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Category Archives: Golden Rule

Friday, October 11, 2019: Quid pro quo and the Golden Rule, Trump abandons our Kurdish allies, addressing an existential threat – Bangor Daily News

Posted: October 10, 2019 at 11:47 pm

Quid pro quo

This phrase from the Roman Empire, can effectively translate as, If you scratch my back, then I will scratch yours. Romans believed if they wanted the gods to grant a favor, then first the Roman would favor the gods. If a leader considers himself a god (narcissist) then it would be natural to expect a favor from a mere mortal before granting a request. From theology to a widespread social norm in the empire, Quid pro quo sewed the seeds for the collapse of the great Roman civilization that ruled the world.

Our president has shown his words and actions to be self-serving, asking for favors and for the most part giving much less than what he received. Those unwilling to give what he wants are abased.

The practice of viewing everyone as having a priceless and equal value by virtue of being alive and unique in all the world appears foreign to our president. This ignorance harms himself and his relationships with others, while he gives more importance to himself than others.

The alternative is to honor our equality, and practice the Golden Rule, asking others to do the same for their own good, to insure all will be accepted unconditionally, with reverence given to free will, and a shared interest to work together for the benefit of all. Why live any other way?

The Golden Rule has been a cornerstone of world religions for 6,000 years. Our Founding Fathers declared independence from England, recognizing the self-evident truth that all men are created equal.

What do we do, but declare independence?

Tom GaffneyStockton Springs

Protecting our young people who risk their lives to defend our country does not seem to be considered by President Donald Trump when he makes foreign policy decisions by tweet.

Brett McGurk, working under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump until last year, organized a coalition of 80 countries and two dozen contributors who gave money and fighters to defeat ISIS and now continue in stabilizing northern Syria. One of the most loyal partners were Kurdish fighters who died in great numbers defeating ISIS with the dedicated young men and women in the United States military. Thousands ISIS fighters are still in the area and in detention ( 12,000) and are ready to fight again as well as thousands of ISIS wives and children.

Turkey and Iraq want to squash the Kurdish people, who desperately want statehood.

Working with Russia, Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has in one conversation by phone convinced Trump to abandon our military and our allies. McGurk and his boss, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, quit the Trump administration last year in protest.

The [White House] statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground, McGurk said Monday on Twitter.

Our young people who join the U.S. military need a commander in chief who understands the situation on the ground and will act to protect them and their partners and the security of the United States of America.

Carole BealBar Harbor

Climate change is an existential threat. Maine is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation, and scientists have made it clear that we need to stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere by the middle of this century in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Maine is stepping up to that challenge. The state recently set ambitious targets to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, and is taking bold action to boost solar generation, electric vehicles, and efficient heat pumps. Transitioning to a clean energy future will create new jobs, strengthen our communities, and protect public health.

But we need comparable bold action from Washington. We need our elected officials to support a transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy and set a nation-wide goal for carbon neutrality by 2050 and theres a bill, the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, underway in Congress that would do just that. This legislation would build on progress made at the local level that is already spurring clean energy development and creating more green jobs that drive our economy. As a champion of the environment and small businesses, Rep. Jared Golden should support this legislation.

Ethan TremblayWinterport

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Friday, October 11, 2019: Quid pro quo and the Golden Rule, Trump abandons our Kurdish allies, addressing an existential threat - Bangor Daily News

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The Golden Rule In Practice – Above the Law

Posted: at 11:47 pm

Suppose you produce documents to a regulator.

The regulator writes back, asking you to identify specific documents by Bates number.

Outside counsel said that youd provide the Bates numbers by Monday.

On Tuesday, you werent sure if the Bates numbers had yet been provided. So you sent an email to outside counsel:

I havent yet seen a note transmitting the Bates numbers. Have you sent the information?

The phone rang: I havent sent the regulator the Bates numbers yet. This is harder than I expected.

Okay. Did you send a note to the regulator saying that you werent sending the Bates numbers, as you had promised, apologizing for this, and telling the regulator when youd actually be producing the numbers?

No.

Why not? What do you suppose the regulator is thinking?

I dont know what hes thinking. Maybe hes thinking, I have the damn documents. Its my job to look through them. I have no right to ask BigCo to specify Bates numbers, and I should just do my job.'

I understand the frustration of outside counsel. Identifying Bates numbers is no fun even for the associate whos actually doing the work. But I guarantee you that the regulator is not thinking, Gee, I suppose this problem is my fault. People dont think that way. The regulator is thinking, You promised the information on Monday. You didnt get it to me on Monday. Youre irresponsible, and Im going to hold this against you.

So you can either prompt this reaction by your silence or write a note to prevent this reaction.

Which do you suppose is better?

Its just common sense.

Heres another example: Last year, you got settlement authority of $450,000 in a case. It turns out the case will settle for $457,000. Two choices: Put in the computer system that, We need $457,000 to settle a case. Or enter into the computer system, Last year, you approved $450,000 to settle a case. It turns out that we need slightly more than that to make the case go away. Im submitting a request for an extra $7,000, for a cumulative total of $457,000 to settle the case. The current request for approval relates only to the incremental $7,000.

Which is right?

