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04.18.15

Links 18/4/2015: ExTiX 15.2, RaspArch

Posted in News Roundup at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The World’s First Self-Powered Video Camera Can Record Forever

      It makes perfect sense. The sensors that capture images for a digital camera and the sensors that convert light into electricity for a solar cell rely on the same technology. So why not build a device with a sensor that does both, and create a self-powered video camera? Some Columbia University researchers did just that.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Japan’s “Over 65″ Rise To Record 33 Million, More Than Double Number Of Children

      With Abenomics seemingly a total failure (aside from managing to collapse the currency and living standards of the population – worst Misery Index in 33 years) the demographic crisis that Japan faces just got more crisis-er. As NHKWorld reports, Japan’s population continues to fall (4th year in a row) but what is worse, there are now 33 million people over the age of 65 (a record 26%), more than double the number under the age of 14 (16.2 million). The ministry says the population will likely continue declining for some time as fewer babies are born and society ages.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Why We Must Return to the US-Russian Parity Principle

      When I spoke at this forum nine months ago, in June 2014, I warned that the Ukrainian crisis was the worst US-Russian confrontation in many decades. It had already plunged us into a new (or renewed) Cold War potentially even more perilous than its forty-year US-Soviet predecessor because the epicenter of this one was on Russia’s borders; because it lacked the stabilizing rules developed during the preceding Cold War; and because, unlike before, there was no significant opposition to it in the American political-media establishment. I also warned that we might soon be closer to actual war with Russia than we had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

    • Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War

      A TOP-SECRET U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Intercept confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.

      Amid fierce European criticism of America’s targeted killing program, U.S. and German government officials have long downplayed Ramstein’s role in lethal U.S. drone operations and have issued carefully phrased evasions when confronted with direct questions about the base. But the slides show that the facilities at Ramstein perform an essential function in lethal drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

      [...]

      Former drone sensor operator Brandon Bryant, who conducted operations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq, said that without Ramstein, the U.S. would either need to find another base in the area, with the ability to hit satellites in the Middle East and Africa, or place U.S. personnel much closer to the areas they are targeting. “Instead of being able to be [inside the U.S.] with their operations, they would have to do more line-of-sight stuff, more direct deployments, more people going over there rather than [operating] in the states,” Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the drone program, told The Intercept. The U.S. is “doing shady stuff behind the scenes like using satellite and information technologies that, if able to continue being used, are going to just continue to perpetuate the drone war,” he charged.

    • Secret Details of Drone Strike Revealed As Unprecedented Case Goes to German Court

      On Aug. 31, 2012, a top-secret U.S. intelligence report noted that “possible bystanders” had been killed alongside militants from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in a drone strike in eastern Yemen two days earlier. The source of the intelligence, a Yemeni official described in the cable as “reliable,” identified two of the dead as Waleed bin Ali Jaber and Salim bin Ali Jaber, “an imam of a mosque who had reportedly preached a sermon that had insulted AQAP.”

      The source believed that Salim and Waleed “had been lured to the car by the two AQAP militants when the airstrike hit.”

    • Saban hints: Clinton opposes the Iran deal

      Just minutes before Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, Israeli Channel One News interviewed Haim Saban, an American-Israeli media magnate and long-time Clinton supporter. Noticeably excited, he explained that she had waited to make the announcement until she had carefully prepared the ground for her campaign.

    • Saudi-led Yemen air war’s high civilian toll unsettles U.S. officials

      Concerned about reports of hundreds of civilian casualties, Obama administration officials are increasingly uneasy about the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led air war against rebel militias in Yemen, opening a potential rift between Washington and its ally in Riyadh.

      Backed by U.S. intelligence, air refueling and other support, Saudi warplanes have conducted widespread bombing of Yemeni villages and towns since March 26 but have failed to dislodge the Houthi rebels who have overrun much of the Arab world’s poorest nation since last fall.

      Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, widely regarded as the terrorist network’s most lethal franchise, has capitalized on the chaos by sharply expanding its reach. Fighters loyal to the group claimed control Thursday of a military base and other key facilities near Mukalla, an Arabian Sea port in southern Yemen.

    • Malvinas Secretary Filmus to talk about Falklands and oil in London

      According to Filmus Facebook, the conference “Militarization and the Illegal exploration for oil in the South Atlantic: the Argentine response” follows on a similar and successful event held in Paris on the sidelines of the Unesco congress on Wednesday.

    • Obama-Castro meeting overshadows anti-US line at summit

      As usual when Latin America’s leftist leaders get together with United States officials, there were plenty of swipes at the US during the seventh Summit of the Americas.

    • How Obama’s Cuba policy can help with other Latin American countries

      The historic handshake with Raul Castro has taken place for the cameras. President Obama has declared that the United States is done meddling in Latin America. There will be rough patches, but this is happening: the relationship with Cuba is on the mend.

      That should remove one very sore spot in Washington’s ties to the region, a policy that often embarrassed even friends of the U.S.

    • Cuba Being Removed From State Sponsors of Terrorism List

      The White House has submitted documentationin support of removing Cuba from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, on which it’s been for more than 33 years, longer than any country but Syria, which was placed on the list in 1979. The other two countries on the State Department’s list, Iran and Sudan, were placed there in 1984 and 1993. Cuba’s placement on the list, like the Cold War era sanctions, have done nothing to improve the situation in Cuba or advance any of the U.S.’s stated goals.

    • Can Latin America and the United States Overcome the Past?
    • U.S. Intervention Most Threatens Mideast Stability

      The Obama administration’s decision to negotiate with Tehran triggered near hysteria among U.S. politicians and pundits who advocate perpetual war in the Middle East. One complaint is that the talks failed to address Iran’s regional role.

    • Senate Heavy Lifting Begins With Education and Iran
    • The long arm of Blackwater

      It’s probably a good time to remember that in its various guises, the company had close ties to influential people in the U.S. government and Republican politics.

      Directors included former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, former CIA Counterterrorism Director Cofer Black, former Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat and former NSA Director Bobby Inman.

    • Are Soldiers Happy? Unhappy? Compared to What?

      But what makes the 52 percent number, featured in the story’s subhead (“Army Data Show 52% Pessimistic About the Future”), any more meaningful than 9 percent? Each is an arbitrary cutoff, dividing those who “score poorly” from a “positive result.” Depending on how many pessimism-related questions were asked, you could get virtually any result you wanted by moving that cutoff up or down. And since that number could be anything, it means nothing.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Judges slammed for Assange stance

      Julian Assange’s lawyer has attacked judges for withdrawing from a legal conference because the WikiLeaks founder was taking part.

  • Finance

    • Finally some privacy – for multinational tax dodgers

      So now we have a situation in which the budget is in deficit, tax receipts from transnational corporations are falling and abuse of tax loopholes is widespread.

      Isn’t it great that someone is looking out for the privacy of oppressed billionaires?

    • The Trans-Pacific Partnership is great for elites. Is it good for anyone else?

      In 2011, Australia enacted a tough new anti-smoking law that requires cigarette companies to distribute their wares in plain green packages. Anti-smoking activists see Australia’s law as a model for the world. They hope that replacing logos with graphic health warnings will make them less appealing to consumers, especially minors.

      Naturally, tobacco companies hated the law. And they found a surprising way to fight back: they persuaded governments in Ukraine and Honduras to file complaints with the World Trade Organization, alleging that the new regulations violated global trade rules.

    • ‘It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state’

      With the war of words – and cashflows – between Greece and Germany showing no sign of dying down, The Local meets one young Greek who’s come to see what the Germans have to teach about running a country successfully.

      [...]

      …Bonn University, when the professor asked students to name the ‘worst’ country to have joined the EU.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • For the media, traditional values still matter

      But far too often, journalism falls short. Reporters often seem to take what politicians and their handlers say at face value, writing what they hear without ensuring that the facts bear it out. They look for winners and losers at the expense of nuance. They strive to give the appearance of even-handedness by creating a false balance between two sides that do not deserve equal weight. They elevate politics, polls and personality over substance and measured analysis.

    • Newsletter: Shake Off Hypnosis, See Root Causes Of Crises

      An ambitious young journalist who wanted to speak truth to power, Matt Kennard, wrote for the Financial Times. He quickly learned the corporate media was not the place to tell truths that the power structure did not want to hear. Now he has written a new book, “The Racket: A Rogue Reporter Takes on the Masters of the Universe,” which does speak truth to power.

  • Censorship

    • China’s Great Cannon could backfire
    • How startup GitHub survived a massive five-day network attack (Q&A)
    • China develops downtime tool called the Great Cannon
    • Reading This Magazine Could Land You in Jail
    • The New Thought Police
    • To Protect the Most Fundamental Rights of Internet Users, We Must Always Be Skeptical of Any Call for Regulation

      The Internet is the largest knowledge base that has ever existed. Its rapid development became possible greatly due to its unregulated nature at its starting point. The “anarchical” character of the Internet allowed all users to contribute their share of knowledge and make it accessible to other users around the world. The vision of Wikipedia is based on this simple, yet revolutionary, concept of allowing free and unlimited access to the sum of all human knowledge.

      As knowledge is the most fundamental tool to free people from having their rights and freedoms infringed, this vision has become a great source of hope to oppressed people all over the world. At the same time, it has become one of the greatest sources of fear to oppressive regimes. When knowledge is accessible to everyone, it is much harder to control the people by imposing false consciousness of limited choices. When information is quickly communicated on social media platforms with no governmental command, revolutions have better chances to succeed. When the Internet connects the world to a small global village, human rights violations are less likely to hide unnoticed in the dark.

      When considering the issue of regulating the Internet, we must not overlook the possible harmful implications of even seemingly minor regulation. Every governmental intervention carries with it limitation of personal rights, whether its primarily aim is to serve the governments’ interests and control or even where it is limited solely to the legitimate purpose of protecting and serving the citizens themselves.

    • The most concerning element of Facebook’s potential new power

      “Facebook has more power in determining who can speak and who can be heard around the globe than any Supreme Court justice, any king or any president.” Those prescient words came from law professor Jeffrey Rosen way back in 2010. Five years later, the Times is willingly handing its censorship keys over to that king of kings.

    • Sony Pursued Site-Blocking in Norway Because Nobody Could Afford to Challenge Them

      In 2013 when site-blocking was hitting the courts in Norway (again,) Sony’s legal team briefly considered the threat of a challenge from the Norwegian Pirate Party or other groups opposed to filtering the internet. But any fears of a challenge were quickly brushed aside. Why? Because, in all likelihood, no one could take the financial risk of challenging the site-blocks in court.

  • Privacy

    • How Wiretapping Is Used In Iceland

      Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, an MP for the Pirate Party, posed a formal question to the Ministry of the Interior on police wiretapping in 2008. Yesterday, Stundin reports, he shared what he learned with parliament.

      A police warrant to tap someone’s phone is granted in 99.3% of all cases where one was requested. Of the 720 wiretap warrants police have asked for, in only five cases was the request denied.

    • Editorial: Denial of spy role needed

      The latest revelation about New Zealand’s intelligence doings has stirred little interest.

      A report that says Kiwi spies are passing intelligence material on terrorists in Bangladesh to local security forces with a reputation for murder and torture would in previous years have been a major scandal.

      But the story yesterday, which you may well have missed, seems to have left eyebrows unraised across the nation.

    • Kiwi agency ‘shared intel with Dhaka’
    • Kiwis share intelligence with Bangladesh
    • Eavesdropping on Dhaka’s communications
    • New Zealand involved in spying on Bangladesh
    • GCSB dragging NZ into human rights abuses in Bangladesh
    • New Zealand shared intelligence with Bangladesh’s repressive agencies

      Leaked documents show that New Zealand’s intelligence agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), has spent more than a decade collaborating with the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on targets in Bangladesh. The agencies passed on information to Bangladeshi security agencies, which are notorious for torture, murder and “disappearances.”

    • How NZ and US agents plotted to spy on China

      On Auckland’s busy Great South Rd in the suburb of Greenlane, the Chinese consulate, a white modern building, is tucked behind a row of bushes and small trees.

    • New Zealand Plotted Hack on China With NSA

      New Zealand spies teamed with National Security Agency hackers to break into a data link in the country’s largest city, Auckland, as part of a secret plan to eavesdrop on Chinese diplomats, documents reveal.

      The covert operation, reported Saturday by New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday in collaboration with The Intercept, highlights the contrast between New Zealand’s public and secret approaches to its relationship with China, its largest and most important trading partner.

    • Leaked papers reveal NZ plan to spy on China for US

      Our spies and America’s top government hackers cooked up a plan to crack into a data link between Chinese Government buildings in Auckland, new Edward Snowden documents reveal.

    • Twitter moves non-US accounts to Ireland away from the NSA

      Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats US and non-US users differently. If you live in the US, your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you’re elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it’s handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope.

    • The NSA’s Fight To Keep Its Best Hackers

      The National Security Agency is probably among the best-equipped parts of the federal government at recruiting, training and staffing an elite team of cybersecurity professionals.

    • Too little too late? NSA starting to implement ‘Snowden-proof’ cloud storage

      The NSA is implementing a huge migration to custom-designed cloud architecture it says will revolutionize internal security and protect against further leaks by data analysts with unfettered access to classified information.

    • Tech Groups Pressure Congress To End NSA Bulk Data Collection

      A host of technology trade groups are lobbying Congress to end the government’s controversial metadata collection program that was brought to public prominence by Edward Snowden almost two years ago. In a letter sent to intelligence and judiciary leadership yesterday, groups representing a vast array of tech firms, including Google, IBM, Facebook, and Apple, expressed support for fundamental surveillance reform.

    • The Pentagon’s new cyber attack plan: ‘Blunt force trauma’

      The Pentagon wants cyber weapons that can inflict “blunt force trauma.”

    • Why Amazon’s new EU data centres are just as vulnerable to NSA surveillance as their US ones

      On 5 June 2013, Edward Snowden initiated a cascading exposé that would open the eyes of the world to the surreptitious and wholesale surveillance of digital communications by the NSA in the US and GCHQ in the UK.

