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Fake links to nude celebrities crash New Zealand internet

It is believed a handful of computer users clicked links on Friday evening believing they would take them to the illicit images, but instead they inadvertently installed malware triggering a crippling Internet attack.


It took telecommunications giant Spark, the rebranded Telecom Corp., until Sunday to fully repair what it termed a “dynamic” cyber-attack that overloaded its system covering more than 600,000 customers.

The intimate celebrity photos, which included actress Jennifer Lawrence and singers Avril Lavigne and Rihanna, were stolen from a cloud storage system.

Spark tweeted it was aware that when people clicked on some links they inadvertently installed malware “generating a high amount of traffic to overseas sites”.

Computer security specialists Trend Micro issued an alert shortly before the attack began warning not to open the links related to the nude celebrities.

“For obvious reasons, clicking on links to ‘naked celebrity’ photos, or opening email attachments would be a very bad idea right now, expect criminals to ride this bandwagon immediately,” it said.

“Our scanning brought to our attention some freshly-concocted schemes targeting those looking for the photos borne from the aforementioned leak.

“The first threat we found hails from Twitter, in the form of a tweet being posted with hashtags that contain the name of one of the leak’s victims – Jennifer Lawrence.”

Trend Micro said users who clicked the link offering to show a video of the actress were directed to download a “video converter” that was actually malicious software.

New Zealand authorities said they did not know who was behind the attack, which was launched from outside the country, and the malware was generating denial-of-service attacks towards Europe. 

26/05/2019 0

I’m glad I chose Labor: Oakeshott

On the first anniversary of the Abbott government, Mr Oakeshott told a Brisbane Writers Festival audience he’s now seeing what would have happened if he and fellow independents Tony Windsor and Bob Katter had struck a deal with the coalition instead of Labor.


The retired politician said the trio had faced a blunt choice between former prime minister Julia Gillard’s “transactional” leadership style versus the “crash or crash through” adversarial style of Tony Abbott following 2010’s hung parliament. 

“I think it’s too early to call on many fronts as to whether it (the coalition) can be a functioning government but I’ve got to say one year in, and particularly the way the budget process is being handled, I’m very comfortable with the decision I made in 2010,” Mr Oakeshott told a sold-out crowd of about 250 people on Sunday.

Some budget measures are still yet to clear parliament, and critics say it disproportionately targets those on lower incomes.

Mr Oakeshott who resigned in 2013, said a functioning government needed to compromise to get results and Mr Abbott would need to negotiate with foes in the Senate, lower house and his own party.

The former Member for Lyne in NSW, who’s now concentrating on raising his four young children, appeared at the festival alongside former federal Labor treasurer Wayne Swan and retired Greens leader Bob Brown.

All three men have released books recently.

Mr Swan said Australians’ capacity to achieve their full potential was being threatened by government policies such as deregulating university fees, which in the long term would produce a more unequal nation.

Mr Brown said Australia was positioned to lead the world on humanitarian and environmental issues but was going backwards because of a “small-minded, hubristic government”.

26/05/2019 0

Abbott satisfied with first year in power

Mr Abbott arrived back in Australia on Sunday after a three-day trip to India and Malaysia, in time to celebrate Father’s Day and the one-year anniversary of his election as prime minister.


“We’ve faced some difficult challenges and I think we’ve handled them pretty well,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“I do look back over the past 12 months with some satisfaction.” 

Mr Abbott cited his triumphs as: the scrapping of the carbon and mining taxes, stopping the boats and working on budget control.

His party issued a 20-page brochure expounding these achievements.

But the prime minister conceded not everything had been smooth sailing.

“With the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight there are always some things (we could have done better),” he said.

International events including the disappearance of flight MH370, the growing threat of Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria and escalating tensions between Russia and the Ukraine following the downing of MH17 often overshadowed the Abbott government’s domestic agenda.

In a video address to mark the anniversary, Mr Abbott said the “increasingly uncertain world” tested Australians like never before.

