WhatsApp takes on India's Modi, and a drug dealer's love of blue cheese leads to his demise. Meanwhile, we turn to German daily Die Welt for an in-depth analysis of Angela Merkel's relationship with China (Spoiler alert: It's complicated).

• Syrian presidential elections: Polling stations have opened on Wednesday across Syria in presidential elections in which Bachar al-Assad is assured to win a fourth seven-year term. Western foreign ministers have issued a statement warning about the fairness of the election.

• UN emergency meeting on Mali's coup: The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Mali on Wednesday, as West African mediators are supposed to meet with Mali's detained president and prime minister. On Tuesday, Mali's interim vice president, Colonel Assimi Goita announced that he seized power after the interim president and prime minister failed to consult him about the nomination of a new government.

• COVID vaccines doses to Taiwan, anti-vax influencers in France: Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses are on their way to Taiwan, where 300 new cases in capital city Taipei, after months without cases. In France, several YouTube personalities were asked to publicly denigrate the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in return for money.

• South African ex-leader Zuma pleads not guilty: South Africa's former President Jacob Zuma has pleaded not guilty to all 18 counts of racketeering, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering on Wednesday, at the start of his trial over a 1999 deal, when he was deputy president. The ex-president is also facing another inquiry into corruption with French arms company Thales during his time in office.

• WhatsApp sues Indian government over privacy rules: U.S.-based messaging platform WhatsApp has sued the Indian government over new internet laws that will give the government bigger power to monitor online activity.

• First woman to head the Louvre: Laurence des Cars has been chosen to head the Louvre, becoming the first female director of the world's largest and most celebrated museum. Since 2017, des Cars has run the Musée d'Orsay, just across the river in Paris.

• Cheese leads to drug dealer's arrest: A drug dealer in Liverpool, UK, was tracked down after sharing a picture of Stilton cheese on the encrypted messaging service EncroChat that was cracked by the police. The man has been jailed for 13 years and six months for helping to supply heroin, cocaine, ketamine and MDMA.

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Geopolitics
Jeff Israely

Will You Give Up Your Privacy To Go Outside?

For most of human history, the best way to protect personal privacy was to simply stay at home. Lock yourself in your room, or the proverbial closet, and nobody can find out a thing. In little more than a decade, those walls and doors have vanished as digital technology invites us to take large chunks of our lives online. Without ever leaving home (or while scrolling our smartphones in an empty forest), we are now vulnerable to a world of connected spies, data miners, identity usurpers, trackers and any number of other private and public-sector violators of what we hold to be confidential information.

The debate over electronic privacy has been escalating ever since in the West: from Edward Snowden's accusations against the state, to those aimed at commercial tech giants like Facebook and Amazon, to the rogue producers of deep fakes and other nefarious trolls. Meanwhile, authoritarian governments — exposed momentarily to the power of the internet to drive dissent — have quickly taken the upper hand in using digital technology as a tool for control. Yes, until two months ago, the lines on the privacy question seemed drawn quite clearly.

Leave it to a highly contagious and lethal disease to quickly blur those lines. With countries in the West preparing to ease unprecedented national and regional shutdowns, officials are looking to include a range of required (or at least strongly urged) digital testing and tracking tools to limit new outbreaks of COVID-19. Mobile phone applications that force people to share personal health data and reveal their location and other forms of relinquishing control of their personal information are now considered integral to ensuring that normal life can begin to resume. We're told it worked in South Korea and China, where concerns about data privacy are either less ingrained in the culture, or simply smothered by the authorities.

All of this may be bringing that old trade-off full circle: If you really want to protect your privacy, you must again stay inside. Let's ponder that alongside the even more pressing worry about preserving our very lives if we venture outside.

None of these tensions are easy to resolve, especially with so little truly known about the nature of this virus. What is the immediate risk of being in public places? What is the longer-term price of keeping our economies on hold? When will it all be over?

Meanwhile, longer-lasting moral questions, like privacy, hover just above it all. For now, a sense of tentative pragmatism seems to prevail, as a crisis of this magnitude prompts citizens to put their fate in the hands of the state for lack of any other viable solution. So if the government says so, most people are probably prepared to share some of their personal information to feel safer — we have, after all, gotten used to knowing that our data is being shared and our smartphone maps know where we are. But after two months of quarantine, one thing we're not used to right now: Going outside.

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