      The revelations laid bare the activities and programmes that have been intercepting and analysing the vast majority of internet and phone communications at a global level for many years, including programmes that obligated the world’s largest technology corporations to provide access to their networks and data centres through the use of secret court orders that not only forced these corporations to hand over data about their users en masse but also prevented them from disclosing anything about these orders.

    • NSA Spying Is At Stake in This ‘Last-Ditch’ Reform Bill

      Backed up against a rapidly approaching do-or-die deadline, bipartisan lawmakers are poised to introduce legislation next week that would roll back the National Security Agency’s expansive surveillance powers.

    • Weakened surveillance reform bill is ‘yesterday’s news’, civil libertarians say

      The impending USA Freedom Act seeks to stop NSA phone record collection, leaving Section 215 intact, which activists say will only prolong mass surveillance

    • Groups push to end NSA spying

      The National Security Agency’s authority to collect the phone records of millions of people is scheduled to end on June 1, and a bipartisan privacy coalition of 39 organizations wants to make sure it stays that way.

    • FBI, NSA Hoping For More Surveillance Room To Increase Spying Capabilities
    • Lawmakers, Tech Firms Press for NSA Reform

      With key provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1, a bipartisan group of lawmakers could introduce as soon as next week legislation that would place some limits on the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency (NSA), reports National Journal.

    • Congress to Introduce Last-Ditch Bill to Reform NSA Spying

      With the clock winding down, lawmakers in both chambers are staging one last attempt to rein in the government’s surveillance powers.

    • Senator Wyden: Congress may block government access to encrypted consumer devices
    • ‘Significant’ number of senators backing privacy push, Wyden says
    • On The War On General Purpose Computing

      The powers that be want to control your phones and your drones. And who can blame them? It was inevitable. Of course they’re upset that smartphones are making it hard to catch speeders. Of course manufacturers are hurrying to ensure that drones refuse to fly to certain locations, before they’re forced to do so by law. Those are the instruments of power in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

    • NSA declares war on general purpose computers

      NSA director Michael S Rogers says his agency wants “front doors” to all cryptography used in the USA, so that no one can have secrets it can’t spy on — but what he really means is that he wants to be in charge of which software can run on any general purpose computer.

    • A Tidbit From an Old NSA Document (2000)

      This paragraph was unclassified in the original document, suggesting that the NSA plan to adapt to the new world through tailored access wasn’t at all a secret even back in 2000. Of course, the document in which this paragraph was contained was originally classified Secret (and is now declassified), so having access to this document would not have been easy. Still, it’s interesting to me as an example of refusing to believe that they had lost the crypto wars. And we have since learned that they had the technical capability to be justified in that belief.

    • Iceland for Snowden, Where NSA Whistleblower Could Get Citizenship

      Edward Snowden, famous for leaking classified information about the US government and former NSA contractor, could be looking to Iceland for citizenship status.

    • Snowden could be granted Icelandic citizenship
    • Edward Snowden might get Iceland citizenship

      One of the most controversial figures of the world in the past couple of years, whistle-blower Edward Snowden, might get Islandic citizenship, Forbes reports.

    • Snowden Coming Closer To Icelandic Citizenship

      When I met with Jonsdottir at the Pirate Party’s small office within Iceland’s small parliament building in Reykjavik this week, she kicked off the interview without any prompting by sharing the news that the Academy Award-winning documentary about Snowden, “Citizenfour,” had recently been well received at its Icelandic premiere. I took the opportunity to ask if she was still pursuing Icelandic citizenship for the controversial American after nearly two years of being blocked in the Althingi (Iceland’s parliament).

    • Google Maps hack shows Edward Snowden at the White House

      It seems unlikely that the world’s most infamous whistleblower and scourge of the NSA, Edward Snowden, will be visiting the White House anytime soon. But according to Google Maps, he’s quite literally set up shop on the front lawn.

    • ‘Edwards Snow Den’: Google ‘relocates’ NSA whistleblower to White House
    • Edward Snowden Is in the White House, According to Google Maps
    • ‘Edwards Snow Den’ infiltrates the White House on Google Maps
    • Assange Says Russian Intelligence Played No Part in Snowden Choosing Russia
    • Bolivia Accuses Assange of Inadvertently Putting Evo Morales’ Life at Risk
    • Assange Says China, Russia Not in the Loop about Snowden Flight
    • Assange grassed Snowden to the NSA

      Wikileaks boss Julian Assange complicated Edward Snowden’s escape from Russia by tipping off the NSA with a false rumour about the Bolivian President.

    • Julian Assange WikiLeaks Update: Edward Snowden Rumor Put Bolivian President’s Life In Danger, Bolivia Claims
    • Assange Says Russia ‘Did the Right Thing’ in Granting Refuge to Snowden
    • Attorney to NSA and CIA: Turn over Hillary Clinton documents now

      On the Friday, two days before her expected announcement that she is officially running for President, a public-interest attorney for a government watchdog group threw down his gauntlet and notified the news media that he will not allow presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton and her minions to get away with wiping clean her computer server in a suspected obstruction of justice case.

    • Key Congressional Committee Has “No Confidence” In DEA Head Leonhart

      Fed up with DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart over a long litany of scandals in the drug-fighting agency she heads, 22 members of the House Oversight and Government Reforms Committee issued a statement saying they had “no confidence” in her leadership.

    • DEA Prostitution Scandal: Retired Cops Call For Drug Policy Changes

      The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) came under intense criticism this week in the wake of Congressional hearings highlighting reports that agents in Colombia attended sex parties with prostitutes paid for by criminal gangs, among other allegations. A House Oversight Committee hearing this week led to a no-confidence vote for DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, symbolically refuting her arguments that agent improprieties named in a recent report were due to a few “bad apples.” Hearings on the scandal extended past oversight into a Judiciary Committee subcommittee, where the DEA’s Office of Responsibility Chief defended the botched allegations and echoed Leonhart’s testimony.

    • House Oversight Committee Expresses “No Confidence” in DEA Administrator Leonhart
    • The DEA’s using powerful spyware for surveillance too

      The war on drugs has a surprising soldier amongst its ranks: Italian spying software. As Motherboard’s sources tell it, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s dropped $2.4 million on surveillance tools that are capable of intercepting phone calls, texts, social media messages, and can even take hold of someone’s webcam and microphone. Oh, Remote Control System (as its officially called) can grab passwords, too.

    • Before The NSA, The DEA Used Phone Records To Track Drug Cartels
    • DEA gets sued for spying on Americans’ int’l phone calls
    • Phone data collection crossed line in 1992: Our view

      The Obama administration has repeatedly used the threat of post-9/11 terrorism to justify secretly vacuuming up the telephone records of virtually every American.

      Now it turns out the government was grossly violating innocent citizens’ privacy much earlier and for a more questionable reason.

    • Guest speaker at Drake sheds light on NSA surveillance

      As sympathetic as Stone is to the idea of keeping citizens safe, he believes the collection of phone records was an overreaction.

    • Jesse Kline: Slamming the door on the snoopers

      The first thing revealed by U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden was a government program that collects records of every single phone call made in the United States. That program could soon come to an end, unless both houses of Congress vote to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act before the June 1 deadline. But given that we now know the U.S. government, and its “Five Eyes” allies (including Canada), have also been vacuuming up just about every piece of information that’s sent over the Internet, allowing Sec. 215 to expire will barely make a dent in the massive surveillance state that Snowden revealed.

    • Support HR 1466

      The bill would legally dismantle the National Security Agency’s most aggressive surveillance programs, including the bulk collection and retention of virtually all Americans’ landline phone records justified under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The repeal of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act would also prevent the agency from tapping the physical infrastructure of the Internet, such as undersea fiber cables, to intercept ‘upstream’ data in bulk, which critics including the ACLU claim the NSA uses to collect data on Americans.

    • Viewpoint: A critical debate on Snowden and the NSA

      While Snowden’s leaks may be old news, the central debate they raise about how much domestic surveillance should be tolerated in a modern age of terrorism has not yet been resolved on a national level.

    • Snowden scandal not so black and white

      Americans are not the only victims of the U.S. intelligence agency; the entire world is being spied on.

    • RT premieres ‘Terminal F’ Snowden documentary in Russia
    • Pre-premiere of new Edward Snowden documentary screened in Moscow

      A documentary screening of Terminal F or Chasing Edward Snowden was launched on 13 April during the inauguration ceremony of Russia Today’s (RT) documentary channel, RTDOC, in Moscow.

    • France’s new intelligence bill, an NSA ‘deja-vu’

      Human rights groups have warned that France’s proposed “anti-terror” bill, which would grant more powers to the intelligence services, puts the country in danger of NSA-style mass surveillance powers, creating an undemocratic state.

      Campaigners have said the proposals will produce a “deja-vu” effect, effectively creating a French version of the NSA, the United States’ intelligence body.

    • France’s new spy bill raises fears of mass surveillance
    • Liberty takes fight against mass surveillance to European Court

      Liberty, the movement for civil liberties and human rights in the UK, has filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights against the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling that UK intelligence agencies’ mass surveillance activities are legal.

      Liberty is challenging the Tribunal’s December 2014 judgment that GCHQ’s Tempora programme – which sees the agency intercept and process billions of private communications every day – complies with human rights law.

    • Senate Intelligence Committee Kicks Off Budget Season

      The Senate Intelligence Committee kicked off budget season this week with a slew of appearances from Washington’s top spies. CIA Director John Brennan, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent Stewart all made trips up to the Hill this week to talk budget lines.

      Lawmakers leaving the briefings said the Senate panel’s meetings were fairly broad. The intelligence leaders touched on a variety of issues, they said, but dollar signs were the hearings’ main focus.

    • Who is Responsible for Protecting Your Personal Data Online?

      An overwhelming majority of British adults are now concerned about the online security of their private information, the threats posed by hackers and the possibility of unauthorised access to their data. This was the key finding of recent YouGov research in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.

    • Congress cannot be taken seriously on cybersecurity

      Members of Congress – most of whom can’t secure their own websites, and some of whom don’t even use email – are trying to force a dangerous “cybersecurity” bill down the public’s throat. Everyone’s privacy is in the hands of people who, by all indications, have no idea what they’re talking about.

      Leaders are expected to bring its much-maligned series of “cybersecurity” bills to the floor sometime in the next couple weeks – bills that we know will do little to help cybersecurity but a lot to help intelligence agencies like the NSA vacuum up even more of Americans’ personal information. The bills’ authors deny that privacy is even an issue, but why we’re trusting Congress at all on this legislation, given their lack of basic knowledge on the subject, is the question everyone should be asking.

    • OSCE Representative Urges Governments to Ensure Privacy Amid Surveillance

      Governments should not neglect the importance of judicial oversight in the implementation of surveillance programs, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said Friday at the Global Conference on CyberSpace 2015.

    • Troubleshooting feature on Cisco routers is open to data-slurp abuse

      Infiltrate A default feature of Cisco routers can readily be abused to collect data, security researchers warn.

      Embedded Packet Capture (EPC) was designed by Cisco as a troubleshooting and tracing tool. The feature allows network administrators to capture data packets flowing through a Cisco router.

    • As police body cameras catch on, a debate surfaces: Who gets to watch?

      The debate in the nation’s capital and across the country over whether police should wear body cameras has quickly evolved into a new and perhaps more difficult question: Who gets to see the video?

    • The “Language of Privacy” Is Doing Well in Police Body Camera Discussions

      Police body cameras do raise a host of legitimate privacy concerns. But police body cameras are often used to record encounters that occur in public where, given the state of modern technology, none of use can reasonably expect the degree of privacy that, perhaps, we might otherwise like. The police encounters that take place inside private residences and inside hospitals and schools are being considered in ongoing conservations on body cameras, where the language of privacy is often heard.

    • Labour manifesto: ‘High speed’ broadband for all plus strengthened surveillance

      Labour has promised that every property in the UK will be able to get high speed broadband if it wins the general election.

    • GitHub issues first transparency report; 40 accounts affected

      US authorities filed just ten subpoenas with code-sharing site GitHub in the past year.

      The company said in its debut transparency report published Thursday that it complied with just seven of those subpoenas. That means in three cases there was nothing disclosed. In just shy of half of those demands, the company notified the affected account holder.

    • Missouri Action Alert: Help Protect the 4th Amendment, Pass HB264!
    • How Your Future Leader Is Tracking You – Ranking Presidential Candidate Website Privacy

      Over the next 18 months, amidst all the posturing, grandstanding and bitching that will swallow up all the actually important factors in the race to become president, many Americans will head to the websites of Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (Jeb Bush is having some, erm, trouble with his site). As they follow the candidates, so too they will be followed. It’s just many won’t know it, or will be oblivious to just how their information is used.

    • New Pentagon Chief Carter to Court Silicon Valley

      The Pentagon desperately wants to be more agile and flexible, but decades of cultural bureaucracy often prevent the nation’s largest organization from being that. Now, a tech-savvy physicist is in charge of the military and he is about to ask companies like Google and Facebook for solutions.

    • Secrecy Around ‘Stingray’ Cell Surveillance Persists Despite Growing Transparency Efforts

      The federal government, local police departments and the Harris Corporation are participating in a coordinated effort to keep the public in the dark about the full capabilities of cell site simulator surveillance devices, also known as Stingrays.

    • U.S. shining light on self

      How do you keep tabs on federal agencies amassing mountains of secret data?

      Secretly, of course.

      And, no, that’s not a punch line. Government’s surveillance of the public is no joke.

      Congress is at least trying to get a handle on the endlessly proliferating masses of data that alphabet-soup agencies are collecting on friends and foe alike, at home and abroad.

    • Without ECPA update, Feds will spy on you like it’s 1986

      The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) is the main federal law that governs data stored electronically, including email, business data, your photographs, social media, etc. But ECPA literally predates the Internet, so it predates the widespread use of home computers, email, and social media. It predates cloud storage. Almost any 30 year-old law probably requires updating, but ECPA is so out-of-date that it demands it.