The Australian Greens say those events, which Mr Abbott had responded to strongly, rescued him from “complete failure”. 

Leader Christine Milne acknowledged the prime minister’s dedication to bringing the bodies of those Australians killed on MH17 home to their families.

“I accept that he did a good job on that front,” she said. 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten harked back to Mr Abbott’s election night promise to lead a government of no surprises and no excuses. 

“When Tony Abbott was elected it was on the basis that things would get better,” he told reporters in Melbourne. 

 “Ever since then we’ve seen nasty surprises and pathetic excuses.”

Opposition frontbenchers issued a flurry of statements on Sunday morning pointing to promises across all portfolios they said had been broken.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, one of several crossbenchers refusing to back various government budget measures, accused Mr Abbott of “sneaking up on people with quite radical changes”.

“I think some Australians feel more tasered than surprised by some of the changes,” he said, listing deregulation of university fees, a $7 GP co-payment and welfare cuts in particular.

The government faces tough negotiations in its second year to pass those measures, with the Greens and Labor also vowing to oppose them.

Mr Abbott praised his cabinet for their work over the past year, but refused to give himself a personal score card. 

“If you give yourself 10 out of 10 they say you’re full of yourself,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. 

“If you give yourself seven out 10, they say you lack confidence.”

In the end, his government’s performance was a matter for the Australian people to judge at the next election, he said.

26/05/2019 0

Saluting the new breed of first responders

In the wake of 9/11, the world developed a special appreciation for first responders, the men and women who ran toward danger when they saw it.


They risked all to help others, and fittingly there was a surge of recognition for cops and firefighters and paramedics – both those lost in the twisted metal of lower Manhattan and those who carried on in the same tradition.

Neither James Foley nor Steven Sotloff wore a badge or a uniform. Nor did Mbalu Fonnie, Alex Moigboi, Alice Kovoma, Mohamed Fullah or Sheik Umar Khan. But they embodied the first-responder spirit as truly and fully as any of those whose courage inspired us and whose sacrifices broke our hearts at the World Trade Center. For precisely that reason, out of genuine respect for them and their contribution to the world, it is essential we not make the same errors we did amid the anger and grief that marked the earliest days of what we once called the War on Terror.

Foley and Sotloff … chose to run into the flames of Syria even as the rest of the world looked away.

Foley and Sotloff, the two American journalists who were recently brutally murdered by terrorists, chose to run into the flames of Syria even as the rest of the world looked away. They, like other journalists covering that country’s civil war, knew that the risks they faced were grave. But they made a calculation that letting the slaughter in that country go unrecorded, unnoted, or uncommented upon would be compounding those battlefield atrocities with indifference. That would be inhumane and was so intolerable to them that they made their way into a country that many of the world’s great and powerful leaders were doing their best to avoid and ignore. What does it say about a person who chooses to go on their own into mayhem that has already claimed almost 200,000 lives and do so without a weapon, without an army, without a congressional resolution?

How deep must be their conviction that bearing witness is essential, the only possible human reaction, the one that might motivate others to action, to actually caring?

“I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life”

Fonnie, Moigboi, Kovoma, Fullah and Khan were all health-care professionals, doctors, nurses, and technicians who were affiliated with the Kenema Government Hospital’s Lassa fever facility in Sierra Leone. All five, described in a moving Washington Post article from late August by Abby Ohlheiser, were co-authors of an important new Ebola study who died of the disease before their work could be made public. By virtue of their work, they were more acutely aware of the risks they faced from the current outbreak, the worst by far of its kind to date, one that has claimed more than 1,500 lives and may infect as many as 20,000 before it has run its course. Khan acknowledged this in late June by telling Reuters, “I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life…. Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease. Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk.” But it was precisely because they knew the risks better than others — better than those who were infected and spreading the disease — that they chose to remain on the front lines of the efforts to combat the epidemic. Like other first responders, they too felt that the right response to a crisis is to run toward it rather than away from it.