One causes the reader to curse: This is a big request for settlement authority! How come I havent heard about it before? Why are these things always being thrown on my desk without warning? The reader will then flip through the computer, figure out whats really happening, and curse again: Why didnt they tell me it was just a $7,000 increase? This is nothing; I could have approved it in my sleep. What idiots for not explaining the situation to me!

You didnt get any credit for this having been an insignificant request. Rather, you were mentally cursed once for the appearance of it having been significant and were then cursed a second time for not having explained the situation.

Try to avoid having your boss curse you twice.

I know what youre thinking: Herrmann, youre such an idiot! Why are you writing about two discrete situations? They wont occur in my life. Why waste time with this?

Of course these precise situations wont occur in your life. Youre supposed to reason by analogy. Consider how the other person will react, and then preempt the negative reaction.

The potential client receives an email from outside counsel prospecting for business:

You were just sued in my local federal court. I thought you might appreciate the notice. Ive attached a link.

What does in-house counsel think? Two choices: I really must hire this person. That email contains truly thoughtful analysis of the new case. Or: What an idiot. He sent me the link without any explanation of whats behind it. Hes a fool, and he surely doesnt deserve to get retained.

In terms of business development, sending the email was worse than nothing. You affirmatively decreased your chances of being hired.

Or suppose you must send some task to your boss, a computer illiterate, through the computer system. How do you follow up? Two choices: Not at all. The computer will nudge your boss, and your boss will figure out what to do. Or: Send an email. The computer will soon nudge you to do X. This relates to the case of Y. You must go into the computer system and approve what weve done. Ive attached a link to the relevant page of the computer system below. If you approve of our action (and, in my opinion, you should), please click on the link and indicate your approval.

See?

Its a pain in the neck. But the truth is that no one cares about you. People care about themselves. So, be loved: Make life easy for the other guy.

Its the golden rule.

Mark Herrmann spent 17 years as a partner at a leading international law firm and is now deputy general counsel at a large international company. He is the author of The Curmudgeons Guide to Practicing Law and Inside Straight: Advice About Lawyering, In-House And Out, That Only The Internet Could Provide (affiliate links). You can reach him by email at inhouse@abovethelaw.com.

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12 Things You Should Never-Ever Do With Your Kitchen Knives – msnNOW

Posted: at 11:47 pm

221A Have you been putting your knives in the dishwasher? It's time to stop that, right now.

Knives are crucial for cookingthey help you chiffonade your basil, dice your onions, and fillet your fish. But knives are also expensive, sharp, and a little daunting. Chances are good, however, that you have at least one knife you love in your kitchenbut are you treating it right? Whether it's that 8-inch chef knife you bought yourself when you got your first kitchen, the beautiful meat-cleaver you couldn't resist adding to your registry, or the itty-bitty pairing knife that's as cute as it is useful, following these little tips will ensure it'll last.

(Also, not to be a nag, but it's also important to choose the right knife for the job. You should check out that list, too.)

1. Never wash them in the dishwasher. You've heard this beforeit's basically the golden rule of knife care, for a number of reasons. They can get warped, the high-temperatures can damage the metal, and having knifes in the dishwasher is dangerous (see above). Wash your knives by hand with the blade pointing away from you and the sponge wrapped around the spine (aka the not sharp edge).

2. Never leave knives in the sink. Yes, this is a mixed message, especially since you shouldn't be putting your knives in the dishwasher. But the sink is not only a dangerous spot (hard-to-see-through water doesn't mix well with a sharp object), leaving your knife there can lead to rust.

3. Never put them away wet. It's the same concept: Wet knives can lead to rust, so save yourself time and money by drying your knives before storing them. (Also, putting a wet knife into a knife block can lead to mold and other disgusting bacteria...which is more gross than it is harmful to your blade.)

4. Never store them unprotected. Knifes are delicate, they should never end up in a drawer unprotected. Other knives (or forks and spoons) can nick your them and render them forever blemished. Instead use a knife blocks or a magnet strip to keep your knives safe and sound. Just remember to clean your knife block.

5. Never use glass cutting boards. We're not even sure why people make them in the first place: Chopping on any surface that's harder than your knife will hurt the blade. Always opt for a wood cutting boards to ensure you are treating your knife with adequate respect. (Be sure to use a cutting board this is the right size for your knife too! You can measure your cutting board by laying the knife you want to use across it at a diagonal. If the cutting board is 2-inches longer than you knife, you have the right size cutting board to use with that knife.)

6. Never use them when they're dull. A dull knife is a dangerous knife. You know how hard you have to work to get a dull knife through a piece of food...and your fingers are just there, waiting to be sliced? Enough said.

7. Never let your knife sit with food residue. Acid can corrode the metal, so it's important to rinse (and dry!) your knife as soon as you are done using it.

8. Never scrap up your food with the knife. Seems harmless, but you should never use your knife to scoop your chopped onions into your hand or your food scraps into the trash. This method, while seemingly convenient, dulls your knifewhich is a problem (see above). Instead use a bench knife (a must have kitchen tool) or the spine of your knife (the non-sharp edge).

9. Never chop up and downalways rock. Like this: When you are chopping up your garlic, use a gentle swaying motion instead of an aggressive up and down motion, which is both dangerous for your fingers and bad for the blade.