    • Excessive federal surveillance an abuse of power

      Leland Stanford once said that government is founded upon the doctrine of the consent of the governed and the principle that people are endowed with certain inalienable rights.

    • Access to Encryption Software Easier for Hackers to Steal Info – EFF

      Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula claims that allowing the US government access to bypass encryption software in Americans’ personal technology devices would likely make it easier for hackers to exploit their information.

    • The 7 safest apps to send private and secure messages

      With that in mind, technologists are now building better ways for people to shield their communications from prying eyes.

      The technology driving most of these programs is called “end-to-end encryption,” which means that a message is ciphered before it’s sent and then deciphered after its received. This way, anyone looking to snoop on intermediary servers won’t be tablet to understand what the message says.

      While end-to-end encryption is a known standard, it’s a hard practice for the layperson to adopt into their everyday work. Now developers are figuring out new ways to make message-sending as easy as possible using this kind of encryption.

    • Appointing Democratic Judges to the FISA Court Won’t Solve Its Structural Flaws

      Chief Justice Roberts recently named two new judges to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) — Judge James P. Jones from the Western District of Virginia and Judge Thomas B. Russell from the Western District of Kentucky. Roberts has now appointed three judges to the FISC since the Snowden revelations, and all three were originally nominated to the bench by a Democratic president (Clinton). This marks a stark departure from Roberts’ thirteen pre-Snowden appointments, eleven of whom were appointed by Republican presidents. The question naturally arises: does this change in composition herald a change in the FISC’s approach?

    • Delaware’s Fusion Center poses threat to liberty

      It is bad news for freedom here in Delaware now that the New Castle County police have their own Fusion Center. Virtually every state now has one in operation or formation after more than $1.4 billion dollars of Homeland Security money was spent to create 77 of them nationwide to assist in the overstated war on terror.

    • Change the world, you say? Anti-spying push just can’t hack it despite ‘Citizenfour’
    • Snowden’s ‘Sexy Margaret Thatcher’ Password Isn’t So Secure

      In a YouTube extra from his interview with John Oliver posted late last week, Snowden offered some password security advice: He pans Oliver’s comically awful suggestions like “passwerd,” “onetwothreefour,” and “limpbiscuit4eva,” and instead wisely recommends that computer users switch from passwords to much longer passphrases. He goes on to offer an example: “MargaretThatcheris110%SEXY.”

    • Ever wondered what your password says about you?

      You probably have some variation of sequential numbers (‘123456′ or ‘000000’), a very obvious word (‘password’ or ‘access’) or something right in front of your nose (‘qwerty’).

      These are some of the most common passwords, tech firm SplashData found in last year’s annual report.

      Blue has also been identified as the most popular colour used in passwords, possibly because it is used widely by social media sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter.

      So you may be fixating on whatever is close at hand.

    • Princeton University to feature live video talk with Edward Snowden

      Princeton University will feature a live discussion with Edward Snowden and Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Bart Gellman on May 2.

    • Americans Should Defend Their Digital Privacy

      In addition, the NSA is colluding with the corporations to spy on Americans. According to CNET, this agency asks tech companies to hand over their customers’ data. The NSA also wiretaps on fiber-optic Internet cables to gather data about Americans’ Internet usage. It also tries to justify its mass surveillance as an anti-terrorism effort that has stopped dozens of attacks. However, two U.S. Senators have debunked this claim by stating that the same terrorist plots were instead foiled by standard law enforcement. The NSA’s surveillance eerily resembles that of 1984’s Big Brother, who also claimed to protect people for the price of privacy. As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

    • Amnesty International takes Gov to court over spying

      Nick Williams, Amnesty International’s legal counsel said: “The UK government’s surveillance practices have been allowed to continue unabated and on an unprecedented scale, with major consequences for people’s privacy and freedom of expression. No-one is above the law and the European Court of Human Rights now has a chance to make that clear.”

    • Former Homeland Security Secretary: Government ‘Backdoors’ Into iPhones Are Unnecessary

      Michael Chertoff, co-author of the Patriot Act, a set of laws that provided the U.S. government with broad surveillance powers in the wake of 9/11, is unashamedly proud of what he built.

    • Trade Bill Takes Aim at Foreign Governments’ Data Protections

      U.S. technology companies and their trade groups immediately sounded their support for the proposed bill.

    • Tell Obama: Say no to cyber surveillance

      Over the past few weeks, the U.S. Congress has been churning out privacy-threatening cyber surveillance proposals like popcorn at a movie theater. They’re up to five different bills, and none of them are good. Each bill protects companies that share our private data with the government — which often must give it to the NSA and the FBI — instead of protecting users’ privacy.

    • Us ‘Agrees To Stick To Law’ In Use Of Surveillance

      NEARLY one year after it was reported that the United States was intercepting and monitoring Bahamian telephone calls, America has agreed to use the “lawful” authority to obtain surveillance information from this country, according to Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday.

      Following a wave of backlash over the US spying allegations, it was agreed that information gathering would only be used for interdiction purposes. This includes information that aids in the clamp down of illegal activity, The Tribune understands.

    • US Promises Bahamas to Use ‘Lawful Authority’ to Obtain Surveillance Data on Citizens
    • The Metadata ‘Blackmail Machine’ At The Heart Of Britain’s Digital Policy Deficit

      Politicians, to put it bluntly, don’t understand the internet. And he is palpably correct. This has been a Parliament where the prime minister suggested he might ban Snapchat, where disastrous and ineffective ‘opt-in’ porn legislation was introduced, and where it emerged a Baroness who sits on the Lords technology committee thought Google Maps kept a camera trained on her home address.

      “You have the Home Secretary actually saying things like telephone metadata is just the same as your phone bill,” Davis railed in his Portcullis House office. “I can’t imagine she’s telling fibs, so she plainly doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

      Davis, 66, blames the glaring lack of any discussion of digital issues at the election by politicians or the media on a “grotesque misunderstanding about it, mostly by people over 40… [they] don’t understand how intrusive the powers are. Most of my colleagues are ignorant of where this is, and where it’s going.”

      One of the most famous examples Davis can give is the knee-jerk pledge by Cameron to ban all kinds of communication that the government cannot access, immediately drawing references to the photo sharing service Snapchat.

    • Social media without the snooping – nice idea but can it really work?

      Mining users’ data to sell to advertisers and brokers is, of course, the primary business model of internet giants that provide a free service, one that has created billionaires from grad students almost overnight. Because it has been such a phenomenally successful money-spinner it should really be no surprise that companies such as Facebook sometimes resort to means which, if not actually illegal, certainly sail pretty close to the wind. Anything to maintain the flow of personal data that feeds the machine.

    • China jails 71-year-old veteran journalist for ‘leaking state secrets’

      Human rights activists accuse Beijing of ‘blatant political persecution’ after the writer Gao Yu is jailed for allegedly leaking a Communist Party memo

    • How do we build encryption backdoors?

      This is not the first time we’ve been here. Back in the 1990s the Federal government went as far as to propose a national standard for ‘escrowed’ telephone encryption called the ‘Clipper’ chip. That effort failed in large part because the technology was terrible, but also because — at least at the time — the idea of ordinary citizens adopting end-to-end encryption was basically science fiction.

    • Cybersecurity pros slam threat information-sharing bills

      More than 65 cybersecurity professionals and academics have come out against a trio of bills moving through Congress that are meant to enable information sharing about digital threats between businesses and the government.

      In a letter sent today to ranking members from both parties of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, they are urging Congress reject the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act and two similar bills.

    • Big data makes NSA dysfunctional

      A former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) Bill Binney says mass surveillance is a big problem, and covers the entire planet, including Africa and SA, with no exceptions.

      Stories about NSA surveillance programmes have littered the headlines since 2013, following the leaks of secret documents by famous whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

      However, it seems the more we hear, the less clear things are, and questions have been raised as to whether mass surveillance is even relevant to businesses and other organisations in SA. Binney believes it is, and will be presenting at ITWeb Security Summit 2015, to be held at Vodacom World from 26 to 28 May.

    • Thoughts – Is the U.S. Still An Authoritarian National Surveillance State?

      All authoritarian regimes utilize information to try and stifle those people and organizations that seek to speak truth to power. In the U.S. we have the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. With the U.S. already being an authoritarian national surveillance state that has two sets of laws, a law enforcement and administrative state that supports the parallel track of laws, and utilizes private/public cooperation to engage in these activities; how would the U.S. government look to use administrative law to place limitations on speech through the utilization of information technology? That is the topic of my next research post.

  • Civil Rights

    • Cop Sexually Assaults 19 Year-Old and Only Sentenced on Misdemeanor Charges

      A cop took a deal in relation to charges of sexually assaulting a teenage girl and will not receive a felony conviction, will not have to register as a sex offender, will only serve a year in jail, and still currently has his law enforcement certification.

      The rapist cop used a small amount of marijuana found during a traffic stop to extort a young woman into performing sexual acts. The officer made her boyfriend walk down to a nearby lake and wait for him to finish assaulting the young woman. The former deputy, Cory Cooper, is 31 years old. The victim is 19.

    • Slow violence, cold violence – Teju Cole on East Jerusalem

      Why the viciousness of modern Israeli law directed against Palestinians must be taken as seriously as the cruelties of war

    • Security expert pulled off flight by FBI after exposing airline tech vulnerabilities

      One of the world’s foremost experts on counter-threat intelligence within the cybersecurity industry, who blew the whistle on vulnerabilities in airplane technology systems in a series of recent Fox News reports, has become the target of an FBI investigation himself.

      Chris Roberts of the Colorado-based One World Labs, a security intelligence firm that identifies risks before they’re exploited, said two FBI agents and two uniformed police officers pulled him off a United Airlines Boeing 737-800 commercial flight Wednesday night just after it landed in Syracuse, and spent the next four hours questioning him about cyberhacking of planes.

    • Abolish the TSA

      Apparently, the two screeners, one male and the other female, worked out a system. The female screener operating the body scanner would misidentify attractive men as women on the scanner, so that the machine would flag the extra, uh, bulk in their groin area, which then initiated a pat-down from her partner in lechery.

    • TSA Trained Disney, SeaWorld to SPOT Terrorists

      Going to Disney World this summer? Don’t laugh excessively with widely open staring eyes — because those behavior indicators could identify you as a potential terrorist. Packing a Mickey Mouse costume? Wearing a disguise is another indicator.

      Yes, the Transportation Security Administration’s embattled $900 million behavior detection program, called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, is not just used at airports. It’s also used at theme parks.

    • AcTVism film trailer

      The AcTVism Munich media collective is releasing a film on 19th April featuring Noam Chomsky, The Real News Network’s Paul Jay and myself.

    • Denied Medication by NYPD, Epileptic Man Has Two Seizures in Custody: Lawsuit

      New York Police Department officers repeatedly denied an epileptic man his medication while detaining him in a holding cell, resulting in two seizures and hospitalizations before he could be taken to Brooklyn central booking more than a day later, a new federal lawsuit alleges. The man was never charged with a crime.

    • If Virginia Elections Weren’t Hacked, It’s Only Because No One Tried

      It’s that bad. The headline grabbing line that many news sites have run with is the unchangeable WEP encryption key used on the machines was “abcde.” Meaning it was crazy easy for people to hack into (even if you didn’t know the password originally, it would not be difficult to figure that out just by monitoring the system).

    • Whistleblowers: Little UN Protection for Exposing Wrongdoing

      High-profile whistleblowers have joined forces for the first time in demanding that the United Nations change a global system they say deters its thousands of staffers from exposing crime, corruption and other wrongdoing.

      In a letter sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, nine current and former U.N. workers say current policies offer “little to no measure of real or meaningful protection” from retaliation that can include firing, harassment and intimidation.

    • For one VA whistleblower, getting fired was too much

      He left a note for the mailman: “Please call 911 — tell them to go to red barn building.”

      There, officers found the body of Christopher Kirkpatrick, a 38-year-old clinical psychologist who had shot himself in the head after being fired from the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

      Kirkpatrick had complained some of his patients were too drugged to treat properly, but like other whistleblowers at the facility, he was ousted and his concerns of wrongdoing were disregarded.

    • Op-ed: Why the entire premise of Tor-enabled routers is ridiculous

      Ars recently reviewed two “Tor routers”, devices that are supposed to improve your privacy by routing all traffic through the Tor anonymity network. Although the initial release of Anonabox proved woefully insecure, the basic premise itself is flawed. Using these instead of the Tor Browser Bundle is bad: less secure and less private than simply not using these “Tor Routers” in the first place. They are, in a word, EPICFAIL.

      There are four possible spies on your traffic when you use these Tor “routers”, those who can both see what you do and potentially attack your communication: your ISP, the websites themselves, the Tor exit routers, and the NSA with its 5EYES buddies.

    • When the Student Movement Was a CIA Front

      With the passage of half a century, it may be difficult to understand why so many political and cultural organizations, led by individuals with a generally liberal or leftist outlook, covertly collaborated with the CIA in the 1950s and first half of the 1960s, before exposés in Ramparts and other publications put an end to most such arrangements. After all, many of the activities of the Agency in that era are among those that we now regard as particularly discreditable. These include the CIA’s cooperation with the British intelligence services in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953; its cooperation with the United Fruit Company in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954; and its cooperation with the Republic of the Congo’s former colonial rulers, the Belgians, in overthrowing the country’s newly elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, in 1960.

    • France’s National Assembly shows support for legalization of Edward Snowden-style whistleblowing

      If American whistleblower Edward Snowden were French, he would have had a good chance of remaining a free man — despite having leaked thousands of classified intelligence documents.

    • ‘French Snowdens’ to get protection under law

      French MPs have voted through a new amendment to the controversial surveillance bill, which would allow whistleblower spies to be protected by law.

    • Many Government Tiplines Not Encrypted

      If you had plans to anonymously turn over sensitive data to the feds, you might want to think twice.