Of course, Foley and Sotloff were not the only journalists to die in Syria, nor were they the only ones to be lost to the depravity of terrorists. Because they were Americans and because their murders were so gruesomely fed to the media and the grotesque appetites of the Internet, their stories have gained the most attention. But estimates as to the number of journalists lost in Syria alone range from 71 to more than 150. And, according to the World Health Organization, the number of doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers to have succumbed to this current Ebola outbreak was, as of late August, more than 120, with over 240 estimated to have contracted the disease.

Both of these totals pale to insignificance when weighed against the greater tolls of the crises that claimed the lives of these heroes. And other wars and genocides and epidemics are claiming their own fair share of such heroes, the first responders to these humanitarian catastrophes that many would prefer to ignore. All deserve the kinds of thoughts, attention, and prayers that we have offered on behalf of Foley and Sotloff, as well as our gratitude, because these are the people who, by risking their lives, make it impossible for the rest of us to look away. These are the people who risk their lives in order to offer a human touch to those whom most of humanity has abandoned. These are the people who demand that we cut through the impotence of high-minded political rhetoric and the incomprehensible mountains of statistics to reveal and serve the human beings at the heart of these problems.

bottom feeders of the American political commentariat sought to use the Sotloff tragedy as an opportunity 

That is why out of respect for their lives and for the spirit of what they do, we must consider our reactions carefully. It is easy for tabloid newspapers to offer up headlines demanding revenge or promoting scare stories. When infected American doctors returned home to the United States to be treated for Ebola, social media erupted with a debate about the risks this entailed, ignoring how hard it is for this disease to spread when properly contained, not to mention the plight of the health workers seeking treatment. This week, the bottom feeders of the American political commentariat sought to use the Sotloff tragedy as an opportunity to bash U.S. President Barack Obama for his inaction in Syria and to call for tough strikes against the journalists’ murderers. For them, the death was just a prop, and their railing reflected their own character flaws more than those of any of the people they were decrying.

No, an appropriate response to these tragedies lies not with the empty rhetoric of politicians going through the motions of seeming to care or with the histrionics of hotheads and opportunists. It lies with the ideas that motivated all of these first responders to action: compassion, getting to the facts – and then taking action even when the risks were high. In the case of Sotloff and Foley, not only does this mean that the world must heed their message that this crisis demands our attention, but it means knowing that spasms or showpieces of revenge are not enough.

Nor is it enough simply to target the Islamic State. The entire Middle East and much of Africa and Asia are now at risk because of the spread of Islamist extremism, and as we learned with our too narrow focus on “core al-Qaida,” targeting one group only ensures that others will assume its place. We need a comprehensive strategy to confront all such groups and to cut off their sources of funding and those who would give them comfort. And we must recognize that only through finding successful alternative political solutions to the problems on the ground can we fill the governance void that currently is the breeding ground and preferred environment for extremists. In the case of the Ebola battle, we must similarly not only contain and treat this disease, but recognize that the infrastructure, education, and resource gaps that enable an epidemic like this one to spread as it has threaten the world in ways that are greater than any one disease could.

Indeed, in both cases, what these first responders have shown are the costs of our indifference and inaction to date. And in both cases they demand a response that is not the narrow, crowd-pleasing “deliverables” of a political class that just wants ugliness off the front pages. Both crises are symptomatic of greater threats that demand long-term, global commitments to contain and eliminate them. Both require, in fact, governments, international institutions, and their leaders to act with something like the courage and humanity that defined the lives of Foley, Sotloff, the other journalists who have been lost bearing witness, the health-care workers fighting Ebola, and their colleagues fighting less well known but equally serious battles worldwide.

Rothkopf is CEO and editor of the FP Group. His next book, “National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear” is due out in October of this year.

(c) 2013, Foreign Policy

26/05/2019 0

Cleary delighted with Penrith’s progress

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary bemoaned another short turnaround ahead of next Saturday’s NRL finals clash with the Sydney Roosters, but was full of praise for his players after securing a top-four finish.