10. Never leave your knives near the edge of the counter. This is a no-brainer, but it begs repeating: The closer a knife is to the edge of the counter, the closer you are to a really bad accident.

11. Never try and catch a falling knife. It's natural instinct to reach for falling thingsseriouslyso just back out of the way when your knife tumbles towards the floor.

12. Never use your knife directly after sharpening. Honing and sharpening your knife produces microscopic bits of metal that can get into your food. So after you sharpen, wash it or wipe it down with a dish cloth.

Related video: How to sharpen a knife with a whetstone [USA Today]

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Holland Spreads Message of Hope in God to the Corporate World – Lasentinel

Posted: at 11:47 pm

Kashonna Holland (Courtesy photo)

Going beyond the church walls is more than a saying to Kashonna Holland. Its a charge that she strives to utilize in corporate America.

As a training and development facilitator for public and private industries across the nation, Holland spreads Gods message of hope to executives and their staff as she teaches them to show respect, love and unity towards one another.

Holland expertise lies in transformational leadership development and personal empowerment and she emphasizes those qualities through interactive group/focus sessions on topics such as Customer Service, How to Handle Difficult People, Navigating Conflict, Emotional Intelligence, Developing Yourself and Others, Behavioral-Based Interviewing, and Diversity and Inclusion.

My main message is a message of hope and I have a wonderful and very unique opportunity to take the gospel outside of the four walls and touch people with this universal message, whether they are believers or not, said Holland.

Previously a full-time pastor, Holland changed careers and started her business more than six years ago. Since that time, she has traveled to board rooms and break rooms in federal offices and private companies to teach employees how to be productive and caring in the workplace. Also, she has facilitated and provided training for both the DISC and Myers Briggs personality assessments.

At the end of the day, I like to say that I teach grown people how to get along with one another. It is really wonderful to be in a training session and touch the hearts of the people who are in attendance and give them hope through the session. It is a blessing, she said.

Soft skills are definitely needed in the workplace. Whether it is a large organization or a small one, people need people skills. I believe that along the way our culture has discounted the soft skills needed to be better communicators in our families or our jobs, insisted Holland.

During her training, Holland espouses biblical doctrine without directly quoting scripture. For example, she might say, To whom much is given, much is required, and she believes most people, regardless of their background, understand the meaning of that statement. At another point in her instruction, she might refer to the golden rule and again, the majority of listeners will translate that to treat others the way you want to be treated.

I may say other scriptures people that may not necessarily know of, I am just not saying that it is a scripture or that this comes from the Bible, explained Holland. I make it more palatable for people and I believe that sometimes, we can be a little aggressive in the church when we try to bully people into loving God. But, that is not the answer. People need to be loved, they need empathy and they need to know that somebody cares for them regardless of where they are in life.

Many of Hollands strategies can be found in her book, 7 Days to Simply Shift: A Daily Guide to Transforming Your Mindset Personally, Professionally and Spiritually. The book is designed to help people discover the root cause of their discontent with life and make the needed adjustments to live confidently and victoriously as well as relate better to others, both on the job and at home.

Describing her writings as a small book with a big impact, Holland said that she aimed to assist people in understanding that the smallest thing that they do in their life can make a huge shift.

When you read this book and take a total of 21 days on your personal, professional and spiritual walk, I guarantee that a small shift will began to make a huge difference in your life, she declared.

And that is what her training sessions seek to do guide people towards making a shift in their on-the-job behavior, which will likely inspire positive changes in other areas and ultimately lead to a satisfied life.

Remember who you are and even though no one no one wants you to compromise who you are, always work to be a better you, advised Holland. Just run your own race and get out of everyone elses lane and you cant help but to win!

To learn more, visit simplykashonna.com. 7 Days to Simply Shift: A Daily Guide to Transforming Your Mindset Personally, Professionally and Spiritually is available at Amazon.com.

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7 Things You Absolutely Must Do If You Want To Be Respected – Forbes

Posted: at 11:47 pm

Respect means a lot to all of us. This is how you can get more of it.

Getty

The renowned Aretha Franklin sung about it, but everyone and I do mean everyone wants some of it. We want respect in our personal lives and in our professional lives as well. We want to be appreciated for the work we do and to get proper recognition for our contributions. When our colleagues respect us, they take us more seriously and view us as professionals who get things done in the right way while applying professional standards and ethics. If you want to be respected more by your boss, your staff or your colleagues, you absolutely must do these seven things consistently.

1. Apologize for what you get wrong but not for who you are or what you accomplish.

By all means, dont apologize excessively. Doing so might cause people to see you as inferior, especially when your inclination is to automatically apologize to others for not only the stuff you get wrong but for the stuff they get wrong too.

In no way am I recommending that you neglect to take ownership of your mistakes or the mistakes of your team. That is what weak leaders are known to do. Instead, I posit that strong leaders answer for their teams actions and their own actions by taking full responsibility for mistakes, and they are respected much more for doing so. But dont apologize for things that you have no control over, things outside your authority or for the things that make you who you are.

Apologize for being rude or arriving late to a meeting but not for another persons discomfort with your identity, professionalism, competence or expertise. Apologize for disrespecting or discounting someone else but not for setting performance standards and holding people accountable. Apologize for a process, service or quality failure, but never apologize for being confident, assertive or successful.