      That hot tip you’re sending in could be snaking its way through an unencrypted network, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    • Guerrilla Artists Demand Return of Edward Snowden Bust from NYPD

      A trio of anonymous artists are demanding that the NYPD return a sculpture depicting Edward Snowden, seized after the artists secretly installed it in a public park last week. The artists call the work, depicting the NSA whistle-blower, “a gift to the city.” It was briefly on view in a war memorial in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park (see Guerrilla Artists Celebrate Whistle-Blowers with Edward Snowden Statue).

    • Artists demand NY police return Snowden bust

      Three artists on Tuesday demanded that New York police return a bust of fugitive U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden to public display or threatened legal action.

      Civil rights lawyer Ronald Kuby said the artists would remain anonymous because they feared arrest and prosecution after authorities removed the sculpture from a Brooklyn park last week.

    • Legal experts pan US for disappointing human rights record

      Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, co-director of Human Rights Watch’s U.S. Program, went further, suggesting the U.S. government undermines human rights standards. The U.S. is an active participant in the United Nation’s human rights review process, she explained, but the last set of recommendations resulted in zero domestic reforms. That lack of responsiveness could undermine the review’s credibility going forward, she warned.

      The U.S. is set to undergo its second United Nations review in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 11.

    • Two Denver TSA Agents Fired For Conspiring To Feel Up Good Looking Passengers

      Two TSA agents posted at Denver International Airport have been fired after it was discovered that they had worked out a scheme allowing one of the agents to grope unsuspecting male passengers as they passed through security checkpoints. TSA authorities were first alerted to the situation earlier this year thanks to an anonymous tip. An investigation of the two agents revealed that a clever–though troubling–system where the male agent would identify male passengers he found attractive at which point his female accomplice would flag them to be pulled aside for pat-down inspections.

    • The ‘too difficult’ box: Britain’s pre-election charades sidestep all the key questions

      Is it laziness? Ignorance? Or have Britain’s political parties and the London media conspired to turn Britain’s 2015 general election into a dreary series of rehearsed arguments?

      One thing’s for sure, the straight-talking of traditional hustings, where prospective MPs ran the gamut surrounded by querulous voters in town centers, is history. Nothing original or spontaneous can permeate the squeaky clean studio as party leaders sleepwalk into Britain’s latest US import, the TV election debate.

    • Beware the Banana Republic Postal Ballot

      Yet another election is about to be held under the UK’s dreadfully insecure postal ballot system, which an English judge who presides over electoral fraud cases has said “would disgrace a banana republic”.

    • The Most Important Issue in the 2016 Election That No One Is Talking About

      Given the court’s growing stature as the final arbiter in political battles between Republicans and Democrats, along with its own increasingly partisan nature, their replacements will be imbued with a level of power and authority almost unparalleled in American judicial history. And it is progressively more likely that the person who gets to decide what that future court looks like will be the next president of the United States.

    • Death of the whistleblower

      With the stated aim of protecting the country against terror attacks, the U.S. has since gigantically expanded its surveillance programme allowing it to intercept day to day phone conversations and internet browsing of civilians. The policy of monitoring lives of the public dates back to the days of Cold War when the FBI spied on civilians to track their political leanings as well as to clamp down on Anti-Vietnam War protestors.

      The personal information which is gleaned could thus be misused not only to tarnish reputations of government critics by tracking their browsing history on pornography but also to target peaceful civilians fighting for civil liberties or against unjust policies of the State.

      For example, the FBI conducted raids in the homes of Palestine and Colombia solidarity activists in September 2010 based on a warrant that the activists had provided material support to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Hizballah, which were considered terrorist organizations by the U.S.

      [...]

      The fallout of hounding of Snowden is that well-intentioned, discerning civilians would refrain from exposing wrongdoings of people in positions of power, especially in the government. If Snowden was to be the last whistleblower, democracy in the U.S., for those who care, would be the casualty.

    • Demand Washington stop laying ground work for police state

      In South Carolina, white police officer Michael Thomas Slager gunned down unarmed black man Walter Scott with eight gunshots to the back as Scott fled. Slager has been fired and charged with murder, and he should be convicted.

      [...]

      Meanwhile in San Bernardino, Calif., police were caught on camera giving suspect Francis Pusok a brutal beating after he had been shocked with a stun gun and surrendered to police. Lying in the prone position with his hands behind his back, Pusok was violently kicked in the genitals and repeatedly struck on the head by multiple police officers. Because Pusok is white, the story will receive almost no coverage.

      If the media can’t help incite racial hatred, like the kind that led to the execution of two police officers in New York City or the shooting of two white police officers in Ferguson, Mo., they are uninterested in reporting police brutality.

      [...]

      American hero Edward Snowden revealed just how criminally out of control our government is in spying on both Americans and victims abroad.

      Meanwhile NSA whistleblower William Binney alerted Americans that the federal government has been bugging nearly every citizen’s phone for years, just like in every other dictatorship.

      With the protests in Ferguson, American people were able to see that after being militarized, today’s police departments look more like a storm-trooper occupying army than our friends and neighbors.

    • Technology for Foreign Enemies is Eventually Brought Home

      In it he states it is essential that the use of drones be restricted to protect the privacy of citizens, as it is likely drones will become a standard law enforcement tool. He also said that Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA surveillance program shows how that power can be abused if not checked.

    • Letters to the Editor: Abolish death penalty in Delaware

      A public execution is a spectacle of official homicide that endorses killing to solve problems, the worst possible example to set for the citizenry, especially children. The death penalty only satisfies a desire for revenge and can never promote social justice or a sense of humanity. An outdated response to violent crime, retribution does not break the cycle of violence. Imagine hanging someone or a botched lethal injection. Now imagine that the person executed was innocent.

    • Despite Changes, US Government Still Unwilling to Provide Meaningful Information to Americans Put on No Fly List

      The United States government will now inform US citizens placed on the No Fly List whether they have, in fact, been put on the No Fly List and possibly some details related to the basis for the listing. But an attorney for an American challenging the government’s No Fly List authority has suggested that the changes are “meaningless.”

      The new procedure comes after a federal court in Oregon ruled in June of last year that US citizens placed on the No Fly List had their rights to “procedural due process” violated and instructed the government to provide a “new process” that satisfied the “constitutional requirements for due process.”

      In a case involving Gulet Mohamed, a US citizen who claims his constitutional rights were violated when he was placed on the No Fly List, the government informed the judge that this new procedure was now available to Mohamed and that the government would no longer refuse to confirm or deny whether Mohamed was listed [PDF].

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Can the internet be saved without harming democracy?

      Citizens of the internet: here is some welcome news. Your downtrodden digital rights might be getting a well-overdue booster shot. But it comes with some warnings.

      This week in the Hague, a high-level group of 29 internet policymakers and influencers – including prominent ex-US and UK security and intelligence officials Michael Chertoff, Joseph Nye, Melissa Hathaway and David Omand – issued a clarion call for the protection and promotion of human rights online. Self-styled the Global Commission on Internet Governance, the group made this call as part of the broader objective of restoring trust and confidence in the internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • WikiLeaks releases entire trove of Sony Hack including confidential emails

        Wikileaks has just now released the entire trove from the Sony hack. According to a press release on WikiLeaks, the entire archive which contains 30,287 documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and 173,132 emails, to and from more than 2,200 SPE email addresses has been leaked because “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

      • It seems Amy Pascal hated Angelina Jolie — there was more to that email than we knew

        Just when you were starting to forget about the Sony email hack scandal, WikiLeaks comes back with a vengeance. Recently, the controversial online whistle-blower website made the more than 170,000 emails as well as 30,000 private documents searchable on their site.

      • Chris Dodd’s Email Reveals What MPAA Really Thinks Of Fair Use: ‘Extremely Controversial’

        Two years ago, we were among those who noted how odd it was to see the MPAA in court arguing in favor of fair use, since the MPAA tends to argue against fair use quite frequently. The legal geniuses at the MPAA felt hurt by our post and some of the other news coverage on the issue, and put out a blog post claiming that the MPAA and its members actually love fair use. According to that post, the MPAA’s members “rely on the fair use doctrine every day” and the idea that it “opposes” fair use is “simply false, a notion that doesn’t survive even a casual encounter with the facts.”

        Now, as you may have heard, Wikileaks has put the leaked Sony emails online for everyone to search through for themselves. I imagine that there will be a variety of new stories coming out of this trove of information, now that it’s widely available, rather than limited to the small group who got the initial email dumps. In digging through the emails, one interesting one popped up. It’s Chris Dodd revealing the MPAA’s true view on “fair use” in an email to Michael Froman, the US Trade Rep in charge of negotiating agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP).

      • WikiLeaks: Hollywood working with local anti-piracy groups

        A powerful Hollywood lobby group has been working hand in glove with one of Australia’s most outspoken voices against online piracy.

        Hacked Sony Pictures emails published by WikiLeaks reveal that CreativeFuture, the US film industry’s main anti-piracy lobby, regards Village Roadshow co-chairman Graham Burke as one of its champions, engaged in a critical fight for the future of the internet.

        In an email sent in September 2014, CreativeFuture chief executive and Hollywood veteran Ruth Vitale wrote to alert US movie studios including Sony Pictures, 21st Century Fox, Disney, Viacom and Warner Brothers to “what is going on in Australia” where Burke “is at the centre” of campaigning against online piracy.

      • Sony execs lobbied Netflix to stop VPN users

        In emails leaked from Sony Pictures following a cyber attack, it has been revealed that Sony Pictures has lobbied Netflix into cancelling customer accounts associated with users accessing the service from places where the streaming video company has not yet launched.

        WikiLeaks published on Thursday a trove of searchable emails and documents believed to have been obtained as a result of a massive cyber attack on the studio in 2014. More than 30,000 documents and 170,000 emails belonging to Sony Pictures were leaked as a result of the attack.

        Sony has slammed the whistleblower website for publishing and indexing the “stolen employee and other private and privileged information”.

        The documents and emails range from financial information to negotiations between the company and its distributors — including Village Roadshow and Foxtel in Australia — and also revealed the company’s delicate relationship with streaming video service Netflix.

      • WikiLeaks Posts Sony Pictures Documents, Angering the Studio

        Sony Pictures Entertainment reacted harshly on Thursday to word that WikiLeaks, a web portal devoted to disclosing confidential information from governments, corporations and other large and powerful entities, had posted a searchable archive of emails and other documents stolen from the studio last year by hackers.

      • Sony Studio Renews Warning After WikiLeaks Posts Stolen Data

        David Boies, a lawyer for Sony Pictures Entertainment, began warning news media outlets on Friday that WikiLeaks’s posting of emails and documents stolen from Sony does not, in the media giant’s view, make them fair game.

        “WikiLeaks is incorrect that this Stolen Information belongs in the public domain, and it is, in many jurisdictions, unlawful to place it there or otherwise access or distribute it,” Mr. Boies wrote in a letter that was prepared for distribution to outlets that post or publish the material.

      • MPAA Wants Private Theaters in U.S. Embassies to Lobby Officials

        Emails from the Sony hack reveal that the MPAA asked its member studios to pay $165,000 each to upgrade the screening rooms of several U.S. embassies. American ambassadors could then utilize these private theaters as indirect lobbying tools by showing off Hollywood content to high level officials.

      • WikiLeaks Release of Stolen Sony Data Is ‘Just Wrong’ – Former NSA Director

        WikiLeaks made the wrong decision in releasing the cache of data hackers obtained from Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014, former National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander said on Friday.

      • WikiLeaks publishes huge archive of hacked Sony documents

        The Sony attack, widely suspected to be the work of North Korea, sent shockwaves through the U.S. entertainment industry when hackers leaked sensitive corporate data. The WikiLeaks archive, which contains 30,287 documents and 173,132 emails, sheds light on Sony Pictures’ relationships with government and industry.

Microsoft Tired of Pretending to be Nice to Free/Open Source Software (FOSS), Microsoft ‘Open’ Technologies Dumped

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” Microsoft’s long-serving CEO Steve Ballmer once said. Not much as changed except pretense (face change).

Satya Ballmer
Satya Ballmer

Summary: Microsoft dumps its proxy (misleadingly named ‘Open Tech’) and other attacks on Free software persist from the inside, often through so-called ‘experts’ whose agenda is to sell proprietary software

MICROSOFT’S long-term assault on GNU/Linux is in some ways worse than ever before. Changing Ballmer’s face with another is about as effective as swapping Bush for Obama. Things are only getting worse, even if it’s branded differently. The attacks on users’ rights (DRM, blobs, spying) have exacerbated. It’s just not as visible as before (like the infamous “Get the Facts” marketing campaign), it’s more subtle or altogether covert.

There are concrete sign of Microsoft’s strategy to destroy FOSS from the inside (entryism) not quite succeeding, which leads to a Plan B, like infecting Android with proprietary spyware, controlling GNU/Linux through Azure, etc.

“For Microsoft, “Open Tech” shutting down is somewhat symbolic, even poetic.”“So,” some people ask, “what’s new at the ‘new’ Microsoft?”

There’s nothing new except worsening levels of aggression.

Microsoft’s ‘Open Tech’ proxy is shutting down, anti-Android lawsuits expand (or threats of lawsuits, based on the latest reports from Taiwan), new bribes are reported (e.g. Cyanogen), antitrust by proxy (against Free software) is succeeding… welcome the ‘new’ Microsoft, the Microsoft that’s more aggressive than the Mafia led by Steve Ballmer.

For Microsoft, “Open Tech” shutting down is somewhat symbolic, even poetic. It’s almost as though Microsoft gave up pretending to be “Open”. The Microsoft “Open Tech” proxy (assimilation strategy) is dead, says Microsoft’s Mouth (people have left it for quite some time, even senior people). but Microsoft’s Mouth (the booster Mary Jo Foley) released quite a misleading piece which is essentially hogwash and PR, pretending that shutdown is “rejoining”, like “reorg” meaning layoffs.

