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GLOBAL PULSE: Small countries turn to hacking, Trump closes the door on information, and Charlie Hebdo mocks French First Lady

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Small countries have a new weapon against Goliaths. It’s called hacking. As the world is still recovering from the biggest-ever hack attack called Ransomware, a new report says that it is time to look beyond traditional sources of attacks like China and Russia. Smaller countries are now trying their hand at hacking, experts say, as they seek to follow dissidents, undermine enemies or comb corporate files for trade secrets.

The report identified 32 state-linked hacking groups worldwide that was neither Russian nor Chinese.

Hackers in Vietnam have been attacking foreign companies and other targets for years, seeking information and using tactics that suggest links to the Vietnamese government.

State-sponsored hacking is the new way to do espionage in the 21st century because it’s much easier to find resources compared to a human operation.



Not only has the White House stopped releasing logs of its visitors, making it harder for the public to scrutinise who is meeting the president’s inner circle, but Donald Trump has removed a wide variety of information.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for instance, has scaled back on publicising its fines against firms. The Agriculture Department has taken off-line animal welfare enforcement records. It no longer publishes online the ethics waivers granted to appointees who would be barred from joining the government because of recent lobbying activities. Gone is the web page that directed prospective donors to private groups that aid refugees.

Officials removed websites run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department that provided scientific information about climate change.

The changes have undermined the public’s ability to hold the federal government accountable.



India’s refusal to participate in Beijing’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative will not affect the regional cooperation on infrastructure development, said the state-owned Chinese newspaper Global Times.

OBOR is a grand economic plan that is aimed at expanding China’s influence in the region.

About India’s warning that the OBOR work may leave a potential debt burden in the region, the paper said: “It is strange that the onlooker is more anxious than the players. While India cares about its neighbours’ debt burden, the neighbours appear willing to take on more.”

It added: “If India doesn’t want to take a part on the stage, then it should just be a good member of the audience. The role is still available if India changes its mind, but it may only be a small role if it is left too late.”



Japan’s growing shortage of labour is driving mid-sized companies to buy robots and other equipment to automate a wide range of tasks, including manufacturing, earthmoving and hotel room service.

Companies selling such equipment say their order books are growing and the Japanese government says it sees a larger proportion of investment being dedicated to increasing efficiency. Revenue at many of Japan’s robot makers also rose for the first time in several quarters.

The way Japan copes with an aging population will provide critical lessons for other ageing societies, including China and South Korea, that will have to grapple with similar challenges in coming years.

Japan’s working-age population peaked in 1995 at 87 million and has been falling ever since. The government expects it to fall to 76 million this year and to 45 million by 2065.



Emmanuel Macron was sworn as the president of France this weekend, but his 64-year old wife, Brigitte Macron, has continued to face a litany of misogynistic comments similar to ones that plagued her throughout the campaign, most centering on the couple’s 24-year age difference.

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has now published a cover with caricatures of the incoming French president and his wife, along with the caption: “He is going to work miracles!” The illustration showed Macron placing his hand on his “pregnant” wife’s belly.

On social media, many slammed the magazine’s cover as sexist and ageist.

Brigitte Macron has even been called a “pedophile” on social media, among other insults. Her daughter, 32-year-old Tiphaine Auzière, said it was “jealousy” that was fuelling such hate toward her mother.


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