2. Have the audacity to point out whats not working and the diligence to propose methods that will.

If you are the resident fault-finder on the team, no one will like or respect you. While it is very important to highlight mistakes, flaws and areas for improvement, it is equally if not more important to add your ideas, recommendations and methods to the mix. People respect problem solvers and solution finders more than complainers.

To gain more respect, demonstrate your ability to be a strategic thinker and offer up thoughtful and comprehensive proposals with solutions. When you have the courage to not only point out what is wrong but also stand behind it with a well-thought proposal for how to make it better, you gain more respect. Even if people dont fully accept your proposal, they will respect you for providing one. It shows that you are truly invested in making things better, and you will gain a reputation for generating ideas, solving problems and improving processes.

3. Treat other people the way they want to be treated rather than the way you want to be treated.

Although well intentioned, the Golden Rule principle falls short. The Golden Rule suggests that we treat others the way we want to be treated. A better approach is to treat others the way they want to be treated. This is called the Platinum Rule, and it considers that when dealing with other people, it is best to try to make it about them. Focus on what they need and what they care about to the extent possible.

When you treat others the way you want to be treated, they might view you as arrogant and overly presumptuous. Think about it. How can we just decide that other people want to be treated the same way we want to be treated? Who gives us the right to presume that?

Youll gain more respect when you make it about other people. Another way to do this is to simply respect them. Regardless of position titles or status, find a way to show you value and appreciate the maintenance worker who cleans the bathrooms as much as you appreciate the chief executive. When you make it about other people and elevate their needs and concerns, they will elevate you and come to respect you more.

4. Ask more questions and remain open to new ideas.

In case you were wondering, people really dont like know-it-alls. If you go around diminishing others while acting like you have a monopoly on bright ideas, the best expertise or the best solutions, you will be disliked. People will respect you less because they dont feel you value their ideas or expertise.

A better strategy would be to show people that you are open to learn new things and think differently about processes. This will get you further than you will ever get by touting your expertise, college degrees or how much experience you have. In todays society, your ability to learn, unlearn, ask great questions and learn some more is truly valued, and this will garner you more respect with your colleagues.

5. Make your needs a priority, and deal with conflict even when its uncomfortable.

People respect people who respect themselves and value their own needs. When you avoid conflict, you send a message that your needs are inferior to anothers. When you do it excessively, people come to expect that you will certainly accommodate and prioritize their needs over your own.

There are five different conflict styles (collaborating, compromising, competing, accommodating and avoiding), and each style has a time and place for its suitability though we are inclined to lean on one or two styles more frequently. It is okay to sometimes avoid conflict, but if you tend to avoid it even when issues beg to be addressed, you become part of the problem. By being a reliable conflict avoider or accommodator, others become less and less interested in meeting your needs, and they lose respect for you.

Regardless of which conflict style you prefer, you have to get comfortable applying other styles when necessary. Go ahead and apply the collaborative style and even the competitive style when you need to fight or advocate for your needs or the needs of your team. As people see that you are adept with flexing between the styles, they will come to respect you more.

6. Be courageous enough to ask for help and invite critique from others.

Let go of the kind of thinking that says that only weak people need other people. Thats false. Strong people have the courage to admit they need help from other people. They have the courage to allow others to provide assistance. When you ask for help, you show your strength. You show that you are indeed confident in your abilities and have the willingness and courage to accept guidance. You show others that you dont believe yourself to be superior to those around you, and you create opportunities for others to contribute to your development.

Respected leaders seek opportunities to develop themselves and others. Let others help and advise you along the way. People will respect you more when they see that you welcome critique and feedback. Even when you might not really need the help, you can still benefit from asking for it. You will garner more respect just for creating opportunities for others to flex their intellectual or creative muscles more often!

7. Do the right thing even when it will cost more than you want to pay.

I learned a long time ago that an ounce of dishonesty will have far more impact on whether people respect me than a pound of accomplishment ever will. A lot of people get lost here. No advice about how to gain respect would be complete without a category on integrity and ethics.

Ethics is about how we meet the challenge of doing the right thing when that will cost more than we want to pay. -The Josephson Institute of Ethics

We can respect people even if we disagree with them, and we can respect people we dont even like. But you would be hard pressed to find someone who will tell you that they respect people they dont trust or cant count on to use good judgment to make ethically sound decisions especially when those decisions run counter to their own interests.

If you care about garnering more respect, you absolutely must commit to a set of professional standards that reflect high levels of integrity and ethics. Zig Ziglar said the most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity. Hes so right. Ethical leaders have integrity and work to bridge the ethical dilemma gap and build distinguishable standards for behavior. They then hold themselves and others across the organization accountable.

I know youve got this.

Just take a hard look at your behaviors and assess whether your actions may be diminishing the respect you garner from others. People advance professionally for many reasons, and commanding respect is certainly one of them. Make the necessary modifications to your own behavior so that you can gain more respect from your colleagues, your staff and your boss. The results will be reflected in positive and tangible ways that advance your career as well as your professional standing.

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These Researchers Want to Save You From Ransomware (for Free) – PCMag

Posted: at 11:47 pm

If your PC is ever locked by ransomware, paying up won't necessarily release your files; in fact, we recommend that you never hand over cash to these scammers.

