Category Archives: POLITICS PARLIAMENT

Government’s plan to spy on all Australians exposed in leaked letters

It may shortly be far easier for government spies to access your private data. Photo source: Pixabay

We’re constantly being advised to protect our data and information online, but it turns out there may be even a greater threat & cause for concern.

An exclusive report by The Sunday Telegraph reveals our online data may not even be safe from the Australian Government. Australian citizens may soon be subjected to secret digital monitoring by the top cyber spy agency in the country with no warrant rerquired for accessing all your info when they feel like it.

This means everything from text messages to emails and even bank statements could be accessed in secret under the radical new proposed plan. The Sunday Telegraph viewed the secret letters between the heads of Department of Home Affairs and Defence. The letters detail possible new powers for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

As the current rules stand, intelligence is not to be produced on Australian citizens. Having said that, the Australian Federal Police and domestic spy agency ASIO can investigate people with a warrant and also seek help from the ASD if needed in what are deemed to be extreme cases.

If the proposal is passed, it would be up to Defence Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to allow spying to occur. Furthermore, they could approve cases without Australia’s top law officers being aware of it.

The Sunday Telegraph believes Dutton hasn’t yet presented Payne with any formal proposals for changes to the legislation. If passed though, spies would be given permission to secretly access information relating to an Australian citizens’ financial data, health information and phone records. A change in law would mean it’s also illegal for government agencies and private businesses to hold back any information that could hinder the security measures.

The Sunday Telegraph believes the reason for the data crackdown would be to stop terrorism, child exploitation and other serious crimes being conducted both here in Australia and overseas.

Several times in recent months online data and its safety has made headlines. Earlier this year, Facebook came under fire for breaching privacy data rules. As it stands, anything you share or access online remains there, even if you delete it.

This means any photos, emails, website history, online comments and videos you upload or view are stored away somewhere in cyberspace. Worryingly, any information shared on a social media platform such as Facebook will remain with the company, even if your profile is deleted.

What are your thoughts? Have you concerns that your private information could be secretly accessed by spies and the government? Do you think it’s really to protect Australians, or just another feeble excuse for the government to gain more information about us? Big brother is going too far this time one would think. Write to your MP.

Henry Sapiecha

Australia takes over Solomon Islands under water communications internet fibreoptic cable amid spies’ concerns about China

Australia’s spy agencies were so concerned about the security and strategic risks posed by a plan for Chinese firm Huawei to build an internet cable linking the Solomon Islands to Sydney that the Turnbull government will now largely pay for the project itself.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it has taken responsibility for the undersea fibreoptic cable, including paying for the bulk of the project – which will cost tens of millions of dollars – through the overseas aid program.

The cable will provide fast and reliable internet to the small Pacific island nation, which now relies on satellites.

The step is highly significant as it shows the lengths to which the Turnbull government was willing to go to ensure the cable project could go ahead without Huawei’s involvement.

The Solomon Islands under former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare signed up Huawei Marine to lay the cable connecting to Sydney. But Australia made it clear to Honiara that it had security concerns about the Chinese telco plugging into Australia’s internet backbone, with Nick Warner, the head of spy agency ASIS, personally warning Mr Sogavare last June.

Huawei has previously been banned on the advice of Australian security agency ASIO from being involved in the National Broadband Network.

Mr Sogavare was replaced as prime minister in November by Rick Hou, a former senior World Bank adviser who is well respected in Australia. Mr Hou had been highly critical of the circumstances in which Huawei Marine was awarded the contract under his predecessor.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs told Fairfax Media the government has entered into a contract with the Australian telecommunications firm Vocus to commence the initial work.

“They will undertake a scoping study and identify potential solutions to bring high-speed telecommunications to the Solomon Islands,” she said.

“The bulk of the funding for this project will come from Australia’s Official Development Assistance program.”

She said the Solomons project would be consolidated with a project to lay a new cable connecting Papua New Guinea with Australia, creating “significant efficiencies on cost”. The cost of the Solomons project alone has previously been estimated at $86 million.

According to the federal government’s AusTender website, Vocus is being paid $2.8 million for the scoping study for both the Solomon Islands and PNG. The department spokeswoman said that this study would more accurately define the final cost.

Fairfax Media understands Australia was concerned about the security implications of Huawei being involved in connecting to Australia’s critical infrastructure, but also more broadly about a Chinese firm – even a private sector one – extending Chinese influence into the Pacific through the cable project.

The Solomons originally identified a British-American company to do the work and had secured backing from the Asian Development Bank. But the previous government abruptly switched to Huawei, prompting the ADB to pull out, saying that the “Huawei contract was developed outside of ADB procurement processes”.

A Huawei spokesman said: “We’ve been advised by the Solomon Islands Submarine Cable Company that Chinese development has been contracted to undertake a scoping study but that’s all they have said to us.”

Jonathan Pryke, a Pacific islands expert at the Lowy Institute, applauded Australia’s move, saying that it made strategic and security sense while also providing much-needed development.

“There’s clearly a strategic objective to this project. It’s to make sure there’s no opportunity for third players like China or a Chinese company like Huawei to swoop in and provide a cable to PNG or the Solomons that could affect strategic interests and compromise Australia’s security.”

He said Chinese development would be welcome in the Pacific if it were more transparent and added there had been concerns in the Solomon Islands about the opaqueness of the Sogavare government’s deal with Huawei Marine.