Is there no point keeping this Trojan horse in tact? Is Microsoft not interested in “Open”? Or is there no point pretending anymore? Microsoft has been aggressive against Linux as of late, as we wrote in the following series a month ago:

We also wrote about Microsoft ‘Open’ Technologies in the following older articles:

Meanwhile, alas, Microsoft is googlebombing 'Open Source', which helps fool some politicians. As we put it yesterday, Microsoft's plot to associate Windows with 'Open Source' is proving effective, despite being just a Big Lie. Shame on IDG for continuing the googlebombing of “Windows Open Source” in an article by Mac Asay. We are also saddened to see an article from SoftPedia about Black Duck, the Microsoft-linked source of FUD (anti-copyleft). Another publication giving them marketing space is always bad news because it’s anti-FOSS really, disguised as pro-FOSS. It is part of the latest marketing blitz from Black Duck, relying on the so-called “Future of Open Source Survey” [1, 2, 3], which has been annual propaganda for many years. Why do journalists continue to waste time on this? It’s not an analysis, it’s just marketing for Black Duck’s proprietary software.

Speaking of Black Duck, it recently hired a top executive from Veracode and Chris Wysopal, CTO of Veracode, continues the FUD over FOSS security (article from yesteday); he does it after Veracode did the “Heartbleed” recall/birthday in the same site a just over a couple of days beforehand (14th of April), as we noted with concern at the time. IT Pro Portal seems to be thinking that some Microsoft-connected firm giving a name and logo to a FOSS bug is such a major event that we need to celebrate its anniversaries, too. If they wish to see real security problems, then they should speak about Windows in terminals, ATMs, etc. The new report titled “New malware program ‘Punkey’ infecting point-of-sale systems” does not even call out Windows, almost as if this fact is just irrelevant.

These so-called ‘analysts’ are — more often than not, to not risk overgeneralising — little more than frauds, like so-called ‘counter-terrorism experts’ whose goal is to scare people (e.g. through the corporate media or parliamentary avenues) in order for them to sell their ‘services’.

The 451 Research is now using some biased yardstick to help generate favourable press for Microsoft, but that’s another point and another topic, probably worth raising another day. 451 Research staff always refused to tell me whether Microsoft paid them or not (they answered all my other questions) — a denial which in itself spoke volumes.

More Translations of French Article About the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Le Monde

Summary: German and Dutch translations of the Le Monde article are now available

GERMANY- and Holland-based staff of the EPO (locations of main ‘branches’ with top bureaucrats) can now easily read the article that we mentioned here before (focusing on yet more suicides), shortly ahead of an English translation which was kindly provided to us.

“The EPO’s response to suicides (from the arrogant Battistelli) took some people by surprise; these people include Merpel from IP Kat.”The EPO’s response to suicides (from the arrogant Battistelli) took some people by surprise; these people include Merpel from IP Kat. Merpel wrote that she “has received word of an article published by the major French newspaper Le Monde on 6 April 2015, reporting on the industrial unrest and social tensions within the European Patent Office (EPO). The original article linked appears to require a subscription and is naturally in French, but those good people at SUEPO have published a version with a translation in French and German which you can access on their news page (item of 9 April 2015) here.”

Merpel linked to this page which says: “Le Monde, one of the reference newspapers in France, published an article on the deleterious social climate at the European Patent Office culminating with an authoritarian management style and four suicides since 2012. Translation are available in English, German and Dutch by scrolling through the document” (links on the page).

Even the pro-patents circles are unhappy with the EPO, based on this article (recently cited above), so we expect major changes. In the coming days we will write a lot about patent reform.

04.17.15

Links 17/4/2015: Wipro and the Netherlands Want FOSS

Posted in News Roundup at 5:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Opening Up Performance with OpenSpeedShop an Open Source Profiler

    Performance analysis to optimize HPC applications is challenging at many levels, not the least of which is the availability of adequate performance analysis and measurement tools. Underappreciated at best, most organizations rely on vendor-supplied tools included as part of a machine procurement. While generally good for analysis on a single node, such performance analysis tools typically do not provide the capabilities needed to analyze heterogeneous systems containing accelerators and/or distributed applications running across large numbers of nodes. As a result, most programmers are stuck having to guess at performance issues. The patchwork nature and lack of consistency amongst performance tools available across various HPC centers also means that many programmers lack proficiency in using the performance tool(s) provided at a new site or installed on a new machine.

  • Veyron Danger & Brain Motherboards Now In Coreboot

    As a quick update to the initial Veyron motherboards being added to Coreboot, Google has now added more Veyron boards to mainline Coreboot.

  • At Birth, Open Source Was About Saving Money, Not Sharing Code

    A similar line of reasoning predates Raymond’s rise to prominence, and even the introduction of Linux. As far back as the early 1980s, Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU project and the man some authorities have called the “last true hacker,” declared that the source code of software should be freely shared because “the Golden Rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it.”

    So, from an early date, advocates of open source development argued that open code is essential for two reasons: First, it’s simply a superior way to program; and second, there’s a moral imperative to share.

    That all sounds grand. And it’s certainly true that both the functional and moral dimensions of open code are key motivations for many open source programmers today.

  • When to choose closed or open source

    Catalyst IT founder Don Christie says one argument in favour of open source is that coding isn’t difficult.

    Most of the time that means others can quickly replicate closed software. He says: “They are going to replicate it anyway. It can be better to make it open source and get the benefits of better code.”

  • AT&T Makes Case for Open Source Sharing

    In a blog post this week and in an interview with Light Reading, Rice says there are several reasons being an active contributor is beneficial. But he admits with a laugh that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) doesn’t have the same methods to make money on open source as software vendors, who can release a “free” version of their open source software for customers but then sell upgrades or back-end support.

  • Six things that make open source a no-brainer for your company

    So, you’re about to start a new company and you want to make open-source software the driving force behind all technology decisions. Outside of it being an incredibly noble and honorable cause, what are the key data points you need to fully understand before implementing this strategy?

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome 42 Brings The Push API & Extras

        Google today announced the Chrome/Chromium 42 web-browser reaching the stable channel and with it comes many improvements.

      • Chrome 43 Beta Brings Web MIDI & Permissions API

        Today’s Chrome 43 Beta release brings Web MIDI support for connecting to MIDI devices like synthesizers, DJ decks, and drum machines from the web browser. Aside from supporting the Web MIDI API, thre’s also now a Permissions API to let developers query permissions for Geolocation, Push, Notification, and Web MIDI APIs.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Pepperdata Nabs $15 Million to Scale its Enterprise Hadoop Biz

      This week, immediately following startup company AtScale coming out of stealth mode to show its tools for making data stored in Hadoop’s file system accessible within Business Intelligence (BI) applications, Think Big launched its Dashboard Engine for Hadoop, designed to make it easy for business users to cull insights from Hadoop data stores. And now, Pepperdata, which develops Hadoop cluster optimization software, announced that it has secured more than $15 million in strategic and venture financing to scale to serve enterprises who rely on Hadoop in production.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.5 Bumped To Become LibreOffice 5.0

      While we’ve been looking forward to the new features of LibreOffice 4.5 as the leading open-source office suite, version 4.5 is no more. The next version of LO is now going to be LibreOffice 5.0.

      To some surprise, this morning in Git, the version was bumped to 5.0 (5.0.0.0.alpha0+). There was no branching of LibreOffice 4.5 as it seems LibreOffice 4.5 is itself being renamed to LibreOffice 5.0.

  • CMS

    • How and why BackBee CMS went open source

      Our Parisian web agency and software company, Lp Digital, is open sourcing its content management system, BackBee CMS. In this article, I’ll explain the tools that helped us release BackBee as open source software and measure the results.

    • govCMS to release its own Drupal distribution

      The government’s govCMS project will make its own Drupal distribution publicly available for download, it announced today.

      The distribution will be a fork of the aGov distribution, which was developed by local development shop PreviousNext and is the building block for govCMS sites.

      aGov was released in 2013 after a beta period involving a number of federal and state government agencies. High profile end users include the NSW government’s ‘one stop shop’ for services, Service NSW.

  • Education

    • Higher Education Sees The Light

      This will also pave the way for other FLOSS like GNU/Linux on the desktop instead of That Other OS. Altogether this could save half the cost of desktop IT or permit more/better IT for the same money in Hungarian universities. What about your local university? This is yet another indication that this is the Year of the GNU/Linux Desktop. Hungary as a whole is not doing badly on GNU/Linux desktops (1.48%). It’s time the universities pulled their share up.

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Chef aims to create the secret recipe for DevOps success

        Released at the beginning of the month, Chef Delivery is already getting some purchase in the fast growing DevOps market with the help of some blue-chip IT companies like HP. With Chef Delivery, the company says it “has captured success patterns of its most innovative customers and distilled them into a product”.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Hurd 0.6 Released

      The GNU Hurd, the free open source replacement for the Unix kernel, has a new release that is still not suitable for production environments. There are also new releases of GNU Mach and GNU Mig, both of which have reached version 1.5.

    • Latest TPP leak shows systemic threat to software freedom

      Key congressional leaders have just agreed on a deal to fast track the fast-tracking of TPP. While the threat of TPP has persisted for years, now is the time to fight back!

    • GNU Hurd 0.6 Released Brings Clean-Ups & Fixes

      Version 0.6 of GNU Hurd was released today. Before getting too excited about GNU Hurd, it’s still bound to x86 32-bit and doesn’t offer any compelling new features.

  • Project Releases

    • Wine Announcement

      The Wine development release 1.7.41 is now available.

      What’s new in this release (see below for details):
      - More Known Folders supported in the shell.
      - Some more support for kernel job objects.
      - More MSI patches improvements.
      - Some theming fixes.
      - Various bug fixes.

    • Wine 1.7.41 Officially Released, Fixes an Adobe Photoshop CS6 Crash

      Alexandre Julliard announced the immediate availability for download and testing of a new maintenance release of Wine 1.7.41, which brings better support for kernel job objects, improves MSI patches, enhanced support for Known Folders in the shell, and fixes theming issues.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Would You Open-Source Your Body?

      As you may have noticed, this column is pretty keen on opening things up – whether that’s open source, open access or open government. But what about open-sourcing your body – releasing as open data the most intimate aspects of your physical existence? That’s what the Open Humans Network is asking.

    • Apple’s ResearchKit, npm private modules, and more open source news
    • This Week in Linux News: New Linux-GoPro Drone, Linux 4.0, and More
    • Open Hardware

      • Expanding access to open source hardware

        I didn’t pay anything for the USB keyboard and USB optical mouse that I use with this tiny computer, because they were donated to the public library where I work. Two weeks ago someone dropped of 10 new USB keyboards and 10 new USB mice; they were surplus from a computer upgrade cycle at a nearby office. To be sure, the value of the $35 USD Raspberry Pi 2 computer is extended when free USB keyboards and mice are available. There is a role, then, for schools, libraries, and makerspaces to collect these donated items in order to redistribute them to those who need them.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ODF Plus Ten Years

      So what’s new? Well, basically one thing: we now have a related standard for formulas in ODF spreadsheets! This is something that obviously occurred 5-10 years too late, but better late than never. The Wikipedia article on OpenFormula is a fairly amusing example of the need to justify and rationalize mistakes that seems to surround the OpenDocument standard.

Leftovers

  • Nigel Farage On BBC Election Debate Is A Good Example Of How Not To Treat An Audience
  • Who won BBC leaders debate according to the data?

    Nicola Sturgeon was ahead of the Labour leader by 7 points in the question of who had the best personality: 30% of the liked her over Nigel Farage (23%), Ed Miliband (21%) and the Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood (16%).

  • Science

    • TechCrunch Speaker Combines Every Possible Startup Cliche

      Change the world. Power. Influence. Innovation. Hand gestures. Literal self-comparisons to royalty. Slides. Rosenstein’s keynote at this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference has it all. There’s a banal, pseudo-do-gooder theme (“Do great things”). There are several venn diagrams. There are repeated tone deaf calls to “have your cake and eat it too,” an exhortation for all techies to embrace their Stanford dropout privilege and remake the world as they desire.

  • Hardware

    • ARM Dives into Low-Power IoT Communications

      ARM, the leading designer of mobile processors, announced the launch of ARM Cordio, a portfolio of low-power wireless communications technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT).

      ARM Cordio is comprised of the intellectual property (IP) from two acquisitions, Sunrise Micro Devices and Wicentric, also announced on April 16. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.

      The Cordio name originates from Sunrise Micro Devices’ sub-volt Bluetooth wireless radio technology. A year ago, Sunrise Micro Devices and Wicentric, a maker of Bluetooth Smart software, announced an alliance to develop software for the Cordio BT4 radio core for IoT sensors and devices.

    • Moore’s Law turns 50: What’s next for this tale of incredible shrinking chips

      When you’re strapping on the latest smart watch or ogling an iPhone, you probably aren’t thinking of Moore’s Law, which for 50 years has been used as a blueprint to make computers smaller, cheaper and faster.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why Is WalMart Mysteriously Shuttering Stores Nationwide For “Plumbing Issues”?

      Earlier this year, WalMart became one of several corporate heavyweights to lift wages for its meagerly compensated workers, around 500,000 of which are now set to receive at least $9/hour and $10/hour by Q1 2016 (that of course assumes they make it on $9 an hour for another 12 months and don’t seek out other employment by sheer necessity).

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Yes, militaries are working on drone swarms

      That the battlefield of tomorrow will be abuzz with death is clear. Say hi to America’s drone cannons.

    • LOCUST: Autonomous, Swarming UAVs Fly into the Future

      A new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations is on the horizon, as officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced April 14 recent technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – part of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program.

    • ‘Price tag’ settler argues in court that revenge isn’t a crime

      Were people’s lives and livelihoods not at stake, it would have been an almost sublime piece of parody. During the trial of four teenage Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian-owned cafe in the West Bank town of Dura, which concluded on Monday, the defendants’ attorneys – as reported by Ynet – brought forth the claim that because the arson was an act of revenge, their clients were not guilty of breaking the law.

    • Lockheed Hopes Talk of Iran Getting S-300 Will Sell More F-35 Planes

      Earlier this week, Russia announced it was ending its five year ban on selling S-300 defensive missiles to Iran. There’s no indication yet Iran is even going to buy any, but Israel was immediately furious, predicting doom and gloom over the possibility.

