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01.23.17

Links 23/1/2017: Wine Releases, Microsoft Layoffs

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Wikimedia in Google Code-in 2016

    Google Code-in 2016 has come to an end. Wikimedia was one of the 17 organizations who took part to offer mentors and tasks to 14-17 year old students exploring free and open source software projects via small tasks.

  • Events

    • All the videos from Linux.conf.au 2017
    • Keeping Linux Great
    • Building communities

      This week, I finally got time to start pushing forward with this year’s edition of foss-north. It will be held on April 26 in Gothenburg and it is a great opportunity to visit Sweden and Gothenburg and mingle with the FOSS community. We’ve already confirmed Lydia Pintscher and Lennart Poettering as speakers. If you want to speak the call for paper has just opened and will run until March 12. Tickets sales will open shortly too, as well as the call for sponsors.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • So you want to create a new official OpenStack project…

      OpenStack development is organized around a mission, a governance model and a set of principles. Project teams apply for inclusion, and the Technical Committee (TC), elected by all OpenStack contributors, judges whether that team work helps with the OpenStack mission and follows the OpenStack development principles. If it does, the team is considered part of the OpenStack development community, and its work is considered an official OpenStack project.

      The main effect of being official is that it places the team work under the oversight of the Technical Committee. In exchange, recent contributors to that team are considered Active Technical Contributors (ATCs), which means they can participate in the vote to elect the Technical Committee.

    • Why you should hire upstream
    • The OpenStack Interoperability Challenge Update: Phase Two Progress

      In 2016 the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge was originally announced by IBM GM Don Rippert at the OpenStack Austin Summit. This effort was the first initiative to use the deployment and execution of enterprise workloads using automated deployment tools as the means of proving interoperability across OpenStack cloud environments. The first phase of the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge culminated with a Barcelona Summit Keynote demo comprised of 16 vendors all running the same enterprise workload and automation tools to illustrate that OpenStack enables workload portability across public and private OpenStack clouds. Here is a short trip down memory lane:

    • OpenStack’s Stewardship Working Group and what it can do for you

      Stewardship is defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. OpenStack Foundation community members formed a Stewardship Working Group to ensure that “people at the bottom and the boundaries of the organization choice over how to serve a customer, a citizen, a community.”

    • Tips for instance configuration, creating a new project, and more OpenStack news
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • TrueOS Making Use Of OpenRC Init System, Faster Boot Times

      For those still looking to escape systemd, the BSDs remain free and the FreeBSD-based TrueOS is currently working on making use of OpenRC.

      OpenRC is the dependency-based init system used by NetBSD, Alpine Linux, Gentoo, and other select operating systems. TrueOS is using OpenRC for managing system services rather than FreeBSD’s RC.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Charlie Shrem and Richard Stallman to Speak at Central European Bitcoin Expo

      The Central European Bitcoin Expo (CEBE) is setting up to be one of the largest conferences to take place in Central Europe. Taking place in Vienna from May 31 to June 1, the expo will feature notable speakers from within the cryptocurrency space, which will provide insight into technology, international legislation and the future of virtual currency in Europe and abroad.

      Recently added to the list of speakers for the event were Charlie Shrem and Richard Stallman. These two virtual currency advocates will be joined by the already extensive list of speakers to be featured at the expo including, Dan Held, Adam Vaziri, David Johnson, Kingsley Edwards, Vitalik Buterin and many more.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Why Tolkien’s fantastic imaginary languages have had more impact than Esperanto

    JRR Tolkien began writing The Fall of Gondolin while on medical leave from the First World War, 100 years ago this month. It is the first story in what would become his legendarium – the mythology that underpins The Lord of the Rings. But behind the fiction was his interest in another epic act of creation: the construction of imaginary languages.

  • It’s time to spring-clean your IT contracts

    The start of a new year is a time for review and planning, in business, as well as in our personal lives. It’s likely that you will be focused on finalising your company’s objectives and strategy for the year ahead. But it’s also important to consider whether the tools and processes that you have in place remain fit for purpose – and that includes your contract templates and contractual risk and compliance processes.

    When it comes to the law, “the only thing that is constant is change”. Without fail, each year brings the introduction of new legislation, case law and regulatory guidance that may have an impact on your contracts – whether it’s the terms of use or privacy policy for your website or app, or the contract terms that you use when supplying or purchasing technology services. Therefore, it’s important to carry out a regular review of your contract terms (and any existing contracts) to make sure that they remain compliant with law and are future-proofed as much as possible in terms of new legal and regulatory developments that you know are around the corner.

  • Chinese investors buy owner of PCWorld, IDC

    International Data Group, the owner of PCWorld magazine, several other tech journals and the IDC market research organisation, has been bought by two Chinese investors.

    China Oceanwide Holdings Group and IDG Capital (no affiliate of IDG) have paid between US$500 million and US$1 billion for IDG sans its high-performance computing research businesses.

    The two Chinese entities had made separate bids but were told by investment banker Goldman Sachs to join hands. The sale of IDG has been cleared by the US Committee on Foreign Investment and should be completed by end of the first quarter this year.

    China Oceanwide Holdings Group, founded by chairman Zhiqiang Lu, is active in financial services, real estate, technology, and media among others.

  • Oracle lays off more than 1,000 employees

    According to the Mercury News, Oracle is laying off approximately 450 employees in its Santa Clara hardware systems division. Reports at The Layoff, a discussion board for technology business firings, claim about 1,800 employees company-wide are being pink-slipped.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • City devastated by OxyContin use sues Purdue Pharma, claims drugmaker put profits over citizens’ welfare

      A Washington city devastated by black-market OxyContin filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the painkiller’s manufacturer Thursday, alleging that the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to “reap large and obscene profits” and demanding it foot the bill for widespread opioid addiction in the community.

      The suit by Everett, a city of 100,000 north of Seattle, was prompted by a Times investigation last year. The newspaper revealed that drugmaker Purdue Pharma had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking across the nation but in many cases did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills.

    • On his first day in office, Trump’s top issues don’t include health care

      President Trump’s election campaign focused on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed “Obamacare.” But on his first day as president of the United States, health care didn’t appear to be a priority — at least, not according to his website or inaugural address.

      In fact, it wasn’t until the news broke on Friday evening that Trump signed an executive order to “minimize the economic burden” of Obamacare that we got even a hint of his plans. What those might be, though, are still far from clear.

    • 1,000 days of toxic drinking water in Flint

      It was later determined that the Flint River water was not being treated properly, and that lead from aging water pipes was bleeding into the water supply. Lead is a deadly neurotoxin, and exposure is especially dangerous for children, who may experience stunted growth, behavioral problems and neurological damage. During the crisis, 12 people died from Legionnaires disease, while residents, including young children, were continually exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

      If phosphate had been place in the water at a cost of $200 a day, the leaching would not have occurred, according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. The city would switch back to the Detroit-supplied Lake Huron water in October 2015.

      The city’ drinking water supply is improving, according to Marc Edwards, a researcher at Virginia Tech who was instrumental in first identifying the contamination issues.

    • Scott Pruitt Is Bad for Your Health

      On Wednesday, during the confirmation hearing for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, there was a good deal of talk about “balance.” Pruitt, who sued the agency he’s slated to lead 14 times during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general, spoke of a “false paradigm” stipulating “that if you’re pro-energy you’re anti-environment, and if you’re pro-environment you’re anti-energy.” His record, he insisted, revealed a public servant who’d stood up for his state’s interests—which at times meant suing federal regulators, and at other times meant taking on polluters. He promised to uphold the EPA’s “core mission” of “protecting the American people through common sense and lawful regulations.”

      But Pruitt was hard-pressed to identify cases in which he’d stood up for environmental and health protections and against corporations. One of the environmental successes he cited in his opening statement concerned pollution in the Illinois River watershed from chicken manure. When he assumed office, Oklahoma was suing several major poultry producers in an attempt to get them to pay for the damage and change their waste-dumping practices. Pruitt, who’d received at least $40,000 from executives at the poultry companies in question during his election campaign, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that he resolved the lawsuit by crafting “an historic agreement to clean up that river.” In reality the agreement was toothless, as The New York Times reported recently, amounting to a decision to “conduct a study of the appropriate level” of pollutants in the watershed.

      Pruitt was asked repeatedly about his cooperation with energy companies in suing federal agencies, and in sending letters they’d written under his own name, while also collecting significant campaign contributions from those same businesses. In his defense, Pruitt argued that what was good for industry was good for Oklahoma’s economy and its people. It was New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker who challenged him most successfully on this point. Booker asked if Pruitt knew how many children in Oklahoma have asthma; he didn’t. The figure is 111,000, or one in 10. Booker pointed out that the vast majority of lawsuits Pruitt filed against the EPA were efforts to undermine limits on air pollution, which directly affects asthma.

    • Burned toast can increase risk of cancer, UK scientists say

      Potatoes and bread cooked at high temperatures for a long time could increase the risk of cancer in people who eat them regularly, British government scientists said on Monday.

      The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said a substance called acrylamide, produced when starchy foods are roasted, fried or grilled for too long at high temperatures, has been found in animal studies to increase the risk of cancer.

  • Security

    • Your Computer’s Clipboard is a Security Problem – Fix it in Linux With xsel and cron

      Any program you run can read your clipboard, and its contents linger until another copy event or a reboot. Modern browsers enable multiple ways for malicious websites to read the clipboard contents (or add items in), so eliminate the worry by using a script with cron that auto-clears your clipboard regularly.

    • The long road to getrandom() in glibc

      The GNU C library (glibc) 2.25 release is expected to be available at the beginning of February; among the new features in this release will be a wrapper for the Linux getrandom() system call. One might well wonder why getrandom() is only appearing in this release, given that kernel support arrived with the 3.17 release in 2014 and that the glibc project is supposed to be more receptive to new features these days. A look at the history of this particular change highlights some of the reasons why getting new features into glibc is still hard.

    • Maintainers for desktop “critical infrastructure”

      That work is great, but it is limited by a number of factors: funding and the interests of its members, primarily. Few of the companies involved have much, if any, interest in the Linux desktop. Some might argue that there aren’t any companies with that particular interest, though that would be disingenuous. In any case, though, desktop Linux is a community-supported endeavor, at least more so than server or cloud Linux, which likely means some things are slipping through the cracks.

      Kaskinen left his job in 2015 to be able to spend more time on PulseAudio (and some audio packages that he maintains for OpenEmbedded). For the last four months or so, he has been soliciting funds on Patreon. Unlike Kickstarter and other similar systems, Patreon is set up to provide ongoing funding, rather than just a chunk of money for a particular feature or project. Donors pledge a monthly amount to try to support someone’s work going forward.

    • Important CentOS 7 Linux Kernel Security Patch Released, 3 Vulnerabilities Fixed

      CentOS developer and maintainer Johnny Hughes is announcing the availability of a new, important Linux kernel security update for the CentOS 7 series of operating systems.

      CentOS 7 is derived from the freely distributed source code of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system series, which means that it also benefits of its security patches. According to the recently published RHSA-2017:0086-1 security advisory, which was marked as important, three security vulnerabilities are patched.

    • Trump’s New Cyber-Security Advisor Runs a Very, Very Insecure Website

      According to Phonos Group founder Dan Tentler, Giuliani’s security company website runs a very, very old Joomla distribution, an open-source, free-to-use CMS.

      That’s Joomla 3.1.1, released in April 2013. Since then, two major zero-days have plagued Joomla, so grave that they could allow attackers to take full control over a Joomla installation. Those are CVE-2016-9838 and CVE-2015-8562.

      But that’s not the worse of it. The Joomla admin panel login page is also freely available, meaning anyone could access it and attempt to brute-force the admin password.

    • Reminder: Microsoft to no longer update original Windows 10 release after March 26 [Ed: Microsoft will leave even more Vista 10 back doors open, unless you install the latest doors]

      As Microsoft noted last year, the company plans to update only two Current Branch for Business versions of Windows 10 at any given time.

    • St. Louis’ public library computers hacked for ransom [iophk: “Those who installed Windows on them have not been brought to justice”]

      Hackers have infected every public computer in the St. Louis Public Library system, stopping all book borrowing and cutting off internet access to those who rely on it for computers.

      The computer system was hit by ransomware, a particularly nasty type of computer virus that encrypts computer files.

      This form of attack renders computers unusable — unless victims are willing to pay an extortion fee and obtain a key to unlock the machines.

    • Microsoft Targets Chrome Users With Windows 10 Pop-up Ad

      Microsoft really wants you to use its software products as well as running Windows 10, and that includes the Edge browser. But it can’t stop you choosing to use an alternative web browser. However, if you opt to use Chrome, then expect to start seeing adverts right on your Windows desktop.

    • United Airlines Domestic Flights Grounded for 2 Hours by Computer Outage

      All of United Airlines’ domestic flights were grounded for more than two hours Sunday night because of a computer outage, the Federal Aviation Administration said as scores of angry travelers sounded off on social media.

    • There’s no glory in patching

      Regular patching is essential but not without risks. Missing a critical patch is an easy way of getting your service compromised but insufficient testing is an even easier way of getting it to fall over. Here at drie we talk a lot about why trying to build your own infrastructure around AWS can be, to put it mildly, a bit of a pain. Today I’d like to go a little deeper on one issue most people encounter when going it alone in AWS and why you’re better off making it someone else’s problem. While it may seem like a mundane concern, keeping up to date with the latest patches and security fixes for your dependencies is a significant undertaking and neglecting server patches is a swift route to getting your infrastructure hacked.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Theresa May ‘faith’ in Trident after test ‘malfunction’

      Theresa May says she has “absolute faith” in the UK’s nuclear weapons system despite reports that an unarmed missile went off course during a test.

      The Sunday Times says the missile, fired in June, veered off course, weeks before a crucial Commons vote on Trident’s future.

      When questioned by the BBC, Mrs May repeatedly refused to say if she knew about the misfire ahead of the vote.

      Nicola Sturgeon said it was a “hugely serious issue”.

      Scotland’s First Minister, who is a passionate opponent of Trident, tweeted: “There should be full disclosure of what happened, who knew what/when, and why the House of Commons wasn’t told.”

      Meanwhile Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it called for “a serious discussion”.

      He told Sky News: “It’s a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction, and while it wasn’t armed, goodness knows what the consequences of that could have been.”

    • Downing Street ‘covered up serious Trident missile malfunction’ weeks before crucial Commons vote

      Downing Street has been accused of covering up a Trident missile malfunction weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of the submarine-based missile system.

      The Sunday Times reports that a Trident II D5 missile test ended in failure after it was launched from the British submarine HMS Vengeance off the coast of Florida in June last year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Solar Employs More Workers Than Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Combined

      U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

      6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth.

    • All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website

      At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.

      It’s customary for www.whitehouse.gov to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. To reiterate: It is normal that the site is completely new; it is notable that climate change is not mentioned on any one of Trump’s new pages.

    • Sea levels ‘could rise higher than a three-storey building due to climate change’

      The last time ocean temperatures were this warm, sea levels were up to nine metres higher than they are today, according to the findings of a new study, which were described as “extremely worrying” by one expert.

      The researchers took samples of sediment from 83 different sites around the world, and these “natural thermometers” enabled them to work out what the sea surface temperature had been more than 125,000 years ago. This revealed that over the course of some 4,000 years the oceans had got about 0.5C warmer, reaching about the same temperatures as are found now – after a similar increase achieved largely as a result of human-induced climate change in little over a century.

    • Indonesia to fight against forest fires starting early this year

      January is not over yet, but two regencies in Riau province have already declared emergency alert statuses to tackle any potential forest fires, which could get out of control when the weather gets drier in upcoming months. The decision made by Rokan Hulu regency and Dumai city to raise their alert statuses, which would allow the central government to send aid to the regions, has been lauded by government officials in Jakarta. Indonesia has learned the hard way that failing to act as fast as possible to address forest fires would cost it dearly. In 2015, massive forest fires ravaged Sumatra and Kalimantan and caused diplomatic tensions as cities in Malaysia and Singapore, were covered by smoky haze for weeks. With the weather in 2017 expected to be drier than in 2016, the country could not afford to risk another disaster. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has called on other fire-prone regions in Sumatra and Kalimantan to follow the initiatives of Rokan and Dumai before the dry season starts in late January and runs until the end of March, the period hot spots could quickly turn into fires if treated late. A break from fires is expected to take place between April and May this year when rain pours down on the country, but threats of fire could recur from June to late October in haze-producing regions like Sumatra, Riau and Kalimantan, said BNPT spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. By setting emergency standby statuses early, regions could ask for aid…more detail

    • CU Boulder professor helps assess danger of primates’ extinction

      Three-quarters of the world’s primates are declining in population and 60 percent are threatened with extinction, according to a new study to which a University of Colorado professor is a contributing author.

      “At the rate we’re going, we’re not taking care of our home very well,” said study coauthor Joanna Lambert, a professor in CU’s Department of Biological Anthropology. “The next few years will be critical.”

      The study, “Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter,” was published Wednesday in Science Advances.

    • Government ‘tried to bury’ its own alarming report on climate change

      The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.

      The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.

      But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.

  • Finance

    • HUD suspends FHA mortgage insurance rate cut an hour after Trump takes office

      An hour after Donald Trump assumed the presidency Friday, his administration indefinitely suspended a pending rate cut for mortgage insurance required for FHA-backed loans, which are popular with first-time home buyers and those with poor credit.

      The move by the Department of Housing and Urban Development — one of the first acts of Trump’s administration — reversed a policy announced in the waning days of the Obama presidency that would have trimmed insurance premiums for typical borrowers by hundreds of dollars a year.

      Some Republicans expressed concern that the rate cut could cost taxpayers if the loans started to go sour and the Federal Housing Administration was unable to cover the losses. The agency needed a $1.7-billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury in 2013 after it expanded its role last decade after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

    • Cross-party group of MPs plots to halt hard Brexit plans

      A powerful cross-party group of MPs is plotting to thwart Theresa May’s attempts to drive through a hard Brexit amid rising fears that UK businesses could soon have to pay huge export tariffs on goods they sell to the EU.

    • Lloyds of London are leaving London

      After three centuries, the Lloyds of London will no longer be “of London.” The company is moving its headquarters, its CEO Inga Beale confirmed on Friday.

      Talking to Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Beale confirmed that following Prime Minister May’s announcement last Tuesday, Lloyds was going ahead with its contingency plan.

      Many insurance companies will be moving a big part of their operations, since passporting rights and licensing are key to the sectors’ business in Europe. Lloyds stands to lose as much as 11% of its premiums that come from Europe or little under 1bn Euros.

    • Sneak Preview Of Trumpism In Action

      Trump can break trade deals and impose tariffs but businesses can relocate to continue enjoying free trade and avoiding tariffs. Trump urged UK to jump off a cliff with Brexit and now UK is reaping their own whirlwind.

    • Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending

      A report in the Hill details the extent to which the incoming administration of Donald Trump wants to slash the federal budget. Big cuts to major government departments are mentioned, as are cuts to cultural programs that receive federal funding.

      “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized,” the Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, “while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” In total, the administration aims to cut spending by $10.5 trillion over the next decade.

    • Trump team prepares dramatic cuts

      Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending.

      Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

      The changes they propose are dramatic.

      The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

    • President Trump’s first White House petition: release your tax returns

      That didn’t take long. A petition for new US president Donald Trump to release his tax returns has already appeared on whitehouse.gov, the administration’s official website. In fact, it’s the first petition to appear on the newly-updated website.

    • The Great Trump Heist Is Underway

      Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul and reality-television superstar, descended the steps of the Capitol around 11 am to take the oath of office as president of the United States. An audacious looting of the country had begun.

      In attendance were several corporate titans on the verge of the biggest merger and acquisition of all time—the ExxonMobil CEO who may soon take control of the country’s foreign relations, the fast-food CEO ready to take over the Labor Department, and the handful of powerful Wall Street titans who have been appointed to almost every critical economic post. Not least is Trump himself, who brazenly decided to essentially remain in control of his corporation while simultaneously directing the affairs of the country.

      In true Trump style, he painted a picture perfectly at odds with this reality during his inauguration speech. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” Trump declared. “Washington flourished—but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered—but the jobs left, and the factories closed.” “That all changes—starting right here, and right now,” Trump declared.

    • Dollar slump; Samsung’s blame game; McDonald’s earnings

      U.S. stock futures are declining.

      Investors are putting their money into safe haven sovereign bonds, causing yields to fall across the board.

      Markets had been rallying since Trump’s election in November. All the main U.S. indexes hit all-time highs earlier this year.

    • Putting Rubber On The Road

      Trump is serious about wrecking the world’s trading system. After all, his business largely doesn’t import or export, so what does he care? Here is the first evidence of a critical conflict of interest. While he’s actively sabotaging world trade and global businesses, he’s more concerned that the press report extravagant claims about attendance at his inauguration than dealing with important issues, like running the government.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump begins with action on Obamacare, regulation freeze and confirmations

      resident Trump spent the evening of his first day in office ordering all federal departments and agencies to find ways to ease the economic burden of President Obama’s health care plan as Congress works to repeal and replace it.

      Vice President Pence swore in Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ordered government agencies to freeze any regulations that haven’t already been published.

      “Thank you, it’s a great day,” Trump said after the signings in the Oval Office, before leaving for a set of inaugural balls.

      The first-day executive actions served to signal a marked departure from the policies of the Obama administration but provided little indication of the direction Trump would chart.

    • Trump draws far smaller inaugural crowd than Obama

      Far fewer people attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday than his predecessor’s swearing-in eight years ago.

      Photos of the National Mall from President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 show a teeming crowd stretching from the West Front of the US Capitol all the way to the Washington Monument. Photos taken from the same position on Friday show large swaths of empty space on the Mall.

    • From Obama to Trump: No Ordinary Lurch

      One thing to remember about Trump’s flagrant defiance of institutional norms is that it has worked for him. Whether or not he’s correct that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any votes, it’s certainly true that his supporters on the Mall today saw his political incorrectness as a feature rather than a bug. “He’s not the most polished guy we’ve ever had, but he says it like it is, and for a lot of us that’s a breath of fresh air,” says Gerald Turner, who owns an asphalt business in Knoxville. Turner suggested that Trump’s unorthodox style could even help him unite the country in a way that Bush and Obama couldn’t: “I know the press doesn’t think that, but the press has been wrong a few times, hasn’t it?”

    • NAFTA

      The complete inability of Trump to remember the bad old days of trade wars means USA is bound to bring them back and we all lose. Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. What a waste of time. I was there. Those weren’t the good old days. The enemy of jobs these days is lack of education and an inability of products of the USAian education system which cranks out people suited to the old economy rather than the future. I’m sure DeVos will wreck the rickety education system with her war on universal public education. Already teachers aren’t paid enough and she wants to pay them less unless they are working in schools reserved for her rich friends. Expect some circling of the drain before USA goes down hard with self-inflicted wounds.

    • Pamela Anderson: Hillary’s ‘Truthful Words’ Influenced Election, Not WikiLeaks

      Actress Pamela Anderson said President-elect Trump should pardon WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, adding that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, influenced the outcome of the presidential election, not the document-leaking website.

      WikiLeaks posted hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Podesta’s account during the presidential race between Clinton and Trump.

      Earlier this month, Anderson wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to pardon Assange.

      “He is protecting and informing us all. He has no agenda but to help end corruption of governments and empower people,” she wrote to Obama.

    • Trump claims media ‘dishonest’ over crowd photos

      President Donald Trump has accused the media of dishonesty over the number of people attending his inauguration.

      Mr Trump was speaking after photographs were published appearing to show more people attended the inauguration of his predecessor Barack Obama in 2009.

      Mr Trump’s press secretary said it had been “the largest audience to ever see an inauguration” even though figures he cited add up to under 750,000 people.

      He said the new US administration would hold the media accountable.

      On Saturday, millions in the US and around the world took part in protests to highlight women’s rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration.

    • We could’ve avoided President Donald Trump. Now, we must learn the lessons

      The road to President Trump was long and bumpy. There were many turns not taken, countless alternative routes that would have spared us this outcome. Instead, we kept going, corruption, infighting and sheer obliviousness stopping us changing course.

      What could have been different? There are a thousand possibilities. You could start with the long decay of the US news media into a branch of the entertainment industry, primed to seize on Trump’s celebrity. A wiser society would have demanded better, resisted more vocally, criticised more intelligently.

      Or the rise of Silicon Valley, its hypercapitalist, libertarian ethos helping to weaken traditional sources of information. We now suffer pandemic attention deficit disorder, fake news, hackable everything, cyberwar, and social media bullies, of whom Trump is bully-in-chief. An internet run as a public commons rather than an ad-driven free-for-all would have had very different social consequences. We missed that turning long ago.

    • Donald Trump Quoted Batman Villain Bane in Speech, Briefly Swiped 2009 Barack Obama Inauguration Photo

      Bane lives?! Donald Trump accidentally quoted Batman villain Bane during his inauguration speech in Washington, D.C., on Friday, January 20. Watch the mashup in the video above!

      Trump’s remarks were similar to what Bane (Tom Hardy) said to the people of Gotham before he viciously took control of their city.

    • Donald Trump Plagiarized Bane in His Inaugural Speech

      Donald Trump officially became president today, and in an inaugural address he promised many things, some of which may sound familiar, because they were directly lifted from the D.C. comics villain Bane.

      Compare Trump’s declaration that, “Today’s ceremony, however has very special meaning. Because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you… the people. For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”

    • Some Trump protesters to face rioting charges

      Federal prosecutors say most of the approximately 230 protesters arrested on Inauguration Day will be charged with felony rioting.

      The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The people who were arrested are appearing in court on Saturday in Washington.

    • Some things never change! Obama heads back out on the golf course for a round on exclusive estate owned by billionaire Larry Ellison on his first full day of retirement (at least he’ll have time to work on his putting)
    • With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift

      President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

      In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

      He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

    • White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds

      “That’s what you guys should be writing and covering,” new White House press secretary Sean Spicer angrily lectured reporters on Saturday during his first remarks from the podium of the press briefing room.

      He was referring to the delay in Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, but the comment came after a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.

    • Trump’s Flack Said a Lot of Wrong Stuff. Nerds Ain’t Having It

      Excuse me, are you the incoming spokesperson for President Donald Trump? You are? Great. You should hear this: If you try to mislead the American people you will incur the ridicule of Twitter, period. They will take you to task—and they’ll do it with Star Trek references.

      First off, some background: Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference—or, maybe more properly, issued a statement—and instead of discussing Trump’s speech to the CIA or the Women’s March events worldwide, Spicer attacked the media for their reporting of the crowd numbers from Inauguration Day. He said magnetometers kept crowds off the Mall in Washington (not true) and that newfangled, never-before-used ground coverings made the empty spaces look more sparse (also not true). And Spicer added that “this was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

    • Trump team doubles down on media criticism

      Members of Donald Trump’s team continued Sunday to blast the media for its coverage of the crowd sizes at the president’s inauguration.

      Trump’s top aide and the White House chief of staff took to the Sunday show circuit to defend the president and White House press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom accused the press of lying about the number of people who attended the inauguration.

      Trump’s team hit the media Sunday for focusing on crowd sizes, and accused members of the press of trying to delegitimize his presidency.

      Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Spicer provided “alternative facts” to reporters during his press briefing on Saturday afternoon.

    • Donald Trump’s presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway says Sean Spicer gave ‘alternative facts’ at first press briefing

      When questioned on why Mr Spicer provided a ‘falsehood’ about crowd size at the Inauguration, Ms Conway responded that the press were being ‘overly dramatic’

    • Kellyanne Conway: lies are “alternative facts” and if the press says otherwise, there’s gonna be trouble

      Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer inaugurated his first day on the job by telling easily falsifiable lies about the relative sizes of the Trump inauguration crowds and those of the Obama administration.

      To its credit, the press has responded with vigor: the New York Times called Spicer’s statements false claims (though stopped short of calling them lies).

      When asked to explain why Spicer devoted the president’s first press conference to lying about petty bullshit like crowd-sizes, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted that Spicer’s remarks were not lies, but were, rather, “alternative facts.” She then threatened the press if they failed to accept this, saying “If we’re going to keep referring to the press secretary in those types of terms I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”

    • White House website touts Melania Trump’s modeling and jewelry line

      Visitors to the newly revamped White House website get more than a simple rundown of first lady Melania Trump’s charitable works and interests — they also get a list of her magazine cover appearances and details on her jewelry line at QVC.

    • Donald Trump Fires All Foreign US Ambassadors

      Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States, all foreign ambassadors were fired and with no concrete replacement ambassadors lined up.

      Mr Trump had demanded that every ambassador in countries all over the world, who had been appointed by former President Barack Obama, were told to leave their offices by midday on 20 January and with no grace period.

      His transition team had said on 23 December there would be “no exceptions” for ambassadors requesting to extend their postings past Inauguration day, in contrast with other Presidents, even for ambassadors with young children.

    • The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun

      The effort to impeach President Donald John Trump is already underway.

      At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment went live at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House.

      The organizers behind the campaign, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, are hinging their case on Trump’s insistence on maintaining ownership of his luxury hotel and golf course business while in office. Ethics experts have warned that his financial holdings could potentially lead to constitutional violations and undermine public faith in his decision-making.

    • There’s Already a Campaign to Impeach President Donald Trump

      Two civil rights groups trying to boot President Donald Trump from the nation’s highest office have launched an online campaign to get the brand new commander-in-chief impeached.

      Their website, www.impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org, went live on Friday just as Trump was officially sworn in. It is run by two groups, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, which believe Trump’s possible conflicts of interest are grounds for his ouster, the Washington Post reports.

      “The nation is now witnessing a massive corruption of the presidency, far worse than Watergate,” the campaign’s website says. “From the moment he assumed the office, President Donald Trump has been in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. The President is not above the law. We will not allow President Trump to profit from the presidency at the expense of our democracy.”

    • The Women’s March movement is taking place on every continent, even Antarctica

      Today, millions of women across the world are taking part in the Women’s March movement, to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.” The marches are taking place in over 60 countries, spanning every continent — even Antarctica.

    • Women’s marches draw huge crowds as Trump takes office

      Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in the nation’s capital and cities across the country Saturday in protest of Donald Trump on the first full day of his presidency.

      Dubbed the Women’s March on Washington, the event spurred by a Facebook page led to “sister marches” in major cities around the world, including Paris, London and Sydney.
      More than 2.5 million people participated in marches across the U.S. on Saturday, according to a review of official and unofficial estimates from the nation’s largest cities.

    • Massive Women’s March on Washington Gives Voice to Roar of ‘Resistance’

      It was a call to action, a primal scream, an arts and crafts project and a massive group therapy session all rolled into one.

      The Women’s March on Washington brought an estimated 500,000-plus women and men to Independence Avenue near the National Mall to raise voices and fists against the policies and the personal behavior of the nation’s newly minted president, Donald Trump.

      Speakers during the marathon five-hour rally that preceded the march to the Washington Monument included actresses America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson and veteran activists Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. Filmmaker Michael Moore led attendees in a recitation of the telephone number for the main Congressional switchboard as he urged them to call their representatives every day on various action items.

    • Ex-CIA director: Trump should be ashamed of himself

      Former CIA Director John Brennan was reportedly “deeply saddened” by President Trump’s remarks at the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday.

      According to former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro, Brennan believes that Trump “should be ashamed of himself” for his “display of self-aggrandizement.”

      “Former CIA director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,” Shapiro said in a pair of tweets.

    • We need an alternative to Trump’s nationalism. It isn’t the status quo

      A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

      One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

      However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost. Project Fear in the UK, the troika in continental Europe and the unholy alliance of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the surveillance apparatus in the United States are its manifestations.

    • Watchdog group to file lawsuit over foreign payments to Trump businesses

      A liberal watchdog group plans to file a lawsuit Monday, contending that President Trump is violating the Constitution by continuing to accept payments from foreign governments at the businesses operated by his family.

      “It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office,” said Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW. “He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action.”

      At issue: The foreign “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which bans payments or gifts from foreign governments.

    • Even the firm that hired actors to cheer Trump’s campaign launch had to wait to be paid

      On the morning of his inauguration, a remarkable coda to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

      Carrie Levine of the Center for Public Integrity found a report from the Federal Election Commission examining an under-reported aspect of Trump’s campaign launch. Trump’s announcement, held on the lower level of the Trump Tower lobby, was framed by cheering crowds watching from the floors above. Some of the members of that crowd, it was soon reported, were apparently paid to be there.

      The Hollywood Reporter sussed out the evidence. An email from a firm called Extra Mile, soliciting people to be paid $50 to attend “an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making.” Instagram photos of an actor in attendance that day. A reference in that email to Gotham Government Relations, the firm that hired Extra Mile and which Trump had used in the past.

    • Pussy Power Fights Back

      Nearly 3 million Americans, women and plenty of men, cared enough to turn out in dozens of cities across the country to march for a broad human-rights agenda. Hundreds of thousands more marched worldwide, from Antartica to Canberra to Dublin and Nairobi. In Washington, where I marched, organizers expected 200,000 women; they got an estimated 1 million—four times as many people as showed up for Trump’s inauguration here on Friday. You know those parade stands that sat empty along Trump’s parade route? Today many of them were full, as marchers made good use of them, to sit and rest, or take a moment to watch the incredible crowd, every race, every age, every religion, and men—so many men!—protest our sad new president. Where Occupy Wall Street protesters once chanted, “We are the 99 percent,” marchers today adopted the rhythm to yell, “We are the popular vote!” And it felt good.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amos Yee: the childish thinker trying to rock a nation [Ed: Calling a 15-y-o “childish” and pretending Singapore is some king of Heaven rather than an autocracy of gagging]

      His belief that free speech should be unbridled, and his hope to continue criticising Singapore and the government without fear of persecution, is driving his attempt to seek political asylum in America. Indeed, it is no secret that Yee was persecuted for the content of his online posts, but the good order of Singaporean society practically required that to be the case.

    • Ark: Survival Mod That Replaces Dinos With Pokemon DMCA’d, Possibly By Another Rival Modding Group

      This story is a rather fast-moving, so let’s dig in. Ark: Survival is a survival game in which you hunt dinosaurs. Being a PC game, there is a fairly healthy modding community working with the game to expand it, make slight alterations to it, and even inject other instances of pop culture into it. Case in point is the Pokemon Evolved mod, which replaces the dinos that are to be hunted with, you guessed it, pokemon. As you probably also have already guessed, the mod was hit with a DMCA notice and was briefly taken out of the Steam Workshop.

      You would be forgiven at this point if you immediately assumed that it was the folks at either Nintendo or The Pokemon Company, both of which have been noticed policing the Pokemon IP aggressively. It was therefore head scratching that much of the reporting was peppered with caution over assigning blame for the DMCA, such as was the case in the original PC Gamer post linked above.

    • N.J. judge holds hearing in press censorship case

      A court hearing on press censorship unfolded over more than two hours on Friday, pitting a newspaper’s right to publish sensitive information against the state’s right to keep it secret.

      Superior Court Judge Lawrence DeBello heard arguments in Trenton over a temporary court order barring The Trentonian newspaper from publishing articles based on a confidential child-abuse complaint obtained by one of its reporters.

    • The “Fake News” Censorship Industry
    • Correctiv Will Help Facebook Detect Fake News

      The social network commissioned the Correctiv research network to identify the false news. But does Facebook assume its editorial responsibility?