The cable company’s CEO, Keir Preedy, was not available for comment. Mr Hou’s office did not respond to email requests for comment.

Henry Sapiecha

Notifiable Data Breaches initiative: Preparing to disclose a data breach in Australia

Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches scheme will come into force next month. Here is what it means and how it will affect organisations, and individuals, in Australia.

WHAT IS THE NOTIFIABLE DATA BREACHES SCHEME?

Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme comes into effect on February 22, 2018, and as the legislative direction is aimed at protecting the individual, there’s a lot of responsibility on each organisation to secure the data it holds.

The NDB scheme falls under Part IIIC of the Australian Privacy Act 1988 and establishes requirements for entities in responding to data breaches.

What that means is all agencies and organisations in Australia that are covered by the Privacy Act will be required to notify individuals whose personal information is involved in a data breach that is likely to result in “serious harm”, as soon as practicable after becoming aware of a breach.

Tax file number (TFN) recipients, to the extent that TFN information is involved in a data breach, must also comply with the NDB.

In addition to notifying individuals affected, under the scheme, organisations must provide advices on how those affected should respond, as well as what to do now their information is in the wild. The Australian Information Commissioner, currently Timothy Pilgrim, must also be notified of the breach.

“The NDB scheme formalises an existing community expectation for transparency when a data breach occurs,” Pilgrim told ZDNet. “Notification provides individuals with an opportunity to take steps to protect their personal information, and to minimise their risk of experiencing harm.”

Intelligence agencies, not-for-profit organisations or small businesses with turnover of less than AU$3 million annually, credit reporting bodies, health service providers, and political parties are exempt from the NDB.

Read more: Former ASIO head questions why political parties are exempt from breach disclosure

WHAT CONSTITUTES A DATA BREACH?

In general terms, an eligible data breach refers to the unauthorised access, loss, or disclosure of personal information that could cause serious harm to the individual whose personal information has been compromised.

Examples of a data breach include when a device containing customers’ personal information is lost or stolen, a database containing personal information is hacked, or personal information is mistakenly provided to the wrong person.

An employee browsing sensitive customer records without any legitimate purpose could constitute a data breach as they do not have authorised access to the information in question.

The NDB scheme uses the phrase “eligible data breaches” to specify that not all breaches require reporting. An example of this is where Commonwealth law prohibits or regulates the use or disclosure of information.

An enforcement body — such as the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the police force or service of a state or a territory, the Australian Crime Commission, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission — does not need to notify individuals about an eligible data breach if its CEO believes on reasonable grounds that notifying individuals would be likely to prejudice an enforcement-related activity conducted by, or on behalf of, the enforcement body.

Although not required all the time to disclose a breach, a spokesperson for the AFP told ZDNet the AFP would be complying with its notification obligations in all circumstances where there are no relevant exemptions under the Act.

See also: Privacy Commissioner to probe Australian government agencies on compliance

If the Australian Information Commissioner rules the breach is not bound by the NDB scheme, organisations may not have to disclose it any further.

In addition, data breaches that are notified under s75 of the My Health Records Act 2012 do not need to be notified under the NDB scheme as they have their own binding process to follow, which also lies under the umbrella of the OAIC.

Read more: OAIC received 114 voluntary data breach notifications in 2016-17

DETERMINING SERIOUS HARM

As the NDB dictates an objective benchmark in that the scheme requires a “reasonable person” to conclude that the access or disclosure is “likely to result in serious harm”, Melissa Fai, special counsel at Gilbert + Tobin, told ZDNet that in assessing the breach, an organisation should interpret the term “likely” to mean more probable than not — as opposed to merely possible.

“Serious harm” is not defined in the Privacy Act; but in the context of a data breach, serious harm to an individual may include serious physical, psychological, emotional, financial, or reputational harm.

Information about an individual’s health; documents commonly used for identity fraud including a Medicare card, driver’s licence, and passport details; financial information; and a combination of types of personal information — rather than a single piece of personal information — that allows more to be known about an individuals can cause serious harm.

In assessing the risk of serious harm, entities should consider the broad range of potential kinds of harm that may follow a data breach.

THE NOTIFICATION PROCESS

Agencies and organisations that suspect an eligible data breach may have occurred must undertake a “reasonable and expeditious assessment” based on the above guidelines to determine if the data breach is likely to result in serious harm to any individual affected.

If an entity is aware of reasonable grounds to believe that there has been an eligible data breach, it must promptly notify individuals at risk of serious harm and the commissioner about the breach.

Organisations disclosing a breach must complete the Notifiable Data Breach statement — Form which can be found here.

The notification to affected individuals and the commissioner must include the following information: The identity and contact details of the organisation, a description of the data breach, the kinds of information concerned, and recommendations about the steps individuals should take in response to the data breach.

Those affected are to be notified within 30 days of the breach’s discovery, during which time the entity can conduct its own investigation on the breach. 30 days is the absolute maximum.

The NDB scheme, however, provides entities with the opportunity to take steps to address a data breach in a timely manner, and avoid the need to further notify — including notifying individuals whose data has been somewhat exposed.

See also: Privacy Commissioner finds Australia more confident in reporting breaches to police

FAILING TO DISCLOSE A BREACH

Failure to comply with the NDB scheme will be “deemed to be an interference with the privacy of an individual” and there will be consequences.