    • Saudi Coalition Preventing Food Ships From Reaching Yemen

      One of the first measures taken by Saudi Arabia, when announcing its war against Yemen, was a full-scale naval blockade. For a nation that imports over 90% of its food, that was a devastating move, and one Saudi officials assured wouldn’t keep the food out of the country.

    • The Killing Initiative

      The world of private defence contractors, the modern version of the fabled Condottiere without the flags and the city-state veneration, received a blow with the handing down of stiff sentences on four former Blackwater operatives. Last year, the four in question, part of Blackwater’s Support Team Raven 23, were convicted in the Washington, D.C. federal court for killing 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour square in 2007.

    • Religious Fanaticism is a Huge Factor in Americans’ Support for Israel

      Almost half of all Americans want to support Israel even if its interests diverge from the interests of their own country. Only a minority of Americans (47 percent) say that their country should pursue their own interests over supporting Israel’s when the two choices collide. It’s the ultimate violation of George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address warning that “nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded. … The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

    • Kill > Capture

      The Obama administration’s explicit policy is to capture suspected terrorists, not drone them. So why is there so much droning and so little capturing?

    • Father of Blackwater Victim: ‘Too Late’ for Apologies

      More than seven years after his nine-year-old son, Ali, was killed by contractors working for the American security firm Blackwater Worldwide, Mohammed Kinani says he’s finished his mission “to push these people to the law.”

      Four former Blackwater employees were given long sentences yesterday for killing 14 unarmed Iraqis, including Kinani’s son, and wounding many others, when in 2007 they shot at a crowd in Baghdad’s Nisour Square with machine guns and grenade launchers.

    • John Kerry Thanks Russia for Rescuing US Citizens From Yemen Air Strikes

      The US Secretary of State expressed appreciation for Russia’s action in evacuating Americans from Yemen, after the United States refused to engage in evacuation efforts for its citizens.

    • The Lies Still Killing Gulf War Vets

      Some cover-ups are scandalous. Others, like those surrounding the First Gulf War, suggest an official callousness that shocks and awes.

      During and immediately after the war, 200,000 of 700,000 U.S. troops were exposed to nerve gas and other chemical agents. The Department of Defense (DOD), fully aware of the chemical hazards and the troop exposure, deployed a litany of lies. After this, it concocted a cover-up. That cover-up continues to this day.

      Don Riegle, the senator who presided over Senate committee hearings in 1993-1994 about the veterans’ illnesses, recently told me: “Every effort was made for years to hide the truth and deny the medical research needed to fully treat the U.S. troops suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.”

    • NY Times (Again) Carries Water for Government’s Post Hoc Drone Assassination Justifications

      American Anwar al-Awlaki has been dead for over four years now, but The New York Times is still giving substantial ink to the U.S. government’s self-serving meme that Awlaki was an “operational” terrorist,” even though we still don’t know whether ISIS or AQAP is responsible for the recent attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

      I called out New York Times reporter Scott Shane for carrying the government’s water by pimping the “Awlaki was operational” narrative last year. Yesterday, Shane penned another lengthy article rehashing the U.S. government’s post hoc justification for targeting and assassinating Awlaki without due process.

    • Blackwater’s Legacy Goes Beyond Public View

      By the time four former Blackwater security guards were sentenced this week to long prison terms for the 2007 fatal shooting of 14 civilians in Iraq, the man who sent the contractors there had long since moved on from the country and the company he made notorious.

      Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, a former member of the Navy SEALs and heir to a Michigan auto parts fortune, has spent the last few years searching for new missions, new fields of fire and new customers.

      He has worked in Abu Dhabi and now focuses his efforts on Africa, with ties to the Chinese government, which is eager for access to some of the continent’s natural resources. Mr. Prince’s current firm, Frontier Services Group, provides what it describes as “expeditionary logistics” for mining, oil and natural gas operations in Africa, and has the backing of Citic Group, a large state-owned Chinese investment company.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Saudi Oil Production Hits All Time High, Surges By ‘Half A Bakken’

      As hopeful US investors buy everything oil-related on the back of a lower than expected crude build this week (after the biggest build in 30 years the week before), The Kingdom has stepped up overnight and ruined the dream of supply-restrained price recovery as it announced a surge in production output in March to yet another record high. The nation boosted crude output by 658,800 barrels a day in March to an average of 10.294 million a day, which as Bloomberg notes, is about half the daily production from the Bakken formation. WTI Crude prices have slipped by around 2% from yesterday’s NYMEX Close ramp highs as it appears Saudi Arabia is not willing to just let this effort to squeeze Shale stall.

    • As Drought Grips California, Networks Come Up Dry on Climate Science

      California is in its fourth year of an unprecedented drought, with no end in sight and water reserves dwindling. It’s exactly the type of scenario climate scientists have warned about, and new research sees global warming’s fingerprints on the drought. But a new FAIR study shows that, rather than investigating this connection, network news is largely ignoring it.

  • Finance and Politics

    • Politicians Bragging About Exports While Ignoring Imports? That’s Just Gross

      That probably should have been the headline of a Politico article (sorry, behind paywall) on a letter signed by 13 former Democratic governors urging Congress to approve fast-track trade authority to facilitate the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP). The most newsworthy aspect of the letter is that the governors apparently do not understand the basic economics of trade.

    • Debate: Hillary Clinton Sounds Populist Tone, But Are Progressives Ready to Back Her in 2016?

      Former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton has formally entered the 2016 race for the White House in a second bid to become the first woman U.S. president. We host a roundtable discussion with four guests: Joe Conason, editor-in-chief of The National Memo, co-editor of The Investigative Fund, and author of “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton”; Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer at The Nation; longtime journalist Robert Scheer, editor of Truthdig.com and author of many books; and Kshama Sawant, a Socialist city councilmember in Seattle and member of Socialist Alternative, a nationwide organization of social and economic justice activists.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street backers: We get it

      It’s “just politics,” said one major Democratic donor on Wall Street, explaining that some of Clinton’s Wall Street supporters doubt she would push hard for closing the carried-interest loophole as president, a policy she promoted when she last ran in 2008.

      “The question is not going to be whether or not hedge fund managers or CEOs make too much money,” said a separate Clinton supporter who manages a hedge fund. “The question is, how do you solve the problem of inequality. Nobody takes it like she is going after them personally.”

      Indeed, many of the financial-sector donors supporting her just-declared presidential campaign say they’ve been expecting all along the moment when Clinton would start calling out hedge fund managers and decrying executive pay — right down to the complaints from critics that such arguments are rich coming from someone who recently made north of $200,000 per speech and who has been close to Wall Street since her days representing it as a senator from New York.

    • Sanders: American people ‘don’t know’ what Hillary is running on

      “Why don’t you tell me what Hillary Clinton is campaigning on, do you know?” he said on MSNBC’s “Live with Thomas Roberts,” when asked if he believed her campaign message that she’s running to represent the “little guy.”

    • [Old] Kshama Sawant: The Most Dangerous Woman in America

      Kshama Sawant, the socialist on the City Council, is up for re-election this year. Since joining the council in January of 2014 she has helped push through a gradual raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle. She has expanded funding for social services and blocked, along with housing advocates, an attempt by the Seattle Housing Authority to allow a rent increase of up to 400 percent. She has successfully lobbied for city money to support tent encampments and is fighting for an excise tax on millionaires. And for this she has become the bête noire of the Establishment, especially the Democratic Party.

    • Jeb Bush’s Administration Steered Florida Pension Money to George W. Bush’s Fundraisers

      Four years before the financial collapse, Goldman Sachs executive George Herbert Walker IV had much to be thankful for. “I’ve been fortunate to be a small part of teams leading U.S. restructurings, European privatizations, global pension management and now hedge fund and private equity investing,” he said in the annual report of a banking colossus that would soon be known as the “great vampire squid” of Wall Street.

      “The world,” said Walker, “just keeps getting more interesting.”

      As the head of Goldman Sachs’ alternative investment unit, Walker’s ebullience was understandable. At the same time he was raising $100,000 for his cousin George W. Bush’s successful presidential re-election effort, the administration of another cousin, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, returned the family favor, delivering $150 million of Florida pension money to an alternative investment fund run by Walker’s firm. Like other executives whose companies received Florida pension money, Walker is now renewing the cycle, reportedly attending in February a high-dollar fundraiser for Jeb Bush’s political committee.

    • Severing ties with foundation won’t insulate Clinton from controversy

      Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she’s stepping down from her family foundation’s board of directors while running for president was well received, but that won’t shield her from the roiling controversy over the foundation’s acceptance of tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments.

      The boards of the Clinton Foundation and the affiliated Clinton Health Access Initiative are scheduled to meet this week to consider additional actions as a result of her candidacy, possibly including new curbs on foreign donations.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • An Article by Any Other Name May Smell Sweeter to Search Engines

      Among the bottomfeeders of the Internet ecosystem are “news scrapers”–websites that automatically harvest posts from actual news sites and repackage them in hopes of snagging some search engine hits and the accompanying online ad revenue.

    • Agency Overseeing Obama Trade Deals Filled With Former Trade Lobbyists

      The Office of the United States Trade Representative, the agency responsible for negotiating two massive upcoming trade deals, is being led by former lobbyists for corporations that stand to benefit from the deals, according to disclosure forms obtained by The Intercept.

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free trade accord between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries; the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a similar agreement between the U.S. and the E.U.

    • NBC’s Conduct in Engel Kidnapping Story is More Troubling than the Brian Williams Scandal

      Throughout 2012, numerous American factions were pushing for U.S. intervention in Syria to bring down the regime of Bashar Assad, who throughout the War on Terror had helped the U.S. in all sorts of ways, including torturing people for them. But by then, Assad was viewed mostly as an ally of Iran, and deposing him would weaken Tehran, the overarching regional strategy of the U.S. and its allies. The prevailing narrative was thus created that those fighting against Assad were “moderate” and even pro-western groups, with the leading one dubbed “the Free Syrian Army.”

      Whether to intervene in Syria in alliance with or on behalf of the “Free Syrian Army” was a major debate in the west through the end of that year. Then-Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry was openly discussing ways for the U.S. to aid the rebels to bring about regime change. Senator Joe Lieberman was saying: “I hope the international community and the U.S. will provide assistance to the Syrian Free Army in the various ways we can.” Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while ruling out direct military intervention, said: “[W]e have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people’s right to have a better future.”

    • NBC’s Richard Engel Re-Reporting His Kidnapping In Syria Following Questions Over Captors’ Identity

      NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel is re-reporting a key detail of his December 2012 kidnapping in Syria after new information surfaced suggesting he may have been misled about the identities of his captors, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    • They Have ‘Propaganda,’ US Has ‘Public Diplomacy’–and a Servile Private Sector

      But wait a second–isn’t Voice of America itself a propaganda outlet? Not in the New York Times stylebook, apparently. The piece, by Ron Nixon, describes VOA as “the government agency that is charged with presenting America’s viewpoint to the world.” Later on, the Times refers to what it calls “America’s public diplomacy.”

      The US’s enemies, on the other hand, have “sophisticated propaganda machines that have expanded the influence of countries like China and Russia and terrorist groups like the Islamic State.” The difference between “propaganda machines” and “public diplomacy” is never explained in the article, but the former appears to be what “they” do while the latter is what “we” do.

      The only source quoted in the article who’s not directly connected to the government is Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation, described as “a Washington think tank.” (“We are getting our butts kicked…. Countries like Russia are running circles around us,” Howard says.) Not mentioned is the fact that Jamestown was founded with the help of then-CIA Director William Casey to provide financial support for the Agency’s spies (Washington Post, 1/10/05).

  • Censorship

    • Copyright claims asserted in viral video of cop shooting fleeing suspect

      The April 4 viral video of a South Carolina police officer shooting a fleeing suspect has cost the cop his job and his freedom. But there’s now another cost attached to the video, perhaps in the $10,000 range or more. A publicist for the man who captured the footage—which led to homicide charges against North Charleston officer Michael Slager— says news outlets must pay a licensing fee to carry the footage.

      Australian publicist Max Markson, the chief executive of celebrity management firm Markson Sparks, told The New York Times that “I think that the people who might be put off by this are the media outlets that had it for free. Now they will have to pay.” Markson did not respond to Ars’ requests for comment.

  • Privacy

    • Open Rights Group files amicus brief in Hungarian data retention case

      Open Rights Group, Privacy International and a group of internationally acknowledged experts have filed amicus curiae briefs with the Hungarian Constitutional Court. The case has been brought by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) against two major service providers, in an attempt to force the Hungarian Constitutional Court to repeal the Hungarian Electronic Communications Act.

    • NSA and FBI fight to retain spy powers as surveillance law nears expiration

      With about 45 days remaining before a major post-9/11 surveillance authorization expires, representatives of the National Security Agency and the FBI are taking to Capitol Hill to convince legislators to preserve their sweeping spy powers.

    • Booz Allen Wolves Offer Advice on Protecting NSA Henhouse

      The report dutifully examines how hard it is for the federal government to hire and keep top cybersecurity talent when the private sector pays so much more.

      Its very sensible recommendations include modernizing the creaky civil service hiring system and making compensation more competitive.

      But in a eye-popping bit of irony — even by Washington standards — the report was written by Booz Allen Hamilton, the giant “Beltway Bandit” government contractor known for regularly raiding the National Security Agency and other government organizations for its best and brightest cyber talents, especially after they’ve gotten valuable government training and security clearances.

    • Yes voters ‘right to suspect MI5 of spying on them’

      WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange believes SNP supporters were not being “paranoid” that their communications were being spied on during the independence referendum.

      Speaking via videolink at the Commonwealth Law Conference in Glasgow on Wednesday, Mr Assange said the “full capacities” of the British intelligence services were deployed during in the run-up to last year’s vote.

    • Assange: Yes Campaign “not paranoid” to think they were spied on during referendum

      The Australian expert in espionage believes independence amounted to a “national security threat” to the UK, justifying the mobilisation of the “full capacities” of the British state’s surveillance network.