      Criticism for the spread of fake news rained on Facebook without stopping, and now that company responds with a concrete proposal to stop them, at least in Germany with the help of Correctiv research network.

      This is a precautionary measure in the run-up to Germany’s general elections in October 2017. After the massive fake news scandals in the US, Germany fears a similar phenomenon that could influence the outcome of the election.

    • The real secret of Chinese internet censorship? Distraction

      If you ever want to annoy western policymakers or politicians, then here is a surefire way to do it. Tell them that the only government in the world that really understands the internet is the Chinese communist regime. And if you want to add a killer punch, add the assertion that almost everything we think we know about Chinese management of the net is either banal (all that stuff about the great firewall, paranoia about keywords such as “Falun Gong”, “democracy”, etc) or just plain wrong. Having thus lit the fuse, retreat to a safe distance and enjoy the ensuing outburst of righteous indignation.

    • Cheong Wa Dae’s censorship

      President Park Geun-hye lashed out at the independent counsel, Sunday, for its investigation into an alleged blacklist of cultural figures who are critical of her policies.

      In a statement through her lawyers, Park denied she gave instructions to create such a list. She even vowed legal action against the media that reported that she gave orders to create the list of anti-government cultural figures a month after the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking.

      Park’s furious reaction came after two former key presidential aides Kim Ki-choon and Cho Yoon-sun were arrested Saturday for their alleged involvement in creating the list. Kim was Park’s chief of staff and Cho, who resigned as culture minister after being arrested, was senior presidential secretary for political affairs at the time.

    • Amos Yee complaining he’ll be detained in US longer than being jailed in S’pore

      Amos Yee, the 18-year-old teenager who ran away from Singapore to seek political asylum in the United States, is facing the prospect of a prolonged detention that exceeds the number of days he had been jailed in Singapore.

      This was after he came face-to-face with the reality that the world doesn’t care about him or his case.

      In a Facebook post published on Jan. 22, 2017, Yee ranted that he will be kept in detention in the US longer than he was jailed in Singapore as the court takes its time deciding on his case.

    • President Donald Trump parades through Washington as unprecedented clashes erupt just a few blocks away

      When Donald Trump made his way to the White House after he had been sworn in as the country’s 45th President, he may, or may not, have been able to detect the whiff of burning.

      Just a couple of hours before Mr Trump sat and watched a military parade and prepared to head off to the traditional inaugural balls, protesters had clashed with riot police in streets not far away, an event unprecedented at a presidential inauguration. Protesters set fire to at least one vehicle and smashed windows, while police fired tear gas and pushed people back with shields. More than 200 people were arrested and six police officers were hurt.

      When he spoke to the nation on Friday afternoon for the first time after taking the 35-word oath with which he became president, Mr Trump delivered a populist, nationalist rallying cry in which he vowed that “this moment on, it’s going to be America first”.

    • Fighting Censorship with ProtonMail Encrypted Email Over Tor

      As part of our efforts to continue protecting user privacy, we are launching a Tor hidden service to combat censorship and surveillance of ProtonMail users.

      In the past two years, ProtonMail has grown enormously, especially after the recent US election, and today we are the world’s largest encrypted email service with over 2 million users. We have come a long way since our user community initially crowdfunded the project. ProtonMail today is much larger in scope than what was originally envisioned when our founding team met at CERN in 2013.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 1-in-10 people do not own a single book, but UK households have 8 web-connected devices

      New research shows that one-in-10 people in the UK do not own any books, although many households have over eight devices connected to the internet.

      Technology has become so intertwined with domestic life that almost 50% of households with children say they often send texts to each other, even when they are all at home.

      Research by the National Literacy Trust found that 85% of those aged 8-15 own a games console, and 81% have a mobile phone.

    • How to Protest Without Sacrificing Your Digital Privacy

      There will be many watchful eyes taking notice of your activities this weekend. On Thursday, several days of planned protests started in Washington DC in anticipation of the inauguration of President-elect Trump. Tomorrow, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off, with thousands expected to turn up.

      Naturally, law enforcement will likely be heavily surveilling these protests and others with all sorts of tech and spying gear. And it’s not just the cops: when much of a protest is broadcast via tweets or live-steaming, those watching may also want to digitally target protesters, perhaps by identifying them publicly.

    • Your ‘anonmyized’ web browsing history may not be anonymous

      Researchers have written computer programs that found patterns among anonymized data about web traffic and used those patterns to identify individual users. The researchers note web users with active social media are vulnerable to the attack.

    • Edward Snowden Tweet Hints That The NSA Can Access Your ‘Secret Thoughts & Feelings’ – Telepathy?

      As most of you know, Edward Snowden is the former intelligence contractor who leaked the NSA’s mass surveillance program and discovered some of the most solid evidence for the existence of clandestine black budget operations. But did we really need the leak in order to believe this? Prior to his leaks, the issue was still considered a conspiracy theory by many, despite the fact that there was still good evidence for these programs prior to Snowden’s revelations.

    • Locations are hard

      Turns out that figuring out people’s locations is hard, especially if you want to try to reduce the amount of work someone has to do or if they are likely to be using a mobile phone.

      For some reason, I’d thought that this was already a solved problem, so was somewhat surprised when feedback on a mockup made me question that assumption. After pinging Máirín Duffy to find out if we had access to a database of countries, and how they break down into cities/states/provinces/etc, she realized that we needed a longer discussion.

    • A response to ‘Strong Encryption and Death’

      To be honest, I didn’t actually go through with this project as there were just too many variables that I hadn’t figured out. There is a lot of trust involved in this that potentially requires a very small number of people (2) to really hose things up. It’s not that I wouldn’t trust my “trusted friends” with the responsibility but it potentially makes them targets and two is just a really low threshold for an adversary to recover this information.

      What really threw me was that the author also included a copy of his private key in case they couldn’t locate it on his computer to, I’m assuming here, access other data. I have one word for this: NOPE!

      Okay, short of the private key thing, what was proposed was quite logical. Like I said above, I had a very similar idea a while back. Springboarding from that idea, I’d like to propose another layer of security into this whole process.

    • Lavabit relaunches secure email service, encrypted mail goes open-source

      Lavabit has resurrected itself from the ashes to once again provide secure email services in a post-Snowden world.

      Ladar Levison, CEO and owner of Lavabit, chose the US Inauguration Day to announce the firm’s relaunch, saying in a statement to users that the email service will once again become available in order to protect “freedom, justice, and liberty,” as secured by the US Constitution.

    • Lavabit Reloaded

      Former Lavabit users will be able to access their accounts in “Trustful” mode and update their credentials to the new DIME standard. Anyone who wants a future Lavabit account can pre-register for our next release available in all security modes. Anyone can access our free, open source library, and associated command line tools capable of creating, and handling the new DIME standard. Anyone with a domain can deploy Magma or implement their own encrypted DIME compatible server. These are just the first steps of many as our implicit goals are to build the graphical clients for Windows, Mac OS X/iOS, and Linux/Android and help others implement this new technology.

    • Encrypted Email Service Once Used by Edward Snowden Relaunches

      In 2013, Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, took the defiant step of shutting down the company’s service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers’ communications.

      The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit’s most prominent users — Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service’s SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden’s password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden’s account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well.

      Lavabit had 410,000 user accounts at the time.

    • Android permissions and hypocrisy

      There’s no reason to assume that they’re being malicious here. The reasons that these permissions exist at all is that there are legitimate reasons to use them, and Kaspersky may well have good reason to request them. But they don’t explain that, and they do literally everything that their blog post criticises (including explicitly requesting the phone’s IMEI). Why should we trust a Russian company more than a Chinese one?

      The moral here isn’t that Kaspersky are evil or that Meitu are virtuous. It’s that talking about application permissions is difficult and we don’t have the language to explain to users what our apps are doing and why they’re doing it, and Google are still falling far short of where they should be in terms of making this transparent to users. But the other moral is that you shouldn’t complain about the permissions an app requires when you’re asking for even more of them because it just makes you look stupid and bad at your job.

    • Android apps, IMEIs and privacy

      There’s been a sudden wave of people concerned about the Meitu selfie app’s use of unique phone IDs. Here’s what we know: the app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China. It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.

      Why would anybody want these IDs? The simple answer is that app authors mostly make money by selling advertising, and advertisers like to know who’s seeing their advertisements. The more app views they can tie to a single individual, the more they can track that user’s response to different kinds of adverts and the more targeted (and, they hope, more profitable) the advertising towards that user. Using the same ID between multiple apps makes this easier, and so using a device-level ID rather than an app-level one is preferred. The IMEI is the most stable ID on Android devices, persisting even across factory resets.

    • About backdoors in Signal and other apps

      tl;dr: There is a “backdoor” in Signal nobody cares about, only Google can use it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How We Can Work Together To Keep Our Nation’s Youth Out Of The Prison System

      Last summer on July 19, a then 14 year-old Bresha Meadows was arrested for the alleged homicide of her father. On January 20, she’ll stand in a hearing as a 15 year-old who has spent 175 days in jail. According to her relatives, Bresha responded in self-defense to her father Jonathan Meadows’s menacing abuse on his family, specifically Bresha’s mother Brandi. In 2011, she filed a civil domestic violence protection order against her husband for fear that he would continue to torment her and her children.

      Despite a history of abuse, Bresha Meadows is being tried for aggravated murder. If convicted, the maximum sentence she would serve would order for her to be released at the age of 21. Although she no longer faces the possibility of a life sentence, activists are dedicated to an agenda that demands her freedom.

    • Protesters Face Increasing Criminalization in Trump Era

      Changes aim to hit protestors with criminal records and beefed up fines and pardoning their accidental killing.

      Donald Trump was officially sworn in Friday as one of the most unpopular U.S. presidents in recent history, sparking off widespread protests around the world. Resistance through protest and mass organization in the U.S. is likely to become more difficult and increasingly regarded as a criminal act. Trump has voiced his intolerance for peaceful protest and a number of Republican-backed state laws have been proposed to crack down on peaceful demonstrations.

    • Commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence is not enough

      In early July 2016, Chelsea Manning was found to be unresponsive in her cell at the prison barracks of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she was serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking secret military archives and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. She barely survived.

      The military responded by punishing her with solitary confinement, which led to another unsuccessful suicide attempt. For people who had long followed Manning’s case, one thing was becoming clear: she was likely to take her own life if President Barack Obama didn’t commute her sentence.

      During her trial in 2013, it was obvious that Ms Manning was clearly suffering from gender dysphoria. She had been struggling with it while being deployed in Iraq during the war at a time when being openly gay was grounds for discharge from the US military. Her conviction meant that she could finally be seen as Chelsea Manning, but her struggle to get gender reassignment surgery, which included a hunger strike, and being forced to cut her hair to male standards owing to prison rules, continued to affect her mental health.

    • Policing For Dummies: DOJ/Baltimore PD Edition

      Apologies to everyone in America. The Department of Justice can’t fix what’s wrong with the nation’s police departments. It’s up to those departments to make the changes and stick to them. There has to be a desire to change, otherwise all we’ll end up with is better documentation of police misconduct and excessive force.

      A police department has to fall pretty far before the DOJ is willing to step in. Consent agreements follow reports — all of which can be described as “scathing”. These follow DOJ investigations in which it’s routinely discovered the officers employed by the police department either don’t know the first thing about constitutionally-compliant policing… or just don’t care.

    • Jogger punched into Acocks Green canal by thug, escaped by speaking ARABIC

      A jogger has told how he was almost drowned by a canal-path thug – and only escaped by speaking to them in Arabic.

      Dad-of-two Lee Skinner, 38, was punched in the face and knocked into the freezing water as he ran past five hooded youths in Acocks Green .

    • SWEDEN CRUMBLING: Demands for military intervention as thugs turn Malmo into ‘no-go zone’

      Launching a seething attack on the red-green parties in Malmo, Magnus Olsson said it was time to call in the military to end the surge in violent crimes that have been sweeping the city.

      Painting a blake picture of Sweden’s third largest city, the opposition politician blasted Malmo has lost enough of its citizens to shootouts, grenade attacks and murders.

      Speaking to Expressen, Mr Olsson also said there was a great lack of police officers in Sweden, which means officers could benefit from the armed forces’ resources.

    • Michael Moore and Mark Ruffalo Lead Inauguration Protest at Manhattan’s Trump Hotel

      With organizers and speakers taking to a stage set up in front of the Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle, crowds funneled onto Central Park West bearing signs that read “Hate Ain’t Great,” “Not My President” and “This Is Not Normal,” among other slogans. The gathering stretched some four blocks deep, with one estimate pegging the number of attendees at as much as 20,000. A big screen broadcast the speeches for people too far back to see.Baldwin broke out the Trump impression he’d honed on “Saturday Night Live,” riffing on Trump’s ties to Russia and on some of the seamier claims in the intelligence dossier that hit the press last week. Imagining Trump standing in the middle of the rally with no access to a bathroom, Baldwin-as-Trump told the crowd, “When I get to the Russian consulate after this, I’m gonna have a really, really long pee.”

    • How Unworldly Are The Pretend Security People Of The TSA Who Grope You At The Airport?

      It seems the repurposed mall food court workers now providing “security” (aka a massive, pointless slowdown and search of passengers) need a memo instructing them in the most basic basics…

    • Texas lawmaker polls mosque leaders on Sharia law support

      A Texas lawmaker is asking state mosque leaders to pledge support for the “safety” of former Muslims in a mailed survey being condemned by Islamic civil rights groups.

      A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Thursday that he told mosque leaders to ignore Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann.

      One question asks respondents to renounce any possible persecution that those leaving Islam could face. Others inquired about renouncing “institutionalized Sharia law” and gauged support for having the U.S. State Department label the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.

    • Muslim clerics attack rally for missing Pakistani activists

      Pakistani police say Muslim clerics attacked a rally calling for the release of five anti-Taliban activists and bloggers who went missing earlier this month.

      Police official Niaz Kundi says the clerics hurled bricks at the rally in the southern city of Karachi on Thursday without wounding anyone, and were later dispersed by police.

    • Europe’s Islam problem and U.S. immigration policy

      I come from the American Left. I am a feminist. I am a gay rights activist. These commitments form the core of my professional and personal life. Consequently, the argument I am about to make for tighter U.S. controls on the immigration of Muslims may surprise some readers. It shouldn’t. Islam is endemically antithetical to the well-being of gay people—primarily the people about whom and for whom I write. American liberals don’t want to hear this argument, however, because they share, ironically, with American conservatives a rather unreflective commitment to the defense of religion at all costs. Conservatives think the answer to most any problem is their religion. Increasingly, liberals seem to think that the answer is simply more religion—something they like to call diversity.

    • Piers Akerman: Unholy matrimony and the Islamic culture’s hidden stain

      In the 2015-16 financial year alone, the Australian Federal Police investigated 69 ­incidents of forced marriage, more than double that investigated the previous year.

      Just last week, an imam, a Muslim religious leader, faced a Melbourne court after allegedly forcing a child into marriage, while the 34-year-old “husband” of the minor appeared via videolink charged with sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16.

      Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday over an alleged forced marriage at Noble Park, in Melbourne’s southeast, along with the husband, who cannot be identified. The latter is also charged with being a party to a forced marriage.

    • The Saudi women afraid to go home

      “This is it,” Arwa said as she sat in the US immigration office on the outskirts of Houston, Texas last month. Having fled Saudi Arabia two years earlier, her 7 a.m. appointment would reveal if her application for asylum had been successful or whether she would be forced to leave America.

      “What I really want is just to live normally without fear and not have to pretend to be somebody else, that’s all I ever want,” Arwa told CNN on the eve of her appointment.

      “What really scares me is that I wouldn’t get this asylum, and I would be returned and I would die young, and that I would lose everything that I tried to build, that I would just fail.”

    • Man in Sweden ‘live-streamed gang rape on Facebook’

      The men have been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of gang-raping a woman, after one allegedly live-streamed the crime on a closed Facebook page.

      According to Sweden’s Aftonbladet tabloid, the alleged crime took place in an apartment in the city of Uppsala early on Sunday morning. The victim was reportedly close to unconscious.

    • Sweden gang rape ‘live-streamed on Facebook’

      A gang rape that was reportedly live-streamed on Facebook has led to the arrest of three people.

      The trio was detained after the alleged attack in an apartment in Uppsala, Sweden, on Saturday night.

      The crime was broadcast on a closed Facebook group, according to Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet.

    • Another teenager shot in Malmö on Saturday night

      Yet another teenager has been shot in Sweden’s third city of Malmö — but this time the youth’s life was saved because he was wearing a bullet-proof jacket.
      According to police, the man was shot several times, suffering severe but not life-threatening injuries to his leg.

      The police were called at around a quarter to eight on Saturday evening by a man working at a grocery shop in the area around the Lindängen housing estate.

    • Man dies after coming to Stockholm hospital with gunshot wounds

      A man has died in Stockholm after turning up at a hospital in the Swedish capital with gunshot wounds.

      The 25-year-old came injured to Karolinska University Hospital on Sunday evening, but died later that night.

      Police have been cautious in releasing details about the incident, saying only that he was shot “in the Stockholm area” and came to the hospital without the help of the police or an ambulance.

    • I Had All of My Electronics (That I had at the time) Seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

      After my trip in Hamburg, Germany, for the 33rd Chaos Communication Congress, I left Germany for the United States for a short vacation to visit family and friends. Upon my arrival in the United States, I was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) where my belongings were picked apart and I was asked lots of strange, some offensive questions about my personal life. I refused to answer any questions and instead gave them the contact information for my lawyer. They demanded I decrypt my phone so they could “make sure there isn’t any bad stuff on there”. When I told them no, they said they would seize all of my electronics and search all of them for “contraband”. I persisted and they seized about $2,000 worth of electronics and told me I would “get them back”. We’ll see about that. In total I was detained over 3 hours by CBP alone, and despite that CBP documentation says that I can notify someone of my detainment if I have been detained for more than 2 hours, I was not allowed to even after that point. This seems to have been a violation of CBP policy.

    • Anupam Kher dedicates poem for Kashmiri Hindu and Pandits’ 27 Years of Exile.

      Kashmiri Pandits are a minority in the Muslim majority Valley. Many reportedly started being killed by militants in 1990, prompting fearful Pandits to migrate to the plains of the peaceful Jammu region of the state. Every day, dozens of Pandit families would pick up whatever little they could and cross the Banihal tunnel to reach Jammu, where they had to live in camps and tents and in inhuman conditions.

    • UK woman imprisoned in Iran has conviction upheld in appeals court

      A British-Iranian woman sentenced to five years in jail in Iran on unspecific charges relating to national security has had her conviction upheld in the appeals court, according to judiciary officials.

      Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, appealed against her sentence earlier this month in what was her last legal opportunity to challenge it.

      “Her sentence has been confirmed,” Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the judiciary spokesperson, told reporters in Tehran on Sunday, the semi-official Isna news agency reported.

    • Central Java city renames Pork Festival after protests by Muslim groups

      Organisers of a culinary event named the Pork Festival in the Central Java city of Semarang have been forced to rename it following protests from Islamic groups.

      The event will now be known as Imlek Culinary Festival. Imlek is the local name for Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 28 this year.

      The Islamic groups met the festival’s committee at the Semarang Police station to discuss the event, which will be held at the Sri Ratu Supermarket in Semarang on Jan 23 to 29.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Disruptive Technologies Pose Challenge To IP Protection, Speakers In Thailand Say

      He said the court has already adapted to new environments by allowing use of video conferencing, digital audio and video records of witness’ testimonies, and electronic filings in its court proceedings.

    • Copyrights

      • Mystery as controversial list of predatory publishers disappears
      • Powerful Copyright Alliance Mulls its Own Anti-Piracy Service

        The powerful pro-copyright organization Copyright Alliance appears to be mulling its own anti-piracy service. In a survey published this week, the organization, which counts the MPAA, RIAA and dozens of other large groups as members, asked if copyright holders would use such a service if one was available.

      • UK Police Threats Fail to ‘Impress’ Pirate Site Operator

        City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit is targeting online piracy on multiple fronts. Besides pressing advertisers and hosting companies, pirate site owners are also being contacted directly. This week some fresh letters were sent out, urging operators to shut down or go legit. However, not all recipients are impressed by the latest enforcement action.

      • Netflix VPN Crackdown, A Year of Frustrations

        Last year Netflix launched an aggressive campaign to prevent its users from bypassing geo-blockades through VPN services. The crackdown has met fierce resistance around the world but is still in effect. Today we review the current state of affairs with some prominent VPN providers, many of whom voice concerns about the ongoing blocking efforts.

      • Megaupload 2.0 News Delayed By ‘Expected’ Roadblock

        A few hours ago Kim Dotcom was gearing up to make an important announcement about a new version of the defunct Megaupload service. However, with minutes left to go, the Megaupload 2.0 plans hit an “expected” roadblock, which means that the wait continues.

      • London Has Fallen Copyright Trolls Test Norway After US Retreat

        The copyright trolls behind the action movie London Has Fallen are testing out the Norwegian market after things got tricky in the US. In November, LHF Productions backed away from suing a US citizen after they were threatened with exposure, but now they’re demanding money in Europe.

      • CBS & Paramount Finally Settle With Fan Film Axanar

        A little over a year ago, we first wrote about the unfortunate situation in which CBS & Paramount had sued a group of people trying to make a fan film in the Star Trek universe, called Axanar. Beyond the basic legal questions, there was a bigger issue here. Paramount has actually been pretty good about allowing fan films. The difference with Axanar was that it was shaping up to be a really good fan film, with professional level actors, sets and staff. And that was what set off Paramount and CBS, who jointly hold the copyrights on Star Trek. The big question then is what’s the line between a fan film… and an unauthorized derivative work? This wasn’t necessarily a question in the past, but today with the ease of making films (and funding them through platforms like Kickstarter), it becomes a much bigger question.

        Something of a wrench was thrown into the proceedings last May, when JJ Abrams and Justin Lin — who are involved in the official new Star Trek films — claimed on stage that they were quite upset with Paramount for going after Axanar, and claimed that they’d gotten word from the company that it was going to settle the lawsuit. Of course, in the intervening months, no settlement showed up, and the filings back and forth between the parties got more and more rancorous. Things were finally heading towards a trial in just a few days… but now a settlement has finally been reached.

01.20.17

Links 20/1/2017: Docker 1.13, Linux 4.4.44 LTS

Posted in News Roundup at 8:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What is Linux?
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 1
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 2
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 3
  • Desktop

    • Desktop environments in my computer

      I started my Linux journey with Gnome, as it was the default desktop environment in RHL. I took some time to find out about KDE. I guess I found out accidentally during re-installation. It used to be fun to have a desktop that looks different, behaves differently than the normal. During the earlier years in college while I was trying to find out more about Linux, using KDE marked me as a Linux expert. I was powered with the right syntax of mount command to mount the windows partitions and the xmms-mp3 rpm. I spent most of my time in the terminal.

  • Server

    • Distributed Fabric: A New Architecture for Container-Based Applications

      There’s a palpable sense of excitement in the application development world around container technology. Containers bring a new level of agility and speed to app development, giving developers the ability to break large monolithic apps into small, manageable microservices that can talk to one another, be more easily tested and deployed, and operate more efficiently as a full application. However, containers also demand a new architecture for the application services managing these microservices and apps, particularly in regards to service discovery — locating and consuming the services of those microservices.

    • DevOps trends emerging for 2017 and beyond

      Finally, one of the biggest trends for 2017 will not be just a focus on engaging and implementing some of these DevOps best practices into your enterprise, but a sweeping adoption of the DevOps/agile culture. This is because one of the most important – if not the absolute most key –tenets to a successful DevOps organization is culture. The enterprises that most espouse the shared responsibility, the empowered autonomous teams, the can-do attitudes, and the continuous learning environment in which DevOps thrives will see the biggest benefits.

    • Introducing Docker 1.13

      Today we’re releasing Docker 1.13 with lots of new features, improvements and fixes to help Docker users with New Year’s resolutions to build more and better container apps. Docker 1.13 builds on and improves Docker swarm mode introduced in Docker 1.12 and has lots of other fixes. Read on for Docker 1.13 highlights.

    • Docker 1.13 Officially Released, Docker for AWS and Azure Ready for Production

      Docker announced today the general availability of Docker 1.13, the third major update of the open-source application container engine for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

      Docker 1.13 has been in development for the past couple of months, during which it received no less than seven RC (Release Candidate) versions that implemented numerous improvements for the new Swarm Mode introduced in Docker 1.12, a few security features, as well as a new Remote API (version 1.25) and Client.

    • Docker 1.13 Prunes Containers, Improves Security

      The Docker 1.13 release introduces multiple new commands including prune and squash, which can help containers to use disk space more efficiently.

      Docker officially announced its 1.13 release on Jan. 19, with new capabilities to help build, manage and secure containers.

    • Who’s cashing in on containers? Look to the cloud

      Docker-style containers are so hot they’ve broken the scale ETR uses to measure CIO intent to purchase enterprise technology, registering “the strongest buying intention score ever recorded in [its] six-year history.”

      While that data is more than a year old, more recent analyses peg Docker adoption up by a factor of 2.6 in 2016 over 2015, yielding a market worth $762 million in 2016, projected to bloat to $2.7 billion by 2020, according to 451 Research.

    • Serverless Computing Is the Stack Reimagined [Ed: Serverless=you have less control over the computer you use. Cloud=you have no ownership of the computer you use. Serverless Cloud=suicide.]

      In Ho’s own words, “Serverless computing is the code execution model that the cloud provider abstracts the complexity of managing individual servers.” This basically means the provider worries about the servers. You just run your code on them.

  • Kernel Space

    • Optimizing Linux for Slow Computers

      It’s interesting, to consider what constitutes a power user of an operating system. For most people in the wider world a power user is someone who knows their way around Windows and Microsoft Office a lot, and can help them get their print jobs to come out right. For those of us in our community, and in particular Linux users though it’s a more difficult thing to nail down. If you’re a LibreOffice power user like your Windows counterpart, you’ve only really scratched the surface. Even if you’ve made your Raspberry Pi do all sorts of tricks in Python from the command line, or spent a career shepherding websites onto virtual Linux machines loaded with Apache and MySQL, are you then a power user compared to the person who knows their way around the system at the lower level and has an understanding of the kernel? Probably not. It’s like climbing a mountain with false summits, there are so many layers to power usership.

      So while some of you readers will be au fait with your OS at its very lowest level, most of us will be somewhere intermediate. We’ll know our way around our OS in terms of the things we do with it, and while those things might be quite advanced we’ll rely on our distribution packager to take care of the vast majority of the hard work.

    • Long-Term Maintenance, or How to (Mis-)Manage Embedded Systems for 10+ Years

      In this presentation, kernel hacker Jan Lübbe will explain why apparently reasonable approaches to long-term maintenance fail and how to establish a sustainable workflow instead.

    • Linux 4.9 Is the Next Long-Term Supported Kernel Branch, Says Greg Kroah-Hartman

      Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman confirmed today, January 19, 2017, in a short message, on his Google+ page, that the Linux 4.9 branch is now marked as “longterm,” or as some of you know as LTS (Long-Term Support).

      The story behind Linux kernel 4.9 becoming the next long-term supported series dates from way before it’s launch last month, on December 11, when Linus Torvalds officially announced the new branch. It all started back on August 12, 2016, when Greg Kroah-Hartman dropped a quick Google+ post to say “4.9 == next LTS kernel.”

    • Maintainers Don’t Scale

      First let’s look at how the kernel community works, and how a change gets merged into Linus Torvalds’ repository. Changes are submitted as patches to mailing list, then get some review and eventually get applied by a maintainer to that maintainer’s git tree. Each maintainer then sends pull request, often directly to Linus. With a few big subsystems (networking, graphics and ARM-SoC are the major ones) there’s a second or third level of sub-maintainers in. 80% of the patches get merged this way, only 20% are committed by a maintainer directly.

      Most maintainers are just that, a single person, and often responsible for a bunch of different areas in the kernel with corresponding different git branches and repositories. To my knowledge there are only three subsystems that have embraced group maintainership models of different kinds: TIP (x86 and core kernel), ARM-SoC and the graphics subsystem (DRM).

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.5 Released with Updated Radeon Drivers, KVM and PPC Fixes

      A new maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series was announced today by renowned Linux kernel maintainer and developer Greg Kroah-Hartman, versioned 4.9.5.

      Coming only five days after the previous point release, Linux kernel 4.9.5 appears to be a big milestone that changes a total of 132 files, with 1515 insertions and 821 deletions. There are numerous improvements implemented in this fifth Linux 4.9 maintenance update, but first we’d like to remind you that Greg Kroah-Hartman recently marked this kernel branch as long-term supported (LTS), yet this is not apparent from kernel.org.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.44 LTS Brings Some x86 Improvements, Various Updated Drivers

      After informing us about the availability of the fifth maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series, which has recently become a long-term supported branch, Greg Kroah-Hartman is today announcing the availability of Linux 4.4.44 LTS.

      If you’re reading our regular reports on the Linux kernel, you should be aware of the fact that the Linux 4.4 kernel branch is a long-term support (LTS) one that should get security patches for one more year, until February 2018. This branch is currently available in several popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Alpine Linux, and Arch Linux, and Linux 4.4.44 LTS is now the most advanced release.

    • Linux 4.9 Confirmed As The New Long-Term Supported Kernel
    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Has Geometry Shader Support For Testing

        David Airlie has published a set of 31 patches for testing that provide initial support for geometry shaders within the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver.

        While RadeonSI has long supported geometry shaders, it’s been a bigger work item bringing it to this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver within Mesa. The patches are enough for Vulkan geometry shaders to get working on RADV, but Airlie explains that the support isn’t gold: “This is a first pass at geometry shader support on radv, all the code should be here in reviewable pieces, it seems to mostly pass CTS tests but triggers some llvm 3.9 bugs around kill, and there might still be a GPU hang in here, but this should still be a good place to start reviewing.”

      • libinput 1.6.0

        This release fixes the slow touchpad acceleration on touchpads with less than 1000dpi, a missing call to normalized the deltas was the source of the issue.

      • Libinput 1.6 Released With New Touchpad Acceleration

        Libinput 1.6.0 was announced a short time ago on wayland-devel.

      • Mesa 17 Gets a First Release Candidate, Final Planned for Early February 2017

        Collabora’s Emil Velikov announced today, January 19, 2017, the availability of the first of many Release Candidate (RC) development versions of the upcoming and highly anticipated Mesa 17.0.0 3D Graphics Library.

        Mesa 17 is shaping up to be a huge milestone that should dramatically improve the performance of the bundled open-source graphics drivers for Intel, AMD Radeon, Nvidia graphics cards on a Linux-based operating system. Just the other day it enabled OpenGL 4.5 support for Intel Haswell GPUs, which is already a big achievement.

      • More Radeon & AMDGPU Fixes Line-Up For Linux 4.10

        Alex Deucher has sent in another batch of fixes for the Radeon and AMDGPU DRM drivers for the Linux 4.10 kernel.

        These fixes include support for a few peculiar Southern Islands graphics processors in AMDGPU and Radeon drivers. The affected SI GPUs now supported are those needing the “si58″ memory controller microcode. Unfortunately, haven’t been able to find much other details on the particular SI chips affected.

      • Mesa 17.0 Saw Less Code Changes Than Earlier Releases, But More Notable Features

        With Mesa 17.0 up to its release candidates and being under a feature freeze, I explored this morning how the size of the changes for Mesa 17.0 compare to earlier Mesa milestones.

        Mesa 17.0 ships with many exciting end-user changes such as OpenGL 4.5 for RadeonSI, OpenGL 4.5 for Haswell, many RADV and ANV Vulkan driver improvements, improved OpenGL 4.x Nouveau support, and many other features I’ll recap shortly in a Mesa 17.0 feature overview article.

      • The open source Vulkan driver ‘radv’ for AMD on Linux has patches for geometry shader support

        Dave Airlie sent in a massive patch-set of 31 patches for ‘radv’, the open source AMD Vulkan driver, to support geometry shaders.

      • ARB_transform_feedback_overflow_query For Intel’s Mesa Driver
      • Mesa’s Libdrm Gets USB DRM/KMS Device Detection

        Libdrm has some new patches this morning from a NVIDIA developer.

        Thierry Reding of NVIDIA landed xf86drm USB support so that DRM/KMS devices hosted via USB can be detected via Mesa’s DRM device infrastructure.

      • Mesa 13.0.3 Headed to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Mesa 13.0.3 will shortly be available to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS users to install, without needing to add any additional PPAs.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Kabylake: Windows 10 vs. Linux OpenGL Performance

        For those curious about the current Kabylake graphics performance between Windows 10 and Linux, here are some OpenGL benchmark results under each operating system. Windows 10 Pro x64 was tested and the Linux distributions for comparison were Ubuntu 16.10, Clear Linux, Antergos, Fedora 25 Xfce, and openSUSE Tumbleweed.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Speech (Text to Speech) is here

        I’m happy that with Qt 5.8.0 we’ll have Qt Speech added as a new tech preview module. It took a while to get it in shape since the poor thing sometimes did not get the attention it deserved. We had trouble with some Android builds before that backend received proper care. Luckily there’s always the great Qt community to help out.

      • Text To Speech Goes In As A Tech Preview For Qt 5.8

        With Qt 5.8 that’s due to be released next week there is the new Qt Speech as a “tech preview” of text-to-speech for this tool-kit.

      • 5 Linux Desktop Environments on the Rise for 2017

        With each passing year, the Linux desktop ecosystem shifts and morphs from one darling to the next. Although it’s sometimes challenging to tell, from month to month, which desktop will reign as the fan favorite, there are always signs that a particular desktop is going to rise in market share.

        Three trends I always examine are evolution, usability, and modernity. I prefer my desktops to have evolved along with the needs of current trends and users, to be easily used, and have a modern design aesthetic. Bonus points are generally awarded for a high range of flexibility.

        Currently, the Linux desktop environment is dominated by Cinnamon, Xfce, GNOME, and Ubuntu Unity. Of those four, I believe only one will see a sharp rise in market share in 2017. Which one? Let’s dive in and see which five desktops, I think will climb the rank and file.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.23.4 released

        The fourth snapshot of GNOME 3.23 is now available!

        Probably one of the most important features of this release is the inclusion of a pre-release of GTK+4 for the first time.

      • GNOME 3.23.4 Released

        The latest development release is now available of the work leading up to the GNOME 3.24 desktop in March.

        GNOME 3.23.4 is today’s new development. Core changes to GNOME 3.23.4 include memory leak fixes for EOG, Epiphany browser improvements, GJS now supports JavaScript ES6 Promises, GNOME Calendar now supports online calendars being downloaded offline and synchronized, Librsvg begins making use of Rust, Mutter Wayland fixes, and various other fixes throughout the core GNOME components.

      • Revamped Cinnamon Desktop Add-ons Website Is Now Live

        A revamped version of the Cinnamon Spices website is now live, showcasing the latest and most popular add-ons for the Linux Mint desktop.