Gilbert + Tobin’s Fai explained that if an organisation is found to have hidden an eligible data breach, or is otherwise found to have failed to report an eligible data breach, such failure will be considered an interference with the privacy of an individual affected by the eligible data breach, and serious or repeated interferences with the privacy of an individual can give rise to civil penalties under the Privacy Act.

If the data breach that the organisation has failed to report is serious, or if the organisation has failed to report an eligible data breach on two or more separate occasions, Fai explained the OAIC has the ability to seek a civil penalty order against the organisation of up to AU$2.1 million, depending on the significance and likely harm that may result from the data breach.

“Of course, an organisation must also consider the risk of reputational damage to its brand and the commercial damage that might flow from that, particularly given the growing importance to an organisation’s bottom line of consumer trust in an organisation’s data management policies and processes and its ability to respond quickly, effectively, and with integrity to data breaches,” Fai added.

“The effects of the data breach on Equifax last year and its response are a case in point.”

See also: Massive Equifax data breach exposes as many as 143 million customers

THE ROLE OF THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER AND THE OAIC

The commissioner has a number of roles under the NDB scheme, which includes receiving notifications of eligible data breaches; encouraging compliance with the scheme, including by handling complaints, conducting investigations, and taking other regulatory action in response to instances of non-compliance; and offering advice and guidance to regulated organisations, and providing information to the community about the operation of the scheme.

The OAIC has published guidelines on the scheme, which also includes information on how to deal with the aftermath of a breach.

HOW DID THE NDB COME ABOUT?

The federal government finally passed the data breach notification laws at its third attempt in February 2017.

A data breach notification scheme was recommended by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security in February 2015, prior to Australia’s mandatory data-retention laws being implemented.

HOW TO GET READY

According to Gilbert + Tobin, organisations should be at the very least getting familiar with what data they have, where it is kept, and who has access to it.

Read more: NetApp warns privacy is not synonymous with security

Assessing existing data privacy and security policies and procedures to make sure organisations are in a position to respond appropriately and quickly in the event of a data breach is also important.

“This should include a data breach response plan which works across diverse stakeholders in an organisation and quickly brings the right people — such as from IT, legal, cybersecurity, public relations, management, and HR — together to respond effectively,” Fai told ZDNet.

It wouldn’t hurt to continuously audit and strengthen cybersecurity strategies, protection, and tools to avoid and prevent data breaches.

“It is also important that an organisation’s personnel are aware of the NDB scheme. Personnel need appropriate training, including to identify when an eligible data breach may have occurred and how to follow an entity’s policies and procedures on what to do next,” Fai explained, adding this also extends to suppliers and other third-parties that process personal information on their behalf.

DOES YOUR BUSINESS HAVE A EUROPEAN CONNECTION?

From May this year, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into play, requiring organisations around the world that hold data belonging to individuals from within the European Union (EU) to provide a high level of protection and explicitly know where every ounce of data is stored.

Organisations that fail to comply with the regulation requirements could be slapped with administrative fines up to €20 million, or in the case of an undertaking, up to 4 percent of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.

The laws do not stop at European boundaries, however, with those in the rest of the world, including Australia, bound by the GDPR requirements if they have an establishment in the EU, if they offer goods and services in the EU, or if they monitor the behaviour of individuals in the EU.

See more: How Europe’s GDPR will affect Australian organisations

The GDPR and the Australian Privacy Act share many common requirements, but there are a bunch of differences, with one crucial element being the time to disclose a breach.

Under the NDB scheme, organisations have a maximum of 30 days to declare the breach; under the GDPR, organisations have 72 hours to notify authorities after having become aware of it, unless the personal data breach is unlikely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons.

“In sum, if an Australian organisation is subject to the GDPR regime when it comes into effect in May this year, it needs to comply with its obligations under both regimes — although the two regimes contain different requirements, they are not mutually exclusive,” Fai added. “However, when it comes to data breaches, the high watermark of compliance is complying with the European regime.”

Read also: What is GDPR? Everything you need to know about the new general data protection regulations

HOW TO PREVENT A DATA BREACH

Any organisation that has purchased a security solution from a vendor knows that there is no silver bullet to completely secure an organisation.

“When it comes to data breaches, everybody is looking for something, a product, a process, a standard to prevent them completely. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible,” Symantec CTO for Australia, New Zealand, and Japan Nick Savvides told ZDNet.

“The first thing any organisation should do is understand that data breaches are not always preventable but they are mitigatable. Whether the data breach is a result of a compromise, malicious insider, or even a well-meaning insider accidentally leaking information, mitigations exist.”

Breaking the mitigations into three parts, Savvides said the first is dealing with a malicious attacker, the second is having information-centric security which he said applies to all scenarios, and the third mitigation category is the response plan.

“Most organisations don’t have very effective response plans for a data breach event. They might have a plan, but from what has been seen, the plans are generally very academic in nature rather than practical and often get bypassed in the case of a real event,” he explained.

“Organisations need to have processes for having incidents reported, a clear plan on who to involve, what process to follow, and a clear PR message.

Savvides said it is clear that users value transparency and clear speech rather than ambiguous legalese responses some organisations have produced.

“The commencement of the scheme is also a timely opportunity for organisations to take stock of the personal information they collect and hold, and how it is managed,” Pilgrim added. “By ensuring personal information is secured and managed appropriately, organisations can reduce the likelihood of a data breach occurring in the first place.”