What to do? There's a minor chance you can save your files without surrendering your wallet or trashing your PC entirely. A group of security researchers routinely examines the latest ransomware strains for flaws in their computer code, and develops free tools that can (sometimes) reverse the infection.

Michael Gillespie is among those researchers. He's a programmer by day, but in his free time he works as a ransomware hunter for the New Zealand-based antivirus firm Emsisoft, a leading provider of ransomware decryptors. Desperate victims frequently reach out to him for help. "I can get anywhere from 50 to 200 people contacting me per day. It's crazy," he said in an interview.

When a ransomware infection hits your PC, the malicious code encrypts your files and posts a note, demanding you pay up or never see your data again. If you give in, the hackers will (theoretically) send you a decryption key to recover your files. But like any piece of software, a ransomware strain can be buggy. Gillespie has exploited those vulnerabilities to create an estimated 100 decryptors, which anyone can download for free.

The bugs can happen for a number reason: The hacker behind the malicious code may be a newbie. Or the ransomware itself may be an early first version, and has yet to work out all its kinks. If there's a weakness in the encryption algorithmthe crucial process that will turn your files into gibberishthen a researcher can potentially unravel a ransomware attack and reverse the infection.

(Gillespie has a YouTube channel devoted to ransomware decryption.)

"The golden rule is that crypto (cryptography) is hard, and ransomware developers are human too," Gillespie said. Lately, victims have been reaching out to him for help to recover from the "STOP DJVU" strain, which often comes packaged with pirated software. Fortunately, Gillespie was able to create a decryptor since early versions of the attack embeded a usable decryption key to reverse the infection within the ransomware's computer code.

"Ransomware authors, as a whole, really don't learn," said Fabian Wosar, chief technology officer at Emsisoft. Wosar began hunting ransomware in 2012, and since then, he's created decryptors for an estimated 150 ransomware families or more, which he finds surprising.

(Emsisoft's decryption tool list)

"Four years ago, I was 100 percent sure that by now we would never see a ransomware family again that had any flaws that we could exploit," he said. "But we still see them at the same frequency."

He suspects the biggest reason why is because rookie hackers are routinely trying their hand at ransomware. "A whole bunch of new people are joining the game," he said. The more successful ransomware authors, on the other hand, can retire after raking in so many ransoms. "So we have a whole bunch of new people committing the same mistakes again and again."

Wosar estimates there's usually a one-in-five chance a brand-new ransomware strain can be successfully decrypted. Other strains have been reversed thanks to law enforcement agencies busting the hackers and retrieving decryption keys from their servers.

But many hackers behind the biggest ransomware attacks appear to be pros who continue to elude capture. Today's most notorious ransomware strainssuch as REvil and Ryukare likely linked to organized cybercriminal gangs that specialize in targeting businesses and city governments and have successfully extorted millions in bitcoin from victims.

(Ron Engelaar/AFP/Getty Images)

Researchers such as Wosar and Gillespie have made a major dent in some of the hackers' earnings, with their individual decryptors downloaded tens of thousands of times.

So why are these researchers helping victims for free? It's not exactly sound economics for an antivirus firm to create a decryptor at no cost. But it does generate good press for Emsisoft, which helps justify the time and effort.

"I feel like I'm doing my good part in the world, and getting my fame in," Gillespie said. Fascinated by cryptography, he began tackling ransomware over four years ago as a hobby.

As for Wosar: "Personally, my biggest reason why I'm doing this is I really enjoy pissing off the ransomware authors."

Still, foiling hackers can sometimes come at a price. Last year, Wosar left his home country of Germany over worries a ransomware author might one day try to track him down and send a hired killer. "At this point, we may have done $750 million in damages to all the different hacking groups," he estimated. "It would only take a tiny fraction of that amount to send someone to visit me, and convince me not to write decryptors anymore."

(Messages ransomware authors have left for Fabian Wosar over the years.)

Wosar says he's currently "laying low" in the UK, where he continues to examine and decrypt the latest ransomware strains. He also keeps a digital folder with screenshots of all the times hackers have insulted him for decrypting their ransomware attacks. In 2016, one cybercriminal even created a malware strain named "Fabiansomware" to troll Wosar.

"It's like flattery, almost," Wosar said.

Emsisoft isn't alone in developing ransomware decryptors. The industry, along with law enforcement, created Nomoreransom.org, which hosts various free decryptors, and has helped more than 200,000 victims recover from attacks, according to Europol.

US law enforcement is not part of the Nomoreransom.org project, though, likely because the website's partners include Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab and the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

An FBI spokesperson told us the agency's main role is with ransomware investigations, which can include privately consulting with victims on their recovery options. "We'll point people to decryption keys that are publicly available, and tell them to use their best judgment," the spokesperson added.

(The Nomoreransom.org site.)

Although the free decryption tools can provide some relief to the ongoing ransomware epidemic, they have their limits. That's because ransomware authors can be quick to fix their creations.

"Whenever you release a free decryption tool, you are telling the bad guys to tweak their code," said Jakub Kroustek, a security researcher at antivirus firm Avast, who also develops decryption tools. "If the hackers are clever enough, they will fix it."