Cleary’s side beat the Warriors 22-6 on Sunday evening to climb above North Queensland and into fourth position on the ladder.

The win also ended the season of Andrew McFadden’s men who could have afforded to lose the game by two points and still knock Brisbane out of the finals places.

However, not for the first time, they failed when it mattered and the Panthers delighted a crowd of 13,551 at Sportingbet Stadium with an excellent display.

Penrith were long odds to finish in the top-four at the start of this season and Cleary said he didn’t set any targets this year apart from another steady season of improvement.

“Eighteen months ago we were everyone’s favourites to finish last and we scratched our way up to 10th spot,” Cleary said.

“The obvious one this year was to try and get in the eight and we’ve done that and I am very proud of the whole club.

“I think it is a pretty big achievement being in the top four with Souths, Roosters and Manly.”

The Roosters beat South Sydney on Thursday and now have nine days to prepare for the game compared to the six afforded to Penrith.

Cleary said his side have used to short turnarounds but admitted it was frustrating.

“The last four times we’ve played top-four teams they’ve had at least nine days to prepare for us,” he said.

“We’ve done it the hard way. But we are pretty match hardened and that will keep us in good stead.

“But we cemented our spot in the eight a few weeks ago and our performances ever since have shown we are happy to test ourselves against the best.

“We’ll be pretty heavy underdogs, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Young fullback Matt Moylan once again showed his quality with another outstanding display to become his team’s best attacking option.

“He’s going really well, he was almost faultless tonight and that is what you want from your fullback in those sort of games,” said Cleary.

“Your back three can get hurt in those games and it was pretty tricky conditions and all the boys did a good job.”

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden accused his players of going down tamely when their season was on the line.

“We didn’t really fire a shot,” he said.

“We had opportunities, we didn’t take them and weren’t good enough. We just weren’t tough enough to get ourselves out of it.”

26/05/2019 0

Brisbane sneak into NRL finals

Brisbane became the last team to qualify for the NRL finals on Sunday night, after Parramatta and the Warriors dropped the ball in the lead up to next week’s playoffs.


Brisbane fell into eighth spot after both the Eels and Warriors suffered last round defeats, with impressive victories to Sydney Roosters and North Queensland marking them as the teams to beat.

The premiers’ 22-18 win over South Sydney on Thursday at Allianz Stadium handed them the minor premiership after ladder leaders Manly fell 30-16 to the Cowboys in Townsville two nights later.

The win was the Roosters’ sixth on the trot ahead of Saturday evening’s first qualifying final against Penrith at Allianz Stadium.

The Cowboys, who have won seven of their last eight, including victories over top four finishers South Sydney and Manly, face Brisbane in Townsville on Saturday night in the first elimination final.

Penrith’s 22-6 win over the lacklustre Warriors on Sunday night in the final game of the regular season gave the Panthers a top four spot, with the result opening the door for the Broncos to sneak into the finals on percentages.

The Panthers’ reward is a match against the world club champions.

Penrith emerged as unlikely top four aspirants mid-season and coach Ivan Cleary, in his third year with the Panthers, said he was proud of his side heading into the finals.

“I didn’t really have any expectations (this year) apart from trying to improve,” he said.

“Eighteen months ago we were everyone’s favourites to finish last and we scratched our way up to tenth spot last year.

“The obvious one this year was to try and get in the eight and we’ve done that and I am very proud of the whole club.

“I think it is a pretty big achievement being in the top four with Souths, Roosters and Manly.”

Injury-hit Manly host Souths in the second qualifying final on Friday night at Allianz Stadium to open the finals series.

Canterbury, who limped into the finals alongside Brisbane after their 19-18 capitulation to the Titans on the Gold Coast on Sunday after leading 18-0, travel to Melbourne to play the Storm in the second elimination final on Sunday afternoon.

Brisbane’s finals fate was taken out of their own hands when they were disposed of by a clinical Melbourne outfit 22-12 at AAMI Park on Friday night.