PREVIOUS DATA BREACHES IN AUSTRALIA

Henry Sapiecha

Labor senator Sam Dastyari warned wealthy Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo his phone was tapped

Labor senator Sam Dastyari warned Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor Huang Xiangmo last year that his phone was likely tapped by government agencies, including the US government.

Before the two spoke, Mr Dastyari gave Mr Huang counter-surveillance advice, saying they should leave their phones inside and go outside to speak.

The face-to-face meeting between the pair in the grounds of Mr Huang’s Mosman mansion in Sydney last October came several weeks after Mr Dastyari quit the frontbench over his dealings with Mr Huang.

It also occurred after ASIO briefed senior political figures, including from the Australian Labor Party, that Mr Huang was of interest to the agency over his opaque links to the Chinese government.

Security agencies have the capacity to use mobile phones as surveillance devices without a user’s knowledge.

A Canberra source with knowledge of the meeting said on background that Mr Dastyari blamed the US government for the scandal that earlier enveloped him and Mr Huang and said he was the subject of surveillance, including by the US government.

Details of the phone tap warning and other dealings involving the pair have been collected by national security officials, Fairfax Media has confirmed, and the revelations are likely to spark debate about sweeping reforms proposed by the Turnbull government to counter foreign interference in Australia.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the revelation raised questions about Mr Dastyari’s loyalty.

“This comes at a time when members and senators are under intense scrutiny over whether they hold dual citizenship. Of the 226 Australians elected at the 2016 federal election, the person whose allegiance to Australia is most in question is Sam Dastyari,” Mr Brandis said.

The Mosman meeting occurred more than a month after media reports in early September last year that ASIO’s top spy, Duncan Lewis, had warned Labor “that some of their donors had strong links to the Chinese Government”.

Those same media reports also detailed dealings between Mr Dastyari and Mr Huang. Among them were that Mr Huang had paid a $5000 legal bill for Mr Dastyari, and that Mr Huang had told a Chinese Communist Party newspaper that “political demands and political donations” should be linked.

Also among the revelations that damaged Mr Dastyari were comments he reportedly made at a press conference with Mr Huang that contradicted Labor policy on the South China Sea, and echoed Beijing’s policy position.

These events led to Mr Dastyari’s resignation from the Labor frontbench on September 7 last year.

Two Labor sources have also confirmed that, shortly after these events, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten warned Mr Dastyari through a “back channel” that ASIO had concerns about Mr Huang. Mr Shorten’s office declined to answer questions about if or when this occurred, although a source with first-hand knowledge of the ASIO warning relayed to Mr Dastyari said it was generic and did not contain any classified information known to Mr Shorten.

On Monday, Fairfax Media asked Mr Dastyari why he had told Mr Huang his phone was tapped, and why he advised him to move outside his house and not to speak near his phone.

Mr Dastyari responded: “I reject any assertion that I did anything other than put to Mr Huang gossip being spread by journalists.”

Fairfax Media also asked Mr Dastyari why he met Mr Huang in person, rather than calling him, and why he thought a face-to-face meeting was appropriate weeks after the extensive public reporting about ASIO’s concerns regarding Chinese Communist Party-connected donors.

Mr Dastyari said: “After the events of last year, I spoke to Mr Huang to tell him that I did not think it was appropriate that we have future contact. I thought it was a matter of common courtesy to say this face to face.”

Mr Dastyari has since begun his public rehabilitation, and was promoted to deputy senate whip in February.

Mr Dastyari said on Monday: “I have never received a security agency briefing, or received any classified information about any matter, ever. I’ve never passed on any protected information – I’ve never been in possession of any.”

His statement did not address what fellow Labor officials had told him about Mr Huang.

Mr Huang, a billionaire property developer, has close ties to the Chinese consulate in Sydney and, until the weekend, headed a Sydney organisation aligned with the Chinese Communist Party’s political lobbying and propaganda agency, the United Front Work Department.

On Saturday, Mr Huang stepped down as chairman of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC), and was lauded as a “banner” and likened to a patriotic flag who had made “heroic achievements” in the past year.

On September 14, 2016, weeks prior to the Mosman meeting, US ambassador John Berry said the US was concerned about Chinese government involvement in Australian politics, in remarks reported in connection to Mr Dastyari’s dealings with Mr Huang.

On September 28, also prior to the meeting, Mr Huang dispatched members of the ACPPRC for a meeting in Beijing with a senior Chinese government official, who directed the members to “make allies to obtain international support” and contribute to the “great revitalisation of the Chinese nation”.

ASIO began an assessment of Mr Huang’s citizenship application in early 2016. The application remains blocked by ASIO and, earlier this year, national security officials interviewed Mr Huang at a secure Sydney CBD location.

Fairfax Media and Four Corners have previously revealed that after the citizenship request first stalled in early 2016, Mr Huang asked Mr Dastyari to intervene on his behalf. Mr Dastyari or his office called immigration officials four times in the first six months of 2016, but the senator has described this contact as routine.

The Turnbull government is planning to introduce news laws this year to counter foreign interference from Beijing and other nations and require agents or official advocates of foreign governments to register under a foreign agents registration act. The latter reform may concern ex-senior Liberal and Labor figures who work for companies or institutions controlled or directed by Beijing or its proxies.