      • Emoji Picker GNOME Extension

        You folks must think that I’m obsessed with Emoji, but you’d be …No, you’d be absolutely right about that. Actually, I don’t overuse the popular pictorial glyphs that dominate daily communication. But I do appreciate being able to find the one I want to use in a timely manner.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ISS Federal Lead Rob Rogers on Agencies’ Open Source Moves & ‘Information Advantage’ Efforts

    ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with ISS Federal Systems Vice President Rob Rogers for this interview to discuss ongoing data-related trends in government and where he sees agencies prioritizing efforts in that arena, plus his ideas for how the government should approach open source methodology.

    [...]

    We have seen a significant shift in the past five years around agencies adopting and embracing open source methods. For one, open source technology is the primary catalyst behind some of the most significant progress related to the evolution of “big data” and analytic capabilities, which is used pervasively in the intelligence community.

    Certain agencies have contributed major projects to the open source community, which further solidifies their position on supporting open source. One notable example is NSA’s contribution of NiFi and Accumulo to the Apache Software Foundation in 2014. If these types of actions are an indicator of the direction that the IC agencies are heading in their support of open source, then the future is bright.

  • Davos 2017: China unites 25 countries to establish Global Blockchain Business Council

    On January 17, the governmental and industrial representatives from China and 25 other countries gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the Davos Forum.

    According to the latest update provided by Tai Cloud Corporation to EconoTimes, Jamie Elizabeth Smith, the former spokesperson and special assistant of the U.S. president Obama, announced that the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) is formally established. The first national team members include senior executives of World Bank Mariana Dahan, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Prime Minister of Haidi Laurent Lamont, former Economy Minister of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavičius.

  • Intel’s BigDL deep learning framework snubs GPUs for CPUs

    Last week Intel unveiled BigDL, a Spark-powered framework for distributed deep learning, available as an open source project. With most major IT vendors releasing machine learning frameworks, why not the CPU giant, too?

    What matters most about Intel’s project may not be what it offers people building deep learning solutions on Spark clusters, but what it says about Intel’s ambitions to promote hardware that competes with GPUs for those applications.

  • How is your community promoting diversity?

    Open source software is a great enabler for technology innovation. Diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. Open source and diversity seem like the ultimate winning combination, yet ironically open source communities are among the least diverse tech communities. This is especially true when it comes to inherent diversity: traits such as gender, age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

  • Walmart’s Contributions to Open Source

    You might first think about open source in the context of outstanding tools for lean startup companies, but open source also finds a welcome home in behemoth, established companies, such as Walmart. In this O’Reilly OSCON video interview with Walmart Lab’s Alex Grigoryan, learn how Walmart both benefits from and contributes back to open source. The key takeaway? Open source allows you to reuse software components in labor saving ways.

  • Librecore: Aiming To Be A Better Libre Spin Of Coreboot

    Librecore is a new project aiming to be a new Coreboot downstream with a focus remaining on providing fully-free system firmware. Separately, Minifree/Libreboot has been accused (and admitted by Leah Rowe) to not paying a vendor for a completed contract.

    Librecore was formed due to “[Libreboot lead developer Leah Rowe] alienating large portions of the community, plus the stagnant and hard to use libreboot firmware and build system.” With Librecore, they are aiming to use industry-standard tools and build environments. Another different design decision is pursuing Petitboot as the payload for a more modern and useful interface over GRUB as a payload.

  • Use of open source software growing across telecom

    Open source software may still be a new model for the telecommunications industry, but it’s rapidly gaining traction as operators look to mimic computing world.

    While the open source community has quickly gaining ground in the computing space, the traditional telecommunications industry has a history of hardening its siloed approach to networking technology. This was especially apparent at a time when most mobile telecom networks were 2G-based, with 3G technology just coming online in more advanced markets.

  • Options for Open Source Support

    If you’ve been following the work we’re doing around open source at Rogue Wave Software, you’ve probably heard us say that open source software (OSS) has “crossed the chasm” or is “eating the enterprise.” Although the open source enterprise landscape is still truly nascent, there is no question that open source development principles and the products themselves have “won.” That begs the question: “Now what do we do?”

    You’re leveraging free software, perhaps even without knowing it! Your developers are seeking out open source libraries to meet your business demands before writing the code themselves. You’re using an open source application server, middleware solution, or operating system instead of an expensive and locked-in commercial alternative. You’ve shortened your development cycles, you’re releasing things faster, and you’ve gained a competitive edge by embracing community developed solutions in your enterprise.

  • Google’s VR art app is open source and ready to get weird

    Google’s Tilt Brush is capable of some pretty impressive results. But what if those 3D paintings and projects you made while strapped into virtual reality could escape into the real world?

  • Google’s open-source Tilt Brush: Now you can create 3D movies in VR
  • Google Is Quietly Turning VR Into A Real Creative Tool
  • ‘Tilt Brush’ Toolkit Turns Artists Into Animators With Unity Integration
  • Tilt Brush creations can now be exported to other projects
  • Tilt Brush Toolkit helps artists make their VR paintings interactive
  • Google creates Tilt Brush Toolkit to help 2D artists work better in 3D
  • Google Open Sources More Virtual Reality Tools
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • EIT Digital begins work on Hadoop open source product and start-up to take innovation to market
    • EIT Digital to Launch Hadoop-Based Software Framework, and a Startup

      While not everyone in the U.S. is familiar with it, EIT Digital is a leading European open innovation organization, and it has just launched a new innovation program called HopsWorks to work on a next-generation Hadoop open-source software framework for distributed storage and processing of very large data sets.

      The idea is to leverage Hadoop’s Big Data strengths in a new type of software framework, and a whole new startup comany will be created to take it to market.

      Dr. Jim Dowling, Senior Researcher at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS Swedish ICT) and the leader of EIT Digital HopsWorks Innovation Activity, said: “Hadoop is an open-source software framework for storing data and running applications on clusters of commodity hardware. Our product, dubbed ‘Hops’, will provide the first truly multi-tenant, elastic Hadoop distribution service with unified batch and streaming.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • What Do You Do? ‘I Run An Open Source Learning System Used By Millions’

      I’m CEO of Moodle, a learning management system. It’s a piece of software that is like an operating system for education. You can add and remove tools, and you can build an environment for learning. The teacher usually controls it. The students are usually going through activities set by the teacher, although that’s not always the case. It doesn’t just have to be like that. It’s ultimately a place where you’ll collaborate and work together and learn from each other.

      I started off making up this job because I was solving problems, bit by bit. There’s a lot of things involved in that, but ultimately, it’s glueing together a lot of different skills that I learned from a lot of different people, and solving problems in a bigger way.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The GPL in Layman’s Terms – Free as in What?

      Through the glazed-over eyes of friends and family, past that painful look of well-intended but feigned interest, I can clearly see a fundamental lack of understanding about this free software I’m constantly going on about.

    • Open Source Software: What Every In-House Counsel Should Know

      Open source software (OSS) is ubiquitous in software development today, enabling technical innovation, productivity gains, and touching everything from big data and cloud to mobile and embedded. Control modules on the market today commonly include OSS components such as real-time operating systems, libraries, data interfaces, firmware, and display software.

    • 4 Common Open Source License Compliance Failures and How to Avoid Them

      Companies or organizations that don’t have a strong open source compliance program often suffer from errors and limitations in processes throughout the software development cycle that can lead to open source compliance failures.

      The previous article in this series covered common intellectual property failures. This time, we’ll discuss the four common open source license compliance failures and how to avoid them.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7 Moves Onto Only Regression/Doc Fixes, But Will Accept RISC-V & HSA’s BRIG

      The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is entering its “stage four” development for GCC 7 with the stable GCC 7.1 release expected in March or April.

      Richard Biener announced today that GCC 7 is under stage four, meaning only regression and documentation fixes will be permitted until the GCC 7.1.0 stable release happens (yep, as per their peculiar versioning system, GCC 7.1 is the first stable release in the GCC 7 series).

    • 5 ways to expand your project’s contributor base

      So many free and open source software projects were started to solve a problem, and people began to contribute to them because they too wanted a fix to what they encountered. End users of the project find it useful for their needs, and the project grows. And that shared purpose and focus attracts people to a project’s community.

    • Weblate 2.10.1

      This is first security bugfix release for Weblate. This has to come at some point, fortunately the issue is not really severe. But Weblate got it’s first CVE ID today, so it’s time to address it in a bugfix release.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • EU MEPs Call Again For ‘Robot Rules’ To Get Ahead Of The AI Revolution

      Questions about how we approach our new robotic friends once the artificial intelligence revolution really kicks off are not new, nor are calls for developing some sort of legal framework that will govern how humanity and robots ought to interact with one another. For the better part of this decade, in fact, there have been some advocating that robots and AI be granted certain rights along the lines of what humanity, or at least animals, enjoy. And, while some of its ideas haven’t been stellar, such as a call for robots to be afforded copyright for anything they might create, the EU has been talking for some time about developing policy around the rights and obligations of artificial intelligence and its creators.

      With AI being something of a hot topic, as predictions of its eventual widespread emergence mount, it seems EU MEPs are attempting to get out ahead of the revolution.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ProPublica Files Lawsuit Seeking VA Correspondence Related to Agent Orange

      ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot filed a lawsuit today in federal court against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, accusing the agency of stonewalling requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The lawsuit, ProPublica’s second against the VA in two months, seeks a preliminary injunction compelling the government to immediately release correspondence about Agent Orange, an herbicide used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War, including documents sent to and received by Dr. David Shulkin, the VA’s undersecretary for health. Shulkin has been nominated to be VA secretary by President-elect Donald Trump.

      ProPublica and the Pilot have been reporting about Agent Orange for 18 months, documenting ongoing effects on veterans and their families. The FOIA requests at issue in today’s lawsuit date back to May and September 2015.

    • When a Study Cast Doubt on a Heart Pill, the Drug Company Turned to Tom Price

      The $3 pill known as BiDil was already a difficult sell when a Georgia-based pharmaceutical company bought the marketing rights a few years ago. A treatment for African Americans suffering from heart failure, BiDil had never really caught on, forcing the drug company that developed it to take a buyout offer. One strike against the drug was a 2009 study that raised questions about its safety and effectiveness.

      So last summer, the new owner of the drug, Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC of Atlanta, sought to get the study taken down from a government website. For help, the company turned to the office of a congressman to whom the CEO had given the maximum $2,700 campaign donation — Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican nominated by Donald Trump to become head of the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Security

    • After MongoDB Debacle, Expect More Ransomware, Open Source Attacks in 2017 [Ed: Black Duck is at it again]

      “Black Duck’s Open Source Security Audit Report found that, on average, vulnerabilities in open source components used in commercial application were over 5 years old,” Pittenger said. “The Linux kernel vulnerability discovered 8/16 (CVE-2016-5195) had been in the Linux code base since 2012. Most organizations don’t know about the open source vulnerabilities in their code because they don’t track the open source components they use, and don’t actively monitor open source vulnerability information.”

    • Mirai: Student behind IoT malware used it in Minecraft server protection racket, claims Krebs

      SECURITY BLOGGER BRIAN KREBS has suggested that “Anna Senpai”, the reprobate behind the Mirai Internet-of-shonky-Things (IoT) botnet, is a student studying at Rutgers University in the US.

      Krebs made his disclosure after conducting an in-depth investigation and finding out that Mirai had been developed and deployed over the past three years or so – it didn’t suddenly emerge last year.

      Krebs believes that Mirai has been used a number of times in connection with what looks suspiciously likes an online protection racket: companies running, for example, Minecraft servers being offered distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection, on the one hand, just before being taken offline in massive DDoS attacks on the other.

    • Gmail phishing scam has everyone reaching for 2FA

      STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, unless you don’t have a Gmail account. Carry on if that is the case.

      If you do use Gmail you apparently really, really, need to be aware of a crafty phishing scam that will have you hooked, lined, sinkered, gutted, covered in batter and served with curry sauce before you have a chance to realise that anything is happening.

      The scam that has everyone in a lather uses a deceptive URL, and quite a sneaky one. People probably won’t even notice it because, for the most part, it looks fine. It is only once it is clicked and the bastard gateway is broken through that the phishing and the stealing begins.

    • Sonatype: 1 in 15 open source app components has at least one security vulnerability
    • Friday’s security updates
    • The flatpak security model – part 2: Who needs sandboxing anyway?

      The ability to run an application sandboxed is a very important feature of flatpak. However, its is not the only reason you might want to use flatpak. In fact, since currently very few applications work in a fully sandboxed environment, most of the apps you’d run are not sandboxed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Supreme Court Weighs Whether Bush Officials Can Be Sued Over Post-9/11 Abuse

      The federal government’s frantic response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sparked renewed debate Wednesday at the Supreme Court, as justices considered whether top officials in the George W. Bush administration could be held responsible for abuses against Muslim immigrants and others rounded up after the attacks.

      Conservatives on the court, citing the extraordinary peril of that time, appeared willing to give the officials legal protection from lawsuits arising from the detention policies they approved after the attacks.

      But some of the more liberal justices did not appear so forgiving.

      Even in a time of national emergency, government officials sometimes “can go too far,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said. “And if they have gone too far, it is our job to say that.”

    • Obama files parting appeal to protect drone secrecy

      President Barack Obama has pulled back the curtain on aspects of the U.S. drone killing program, but as he prepared to leave office this week his administration made a legal move to prevent a judge from pulling the curtain back even further.

      Last July, a federal judge in New York issued a 191-page legal opinion resolving an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit demanding dozens of Justice Department, Defense Department and CIA documents relating to the use of armed drones to kill individuals abroad. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon’s ruling appears to have largely favored the government’s right to keep the records under wraps.

      However, McMahon seemed to accept the ACLU’s arguments for disclosure in a few areas and she accused the government of “chutzpah” over some of its contentions. Because the government declared much of her opinion “top secret,” it’s difficult to assess.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chicago Mayor Promises To Turn Over Emails From His Private Accounts Following Courtroom Losses

      Not only is the use of private email accounts to route around public records requests a common practice, it’s also an accepted practice. Politicians aren’t going to sell out their own in the name of transparency, so there’s likely as many private email accounts handling official business as there are government employees. Everyone from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to Gen. Colin Powell has used private email accounts to handle government communications they’d rather not be made public.

      The same goes for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. For years, journalists and government transparency groups have been trying (and suing) to get the mayor to turn over city-related emails contained in his personal accounts. To date, the city of Chicago hasn’t budged.

      But we’re living in a “new” era of Chicago-brand transparency — the aftermath of the city’s concerted cover-up of police recordings of the Laquan McDonald shooting. The mayor pledged the city would be more open and forthcoming in the future — not a difficult promise to make considering there was nowhere to go but up.

    • Wikileaks’ founder Assange says stands by U.S. extradition offer

      WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, said on Thursday he stood by his offer to be extradited to the United States providing his rights were protected.

      Assange said last week he would accept extradition if former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning were freed and on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year sentence, meaning she will be released in May.

  • Finance

    • Mark Zuckerberg sues over 100 Hawaiians to force them to sell them their ancestral land

      In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (who insists that privacy is dead) bought 100 acres of land around his vacation home in Hawaii to ensure that no one could get close enough to spy on him.

      The Zuckerberg estate on Kauai North Shore engulfs several smaller pieces of land deeded in the 1800s — kuleana lands that were granted to native Hawaiians. The owners of this land are entitled to easements through Zuckerberg’s property, so they can reach their own.

      Zuckerberg has filed “quiet” lawsuits to force the owners of more than 100 of these parcels to sell to him. His lawyer says it’s the easiest way to figure out who has title to these family lands so he can make them an offer. Hey, when I want to find out who someone is, I always sue ‘em.

    • Mark Zuckerberg sues hundreds of Hawaii families to force them to sell their land

      Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly suing Hawaiian families who have ancestral rights to land within his $100 million (£81.2 million) property in a bid to force them to sell their plots.

      The Facebook founder has launched the legal action in an attempt to make his 700-acre beachfront estate on the Island of Kuai more private.

      Under legislation dating back to 1850 known as the Kuleana Act, almost a dozen native families currently have the right to live on small sections of land within the billionaire’s property on the island, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

    • Democrats Missed an Opportunity to Expose Steve Mnuchin as a Predator

      Treasury-secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin came to the Senate Finance Committee hearing room prepared to fight a war about foreclosures issued by OneWest Bank when he served as CEO. His only weapons were half-truths and outright lies. But you go to war with what you have.

      A funny thing happened on his way to the hearing room, however. Democrats got distracted by information uncovered by their staff that Mnuchin left off his financial disclosure, that he was director of investment funds incorporated in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Anguilla. Mnuchin called it an oversight, and that the forms are hard work. To quote Cristina Clifford, a OneWest homeowner subject to wrongful foreclosure, “Paperwork can be hard. It’s really hard when someone like Steve Mnuchin is foreclosing on your home. OneWest repeatedly lost my paperwork, and they foreclosed on me anyway.”

      But instead of taking up this line of argument, Democratic committee members pummeled him over the tax haven, asking again and again about why he would have to incorporate the fund overseas and whether he personally benefited from tax evasion.

      Mnuchin’s answer on this was a little weak. He admitted that he didn’t have an office, employees, or customers in these tax havens, but he seemingly argued that he incorporated in the Caymans only to benefit other groups like nonprofits and pension funds, as if that makes it all better. But it got bogged down into an arcane discussion of hedge-fund rules and tax law, when there were literally thousands of human stories, of people who lost everything they had at the hands of Steve Mnuchin’s bank, waiting to be discussed. Too few Democrats took the opportunity. And this is a familiar pattern, because of the troubling failures of the Obama administration to deal with foreclosures. Yesterday’s unofficial forum with foreclosure victims was the first appearance of homeowners on the Hill in years.

    • Treasury Pick Steve Mnuchin Denies It, But Victims Describe His Bank as a Foreclosure Machine

      Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin kicked off his confirmation hearing Thursday with a defiant opening statement, mostly defending his record as CEO of OneWest Bank. He cast himself as a tireless savior for homeowners after scooping up failed lender IndyMac. “It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said. “I ran a loan modification machine.”

      But in stark contrast to his fuzzy statistics about attempted loan modifications, the victims of OneWest’s foreclosure practices have been real and ubiquitous.

      A TV advertising campaign that’s been running in Nevada, Arizona, and Iowa features Lisa Fraser, a widow who says OneWest “lied to us and took our home” of 25 years, right after her husband’s funeral.

    • Trump’s 10 Troubling Deals with Foreign Power-Players

      Incoming President Donald Trump’s business deals span the globe. Trump-branded skyscrapers, golf courses and hotels stretch from Dubai to Azerbaijan to the Philippines.

      Government ethics experts have strongly criticized Trump’s refusal to divest ownership of any of his businesses. But they point to his ongoing foreign deals with those connected to power as the most troubling.

      “These foreign deals are fertile ground for corruption,” Norman Eisen, the White House chief ethics lawyer under President Obama, told ProPublica. “When there’s a pre-existing relationship, there can be wink, wink, nod, nod, or even a private whisper that turns into a quid pro quo.”

      “He has to get rid of his foreign deals,” said Matthew T. Sanderson, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who has served as legal counsel on three Republican presidential campaigns.

    • Obama Leaves U.S.A $9,335,000,000,000 Deeper in Debt

      President Barack Obama will leave the federal government approximately $9,335,000,000,000 deeper in debt than it was when he took office eight years ago, according to data released today by the U.S. Treasury.

      The increased debt incurred under Obama equals approximately $75,129 for every person in the United States who had a full-time job in December.

      The $9,334,590,089,060.56 that the debt had increased under Obama as of the close of business on Wednesday is far more debt than was accumulated by any previous president. It equals nearly twice as much as the $4,889,100,310,609.44 in additional debt that piled up during the eight years George W. Bush served as president.

    • US Government To Start Working On NAFTA 2.0 Immediately; What Will It Do On Corporate Sovereignty?

      There’s plenty of sound logic to be found in this analysis. However, if we have learned anything over the last few months, it is that old-fashioned logic is relatively unimportant in the new political landscape. Since it looks like moves to renegotiate NAFTA are going to be made quickly, we should find out soon enough what the Trump administration’s new line on ISDS will be.

    • Chinese investors gobble up owner of PCWorld, Macworld etc

      Two Chinese investors are buying the owner of PCWorld magazine and the IDC market research outfit – International Data Group (IDG) – but IDC’s high-performance computing research businesses are not included in the sale.

      The two Chinese investors are China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co, Ltd and the confusingly named IDG Capital. They were apparently bidding separately several months ago, but joined forces under the encouragement of Goldman Sachs, IGC’s banker.

      They are paying a sum estimated between $500m and $1bn. The American Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has cleared the sale, which should complete by April.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • For Donald Trump, faith has become the perfect alibi for greed

      You may have paused over it at the airport and wondered if it might be worth a guilty read on a long flight. After all, it has sold over 5m copies and spent 186 weeks in the New York Times bestseller list. Maybe you then thought better of it, suspecting there is something a little bit overly needy about people who go in for self-help books. Wise choice; it’s a terrible book. Nonetheless, if you want to understand the psychology of Donald Trump, it might be worth steeling yourself for an hour. For Normal Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking was one of the formative influences on the young Trump. And Peale’s philosophy of positive thinking explains much about the internal workings of Trump’s maddening self-belief.

      Norman Vincent Peale was for over half a century the minister of Marble Collegiate church on New York’s Fifth Avenue, and he made it one of the most influential pulpits in the country, railing against communism and un-American activities. It was to there in the 1960s that Fred C Trump took his family, moving over from the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, where they lived, drawn by Peale’s theology of how to be winner. Donald Trump says he attended Marble church for decades and that he was much influenced by Peale’s sermons. Norman Peale married Donald to his first wife, Ivana, at Marble in 1977.

    • Michael Moore leads massive anti-Trump protest in NYC

      Documentary director Michael Moore held a massive protest Thursday night outside Trump’s New York City International Hotel featuring speeches from public figures including actors Robert De Niro and Mark Ruffalo.

      The protest started at 6 p.m. with De Niro poking fun at Trump by reading imagined tweets from the president-elect. It was followed by speeches from Moore, Alec Baldwin, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, Ruffalo and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and others.

    • Trump team wanted tanks, missile launchers in parade: report

      Donald Trump’s inauguration team wanted to show off the U.S. military during inauguration weekend and even suggested including tanks and missile launchers in his inaugural parade, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

      “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” an inauguration team source told The Huffington Post, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang that are often interpreted as displays of aggression.

      According to the report, the military shot down the request because of concerns about how it would look to have tanks and missile launchers in the parade, as well as the possible damage the tanks, which can weigh over 100,000 pounds, would do to the roads.

      “I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],” a Department of Defense official told The Huffington Post. “D.C. is built on a swamp to begin with.”

    • The idea of girls growing up in a world where a leader can talk about groping women turns my stomach

      We do know, however, what a Trump Presidency will mean for the campaign to end violence against women and girls – and it’s not positive.

      The most powerful man in the world has repeatedly and deliberately demeaned women. “When you’re a star” he said, “they let you do it. You can do anything …Grab them by the p***y … You can do anything.” He has gloated about sexual assault and argued that objectifying 50 per cent of the human race is exactly what the other 50 per cent do privately. even if they pretend otherwise in public.

      Trump’s election campaign and professional track record are distinguished by sexism and misogyny. There is very little he could say or do now to reverse the damage he has already caused, the consequences of which resonate beyond the US and beyond women and girls.

    • NYT Ignored Reality at 2001 Bush Inauguration; Now Ignorance Is History

      The link in that passage goes back to the Times‘ 2001 coverage of the inauguration—coverage that was critiqued by FAIR at the time under the headline “Ignoring Reality at the Inauguration”…

    • Who’s Paying for Inauguration Parties? Companies and Lobbyists With a Lot at Stake

      Corporate interests that were largely reluctant to embrace Donald Trump during the presidential campaign last year are finally opening their checkbooks to underwrite the festivities sweeping Washington, D.C., to welcome his incoming administration.

      Firms with a great deal riding on the major policy agenda items of the next four years have lined up to sponsor the endless parade of hors d’oeuvres and open bars at parties across the city.

      Topping the list are firms with interests in pharmaceuticals, oil, and defense contracting — highly regulated industries that have much at stake with ongoing policy discussions over drug pricing, environmental regulations, and the defense sequester.

      Several events list ride-sharing companies Lyft or Uber as special transportation partners. Both firms face regulatory hurdles to accessing municipal markets and in terms of gaining approval for the next generation self-driving car technologies.

    • Major Fake News Operation Tracked Back to Republican Operative

      Cam Harris, a recent college graduate hoping to build a career as a political consultant, received an unwelcome email from a New York Times reporter this month. As the reporter, Scott Shane, recounted on the front page of Thursday’s Times, he had discovered that Harris was the publisher of a fake news site dedicated to smearing Hillary Clinton.

      So Harris did what came naturally. He started to spin. First, he admitted that he had written the hoax news articles casting Clinton as a criminal on his site, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com. Eight of his stories attracted enough attention on social networks to merit debunking by Snopes, the fact-checking site, and one of them, published a month before the election, attracted six million readers with the headline, “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.”

      But when he was asked about his motives for posting elaborate disinformation about Clinton online over the course of 11 months, Harris was a little more economical with the truth. Even though he had attacked Clinton relentlessly on Twitter during the campaign, and voted for Donald Trump, Harris told The Times that his goals were purely financial. He had focused on potentially damaging fabrications about Clinton, he claimed, simply because those pieces generated more clicks and so more ad revenue than attacks on Trump.

    • Donald Trump has assembled the worst Cabinet in American history

      Any time a new administration comes into office, there will be some complaining about the new president’s cabinet picks. But we’re seeing something extraordinary happening now. Donald Trump’s cabinet brings with it a combination of ethical problems, inexperience, hostility to the missions of the departments its members are being called to lead, and plain old ignorance that is simply unprecedented.

      This is shaping up to be nothing less than the worst cabinet in American history.

    • Welcome to the Wipe House: President Trump shreds climate change, privacy, LGBT policies from WhiteHouse.gov

      With Donald Trump taking over the presidency Friday morning, a different type of transition has also taken place: a digital transition.

      A novel approach was taken with respect to the Twitter accounts of the president, vice-president and first lady: the accounts were both retained and cloned to new accounts – if you followed @POTUS, you will continue to do so but will also be added as a follower to @POTUS44 (Obama was the 44th president of the United States). The same goes with @VP and @FLOTUS.

    • A morning with ‘adorable deplorables’: why Trump supporters are optimistic

      On the bus, in the morning darkness, Steph and Brandi put on their makeup, using a phone as a mirror.

      Stephanie Friess and Brandi Tillman have been friends since high school, and now they were on their way from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington to celebrate the man who had given them a brand new country.

      On election night, Steph stayed up past 3am to see Trump’s victory being announced. The next morning, remembering the night before while driving her car, the 24-year-old felt jubilant to be living in Trump’s America.

      The two women made matching Trump caps – blue and black – decorated with sequins and the slogan “Adorable Deplorable” in honor of the inauguration. Hillary Clinton had tried to attack Trump for lifting up the most “deplorable” among his followers: “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it”. Trump’s followers had proudly reclaimed the term, and now Brandi and Steph bedazzled it.

    • Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyers say new president’s criticism threatens fair trial

      Donald Trump’s scathing criticism of Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will prevent the soldier from getting a fair trial on charges he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan, Bergdahl’s attorneys said on Friday.

      In a motion filed shortly after Trump was sworn in, defense lawyers asked a military judge to dismiss the charges against Bergdahl and argued the Republican violated his due process rights and military law against unlawful command influence.

      Trump’s negative comments about Bergdahl, including calling him a traitor, take on new importance now that he is commander-in-chief. Defense attorneys argue that potential military jurors may feel obligated to agree with their new leader. They prepared a video exhibit of Trump’s criticism.

    • Trump’s ‘cyber tsar’ Giuliani among creds leaked in mass hacks

      Passwords used by Donald Trump’s incoming cybersecurity advisor Rudy Giuliani and 13 other top staffers have been leaked in mass hacks, according to a Channel 4 investigation.

      Giuliani, incoming national security advisor Lt Gen Michael Flynn and various cabinet members of Trump’s administration had their details included in website mega breaches… like millions upon millions of others. This doesn’t mean that we (or they) have been hacked and there’s no indication that it’s their current credentials that have been compromised. They may have changed their passwords since, for instance, the LinkedIn breach.

      “The passwords of the appointees were hacked in mass breaches of websites like LinkedIn, MySpace, and others between 2012 and 2016,” as Channel 4 puts it.

      An appearance of someone’s records in Have I Been Pwned? should not imply that they have been hacked, contrary to Channel 4′s breathless headline.

    • Nigel Farage hired by Fox News as a political analyst

      Nigel Farage has been hired as a commentator for American TV network Fox News, the broadcaster has announced.

      The former UKIP leader will provide political analysis for the main channel, and the Fox Business Network’s daytime and primetime programmes.

    • At His Inauguration, Trump Signals No Break From His Politics of Fear and Loathing

      Today, as of noon, the president of the United States is a man who boasted of sexually assaulting women. The nation’s leader is a purveyor of fake news and conspiracy theories who led the racist birther campaign. The commander in chief in charge of the US nuclear arsenal is a fellow who was unfamiliar with the nuclear triad but who is obsessed with revenge. The head of the federal government is a businessman who vowed to “drain the swamp” but who has taken office loaded with troubling conflicts of interest and flouting multiple ethics norms. The defender of the Constitution is a record-setting prevaricator and fabulist who has repeatedly attacked journalists who challenge his false assertions. The guy who oversees national law enforcement is a dishonest developer who was sued for racially based housing discrimination and who lied about his mob ties. The person in charge of US national security is a foreign policy novice who has called for enhancing relations with a foreign power that covertly worked to subvert American democracy in order to benefit him and whose associates are under investigation by agencies he now oversees for possible contacts with that foreign power. The most powerful man in the world is a thin-skinned, arrogant, name-calling, bullying, narcissistic hotelier.

    • Donald Trump Really Believes All Those Things He Said During the Campaign

      There was no recognition, and probably beneath it no awareness, that America’s security and prosperity have rested all these years on the liberal international order, which our wiser leaders created in the wake of World War II and which Trump now deprecates.

      Quite apart from the ignorance of history and economics that leads him to say, and probably believe, that protectionism will make America stronger and richer, this speech is likely to set off a cascade of consequences around the world. (Give the new president this: He penned a truly historic inaugural address—just not in the way that word is usually meant.)

    • Trump’s Speech Gave Us America the Ugly. Don’t Let It Become Prophesy.
    • The Government Secrets Trump Is About to Discover
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brits don’t trust Donald Trump with the surveillance powers President Obama left him

      BRITS DON’T TRUST incoming US president Donald Trump to be able to resist using state surveillance powers, handily expanded by outoing President Obama, for personal gain.

      That’s according to a survey by Privacy International, which seems to suggest that Brits will be up all night with worry over what, exactly, Trump will do after he’s sworn in.

      According to the survey, four-fifths expect Trump to use his surveillance powers in some way for personal gain, while half claimed that they have “no trust” in Trump only using the US government’s surveillance and information-gathering powers for “legitimate purposes”.

    • Android apps, IMEIs and privacy

      There’s been a sudden wave of people concerned about the Meitu selfie app’s use of unique phone IDs. Here’s what we know: the app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China. It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Jersey court upholds firing of corrections officer who wore hijab to work

      Hijab, burqas and other religious symbols have been a controversial subject. Last year a Canadian Superior Court justice ruled that a decision to deny a woman’s case in court because she refused to remove her hijab went against [JURIST report] the fundamental principles of Canadian law. In 2013 a Quebec official proposed a bill [JURIST report] banning religious headwear for public workers. Belgium officially banned [JURIST report] burqas in July 2011. France’s ban on burqas took effect [JURIST report] in April 2011. Some commentators have suggested that the rationales behind the European burqa bans are weak [JURIST op-ed] and that the true purpose of the bills is societal discomfort.

    • Judge bluntly warns of contempt if he doesn’t get ‘torture report’

      A judge has bluntly rejected the Obama administration’s effort to avoid giving the court an unabridged copy of the Senate report on CIA war-on-terror interrogation tactics — a compendium better known as the “torture report.”

      In late December, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request from lawyers for Guantánamo prisoner and alleged Al Qaeda mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to have the highly classified report preserved in court files.

      Earlier this month, the Justice Department asked Lamberth to reconsider, noting that President Barack Obama decided to make the report part of his presidential records and that a military judge ordered the Defense Department to preserve a copy of the review.

    • Turkish parliament approves more constitutional reform articles

      Turkey’s parliament approved the first seven articles in a second round of voting overnight on a constitutional bill that will extend President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, keeping the reform on course for a spring referendum.

      The two largest opposition parties in parliament say the 18-article bill, which could enable Erdogan to rule until 2029, will fuel authoritarianism in the NATO member and European Union candidate country.

      The ruling AK Party, backed by the nationalist MHP, says it will bring the strong executive leadership needed to prevent a return to the fragile coalition governments of the past.

    • Graphic CCTV footage appears to shows blind and mentally ill man being shot dead by California police

      A video appearing to show police cornering a mentally ill and blind man before he was shot dead has been released by the victim’s family.

      The CCTV footage purportedly shows James Hall surrounded by heavily armed officers in a petrol station and then collapsing to the ground as he is gunned down.

      The clip was released after his family announced it was suing the police department in California for using “excessive force”.

      “James was not observed by family, friends, or those who knew him as having violent tendencies because of his mental illness,’ said attorney Ben Meiselas, of Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles.

    • In parting letter, Obama asks Congress one last time to shutter Guantanamo

      On his last day in office, President Obama repeated an eight-year request to Congress: Close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      “There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress’ insistence on keeping the facility open,” Obama wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan that was released by the White House on Thursday. “Members of Congress who obstruct efforts to close the facility, given the stakes involved for our security, have abdicated their responsibility to the American people.”

    • Why Chelsea Manning’s Release Will Make Us All Safer

      As one of his final acts, President Barack Obama responded to widespread public outcry and commuted the bulk of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence. Instead of serving 35 years in a military prison, she will be released on May 17, after nearly seven years behind bars, including months in conditions that the United Nations considers to be torture.

      Pardons and commutations are often controversial. But on balance, this decision should be seen as major victory for free speech and human rights—a move that will make all of us safer, and strengthen our democracy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix is so big that it doesn’t need net neutrality rules anymore

      Netflix has long been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality rules, but the streaming video provider says it is now so popular with consumers that it wouldn’t be harmed if the rules were repealed.

      The potential of reversing net neutrality rules increased the moment Donald Trump became president-elect, as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission and Congress want to get rid of the rules. But in a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix reassured investors that this won’t affect the company’s financial performance or service quality.

      “Weakening of US net neutrality laws, should that occur, is unlikely to materially affect our domestic margins or service quality because we are now popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable,” Netflix wrote.

      The FCC’s rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. Because of the rules, small video providers that aren’t as popular as Netflix don’t have to worry about being blocked or throttled by ISPs or having to pay ISPs for faster access to customers. ISPs would prefer that customers subscribe to the ISPs’ own video services, and thus have incentive to shut out competitors who need access to their broadband networks.

    • Through Price Hikes And Annoyance, AT&T Still Waging War On Unlimited Data Users

      Back in 2011 AT&T and Verizon killed off their unlimited wireless data plans, instead replacing them with usage caps and steep (up to $15 per gigabyte) over fees. And while these companies grandfathered the existing unlimited data users at the time, they’ve spent the lion’s share of the last six years waging a not-so-subtle war on these users in an attempt to get them to switch to metered plans. This ranged from AT&T’s decision to block Facetime completely for users on unlimited plans, to covertly throttling these users only after a few gigabytes of usage, then lying about it. Repeatedly.