    • Assange to discuss spying and privacy at key Glasgow conference

      In a rare public appearance, the Wikileaks founder, who has spent the past 34 months in the building after claiming asylum, will discuss how intelligence gathering abuses privacy in the internet age.

    • Suspicious lawyer finds malware on external hard drive supplied by police lawyer in discovery

      An Arkansas lawyer is seeking sanctions after his computer expert found malware on an external hard drive supplied in response to a discovery request.

      Lawyer Matthew Campbell of North Little Rock says he became suspicious when he received the hard drive by Federal Express in June 2014 from a lawyer for the Fort Smith Police Department, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports. Previous evidence in the police whistleblower case had been provided by email or a cloud-based Internet storage service, or had been shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.

      “I thought, ‘I’m not plugging that into my computer,’ ” Campbell told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “Something didn’t add up in the way they approached it, so I sent it to my software guy first.”

      The technology expert found four Trojans on the hard drive. “These Trojans were designed to steal passwords, install malicious software and give someone else command and control of the infected computer,” Campbell says in a brief supporting his motion for sanctions (PDF).

      The security expert said in an affidavit that the Trojans were in a subfolder rather than the root directory, indicating they were “more likely placed in that folder intentionally with the goal of taking command of Mr. Campbell’s computer while also stealing passwords to his account.”

    • Lawyer representing whistle blowers finds malware on drive supplied by cops

      An Arkansas lawyer representing current and former police officers in a contentious whistle-blower lawsuit is crying foul after finding three distinct pieces of malware on an external hard drive supplied by police department officials.

    • This simple game shows why metadata laws won’t protect whistleblowers

      Australia has passed data retention laws that force telecommunications companies to retain some types of phone and web metadata. This data can be requested by government agencies and has been used to investigate leaks of government information to journalists.

      It now takes a warrant to access a journalist’s metadata to identify a source, but this offers limited protection. Government agencies can still seek data from suspected sources without a warrant. This game shows how a whistleblower can still be identified.

    • Classified Department: We Unveil the New Unit of the German Domestic Secret Service to Extend Internet Surveillance

      The German domestic secret service is setting up a new department to improve and extend its internet surveillance capabilities, investing several million Euros. We hereby publish the secret description for the new unit named „Extended Specialist Support Internet“. More than 75 spies are designated to monitor online chats and Facebook, create movement patterns and social network graphs and covertly „collect hidden information.“

    • Hassanshahi Bids to Undermine the DEA Dragnet … and All Dragnets

      Often forgotten in the new reporting on the DEA dragnet is the story of Shantia Hassanshahi, the Iranian-American accused of sanctions violations who was first IDed using the DEA dragnet. That’s a shame, because his case may present real problems not just for the allegedly defunct DEA dragnet, but for the theory behind dragnets generally.

      As I laid out in December, as Hassanshahi tried to understand the provenance of his arrest, the story the Homeland Security affiant gave about the database(s) he used to discover Hassanshahi’s ties to Iran in the case changed materially, so Hassanshahi challenged the use of the database and everything derivative of it. The government, which had not yet explained what the database was, asked Judge Rudolph Contreras to assume the database was not constitutional, but to upheld its use and the derivative evidence anyway, which he did. At the same time, however, Contreras required the government to submit an explanation of what the database was, which was subsequently unsealed in January.

    • Unacceptable Surveillance of French Citizens soon to be Adopted!

      The examination of French Intelligence Bill ended this Thursday at the National Assembly. After 4 days of debate, very few enhancements were made to a text that was denounced by an incredibly large number of groups for its dangerous, intrusive and liberty-infringing nature and whose control dispositions are totally inadequate. La Quadrature du Net calls on French representatives to listen to the citizens’ demands to reject this text during the final vote on 5 May.

    • Getting out of Facebook like trying to escape from Alcatraz

      Last week, Facebook was forced to admit that it tracked the online activity of people who do not even have an account with the social network, which is a pretty egregious violation of most people’s assumptions of online privacy. After all, the people who are not on Facebook in 2015 have most likely made a very explicit decision not to be on Facebook.

      The admission came in response to a report commissioned by the Belgian data protection authority, which found Facebook in breach of European data privacy laws, but the social networking giant claimed the tracking only happened because of a bug that is now being fixed, while disputing many of the details of the report.

    • TV Companies Will Sue VPN Providers “In Days”

      A pair of Internet providers who defied TV company demands to switch off their VPN services will be sued in the coming days. CallPlus and Bypass Network Services face legal action from media giants including Sky and TVNZ for allowing their customers to use a VPN to buy geo-restricted content.

    • Surveillance in the General Election Manifestos

      Nearly all of the main parties at this General Election have now published their manifestos. Where do the parties’ manifestos stand on surveillance?

    • New Zealand Spy Data Shared With Bangladeshi Human Rights Abusers

      Secret documents reveal New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency shared intelligence with state security agents in Bangladesh, despite authorities in the South Asian nation being implicated in torture, extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses.

      Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, has conducted spying operations in Bangladesh over the past decade, according to the documents. The surveillance has been carried out in support of the U.S. government’s global counterterrorism strategy, primarily from a spy post in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, and apparently facilitated by the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Public Interest to Protect Powerful Paedophiles

      The Director of Public Prosecutions has decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute serial paedophile Greville Janner, for many years the leader of the Zionist lobby in the UK. I presume that his convenient senility is the reason for non-prosecution.

      But the facts of Janner’s activities in Leicester care homes have been known for decades, and there was overwhelming evidence in one particular case. The failure of the state to act against Janner when he was a Labour MP and Chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, is another example of the disgraceful impunity of the powerful in this country. In a pattern that has become familiar to us, police investigating the case were in 1989 warned off by their superiors.

    • Lord Janner will not face trial over abuse claims

      CPS says evidence against Labour peer would have warranted trial but the severity of his dementia means he is not fit to take part in any proceedings

    • DPP Labour Lord Janner Should Have Been Prosecuted on 22 Counts

      The Jewish institutions in the UK are acting precisely like the Catholic Church of twenty years ago on this issue. Where is the openness? Where is the angst? Where is the admission? Above all, where is the apology?

    • Werritty’s Chum Matthew Gould Took Janner to Kindergarten

      Adam Werritty’s friend and long term contact, the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, accompanied Greville Janner to visit a kindergarten in Israel in 2012, which was named in Janner’s honour. I wonder if the government of Israel will now change the name?

    • The FBI Informant Who Mounted a Sting Operation Against the FBI

      Torres isn’t an all-American guy. He’s an FBI informant, one of more than 15,000 domestic spies who make up the largest surveillance network ever created in the United States. During J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operations, the bureau had just 1,500 informants. The drug war brought that number up to about 6,000. After 9/11, the bureau recruited so many new informants — many of them crooks and convicts, desperate for money or leniency on previous crimes — that the government had to develop software to help agents track their spies.

    • Government May Now Tell You Why You’re On ‘No Fly’ List, But Not Always

      Since the “no fly” list was formalized in 2001, the only way to know if the U.S. government would allow you to get on a plane was to show up at the airport and try to board a flight. The government would generally neither confirm nor deny that you were on the list, let alone tell you why.

      On April 14, the government announced a new procedure for blacklisted travelers to try to clear themselves. Passengers who are denied boarding can lodge a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, which will provide confirmation of their “No Fly List status,” and an unclassified summary of the reason why — unless providing that information would go against “national security and law enforcement interests.” The passengers can then appeal their status.

    • Lord Gill the Flouncing Fool

      The Lord President of Scotland’s judges, Lord Gill, has made a complete fool of himself by leading British judges in a walk-out from the Commonwealth Law Conference. The action is in protest against Julian Assange’s participation by video-link in a panel discussion on surveillance and the role of the security services.

      The walk-out happened after Julian’s talk, not before it, which rather gives the impression that what Lord Gill and his fellow judges objected to was the content of Assange’s talk, rather than the fact of it. Assange stated among other points that nationalists were right to believe that MI5 were active against them in the referendum campaign.

    • Why confidential tips to the government may not be confidential after all

      Got a hot tip about federal waste, fraud or corruption? You should think twice about using the government’s own online systems for collecting such complaints.

      Many of them promise confidentiality but for years have sent sensitive data – including names, addresses and phone numbers of whistleblowers, as well as the details of their allegations – across the Internet in a way that could be intercepted by hackers or snoops. Or, perhaps worse still, by the agencies named in the complaints.

    • ACLU Study: Federal Agencies Fail to Protect Whistleblower Communications, Terrorist Tip Line

      This week, the ACLU submitted a letter to the U.S. Chief Information Officer at the White House alerting him to serious cybersecurity lapses by numerous federal agencies. We identified dozens of inspectors general, including those at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, who do not use encryption to protect online whistleblower complaints of waste, fraud, and abuse. The State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” online terrorism tip line also does not use encryption.

    • A Decade After Blowing The Whistle On The FBI, Vindication

      The Justice Department eventually determined that the FBI had retaliated against Kobus for reporting misconduct.

    • Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Can’t Play Nintendo Classics In Prison

      Former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij can’t play games on his Nintendo 8-bit console in prison. The prison denied the request because there’s no way to open the box to check it for concealed items, a decision the Pirate Bay operator is now appealing before the administrative court.

    • Roommates hospitalized after stabbing one another during heated iPhone vs. Android debate

      Local Tulsa station KTUL reports that police responded to reports of an altercation at the Evergreen Apartments complex at 1 a.m. on Friday morning. Police learned that two roommates who lived in one of the apartments had been drinking and arguing over which popular smartphone platform was superior. Eventually they smashed their beer bottles and began stabbing one another with them. One roommate also smashed a beer bottle across the back of the other man’s head.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality wars: Telcos battle back

      Why are we still talking about Net neutrality — didn’t that fight end in a victory dance for advocates?

      Perhaps in a parallel universe ISPs graciously conceded defeat and an open Internet was secured for the ages, but in this reality, it’s not over until telecom companies have unleashed a full fury of lawyers. Gear up for another summer sequel, Net Neutrality Wars: The Lawyers Strike Back.

    • Net Neutrality and the Death of Distance

      The advent of smartphones and the mobile Internet has lead to a collision of both these worlds. In a world where bandwidth is abundant and cheap, the concept of metering based on distance will fade away. This is the reason that telcos are mortally scared of services like Skype, Whatsapp and others that take away their voice and SMS revenues. The death of distance is a consumer friendly evolution that the telcos will keep resisting till their last breath.

  • DRM

    • Netflix Sets Pricing Based on Local Piracy Rates

      Netflix says that the company is pushing down piracy in countries where illegal sharing is prevalent. Part of its strategy is to determine the price of its service based on local piracy rates, so it can better compete in places where piracy is rampant.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights/Sony

      • Sony referred to “WIPO treaty for blind as “stalking horse” to “denigrate the rights of copyright owners”

        In the new Wikileaks archives of leaked Sony documents (Link here), there is a memo (https://wikileaks.org/sony/docs/05/docs/DECE/DECE%20CP1%20-%20ss.doc.pdf), which describes Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) concern over the proposed WIPO treaty for copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities.

      • Sony

        Today, 16 April 2015, WikiLeaks publishes an analysis and search system for The Sony Archives: 30,287 documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and 173,132 emails, to and from more than 2,200 SPE email addresses. SPE is a US subsidiary of the Japanese multinational technology and media corporation Sony, handling their film and TV production and distribution operations. It is a multi-billion dollar US business running many popular networks, TV shows and film franchises such as Spider-Man, Men in Black and Resident Evil.

      • The US Government Asked Sony to Help Counter ISIS Propaganda

        Today, WikiLeaks published a new searchable archive containing the leaked email inboxes of top Sony executives. Disturbingly, it shows that months after the hack, we’ve still only just begun investigating the close ties between Sony and the US government.

        “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said in a statement. “It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geopolitical conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

        A search through the WikiLeaks Sony archive for “state.gov” email addresses—WikiLeaks reports that there are nearly 100 government email addresses in the archive—reveals an exceedingly cozy relationship between Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and US government officials including the State Department, various international ambassadors, and the president.

      • Hollywood recruited to help fight IS, hacked emails show

        Top Hollywood executives including James Murdoch have been recruited to help the United States counter Islamic extremist propaganda, according to hacked Sony Pictures emails published by WikiLeaks.

      • WikiLeaks Publishes Over 30,000 Documents From Sony Hack

        The searchable archive shows employees at the studio discussing new releases and arranging meetings with top politicians

      • Sony Pictures Blindsided by WikiLeaks Document Dump

        Just when Sony Pictures thought it was done with the devastating hacking attack that brought the studio to its knees last winter, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks published thousands of internal documents and correspondence — totally blindsiding the studio and its public relations team early Thursday.

      • WikiLeaks republishes all documents from Sony hacking scandal

        WikiLeaks has republished the Sony data from last year’s hacking scandal, making all the documents and emails “fully searchable” with a Google-style search engine.

        The move provides much easier access to the stolen information. Searching the name of, for example, former Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, whose controversial comments were revealed by the hack, immediately yields nearly 5,700 results.

      • WikiLeaks Publishes Sony Documents

        WikiLeaks published more than 200,000 internal Sony Pictures Entertainment documents and e-mails, opening a new chapter in the hacking saga that enveloped Sony Corp.’s Hollywood studio late last year.

        The release includes 30,287 documents and 173,132 e-mails, sent from or received by more than 2,200 Sony Pictures e-mail addresses, according to a WikiLeaks statement Thursday. The material is searchable, giving legions of journalists and Sony competitors access to the information that was quickly taken down after it was first posted by hackers tied to North Korea.

      • WikiLeaks Creates Online Archive of Hacked Sony Documents

        Whistleblower site WikiLeaks on Thursday put hundreds of thousands of emails and documents from last year’s crippling cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment into a searchable online archive. It’s the latest blow for the entertainment and technology company struggling to get past the attack, which the company estimates caused millions in damage.