A former intelligence officer told Fairfax Media that the instruction to Mr Huang to talk not within the vicinity of his phone amounts to counter-surveillance advice. Mr Dastyari is a security-conscious member of federal parliament who, along with many colleagues, uses encrypted applications to communicate.

Henry Sapiecha

Malcolm Turnbull and Benjamin Netanyahu witness MOU on defence industry co-operation Australia & Israel

Jerusalem: The prime ministers of Australia and Israel have shared a warm bearhug and pledged deeper cooperation on cyber-security in the fight against global terror threats.

Mr Turnbull arrived in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon, local time, on a trip that had been delayed and truncated by the political fallout from the High Court’s dual citizenship ruling.

But there was no ill feeling on show at Benjamin Netanyahu’s headquarters, where he was welcomed by the Israeli prime minister pronouncing him “mishpacha” – family.

“Malcolm you are a true friend of Israel,” Mr Netanyahu said. “Our two nations understand each other in the deepest sense… and your personal commitment to Israel is absolutely clear.”

Mr Turnbull said it was a “long schlepp” from Australia but “it feels like family”.

“We are all fighting together against militant Islamist terrorism,” he said. “It’s a threat to Israel, it’s a threat to Australia and it’s a threat to all who value and cherish freedom.”

After two hours of meetings, including a one-on-one discussion then an official bilateral, the men witnessed the signing of a new memorandum of understanding on defence industry co-operation.

Mr Turnbull said they had spoken at length on the Islamist terror threat, and the role of technology in both enabling and fighting against it.

The prime ministers of Australia and Israel shared a warm bearhug and pledged deeper cooperation on cyber-security Photo: Dan Peled

Technology has “empowered individuals who seek to do us harm”, he said, and cyber security was more important than ever.

Israel is considered a cyber warfare superpower, alongside the US, Russia, China and the UK.

It accounts for 10 per cent of global sales of computer and network security technology.

But it also has significant offensive powers.

In October it emerged that in 2015 an Israeli security agency hacked into Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky, which enabled it to watch Russian spies as they worked to infiltrate sensitive US networks.

Israel was reported to have used cyber weapons to spy on the Iran nuclear negotiations in 2014 and 2015.

And Israel was reportedly behind the Stuxnet virus, dubbed the world’s first digital weapon, which was used to disrupt Iran’s uranium enrichment plants.

Last year Mr Turnbull announced a $230 million cyber security strategy, which would include an offensive capability to launch pre-emptive attacks on ‘cyber raiders’.

Mr Turnbull said Monday’s agreement would lead to closer collaboration between the two countries on cyber security.

“It is vitally important that we work more closely together, more of the time, to keep our people safe from terrorism,” he said.

A particular problem was the encrypted apps that terrorists used to communicate in secret, he said.

“We look forward to deeper collaboration on defence, particularly in the cyber domain,” he said.

After the meeting Mr Turnbull told media the two men had also discussed the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel opposes but Australia supports.

It has recently come under pressure from the US, where president Trump has disavowed but so far not scrapped the agreement.

Mr Turnbull said Australia “absolutely understand Israel’s very real concerns and anxieties about Iran moving to a nuclear weapons capability but we are not persuaded that moving away from the agreement … would be beneficial in preventing that type of proliferation.”

Asked on the state of domestic politics, Mr Turnbull denied it was in a state of turmoil after the High Court decision.

“The business of government goes on,” he said. “It’s business as usual.”

Asked if he’d had enough with politics, Mr Turnbull responded “I’ve never had more fun in my life.”

Henry Sapiecha

Federal Budget 2017: Gangs, terrorists targeted in $321 million Australian Federal Police shakeup

A MASSIVE $321 million boost to the Australian Federal Police budget will mean 300 extra covert intelligence operators and forensic specialists to help protect Australians from the threat of terrorism.

GANGS and local terrorists will be the target of a beefed-up Australian Federal Police force in a $321 million Turnbull government plan to tackle ­violent crime.

A major drive to recruit 300 specialist police will see AFP ranks bolstered by new tactical response teams, undercover investigators and forensic experts, some of whom will ­support Victoria Police to iden­tify and arrest gang members.

The security package, to be announced today, is part of a Budget spending spree, which will also benefit Victorians with $100 million to help struggling manufacturing businesses adapt after the car industry closure. Treasurer Scott Morrison told the Herald Sun Tuesday’s Budget aimed to deliver fairness, security and opportunity, sharing the benefits of Australia’s economic growth with everyone.

“We know that things are improving globally and we’ve got to make the right choices to secure those better days ahead,” Mr Morrison said.

“We have to keep the economy growing for more and better paying jobs, to guarantee the services that Australians rely on, to put downward pressure on rising costs of living, and to ensure that the government lives within its means.”

The four-year AFP funding boost will pay for 100 intelligence experts, almost 100 forensic specialists and more than 100 tactical response and covert surveillance officers.

The package will fund more 100 intelligence experts and more.

Firearms specialists, bomb response technicians, intelligence analysts, negotiators and covert online investigators will be added to the AFP’s ranks, with several new officers placed on the National Anti-Gangs Taskforce to help Victoria Police.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said violent crime and criminal gangs were “two of the biggest issues facing Victoria” and the government would back the AFP to “crack down” on them.