      Of course AT&T has also used vanilla rate hikes on these unlimited data plans to drive users to metered options.

    • Report: President Trump Picks Former Verizon Lawyer Ajit Pai To Head FCC

      As many expected, Donald Trump has chosen former Verizon lawyer and current FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to head the FCC, according to a report by Politico. According to two anonymous insiders “familiar with the decision,” Pai, who met with Trump on Monday, should be formally announced as FCC boss in short order. Pai recently proclaimed that net neutrality’s “days are numbered” under Trump, while stating that the reformed FCC would be taking a “weed whacker” to “unnecessary regulations” like the FCC’s net neutrality rules and its new consumer broadband privacy protections.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Red Cross Claims Makers Of ‘Prison Architect’ Violated The Geneva Conventions By Using A Red Cross

      Let’s start this off by stipulating that the Red Cross is an organization well known for doing very real humanitarian work. While some have raised questions as to exactly how ethically it spends donor money, the organization is still on the front lines in helping those suffering from natural and man-made disasters. All that being said, the Red Cross has also shown itself to wander over the line of sense when it comes to both video games and policing some of its iconography. Recall that the Red Cross insisted, for instance, that games that allowed players to commit what would constitute war crimes also be required to include virtual punishments for those actions. On policing the use of its icons, the organization has suggested in the past that the use of its red cross symbol on theatre costumes constitutes a violation of The Geneva Conventions.

      These two realms in which the Red Cross likes to play crazy have now converged, with Mark Morris and Chris Delay, makers of the notorious video game Prison Architects, having received notice that the game’s inclusion of an ambulance emblazoned with a red cross constituted a violation of The Geneva Conventions.

    • Trademarks

      • Supreme Court Delves Into Question Of Whether Or Not You Can Trademark ‘Disparaging’ Terms

        A little over a year ago, we wrote about an appeals court ruling saying that the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) could not reject a trademark based on the fact that it was “disparaging” towards an individual or group. The case focused around whether or not a Portland band named “The Slants” could trademark its name. The band, which is fronted by an Asian American named Simon Tam, had its trademark rejected by the PTO on the claim that it was disparaging to Asians.

        As I noted at the time, I had struggled with my own opinion on this question as well — initially arguing that this shouldn’t be a First Amendment issue, because refusing to grant a trademark registration in no way interfered with anyone’s freedom of expression. Instead, it did the opposite, and made it clear that anyone could make use of the content without restriction or fear of infringing on someone’s registered mark (though, a common law trademark may still be an issue). Over time, and after lots of discussions with lots of people on all sides of this issue, I eventually came down on the other side. The key issue was not whether or not speech was blocked, but rather that there’s a law that determines something based on the content of speech, and it’s that point that makes it a First Amendment issue.

    • Copyrights

      • Struggling Canadian News Agencies Ask Government For A ‘Google Tax’

        It never fails (although the proposed solution often does): when faced with the struggles of operating news organizations in the internet era, far too many industry leaders suggest someone else should pay for their failing business models.

        The favorite target is Google. Google has somehow destroyed the profitability of news media companies by creating an incredibly successful search engine. Even though its search engine directs users to news agencies’ websites, there are those in the industry that believe incoming traffic isn’t enough to offset their perception that the search engine somehow piggybacks off their success, rather than the other way around.

        So-called “Google taxes” have been passed into law in countries around the world. In every case, they’ve been a disaster. In Spain, new agencies begged to have the law rolled back after losing traffic from Google searches. Having seen what didn’t work in Spain, Austrian lawmakers floated the same idea, proposing a tax on SINGLE WORDS in search results. The latest bad idea is an EU-wide “snippet tax,” because it worked so well in Spain, Spanish newspapers begged the EU to step in and block Google from killing its news article search results in Spain in response to the proposed tax.

      • Is A ‘Fattened’ Version Of A Famous Jorge Luis Borges Story Artistic Re-Creation, Or Copyright Infringement?

        As the Guardian reports, the legal action has been brought by the widow of Borges, María Kodama. Theoretically the case could lead to a six-year jail sentence for Katchadjian, although nobody seriously expects him to end up in prison if he loses. Kodama’s lawyer is unimpressed with the argument that “The Fattened Aleph” is just another of Katchadjian’s literary experiments. Previously, the author rewrote an epic 19th-century poem about gauchos called “Martín Fierro,” by placing the poem’s lines in alphabetical order. “Martín Fierro” is also the name of a 1920s Argentinian literary magazine that published work by Borges, amongst others.

      • What the Five Year Anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA Blackout Can Teach Congress About Tech

        Five years ago this week, Americans opened their internet browsers and saw darkness.

        Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and other major websites had banded together and gone dark to make a then-obscure piece of legislation infamous. Wikipedia shut down completely for 24 hours and a black band masked the Google logo.

        These internet giants and other online sites joined millions of Americans in protesting the 2012 Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) legislation in a historic grassroots movement. More than four million people signed Google’s online petition linked to the blacked-out homepage. Eight million people looked up how to contact their representative when prompted to by Wikipedia. Tumblr alone produced 87,000 calls to representatives. The vast numbers led most congressional sponsors to rescind their support of the bill.

        SOPA and PIPA were well intended but ill-advised attempts on the part of Congress to protect the American copyright industry. But the legislation was so broad that it had the potential to harm or eradicate entire websites or online services, instead of specifically targeting individuals who uploaded illegal content.

        The New York Times called the SOPA/PIPA protests a “coming of age for the tech industry,” and at CTA, we were proud to help lead this vital growth. It was a bipartisan and cross industry effort: venture capitalists and law professors, computer scientists and human rights advocates, progressives and tea partiers teamed together to fight the bills. Still, the bills progressed through Congress and appeared to have the momentum necessary to become law.

01.19.17

Links 19/1/2017: PulseAudio 10.0, Linux 4.9 Longterm Kernel

Posted in News Roundup at 5:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is open source software?

    The term open source when connected to software may today seem like it’s been around forever, but you would be surprised how new of a concept it is.

    The transformational nature of the telecommunication industry’s march towards a software future should not be under estimated. What for most of its history has been an industry based on live, physical hardware is quickly turning into a future where hardware will still be there, but it will be the software inside that is truly running the game.

  • Get to know Tuleap for project management

    Tuleap is a unique open source project management tool with great momentum right now, ever month they have one major release. It’s also been listed it in both the Top 5 open source project management tools in 2015 and the Top 11 project management tools for 2016.

    “Tuleap is a complete GPLv2 platform to host software projects. It provides a central place where teams can find all the tools they need to track their software projects lifecycle successfully. They will find support for project management (scrum, kanban, waterfall, hybrid, etc.), source control (git and svn) and code review (pull requests and gerrit), continuous integration, issue tracking, wiki, and documentation,” said Manuel Vacelet, co-founder and CTO of Enalean, the company behind the Tuleap project.

  • ATTYS Open-Source Biosignal Acquisition Device Helps Developers Build Wearable Gadgets

    The software within the ATTYS is open source and the idea for the device came out of Dr. Bernd Porr who has devoted his efforts to education the public about applications and techniques for measuring various biosignals. In the process he decided to build a manufactured device that can help developers bypass the difficult step of building such component themselves.

  • Be a force for good in your community
  • Deepgram open sources Kur to make DIY deep learning less painful

    Deepgram, a YC backed startup using machine learning to analyze audio data for businesses, is open sourcing an internal deep learning tool called Kur. The release should further help those interested in the space get their ideas off the ground more easily. The startup is also including 10 hours of transcribed audio, spliced into 10 second increments, to expedite the training process.

    Similar to Keras, Kur further abstracts the process of building and training deep learning models. By making deep learning easier, Kur is also making image recognition and speech analysis more accessible.

  • Events

    • Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference

      The Mirai botnet? Just the “tip of the iceberg” is how security bods at this week’s linux.conf.au see the Internet of Things.

      Presenting to the Security and Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au, embedded systems developer and consultant Christopher Biggs pointed out that Mirai’s focus on building a big DDoS cannon drew attention away from the other risks posed by insecure cameras and digital video recorders.

    • The Linux Foundation Brings 3 New Open Source Events to China

      LinuxCon, ContainerCon, and CloudOpen will be held in China this year for the first time, The Linux Foundation announced this week.

      After the success of other Linux Foundation events in the country, including MesosCon Asia and Cloud Foundry Summit Asia, The Linux Foundation decided to offer its flagship LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen events in China as well, said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

      “Chinese developers and businesses have strongly embraced open source and are contributing significant amounts of code to a wide variety of projects,” Zemlin said. “We have heard the call to bring more open source events to China.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • How to get started contributing to Mozilla

        Open source participation offers a sea of benefits that can fine-tune and speed up your career in the tech, including but not limited to real-world technical experience and expanding your professional network. There are a lot of open source projects out there you can contribute to—of small, medium, and large size, as well as unknown and popular. In this article we’ll focus on how to contribute to one of the largest and most popular open source projects on the web: Mozilla.

      • Digital Citizens, Let’s Talk About Internet Health

        Today, Mozilla is launching the prototype version of the Internet Health Report. With this open-source research project, we want to start a conversation with you, citizens of the Internet, about what is healthy, unhealthy, and what lies ahead for the Internet.

        When I first fell in love with the Internet in the mid-1990s, it was very much a commons that belonged to everyone: a place where anyone online could publish or make anything. They could do so without asking permission from a publisher, a banker or a government. It was a revelation. And it made me — and countless millions of others — very happy.

        Since then, the Internet has only grown as a platform for our collective creativity, invention and self expression. There will be five billion of us on the Internet by 2020. And vast swaths of it will remain as open and decentralized as they were in the early days. At least, that’s my hope.

        Yet when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg shows up on the cover of The Economist depicted as a Roman emperor, I wonder: is the Internet being divided up into a few great empires monopolizing everyday activities like search, talking to friends or shopping? Can it remain truly open and decentralized?

      • Mozilla ditches the dinosaur, unveils new branding only a nerd could love

        The old Netscape browser had a dinosaur named Mozilla as its mascot and codename. When the browser was open sourced in 1998, it used the dinosaur’s name and visage as its branding.

      • Mozilla releases The Internet Health Report, an open-source document with version 1.0 coming by year end
      • Mozilla Dinosaur Now Extinct as Curl-like Logo Debuts

        Mozilla officially debuted its new logo, after an intensive open process that helped to select the new brand. Surely the new logo is a step forward away from the archaic dinosaur, but it’s not entirely a unique type of brand-mark either.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Brush Up on Your Big Data Skills, Including Free Training Options

      In the tech job market race these days, hardly any trend is drawing more attention than Big Data. And, when talking Big Data, the subject of Hadoop inevitably comes up, but Spark is becoming an increasingly popular topic. IBM and other companies have made huge commitments to Spark, and workers who have both Hadoop and Spark skills are much in demand.With all this in mind, several providers are offering free Hadoop and Spark training.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Open source organizations can now apply for Google Summer of Code 2017

      Open source ideology is changing the world. What was once (wrongfully) viewed as something just for hobbyists, is now a billion dollar industry. In other words, closed source is not the only way to make profits. Open source code is found in many places, including mainstream consumer electronics — look no further than Android smartphones.

      Speaking of Android, its creator — Google — is a huge proponent of open source. In fact, every summer, the search giant holds its “Summer of Code” program. This initiative partners inspiring developers (in college, age 18+) with organizations as a way to further the open source movement. Today, Google announces that organizations can begin applying for the program.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open-source voting is the answer to hacking concerns

      Will we ever have a voting system that is completely error-proof and impenetrable from malicious forces? Not likely. But the security breaches that are increasingly a part of daily life serve as a call to action.

      Every day brings a new report of hacking or suspicious activity, and increasingly with fingers pointing to international actors. Whether it is statewide voter registration databases (Illinois and Arizona; some say more); national party organizations (the Democratic National Committee); utilities (Vermont’s Burlington Electric); or Russia’s state-run television station (RT) suddenly interrupting C-SPAN last week — the incident is still under investigation and not confirmed as a hack — it is all very unsettling and leaves us feeling vulnerable.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • SugarPill, Substantial create open-source designs for civic action

      SugarPill owner Karyn Schwarz is used to customers coming in and asking for help with depression and anxiety. After Donald Trump won the presidency, she said she realized what she wanted to prescribe were ways to take effective action against intolerance and injustice.

  • Programming/Development

    • Java Performance Monitoring: 5 Open Source Tools You Should Know

      One of the most important things for any application is performance. We want to make sure the users are getting the best experience they can, and to know that our app is up and running. That’s why most of us use at least one monitoring tool.

      If you’re looking for something a little different in the performance monitoring market, one option you can choose is going for an open sourced tool. In the following post we’ve gathered some open source APM tools that are available today as an alternative to the paid tools, so you’ll be able to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Leftovers

  • Google & Facebook ad traffic is 90% useless.

    You Exec is a side-project that is very different from my 9-5 job, I use it as an excuse to try different services and do different consumer experiments. Recently, I have been using Fullstory to view how my visitors behave on my landing page – and boy does it make a huge difference when that visitor comes from Google or Facebook ads.

  • Fifa technical director Marco van Basten suggests scrapping offside as part of his radical plans for football

    Restricting players to 60 games a year. Replacing penalty shootouts with eight-second run-ups. Introducing orange cards and sending players to sinbins for 10 minutes.

    Former Milan and Netherlands forward Marco van Basten is using his role as technical director at Fifa to propose a series of changes to soccer to stir a debate.

    Rather than using his job to meddle, Van Basten highlights the need to preserve soccer as the world’s most popular sport.

  • Phone ban means pupils have to talk

    Gregg Davies, headmaster of Shiplake College, says students now talk to each other a lot more rather than spending their time on social media.

    He decided to restrict the use of mobiles at the 460-pupil independent school at the beginning of last term.

    Pupils caught using their phones between 8.15am and 5.45pm are given a detention. Staff can use their phones only in their offices.

    Mr Davies said: “While the accessibility of education and learning is heightened with the use of technology, increasingly I had noticed that our pupils were losing the key skill of social intercourse.

    “Connectivity was getting in the way of experiencing and communicating in real life and pupils were losing the ability to engage in social dialogue.

    “The subtle nuances of conversation are lost within electronic communication. It is simply not enough to read information, one has to see and hear intonation and gestures.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Nestlé Will Pay 13,500% More to Pump Ontario’s Water for Bottling

      Today, Nestlé pays just $3.71 per every million litres of water the company pumps out of the ground in Ontario, so that it can bottle it and then and sell it back to thirsty customers for profit. But that won’t last for much longer.

      The provincial government, which sets the price rates for water, is set to propose a sharp increase in the amount that companies like Nestlé pay, the Canadian Press reported on Wednesday. The proposed fee will be $503.71 per million litres of water, an increase of roughly 13,500 percent.

    • 3 Critical Questions Tom Price Didn’t Answer at the Health and Human Services Hearing

      Republican congressman and orthopedic surgeon Tom Price, President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, spent as much time this morning defending his character as he did defending his vision of healthcare for all Americans. Nothing he said precluded the Senate committee conducting his hearing from recommending that he get the job, although several key questions remain—and must be raised before the Senate confirms him.

      Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee were particularly interested in Price’s desire to privatize Medicare and replace the Affordable Care Act with something less comprehensive, and they harshly criticized him for drafting legislation that favored companies he’d invested in.

    • Bernie Sanders Just Showed the Country How Wrong Tom Price Is for HHS

      It has been argued with some validity that budgets are moral documents, as the priorities they outline reveal the values of the political figures who draft, debate, and enact them. And if this is the case then, surely, presidential cabinets must be understood as moral constructs, as the men and women who are nominated reveal not just the personalities but the values that will guide the incoming administration.

      Yet debates about cabinet picks often fail to reflect on the moral values of the nominees and the agendas they advance. That’s unfortunate, because those who propose to guide a government should be forced to confront the morality—and the immorality—of their own choices.

      The process by which senators offer their advice and consent with regard to cabinet nominations should weigh those choices, and the policies that extend from them. But only a few legislators are genuinely willing to hold nominees to account on fundamental matters of right and wrong.

      That is why the questioning by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, was so vital.

      Price is an indefensible pick for an essential position. A longtime lackey of health-care industry profiteers, whose own investments are now the subject of scrutiny, the congressman has made it his mission to shred not just the Affordable Care Act but the whole of the safety net that provides what minimal protections are available to low-income Americans, working families, people with disabilities, and retirees. “If confirmed,” argue leaders of the National Nurses United health-care union, “it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the health-care industry,”

    • Industry Initiative Against Non-Communicable Diseases Launched At WEF

      Nearly two dozen top biopharmaceutical companies have launched a global initiative intended to increase access to prevention and care of non-transmitted diseases in low and lower-middle income countries.

      At the World Economic Forum in Davos on 18 January, 22 companies launched a collaborative initiative called Access Accelerated in partnership with the World Bank Group and the Union for International Cancer Control.

    • Flint’s Water Crisis Still Isn’t Over. Here’s Where Things Stand a Year Later

      Residents still can’t drink the water

      A year ago, Flint, Mich., was engulfed in crisis. After officials belatedly acknowledged that the city’s water supply had been contaminated with lead and had poisoned local children, both Michigan and the federal government declared a state of emergency. Furious residents questioned what government officials knew about the dangers of the drinking water and why they didn’t act sooner.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Why Donald Trump’s Pro-Assad Stance Won’t End Syria’s Turmoil

      AFTER NEARLY SIX YEARS, the Syrian civil war is heading towards a possible conclusion. High-profile talks organized by the Russian government are set to commence later this month, seeking to bring a negotiated end to the brutal conflict. The U.S. has been encouraging these talks as a step towards a broader political settlement that will require American participation.

      While President-Elect Donald Trump and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader, have both publicly flirted with the idea of partnering in the future, any normalization of U.S. relations with Syria should occur only if major reforms and a transition of power are carried out, according to many experts on the region. Any other outcome would not end the country’s instability, only postpone it.

      “The attitude of the United States towards the upcoming talks is very important,” says Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Donald Trump has said he prefers Bashar al-Assad over any alternatives, but the reality is that any outcome that doesn’t result in guaranteed political transition and reform in Syria will not end the conflict there.”

    • Obama’s Bombing Legacy

      President Obama has joked he still doesn’t know why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but his record of waging war was no joke to thousands at the receiving end of U.S. bombs…

    • SEAL Team 6 Responds to The Intercept’s Investigation of Its War Crimes

      The commander of SEAL Team 6 has circulated a memo, obtained by The Intercept, to members of the command in response to The Intercept’s two-year investigation into the unit’s war crimes and subsequent cover-ups. In the memo, the commander claimed the article was “full of grievous, accusatory claims” and allegations that had been “previously investigated and determined to be not substantiated.”

      “The article alleges involvement of ST-6 personnel in law of armed conflict violations, including accusations of cover up by senior officials,” the memo continued. “The 41-page online article goes into great detail on various operations naming specific people and operations dating back to 2002 up to 2011.”

      “While this article appears damning on many members of our team and most likely evokes strong emotions,” the commander wrote, “we must be mindful about what a journalist can do who latches on to unfounded claims and is willing to print based on limited evidence.”

      The commander’s letter does not dispute any facts or details in our January 10 report, which describes, in detail, accounts provided by former SEAL Team 6 leaders of what they believed were war crimes committed by members of the unit in Afghanistan and Iraq that were largely ignored or covered up by senior officers.

    • America’s Russian Problem

      Russian-American relations over the past several years have taken on some of the most familiar aspects of the Cold War. The conventional wisdom is extremely one-side, concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is entirely responsible for the setback as a result of his actions in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, and that the Russian leadership is not trustworthy on any diplomatic or political level. This is a simplistic view.

      Before there can be any progress in resolving the considerable differences between Moscow and Washington, it is paramount that the U.S. contribution to the imbroglio is recognized. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago, a brace of American presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) have taken advantage of Russia’s considerable geopolitical weakness. Clinton was the first to do so with the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which marked a betrayal of U.S. commitments not to do so.

    • The whole Pravda about Russian propaganda

      Russian engineers prepare to investigate whether the Americans really landed on the moon. Sergey Lavrov declares that US diplomats were frequently among the protesters on Moscow’s streets. These claims aren’t from the draft of a forgotten Tom Clancy novel – they’re the reality of today’s newsfeeds.

      Over the past few weeks, the Russian word kompromat [incriminating material] has entered the English language alongside babushka, vodka and sputnik. Alongside the scandal of “fake news”, European states are even more wary of Russian interference on their electoral processes. How should Europe respond? How should any state approach pro-Kremlin propaganda being broadcast to its citizens? And aren’t we exaggerating the force of the “Kremlin’s hidden hand”?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Stunning Admission from Obama on Wikileaks

      Most crucially of all Obama refers to “The DNC emails that were leaked”. Note “leaked” ad not “hacked”. I have been repeating that this was a leak, not a hack, until I am blue in the face. William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, has asserted that were it a hack the NSA would be able to give the precise details down to the second it occurred, and it is plain from the reports released they have no such information. Yet the media has persisted with this nonsense “Russian hacking” story.

      Obama’s reference to the “the DNC emails that were leaked” appears very natural, fluent and unforced. It is good to have the truth finally told.

    • WikiLeaks Founder’s Fate Uncertain Following Chelsea Manning Commutation

      President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the bulk of former U.S Army soldier Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence for leaking classified materials places WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the spotlight.

      Just five days prior, Assange offered to face criminal charges in the United States if Manning—who provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets about the Iraq War—went free.

      “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” the official Wikileaks account tweeted on January 12.

      Melinda Taylor, one of Assange’s attorneys, told the AP on Tuesday that he is “standing by” his promises. Assange confirmed through the official Wikileaks Twitter account he is “happy to come to the US provided all his rights are guaranteed,” on Wednesday.

      It’s unclear whether the U.S. Department of Justice has even charged Assange with a crime, let alone demanded Assange’s extradition. There is, however, an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault.

      British police have vowed to arrest Assange if he steps foot outside the Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he fled over four years ago, and has remained ever since.

    • For first time, CIA publishes guidelines for handling Americans’ info

      Two days before Donald Trump takes office, the CIA on Wednesday published for the first time its guidelines for how it collects, stores, searches and shares information about Americans. New rules put limits on those who can search it and require they give a reason.

      While some of the policies haven’t been updated since 1982, others have been changed, reflecting radical developments in technology over the past three decades and the CIA’s effort to be more transparent and protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, the spy agency said. The changes will go into effect on March 18.

    • CIA documents expose internal agency feud over psychologists leading interrogation program

      Newly released CIA documents expose a bitter internal feud over the qualifications and ethics of two former military psychologists who pushed the agency to adopt interrogation methods widely condemned as torture.

      A series of internal emails reveal that the CIA’s own medical and psychological personnel expressed deep concern about an arrangement that put two outside contractors in charge of subjecting detainees to brutal measures including waterboarding, then also evaluating whether those methods were working or causing lasting harm.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Videos of starving sun bears in a zoo begging for food spark outrage

      Gaunt sun bears in an Indonesia zoo, so hungry they’ve taken to begging visitors for food and eating their own faeces, have been captured on video by animal rights activists.

      Footage shot by the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group showed several emaciated bears at a zoo in the Indonesian city of Bandung.

      While bears in enclosures very rarely beg for food, you can see the bears rushing for pieces of fruit thrown in, and begging visitors for more.

    • Let’s make Donald Trump’s swearing-in a call to action for the environment

      Just five months after the devastating result of the European Union referendum, and the struggle against the forces of darkness seemed to have just become even harder. Donald Trump’s election left the many in the United States reeling. In particular his success has left women, people of colour and those with disabilities feeling more vulnerable than ever. The land of the free seems a lot less free than before.

      Americans aren’t the only ones who fear a Trump presidency. His win reinforced a right-wing populism that is resurgent across the western world, but also threatens to slow down the global movement against climate change. Not only does the president-elect not believe that climate change is man-made, but his cabinet level appointments show an utter disregard for our environment.

    • Indonesia: 18 hot spots detected in Sumatra

      Forest and land fires have begun to reappear in Sumatra, with 18 hot spots detected on Wednesday morning, the highest number in the wet season of early 2017.

      Pekanbaru Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin said Terra and Aqua satellites detected hot spots in West Sumatra (1 spot), Riau (7), North Sumatra (1) provinces.

      In Riau, most of the hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu (3 spots) followed by Pelalawan (2). The rest were detected in Bengkalis and Kuantan Singingi regencies.

    • HSBC financing tied to deforestation, rights violations for palm oil in Indonesia

      Loans and credit from the British bank HSBC have helped support the unsustainable clearing of forests for oil palm plantations in Indonesia, Greenpeace said in a report published Tuesday.

      The world’s sixth-largest bank has helped marshal $16.3 billion in financing for six companies since 2012 that have illegally cleared forests, planted oil palm on once-carbon-rich peatland, and failed to secure the support of local communities for their operations – all of which run counter to HSBC’s own environmental commitments, according to Greenpeace.

      “HSBC claims it’s a respectable bank with responsible policies on deforestation,” said Annisa Rahmawati, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement. “But somehow these fine words get forgotten when it’s time to sign the contracts.”

    • Forest and land fires reappear in Riau

      Forest and land fires have begun to threaten Riau again with an increasing number of hot spots detected.

      Pekanbaru Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head, Mr Sugarin, said the hot spots were first detected by satellites on Sunday.

      “At that time, six hot spots were detected. The following day the number increased to seven, with hot spots in Siak, Pelalawan and Kuantan Singingi,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

      He said more hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu, Rokan Hilir and Siak, with another on Meranti Island.

      “Four of the hot spots were indicated as fire-linked hot spots with a reliability level of over 70 per cent,” Mr Sugarin said, adding that hot spots were also detected in other provinces in Sumatra.

      The reappearance of the hot spots, Mr Sugarin said, might be caused by high temperatures, which hit 34.5 deg C, and rampant slash-and-burn practices.

    • How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia

      According to the report, land cleared by fire carries a higher price tag than that cleared through cut-and-slash techniques, as it is ready for immediate planting, saving the buyer from any land preparation.

      The trade of burned land is known locally as terima abu, or receiving the ashes, which fertilize the soil.

      The trading value of such land is $856 per hectare, compared to $665 per hectare for cut-and-slashed land, the report notes. Land already burned and planted with oil palm is even more lucrative, with a reported value of $3,800 per hectare.

      “Buyers came from various levels: colleagues and family members, resident immigrants, company staff, village officials, business people and residents from nearby district towns,” the study says. “Networks also involved buyers from other islands, for example, medium-scale investors from Jakarta, Bogor or Surabaya.”

    • It’s Time to Stand Up for the Climate—and for Civilization

      During his campaign for president, Donald Trump promised to end action on climate change and kill the climate treaty adopted in 2015 in Paris. To truly understand why that’s such a big deal—perhaps the biggest deal ever—you need to think about a few things.

      Yes, you need to think about the oft-repeated but nonetheless true and alarming statistics: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded till 2015 snatched the crown—till 2016 obliterated the record. Last summer featured some of the hottest days ever reliably recorded on this planet: 128 degrees Fahrenheit in cities like Basra, Iraq—right at the edge of human endurance. Global sea ice has been at a record low in recent months.

    • Scientology’s UK HQ angers residents by felling trees in conservation area

      The church of Scientology has angered neighbours at its UK headquarters by expanding its facilities without planning consent and felling trees in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

      Residents close to the sprawling HQ near East Grinstead in West Sussex have accused the church of “selfishly and arrogantly” carrying out “destructive development plans before authorisation” by building a coach and minibus park before securing planning permission.

      People in the hamlet of St Hill Green are objecting to noise and light pollution and what they say is the destruction of wildlife habitats, including the cutting down of 22 trees. A planning application has now been lodged for retrospective consent.

    • History of Earth’s surface temperature 1880-2016

      2016 is officially the new warmest year on record, edging out previous record holder 2015 by 0.07°F, according to NOAA. It is the third year in a row that global average surface temperature set a new record, and the fifth time the record has been broken since the start of the twenty-first century.

      This animation shows annual temperatures each year since 1880 compared to the twentieth-century average, ending with record-warm 2016. Because of global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases, the maps from the late 1800s and the early 1900s are dominated by shades of blue, indicating temperatures were up to 3°C (5.4°F) cooler than the twentieth-century average.

    • U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network: Building Global Connections

      One of the best ways to understand how our ocean is changing is to closely monitor the health and diversity of marine life. Armed with this knowledge, researchers can better track the health of ocean ecosystems. This, in turn, helps us make better decisions to protect marine resources and support the people and businesses who depend upon the ocean for their lives and livelihood. But monitoring marine life is no easy task. Through the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, NOAA is developing a U.S. Marine Biodiversity Network through three pilot programs around the nation to create a better long-term system to monitor changes in marine life.

      At the same time, U.S. MBON researchers are growing relationships with marine biodiversity networks around the world. Why? The ocean doesn’t recognize borders. While NOAA and partners are working to strengthen local and regional networks in the U.S., researchers are also looking past our nation’s borders to help ensure marine life data is shared around the globe.

    • EPA Nominee Pruitt’s Hearing Shows Him Poised to Be “Every Polluter’s Ally”

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee dug into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, blasting his record of suing the very agency he’s been selected to lead, and putting his fossil fuel industry ties front and center.

      As Ben Jervey and Steve Horn reported for DeSmog Blog, the morning hearing unfolded in something of a pattern, with “Republican members complimenting the [Oklahoma] attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.”

    • Interior Pick Ryan Zinke Vows to Review Obama’s Safeguards Against Fossil Fuel Extraction

      During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana, promised not to hand over federal land to state control when he takes on the role of secretary of the interior.

      By standing firm against that one nightmare promise from the 2016 Republican platform, Zinke seems to have avoided the kind of fury Democrats have directed at President-elect Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency pick Scott Pruitt and his Energy Department nominee Rick Perry.

      But although Zinke says he won’t hand federal land to states, he is likely to lease vast tracts to the oil, gas, and coal industries — and flip green the yellow light that Obama’s administration put on federal lands fossil fuel development.

      Although Zinke repeatedly invoked Teddy Roosevelt on Tuesday, and promised to strike a balance between conservation and energy development, he also indicated he would support efforts to review or overturn a list of Obama administration rules including the ban on drilling in parts of the Alaskan Arctic, the moratorium on coal extraction on public land, new stream protections, and rules preventing methane flaring during oil and gas extraction.

  • Finance

    • Hundreds of thousands of retired Britons in EU ‘may be forced to return’

      Hundreds of thousands of elderly Britons living in Europe may be forced to return to the UK unless the government guarantees that their healthcare will continue to be reimbursed by the NHS, campaigners for British people settled in Spain and France have warned.

      The House of Commons Brexit select committee was told on Wednesday that an unintended consequence of Brexit could be a surge in immigration of British migrants both working and retired.

      Groups campaigning for the rights of Britons settled in Europe told the committee that many pensioners in countries such as Spain and France would not be able to afford private health insurance if the current system was jettisoned post-Brexit.

    • Four hundred jobs to go in Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank branch closures

      The owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks has announced it is shutting more than a third of its branches with the loss of 400 jobs.

      It came on a gloomy day for smaller lenders as Airdrie Savings Bank, the UK’s last remaining independent savings bank, said it was to close after 182 years – at the cost of 70 roles.

      Each bank partly blamed changes in the sector, including a shift to online banking and away from using branches for day-to-day transactions.

    • Senate’s Closer Look at Steven Mnuchin Reveals Much More

      At first blush, Mr. Mnuchin was a busy enough man, with his investment business and his Hollywood endeavors listed on a Dec. 19 questionnaire for the Senate Finance Committee that he swore was “true, accurate and complete.”

      But when pushed by committee aides, Mr. Mnuchin conceded there was more. In a revised questionnaire to the committee this month, he disclosed that he was also the director of Dune Capital International Ltd., an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. He also revealed his management posts in seven other investment funds, which he said he “inadvertently missed,” according to Finance Committee documents obtained by The New York Times.

    • Davos Elite Fret About Inequality Over Vintage Wine and Canapés

      You have perhaps noticed that in many countries, history-altering numbers of people have grown enraged at the economic elite and their tendency to hog the spoils of globalization. This wave of anger has delivered Donald J. Trump to the White House, sent Britain toward the exit of the European Union, and threatened the future of global trade.

      The people gathered here this week in the Swiss Alps for the annual World Economic Forum have noticed this, too. They are the elite — heads of state, billionaire hedge fund managers, technology executives.

      They are eager to talk about how to set things right, soothing the populist fury by making globalization a more lucrative proposition for the masses. Myriad panel discussions are focused on finding the best way to “reform capitalism,” make globalization work and revive the middle class.

      What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

    • 5 Things You Only Learn About America Foreclosing On Homes

      Hey, remember the giant economic crash of 2007? No? You drank that one away, along with your failed marriage, and the ending of Lost? We’ll help you out: It started with the collapse of the housing bubble. It turned out appraisers had been overvaluing houses for years, and banks had been giving people mortgages they couldn’t actually afford. Then all those mortgage holders started missing their payments, the cascade of defaults nearly killed several banks, and more than 7 million Americans had their homes foreclosed upon. While the bankers responsible for it all were out blowing their multi-million dollar bonuses on leather-wrapped Lamborghinis, people like our source for today’s article, Sarah, had to do all the actual legwork of ruining people’s lives. She told us…

    • Centrelink staff told not to fix mistakes in debt notices – whistleblower

      Centrelink’s compliance teams are being told not to correct errors with its flawed debt recovery program, allowing the “unjust system” to generate millions of dollars in bogus debts, a new whistleblower has alleged.

      The explosive claims are detailed in a lengthy letter anonymously sent by a Centrelink compliance officer to the progressive political group GetUp, which released it publicly alongside the Community and Public Sector Union on Thursday.

      The department of human services has dismissed the letter as inaccurate, and general manager Hank Jongen said it did not “accurately represent how the system works”.

    • Centrelink systematically ripping off clients: whistleblower

      Another whistleblower has come forward with an insider’s account of how the “debts” are being pursued, alleging that glaring errors are being deliberately ignored by Centrelink to allow it to extract money from its clients.

      Others are being told they must repay “fictitious payments”; money that they never even received, according to the allegations.

    • Trump Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Lied to the Senate

      There are many reasons Betsy DeVos’s nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s education secretary could be justifiably quashed by the U.S. Senate. Her long public record indicates she is a religious Christian zealot who does not believe in the actual separation of church and state, wants public monies funneled into religious schools, and has contributed through family foundations to bigoted groups with a militant anti-gay agenda. During her confirmation hearing she gave disturbing answers to questions about her views of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, standardized tests, and school vouchers. She also suggested guns have a place in American schools, though her claim that they were necessary to defend students from grizzly bear attacks was not very compelling.

      DeVos is married to Richard DeVos, the heir to the Amway Corporation fortune. She is also the sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is secretly advising the Trump team on intelligence matters, as The Intercept reported Tuesday. The Prince and DeVos families’ merger through marriage was reminiscent of the monarchies of old Europe, and since the 1980s they have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican campaign coffers and the war chests of far right religious organizations, at least one of which — the Family Research Council — has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    • Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing

      At her contentious confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s nominee to be education secretary on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was asked a question by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about an important education debate involving how student progress should be measured. The query essentially rendered her speechless as she appeared not to know how to answer. When Franken told her he was upset she didn’t understand it, she did not protest.

