Top news stories for today – August 17, 2016
Top-secret NSA hacking tools released
A group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” has released a cache of what appear to be genuine and powerful hacking tools developed at the NSA to break into the networks of foreign governments and other espionage targets, and nobody seems to know why the hackers leaked them to the public or what other NSA tools they have.
The tools are likely the work of the NSA’s elite hacker division, Tailored Access Operations (TAO). “Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” says one former TAO employee. Experts say that the files leaked so far aren’t operationally devastating for America’s cyberspies, but can now be widely used on unpatched government and corporate servers, or may be a warning from Russia to not retaliate for damaging hacked emails and documents from the Democratic Party. The Washington Post, The New York Times
N Korean diplomat defects to S Korea
The second highest ranking official at North Korea’s embassy in London has defected to South Korea, according to the South Korean Unification Ministry. Thae Yong Ho has arrived with his family in the South Korean capital of Seoul, said ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee. “They are currently under government protection,” Jeong told reporters at a news conference.
Jeong said Thae told South Korean officials he defected out of disgust with the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a desire for South Korean democracy and because of concern over his children’s future.
It is believed Thae was stationed for ten years at North Korea’s embassy in London, where he was responsible for managing the image of North Korea, which has been criticized for its nuclear weapons program and its human rights record. Thae is believed to be the most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to South Korea. VOA
Dam project expected key topic between Myanmar and China
The fate of a long-suspended and contentious Chinese dam project in Myanmar is expected to be a key topic of discussion during State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit this week to China. Before the Wednesday to Sunday visit, state media published a flurry of articles showcasing the importance of ties and the visit.
Myanmar’s former military-backed government suspended the hydropower project in 2011, citing concern about China’s growing economic influence in the country. Those opposing the dam also objected to the deal that would send 90 percent of the power generated by the dam to China. They also cited environmental impact that would change the flow of the Irrawaddy River. Then opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi opposed the deal.
Reports in Chinese media and comments online have made it clear expectations for a resolution to the dam issue are growing and that Beijing sees the project as a key obstacle to relations, particularly increased commercial ties. VOA
Simone Biles wins gold medal No. 4 in Rio: Simone Biles earned her fourth gold medal in Rio on Tuesday, winning the floor exercise event and tying a record shared with four other gymnasts for most wins at a single Olympic Games. Her teammate, Aly Raisman, took the silver. Their dominance was no surprise, as the floor exercise is the strongest event for both of the U.S. stars, who also took the gold and silver in the all-around competition. The team finished with nine medals — including Biles’ bronze on balance beam — beating the team’s haul of eight in 2008. Time
Kerri Walsh Jennings blamed herself for the loss: After her first beach volleyball loss in four Olympic Games, Kerri Walsh Jennings blamed herself. The three-time Olympic gold medalist was aced more frequently than she’s used to, and struggled throughout Wednesday morning’s semifinal against Brazil as the Brazilian duo of Agatha and Barbara continued to target her. When asked to evaluate her individual performance after the 22-20, 21-18 straight-set loss, Walsh Jennings said, “Rocky.” USA Today
US Presidential election
Donald Trump overhauls campaign, bringing on Breitbart News chief: Donald Trump made several changes to his presidential campaign Tuesday night, hiring Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen Bannon as campaign CEO and elevating adviser Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort will keep his job, but his influence on the campaign will be significantly diminished, aides say. Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is a staunch Trump supporter who has been urging the candidate to run an unabashedly anti-establishment and nationalist campaign. Conway is a longtime GOP pollster and operative who has been close to Trump for years. Trump told The Associated Press that he has known both people for years, and that “they’re terrific people, they’re winners, they’re champs, and we need to win it.” The Washington Post, The Associated Press
Trump to get first official national security briefing: Donald Trump will get his first official national security briefing Wednesday in New York, U.S. media reports said, two days after he said wiping out Islamic extremism would be the center of his foreign policy. U.S. law requires major presidential candidates to get such a meeting with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence so they do not enter the White House uninformed about national security. President Barack Obama has called Trump “unfit” to be president.
Trump has a reputation of ignoring prepared speeches and delivering spontaneous remarks. Some in Washington are concerned the sharp-tongued Trump may reveal some of the classified information he receives in the briefing. Obama said last week that presidential candidates must act like presidents, “and that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around.” VOA
Analysts insist Clinton has 80 percent chance of defeating Trump: It is nearly three months before the U.S. presidential election, but numerous analysts are now saying there is more than an 80 percent likelihood that Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. Secretary of State, will defeat Republican Donald Trump, the brash real estate tycoon running for his first elected office. The New York Times, the “538” election prediction web site, the Princeton Election Consortium and PredictWise all say that Clinton has an 80 percent or more chance of winning, with political analysts Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato and the team of Stuart Rothenberg and Nathan Gonzales all saying the election is tipping toward her. VOA
FBI sends its Clinton email investigation to Congress: The FBI sent documents from its now-closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use to Republican congressional leaders on Tuesday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested the material, believed to include notes from the FBI’s interview with Clinton, after FBI Director James Comey last month recommended no charges be filed over Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was President Obama’s secretary of state. Comey called Clinton’s handling of sensitive material “extremely careless,” but said it didn’t justify criminal prosecution. USA Today, The Week
- 5 Things You Need to Know about Visiting New Zealand
- 9 Ways To Make Money While Traveling
- A Famous island nobody knows
- A luminous lake of unusual talents