“Victorians, like all Australians, deserve to feel safe to go about their daily lives without fear,” he said.

Mr Keenan said it was the largest funding boost for the AFP’s domestic policing operations in a decade.

“This will equip the AFP with new capabilities and greater flexibility to respond rapidly to emerging crimes today, and into the future,” he said. “The additional experts will fast-track investigations and lock up criminals sooner, targeting areas of priority including terrorism, criminal gangs, drugs, organised crime, cybercrime, fraud and anti-corruption.”

The AFP had previously raised concerns about its lack of funding, but Mr Keenan said the investment was “the first step in the AFP’s 10-year plan” for its future.

Another key element in the Budget will be the $100 million package to help struggling manufacturing businesses grow and adapt to changing technologies.

It includes $47.5 million over the next two years to pay for a third of the costs of capital upgrades to businesses in Victoria and South Australia that are trying to compete in the wake of the car industry closure.

“We shouldn’t fold our tents and believe Australians can’t compete. We can,” Industry and Innovation Minister ­Arthur Sinodinos said.

Mr Morrison said the Budget aimed to help Australians who had not shared in the ­nation’s strong growth.

“Our economic growth has been very good in a global context. At a personal level, at a household level, at a business-by-business level, things have been and felt a lot tougher.”

The manufacturing package also includes $5 million to help automotive research, particularly by students at ­universities.

Australia’s most successful businesswoman Gina Rinehart says Malcolm Turnbull must learn from Donald Trump to make Australia great again.

Ms Rinehart has urged the Prime Minister to cut spending and waste in Tuesday’s federal Budget, saying it is “frustrating” Australia is losing crucial investment.

“We have to do more to cut out spending. We’ve got to cut out a big slab of the expense of government,” she said.

www.crimefiles.net

www.policesearch.net

www.druglinks.info

Henry Sapiecha

The 20 people who USA President Donald Trump turns to & are not in the White House

Washington: Relationships have always been President Donald Trump’s currency and comfort, helping him talk his way into real estate deals over three decades in New York.

Those who know him best say that his outer confidence has always belied an inner uncertainty, and that he needs to test ideas with a wide range of people.

As Trump’s White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers – from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, and all outside the White House gates – many of whom he consults at least once a week.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Trump when he’s low and arguing that he should focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues.

Developer Richard LeFrak is a soothing voice who listens to Trump’s complaints that cost estimates for the border wall with Mexico are too high. Sean Hannity tells the president that keeping promises on core Republican issues is crucial.

Trump’s West Wing aides, like President Bill Clinton’s staff two decades before, say they sometimes cringe at the input from people they can’t control, with consequences they can’t predict. Knowing these advisers – who are mostly white, male and older – is a key to figuring out the words coming from Trump’s mouth and his Twitter feed.

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Here, based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, top aides and advisers inside and outside the White House, are 20 of Trump’s outside touchstones:

The Mogul

Rupert Murdoch

Trump’s relationships depend on two crucial measures: Personal success and loyalty to him. Murdoch excels in both categories. His New York Post vaulted Trump from local housing developer to gossip-page royalty, and his Fox News Channel was pro-Trump in the 2016 general election.

The two share preferences for transactional tabloid journalism and never giving in to critics. (Trump said fallen Fox star Bill O’Reilly should not have settled sexual harassment complaints.)

The president’s relationship with Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and in their calls they commiserate and plot strategy, according to people close to both.

Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.

Media baron Rupert Murdoch, pictured with Ivanka Trump

The Media

Sean Hannity

Presidents always deploy surrogates to appear on television to spout their talking points, but Trump has expanded on that by developing relationships with sympathetic media figures like Hannity who also serve as advisers.

Hannity, the Fox News host, defends Trump’s most controversial behaviour in public, but privately, according to people close to Trump, he urges the president not to get distracted, and advises him to focus on keeping pledges such as repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Chris Ruddy

The chief executive of Newsmax Media is a longtime Mar-a-Lago member and was a Trump cheerleader among conservative media well before the website Breitbart joined the parade. He employs writers and editors who tracked Trump’s career when they were at The New York Post. He recently visited the Oval Office, and he and Trump kibitz in Florida and by phone.

The Lawyer

Sheri Dillon

Dillon seemed out of place when she spoke at a too-large lectern in the lobby of Trump Tower on January 11, describing the steps Trump planned to take to separate himself from his business.

But Dillon, an ethics lawyer who worked out a highly criticised plan for Trump to retain ownership of his company but step back from running it, has repeatedly counseled the president about the business and made at least one White House visit. (Michael Cohen, a veteran Trump aide, has been serving as his personal lawyer.)

Campaign Advisers

Corey Lewandowski

Despite his “you’re fired” slogan, the president dislikes dismissing people. Lewandowski, Trump’s hot-tempered first campaign manager, was fired last June but never really went away.

A New England-bred operative whose working-class roots and clenched-teeth loyalty earned him Trump’s trust, he continued to be in frequent phone contact with Trump until the election and beyond.

Friends of Lewandowski say that he can see the windows of the White House residence from his lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that the view is even better during his visits to the West Wing, including when the New England Patriots were at the White House in the past week.

Newt Gingrich

The former House speaker talks more with Trump’s top advisers than he does with the president, but his presence permeates the administration. Gingrich’s former spokesman is at the State Department, and two former advisers work in the West Wing.