After losing to Newcastle last week, a win over Canberra in the nation’s capital would have lifted the improved Eels to eighth spot, but the Raiders proved too good in a 33-20 win to finish their season with three straight victories.

Wests Tigers snapped a six game losing streak in defeating wooden spooners Cronulla, their first since 1969, 26-10 at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.

In the other match with no bearing on the finals, the Knights smashed St George Illawarra 40-10 at Hunter Stadium on Sunday to round out both sides’ disappointing seasons in coach Wayne Bennett’s last game in charge of Newcastle.

25/04/2019 0

McFadden frustrated by Warriors flop

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden failed to hide his frustration after his talented, but under-achieving side missed out on a gilt-edged opportunity to make the NRL finals.


With Brisbane losing to Melbourne on Friday and Parramatta going down to Canberra on Saturday, the Warriors’ destiny was in their own hands against Penrith on Sunday night.

The Panthers needed to win to book a top-four spot, but a two-point defeat for the Warriors would have been enough to finish above the Broncos on points differential.

But it proved to be too big a hurdle as the impressive Panthers won 22-6 at Sportingbet Stadium leaving the Warriors to ponder another year where they combined brilliance and mediocrity all too regularly.

A slow start to the year saw coach Matt Elliott shown the door and although things did improve under McFadden the team was found wanting at the back end of the season.

“We didn’t really fire a shot,” McFadden said.

“We had opportunities, we didn’t take them and weren’t good enough.

“We just weren’t tough enough to get ourselves out of it.

“It’s really disappointing. We know we’ve made some real progress this year and it would have been nice to get that result and get in the eight.

“It’s a dose of reality of where we sit.”

Skipper Simon Mannering said there were no excuses for another year of failure and the time had come for the whole team to take responsibility for another disappointing campaign.

“It wasn’t an ideal start to the year but we should have given ourselves opportunities throughout the year to be there in the eight,” Mannering said.

“I guess it showed tonight we didn’t quite deserve it and we’re not good enough.

“It’s something we have to learn from for next year. We didn’t have that spark which is a shame because we had everything to play for.”

25/04/2019 0

Turkey protest horror lift deaths

Hundreds have protested in Istanbul a day after 10 workers were killed when a lift crashed to the ground from the 32nd storey of a building.


“This is not an accident, this is murder!” the crowd of up to 1000 people, angry at Turkey’s abysmal workplace safety record, shouted as they gathered near the construction site in Istanbul on Sunday.

Authorities said an investigation had been launched into the incident at the Torunlar Centre, which is being built on the former site of Galatasaray football club’s Ali Sami Yen stadium.

Police on Sunday released eight people detained in connection with the incident, including the safety director of the site, after hearing their testimonies.

Thirty-six of the tower’s 42 floors have already been completed, local media reported.

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, but there have been claims that the elevator broke down two weeks ago and workers were awaiting funds to repair it.

Labour and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik said the accident happened after a freight elevator workers used to carry construction materials derailed, with workers and building materials crashing to the ground.

“We will go after (the guilty people) if there is any negligence or shortcoming,” he was quoted as saying by Turkish media.

The building’s owner Aziz Torun denied any responsibility, as well as the possibility of a technical problem with the elevator.

“I used the same elevator 10 days ago,” Torun told a press conference.

“The elevator is supposed to carry both people and materials. It can carry 2700 kilos of freight or 28 people.”

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the workers’ deaths “very painful and very saddening”.

Turkey has the world’s third highest rate of deadly workplace accidents, according to the International Labour Organisation.

25/04/2019 0

Palestinians face boycott over Hamas wages

The international community has threatened to boycott the Palestinian leadership if it pays the salaries of former Hamas employees in Gaza, prime minister Rami Hamdallah says.


Hamdallah on Sunday told AFP he had been warned he would face problems if he visited the Gaza Strip without first sorting out the salaries issue.