        The website founded by Julian Assange said that its database includes more than 170,000 emails from Sony Pictures and a subsidiary, plus more than 30,000 other documents.

        Sony Pictures blasted WikiLeaks for creating the archive, saying the website was helping the hackers disseminate stolen information.

Microsoft’s Multi-Dimensional Assault on Android/Linux: Extortion, Lobbying of Regulators, and Bribes

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fooled by Microsoft into treating Free/libre software as ‘abuse’

Margrethe Vestager

Summary: Microsoft’s vicious war on Linux (and Android in its current incarnation) takes more sophisticated — albeit illegal (as per the RICO Act) — forms

Using all sorts of proxies, such as TurboHercules a few years ago in Europe, Microsoft loves to attack the competition at a regulatory level. It even bribes some journalists (or lobbyists in disguise) to produce complementary dirt with with to bamboozle politicians and regulators. This is not new; this is not surprising. This is same old Microsoft. It’s an extension of AstroTurfing, which culminates in legal actions.

To quote this article from a few years back [hat tip Will Hill]:

Thomas Vinje, the founder of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), … “They have learned how to play the game in Europe,” Vinje said of Microsoft, which itself has been the target of antitrust regulators there. Microsoft has invested huge amounts in attacking its rivals, including Oracle and Google as well as IBM, in Brussels in recent years, he said.

A lot of readers must have heard by now about antitrust fire aimed at Google, or more specifically at Android. Google is the wrong target of course; as pointed out in some responses, there are perhaps 1,000 types of Android devices and over “18,000 Android Phone Models in the Wild,” according to Google (not exact quote). There’s no monopoly here and the code is Free software, so it’s not the same as Windows (where only one company controls the source code and controls the end product). As Google can defend itself just fine and we are not some kind of lawyers (having to speak to other non-technical lawyers), we are going to spare the counter arguments for now and instead focus on Microsoft's role in such action (Microsoft loves to hide behind proxies when it attacks Android).

“Using all sorts of proxies, such as TurboHercules a few years ago in Europe, Microsoft loves to attack the competition at a regulatory level.”A few days ago we wrote about a couple of lawyers staging action against Android apps in a lawsuit which they portrayed as a public action. Their goal, based on the article, was to push Microsoft apps into Android. They dropped their action only after Microsoft had managed to use patent extortion against Samsung to put Microsoft spyware inside Galaxy devices (the most widely used Android devices) and based on this new report, “Microsoft royalties dispute was settled in February and was swiftly followed by the bundling of Microsoft apps” (i.e. extortion by Microsoft leading to a ‘compromise’). The Microsoft-friendly The Verge does not tell the whole story. Microsoft is still a deeply criminal company that attacks Android/Linux and Free software using patents; by using threats of litigation it violates the law. This is clearly a crime based on readings of the RICO Act.

“And the EU concentrates anti-trust action on Google,” bemoans Will Hill. This could certainly be used as a timely decoy while Microsoft ‘rescues’ us from ‘evil’ Google. Do not forget how Microsoft actively attacks GNU/Linux, as we noted in the following series a month ago:

More extortion from Microsoft, much as we expected, is now going beyond Samsung, confirming what happened with Samsung in February and proving us right all along. Quoting the British press (yesterday): “A new report claims Microsoft hasn’t been offering Android device vendors any money to bundle its mobile apps on their phones and slabs; rather, it has offered to reduce the tolls it collects from the mobe-makers.

“Citing sources among supply chain players in China and Taiwan, DigiTimes Research says Redmond has offered to cut its patent licensing fees if Android vendors agree to ship their kit with Microsoft apps preinstalled, including OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, and in some cases Office.”

Here is the original report. It says: “According to Digitimes Research’s latest findings from Taiwan’s and China’s smartphone/tablet upstream supply chain, in exchange for hardware players to pre-install its software applications such as Office, OneDrive or Skype onto their Android-based devices, Microsoft is offering them discounts on the patent licensing fees it charges their Android devices.”

In less surprising news, which again proves us right all along, Microsoft and Cyanogen officially join forces. “After many rumors claimed that Microsoft would either buy or invest in Cyanogen,” says BGR, “the two companies on Thursday confirmed that they’ve formed a strategic partnership.” (Cyanogen is confirmed as a Microsoft Trojan horse also elsewhere, so it’s not merely a rumour)

So Cyanogen is now a Microsoft proxy. See our previous analysis of it. We got it 100% right, even months in advance. Microsoft is now advancing to yet more victims.

Rupert Murdoch gave money to Cyanogen and his Android-hostile newspaper is now attacking Android using the European probe, invoked to a large degree by Microsoft’s proxies network, which had lobbied Europe to launch antitrust action against Android for several years now.

To summarise what we have here, first there is blackmail from Microsoft, which says it “loves” (to extort) Linux. Microsoft is apparently so ‘nice’ towards Linux that it now seeks to preinstall Microsoft spyware or will sue those who resist, using software patents which it refuses to even name. “And now install our apps on CM and we will extort you less with software patents,” said Jesse Bufton. At the same time we have Free software facing antitrust charges due to a lot of Microsoft lobbying, as Glyn Moodt noted. “Part of a long predicted attempt to make free software illegal,” wrote Will Hill, “Calling free software cooperation, “dumping”.”

Here are some more articles about it [1, 2, 3]. Someone (maybe FSFE representatives) should explain the European regulators what Free software is and how it works. Currently, Microsoft lobbyists and proxies deceive them into the ludicrous idea of Free software ‘monopoly’.

Android is eating Microsoft’s lunch and getting Microsoft’s money (even in money processing machines), so no wonder Microsoft lobbies/begs so hard for the European authorities to harass Android, or by extension Google. Anybody who still thinks that Microsoft has become kinder is clearly not paying attention. Lawsuits by proxy, regulators misled, patent lawsuits etc. are no kindness.

The Mafia says, “do as we say and our “protection money” demands will vanish/decrease” and in very much the same way Microsoft now deals with Android backers. These are the tricks of a cartel, which under RICO Act rules should be considered a crime. If Google’s motto was “do no evil”, then Microsoft’s motto should be “always be evil”.

Will Hill remarks on the idea that Microsoft will treat more gently companies that put Microsoft spyware inside Android “They simply won’t ruin them today,” he stresses, “with lawsuits and breakage in Windows and other Microsoft properties.”

As long as Microsoft is connected to (and serves) evil monopolistic/imperialistic apparatuses like the NSA don’t expect it to be subjected to laws such as the RICO Act. Microsoft is now just subjected to the law of rule (by surveillance, espionage, back doors etc.), not the rule of law. Microsoft is a political company and like the country it is strongly connected to (staff overlap), it uses blackmail to get its way and always enjoys impunity. Google does not deal with an ordinary company when it competes with Microsoft; antitrust complaints not over privacy but over Free software, and a few other things by extension. This has become a political battle because Microsoft cannot win technical battles.

Microsoft’s Plot to Associate Windows with ‘Open Source’ is Proving Effective, Despite Being Just a Big Lie

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Windows at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” ~Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels

Summary: A look at the latest headlines which can lead to a false perception that Microsoft is now in bed with ‘Open Source’

A couple of days ago we wrote about Microsoft’s successful attempts to associate Windows with "Open Source" (Free/libre software renamed) so as to get chosen by politicians who pursue “Open Source”. Mono has become a key part in the plot to openwash .NET and Windows development (proprietary), whereas something which we called googlebombing has been used to give the impression that Windows is going “Open Source”. Even more than a week later (it started with Condé Nast’s Cade Metz) there are still headlines along those lines. One GNU/Linux proponent says that “Linux is not going anywhere, no matter how progressive Microsoft thinks it will become.” He (Nestor) said, quite correctly in fact, that the “power of the Linux platform doesn’t reside in the fact that it’s open source, although it does play an important part. It’s all about the community of developers who want to make things better, and most of the time they don’t want anything in return, other than recognition for their work. This is not something that you see in the Windows dev community that aims to make money.” The headline is a bit loaded; it says “Why It Doesn’t Matter for Linux If Windows Becomes Open Source” as if there is actually a chance of it happening; this serves Microsoft’s googlebombing strategy. So does Nestor E. Arellano, who ended up reposting the Microsoft openwashing from J. Peter Bruzzese, the Microsoft MVP who recently became IDG staff too (for Microsoft promotion). IDG is openwashing Windows and so do other circles. Without opening up a single line of code Microsoft has now left many people with the impression that Windows is “Open Source” or is going “Open Source”. How cleverly-implemented a propaganda campaign.

“Without opening up a single line of code Microsoft has now left many people with the impression that Windows is “Open Source” or is going “Open Source”.”For those who think that Windows is “Open Source”-friendly, read this new rant from ownCloud. Despite SUSE/Novell roots, the project is dumping Windows. In its own words: “The Windows Server platform has caused a lot of headaches and has required many work-arounds. For one, there is only support for 32bit PHP on Windows Server, so it is not able to reliably deal with files larger than 2 Gigabyte – a pretty fundamental limitation. On top of that, the Windows platform suffers from file name encoding problems that can not be dealt with properly, causing file syncing problems especially with the client and occasional file operation fails, broken user avatars and even issues with the handling of encryption keys – all things that have the potential to lose user data.”

Here is an article about it which said: “On April 15, the development team behind the powerful ownCloud self-hosted cloud server, have announced that the upcoming ownCloud Server 8.1 application will no longer support the Microsoft Windows operating system.”

So, not only is Microsoft Windows not “Open Source”; it is also hostile towards or compatible with “Open Source” applications. The world does not need “Open Source” Windows. It doesn’t need Windows at all.

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Microsoft Windows Remotely Crashed, Remotely Hijacked, But Still No Logo and No Branding for the Bugs

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Windows maintains its reputation as a back doors haven, but the media is still not highlighting the severity of this issue, instead focusing on accidental bugs in Free software, even very old (and already fixed) bugs

AS our previous post stated, there is an effort to keep insecurity debates around Free software, even if by going a whole year back to the "Heartbleed" brand. “More branded bug FUD” can be found here, according to a reader of ours. So why are journalists still so stubborn and so eager to keep us talking about Free software as the risk when Microsoft deliberately makes its software insecure as if the priority is to keep remote access (by anyone) in tact (some countries now recognise this)? Why are there no brands for Microsoft's critical bugs these days? Free software is a big threat to the Security State, not to security, so a large number of moles can be suspected or even assumed. How many SSL flaws have already affected Microsoft and how many of them got “branded” in the same way as the OpenSSL bug? Some journalists don’t even name Windows, to spare Microsoft the embarrassment.

“Some journalists don’t even name Windows, to spare Microsoft the embarrassment.”Another back door/bug door in Windows has just been found. As iophk told us yesterday: “No logo or name?” No, it’s Windows. Remote access by anyone is a given any day.

As this article noted the other day, “Microsoft abruptly ended advance notification of security patches in January.”

In other words, Microsoft does not even inform those affected by serious bugs anymore. And in other news (yesterday), “HTTP ‘pings of death’ are spewing across web to kill Windows servers” (not the first of this kind).

To quote the article: “The SANS Institute has warned Windows IIS web server admins to get patching as miscreants are now exploiting a flaw in the software to crash websites.”

“For Microsoft,” says an IDG report, “the vulnerabilities just keep popping up, and appear to be surfacing more quickly than ever before.

“Like last month, Microsoft issued a fairly large number of security bulletins for April Patch Tuesday—11 bulletins addressing 26 vulnerabilities. Last month brought 14 bulletins from Microsoft, covering 43 vulnerabilities.”

Remember that Microsoft does not even report all the vulnerabilities. It games the system by making up bogus numbers (silent patches).

Black Duck’s Latest Self-Promotional Propaganda (for Proprietary Software) Still Fools Journalists

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stop treating Black Duck like a Free/Open Source software (FOSS) expert

Ducks

Summary: Under the traditionally misleading title “Future of Open Source” Black Duck expresses its desire for proprietary software sales, salivating over fearful managers who may get bamboozled into buying the patents-’protected’ Black Duck ‘product’

THE nasty proprietary software firm called Black Duck is doing it again. Not enough journalists have grasped what this firm is all about.

ECT has just given a platform (again) to this FUD firm and so has SJVN in ZDNet. Do journalists not realise that the so-called “Future of Open Source Survey” (we wrote about this misnomer before [1, 2, 3]) is conducted by a proprietary software company (anti-copyleft)? They should stop pretending they’re a FOSS firm, they are a proprietary software company with software patents. It’s a company that essentially came from Microsoft and continues to serve Microsoft’s agenda in many ways. When Black Duck says many companies use FOSS it’s just basically telling its investors, “look, we have lots of market share to which to sell proprietary software blobs to.”

“These firms don’t produce any Free software, they merely exploit it and spread fear of it, in order for them to make money.”When people like Katherine Noyes write about it in IDG they legitimise Black Duck and have us listen to some proprietary softare company with anti-GPL roots as if we are going to learn about FOSS from its foes. There have been some more coverage of this from Microsoft-friendly and Microsoft-hostile sources. Black Duck writes about FOSS being widespread for the same reason anti-swine flu vaccine manufacturer would tell us swine flu spreads and is a huge/growing risk.

Here is the press release [1, 2] that got it started, preceded by this this shameless self promotion. The Linux Foundation gave spotlight to the former OSDL head who now works for Black Duck. The Linux Foundation did this without disclosing Black Duck payments to the Linux Foundation.

Incidentally, Veracode, which recently had its key staff join Black Duck, keeps shoving “Heartbleed” nonsense (branding for FUD) into headlines again, joining the new chorus that keeps "Heartbleed" in the public's mind.

These firms don’t produce any Free software, they merely exploit it and spread fear of it, in order for them to make money.

Just because a firm has access to source code or talks about source code doesn’t mean it’s a FOSS proponent. Today in New Zealand we see the manager of a proprietary software company, Github (just monetising FOSS/Git), defending proprietary software. One needs to be careful in distinguishing Free software proponents from Free software parasites, especially those whose business model depends on creating fear (or increasing fear) of Free software.

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