Gingrich has relentlessly promoted Trump’s policy adviser, Stephen Miller, as the West Wing conservative ballast as the chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, has been under fire.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Photo: AP

Childhood Friend

Richard LeFrak

Their fathers were developers together in New York, and the two men have been friends for decades. LeFrak is a Mar-a-Lago member, and he agreed to be part of an infrastructure effort that Trump hopes to put forward. Trump has turned to him to vent frustrations about the slow pace of bureaucracy.

The Peers

Thomas Barrack

Trump divides the people around him into broad categories: family, paid staff and wealthy men like Barrack whom he considers peers.

A sunny and loyal near-billionaire who has socialised with the president for years, Barrack is less a strategic adviser than a trusted moneyman, fixer and sounding board who often punctuated his emails to Trump with exhortations like “YOU ROCK!” He has urged Trump to avoid needless, distracting fights.

Under Barrack’s leadership, Trump’s inaugural committee raised a record $US106.7 million ($141.4 million), much of it from big corporations, banks and Republican megadonors like Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Barrack also helped usher Paul Manafort, the international political operative under scrutiny for his ties to Russia, into the Trump fold last year. The velvet-voiced Barrack does not seek out attention for himself, one of the most important and elusive qualities by which the president judges people.

Stephen Schwarzman

The chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, Schwarzman is the head of Trump’s economic advisory council. He and the president don’t speak daily, West Wing aides said, but do talk frequently.

Schwarzman has counselled him on a number of topics, including advising him to leave in place President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” from deportation.

Steve Roth

A good way to get on Trump’s side is to do a deal with him, particularly if it means rescuing him from his own financial crisis. That’s what real estate tycoon Steve Roth did a decade ago when he bought out Trump’s share in a New York City real estate deal that went sour.

Roth, head of Vornado Realty Trust and a longtime Democratic donor, also helped Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, when he injected $80 million into 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner family property in danger of defaulting on $US1.1 billion in loans. Trump speaks with Roth frequently, and is leaning on him to help develop a trillion-dollar infrastructure package expected this year.

Phil Ruffin

Trump has 20-odd business partners, but none is closer to him than Ruffin, 82, a Texas billionaire who has lent his ear and private jet.

The president was best man at the 2008 wedding of Ruffin to his third wife, a 26-year-old model and former Miss Ukraine. Ruffin has a knack for showing up when Trump needs him most and remains a die-hard defender.

“This stuff about him having financial investments all over Russia – that’s just pure crap,” Ruffin told Forbes. “I went to Russia with him. We took my airplane. We were having lunch with one of the oligarchs there. No business was discussed.”

Carl Icahn

Rounding out Trump’s roster of wealthy octogenarians is this 81-year-old corporate raider and real estate mogul who occupies perhaps the most respected perch in the president’s circle of businessmen buddies.

The affection is long-standing: The New York-bred Icahn has known Trump and his family for decades.

It’s also numerical: Icahn is worth an estimated $16 billion, a major plus in the eyes of a president who keeps score. Icahn serves as a free-roving economic counsellor and head of Trump’s effort to reduce government regulations on business.

Man of Mystery

Roger Stone

Few alliances in politics are as complicated as the 40-year relationship between the Nixon-tattooed Stone and Trump. Stone won’t say how frequently they speak these days, but he shares the president’s tear-down-the-system impulses and is ubiquitous on cable, on radio and on the website InfoWarsnews defending Trump.

The Clubgoers

Ike Perlmutter

Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics who is so reclusive that few public photographs exist of him, has been informally advising Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago club.

Robert Kraft

The owner of the Patriots is a Democrat but his loyalty to Trump, Kraft once said, dates partly to the president’s thoughtfulness when Kraft’s father died. Trump loved talking about the Patriots during the campaign, and Kraft has been a Mar-a-Lago presence since the transition.

The First Lady

Melania Trump

Melania Trump is uninterested in the limelight, but she has remained a powerful adviser by telephone from New York. Among her roles: giving the president feedback on media coverage, counselling him on staff choices and urging him, repeatedly, to tone down his Twitter feed. Lately, he has listened closely and has a more disciplined Twitter finger.

US first lady Melania Trump. Photo: AP

The Governor

Chris Christie

Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and palace gatekeeper, has shown a capacity to hobble his rivals, but few have been finished off. The most durable has been Christie, whose transition planning, several West Wing aides now concede, should not have been discarded. He has been a frequent Oval Office visitor and has worked with the White House on the opioid addiction crisis.

The Speaker

Paul Ryan

Trump and the clean-cut and wonky Wisconsinite aren’t exactly best friends forever. But their relationship is closer than in the bad old days of the 2016 campaign when Ryan delayed a hold-my-nose endorsement of Trump, whose morality he had long questioned. But as the president’s agenda passes through the razor-blade gantlet of the House, where Ryan faces the constant threat of opposition and overthrow, the two men have become foxhole buddies.

The Sons

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

The two sons and the president insist they no longer discuss company business. But the family is close and Trump still speaks to his sons frequently, inquiring about their lives and searching for gut-checks on his own.

– The New York Times

Henry Sapiecha

Donald Trump speech at CIA memorial risks fueling intelligence feud

In first official act, Trump pledges support for agency he has attacked

  • Former director ‘angered’ by political speech at wall for dead officers

Trump makes first speech as president to CIA audience in Virginia.