The densely populated Palestinian coastal territory was the target of a 50-day Israeli offensive in July and August, aimed at halting militant rocket and mortar fire into the Jewish state.

Hamdallah, who heads the Palestinian government of national consensus which took office on June 2, said the question of wages had become the main stumbling block to an intra-Palestinian reconciliation deal.

“This unity government should control both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but there are many things blocking its work,” he said.

“Putting Hamas employees on the government payroll is the main problem which is preventing the government from working in the Gaza Strip.”

Since signing the agreement in April, Hamas has demanded that the new government take responsibility for paying its 45,000 employees, some 27,000 of whom are civil servants, he said.

The rest are understood to be members of the Hamas police and security forces.

Before the Hamas government stepped down in June, it had been unable to pay their wages for months because of a biting economic crisis.

But Hamdallah said his government had been warned against channelling money to anyone employed by Hamas, which is blacklisted by the United States and Europe as a terror organisation.

“The government and the banks operating in the Palestinian territories were warned that if they make these payments to former Hamas government employees in Gaza then the government and the people will be boycotted,” he said.

“If this happens, the Palestinian banking system will face a huge problem that will threaten the Palestinian situation in general.”

The Palestinians are heavily dependent on international aid, with a boycott likely to have a devastating financial impact on its financial viability.

Hamdallah’s remarks came a day after president Mahmud Abbas lashed out at Hamas for effectively running a parallel administration and preventing the consensus government from operating in Gaza.

25/04/2019 0

Nishikori, Cilic seek glory in unlikely final

It will be the first time since the Australian Open final in 2005 that a men’s grand slam final will not feature at least one of tennis’s top three – Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.


Tenth seed Nishikori is the first Asian man to reach a grand slam singles final while Cilic is into his first final, less than 12 months after returning from a four-month suspension for what he said was inadvertently taking a banned supplement.

Before this year’s U.S. Open, Nishikori and Cilic boasted just one grand slam semi-final appearance between them, the Croat having made it to the last four at the Australian Open in 2010.

Nishikori leads their head-to-head meetings 5-2, including both their meetings this year, in Brisbane and Barcelona, while they split their two previous U.S. Open clashes.

But having beaten Djokovic and Federer respectively to reach their first grand slam final, they will be desperate to take chances on Monday.

“I hope there will be a lot of people watching (in Japan),” said Nishikori, who also beat third seed Stan Wawrinka and fifth seed Milos Raonic.

“I am a little bit surprised to make the final but am very happy to make another (piece) of history, the first time an Asian man is in the final. I hope I can win and make (more) history.”

Coached by former grand slam champion Michael Chang, Nishikori has added steel and physical strength to a game that always possessed flair but lacked endurance.

“He’s been really helpful,” Nishikori said. “He’s been helping me a lot from the end of last year, (especially) mentally.

“I feel my tennis is changing (to be a) little more aggressive and playing with more confidence. He’s tough, but I needed someone to push me.”

Cilic, whose victory over Federer in the semi-finals was described by his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, as “perfection”, is aiming for glory, 11 months after returning from a drugs ban that left him questioning his future.

Originally banned for nine months, Cilic’s suspension was cut to four months on appeal and the 25-year-old always maintained that he had taken the banned substance without knowing, through a tainted supplement.

The road back to the top was hard but with the help of former Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic, he has emerged a more aggressive player, using his serve and groundstrokes to stunning effect.

“For the guys that are top, (reaching the final) feels normal,” he said. “But for some guys that are making it for the first time it’s the achievement of their career.

“When I’m playing now these bigger matches I feel like if I’m going to play well I have a good chance.

“That’s a different mind-set than I used to have because before I felt that I should (try to do) more than I’m able to and then your game breaks.”

Cilic said he was looking forward to one more great battle with Nishikori.

“It’s going to be a special day for both of us, an opportunity for both of us to win a grand slam, to be a part of history,” he said.

“There are going to be definitely huge emotions on the court. We have different game styles. I think it’s going to be a good tactical match-up.”

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

25/04/2019 0