      That was just one of several moments during the hearing in which DeVos either displayed a lack of knowledge about education fundamentals or refused to answer questions that Democratic members of the Senate Education Committee believe are critical to her fitness for the job.

    • Betsy DeVos: Unprepared, and undeterred to serve as education secretary

      Even a truncated confirmation hearing designed to limit the nominee’s exposure couldn’t conceal the myriad ways in which Republican mega-donor Betsy DeVos is unprepared for the responsibility she is about to assume as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Education.

      Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who chairs the committee responsible for vetting the nomination, allotted Democratic committee members just 5 minutes each to grill DeVos. But even that abbreviated scrutiny revealed some disturbing deficits in her basic knowledge of the department’s responsibilities and authority:

      She said it should be “up to the states” to make sure public schools meet the needs of disabled students, and appeared to be unaware of the federal law that establishes both requirements and penalties for schools that fail to meet them.

    • Four Takeaways from Trump’s Latest Tweet Tantrum

      1. As usual, Trump has his facts wrong. Analysts say Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan rather than in Mexico had mostly to do with the company’s long-term plans to invest in electric vehicles. It’s easier for companies to find highly skilled workers to build new products, such as electric cars, in the United States than in Mexico.

      GM said its plan was approved before the election, but it was “accelerated” under pressure from Trump. Relatedly, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler chief executive, said Chrysler’s plan to build some cars in the U.S. had been in the works for more than a year and had nothing to do with Trump. Marchionne credited the decision to talks with the United Auto Workers.

      2. Once again, the tweet reveals Trump’s pathological narcissism. All Trump can think of about is “TRUMP,” which he capitalizes, then insists that the jobs “Came back because of me!” This is the rant of a child wanting attention and praise, not someone who will shortly be President of the United States.

      3. It’s also dangerous. Although Trump’s outrage at NBC – like his condemnation of other specific media outlets that don’t report what he wants – is harmless now, it could threaten press freedom when Trump has power over regulators at the FCC and antitrust division who could make life difficult for targeted media outlets.

      4. It’s intended to divert attention from the big stuff. Trump’s specific deals with particular companies diverts attention from his larger initiatives that will hurt working Americans.

    • UK post-Brexit trade deal with India threatened by Theresa May’s visa crackdown

      One of Britain’s most important post-Brexit trade partnerships could be at risk due to Theresa May’s refusal to reform visa restrictions for Indian citizens.

      The Prime Minister has insisted leaving the EU would allow Britain to find other partners abroad and India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, was the first country she visited, accompanied by a large business delegation, outside Europe after the referendum.

      But as the offensive to secure a trade deal continued on Wednesday, senior diplomats and Indian government officials warned Ms May’s refusal to reform visa restrictions could scupper her hopes.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The first-ever close analysis of leaked astroturf comments from China’s “50c party” reveal Beijing’s cybercontrol strategy

      The Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science team that published 2016′s analysis of the Chinese government’s ’50c Party’, who flood social media with government-approved comments has published a new paper, How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument, in which they reveal their painstaking analysis of a huge trove of leaked emails between 50c Party members and their government handlers.

      The research refutes the widely held view that the 50c Party is a group of paid piece-workers who pile on to people who post negative comments about the government; rather, the 50c Party is a closely coordinated group of government workers whose messages are part of their normal, salaried duties, and consist largely of upbeat talk about upcoming government initiatives — or issues that distract from scandals.

    • How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument

      The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of “common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.

    • The Creepy Religion That Explains All Of Trump’s Actions

      America may not have an official religion, but you’d have to be crazy to think that politicians aren’t expected to fit in a certain spiritual mold. While there might be a few exceptions, like JFK’s Catholicism, Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and Barack Obama’s dastardly secret Muslim agenda, if you want to run for president in this country, you usually need to belong to a mainstream branch of Protestantism. And a study by Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Americans think it is important for the president to have “strong religious beliefs.” That’s why when Donald Trump entered the political arena, people suddenly started asking for proof that he gave a shit about God.

    • ‘The Running Man’ Is the Perfect Dystopian Movie For Trump’s Inauguration

      The Running Man, a 1987 sci-fi action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is having a brief resurgence of relevance this year—though not in the way its stars and writers ever really envisioned.

      The film is replete with all the cheesy 80s music and smug, action-hero one liners that one might expect from a Schwarzenegger flick (yes, he even drops an “I’ll be back”). But the movie about a dystopian America pacified by a deadly reality show in the then-futuristic year of 2017 is still incredibly unsettling to watch on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

    • This ‘paid protestor’ service is likely fake, but the online conspiracy machine doesn’t care

      “Demand Protest is the largest private grassroots support organization in the United States,” the ads read. “We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!” The post claims to offer $2,500 per month “retainers” plus $50 hourly payments to protestors aligned with the organization. The logo for demandprotest.com is a raised black first, and the site includes photos of young, chanting protestors, some wearing Anonymous masks.

      If there’s any doubt about the target of protests, the ad is titled, “Get paid fighting against Trump!” For those enticed by the ads, an anonymous “recruitment” form on demandprotest.com asks potential protestors for personal information, covering areas including, “Do you have any family in government?” and “Would you say that your relationships are simple or complicated?”

    • The Unbelievable Baby-Man!
    • Trump’s pick for Commerce secretary assures lawmakers he is not anti-trade

      Wilbur Ross, the billionaire financier selected to be the new Commerce secretary, made clear Wednesday that Donald Trump’s campaign promise to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement was not just an empty threat.

      At his confirmation hearing, the 79-year-old Ross, who like his future boss has long expressed concerns about NAFTA, said that renegotiating the 23-year-old pact with Mexico and Canada would be “very, very early” as a matter of priority for him and the Trump administration.

      Ross also signaled that his agency was likely to take steps to impose duties on Chinese steel and possibly other goods that have been dumped at unfairly low prices or subsidized by the state.

      At the same time, he struck a more measured tone overall than Trump, whose populist attacks on trade throughout the campaign had raised worries among businesses and leaders in the Republican Party who favor free trade.

    • FBI, CIA, NSA and others have been probing alleged Russian money aiding Trump for months

      Law enforcement and intelligence services in the US have been collaborating to investigate possible Russian money covertly be used to aide the Trump campaign for months, McClatchy reported.

      Two sources told McClatchy that the FBI, CIA, NSA, Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network have been involved in an inquiry that started in spring 2016, long before allegations of Russian links to Trump were gathered by a former MI6 agent and released in an unverified document by Buzzfeed.

    • Ex-CIA chief rejects report Israel was warned of sharing intel with Trump

      Former CIA and NSA director Gen. (ret.) Michael Hayden rejected a recent report that Obama administration intelligence officials told Israeli officials to be wary of sharing intelligence with the incoming Trump administration.

    • How RT became the star of CIA, FBI & NSA’s anticlimactic ‘big reveal’

      The eagerly awaited Director Of National Intelligence’s (DNI) report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” didn’t need such a long winded title. They could have just called it: “We Really Don’t Like RT.”

      Almost every major western news outlet splashed this story. But it was probably the New York Times’ report which was the most amusing. America’s “paper of record” hailed the DNI’s homework as “damning and surprisingly detailed.” Then a few paragraphs later admitted the analysis contained no actual evidence.

      Thus, in a few column inches, the Gray Lady went from describing the DNI’s release as something conclusive to conceding how it was all conjecture. “The declassified report contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions,” the reporter, one David E. Sanger, told us. He then reached further into his bag of tricks to warn how it is “bound to be attacked by skeptics.”

    • The DNC Contenders Are Not Interested In Your Populist Moment
    • DNC Chair Candidate Tom Perez Refuses to Support Ban on Corporate Money and Lobbyists

      Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the leading candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee, has stumbled in recent days when asked about his position on money in politics.

      Asked at a DNC forum in Phoenix last Saturday whether he will “revive President Obama’s ban on corporate donations to the DNC” and a ban on appointing lobbyists as party leaders, Perez demurred.

      “It’s actually not that simple a question,” Perez responded, adding that such a move might have “unintended consequences.” Perez argued that such a ban might impact “union members who are lobbyists,” though the question explicitly only addressed corporate lobbyists.

      Speaking to the Huffington Post, Perez has refused to clarify his position on resurrecting President Obama’s ban on lobbyist donations to the DNC, which was overturned by former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., during Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

    • Trumpology With a Twist

      The fervent thousands who streamed in Mobile’s football stadium for a campaign appearance by quirky celebrity candidate Donald Trump in August 2015 surprised even his vain self. That was his first mega rally, and it showed he might actually be running for president rather than staging a self-promotional tour. As thanks for that he made a return to Mobile the final stop on his victory lap around the country last month.

      Some adult fans treated his approach shortly before Christmas like kids following the route of Santa’s sleigh from the North Pole: Yesterday he was in Pennsylvania, today Florida, tomorrow Mobile!

      A co-worker from a job years ago was following events closely on local news. Soon after Trump One touched down in the city, he reported on Facebook: Our next President in his motorcade to his rally right now.

      I replied that you can believe he’s your president if you like, but he and the fellow billionaires he’s packing into the cabinet are going to treat you as a subject.

    • Throw Sand in the Gears of Everything

      As many are saying, we woke from a nightmare to find it was our new reality. A gaggle of inflated far-right self-promoters and operatives, big businessmen and their toadies, and homegrown fascists will control the presidency and determine the Supreme Court majority, maybe for a generation or more. The Congress is firmly in Republican hands, save for the uncertain possibility that Senate Democrats will muster the gumption to filibuster. And that possibility could also evaporate with the 2018 midterm elections, when as many as 20 or more Democrats will have to defend their seats. No wonder that everyone I speak with searches for someone to blame—Clinton or Comey or white women or the white working class or the Bernie troops—and then asks plaintively: What do we do now?

      [...]

      Chanting crowds are the familiar insignia of movements. And I think movement politics may even make resistance to a Trump regime possible. But while the great movements of American history were the crucial determinant of our most important democratic reforms—from the basic electoral elements of representative democracy, to Emancipation, to labor rights, to women’s and LGBTQ rights—none of these movements achieved their successes simply through the gathering of people to show their commitment. People gathered, of course, but what makes movements a force—when they are a force—is the deployment of a distinctive power that arises from the ability of angry and indignant people to at times defy the rules that usually ensure their cooperation and quiescence. Movements can mobilize people to refuse, to disobey, in effect to strike. In other words, people in motion, in movements, can throw sand in the gears of the institutions that depend on their cooperation. It therefore follows that movements need numbers, but they also need a strategy that maps the impact of their defiance and the ensuing disruptions on the authority of decision-makers.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook to build new data centre in Denmark

      Social media behemoth Facebook announced on Thursday that it will establish a new data centre in Odense, Denmark’s third largest city.
      The data centre will result in at least 150 permanent jobs and as many as “a couple thousand” jobs in the construction stage, Facebook’s director of data, Niall McEntegart, said at a joint press conference with Odense Mayor Peter Rahbæk Juel.

      “Odense is not just a great site for a data centre. It’s also a great city that we look forward to living in,” he said.

    • Facebook, Google Refuse to Help Bundestag Inquiry Into NSA Activity in Germany

      US IT giants Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple refused to attend the hearing organized by the German Parliamentary Committee investigating the US National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, the committee’s working group spokesman said Thursday.

    • Verizon Claims Its Millennial Ad Pivot Has Been Slowed By Its Breathless Dedication To Consumer Privacy

      So we’ve noted repeatedly how Verizon really wants to pivot from stodgy, old protectionist telco to Millennial-focused media and advertising juggernaut. The company desperately wants in on Facebook and Google advertising cash, and apparently believes this is possible by ceasing network fiber upgrades and gobbling up failed 90s internet brands like Yahoo and AOL.

      Except Verizon’s brand revolution so far hasn’t been much to write home about.

      Verizon began its pivot with a short-lived website that imploded after writers revealed they couldn’t talk about net neutrality or mass surveillance. The company’s acquisition of Yahoo has also been plagued with issues, from Yahoo’s mammoth, undisclosed hacking scandal to revelations of the company’s wholesale spying on user e-mail accounts for the government (not that this latter issue bothered Verizon much). And Verizon’s Go90 streaming video service, the cornerstone of Verizon’s effort, has been derided as “a dud” by Verizon’s own media partners.

    • Why Finding The Best VPN For Your Needs Matters

      Finding the right VPN service provider for one’s needs can prove to be quite the challenge. Most people are well aware of the benefits brought to the table by using a VPN, including bypassing geo restrictions and circumventing censorship. These powerful and essential tools can be used for all types of online activity, ranging from online gaming to accessing websites otherwise blocked from being accessed.

    • A look at the proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation

      As a result, on January 10, 2017, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation (ePrivacy Regulation), in view of the economic and social importance of digital services, the development of Internet of Things (i.e. connected devices and machines communicating through electronic communications networks, also known in literature as “Enchanted Objects”) and the rise of the so-called Over-the-Top communications services (i.e. services provided in the form of applications running over an internet access service, such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Imessage, and Telegram; Gmail, Facetime and Viber), all of which currently fall outside of Directive 2002/58/EC [for more details on OTT services and the scope of protection of the ePrivacy Regulation, see WP240, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party's opinion 3/2016 on the evaluation and review of the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC)].

    • Encrypted email service ProtonMail now supports Tor to thwart meddling governments
    • Encrypted email service ProtonMail opens door for Tor users
    • To combat online censorship, encrypted email provider ProtonMail launches Tor hidden service
    • ProtonMail Launches Tor Onion Site to Evade State Censorship
    • ProtonMail adds Tor onion site to fight risk of state censorship
    • ProtonMail launches Tor hidden service to dodge totalitarian censorship
    • ProtonMail Is Now Available via a Tor Address to Avoid Global Censorship
    • ProtonMail Over Tor Can Now Increase Privacy, Security, And Censorship Resilience
    • Trump’s Homeland Security Team Likely to Emphasize Facial Recognition and Biometric Surveillance

      The backgrounds of the members of the team that President-elect Donald Trump is picking to shape the Department of Homeland Security suggests he will aggressively pursue surveillance using the latest technological advancements.

      Trump, on the campaign trail, suggested that his law-and-order agenda would include mass surveillance of certain targets. “I want surveillance of certain mosques,” Trump declared at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama. “I want surveillance,” he added, “I will absolutely take [sic] database on the people coming in from Syria.”

    • DMARC Secured Your Email Identity, But See How it Ruined Mailing Lists

      Email was originally designed for messages to be stores and forwarded multiple times before they got the their destination. Servers would just have to trust that the From header was correct. For many years, there was no real way to verify that you really got the email the person that the From header states.

    • Chicago Lawyer Sues City, Police Department Over Stingray Cellphone Surveillance

      What’s undisputed is that the Chicago PD is in possession of regular IMSI catchers, as well as souped-up versions known as DRTboxes. Thanks to crowd-sourced FOIA activity, it’s also known this equipment has been purchased with asset forfeiture funds in an effort to keep the PD’s surveillance purchases from leaving as wide of a paper trail.

      What can also be inferred from the allegations is that the Chicago PD deployed its surveillance equipment on participants in First Amendment-protected activity, which may only add to the Constitutional fallout of this lawsuit. This surveillance also occurred more than a year before state legislation was passed requiring court orders for Stingray deployments.

    • Why I Am Switching To Private Messaging — And You Should Too

      Starting January 20, I will be turning off Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp and every other chat app I have been using in the past decade. I will switch to Signal for private messaging and to ProtonMail for my private emails.

    • The Post-Snowden Cyber Arms Hustle

      Just after lunchtime one day in February 2015, Manish Kumar entered the presidential palace in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott via the side gate—the one reserved for private business. His government SUV was driven by a gregarious man in a loose-fitting white robe, who navigated the vehicle toward the back of the compound, away from the main palace building’s soaring glass atrium and modern-looking turrets, which give it a Martha Stewart-meets-Gunga Din look. The driver pulled up to a smaller structure with a massive satellite dish on top, where Kumar was to meet Ahmed Bah dit Hmeida, an official with the innocuous-sounding title of counsellor to the president.

      A month earlier, Bah, whose responsibilities include overseeing an electronic spying apparatus aimed at his boss’s enemies, had transferred half a million dollars to an account in the British Virgin Islands, as a down payment for a sophisticated technology suite offered by Kumar’s company, Wolf Intelligence. The full contract was worth $2.5 million, plus an annual service agreement. It was the biggest score of Kumar’s blossoming career as a globe-trotting cyberweapons dealer.

      A native of India, Kumar was no more than a competent coder, who mostly hired out bug-hunting and other demanding tasks essential to the success of a digital spy contractor. And Wolf Intelligence was still an upstart with little reputation to speak of. But Kumar was ambitious, and his timing was good. Two years after Edward Snowden had revealed the extent of National Security Agency espionage around the globe, most every country on earth wanted to develop its own mini-NSA.

    • All metadata is not personal, Federal Court rules

      The Australian Federal Court has effectively ruled that all an individual’s metadata stored by telecommunications companies does not constitute personal data and therefore need not be handed over to said individual.

      Today’s verdict, delivered by a full bench of the court, was the latest step in a long-running saga for former Fairfax Media technology journalist Ben Grubb.

      Back in 2013, he had asked Telstra for access to the metadata that the telco was retaining about him, and that it would hand over to government agencies. His request was knocked back by Telstra’s privacy department.

    • Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe

      Hundreds of people were killed and wounded in violent attacks in the European Union in 2015 and 2016. The need to protect people from such wanton violence is obvious and urgent. This report gives a bird’s eye view of the national security landscape and shows just how widespread and deep the “securitization” of Europe has become. It focuses on eight themes: states of emergency, principle of legality, right to privacy, freedom of expression, right to liberty, freedom of movement, stripping of nationality, and the prohibition on sending people to places where they risk torture.

    • Dangerously disproportionate

      Amnesty International’s research richly documents the disturbing “Orwellian” trend sweeping across Europe, where states’ growing unchecked powers to tackle terrorism are trampling freedoms.

      The boundaries between the powers of the state and the rights of individuals are being redrawn and Europe’s human rights framework, which was so carefully constructed after the Second World War, is being rapidly dismantled.

    • Leaked transport plan would replace new car tax with road usage fee

      Yle has obtained an advance copy of a government white paper calling for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s road traffic system. Transport Minister Anne Berner is to present the report on Thursday morning. If the plan goes through, it would bring significant changes for motorists. The current tax on new cars would be replaced by an annual customer fee, averaging 500-600 euros a year. Drivers could pay for road use by the week, month or year.

    • Russia Allows Edward Snowden to Remain Through 2020
    • Will Edward Snowden stay in Russia? Officials confirm asylum extended until 2020

      Snowden will be allowed to apply for Russian citizenship, his legal team confirmed.

    • Snowden’s stay in Russia has been extended by the Russian government

      U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will be allowed to stay in Russia for “another couple of years,” according to a spokeswoman for the government there.

      The Russian government has extended the residence permit for Snowden, the former NSA contractor charged with espionage for leaking details of U.S. surveillance operations, said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Zakharova announced the extension on her Facebook page late Tuesday.

      Zakharova’s post came in response to a column by Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the U.S. CIA, who said Russia can return Snowden to the U.S. as a “perfect inauguration gift” to President-elect Donald Trump.

    • Whistleblower Snowden can apply for Russian passport next year: RIA cites lawyer

      Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been allowed to remain in Russia for another three years and will next year qualify to apply for Russian citizenship, his Russian lawyer was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

      Russian authorities said earlier on Wednesday they had extended a residency permit for Snowden, who was given asylum in Russia after leaking classified information about U.S. spy operations.

      That permit is now valid until 2020, the lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted as saying by Russia’s RIA news agency.

    • How—and why—you should use a VPN any time you hop on the internet

      One of the most important skills any computer user should have is the ability to use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect their privacy. A VPN is typically a paid service that keeps your web browsing secure and private over public Wi-Fi hotspots. VPNs can also get past regional restrictions for video- and music-streaming sites and help you evade government censorship restrictions—though that last one is especially tricky.

      The best way to think of a VPN is as a secure tunnel between your PC and destinations you visit on the internet. Your PC connects to a VPN server, which can be located in the United States or a foreign country like the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, or Thailand. Your web traffic then passes back and forth through that server. The end result: As far as most websites are concerned, you’re browsing from that server’s geographical location, not your computer’s location.

    • Is Trump ready for a national security crisis?

      Much of the speculation focuses on the NSC, which plays the vital role of coordinating foreign policy and national security within the White House. NSC aides refine and advise the president on competing policy options generated throughout the federal government.

      But the Trump team has also not yet announced any appointments below the Cabinet level for the departments of State or Defense, leaving many more important posts open days before Trump’s inauguration.

      “This isn’t getting attention it deserves. Who will run and implement policy? Right now there is a big vacuum,” Max Boot, a military historian and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Tuesday.

    • Snowden Does Not Deserve the Threat He Faces

      The last time I saw Edward Snowden, while on assignment for The Financial Times in September, he was not holding out any great hope that President Obama would show the kind of clemency to him that he just granted to Chelsea Manning.

      Of course, he would prefer to return home to the United States: It was never his intention to be stranded in Russia, his passport revoked. Although a petition to pardon Mr. Snowden has now attracted more than a million supporters, he is a realist.

      I had not met Mr. Snowden in June 2013 when I was the editor of The Guardian and we broke the first revelations from the National Security Agency documents he leaked revealing the scope of modern state surveillance. My decision to publish those and subsequent stories was based on the documents themselves and the public importance of what they disclosed.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Instead of Certain Death, Chelsea Manning Now Has a Chance at Life

      Yesterday, around 4:15 p.m., we learned that President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence to 7 years with a release date of May 17, 2017. In four months, with our continued vigilance to ensure her safety and lawful release, she will be free.

      No doubt saving her life, the president cut 28 years off her egregiously long sentence. Having already served nearly seven years in custody, Chelsea has spent more time in prison than any other whistleblower in U.S. history. And history will no doubt look favorably upon President Obama’s decision to cut short Chelsea’s unprecedented sentence.

      As the ACLU’s Ben Wizner said on August 21, 2013, the day of Chelsea’s sentencing, “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.” Years before that, in 2010, then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said of Chelsea’s disclosures, “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.” And then just last week, unnamed Army intelligence officers told NBC News that in retrospect, Chelsea’s sentence “seems excessive.”

    • Chelsea Manning’s Attorneys: Obama’s Commutation Will Help Save Life of Jailed Army Whistleblower

      In one of his final acts in office, President Obama shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners and pardoned 64 individuals on Tuesday. The list included Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who is now set to be freed on May 17, after Obama reduced her sentence from 35 years to seven. According to her attorneys, she is already the longest-held whistleblower in U.S. history. Manning leaked more than 700,000 classified files and videos to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. foreign policy. She has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. We speak with Nancy Hollander, Manning’s appellate attorney, and Chase Strangio of the ACLU, who represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria.

    • Five Reasons that President Obama Was Right to Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence
    • In Defense of the Chelsea Manning Commutation

      On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, a former Army analyst who violated several laws that forbid disclosing facts that have been declared classified by the U.S. government. Laws against revealing state secrets are intended to protect national security and the safety of the men and women who serve in the military and intelligence services. Those are worthy aims and the laws are defensible in principle.

      In practice, the legitimacy of state-secrets laws has been undermined by their frequent abuse.

    • The Unexpected Release of Chelsea Manning

      She appealed not for absolution for her actions, but for dignity. “I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the [U.S. Disciplinary Barracks] as the person I was born to be,” she wrote.

      Now, days before leaving office, Obama has granted her request. Manning will leave prison on May 17th, 2017.

      When I interviewed Manning this past September, it did not feel like this day could ever come. We exchanged messages just before she found out she would be sent to solitary confinement. For days I did not know where she was. Only when she was released from solitary did I learn what had happened to her.

    • Chelsea Manning’s Liberation, and Ours

      I am again at a loss for words. Like I was on that hot summer day in 2013 at Fort Meade when, after years of arduous work documenting and transcribing Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s court-martial, her 35-year sentence came down.

      For years during those proceedings, the government prohibited the public from accessing the court record, despite Manning having been charged with aiding the enemy, one of only two offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice that apply to any person—not just military personnel. The day the sentence came down, I felt numb. Today, I feel gratitude.

    • Why Did Police Kill an Alleged Small-Time Hacker?

      Sam Maloney looks like he could be 21. In photos posted to Facebook, he’s smiling, and so are the first-year university students surrounding him. His boyish face doesn’t seem at all out of place during the 2015 frosh week celebrations captured in these images, and he looks happy and excited. Everyone does.

      But Sam Maloney wasn’t 21, despite what he reportedly told his fellow students while living in university residence and enrolled in a first-year computer science course at Western University in London, Ontario, a two-hour drive from Toronto.

      In reality, Sam Maloney was a 35-year-old freelance developer and an adept self-taught programmer of encrypted and distributed computer systems. Though he maintained a room in residence, Maloney had a common-law wife, Melissa Facciolo, and a son. The family owned a house about a 15-minute drive from the school.

    • St. Louis Cop Searched Woman’s Vagina for Drugs in Public — and Found None, Suit Alleges

      A female officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department allegedly probed the inside of a black waitress’ vagina while a male officer watched — leading to discipline for the female officer and, now, a lawsuit in federal court.

      The lawsuit, filed in November by attorney Jeremy Hollingshead, alleges that detective Angela Hawkins handcuffed 24-year-old Kayla Robinson after she was a passenger in a car during a routine traffic stop in 2012. Hawkins allegedly pushed the young woman up against a tractor-trailer and demanded to know where “the dope and the guns” were, according to the suit.

      But the cavity search turned up no drugs. And Hawkins was later disciplined for her actions, the suit says.

    • Saudi Arabia to continue ban on ‘immoral, atheistic’ cinema

      Proposals to reopen cinemas in Saudi Arabia have been strongly dismissed by the current head of the country’s religious authority.

      “Motion pictures may broadcast shameless, immoral, atheistic or rotten films,” said the grand mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, on his weekly television programme.

      “There is nothing good in song parties, for entertainment day and night, and opening of movie houses at all times is an invitation to mixing of sexes.”

      Public cinemas in the country have been illegal since the 1980s, but a plan to reintroduce them has been mooted by the head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani, as part of the government’s Vision 2030 slate of cultural and economic reforms.

    • Group: Mali Civilians Threatened by Extremism, Banditry

      Human Rights Watch says Mali’s government is failing to protect civilians in its northern and central regions from Islamic extremists who killed dozens of people last year while pressuring families to give up their children to jihad.

      The group’s new report Wednesday describes how militants have occupied villages, attacked U.N. peacekeepers and tried to impose a strict interpretation of Sharia law barring celebrations including marriages and baptisms.

    • Muslim couples freed after warning on riding m-cycles together

      The Terengganu Religious Affairs Department (Jheat) today said it had only given a warning to the 26 unmarried Muslim couples caught travelling together on their motorcycles during a recent operation.

      Jheat chief assistant commissioner (enforcement) Nik Zulhaiza Ismail said the men and women were also given counselling before they were released.

      “They were told that if they were caught for the same ‘offence’ again, they could be arrested,” Nik Zulhaiza said, adding that such couples would be detained with the help of the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and police as Jheat did not have such powers itself.

      “We are doing this to prevent social ills in Terengganu which stem from freely mingling with the opposite sex.”

    • Philly PD Bows To Union Pressure, Guts Independent Officer-Involved-Shooting Board Ordered By The DOJ

      The Philadelphia Police Department is one of many to be on the receiving end of a consent decree with the DOJ. Most PDs finding themselves in this position earn it through years of abusive policing and a consistent disregard for constitutional rights and civil liberties. The Philly PD is no exception.

      This department has been trying to make the changes recommended by the Justice Department, but apparently found some of the DOJ’s hurdles too high for it to jump… at least willingly. That hasn’t stopped police officials from declaring their inability to live up to the DOJ’s standards a success, however.

    • Texas Panel on Wrongful Convictions Calls for Ending Use of Unverified Drug Field Tests

      Drug field tests are too unreliable to trust in criminal cases, according to a Texas courts panel, which has called on crime laboratories across the state to confirm drug evidence actually contains illegal drugs for every prosecution.

      State lawmakers created the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission in 2015 to research wrongful convictions in Texas and suggest ways to prevent future injustices. The commission named field tests as a significant concern in its final report, released last month, due to their “questionable reliability.”

      In Houston over the past decade, the crime lab found that the alleged drugs in more than 300 convictions were not drugs at all. Police had used inexpensive test kits to identify the substances as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, or marijuana, and prosecutors had used those allegedly positive tests to gain guilty pleas.

    • The Ugly Specter of Torture and Lies

      January 17 was an unusually good day for truth and human rights on both sides of the Atlantic. Even before President Obama commuted whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s long prison sentence, the British Supreme Court ruled unanimously that government ministers cannot claim “state immunity” or other specious grounds to avoid legal accountability in cases of abduction (rendition) and torture. The decision was heralded by Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and other human rights groups.

      [...]

      Owing to an edict by President Obama, Bush administration officials have never been tried for their complicity in more than 60 renditions of CIA prisoners, but Britain’s senior officials may face justice thanks to their Supreme Court ruling, which cited legal authorities ranging from the Magna Carta of 1215 to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

      Evidence of official British complicity in the kidnapping of Belhaj was discovered by Human Rights Watch in Gaddafi’s intelligence files after the Libyan dictator was overthrown in 2011. A 2004 fax by the chief of counterterrorism at MI6 to his Libyan counterpart said of Belhaj’s capture, “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built in recent years.”

    • Obama’s Pardon of Gen. James Cartwright Is a New Twist in the War on Leaks

      The celebrations over President Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence have overshadowed what might be a more consequential development in the government’s long-running war against leakers and whistleblowers: Obama’s pardon of Marine General James Cartwright.

      Late last year, Cartwright pled guilty to lying to the FBI about disclosing classified information on the Stuxnet computer virus to reporters from The New York Times and Newsweek. The former general, a vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was known as Obama’s “favorite general,” was due to be sentenced this month on felony charges. Prosecutors were seeking a two-year prison term.

      Obama pardoned him yesterday, which means Cartwright will not go to prison.

    • I’m a Refugee. In America, I Felt Safe for the First Time. Now All I Feel Is Fear.

      President Trump has been hostile to Muslim refugees, and I worry my neighbors will take his words as a license to hate.

      In the third piece in the series, “Waking Up in Trump’s America,” Sharefa Daw, a refugee from Burma, discusses her fear that the Trump administration will limit the number of refugees the U.S. resettles while creating a suffocating atmosphere of hate and fear.

      I now live in Dallas, Texas, about 9,000 miles away from where I was born in Southeast Asia. My husband and I came to Dallas as refugees with our three kids — and for the first time in our lives, we felt safe. But during Donald Trump’s election campaign, I stopped feeling safe anymore. I worry that President Trump will lead with hate and fear, and our neighbors will follow his example in ways that hurt my family.

      Back in Burma, in the city of Rangoon, I was a teacher and my husband, Haroon, sold condensed milk he transported from the countryside. We had both studied biology and zoology in university, but the government barred us from entering certain professions because we were Muslims — we were second-class citizens. Haroon started going to meetings with pro-democracy activists.

    • Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama

      Not only did Dr. King and Barack Obama exist in two distinct but interrelated periods, they represented two distinct moral trajectories. By 1967 King condemned the U.S. as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” He said that he could not morally square calling for non-violent resistance in the U.S. and remain silent in the face of the massive destruction and death being unleashed by the U.S. military against the people of Vietnam.

      However – for Obama – U.S. violence presented no such qualms because his loyalties are not with the peoples of the world but with the American empire.

      During his 2009 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the newly elected President Obama presented an argument for the concept of a “just war.” Startling many in the Oslo audience, Obama forcefully asserted in what would become known as the “Obama doctrine” that: “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

      For Obama, like liberal thought in general, there is a hierarchy of humanity where a peoples’ worth is directly related to their value to the empire. If they are the objects to be “saved” from some “dictator” and they reside in a national territory that empire has decided to seize in order to plunder its resources or for other geopolitical objectives, those peoples will occupy a higher status and will be recognized as humans – at least temporarily. But it is another story for the human beings who may be resisting the interests of empire. Those people have been assigned to what Fanon referred to as the “zone of non-being” and are, therefore, killable without any remorse and with impunity – take, for example, the Native Americans, the Vietnamese, Libyan and Syrian nationalists, Palestinians, Eric Garner and Walter Scott, and the list goes on throughout the bloody history of this white supremacist, settler state.

    • Republican Lawmakers in Five States Propose Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest

      On Saturday, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off what opponents of the incoming administration hope will be a new era of demonstrations against the Republican agenda. But in some states, non-violent demonstrating may soon carry increased legal risks — including punishing fines and significant prison terms — for people who participate in protests involving civil disobedience. Over the past few weeks, Republican legislators across the country have quietly introduced a number of proposals to criminalize and discourage peaceful protest.

      The proposals, which strengthen or supplement existing laws addressing the blocking or obstructing of traffic, come in response to a string of high-profile highway closures and other actions led by Black Lives Matter Activists and opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Republicans reasonably expect an invigorated protest movement during the Trump years.

    • UN Independent Expert On Promotion Of Democracy Calls On Governments To Stop Persecuting Whistleblowers

      Alfred de Zayas, who is the UN’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and international order” has put out quite a statement in support of President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. But de Zayas didn’t stop there. He went on to point out that the US government and other governments have been persecuting many other whistleblowers around the world, including Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, and that should stop…

    • “It is time to recognize the contribution of whistleblowers” – UN expert welcomes commutation of Manning’s sentence

      “I welcome the commutation of sentence of Chelsea Manning and her forthcoming release in May. There are, however, many whistleblowers who have served the cause of human rights and who are still in prison in many countries throughout the world. It is time to recognize the contribution of whistleblowers to democracy and the rule of law and to stop persecuting them.

    • Worksheet on ‘Sharia law’ irks school parents

      Parents in Southern Indiana are upset by a middle school worksheet’s portrayal of “Sharia law,” which they say casts the Islamic code in a positive light while ignoring human rights violations and the oppression of women.

      “The way that the worksheet is left would be like describing how effective Hitler was at nationalizing Germany and creating patriotism but leaving out that he slaughtered 6 million Jews,” said Dean Hohl, one of several parents who spoke out against the assignment at a recent New Albany-Floyd County school board meeting.

    • ‘We’re facing OBLIVION’ Malta blasts EU and says bloc WON’T SURVIVE another migrant influx

      Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of the tiny island which is on the frontline of Europe’s immigration crisis, blasted Brussels for its “inadequate” response to the chaos and said the bloc must finally get its act together before it is too late.

    • Pakistan student: ‘I was tortured by hardline Islamists’

      A Pakistani student has said he was abducted and badly beaten by hardline Islamist students after posting tweets in support of five liberal bloggers who have gone missing.

      The student said he needed hospital treatment after he was blindfolded for several hours and tortured.

      No-one at Punjab University responded to his cries for help, he said.