"There are two sides of this coin," he added. "If a new ransomware strain arrives, and you're the first victim, the chances are quite good there's some flaw." But those decryption tools can also help hackers refine and debug their attacks, making their ransomware creations resistant to future attempts at decryption.

As a result, it'll take more than finding software bugs to stop the ongoing ransomware epidemic. Victimsincluding consumers, businesses, and governmentswill need to stop giving into the ransomware demands, and focus on protecting their computers.

"The number one prevention tip is backups," Gillespie said. "If all your safety nets fail, a backup is what can save your ass in the end."

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The golden rule of political campaigns: the most successful ads exploit truth. – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: at 11:47 pm

OPINION: Drivers crawling along the busy, two-lane stretch of Totara Stbetween Tauranga and Mount Maunganui have time to study the crop of local election signs.

One stands out. It features a picture of a man, asleep on a couch, mouth gaping slightly open. The accompanying slogan is: "I'll do my best but I can't promise anything."

It's a joke, and the candidate isn't running for real. But it's probably the most honest political ad you'll see in the coming year.

Hoardings are also now quaintly old-fashioned, in this age of online political campaigns.

READ MORE:* Simon Bridges apologises to Julie Anne Genter for getting EV figures wrong* Facebook ads will dominate the next election* Jacinda Ardern remains 'relentlessly positive' despite negative Facebook ad about Simon Bridges

Digital propaganda became ubiquitous in 2016, with the UK's Brexit referendum and the presidential election duelled out in people's Facebook feeds.

SUPPLIED

This joke billboard went viral after it was pictured on Facebook.

The recent Australian election was fought online, with digital teams creating customised Facebook posts that was tailored to location, demographic, and even financial status.

Online advertising is cheap to produce and run, and engagement rates are micro-analysed to assess what messages are resonating.

New Zealand has finally caught up, and in the last few months, National has subjected its social media followers to a relentless blitz of online ads.

They've lasered in on the Government's clean car "feebate" scheme, and built a campaign around the theme: "New Zealanders can't afford this Government."

In the main, they are negative.

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Simon Bridges says Speaker Trevor Mallard's ruling on political advertising is a freedom of speech issue.

Voters say they don't like negative campaigning, but they do pay attention to it. If a creative message scares, worries us, or provokes an emotional response we're much more likely to remember it.

But there is also a golden rule: the most successful ads exploit truth. They hint at something voters already suspect or believe in.

There's a good argument for negative campaigning: useful decisions are rarely made by weighing up only the positive information supplied by candidates. You'd never buy a car based only on glowing references from the manufacturer.

'Attack' ads are less effective. They focus on personality or physical traits, not policy. And voters - especially in under-dog loving New Zealand - resist them.

NZ NATIONAL PARTY

The ad which prompted the Speaker's crackdown.

There has been much hand-wringing about the rise of these online ads, and what damage they could do in a post-truth era. Some have called for a mandatory transparency tool for Facebook political ads.

These concerns culminated in a humourless complaint from Labour about the edited use of Parliamentary footage.

National had used a clip that showed Labour MP Deborah Russell rambling on about the ancient Greeks. Speaker Trevor Mallard stepped in an enforced an existing ban.

The party also got slapped down for a 'car tax' ad and was twice admonished by the Advertising Standards Authority.

And the Greens suffered their own backlash over a controversial skit that mocked Simon Bridges' accent. Public disapproval forced them to delete it.

There's no evidence Kiwis are being passively manipulated by dirty tactics or misinformation, ready to harden into the political fury of Brexit or the US culture wars.

The public are attuned to the rough and tumble of politics. They're more active, independent and critical than ever before: using social media to call out distortion, rebutting and attacking the framing of issues.

Labour do have cause for concern in one respect. Social media negativity is more often the desperation strategy of underdog candidates.

And this week, National switched gear: with a campaign extolling #9yearsofprogress.

(Hey, no-one said positive ads had to be truthful).

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The golden rule of political campaigns: the most successful ads exploit truth. - Stuff.co.nz

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What every Japan v Scotland outcome does for the RWC – and who the All Blacks get – TVNZ

Posted: at 11:47 pm

With Typhoon Hagibis causing chaos at the Rugby World Cup, it can be fairly easy to lose track of how the knockout stages of this year's tournament are shaping up - and what the All Blacks' path to a potential third-consecutive title will look like.

World Rugby announced yesterday that two matches have been cancelled - England v France and Italy v New Zealand - and, despite Sergio Parisse's complaints, they have little effect on Pool B and C.

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Saturday's match against Italy has been abandoned due to Typhoon Hagibis. Source: 1 NEWS

Pool D is also effectively set in stone with Wales and Australia making it through unless Wales suffers a massive upset to Uruguay on Sunday.

But it's a different Sunday fixture - Scotland v Japan - that has the potential to cause as much havoc as Hagibis with all its possible outcomes, and with the All Blacks facing the second seed from that wild Pool A plenty of attention needs to be paid to it.

So let's break down how that one Test in Yokohama will shape this year's quarter-finals.

Please note, these upcoming outcomes are going on the assumption Ireland beat Samoa in Saturday's only match. If they lose, then Japan has to win in order for Joe Schmidt's men to make it through as the second seed or else Scotland will win the group and Japan will be second.

Before all this begins, there's a little known rule that needs to be addressed that could play a huge role in the shaping of Pool A.