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Henry Sapiecha

Trump concedes Russia likely hacked DNC, attacks USA intelligence agencies over leaks

US President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that he believes Russian operatives hacked the Democratic Party during the election, but he continued to dispute intelligence reports that Moscow acted to help him win.

During an at times rancorous press conference, he angrily denounced the publishing of claims he had been caught in a compromising position in Russia and attacked news organisations for publishing the claims, while also lashing US intelligence agencies over the leak of an explosive but unverified dossier.

“I think it was Russia,” Mr Trump conceded at the press conference in New York when asked who was responsible for the leaks of Democratic emails during the campaign.

But Mr Trump said he believes Russia would have released damaging information about him had they obtained such information.

Mr Trump also addressed questions about his relationship with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, saying “If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s an asset not a liability. I don’t know if I’ll get along with Vladi­mir Putin. . .but even if I don’t does anyone in this room think Hillary Clinton will be tougher on Putin than me? Give me a break.”

Mr Trump made his remarks in his first news conference as President-elect, ending a period of 167 days since he has fielded questions from the full media contingent. Past winners of the presidency have traditionally faced the press far earlier.

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On Wednesday morning the president-elect angrily denounced news reports about a dossier of potentially compromising information Russia has allegedly gathered about him, citing denials from the Kremlin that it has any such intelligence.

The president-elect also charged via Twitter that his “crooked opponents” are trying to undermine his electoral victory. He accused the intelligence community of leaking the information to get in “one last shot at me,” saying, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

President-elect Donald Trump listens to a question during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York image www.intelagencies.com

At the news conference on Wednesday he attacked US intelligence agencies over the leak of the dossier, which was published in full by the news and entertainment website Buzzfeed on Tuesday.

“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there,” Mr Trump told the news conference. He called the dossier that makes salacious claims about him “fake news” and “phony stuff.”

Mr Trump acknowledged Russia was likely behind the hack of the DNC image www.intelagencies.com

“I think it’s a disgrace … That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done,” the Republican said days ahead of his inauguration.

Mr Trump’s comments follow the revelation Tuesday night that a classified report delivered to Mr Trump and President Obama last week, according to US officials, included a section summarising allegations that Russian intelligence services have compromising information about Mr Trump’s personal life and finances.

The officials said that US intelligence agencies have not corroborated those allegations but believed the sources involved in the reporting were credible enough to warrant inclusion of their claims in the highly classified report on Russian interference in the presidential campaign.

Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin called the allegations that Russia has collected compromising information about Trump an “absolute fantasy.”

Soon after, Mr Trump tweeted: “Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is ‘A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.’ Very unfair!”

Most media organisations reported only on the existence of the report and that intelligence officials had included a summary of it in their briefings with Mr Trump and Mr Obama on Russia’s attempts to sway the election. But BuzzFeed News published a document supposedly created by a former British intelligence official. The information it contains has not been verified.

Mr Trump and other officials appeared to focus on BuzzFeed’s publication of the report, denying that the document possesses any truth.

Mr Trump said Wednesday morning that he had no relationship with Russia that could compromise him.

“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me,” he said. “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

The Washington Post with Reuters

Trump Receives Russia Hacking Report. Contents, true or false??

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Hours after concluding his meeting with the U.S.’s top intelligence officials, President-elect Donald Trump didn’t immediately continue his previous denial that the Russian government was behind the election season hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

Trump did, however, promptly issue a statement contradicting the report’s scope.

His statement, which was emailed to the media around 2:30 P.M., claimed that regardless of who was behind the hacks, they caused “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

However, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which prepared the report, explicitly said they never attempted to judge how many votes Russia might have swayed — just that it was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent to favor Trump over his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” the report read. “The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.”

It would likely be impossible to determine how many voters stayed home or chose Trump over Clinton because of the hacks, as well as their subsequent news coverage, especially in Russian outlets like RT, which the report called “a platform for Kremlin messaging.” Clinton lost by 74 electoral votes — a minimum of at least two states — though she received more total votes than any American presidential candidate in history save President Obama in 2008. She received 2.8 million more votes than Trump.

ODNI, which presented the report to President Obama on Thursday, made a declassified version available to the public late Friday afternoon. It contains few genuine revelations not previously reported in the news, though it’s noteworthy for breaking down the independent major intelligence agencies’ conclusions. The CIA and FBI both have “high confidence” that Putin ordered a hacking campaign to injure Clinton’s campaign. The NSA, which intercepted messages of senior Russian officials celebrating Trump’s win, expressed “moderate confidence” in that conclusion.

The report maintains, also with high confidence, that the online character Guccifer 2.0, who had claimed to be a Romanian hacktivist while slowly dispensing various documents stolen from Democrats’ servers, was a tool of Russian intelligence to disseminate those files. Vocativ reported in July that Guccifer 2.0 was lying about his identity and likely Russian, and in September that he seemed to leaking information about Democrats specifically in states vital for a Trump victory.

Trump added in his statement “that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.” That, however, wasn’t even up for debate. It wasn’t mentioned in ONDI’s report, and prominent voting experts, as well as FBI Director James Comey, proclaimed before the election that a major attack on the U.S.’s physical voting machines was unlikely. Subsequent audits found no evidence of foreign tampering.

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Henry Sapiecha

www.ispysite.com