      The five bloggers disappeared after they condemned extremism and the role of the military in Pakistan.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Graphic footage shows FIVE cops shooting dead a blind man in convenience store because he was ‘agitated’ and ‘holding a knife’

      Shocking video shows several police officers cornering a mentally ill man before shooting him dead in a convenience store.

      In the CCTV footage, obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com, James Hall, 47, is surrounded by heavily armed cops before being gunned down at the Chevron Station in Fontana, California.

      Hall, who was legally blind and suffered from schizoaffective disorder – a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorder – seemed agitated when he entered the store in the early hours of November 22, 2015.

    • Authorities revise upwards number of DAPL protesters arrested in latest confrontation

      The Morton County Sheriff’s Office has revised the number of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters arrested in a hostile confrontation with law officers over 10 hours Monday and early Tuesday. 

      The protesters attempted to push through a line of officers in riot gear who were behind a wire fence. 

      Initial reports said there were 3 arrests. The updated arrests over two days now totals 16. 

    • Girl who cried wolf over hate crime could be charged with filing false report

      A young Muslim girl who claimed she had been the victim of a hate crime at a train station and pushed onto the tracks has been accused of making it all up.

      The 14-year-old, named only as Sinem, claimed on social media that she had been called a “terrorist” and was then pushed onto the tracks by a stranger who had taken offence at her headscarf at a railway station in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

      She wrote on an online anti-discrimination and racism group that she was saved in the “last seconds” by another stranger who pulled her back onto the platform before a train pulled in.

    • Iran female bodybuilder arrested for publishing revealing photos of herself

      An Iranian bodybuilder has been arrested for publishing revealing photos of herself on social media, the judiciary’s news agency reported on Wednesday. “One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested,” the agency said.

    • What I’ve witnessed in Turkey is an assault on democracy itself

      Democracy is a bundle of rights and freedoms wrestled from the powerful. Our rulers only surrender their power when compelled to – when the cost of resisting pressure from below becomes greater than the cost of giving ground to it.

      But it is naive to regard these concessions as permanent. Elites are always waiting for opportunities to seize back their power. The ideal excuse is a national crisis, contrived or otherwise, normally involving an alliance of internal and external threats, all requiring drastic measures to defeat. The authoritarian rightwing populism sweeping the Western world skilfully exploits fear to drive back the borders of democracy.

    • Turkey’s parliament set to approve sweeping new powers for president

      A sweeping bill that will alter the Turkish constitution and grant broad powers to the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is on track to pass in parliament, paving the way for a historic spring referendum that could transform the country’s politics and strengthen the ruling party.

      The parliament passed amendments to seven articles in the constitution in a second round of voting in the early hours of Thursday, and is expected to continue voting on the remaining articles on Friday.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump’s Plan Is To Gut All FCC Consumer Protection Powers

      Trump’s telecom advisors have made it abundantly clear the incoming administration intends to gut net neutrality, roll back most consumer broadband protections, and defund and defang the FCC as a broadband consumer watchdog. While deregulation works in some sectors, history makes it abundantly clear that blindly deregulating the broken telecom market only makes the problem worse. Just ask Michael Powell, the former deregulatory-focused FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist, whose blanket deregulatory tenure at the agency helped forge the “Comcast experience” most modern consumers enjoy today.

    • Netflix May Not Be Worried About The Looming Death Of Net Neutrality, But Startups Should Be God-Damned Terrified

      With Trump’s telecom advisors and the remaining FCC Commissioners making it abundantly clear that they intend to gut net neutrality rules and dismantle pretty much all of the FCC’s consumer watchdog functions, there are more than a few worried companies, startups and consumers concerned that the net neutrality fight is about to get downright stupid. One of Trump’s telecom advisors doesn’t even think telecom monopolies are real, which should speak volumes about our looming vacation to dysfunction junction.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • State-led innovation success story for China is also a warning on trade secrets protection

      China manufactures a whopping 38 billion ballpoint pens per year. But making the tip of a pen requires advanced machinery and special steel alloys that were hitherto beyond the grasp of Chinese industry – so manufacturers have relied on importing the tips from countries including Japan, Switzerland and Germany. This may not seem like a matter of huge strategic importance, and it probably isn’t; but when Premier Li Keqiang went on television in 2015 and lamented China’s inability to produce a simple pen with a smooth writing function, it was laden with symbolic significance. The effort to remedy the problem, however, dates back to 2011, when the Ministry of Science and Technology invested $9 million to solve the problem and enlisted state-owned enterprise Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group to lead the effort.

    • Trademarks

      • LA Chargers Already Face Trademark Opposition To Their Name Over The Term ‘L.A.’

        There may be nothing more frustrating than trademarks being granted for terms that serve as simple geographic identifiers. With a couple of recent stories revolving around names of cities, or acronyms of them, it’s probably time to consider whether some kind of official reform of trademark rules needs to be undertaken to keep companies from locking up such broad terms for commercial purposes. And there may be at least a slim chance that this conversation is starting, with the high profile example of the newly minted Los Angeles Chargers NFL team serving as notice.

        It was only this past week that the Chargers finally announced what everyone already knew was going to happen: the team is moving to the city of angels. As is SOP for an organization of its size, the team filed trademark applications for several iterations of its team name, including the term “LA Chargers.” And that, almost immediately, is where the problems began to arise.

      • The Federal Trademark Office Won’t Protect Our Band’s Name, The Slants, Because It Says the Name Is Racist. We’re All Asian-American, By the Way.

        In the name of protecting us against racism, the Patent and Trademark Office denied us our rights based on race.

        I believe in the culture of untrammeled free speech.

        I don’t block or unfriend people I disagree with on social media. I actively engage with them. Despite the prevailing advice, I read the comments section. It isn’t out of a hope that I’ll find a source of deep insight on complex issues. I do it because I believe it is important to connect with others who hold opposing beliefs. To me, an open exchange of ideas, even when I personally disagree with a viewpoint, is an integral part of living in a free democracy.

        That’s what makes it all the more frustrating that I’ve spent almost a quarter of my life fighting the government simply because they don’t think it is appropriate for an Asian-American band to use the term “slant.” Today I take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Hating Mississippi Attorney General Sues Company… With Ammo From EFF

        We’ve written a fair amount about Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood over the years, with a major focus on his factually-challenged hatred of Google, that may or may not be influenced by Hood’s heavy funding from Hollywood. What is known, however, is that the MPAA, quite clearly, decided to use Hood as a pawn in its campaign to attack Google. The Sony Pictures hack from a few years back revealed a detailed plan, put together by the MPAA, to funnel money and resources to Hood solely for the purpose of attacking Google with questionable legal claims. Hood’s first attempt to do so (with letters that were literally written by the MPAA’s lawyers) effectively failed, following a legal challenge from Google.

        Hood, of course, is not one to give up, so he’s back again with a lawsuit filed against Google, arguing that the company has violated student privacy with its Google Apps for Education. If this sounds vaguely familiar, here’s the twist: this is the same basic complaint that the EFF complained about in a filing to the FTC a year and a half ago. The EFF, of course, actively fought Jim Hood in his initial attack on Google, so it’s a neat trick by Hood (and, perhaps, the MPAA?) to now use the EFF’s own legal arguments against Google.

      • The Perils of Secrecy in Copyright Rulemaking

        When a big corporation seeks special-interest laws to boost its profits at the expense of the broader public interest, it naturally gravitates towards the most secretive lawmaking venue possible. This is why Hollywood’s copyright maximalists have invested so much in international trade agreements, where negotiations over copyright rules take place behind closed doors, and negotiators take the advice of secretive, industry-dominated advisory panels.

        Last year, that tactic backfired—big time. After five wasted years of taxpayer-funded flights around the world, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) dramatically imploded, frustrating big media’s plans to extend the term of copyright protection across the Pacific rim, to set broken U.S. rules on DRM in concrete, and to turn some cases of non-commercial copyright infringements into international crimes.

      • ISP Says it Won’t Send BREIN’s Anti-Piracy Warnings

        ISP Ziggo says it will not send warning notices to file-sharers on behalf of Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The ISP, which is the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, has declared itself a neutral access provider that won’t become involved in enforcing third-party rights.

      • Internet Freedom Day: How Massive ‘Blackout’ Protests Killed Two Anti-Piracy Bills

        Five years ago today the Internet went on strike to fight SOPA and PIPA, two anti-piracy bills. As part of the historic protests tech giants such as Google and Wikipedia stood by many smaller players in a massive “Internet blackout,” which helped to defeat the bills. Since then, January 18 has become known online as “Internet Freedom Day.”

      • 5 Years Later, Victory Over SOPA Means More than Ever

        It would have happened slowly at first. A broken hyperlink here and there. A few Google searches with links leading to nowhere. In the beginning, global users of the web would have barely noticed pieces of the Internet going dark.

        Then there may have been a few investigative journalists piecing things together, and then more coverage as mainstream media picked it up. Adversaries of the open web would have grown bolder, attacking larger and larger websites. Services and companies that we enjoyed would have been shut down or drastically changed. Some sites would never have existed at all, but Internet users would never really know what they were missing.

        The increasingly rigid control of the Internet would have turned surfing the web into an experience more like surfing television stations—moving from one controlled, expensive online platform to the next—than the strange maze of eccentric, eclectic information flows that we have today.

        In a few generations, the wildness of the web would have been extinguished.

01.18.17

Links 18/1/2017: Red Hat’s OpenShift 3.4, Mozilla’s New Logo/Branding

Posted in News Roundup at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Tesla’s new VP of Autopilot Software explains why he made the move from Apple

      Earlier this month, Chris Lattner announced that he was leaving Apple to lead Tesla’s Autopilot software team after a decade at the Cupertino company where he led the development of the Swift programming language and developer tools.

      There have been rumors about why he was leaving Apple, but the software engineer has now broken the silence to kill the rumors and disclose why he joined Tesla.

      Some had speculated that Apple’s closed and secretive culture had driven out Lattner like it had with a few others in recent years. The constant patent battles are driving some of the employees mad and taking away the focus on products.

    • Can President Trump Uphold Scientific Integrity in Government Decisionmaking? New Report Tells What’s At Stake

      Last week, the US Department of Energy released a revised scientific integrity policy in what was likely the last move by the Obama administration to promote scientific integrity in federal decision-making. But we cannot forget the many steps that preceded it. Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists releases a report, Preserving Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking: Lessons from the Past Two Administrations and What’s at Stake under the Trump Administration. The report characterizes the progress, missteps and unfinished business of scientific integrity under the Obama administration and considers what’s at stake under the Trump administration.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Pharma Money Reaches Guideline Writers, Patient Groups, Even Doctors on Twitter

      The long arm of the pharmaceutical industry continues to pervade practically every area of medicine, reaching those who write guidelines that shape doctors’ practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even oncologists on Twitter, according to a series of papers on money and influence published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

      The findings of the papers provide further evidence showing how conflicts of interest help shape health care, a subject ProPublica has explored through its Dollars for Docs series since 2010. (Check whether your physician receives money from drug or device companies through our news tool.)

      “The very way we all think about disease — and the best ways to research, define, prevent, and treat it — is being subtly distorted because so many of the ostensibly independent players, including patient advocacy groups, are largely singing tunes acceptable to companies seeking to maximize markets for drugs and devices,” researchers Ray Moynihan and Lisa Bero wrote in an accompanying commentary.

    • Dysfunction Disorder

      The young mother was in danger of losing her child when she met with a psychologist in May of 2014. She had been living in a Manhattan shelter for victims of domestic violence, and New York City’s child welfare agency was considering taking the child from the woman, according to the woman’s lawyer. The psychologist was supposed to conduct an assessment and file a report, a finding that could end up before a Brooklyn Family Court judge who would decide the family’s fate.

    • The Number of US Households That Can’t Afford Water Could Triple in Five Years

      In the next five years, more households in the US risk being unable to pay for water. If rates keep rising as they’re expected to do, the number of households that can’t afford water might triple—reaching nearly 36 percent, according to Elizabeth Mack, geography professor at Michigan State University, whose findings are described in PLoS ONE.

      “I’m an economic geographer,” Mack told me. “The basic question I asked here was, can people afford their water bills?” It seems like a simple enough thing to ask—in North America, each of us uses an average of 100 gallons of water per person per day—yet the US remains understudied when it comes to water access, she told me. Her work, funded by the National Science Foundation, was one of the first nationwide studies of its kind.

    • Cher calls for firing squad for Snyder over Flint water crisis

      Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Genesee County.

      According to a press release from the governor’s office, the declaration is to address the ongoing health and safety issues caused by lead in Flint’s drinking water.

      The declaration makes all state resources available in cooperation with local repose and recovery operation. Read the full declaration here.

    • Iraq’s Marsh Arabs test the waters as wetlands ruined by Saddam are reborn

      The morning of 20 January 1992 began much like any other for the Mohammed family in the marshlands of southern Iraq. Rising at first light, they roused their herd of buffaloes and drove the beasts snorting and protesting into the surrounding wetlands to graze. After a quick breakfast of bread and yoghurt, washed down with sugary tea, they readied themselves for a long day out on the water.

    • Under Tom Price’s ACA-killing plan, 18M lose insurance and premiums rise

      Republican legislation that guts the Affordable Care Act would cause 18 million people to lose their insurance and would increase premiums of individual plans by about 20 to 25 percent, all within a year of being enacted, a report released today by the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

      The legislation would destabilize the individual health insurance market, the report cautions, so the effects will “worsen over time.” After roughly two years, the number of uninsured would jump by 27 million and premiums would increase by about 50 percent. If nothing else changes, in ten years, the uninsured would increase by 32 million and premiums would be about double.

    • EPA Under Scott Pruitt Could Cost the U.S. Billions in Additional Health Care Costs

      Supporters of Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency clearly believe the Oklahoma attorney general would be good for business. A climate denier and avowed foe of the agency he’s poised to head, Pruitt appeals to conservatives because he understands “that regulations affect our property rights, our ability to compete, and our livelihoods,” according Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, III, who joined Pruitt in suing the EPA over air pollution limits. Among the 23 ultra-right groups that signed a statement supporting Pruitt posted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute are the Exxon-funded Frontiers of Freedom and several groups tied to the Koch brothers, including the Independent Women’s Voice, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

    • The Murky Future for US Health Care

      All eyes are on the Republicans and Obamacare, as the dominant GOP now proceeds toward dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy plan, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. What they plan to replace it with is still anybody’s guess.

      I spoke recently to public health care expert and single-payer advocate Dr. Don McCain about the debate, the negatives and positives of Obamacare, and what kind of health care system we need in the U.S. to really attend to the medical needs of all people.

      McCain, a senior health policy fellow with the group Physicians for a National Health Program, said recently about the current debate, “President Obama meeting with the Congressional Democrats, and Vice President-elect Pence meeting with the Republicans are being touted as a strategy efforts on the two opposite sides of the health care reform debate. But are they really opposites?”

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • FOI: NHS Trusts are ransomware pin cushions [Ed: Windows]

      The FOI requests found that 87 per cent of attacks came via a networked NHS device and that 80 per cent were down to phished staffers. However, only a small proportion of the 100 or so Trusts responded to this part of the requests.

      “These results are far from surprising. Public sector organisations make a soft target for fraudsters because budget and resource shortages frequently leave hospitals short-changed when it comes to security basics like regular software patching,” said Tony Rowan, Chief Security Consultant at SentinelOne.

      “The results highlight the fact that old school AV technology is powerless to halt virulent, mutating forms of malware like ransomware and a new more dynamic approach to endpoint protection is needed.

    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • Secure your Elasticsearch cluster and avoid ransomware

      Last week, news came out that unprotected MongoDB databases are being actively compromised: content copied and replaced by a message asking for a ransom to get it back. As The Register reports: Elasticsearch is next.

      Protecting access to Elasticsearch by a firewall is not always possible. But even in environments where it is possible, many admins are not protecting their databases. Even if you cannot use a firewall, you can secure connection to Elasticsearch by using encryption. Elasticsearch by itself does not provide any authentication or encryption possibilities. Still, there are many third-party solutions available, each with its own drawbacks and advantages.

    • Resolve to Follow These 8 Steps for Better Data Security in 2017

      Getting physically fit is a typical New Year’s resolution. Given that most of us spend more time online than in a gym, the start of the new year also might be a great time to improve your security “fitness.” As with physical fitness challenges, the biggest issue with digital security is always stagnation. That is, if you don’t move and don’t change, atrophy sets in. In physical fitness, atrophy is a function of muscles not being exercised. In digital fitness, security risks increase when you fail to change passwords, update network systems and adopt improved security technology. Before long, your IT systems literally become a “sitting duck.” Given the volume of data breaches that occurred in 2016, it is highly likely that everyone reading this has had at least one breach of their accounts compromised in some way, such as their Yahoo data account. Hackers somewhere may have one of the passwords you’ve used at one point to access a particular site or service. If you’re still using that same password somewhere, in a way that can connect that account to you, that’s a non-trivial risk. Changing passwords is the first of eight security resolutions that can help to improve your online security fitness in 2017. Click through this eWEEK slide show to discover the rest.

    • Pwn2Own 2017 Takes Aim at Linux, Servers and Web Browsers

      10th anniversary edition of Pwn2Own hacking contest offers over $1M in prize money to security researchers across a long list of targets including Virtual Machines, servers, enterprise applications and web browsers.

      Over the last decade, the Zero Day Initiative’s (ZDI) annual Pwn2Own competition has emerged to become one of the premiere events on the information security calendar and the 2017 edition does not look to be any different. For the tenth anniversary of the Pwn2Own contest, ZDI, now owned and operated by Trend Micro, is going farther than ever before, with more targets and more prize money available for security researchers to claim by successfully executing zero-day exploits.

    • ‘Factorio’ is another game that was being hit by key scammers

      In another case of scammers trying to buy keys with often stolen credit cards to sell on websites like G2A, the developers of ‘Factorio’ have written about their experience with it (and other stuff too).

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the Shadows

      Erik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.

      On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.

    • The Issue Is Not Trump, It’s Us

      Under Obama, the U.S. extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 percent of the world’s population.

      On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation. “In order for us to heal and move forward,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

    • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About James Mattis

      1. James “Jim” N. Mattis was born on Sept. 8, 1950, to John and Lucille Mattis and grew up in Pullman, Washington.

      2. Mattis earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Central Washington State University and later graduated from Amphibious Warfare School, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as well as the National War College.

      3. Mattis served at numerous levels in the Marine Corps, beginning in 1991 as lieutenant colonel during the Persian Gulf War. When he retired in 2013, Mattis was Commander of U.S. Central Command.

      4. Mattis’ military nicknames are “Mad Dog” and “Warrior Monk” and went by the military call sign “Chaos.”

    • Homeland Security Pick Gen. John Kelly Fails to Disclose Ties to Defense Contractors

      The Intercept revealed last week that Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the the Department of Homeland Security, retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, did not disclose on his ethics form that he was listed as a vice chairman at the Spectrum Group, a defense contractor lobbying firm.

      Now, it appears that Kelly failed to list two other positions as well: board memberships with Michael Baker International and Sallyport Global, two defense contractors that do business with the U.S. government.

      Federal law requires Senate-confirmed nominees to list all positions at outside organizations on ethics forms that are vetted by the Office of Government Ethics and released to both the public and lawmakers. But the board memberships, like the Spectrum Group vice chairmanship, were not listed on Kelly’s federal ethics disclosure form nor his letter to the Homeland Security Department’s designated ethics official.

    • Drone Proliferation Ramps Up

      Over 75 states possess unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones. We know of fifteen states which possessed armed drones at the end of 2016. They are the US, UK, China, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, and Turkey.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Judge orders Justice Dept. to preserve official’s private-account emails

      A federal judge issued a rare order Tuesday requiring the Justice Department to secure emails that may be in the personal Gmail account of a top department official who’s about to depart his post with the change in administration.

      U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan instructed Justice to preserve any emails that Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter Kadzik has in private accounts that could be responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch.

    • 13 Million Pages of Declassified CIA Documents Were Just Posted Online

      A nonprofit organization, a persistent rabble-rouser, and their pro-bono attorney have succeeded in getting the Central Intelligence Agency to post the full contents of its declassified records database online, meaning it’s now possible to access roughly 13 million pages of CIA documents dating back to the beginnings of the Cold War.

      Since 2000, the CIA has maintained the CIA Records Search Tool (CREST) at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. The CREST database—containing every “historically valuable” record that had been declassified, thanks to a 1995 executive order by Bill Clinton—was technically publicly accessible, but could only be used on four computers at the archives during very limited business hours.

    • WikiLeaks’ impact: an unfiltered look into the world’s elite and powerful

      The release of a quarter of a million US diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning, the US army whistleblower whose 35-year sentence was commuted by President Obama on Tuesday, had a powerful impact on the practice of diplomacy around the world.

    • Clemency for Chelsea Manning – but will Assange or Snowden also find the US merciful?

      US President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. A former army intelligence operative, Manning was sentenced by court martial in 2013 to 35 years’ imprisonment for espionage crimes relating to the mass leaking of military and diplomatic material.

      She will now be released in May 2017, having served seven years including her time in confinement before and during her trial.

      Manning’s lawyers argued she was motivated by a desire to expose the reality of war to the American people. She leaked more than 700,000 items of interest to whistleblower website WikiLeaks. It published many – including videos of airstrikes that killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • In latest move, China halts over 100 coal power projects

      China’s energy regulator has ordered 11 provinces to stop more than 100 coal-fired power projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts, its latest dramatic step to curb the use of fossil fuels in the world’s top energy market.

      In a document issued on Jan. 14, financial media group Caixin reported, the National Energy Administration (NEA) suspended the coal projects, some of which were already under construction.

      The projects worth some 430 billion yuan ($62 billion) were to have been spread across provinces and autonomous regions including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi and other northwestern areas.

    • China to plow $361 billion into renewable fuel by 2020

      China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency said on Thursday, as the world’s largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

      The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

      The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

      The agency did not disclose more details on where the funds, which equate to about $72 billion each year, would be spent.

    • Three More DAPL Protesters Arrested Monday

      Three more Dakota Access Pipeline protesters were arrested Monday after they tried to reach the horizontal drill pad.

      That pad is the launching point for the pipeline to go underneath Lake Oahe.

    • Water Protectors Arrested, Tear-Gassed for Peaceful Prayer Walk at DAPL Site

      Water protectors battling the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline once again faced down police in riot gear, tear gas, and arrests on Monday as Indigenous activists attempted to hold a peaceful prayer walk at the pipeline drilling site alongside the Missouri River near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

    • Company Building DAPL Aims To Block Environmental Study

      The company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline wants a federal judge to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from launching a full environmental study of the $3.8 billion pipeline’s disputed crossing of a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

      Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Tuesday to stop the Corps from publishing a notice in the Federal Register on Wednesday announcing the study. ETP wants any further study put on hold until Boasberg, in Washington, D.C., rules on whether ETP already has the necessary permission to lay pipe under Lake Oahe — the reservoir that’s the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

    • The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science

      It was a year into his life alone in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains when Billy Barr began his recordings. It started as a curiosity, a task to busy his mind during the winter. By no means, Barr told me, having skied down from his cabin to use the nearest phone, did he set out to make a vital database for climate change scientists. “Hell no!” he said. “I didn’t know anything about climate change at the time.”

      In 1973 Barr had dropped out of college and made his home an abandoned mining shack at the base of Gothic Mountain, a 12,600-foot stone buttress. The cold winds blew through the shack’s wood slat walls as if they didn’t exist; he shared the bare dirt floor with a skunk and pine marten, his only regular company for much of the year. Barr had moved from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains precisely because of the solitude, but he couldn’t escape boredom. Especially that first winter. So he measured snow levels, animal tracks, and in spring the first jubilant calls of birds returning. He filled a notebook with these observations; then another notebook. This has continued now for 44 years.

  • Finance

    • Millions Of Britons Benefit From Freedom Of Movement – It Must Be Protected

      How often must we hear the lie that immigration causes low pay to fall? Or that migrants are to blame for the monumental strain facing our public services? Today Theresa May stood in front of the cameras of the world and said that Brexit “must mean control of the number of people” coming to our country. She said: “When the numbers get too high, public support for the system falters.”

      But she is not talking about numbers on a spreadsheet – she is talking about people. People who come to Britain to make a home, to travel, study, work, love, or for a hundred other reasons – and people from the UK who move to other European countries for a hundred more. I am proud to be co-leader of the only party standing up for those people, but I am also saddened that today the Prime Minister was so determined to stand against us.

      Not only has Theresa May made those lives into mere “numbers” – she has in fact got her figures wrong. In her Brexit speech the Prime Minister said that immigration puts downward pressure on low pay. This is a myth that Labour appears to have rolled over and accepted too. Yet the Centre of Economic Performance tells us that there is in fact no evidence that EU migrants affect the performance of those who were born in the UK. Since 2004 the impact of migration on the semi/unskilled sector has been the equivalent of a loss in earning of about just one penny an hour.

    • Extreme Brexit: This was May’s last moment of control

      Theresa May should enjoy today. It is her final moment of control. Her speech confirmed that Britain was leaving the single market. There would be a free trade agreement with Europe, somehow miraculously agreed during Article 50, and then an “implementation period” to enact the changes after April 2019.

      For anyone who believes in staying in the EU, or the single market, or is merely concerned about the government’s grasp of the Brexit issue, today seems like a moment of total failure. The domestic political consensus for hard Brexit seems fixed. May has confirmed it. There is all the reason in the world for despair.

      They should resist that temptation. Brexit is a marathon, not a sprint. The key moment is not now, but months from now. Today May announced a plan that she will not be able to deliver.

    • Employment tribunal penalties falling short

      The government is recouping just a fraction of the extra money it expected to generate from rogue bosses hauled before employment tribunals, new figures have revealed.

      Business minister Margot James has admitted that just £17,704 has been paid in financial penalties since they were enabled in April 2014.

      Tribunals have levied 18 fines against employers for aggravated breach of employment law, of which 12 have been paid.

      Before the penalties were conceived, an impact assessment prepared by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills estimated that judges would impose sanctions in 25% of cases. This would leave employers paying £2.8m a year in extra penalties – money which would go straight to the Treasury.

    • Apple’s EU Bill Creeps Up as Analyst Sees $1.6 Billion Interest

      Apple Inc.’s bill for unpaid taxes in Ireland is creeping upwards, as authorities try to figure out exactly how much the world’s richest company owes.

      European Union competition watchdogs ordered Ireland to claw back a record 13 billion euros ($13.9 billion) plus interest in unpaid taxes from the iPhone maker last August, covering the years 2003 to 2014. Apple and Ireland have appealed the EU’s Aug. 30 decision.

    • Here Come The AIs To Make Office Workers Superfluous

      Stories about robots and their impressive capabilities are starting to crop up fairly often these days. It’s no secret that they will soon be capable of replacing humans for many manual jobs, as they already do in some manufacturing industries. But so far, artificial intelligence (AI) has been viewed as more of a blue-sky area — fascinating and exciting, but still the realm of research rather than the real world. Although AI certainly raises important questions for the future, not least philosophical and ethical ones, its impact on job security has not been at the forefront of concerns.

    • Despite Trump’s Pledge To Kill It, Some Still Hope TPP Will Live Again, As Rival RCEP Stumbles Too

      TPP foundered on the fact that it offered precious few benefits to the general public, and plenty of downsides. It looks like RCEP is hitting the same problems. The “other” Pacific deal’s difficulties may be a further sign that the era of massive global trade deals like TPP, TTIP and TISA, all negotiated in secret, and all now in doubt, may finally be over. We can probably expect smaller-scale, bilateral deals to become the norm instead.

    • These Are the World’s Most Innovative Economies

      There’s something about those Nordic countries.

      In the battle of ideas, Sweden climbed to No. 2 and Finland cracked into the top five of the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors including research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

      South Korea remained the big winner, topping the international charts in R&D intensity, value-added manufacturing and patent activity and with top-five rankings in high-tech density, higher education and researcher concentration. Scant progress in improving its productivity score — now No. 32 in the world — helps explain why South Korea’s lead narrowed in the past year.

    • Questions and conflicts: Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s secretary of education choice, is surrounded by controversies

      Preparing for a packed first week of confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s numerous controversial cabinet picks, Democratic politicians and advocacy groups had to decide which nominees they would focus their energy on opposing. With so many distasteful characters, several of whom have attacked the very agencies they’ve been nominated to lead, opposing all of them could spread resources too thin. Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Education, is clearly one of the worst.

    • Oxfam: World’s Richest Eight Men as Wealthy as 3.6 Billion Poorest

      Six of the world’s eight wealthiest billionaires are Americans. They are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg. Oxfam said it’s concerned that wealth inequality will continue to grow following the election of Donald Trump, whose Cabinet members have a combined wealth of nearly $11 billion.

    • Juncker says Brexit talks will be ‘very, very, very difficult’ as press turns hostile

      The president of the EU commission has said talks on Britain’s departure will be “very, very, very difficult” as Europe’s press turned hostile, attacking Theresa May’s Brexit plans as isolationist, unachievable, extremist – and disastrous for the UK.

      Speaking to journalists in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker played down suggestions that May’s speech on Tuesday was a threat to Europe, and emphasised a deal had to reflect the interests of Britain and the EU.

      He said he had spoken to the British prime minister on Tuesday evening and told her the commission was not in a hostile mood: “We want a fair deal with Britain and a fair deal for Britain, but a fair deal means a fair deal for the European Union.”

    • Why Would Trump Want a Weaker Dollar?

      On Wednesday morning, currencies in emerging markets across Asia started to rise: The Chinese yuan and the Thai bhat hit two-month highs, while Taiwan’s dollar reached a three-month peak, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the value of the U.S. dollar had dropped 1.3 percent on Tuesday, to its lowest point in a month.

      Those searching for an explanation didn’t have to look very hard. Over the weekend, President-elect Donald Trump delivered some remarks to The Wall Street Journal that took many by surprise. In response to a question about trade with China, Trump declared that the U.S. dollar is “too strong.” He added, “Our companies can’t compete with [China] now because our currency is too strong. And it’s killing us.”

    • Mick Mulvaney’s Unpaid Taxes

      President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be his White House budget chief has a tax problem.

      Representative Mick Mulvaney, the nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, told a Senate committee that he had failed to pay more than $15,000 in taxes for a household employee in the early 2000s. The voluntary disclosure came in response to a query that has become standard for presidential nominees seeking Senate confirmation: Have you ever failed to pay your taxes?

    • Watch Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren School Trump’s Education Secretary Pick (Video)

      While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders asked about Betsy DeVos’ stance on tuition-free colleges and her family’s donations to the Republican Party, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pointed out that the billionaire has absolutely no experience with public education and student loans. Both senators did an excellent job grilling DeVos, but the most illuminating rhetorical question came from Sanders, who asked point-blank, “Do you think if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made contributions of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican party, that you’d be sitting here today?”

    • Betsy DeVos, an Heiress, Bashes Tuition-Free College: ‘There’s Nothing in Life That’s Truly Free’

      Betsy DeVos, the right-wing activist who the Trump administration has nominated to lead the Department of Education, criticized Bernie Sanders’s plan to offer tuition-free education at public colleges and universities during her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

      “Senator I think that’s a really interesting idea,” she said when asked by Sanders about his plan. “And it’s really great to consider and think about, but I think we also have to consider the fact that there’s nothing in life that’s truly free, somebody’s going to pay for it.”

      The proverb about nothing in life being free is ironic coming from DeVos, whose wealth is built off of inheritance and marriage. She is the daughter of Edgar Prince, who founded the Michigan-based Prince Corporation, an auto parts business that sold for $1.35 billion in 1996; she also married into the massive Amway fortune by marrying Dick DeVos, whose father co-founded that company.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Wells Fargo to Pay Transportation Nominee Elaine Chao up to $5 Million Over Next Four Years

      Elaine Chao, Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Transportation, is in line to receive a “golden parachute” from Wells Fargo & Company worth between $1 million and $5 million dollars.

      Chao, who joined Wells Fargo as a board member in 2011, has collected deferred stock options — a compensation perk generally designed as a long-term retention strategy — that she would not be able to cash out if she left the firm to work for a competitor.

      Her financial disclosure notes that she will receive a “cash payout for my deferred stock compensation” upon confirmation as Secretary of Transportation. The document discloses that the payments will continue throughout her time in government, if she is confirmed. The payouts will begin in July 2017 and continue yearly through 2021.

    • ‘It’s Tough to Say How Much Leverage People Have on Him’ – CounterSpin interview with Russ Choma on Trump’s conflicts

      Donald Trump owns a lot of things, and his big announcement January 11 was that he intends to keep on owning them—despite this presidency business, or however anyone who isn’t Donald Trump has ever done it. Whether it’s the power of persuasion or the persuasiveness of power, it’s not an unfounded concern that some in public life, including in the media, might provide insufficient challenge to the idea that worries about conflicts of interest are really just sour grapes. Reporter Russ Choma has been tracking Trump’s conflicts for Mother Jones. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Russ Choma.

    • Rex Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil Frequently Sought State Department Assistance, New Documents Show

      Exxon Mobil under its CEO Rex Tillerson frequently pressed the U.S. State Department for help in negotiating complex business deals and overcoming foreign opposition to its drilling projects, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept.

      The requests for help — documented in diplomatic cables obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from DeSmogBlog as well as some previously released by Wikileaks — raise a whole new series of conflict-of-interest concerns about Tillerson, who retired as Exxon Mobil CEO soon after being nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state.

      Consider: Exxon Mobil sent State Department officials a request to help overcome local opposition to fracking in Germany; in Indonesia, the State Department acted as a advocate for Exxon Mobil during contentious negotiations between the firm and the Indonesian government over a major gas field in the South China Sea; and in Russia, Exxon Mobil asked the U.S. ambassador to press the Russians to approve a major drilling program, noting that a “warming of U.S.-Russian relations” overall would also help the company.

    • Manning Sentence Commuted–No Thanks to Corporate Media Opinion

      The editorial boards of the most influential newspapers in the United States—the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today—published nothing in support of Manning. When an outlet did register an opinion, as with the New York Post (1/13/17), it was to adamantly warn against commuting or pardoning her.

      The only sympathetic commentaries we found in major papers over the past year were in the LA Times (9/16/16)—an op-ed by N+1 associate editor Richard Beck that called, not for a pardon itself, exactly, but for “widespread, coordinated support for a full pardon” for Manning—and a piece by Michael Tracey (“Let Chelsea Manning Go Free”) that appeared in the New York Daily News (1/17/17) 45 minutes before the commutation was announced. (The paper’s editorial board retorted later that day with “Leniency for a Traitor: Obama Clemency for Criminal Leaker Manning Is Unjust.”)

      On the reporting side, it’s worth noting that the New York Times’ Charlie Savage has devoted a considerable amount of time over the past few months to documenting Manning’s difficulties as a trans woman in a men’s prison (1/13/17)—and reporting, for example, her placement in solitary confinement as punishment for a suicide attempt (9/23/16).

      But on the editorial side—the department charged with driving popular opinion—support for mercy for Manning was nonexistent. This is especially striking, given that her exposure of government secrets through WikiLeaks was the basis for countless media reports (FAIR.org, 12/4/12)—including revelations about a 2007 US military attack in Iraq that killed two Reuters journalists. Manning’s conviction under the Espionage Act—even though she had given secrets to media, not an enemy power—posed a chilling threat to all media sources who seek to expose government wrongdoing.

