Archive for August, 2019

A rallying cry from Mr. Baghdadi

For the first time in nearly five years, the Islamic State has released a rare video of their homicidal, suicidal, genocidal leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi had not been seen publicly since July 2014, when ISIS released a video that showed him speaking at the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq. In that video, he declared himself caliph and leader of the Muslims with the declaration of the caliphate. A lot has changed on the battlefield for the Islamic State since that first video. No longer do they control vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The newly released video comes on the heels of the defeat of the Islamic State’s territorial caliphate in Syria. What does the new Baghdadi video mean? The video tells me many things. From a tactical perspective, I believe that Baghdadi felt something had to be done to boost the morale of his fighters. Baghdadi’s long absence from public view portrayed him as a distant leader to some of his fighters. Reports surfaced that ISIS fighters were furious that al-Baghdadi was nowhere to be found as their caliphate crumbled. In the video, Baghdadi goes to great lengths to assure his soldiers and followers that he has not abandoned the caliphate. The point Baghdadi wants to make is that he’s relevant and still in charge. He’s telling the world that ISIS is still a force to be reckoned with. He also doesn’t want ISIS to be seen as a dying force because he’s competing with other rival jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda. On a more fundamental level, he’s attempting to prove to his followers that he’s still alive despite numerous reports speculating about his death.

A rallying cry from Mr. Baghdadi to his supporters.

Christopher T.

Baghdadi video in full with English subtitles


Oops, They Hacked Us Again

Definitely An Article, Not Ransomware!

Imagine: you work for a fairly small municipal office. You do IT work. Maybe if you’re a really fancy kind of IT guy, you have a certificate in cybersecurity, but that’s unlikely. No one else in the office does IT work but you. One day, you come into work, expecting to spend your time begging your coworkers to change their passwords, teaching people how to save a file, and maybe doing some work on the county website.

Instead, you come in to find that you’ve been hacked. All your files? Encrypted. Sensitive information like social security numbers and credit card information? Lost. To add insult to injury, the hackers are demanding around $500,000 to decrypt this data, and it’s all because Tim in Accounting clicked on a shady link in an unfamiliar email.

•  •  •

This situation is becoming more and more common around the United States, with local government data being held for 6 figure ransoms. With hackers often using advanced programs like “Ryuk” to lock files remotely, there’s little to no chance of decrypting files without giving in to hacker demands. What’s so worrying about these attacks, however, isn’t the payout. It’s the fact local governments are still living in the technological Stone Age—y’know, the 90s?—and failing to use basic cyber precautions as a result. Programs like Ryuk can bypass government firewalls at least in part because government employees let them in. They don’t change their passwords regularly. The passwords they do use are short, often around 6 characters. They click links in emails that they don’t recognize. It’s bad habits, not bad code, that enable these attacks.

Until local governments develop strong measures to combat these threats, the frequency of these attacks will only increase. That’s because these attacks work. It’s less expensive, less time-consuming, and often less embarrassing to just pay the hacker off, and receive your files back. Sure, the FBI tells local governments not to pay, but experts in cybersecurity say that simply isn’t an option with Ryuk—without an off-site data backup, there’s no way to decrypt the files. These local governments need to protect themselves now, by ensuring that passwords are complex and changed often, investing in off-site backups of information, and for the love of God—stop clicking on shady links in emails!!



In Hong Kong, several prominent pro-democracy protesters have been arrested within the space of 24 hours, including Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow of the political party Demosisto. According to the Hong Kong police the crackdown was targeted on ‘violent protesters,’ however pro-democracy protesters claim the arrests were a “political operation.”

To date over 900 people have been arrested since protests began in June 2019 over the Extradition Bill. The Hong Kong Police and Pro-Chinese gangs have attempted to end the pro-democracy movement through brutal attacks as seen in the metro attack on July 22nd.

Jack Levine

Pro-Democracy Protesters in HK Parliament

Cold War 2.0?

On Wednesday the 28thof August, Russia took it upon itself to launch the most powerful and intoxicating mortar that exists to date in an extremely flashy and somewhat pretentious video. The totally nuclear and completely self-propelled mortar, fascinatingly named “Tulip,” has the frightening capacity to fire 240mm shells, which have the ability to cause intense destruction for any given number of targets. Though originally developed during the Cold War era under Soviet-controlled Russia, this brute of a weapon is currently experiencing vast modernization, which is on track to be completed by the end of this year. Is this the beginning of Cold War 2.0 or World War 3? Will this snazzy monster of a weapon ever be put to use, or was the intent simply to threaten? Regardless, tension between the already rigid relationship between Russia and the U.S. will surely hit sky high rates in the coming weeks following the release of this rub in your face type video.


Eva W.

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