Official Rugby World Cup law states that shold two teams be tied in a group at the end of the pool phase, the winner of the match between those two sides shall be ranked higher.

Keep that in mind going forward.

To best understand how Pool A could look, it's best to understand how it looks currently:

Pool A heading into the final weekend of pool play at the 2019 RWC. Source: The Front Row

Japan sit on top with 14 points on three wins and no losses with two bonus points.

Ireland are second with 11 points on two wins and one loss with three bonus points.

Scotland are third with 10 points on two wins and one loss with two bonus points.

Teams earn four points for a win and can earn bonus points for either scoring four tries in a match or losing by less than seven points.

With Ireland heavy favourites to beat Samoa on Saturday, they are expected to earn a bonus point win and move to 16 points overall - two clear of Japan and an unreachable six points ahead of Scotland.

With that in mind, lets look at how the Pool could finish off looking under different circumstances.

All Blacks play: Scotland [most of the time]

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The 61-0 victory in Shizuoka sees Scotland stay in the mix to advance. Source: Spark Sport RWC

Funnily enough, there is a world in which Scotland win on Sunday and are still knocked out by Japan.

That'll happen if Scotland fail to secure the four-try bonus point while Japan secures a bonus point for losing by seven or less, which is completely possible if the game boils down to a low-scoring, tightly-fought contest in wet conditions.

If that happens, Japan will finish second one point behind Ireland but one point ahead of Scotland, setting them up for a clash with the All Blacks.

There's also the unlikely world in which Scotland earns that bonus point but Japan earn two of their own by, once again, losing by seven or less but scoring four tries as they do so.

Should that result somehow come to fruition, Japan will be tied with Ireland on sixteen points and thanks to the golden rule will go through as the top seed, sending Ireland to play the All Blacks.

Outside those two results however, a victorious Scotland will march on to the quarter-finals and knock out the Brave Blossoms for a second-straight World Cup, but will then have to face the All Blacks themselves.

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A win against Scotland on Saturday would see Japan make the quarter-finals for the first time in history. Source: 1 NEWS

Things are a lot simpler if Japan go undefeated in pool play.

Japan will finish top of Pool A, Ireland will be second and Scotland will go home. The score doesn't matter and neither do any bonus points.

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The 1 NEWS team in Japan explains what today's bombshell means for New Zealand's chance at a three-peat. Source: 1 NEWS

If Scotland's threats don't work and World Rugby cancels the game to protect everyone from Typhoon Hagibis, Japan and Scotland will both take two points from the fixture.

This would see Scotland knocked out but Japan would move to 16 points and be tied with Ireland.

That would mean that, once again, the golden rule comes in to play and because of their upset win earlier in the tournament, the Brave Blossoms would send Ireland to play the All Blacks while they host South Africa.

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What every Japan v Scotland outcome does for the RWC - and who the All Blacks get - TVNZ

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Apple AirPods’ poor design hurts our wallets, and the environment – The Age

Posted: at 11:47 pm

Apple doesn't dispute that the lithium-ion batteries inside AirPods wear out. "All rechargeable batteries have a limited life span and may eventually need to be serviced or recycled," Apple says on its website. Replacing batteries is very common on phones and laptops. In 2018, Apple stores got deluged after the company offered to replace the batteries in older iPhones for $39.

But with AirPods, Apple offers far less help. First, there's no way to determine the health of the batteries in the ear buds or their charging case. Apple won't even share guidelines on their life expectancy. "AirPods are built to be long-lasting," said Apple spokeswoman Lori Lodes, without specifics. Mine went for 34 months; others have reported they die as soon as 18 months.

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In Australia, when your AirPod batteries finally go, you have a few options if you want to avoid buying a full price new set at $249:

A $150 battery fix is still mighty expensive. Apple will replace the battery on an iPhone for as little as $79. An Apple Watch battery costs just $129. What makes AirPods so different? Because Apple's "battery service" for AirPods is code for "throwing it away." Apple isn't repairing AirPods; it's just replacing the ear buds and recycling your old ones.

To understand why, I performed an autopsy on a dearly departed pair. Inside, I found the design of AirPods makes them inevitably obsolete.

Taking apart an Airpod to replace the battery, without destroying the outer casing, is impossible.Credit:Washington Post / James Pace-Cornsilk

What could be so hard about replacing the battery in an AirPod? I don't ordinarily go CSI on gadgets, so I sought advice from some folks who do.

Kyle Wiens, the CEO of repair website iFixit, offers instructions on how to disassemble electronics and sells replacement parts. The first time Wiens tried to get inside an AirPod, he cut himself and bled all over it. Another time, the battery combusted in a poof of smoke on his team.

There is no way we can feasibly understand taking the battery out without completely destroying the AirPod.

AirPods were never meant to be opened, Wiens warned me.

But I wanted to see for myself. With Wiens watching, I began the operation with the silver cap at the end of the AirPod stick. You might think it unscrews to let you get inside. No such luck. It's glued in there, and I couldn't yank it out even after carefully heating the AirPod to loosen the glue. That meant I had to cut in, and to save my fingers Wiens loaned me a special vibrating knife that slices plastic.