    • President Obama Commutes Prison Sentence For Chelsea Manning
    • EFF Celebrates Obama’s Decision: Chelsea Manning To Be Released This Year

      As one of his very last acts in office, President Obama has commuted the sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning by 28 years. EFF applauds Obama for using his last days as president to bring justice to Manning’s case. And we congratulate all those who supported, defended, and spoke out on behalf of Manning over the years and supported her clemency petition. Your efforts secured her freedom.

      Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the release of approximately 700,000 military and diplomatic records to WikiLeaks. Under this sentence—the longest punishment ever imposed on a whistleblower in United States history—Manning would have been released in 2045. Now, under the terms set by President Obama, Manning is to be released on May 17, 2017, after more than seven years behind bars.

    • The Trump presidency starts Friday. Here is the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s agenda.

      On Friday, President Elect Donald J. Trump will swear the oath of office, pledging to uphold the Constitution. But as EFF has learned in the course of defending our fundamental rights over four American presidencies, our civil liberties need an independent defense force. Free speech and the rights to privacy, transparency, and innovation won’t survive on their own—we’re here to ensure that government is held accountable and in check.

      Technological progress does not wait for politicians to catch up, and new tools can quickly be misused by aggressive governments. The next four years will be characterized by rapid developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, connected homes, and smart cities. We welcome innovation, but we also expect to see an explosion of surveillance technologies designed to take advantage of our connected world to spy on all of us and our devices, all the time. That data will be used not only to target individuals but to project and manipulate social behavior. What will our digital rights look like during these uncertain and evolving times? Will our current rights remain intact when the baton is passed on once again?

    • President Obama’s Commutation of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Most Likely Saved Her Life

      President Obama today commuted most of Chelsea Manning’s remaining sentence for disclosing classified information about the impact of America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on innocent civilians. This is an important development both for government transparency and for transgender rights.

      With today’s clemency order, she will be released in May 2017 after having served seven years in prison. This isn’t a pardon. Chelsea pled guilty and will face the consequences for many of the charges against her. But the military sentenced her to 35 years in prison, a longer sentence than anyone else in U.S. history has received for disclosing information to the news media.

    • Will Trump’s Inauguration Be the Day Clemency Died?

      As someone who was fortunate to have his sentence commuted by President Obama, I am frequently asked, “Do you think President Trump will carry on President Obama’s Clemency Initiative?” And I jokingly say, “If Trump had the authority, I have no doubt he would put me back in prison and everyone else President Obama granted clemency to.”

    • Chelsea Manning Adds a Glow to the Day

      I cannot tell you how delighted I am that Chelsea Manning is going to be released. Having done so much to reveal the truly sordid nature on the ground of the USA’s neo-Imperial aggression, Manning is a true hero. It is a shame that Obama is forcing her to undergo another five months of a truly hellish prison sentence, but still there is now an end in sight.

      All of which adds to the mystery of Obama. He launched the most vicious War on Whistleblowers ever in American history. Obama’s people even went for whistleblowers like Bill Binney and Tom Drake of the NSA, whose whistleblowing happened pre-Obama but who Bush had not sought to persecute. So freeing a whistleblower is the least likely act of clemency to be expected.

    • Would You Have Chelsea Manning’s Courage When Called?

      With more than a little irony, while I was in Iraq working for the State Department, Chelsea Manning’s office was across the hall from mine. While I was winning the war by writing emails to the embassy, Manning was across the hall capturing the texts of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, famously released by Wikileaks, showing that was could never be won.

      My war in Iraq ended in near-complete failure. What Manning did will have an impact far beyond that terrible struggle. In this video, I ask the question of why I didn’t do what Manning did, and challenge the audience: when faced with history, would you have the courage to do what Manning did?

    • Velcome, Comrade Trump

      It is impressively sad how quickly this all happened.

      Their shock that Hillary could lose to… him… needed some sort of explanation, as it could not have anything to do with Clinton’s shortcomings. It was cheating (we’ll have recounts), it was the Electoral College (faithless electors, unite!), it was Comey, or the media, or… when all else fails, you go with what you know: the Russians.

      Putin is just a wonderful supervillain, and Trump such a stupid foil, that it was an easy sell. Dust off some old propaganda (the RT.com Red Scare part of the IC report was four years old itself, the material in it about 50 years old) and you are set. The American people are the most frightened puppies on earth and with terrorism just not scary as it once was, a new villian that plays to old fears appeared at the right place at the right time.

      The Chinese might have been a good group to blame, but they don’t seem to take the bait and plus they make all our stuff. Never mind that long string of evil dictators who attack their own people across the MidEast the U.S. has used for the last 15 years to keep the war machine chugging, we’re back to the Eagle versus Bear. We’ll probably give Putin back the Fulda Gap just so we can fight over it.

    • Almost Every Word Of John McCain’s Response To Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Commutation Is Flat Out Wrong

      Manning has been in prison for seven years, with a significant portion of that being held in solitary confinement, sometimes being made to strip naked before being able to sleep. This was called “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture” by the United Nations. You would think, of all people, Senator John McCain, who similarly was held in solitary confinement and tortured for extended periods while being held captive for 5 and a half years in Vietnam, would recognize that “only” 7 years of such treatment wouldn’t exactly encourage more of Manning’s behavior.

      To put it more directly: who, in their right mind, is going to leak a bunch of documents thinking “oh, perhaps after going through literal torture, character assassination and basically hell on earth, it’ll be okay, because maybe some other President will commute my insane 35 year sentence to just 7 years? No one. The idea that this commutation is going to lead to further leaks is ridiculous. If anything will lead to further leaks it’s Manning’s courage in seeing something wrong in the system and actually doing something about it.

      In fact, it was things like Manning’s courage that helped inspire Ed Snowden and other whistleblowers to step up. They didn’t do it on the idea that they might “only” suffer 7 years of torture.

    • Obama’s parting words: ‘We’re going to be OK’

      Barack Obama used his departing words as President Wednesday to offer an assured — if not entirely optimistic — outlook for a country governed by Donald Trump.

      “At my core I think we’re going to be OK,” Obama said as he concluded his final news conference at the White House. “We just have to fight for it, work for it, and not take it for granted.”

      “I know that you will help us do that,” he told reporters assembled in the White House briefing room.

    • Obama defends Chelsea Manning commutation

      “The sentence that she received was very disproportional—disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received,” the president said. “It made sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentence. I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent that when it comes to our nationals security that whenever possible we need for people who may have legitimate concerns…that they try to work through the established channels.”

    • DeRay and Stay Woke Activists Launch Resistance Manual, an Open-Source Site Designed To Take on Trump

      Packnett added to that, saying, “The Resistance Manual is rooted in the basic principle that the power belongs to the people. We wanted to create a clear tool that people can use for targeted resistance for the next 4 years. Protecting progress and advancing justice for vulnerable communities is necessary. Therefore, so is resistance. This is one important tool to do it.”

    • Robert Crumb interviewed about Donald Trump

      It’s always interesting to hear what Robert Crumb has to say about notable people, alive and dead. In the latest installment of “Crumb on Others,” Alexander Wood asks Crumb about Castro, Lenin, and Trump.

    • Crumb On Others: Trump, Castro, & More
    • How Britain tried to influence the US election in 1940

      Plenty of Americans are concerned, to put it mildly, about the alleged Russian attempt to influence the presidential election here last year. But it might surprise many Americans to learn that this is not the first time a foreign power has tried to sway a US election. Apparently, the Brits and the Germans both tried to influence the campaign in 1940. The story was first flagged by Politico.

    • Presidents, Profits, and Princes

      Many of the Wikipedia-driven insta-experts on the Electoral College are now transforming into insta-experts on the Emoluments Clause, claiming it can be used to impeach President Trump. So what is the clause, and in practical terms, how might it affect Trump?

    • Will Judith Miller Ever Live It Down?

      Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, whose wretched journalism disgraced her newspaper and helped deceive the country into launching the disastrous Iraq War, offered some thoughts Tuesday via Twitter about President Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence.

    • Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies

      Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee, said it should be up to states whether guns are allowed in schools, citing grizzly bear protection as part of her answer.

      She also said she would support Trump if he moved to ban gun-free schools zones, a position he advocated on the campaign trail.
      Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who represents Sandy Hook, the site of the 2012 school shooting, asked DeVos if she believes guns have “any place in and around schools.”

      “I think that is best left to locales and states to decide,” she said.

      After Murphy pushed DeVos about why she can’t say definitively whether they belong, DeVos brought up a story Sen. Mike Enzi told earlier about a school in Wyoming that has fences around it to protect against grizzly bears.

      “I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he is talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in a school to protect from potential grizzlies,” she said.

    • [Older] Cracking Down On Dissent: The U.S. Government Has Essentially Created A Ministry of Truth

      Obama’s Recently-Signed National Defense Authorization Act Includes A ‘Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act’. The Intercept’s Alex Emmons Explains…

    • Trump inauguration’s ‘Cabinet dinner’ offers access for cash

      Donors who give $100,000 and $250,000 can dine with potential agency heads.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Suspension and Censorship Have Not Deterred Paylan

      The dust-up over the weekend in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, which resulted in the suspension of Garo Paylan from parliament is nothing short of censorship. Yet, despite these hurdles, Paylan continues to move forward undeterred from the infringements on his right to free speech and expression.

      On Saturday, during the Turkish legislature’s debate on a new constitution, Paylan, , an Armenian member of the Turkish legislature representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), spoke truths about the Armenian Genocide raising the ire of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) legislators who demanded that his comments about the Genocide be struck and voted to suspend the Armenian lawmaker for three consecutive parliamentary sessions.

    • Censorship on college campuses is wrong, even if it’s conservatives doing the censoring

      In order to maintain our moral high ground over terrorists, we banned the use of torture. But risk of redundancy hasn’t stopped two Arizona state legislators from taking a page out of the SJW handbook by introducing a bill that would strip state aid from schools with classes that teach progressive attitudes on race, class, and gender.

    • First Amendment Protections Don’t End For Anonymous Speakers Who Lose Lawsuits, EFF Tells Court

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal appeals court to uphold a judge’s ruling that the identity of an anonymous blogger found to have infringed copyright should remain secret, arguing that courts must balance litigants’ needs to unmask online speakers against the First Amendment protections afforded to those relying on anonymity.

      Maintaining one’s anonymity online may be warranted even in cases—like this one—where a court ruled that a blogger infringed a copyright, EFF said in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit. The balancing test required by the First Amendment to protect speakers who choose to mask their identity must be applied at every stage of a lawsuit, including after a court finds an anonymous speaker violated the law, EFF said.

      EFF believes Signature Management Team LLC v. John Doe marks the first case to consider whether speakers can remain anonymous even after a court rules that they broke the law.

    • Under threat: five countries in which civic space is rapidly closing

      President Rodrigo Duterte successfully courted controversy in 2016 but his flamboyant political style had very real consequences for the Filipino people. Thousands of citizens were killed in extrajudicial killings openly encouraged by Duterte as part of a so-called war on drugs. Activists and NGOs fear that the war is merely a thinly veiled excuse to permanently silence dissent against Duterte and his government. Mirroring many other similar political contexts, the assault on civilians comes hand in hand with direct attacks on the media, with President Duterte even endorsing the killing of “corrupt” journalists.

    • The internet can spread hate, but it can also help to tackle it

      In the weeks surrounding the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, anti-immigrant hate crime in the UK rose to worrying levels, culminating in the dramatic murders of the Polish national Arkadiusz Jóźwik and British MP Jo Cox.

      For some, it seems that the victory of the ‘leave’ campaign legitimised hostility towards immigrants and minorities. Brexit was fought on a narrative of division, tapping into deeply-felt tensions that were caused by poverty, growing levels of inequality and a crisis of faith in political representation and democracy. These tensions were then wrapped up in a simplistic package of blame against immigrants. The binary politics of the referendum—‘yes’ or ‘no’—reinforced the narratives of ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’, pushing people to pick sides crudely.

    • Facebook dismissive of censorship, abuse concerns, rights groups allege

      Nearly 80 rights groups on Wednesday accused Facebook (FB.O) of “racially biased censorship” and failing to be more transparent about its removal policies and cooperation with law enforcement, adding to criticism the company has faced in recent months over its management of content on its network of 1.8 billion users.

      The sharp rebuke, sent in response to a December letter from Senior Vice President Joel Kaplan, reflected increasing impatience among advocacy groups that say Facebook has inadequately addressed their concerns despite repeated promises of action from senior executives.

      Instead, the groups wrote, Kaplan’s response “merely explains current, publicly available Facebook policies and fails to address the modest solutions to racially biased censorship we presented in earlier letters and meetings.” SumOfUs, Center for Media Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union were among the signatories.

    • Kevin Tierney: Quebec’s culture of censorship, from comedy to journalism

      Watching Nathalie Portman’s shimmering portrait of the ice queen of Camelot, Jacqueline Kennedy, in the film, Jackie, I was reminded of a joke by the late Lenny Bruce, still pretty much the sitting monarch in the genius-comic shrine.

      Kennedy is the only woman who could hitchhike alone across America and not have anyone lay a hand on her, he said, before saying she was related to an Amana refrigerator. He would go on to say more. Holding up a picture of the assassination of John Kennedy, Bruce mocked Jacqueline Kennedy’s supposed heroics, saying she was “hauling ass to save ass”— trying to get out of the way.

      Outrageous then, and now, to be sure.

    • Daily Report: A New Form of Censorship in App Stores
    • Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Chinese Officials With Government Access To Every Kind Of Personal Data Are Selling It Online

      Back in 2015, Techdirt wrote about a government project in China that involves “citizen scores,” a rating system that will serve as a measure of a person’s political compliance. The authorities aim to do that by drawing on the huge range of personal data that we all generate in our daily use of the Internet. The data would be scooped up from various public and private services and fed into an algorithm to produce an overall citizen score that could be used to reward the obedient and punish the obstreperous. Naively, we might suppose that only authoritarian governments could ever obtain all that highly-revealing information, but an article from supchina.com reveals that is far from the case

    • EFF to BART: Adopt Spy Tech Control Law

      EFF urged the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board to adopt a new law that would ensure community control of whether to adopt new surveillance technologies.

      All too often, police executives unilaterally decide to adopt powerful new spying tools that invade our privacy, chill our free speech, and unfairly burden communities of color. These intrusive and proliferating tools of street-level surveillance include drones, cell site simulators, surveillance cameras, and automatic license plate readers.

    • NSA Allowed to Share More Intercepts ; Russia Extends Snowden Asylum ; Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition and Prison in Italy …and More Picks
    • Was Snowden a Russian Agent?

      One evening in the fall of 2015, the writer Edward Jay Epstein arranged to have dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side with the director Oliver Stone. At the time, Stone was completing Snowden, an admiring biopic about the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, who disclosed a vast trove of classified documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs to journalists in June 2013 and had since been living as a fugitive in Russia. Epstein was working on a book about the same topic, which has now been published under the title How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft. As the writer recounts in that book, their conversation took a testy turn:

    • Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia extended for three years

      Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia has been extended for three years, his lawyer has said, as a Russian official said the whistleblower would not be extradited to the US even if relations improved under the incoming president, Donald Trump.

    • Will Information Sharing Among Intelligence Agencies Risk Privacy?
    • Not too late to snoop! Obama takes one last shot at your civil liberties
    • 20 Former Gov’t Officials Ask Obama To Declassify Evidence On Russia Hacking Or Admit There Is None
    • Ex-US Intel Operatives Demand Evidence of ‘Russian Hacking’ – If It Exists
    • Microsoft Sort Of Addresses Windows 10 Privacy Complaints With New Privacy Dashboard

      For the last few years, Microsoft has been under fire because its Windows 10 operating system is unsurprisingly chatty when it comes to communicating with the Redmond mothership. Most of the complaints center around the fact that the OS communicates with Microsoft when core new search services like Cortana have been disabled, or the lack of complete, transparent user control over what the operating system is doing at any given time. Microsoft has since penned numerous blog posts that claim to address consumer concerns on this front — without actually addressing consumer concerns on this front.

      [...]

      We’ll have to wait until Spring to see if these changes address concerns of the EFF, which last August criticized Microsoft’s malware-esque forced upgrade tactics and its refusal to answer consumer privacy inquiries in a straightforward fashion. Microsoft’s also trying to appease French regulators, who last summer demanded that Microsoft “stop collecting excessive user data” and cease tracking the web browsing of Windows 10 users without their consent. Of course if having total, granular control over how chatty your OS is over the network is your priority, not using Windows whatsoever probably remains your best option.

    • Law Enforcement Has Been Using OnStar, SiriusXM, To Eavesdrop, Track Car Locations For More Than 15 Years

      Thomas Fox-Brewster of Forbes is taking a closer look at a decade-plus of in-car surveillance, courtesy of electronics and services manufacturers are installing in as many cars as possible.

      Following the news that cops are trying to sweat down an Amazon Echo in hopes of hearing murder-related conversations, it’s time to revisit the eavesdropping that’s gone on for years prior to today’s wealth of in-home recording devices.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence

      After nearly seven years in unjust and abusive confinement, heroic WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be free on 17 May 2017. President Obama has commuted Chelsea’s sentence, releasing her from prison in five months’ time but leaving her conviction intact.

      The humanitarian argument for Chelsea Manning’s release is compelling. Chelsea’s experience in detention has been one of flagrant disregard for her mental health and basic well-being, from the cage she was held in Camp Arifjan in Kuwait to the torturous solitary confinement she was forced to experience at the Quantico Marine brig, to the continuing refusal to provide adequate medical care for her gender dysphoria. Despite this wall of resistance, Chelsea has drawn global attention to the difficulties transgender people in the military experience.

      Chelsea’s treatment in the past year, three years after coming out as trans, has been especially deleterious. Chelsea attempted suicide twice over the course of 2016, and the military’s response epitomises what she has had to deal with throughout her imprisonment.

      Rather than provide psychological care, the Army responded to Chelsea’s attempt by punishing her with a week in solitary confinement. When this punishment was suddenly enforced before Chelsea had the chance to appeal it, Chelsea made the second attempt on her life.

    • Who Is Chelsea Manning?

      Chelsea Manning is a former private first class in the US Army and whistleblower who leaked 700,000 classified US State Department and military documents.

      At the time of the leaks and her military court martial in Ft. Meade, Maryland, Manning was known as Bradley Manning. Ft. Meade is a military installation and the home base of the National Security Agency (NSA).

    • Surprise: President Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      And yes, commuting the sentence (which shortens the sentence, but is not a full pardon…) is a form of clemency. So now there’s a separate question to ask: will Assange agree to be extradited to the US (or will he just come here voluntarily?). Perhaps after Trump takes over later this week, that won’t be such a huge concern, since Trump has magically morphed into a huge Wikileaks/Assange supporter.

    • It Just Got Real — Cops At DAPL Now Have Missile Launchers — Not Kidding

      Standing Rock, ND — Over the last several months, the world has watched the American police state in action as cops from more than a dozen states beat, gassed, pepper sprayed, tasered, shot, and severely injured water protectors and protesters in North Dakota. Using their militarized gear, police have blinded at least one person and blown up the arm of another. With all the heavily armed police and military in the area, one would think that having a missile launcher would be entirely unnecessary — however, one would be wrong.

    • President Obama Lets Alleged Source of Stuxnet Leak Walk Free

      President Obama pardoned retired General James Cartwright, who is believed to be the source who told a New York Times reporter that the United States and Israel were behind the famous “Stuxnet” cyberattack. The cyberattack made headlines around the world in 2010 and is widely considered to be among the first to target infrastructure and make real-world damage, as it sabotaged equipment in an Iranian nuclear facility.

    • Kerala Muslim Girl Who Married A Hindu Boy Alleges Threat To Her Life From Islamist Outfit

      In a complaint to the police, Jasmi has named four people, who will be responsible if something happens to her.

      Jasmi had married a Hindu boy last week has named activists of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) of intimidating her and her husband.

      “Why are you behind our lives? Do you want our lives. I too want to live on this earth. Please don’t come after me or the person I love”, she adds in a separate post.

    • Young blood bound to get excited if girls not properly dressed: Md N R Barkati, shahi imam

      This is the 21st century and every day women in India are not only terrorised by rape but are also blamed for it. On Tuesday Syed Mohammad Nurur R Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid in Kolkata says young blooded men are bound to get “excited” if girls are not properly dressed. In an interview on national TV he explains “exactly” how a girl should be dressed which has stirred anger amongst feminists and women empowerment civil society organisations. Being the imam of a major mosque in a metropolitan city, he owns no responsibility as to how he is shaping his audience’s intellect. Whereas news of rapes are shaking the nation, he blames young girls for being “inadequately” dressed.

    • Fear grows among Egypt’s Christians after a Coptic doctor was stabbed in the throat

      In the past two weeks, several Copts have been murdered in Egypt. Even before the dust settled over the murder of a Coptic merchant in Alexandria (220 km north of Cairo) on 3 January, Egyptian security forces found the body of a Coptic doctor killed last Friday at his home, stabbed in the throat.

      Dr Bassam Safouat Zaki was general surgeon in Asyut (370 km south of Cairo). Initial findings indicate that he was stabbed in the neck, chest and back and bled to death through his mouth, nose and ears.

      A few days earlier, on 5 January, security forces discovered the bodies of a Coptic couple, Gamal Sami Guirguis and Nadia Amin Guirguis, stabbed to death in their home as they slept, in Monufia Governorate, northern Egypt, about 85 km from the Egyptian capital.

    • Bangladesh’s plan to allow some child marriages is ‘step backwards’

      Bangladesh will be taking a step backwards in efforts to end child marriage if parliament approves changes to a law that would permit girls below 18 to be married in “special cases”, a global alliance of charities said last week.

      The nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a decades-old law that bans marriage for girls under 18 and men under 21.

    • White House concedes it won’t close Guantánamo after all

      The White House said Tuesday that the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba will still be open when President Barack Obama leaves office, conceding that a core campaign promise will go unfulfilled.

      Administration officials had long insisted that the president was continuing to work toward closing the facility even when it became obvious that it would no longer be possible for practical reasons before President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday.

      White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the administration determined it wouldn’t happen when they realized they did not have enough time left to comply with the 30-day deadline for notifying Congress in advance of a detainee transfer.

    • FBI Insists That When They Steal People’s Stuff, They’re Doing It for You

      The FBI does want you to understand that while, yes, they do seize and keep billions of dollars in assets from citizens through a system that doesn’t require them to prove a crime, they’re doing it for the financial benefit of communities.

      Nowhere in this new FBI “news story” titled “Forfeiture as an Effective Law Enforcement Tool” will you find the words “Fourth Amendment, “Due Process,” or “innocence.” Instead it uses a single example of using forfeiture to snag drug dens in Rutland, Vermont, and returning them to the community. By “community” they mean the organization with a $1.25 million redevelopment grant and not the family that was forced out of one of the buildings and ended up living in a trailer. That’s right—the FBI is using a case where families got bounced out of their homes as an example of the benefits of forfeiture. The FBI wants to convince us that this is what civil asset forfeiture looks like—that it is all for our benefit.

    • The Legal Netherworld Of Traffic Cam Tickets, Where Everything Is Both Civil And Criminal, While Also Being Mostly Neither

      Adam MacLeod, law professor at Faulkner University, was the recipient of a traffic cam speeding ticket. The problem was that he wasn’t driving the vehicle when the infraction occurred. So, it was his vehicle being ticketed, but he was being held responsible for someone else’s infraction.

      He decided to fight it, and that fight uncovered just how crooked the traffic cam system is. Not only are traffic camera manufacturers receiving a cut of every ticket issued, but tapping into this new revenue stream has prompted municipalities to undermine the judicial system.

    • That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century

      The traffic-camera ticket: like a parking ticket, it looks lawful enough. When they receive one, most people simply write the check. It seems like the sensible and law-abiding thing to do.

      But this is not a parking ticket. In legal terms, it is not a proceeding in rem—against your car. It is a legal action against you personally. And before you pay the fine, you might want to hear my story.

      My story is not legal advice. I offer it only to show how our ruling elites have corrupted the rule of law and to suggest why this matters for the American experiment in self-governance.

    • 99 former deputies issue statement against executive presidency

      Ninety-nine former deputies elected from various political parties in Turkey released a statement on Tuesday making a case against switching to an executive presidency and called for “normalization” as concerns over new constitutional amendments run high.

      Former deputies including ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) founder Abdullatif Şener and former deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) composer and author Zülfü Livaneli made a call to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well, stating that the right to declare a state of emergency should be vested in the parliament, not in the executive.

      The Turkish Parliament has approved an 18-article constitutional amendment package that will expand the powers of the president, allowing the head of state to even dissolve the parliament.

    • Obama commutes sentence for political prisoner Oscar López Rivera

      Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Oscar López Rivera, a victory for the Puerto Rican independence activist who is considered to be one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners.

      In his final days in office, Obama has issued a record number of pardons and commutations, including granting the release of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, the US army soldier who became one of the most famous whistleblowers in modern times.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Local Activism Is the Best Way to Preserve Net Neutrality

      Before President-elect Donald Trump takes office this week, take a moment to remember the height of the net neutrality battles of 2014 and 2015. Remember the letter writing campaigns, the comments filed to the Federal Communications Commission (some of them handwritten), remember John Oliver’s rant. Remember that the people fought, and the people won, and for a brief moment, big telecom monopolies had at least some limits placed on them by the federal government.

      Remember it now, because very likely, the anti-regulation commissioners of the FCC, reporting to an anti-regulation president, are about to undo the rules millions of Americans fought so hard for. Under Trump, big telecom and its sympathizers will call the shots.

      This means that net neutrality protections that prevent internet service providers from slowing down certain types of traffic will very likely go away. It means Netflix may once again have to pay Comcast to ensure its customers can watch shows without buffering (it also means, for example, that ISPs would be able to charge you extra to stream Netflix as opposed to content on an ISP-owned platform). And it means that the blatant net neutrality violations being perpetrated by wireless carriers—the “free data streaming” for certain types of data—will continue and will likely never be stopped by the FCC.

    • Dear Lawmakers: Five Years Ago The Internet Rose Up In Protest & We’re Still Watching

      As you may have heard, today is the five-year anniversary of the massive internet blackout that tons of internet users and sites participated in to protest a pair of awful copyright laws, SOPA & PIPA, which would have undermined some of the most basic principles of a free and open internet. In case you’ve somehow forgotten, go and take a look at the Archive Team’s world tour of sites that either went down completely or put up some sort of detailed splash page speaking out against the bills and in favor of internet rights and freedoms. Contrary to what some have tried to claim in rewriting history, that event was a true example of a grassroots uprising against legacy industries and government bureaucracies that wanted to shackle the internet and make it less open, less free and less powerful.

      Since that day, there have been multiple other fights around internet freedom, having to do with mass surveillance, encryption, privacy, net neutrality and more. And there will continue to be more fights — some of them repeats of fights we’ve already had, and some brand new ones. In particular, we see that Congress is already dipping its toes in the water about copyright reform, five years after SOPA. For years, we heard that, after SOPA, no one in Congress wanted to touch copyright law for fear of “being SOPA’d.” However, with some of the new plans coming out for copyright reform, it appears that some in Congress are hoping that the internet has forgotten or moved on.

    • Report: Verizon Considering Comcast Merger In Supernova Of Dysfunction

      Despite Trump’s criticism of the AT&T Time Warner merger (largely believed to be due to negative CNN coverage), most Wall Street and telecom sector analysts expect the next few years will see an explosion in previously-unthinkable mega-mergers. Sprint is expected to make another bid to acquire T-Mobile after the deal was blocked by regulators back in 2014. Comcast or Charter are expected to make their own bid for T-Mobile if Sprint can’t come up with the cash. Other rumored acquisition targets for giant telecom companies include Dish (and its hoarded spectrum) or any number of massive media empires.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WEF Davos: Who Will Own The Knowledge Produced From “Our” Data By Machines?

      Artificial intelligence has succeeded the Internet of Things or the earlier cloud mania as buzzword number one at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum that started today (17 January) in Davos, Switzerland. While ethical questions surrounding the intelligent machines are discussed at length and the question for regulatory steps considered, answers of who will own the knowledge created by machines or intelligent bots vary.

    • At trial, Zuckerberg is “highly confident” Oculus built its own technology

      In what he said was his first time testifying in a courtroom, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was “highly confident that Oculus products are built on Oculus technology.”

    • Zuckerberg takes the stand in Oculus trade secrets trial

      Today, Mark Zuckerberg took the stand in Northern Texas District Court to defend Oculus against accusations of copyright violation and trade secret theft. The plaintiff is Zenimax Media, the parent company of id and Bethesda, which provided crucial support for many of Oculus’ first demos. Now, Zenimax claims that collaboration allowed Oculus to steal crucial intellectual property in the company’s formative early years.

    • Copyrights

      • One Weird Trick to Improve Copyright: Fix EULAs

        Congress has been spinning its wheels on comprehensive copyright reform, but it could do a lot of good with one simple fix: forbid manufacturers from using EULAs to force consumers to waive their fair use rights.

        Traditionally, once a person has purchased a product, she has been free to use it however she sees fit without oversight or control from the copyright owner. Purchasers have also been free to use competitors’ add-on software and hardware that interoperate with the goods they buy, because innovators have been able to develop and distribute such technologies.

      • UK ISPs to start sending Pirates letters

        A group of UK ISPs will soon send written warnings to account holders associated with IPs suspected of accessing illegally shared files. The only ISPs to have publicly agreed to the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme, the active portion of the Creative Content UK initiative from BPI, so far are the big four, namely Sky, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. It is unclear if their subsidiary companies (such as BT’s Plusnet) are included, and only Virgin Media has gone into any detail as to how the process will work. The announcement made regular mention that the emails were not threats or demands, but educational emails to push users towards legal content access methods (such as Netflix and Spotify), assuring that proposals for a scheme similar to the US’ six strike scheme to cut internet access to repeat offenders have been abandoned.

01.17.17

Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

Posted in News Roundup at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • D-Wave Unveils Open-Source Software for Quantum Computing

    Canada-based D-Wave Systems has released an open-source software tool designed to help developers program quantum computers, Wired reported Wednesday.

  • D-Wave builds open quantum computing software development ecosystem

    D-Wave Systems has released an open source quantum computing chunk of software.

    Quantum computing, as we know, moves us on from the world of mere 1’s and 0’s in binary to the new level of ‘superposition’ qubits that can represent many more values and therefore more computing power — read this accessible piece for a simple explanation of quantum computing.

  • FOSS Compositing With Natron

    Anyone who likes to work with graphics will at one time or another find compositing software useful. Luckily, FOSS has several of the best in Blender and Natron.

  • Hadoop Creator Doug Cutting: 5 Ways to Be Successful with Open Source in 2017

    Because of my long-standing association with the Apache Software Foundation, I’m often asked the question, “What’s next for open source technology?” My typical response is variations of “I don’t know” to “the possibilities are endless.”

    Over the past year, we’ve seen open source technology make strong inroads into the mainstream of enterprise technology. Who would have thought that my work on Hadoop ten years ago would impact so many industries – from manufacturing to telecom to finance. They have all taken hold of the powers of the open source ecosystem not only to improve the customer experience, become more innovative and grow the bottom line, but also to support work toward the greater good of society through genomic research, precision medicine and programs to stop human trafficking, as just a few examples.

    Below I’ve listed five tips for folks who are curious about how to begin working with open source and what to expect from the ever-changing ecosystem.

  • Radio Free HPC Looks at New Open Source Software for Quantum Computing

    In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at D-Wave’s new open source software for quantum computing. The software is available on github along with a whitepaper written by Cray Research alums Mike Booth and Steve Reinhardt.

  • Open Source, Vendor Lock-In Are Top of Mind for Execs This Year

    The use of open source software has increased dramatically in the past decade, and this year could be the one in which we see real maturity in the market.

    Couchbase Chief Executive Officer Bob Wiederhold spoke with Information Management about what he sees for the market in 2017, as well as issues related to digital infrastructure and vendor lock-in.

  • Events

    • Why events matter and how to do them right

      Marina Paych was a newcomer to open source software when she left a non-governmental organization for a new start in the IT sector—on her birthday, no less. But the real surprise turned out to be open source. Fast forward two years and this head of organizational development runs an entire department, complete with a promotional staff that strategically markets her employer’s open source web development services on a worldwide scale.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Equal Rating Innovation Challenge: And the Semifinalists are…

        About three months ago we launched this global Equal Rating Innovation Challenge to help catalyze new thinking and innovation to provide access to the open Internet to those still living without. Clearly the idea resonated. Thanks to the help of numerous digital inclusion initiatives, think tanks, impact hubs and various local communities that supported us, our challenge has spurred global engagement. We received 98 submissions from 27 countries around the world. This demonstrates that there are entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators in myriad fields poised to tackle this huge challenge with creative products and services.

        [...]

        Following the mentorship period, on March 9, we will host a day-long event in New York City on the topic of affordable access and innovation. We will invite speakers and researchers from around the world to provide their valuable insights on the global debate, various initiatives, and the latest approaches to affordable access. The main feature of this event will be presentations by our semifinalists, with a thorough Q&A from our judges. We will then have a week of open public voting on EqualRating.com to help determine the winners of the Challenge. The winners will then be announced at RightsCon on March 29 in Brussels.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Exploring OpenStack’s Trove DBaaS Cloud Servic

      You can install databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or even MongoDB very quickly thanks to package management, but the installation is not even half the battle. A functioning database also needs user accounts and several configuration steps for better performance and security.

      This need for additional configuration poses challenges in cloud environments. You can always manually install a virtual machine in traditional settings, but cloud users want to generate an entire virtual environment from a template. Manual intervention is difficult or sometimes even impossible.

    • Mobile Edge Computing Creates ‘Tiny Data Centers’ at the Edge

      “Usually access networks include all kinds of encryption and tunneling protocols,” says Fite. “It’s not a standard, native-IP environment.” Saguna’s platform creates a bridge between the access network to a small OpenStack cloud, which works in a standard IP environment. It provides APIs about such things as location, registration for services, traffic direction, radio network services, and available bandwidth.

    • Serverless Computing: 10 Things You Need to Know

      In fact, Gartner referred to serverless computing in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017. The firm sees serverless as part of the trend toward mesh app and service architecture, and explains, “the mesh app and service architecture (MASA) is a multichannel solution architecture that leverages cloud and serverless computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.” But the firm also cautions that this is a long-term trend that will require IT to adopt new tools and new ways of doing things.

    • Apache Beam Unifies Batch and Streaming Data Processing

      We’re only half way through January of 2017, and as we’ve steadily taken note of, the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating numerous promising open source projects to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent times. Just last week, Apache graduated its Eagle project to Top-Level status. Eagle is an open source monitoring and alerting solution for instantly identifying security and performance issues on Big Data platforms such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, and more.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Community-supported development of GEGL now live

      Almost every new major feature people have been asking us for, be it high bit depth support, or full CMYK support, or layer effects, would be impossible without having a robust, capable image processing core.

      Øyvind Kolås picked up GEGL in mid-2000s and has been working on it in his spare time ever since. He is the author of 42% of commits in GEGL and 50% of commits in babl (pixel data conversion library).