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Inside the AirPod, I found so much glue I couldn't even tug out the now-exposed end of the battery with tweezers. So I cut very carefully along the edges of the AirPod stick, to crack open a section like the top of a coconut. There, at last, was the battery, about as thick as a large spaghetti noodle.

I had avoided spilling blood, but after all the cutting I still had a problem: my AirPod was now a Humpty Dumpty in so many pieces I'd never be able to reassemble it again. Wiens said he'd tried this five times, across both the first- and second-generation AirPods, and awarded AirPods a repairability score of zero out of 10. "There is no way we can feasibly understand taking the battery out without completely destroying the AirPod," he said.

I asked Apple whether that was true. It didn't answer.

The cause of death on my AirPods was clear: bad product design.

Earlier this year, the website Vice called AirPods a "tragedy" of disposable wealth. I see them as a symptom of Apple's preoccupation with thin products.

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Apple's desire to shave a few millimetresoff designs has resulted in MacBook keyboards that fail, iPads that catch fire at recycling centers and now millions of AirPods that will probably end up in the trash.

Apple's disposable AirPod design is expensive for us. But it's doing permanent damage to our environment. That's not how Apple talks about it, though.

"Apple's products are designed with the environment in mind," said Lodes, the Apple spokeswoman. "Everything from the materials we select to the way we approach recycling is meant to leave the world better than we found it."

How exactly are AirPods designed with the environment in mind? Because you can bring them to Apple to be recycled. "We work closely with our recyclers to ensure AirPods are properly recycled and provide support to recyclers outside of our supply chain as well," said Lodes.

That's like saying your daily paper coffee cup habit is good for the environment because you always put it in the recycling bin. AirPods may actually be worse than that: They're so small, there's isn't much material that can be recycled from them. Significant energy, water and materials go just into the process of making AirPods.

The golden rule for helping the earth is to produce less new stuff. Electronics companies can do that by making their products last as long as possible through repair and reuse, which are all but impossible with AirPods.

Before this trend continues, let's agree on a common-sense rule suggested by Wiens: The life span of an expensive, resource-intensive gadget shouldn't be limited to the life span of one consumable component. You wouldn't buy an electric toothbrush where you couldn't replace the brush. Or a car with glued-on tires.

Apple kept fundamentally the same design for AirPods between its first- and second-generation of the headphones, which debuted in March. Now, the Apple rumor mill has lit up with hints of forthcoming third-generation AirPods in pre-release code for iOS 13.2.

Let's hope this time around, AirPods really are "designed with the environment in mind." Not to mention our wallets.

Washington Post, with staff writers

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Investing or pay off the mortgage: a common dilemma – The Age

Posted: at 11:47 pm

The challenge regarding the managed funds is what will happen if the market falls between now and your retirement?

If you are prepared to hold them for many years, which I would recommend if possible, a temporarily fall in the market should not be an issue.

However, if you intend to dispose of them in two years, and they are potentially volatile, you have to make a choice of redemption now with capital gains tax, or deferring disposal into the future.

Its really a matter of sitting down with your adviser and making some long-term plans.

I have made a personal contribution of $3000 into my super account before the end of the past financial year (before June 30, 2019). I am doing my tax return and have found that my taxable income is just about $18,500 (before deductions), which is very close to the tax-free threshold of $18,200. If I claim a tax deduction for a personal contribution, does it mean I would pay extra tax? Should I claim or not? If yes, how much should I claim?

From the information provided, you should be paying no tax for the past financial year.

If you claim a tax deduction you will lose 15 per cent in entry tax, but if you ask your fund to treat the $3000 as a non-concessional contribution, you may well be eligible for a $500 government co-contribution and incur no entry tax.

Your best course of action appears to treat it as a non-concessional contribution.

Are inheritances subject to the deeming rules?

Deeming rules apply to financial assets, such as cash in the bank, managed funds and shares.

If you receive an inheritance and it fell under the category of a financial asset, it would be subject to deeming.

If it was an asset such as real estate, it is not subject to deeming.

Keep in mind that deeming rates only affect pensioners assessed under the income test.

Im like many full retirees I own a house with no debt. I would like to rent it out for a while and do other things, but dont know what to do with the income, as I am fully retired so can make no further contributions to my super. Can I gear the house rental against a small share portfolio or re-gear the house using my existing draw-down facility? My home is worth $1.3 million and I have an unused drawdown of $150,000. I am aged 67 and have $200,000 in super. I also receive a defined-benefit Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme pension of $50,000 a year.

There is a golden rule that you should only borrow if you have to do so.

You are well set up for retirement now and borrowing, say, $100,000 to invest in a quality managed fund is not going to save you any tax, because the combination of the income at, say, 4.2 per cent from the fund plus franking credits, should exceed the interest payable on the loan.

Having said that, if you are prepared to stay the course with the managed funds for at least 10 years, it should turn out to be a good investment. Being secured against your house, you could never be subject to a margin call.

I think your decision will depend on your experience with shares and your risk profile.

If you do borrow, I would prefer you used an index fund in Australian shares which, by definition, cannot go broke.

Just keep in mind that you can only be absent from your house for up to six years to retain the capital gains tax exemption.

Noel Whittaker, AM, is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance.

Noel Whittaker, AM, is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance.

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Investing or pay off the mortgage: a common dilemma - The Age

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