    • 2016 in review

      When we released GIMP 2.9.2 in late 2015 and stepped over into 2016, we already knew that we’d be doing mostly polishing. This turned out to be true to a larger extent, and most of the work we did was under-the-hood changes.

      But quite a few new features slipped in. So, what are the big user-visible changes for GIMP in 2016?

    • Meet Guix at FOSDEM

      FOSDEM takes place in Brussels, Belgium, on the 4th and 5th of February, with the Guile track all day long on Sunday 5th. Hope to see you there!

    • FSF announces a major overhaul of free software High Priority Projects List

      The HPP list highlights projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. A committee of free software activists, assembled in 2014, spent a year soliciting feedback from the free software community for the latest revision of the list.

      “As the technological landscape has shifted over the last decade since the first version of the list was published, threats to users’ freedom to use their computers on their own terms have changed enormously,” said Benjamin Mako Hill, who is part of the High Priority Projects committee and also a member of the FSF’s board of directors. “The updated High Priority Projects list is a description of the most important threats, and most critical opportunities, that free software faces in the modern computing landscape.”

      Launched in 2005, the first version of the HPP list contained only four projects, three of them related to Java. Eighteen months later, Sun began to free Java users.

    • FSF New “High Priority Projects” List: Phone OS, Security, Drivers, More Inclusivity

      The list hasn’t made much sense at times and projects on the list didn’t necessarily advance during their time on the list or receive financial/developer support from the FSF along with other controversies. In 2014 they began forming a committee to maintain this high priority project list while today they announced a brand new list.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Happy birthday: Jimbo Wales’ sweet 16 Wikipedia fails

        Sixteen years ago, Larry Sanger had the idea for a wiki-based encyclopaedia anyone could edit: the “wiki-pedia”. On January 15, 2001, he and Jimmy Wales launched the site. Today, it’s everyone’s go-to place for quick factlets.

        Wikipedia’s convenience is undeniable. But its anonymously compiled content has flaws and quirks traditional encyclopaedias never had. Understanding these is vital for wiki-literacy.

        To illustrate the issues, here are sixteen of Wikipedia’s biggest cock-ups. Follow the hyperlinks to go down the Wikipedia wormhole…

  • Programming/Development

    • Dart-on-LLVM

      Dart already has an excellent virtual machine which uses just-in-time compilation to get excellent performance. Since Dart is dynamically typed (more precisely, it’s optionally typed), a JIT compiler is a natural fit — it can use the types available at runtime to perform optimizations that a static compiler can’t do.

    • Google Developers Experiment With Plumbing Dartlang Into LLVM

      It’s been a while since last hearing much excitement around Google’s Dart programming language that’s an alternative to JavaScript. This ECMA-approved language is now being used with IoT devices, can still be source-to-source compiled for JavaScript, and the latest is that the Google developers have been experimenting with wiring it into LLVM.

    • A behind the scenes look at Exercism for improving coding skills

      In our recent article, we talked about Exercism, an open source project to help people level up in their programming skills with exercises for dozens of different programming languages. Practitioners complete each exercise and then receive feedback on their response, enabling them to learn from their peer group’s experience.

      Katrina Owen is the founder of Exercism, and I interviewed her as research for the original article. There are some fantastic nuggets of information and insight in here that we wanted to share with anyone interested in learning to programming, teaching programming, and how a project like this takes contributions like this from others.

    • ‘You are Not Expected to Understand This’: An Explainer on Unix’s Most Notorious Code Comment

      The phrase “You are Not Expected to Understand This” is probably the most famous comment in the history of Unix.

      And last month, at the Systems We Love conference in San Francisco, systems researcher Arun Thomas explained to an audience exactly what it was that they weren’t supposed to understand.

Leftovers

  • Maybe it is time to tell new stories of Scotland

    Politics isn’t everything. Just as important is culture – a word used and over-used, seemingly about everything and everywhere, but difficult, and sometimes impossible to pin down and define.

    Culture when we forensically examine it can mean so many things. It can describe individual growth and enrichment. It can be about a group or community’s way of life. It expresses the activities of consuming culture. And finally, it is also used to define the way groups and organisations act and the codes and practices which shape them.

    The many facets of culture and the propensity not to define them can be seen in our nation. We have a politics which is meant to be all-encompassing, but often evades detail and substance. Reinforcing this is a widespread characteristic of not wanting to define Scottish culture – for fear of ghettoising and marginalising.

  • Science

    • The passing of Gene Cernan reminds us how far we haven’t come

      I was sitting with Apollo 7 veteran Walt Cunningham in his west Houston living room on Monday afternoon when his wife, Dot, stepped tentatively in. “I’m sorry for interrupting,” she said. “But Gene’s dead.”

      She meant Eugene Cernan, the US Navy Captain who commanded Apollo 17, and the last person to walk on the Moon. He was 82 and had been ill for about six months.

      We took a moment to process this. Six of NASA’s 12 Apollo Moonwalkers were now dead. The other six are in their 80s or older. And for Cunningham, this was personal. Cernan served as back-up to Cunningham as the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 7, the first flight of the Apollo capsule. Cunningham sighed. “I guess that’s the way it is,” he said. “I’ll be 85 in two months. I’m starting to face up to the fact that everybody I know is going to be gone soon, and probably me too.”

    • Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan has passed away

      Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, has died at the age of 82, according to NASA. He was a veteran of three spaceflights: as the pilot for Gemini 9A, the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 10, and as the commander of Apollo 17.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • I’m an Abortion Provider in a Red State, and I Expect the Attacks on Reproductive Freedom to Intensify in Trump’s America

      In 2013, I opened my own medical practice in Phoenix, Arizona: Desert Star Family Planning, LLC. I had already been providing women’s health care for years as a board-certified OB-GYN, but I wanted to pursue my vision of a private practice that fully integrates abortion care with general gynecological services.

      Desert Star is exactly what I’d dreamed it would be: a home base for women’s wellness; a safe space for LGBT people and teens; a warm, supportive environment where, on any given day, my staff and I may be called on to provide cancer screenings or abortion care or treatment for acute gynecological problems.

      But I have been under assault by the Arizona Legislature since the day I opened, and Donald Trump’s election means that things are only going to get worse. The truth is, I couldn’t even bear to stay up late watching the election returns. Once the tide began turning, I turned in.

      There are many ways a Trump administration can make life even harder and more dangerous for abortion providers like me. At the federal level, Congress could pass legislation with President Trump’s support that would prohibit clinics that provide abortion care from receiving Medicaid reimbursement for the many nonabortion services we provide. If that happens, many of my patients will no longer be able to afford to come to me for care.

    • If we sign up to the TTIP trade deal with Trump, the first thing to be sold off to US corporations will be the NHS

      With Theresa May indicating that Britain’s future lies outside the EU single market and Donald Trump signalling his desire for a quick US-UK trade deal, the likelihood of a future deal with America has shot up the agenda. But, in line with Barack Obama’s warning, the “back of the queue” may be the best place when it comes to a deal with Trump’s America.

      Let’s not forget the USA is the UK’s most important “single country” trading partner. In the absence of any deal, the US is already the UK’s largest export partner and second-largest import partner.

      But transform this into a “new generation” trade deal similar to the controversial TTIP and CETA pacts, and we risk losing the NHS, triggering another financial crisis, and replacing the European Court of Justice with a dystopian set of secretive, one-way “corporate courts” designed for big businesses to sue governments for lost profits. In one fell swoop, the ancient British principle of “equality before the law” will be destroyed.

    • Scientists to Government: Make It Easier to Study Marijuana

      Even as more and more states allow their residents to use marijuana, the federal government is continuing to obstruct scientists from studying whether the drug is good or bad for people’s health.

      A report published last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine points out that scientists who want to study cannabis have to seek approvals from federal, state and local agencies and depend on just one lab, at the University of Mississippi, for samples. As a result, far too little is known about the health effects of a substance that 28 states have decided can be used as medicine and eight states and the District of Columbia have approved for recreational use.

      The situation is so absurd, the report says, that chemists and brain researchers are not allowed to study cannabis concentrates and edibles. Yet those forms of the drug are widely used. For example, in Colorado, where voters decided to create a regulated market for marijuana in 2012, sales of concentrates reached $60.5 million in just the first three months of last year.

    • 18 million would lose insurance in first year of Obamacare repeal without replacement, CBO report says

      At least 18 million people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan, estimates a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

      The number of people without insurance would grow to about 32 million within the first decade if congressional Republicans follow a 2015 plan to repeal the health-care law without an alternative, the new report says. It also estimates that health insurance premiums for people buying individual non-group coverage would double within a decade, further complicating GOP promises that people will not lose coverage under their plan.

  • Security

    • Truffle Hog Finds Security Keys Hidden in GitHub Code

      According to commentors on a Reddit thread about Truffle Hog, Amazon Web Services has already been using a similar tool for the same purpose. “I have accidentally committed my AWS secret keys before to a public repo,” user KingOtar wrote. “Amazon actually found them and shut down my account until I created new ones. Kinda neat Amazon.”

    • 5 Essential Tips for Securing Your WordPress Sites

      WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform today.

      Being as popular as it is, it comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. The very fact that almost everybody uses it, makes it more prone to vulnerabilities. WordPress developers are doing a great job of fixing and patching the framework as new flaws are discovered, but that doesn’t mean that you can simply install and forget your installation.

      In this post, we will provide some of the most common ways of securing and strengthening a WordPress site.

    • Google ventures into public key encryption

      Google announced an early prototype of Key Transparency, its latest open source effort to ensure simpler, safer, and secure communications for everyone. The project’s goal is to make it easier for applications services to share and discover public keys for users, but it will be a while before it’s ready for prime time.

      Secure communications should be de rigueur, but it remains frustratingly out of reach for most people, more than 20 years after the creation of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Existing methods where users need to manually find and verify the recipients’ keys are time-consuming and often complicated. Messaging apps and file sharing tools are limited in that users can communicate only within the service because there is no generic, secure method to look up public keys.

    • How to Keep Hackers out of Your Linux Machine Part 2: Three More Easy Security Tips

      In part 1 of this series, I shared two easy ways to prevent hackers from eating your Linux machine. Here are three more tips from my recent Linux Foundation webinar where I shared more tactics, tools and methods hackers use to invade your space. Watch the entire webinar on-demand for free.

    • 3 Lessons in Web Encryption from Let’s Encrypt

      As exciting as 2016 was for encryption on the Web, 2017 seems set to be an even more incredible year. Much of the infrastructure and many of the plans necessary for a 100 percent encrypted Web really solidified in 2016, and the Web will reap the rewards in 2017. Let’s Encrypt is proud to have been a key part of that.

      But before we start looking ahead, it’s helpful to look back and see what our project learned from our exciting first full year as a live certificate authority (CA). I’m incredibly proud of what our team and community accomplished during 2016. I’d like to share how we’ve changed, what we’ve accomplished, and what we’ve learned.

      At the start of 2016, Let’s Encrypt was supporting approximately 240,000 active (unexpired) certificates. That seemed like a lot at the time! Now we’re frequently issuing that many new certificates in a single day while supporting more than 22 million active certificates in total.

    • [Older] Kali Linux Cheat Sheet for Penetration Testers
    • Report: Attacks based on open source vulnerabilities will rise 20 percent this year [Ed: The Microsoft-connected Black Duck spreads FUD against FOSS again, together with IDG; Black Duck was created for the purpose of attacking the GPL, by its very own admission.]

      The number of commercial software projects that were composed of 50 percent or more of free, open source software went up from 3 percent in 2011 to 33 percent today, said Mike Pittenger, vice president of security strategy at Black Duck Software.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • UK cosying up to Trump over Middle East peace process, say EU ministers

      Britain has been accused of cowering in the face of Donald Trump after becoming involved in a second row in 24 hours with European leaders over the future of the Middle East peace process.

      The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, with support from Estonia and Hungary, blocked an EU foreign ministers’ statement on how the EU could support the process, it emerged on Monday.

    • The Drone Assassination Assault on Democracy

      What do Reyaad Khan, Ruhul Amin, Samir Khan, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Junaid Hussain and Micah Xavier Johnson have in common? All of these young, brown-skinned males were killed extrajudicially through the use of remote-control technology under authorization by their very own government.

      British nationals Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin had traveled to Syria to join up with ISIS (the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in response to Western military intervention in the Middle East. Both were killed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in August 2015 using lethal drones, even though the British parliament had voted down Cameron’s call for war in Syria. Ironically, in the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the prime minister chose to deploy missiles to destroy these compatriots without indicting or trying them for crimes. Following the precedent set by US President Barack Obama four years earlier, Cameron claimed to be acting in national self-defense. Obama had authorized the drone killing in Yemen of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, an outspoken opponent of US militarism and an advocate of jihad.

    • The Horror of the Iraq War, One Hundred Years From Now

      AFTER SADDAM HUSSEIN, after the U.S. invasion, after the Islamic State, what will Iraq ultimately look like? The future of Iraq, its borders, economy, religious and cultural identity, is a matter of constant speculation for foreign policy experts.

      Now there’s a literary response, in the form of a new collection of short fiction, Iraq +100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion. In the book, Iraqi writers who are inside the country and outside it imagine their homeland one hundred years from the fateful month of March 2003, when the U.S. invasion began. Iraq +100 is a fine example of critical dystopia, a genre that the writer Junot Diaz recently described as “not just something that is ‘the bad place.’ It is something that maps, warns, and hopes.”

      Iraq +100 was edited by Hassan Blasim, the author of a chilling, excellent book of stories called The Corpse Exhibition, which was published in 2014. Blasim is perhaps the best-known of the writers in Iraq +100. Almost all of the stories in The Corpse Exhibition include a fantastical element, but they are dark and grotesque, and the violence in them is surreal only until you think of what Iraqis have endured in recent decades. In the title story of The Corpse Exhibition, master assassins compete with one another to construct the most elaborate and impressive public displays of the bodies of their victims, describing maiming, splaying, and dismembering as an art form. Those and other stories made for grisly satire not far removed from real atrocities committed by U.S. troops and sectarian militias, and a queasy preview of the theatrical violence of executions carried out by the Islamic State, which swept through Iraq after Blasim’s book came out.

    • Jeremy Corbyn Accused of Being Russian “Collaborator” for Questioning NATO Troop Build-Up on Border

      The leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarisation of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the UK has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including states which border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.

      In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online

      Decades ago, the CIA declassified a 26-page secret document cryptically titled “clarifying statement to Fidel Castro concerning assassination.”

      It was a step toward greater transparency for one of the most secretive of all federal agencies. But to find out what the document actually said, you had to trek to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and hope that one of only four computers designated by the CIA to access its archives would be available.

      But today the CIA posted the Castro record on its website along with more than 12 million pages of the agency’s other declassified documents that have eluded the public, journalists, and historians for nearly two decades. You can view the documents here.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Study says pesticide is a threat to survival of bats

      Imidacloprid — a neonicotinoid pesticide that the US Environmental Protection Agency says can be harmful to bees — is a threat to the survival of bats, a research team said.

      The team, headed by National Taiwan Normal University professor of life sciences Wu Chung-hsin (吳忠信) found that bats feeding on imidacloprid-tainted insects were unable to fly along learned paths and often got lost while hunting.

      With Formosan leafnosed bats as their experimental subject, the team found that animals treated with a low dose of imidacloprid developed neural apopotosis — a process of programmed cell death — in the brain, Wu said.

      “The sonogram of ultrasounds emitted by such bats becomes incomplete,” Wu said on Wednesday, discussing research published in April last year in Neuroreport, a peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience.

    • Saudi Plans for Early End to OPEC Pact May Leave Job Undone

      OPEC and Russia won’t need to prolong output cuts beyond June because the agreed reductions will have already ended the oversupply in world crude markets, Saudi Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Al-Falih said in Abu Dhabi on Monday. However, ending the deal by mid-year and restoring production would mean the surplus just starts building again, thwarting OPEC’s ambition of whittling down bloated oil inventories.

    • Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably in Millenia’

      Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to new statistics from the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center.

      In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events that are likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability, the center said.

    • @Ivanka from Brighton sends climate change reply to Donald Trump

      Replying to Trump, she tweeted: “And you’re a man with great responsibilities. May I suggest more care on Twitter and more time learning about #climatechange.”

      She also tweeted data pointing out that 97.5% of publishing climatologists and about 90% of all publishing scientists supported the human-induced climate change theory.

  • Finance

    • Clintons Shutter Global Initiative as Donations Dry Up

      The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) filed a WARN — Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification — with New York State’s Department of Labor on Thursday, announcing that, effective April 15, 2017, it would be closing its doors and laying off 22 employees. The CGI’s stated reason: “Discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative.”

      Following the election, foreign governments that had been regular donors began cutting their contributions to the Clinton Foundation, some severely. For example, news.com.au noted that the Australian government “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway, which had been contributing as much as $20 million a year to the foundation, cut its contribution by nearly 90 percent.

    • Donald Trump’s businesses owe $1.8bn to more than 150 different institutions, new study suggests

      Donald Trump’s companies are almost $1.8 billion in debt to more than 150 institutions, a new report has suggested – raising fresh questions about potential conflicts of interests when the Republican takes office in January.

      The new evidence exposes the extent to which the businessman will soon be responsible for regulating many of the institutions he owes sizeable amounts of money to.

      Mr Trump has previously declared $315 million (£254 million) of debt owed to ten different lenders.

    • Moody’s to Pay $864 Million for its Role in Subprime Mortgage Crisis

      Moody’s Corporation will pay $864 million to settle federal and state claims that it gave misleading ratings to risky mortgage investments, leading to the subprime mortgage crisis in the US and to the Great Recession.

      In the deal, announced January 13, the ratings agency will give $437.5 million to the Justice Department and $426.3 million to be divided among the 21 involved states and the District of Columbia.

    • Taxi races show black cabs beat Uber on speed but not cost [iophk: “neglects to mention that the passenger costs are subsidized by venture capital”]

      London Bridge to Trafalgar Square. You take an Uber, I’ll take a black cab. Ready, set, go!

      A group of researchers led by Anastasios Noulas at Lancaster University, UK, recently raced to settle the debate over which taxi service is fastest. They ran a three-day experiment taking 29 journeys from different locations around London. One researcher hailed a taxi from the Uber app while another took a traditional black cab to the same destination, with the route left up to the driver.

      At the end of their trial, black cabs worked out faster, taking on average 88 per cent of the time an Uber did – although they were also around 35 per cent more expensive.

      “Uber drivers rely on navigation apps, but in dense parts of the city these can be slower than a black cab driver to react to traffic build up,” says Noulas.

      The researchers ran their experiment while developing a taxi price comparison app called OpenStreetCab, which is currently available in London and New York and aims to be like Skyscanner for taxis. Comparing prices for taxi services is more difficult than for flights, however, because Uber’s prices constantly change depending on demand. For both services, the final cost also depends on the route the driver takes.

    • Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

      Theresa May has said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.

      But the prime minister promised to push for the “freest possible trade” with European countries and to sign new deals with others around the world.

    • Crippling costs for sheep sector in ‘hard’ Brexit, NSA warns
    • Prime minister vows to put final Brexit deal before parliament

      Theresa May has committed to putting the final Brexit deal to a vote in parliament in a speech on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, and insisted that if she failed to get what she wanted no deal would be better than a bad deal.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit focus should be on the least harmful way of leaving

      Theresa May, who makes a major speech on Tuesday, has reached a moment of truth on Brexit. No one can blame her for the result of the referendum – she was a remainer – but from now on she takes responsibility for the consequences. If Britain not only leaves the EU but also loses free access to its main export market in Europe, our economy will become smaller and poorer.

      Of course, she will argue that British exporters will not be barred from Europe’s vast marketplace, and technically that is true. But from now on we will be selling our goods and services on Europe’s terms; not as insiders but as competitors and rivals. Any deal that helps us will depend on Europe’s willingness to grant us preferential access.

      Without favoured treatment, many exports to the EU could face tariffs in some cases of 10% or a lot more. Robust customs barriers will add significant export costs and expensive delays, and many exports of services will be blocked once we abandon Europe’s single regulatory rulebook. This means not just a hard Brexit but a destructive and harmful rupture that will, over time, reduce trade, shrink manufacturing investment and destroy jobs.

    • See you in Davos (not)

      It’s hard to find examples of how the World Economic Forum lives up to its motto of ‘improving the state of the world.’

    • Netherlands will block post Brexit trade deal if UK doesn’t ‘firmly tackle’ tax avoidance, says deputy PM

      The deputy prime minister of the Netherlands has said his country will block any post-Brexit EU trade deal with the UK unless it can agree on “firmly tackling” tax avoidance.

      Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Dutch Labour party, fears a “race to the bottom” led by a British Conservative government, which would have negative ramifications across Europe.

      This is reminiscent of the fears of many Remain campaigners, who believe the government could try to entice businesses to the UK after EU withdrawal by cutting taxes and regulation.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit speech: ‘No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal’ – Politics live

      The Irish government has signalled its intent to exploit May’s plans to leave the single market and customs union with bids to woo EU agencies from London to Dublin.

      A spokesperson for the government in Dublin said there were now “economic opportunities that may arise for Ireland” following the UK’s decision.

      “Bids for the EU agencies currently located in London – the European Medicines Board and the European Banking Authority have already been announced and the state enterprise agencies are actively pursuing opportunities for increased investment, business and job creation in Ireland,” they said.

      “Economic opportunities for Ireland will be pursued vigorously”, the government spokesperson continued.

      The government in Dublin said it welcomed the prime minister’s commitment to maintaining the pre-EU common travel area between Britain and Ireland as well as her promise that there would be no “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

      May will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin later this month to discuss ares of common interest, the spokesperson said.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit plan is taking ‘extreme gamble’ with UK’s future, says Caroline Lucas

      Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, has responded to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit.

      Ms May laid out 12 objectives for negotiations to take Britain out of the European Union and said the UK will no longer be a part of the Single Market.

      Ms Lucas said it was an “extreme gamble”.

    • Inflation at 29-month high of 1.6% as food and air fares rise

      The headline rate of inflation has hit its highest level since the summer of 2014 as weaker sterling starts to affect the cost of many everyday prices.

      Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hit an annual rate of 1.6% in December – up from 1.2% the previous month.

      It meant the measure was at its highest level since July 2014 and came in above the expectations of economists who had pencilled in a rise to 1.4%.

    • Worried This Billionaire Will Destroy Public Education, Teachers Have Some #Questions4Betsy

      Defenders of public education have a few questions they want to ask Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial pick to lead the Department of Education, when she appears at her senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

      With a new campaign targeting members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as well as its members and supporters, are sharing questions they’d like to see answered by the billionaire Amway heiress and notorious critic of public schools.

      “DeVos has no relevant experience in public education, but as a billionaire with an agenda she’s promoted disastrous ideology and pushed destructive policies across her home state of Michigan—working to undermine, defund and privatize public schools, expand for-profit charters without accountability, and push unconstitutional private school vouchers,” Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, wrote in an email to supporters on Monday.

      “We need a secretary of education who would strengthen and improve public schools, not one who is out to destroy them,” Weingarten added. “We need our questions answered before she gets anywhere near our children’s futures.”

    • At the Birthplace of Auto Workers’ Sit-Down Strikes, Locked Out for Eight Months and Counting

      This month, auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting.

      Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out.

      Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care, frozen pensions, curtailed overtime pay, subcontracted work, and voided seniority rights.

    • Is MLK’s Legacy to the 99 Percent Being Reversed in the Age of Trumpian Reaction?

      Reaction has two main meanings in English. One is to respond to some new situation (not specifying the nature of the reaction). The other is to resist some innovation. In this second sense, a reactionary is one who wants to go back to a previously existing condition of society. A reactionary is worse than a conservative. A conservative resists progressive change that benefits large numbers of people but does not help the rich. A reactionary wants to undo a progressive change already long since effected, taking achievements away from the people for the sake of the 1%.

      We live in a reactionary age. Trump crony Newt Gingrich wants to undo the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt entirely, getting rid of social security and condemning large numbers of elderly Americans to penury. (In the 1930s the elderly were the poorest segment of society; that is no longer true today, and people can hope to retire and live with dignity, because of social security). We live in a moment where 8 billionaires are as rich as the poorer half of humankind and when the top 1% takes home 20% of the US national income (up from 10% only a few decades ago). Ironically, it is in this moment, when workers and the middle classes are prostrate and the lion’s share of resources is going to 1.2 million households out of 124 million American households– it is at this very moment that reactionaries are demanding that ordinary people surrender their pensions and social security and health care for the sake of a further fat tax cut for the super-rich. The average wage of the average worker has been flat since 1970 in the US, as any increases in productivity or real economic growth appears to have been taken right to the top and the 1% by the Republican tax-cut conveyor belt. A loss of entitlements would actually reduce their incomes substantially, sending them back to the 1950s.

    • Corona has a Trump-Mexico problem

      Just one day after Donald Trump was elected president, the U.S. company that distributes Corona took a 7% dive in the stock market — and it hasn’t recovered.

      Constellation Brands’ stock remains down 10% since the election, seriously missing out on Wall Street’s big Trump rally.

    • Trump would win trade war with China, says aide

      One of Donald Trump’s closest advisers has told the BBC that the US would win a trade war with China.

      Anthony Scaramucci warned that if China chose to retaliate when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imports, it would cost them “way more” than it would cost the US.

      He added the current trade relationship was “more favourable to China than us”.

    • Polls And Politics: There’s No Mandate For A Hard Brexit

      During the referendum campaign I argued strongly that the European Union has fostered and supported democracy in our continent. I must admit that at the time I had in mind the transition from communism in Eastern Europe and fascism in Mediterranean Europe. But the disturbing reality is that we are witnessing how our own democracy has been weakened by our vote to leave.

      Democracy relies on a shared vision of the future. Those who do not win an election still have a right to be respected and some of their wishes to be included in the political compromise. The Brexit chant: ‘We won; you lost: shut up!’ is not compatible with democracy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bush Counting Down Days Until He Is No Longer Worst President in History
    • America’s Self-Destructive Obsessions

      The U.S. population is led from one hysteria to the next, now transitioning from the Global War on Terror to the New Cold War with Russia, a fearful madness that is infecting the collective psyche, says Michael Brenner.

    • Democrats Lost in a Corporate Wilderness

      Over the past quarter century, the national Democratic Party merged with the Clinton pay-for-play money machine and lost touch with American populism. So, what must be done and what are the party’s prospects, asks Lawrence Davidson.

    • Playing Politics with Terrorism List

      Legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is regrettable on multiple counts. It represents a perversion of the FTO list and reflects an attitude that is likely to increase rather than decrease Islamist terrorism.

      [...]

      The 1996 legislation established a procedure in which the various departments and agencies involved participate in a lengthy review process to examine which groups should be listed as FTOs. The law spells out the criteria to govern the review, which basically are that the group must be an identifiable organization that is foreign and has engaged in terrorism that somehow affects U.S. interests. The review process has been thorough and laborious, including the preparation of detailed “administrative records” assembling the available information about each group under examination. The Secretary of State makes the final determinations regarding listing or delisting.

      There has been some political manipulation of the list, though it has been to keep or move a group off the list rather than putting it on. The most salient case of this involved the Iranian cult and terrorist group known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delisted in 2012. The group, which has killed American citizens in terrorist attacks and clearly met the criteria for being on the FTO list, had not changed its stripes. Instead, the delisting was a response to the group’s long-running and well-financed lobbying campaign to win favor in Washington and especially among members of Congress.

    • Trump’s Remaking of US Foreign Policy

      Over the weekend, President-elect Trump received two journalists from mainstream European print media — The Times of London and the German magazine Bild — for a joint interview in New York City’s Trump Tower. The event was videotaped and we are seeing some remarkable sound bites, particularly those of interest to the British and German publics.

      [...]

      For the general public’s consumption, Donald Trump used the interview to explain his special affection for Britain, speaking about his Scottish mother’s delight in the Queen and her watching every royal event on television for its unequaled pageantry. But we may expect that Prime Minister May will find there is a bill to pay for the “special relationship” with the U.S. under President Trump.

      Rather than the British media’s early speculation that Prime Minister May would be the one to set the misguided Trump straight about the nefarious Vladimir Putin, she may now have to become a leading European advocate for détente with Russia at Trump’s behest. In this connection, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to Congress during his visit to Washington last week that Official Washington “stop demonizing Putin” may well have been a straw in the wind.

    • The Real Reason Any Russian Meddling Is an Emergency

      The bizarre saga of potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has created a genuine emergency in American politics. This isn’t necessarily because of Russia’s actual actions — unless the most peculiar allegations turn out to be accurate — but because of Donald Trump’s response, and what this indicates about how he’ll govern.

      Ignore the Trump “dossier” for the moment and forget the baseless conjecture about Russia hacking the U.S. voting process itself. All we need to know about Trump and the Republican Party can be found in their position on the simplest, most plausible part of the story: that Russia was behind the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and John Podesta.

      Is this in fact what happened? Certainly the Obama administration did itself no favors by failing to release any of the evidence underlying the strong conclusions in the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report. But Trump himself said at last week’s press conference, presumably based on a classified briefing, that “I think it was Russia.” Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, agreed during his confirmation hearings. There’s also the crucial dog that hasn’t barked: Unlike during the lead up to the Iraq War, no one from the intelligence agencies has been leaking doubts or claims that they’re being leaned on by the White House to provide the desired conclusion.

    • Could Trump Have Been Caught in a Classic “Honey Trap”?

      Finally, some fun. Finally, something to off set the angst, the fear, the crushing dread of a Trump presidency. Of course, nothing has been verified as yet (and very likely never will be), but given the Soviet Union’s history of espionage, and Trump’s notorious impetuosity, the first reports to leak out have proven to be tantalizingly believable.

      Basically, the story going around is that the Russians have compromised Donald Trump. They did it by tricking him into committing some fairly bizarre sexual indiscretions, recording them on film (their standard Cold War modus operandi), and filing them away for future use, which is to say, for blackmail purposes.

    • Actually Mr. Trump, Turns Out Americans ‘Care a Lot’ About Your Tax Returns

      President-elect Donald Trump has claimed that the American people “don’t care at all” about whether he releases his tax returns. Turns out, he was wrong.

      In fact, new ABC News/Washington Post polling data released on Monday shows that 74 percent of all Americans, including 49 percent of his own supporters, say he should release his tax returns.

      What’s more, the number of people curious about Trump’s finances has risen since he’s been elected. “In May, 64 percent said he should release the returns, and in September, 63 percent said he was not justified in withholding them,” ABC News reports.

      Last week, the incoming president held a news conference during which he announced that he would not divest his holdings in his business empire and stood by his refusal to release his tax documents.

    • Filmmaker Michael Moore Organizing Pre-Inauguration Rally
    • A Demand for Russian ‘Hacking’ Proof

      You, on the other hand, enjoy far more credibility – AND power – for the next few days. And we assume you would not wish to hobble your successor with charges that cannot withstand close scrutiny. We suggest you order the chiefs of the NSA, FBI and CIA to the White House and ask them to lay all their cards on the table. They need to show you why you should continue to place credence in what, a month ago, you described as “uniform intelligence assessments” about Russian hacking.

      At that point, if the intelligence heads have credible evidence, you have the option of ordering it released – even at the risk of damage to sources and methods. For what it may be worth, we will not be shocked if it turns out that they can do no better than the evidence-deprived assessments they have served up in recent weeks. In that case, we would urge you, in all fairness, to let the American people in on the dearth of convincing evidence before you leave office.

    • People Are RSVPing To Trump’s Inauguration In The Most Hilarious Wa

      On Saturday, Mike Pence shared a video of Trump “inviting” people to come to his inauguration. Almost immediately, the comments section went wild.

    • Brian Covert

      Peter and Mickey spend the hour with journalist and media scholar Brian Covert, discussing the too-close relationship between the CIA and U.S. media, as well as other issues, including the Obama Administration “pivot” toward Asia. Brian Covert is an independent journalist, and a lecturer at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. His chapter on the CIA and the media, “Played by the Mighty Wurlitzer,” appears in the Censored 2017 yearbook.

    • WaPo, Organ of Extreme Center, Calls MLK ‘True Conservative’

      Because words and history evidently have no meaning, the Washington Post (1/16/17) decided to honor civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. by painting him as a “true conservative.” In what one can only hope was a terribly botched attempt at high-wire satire, the Post’s editorial board attempted to use King’s frequent appeals to the “founding fathers” as evidence King should be lumped in the same ideological category as William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater.

    • CIA Director John Brennan Rejects Donald Trump’s Criticism

      Outgoing Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan on Monday rejected Donald Trump’s suggestions that he may have leaked an unsubstantiated dossier on the president-elect while defending the U.S. intelligence community more broadly from Mr. Trump’s recent attacks on its credibility and integrity.

    • Donald Trump tweets at wrong Ivanka during daughter’s CNN interview

      The President-elect mistook a woman in the United Kingdom for his 35-year-old daughter while proudly live-tweeting her interview airing on CNN Monday night.

    • Donald Trump will reportedly keep tweeting from his personal account

      The @realDonaldTrump handle is the most notorious account in Twitter’s brief history, and it appears as though its owner and author isn’t yet ready to let it go. NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell reports word directly from the transition team of US president-elect Donald Trump that he will continue to use his personal Twitter account. The widespread presumption, with any other president, might have been that he (or she) would pick up the @POTUS handle to conduct all his public-facing tweeting. Mr. Trump, however, has expressed a desire to keep growing his following, which at this point surpasses 20 million people on Twitter alone — and that’s just direct followers, many follow him indirectly through endless waves of reverberating reactions to his latest proclamations.

    • Politician Arrested for Pinching Woman’s Genitals ‘Said He No Longer Had to Be Politically Correct’

      Connecticut Republican politician Christopher von Keyserling was arrested and charged with sexual assault after he was caught on a security camera pinching the genitals of a woman with whom he got into a political disagreement.

      Von Keyserling, the 71-year-old chair of the Representative Town Meeting in Greenwich, encountered the unnamed woman in the hallway of an unnamed town facility on Dec. 8, according to the Westport Weston. She told him it was “a new world” politically, to which he allegedly replied, “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct,” according to the warrant.

      She told him that if he was “proud of that I can’t help you,” after which he called her a lazy, bloodsucking union employee, the warrant said. He allegedly followed her into her office, saying he wanted to talk to her co-worker. Her co-worker came into the office, refused to talk with him, and left.

      The first woman attempted to do the same, at which point von Keyserling “reached in from behind to place his hand between her legs and pinch her in the groin area,” according to the police arrest warrant. She threatened to hit him if he tried to pinch her again, and he replied, “It would be your word against mine and nobody will believe you,” according to the warrant.

    • Celebrating Two Centuries of Thoreau

      For someone generally associated with serenity, Henry David Thoreau can get people riled up. In a 2015 essay in The New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz wrote that the transcendentalist and his work had become “simplified and inspirational,” and that our beatific vision of him “cannot survive any serious reading of ‘Walden,’ ” which reveals a writer “in the fullest sense of the word, self-obsessed: narcissistic, fanatical about self-control, adamant that he required nothing beyond himself to understand and thrive in the world.” Donovan Hohn counterargued at length in The New Republic, saying that Schulz simply replaced “the distortions of hagiography with those of caricature, and the caricature has been drawn before.”

      Many political observers have recently noted the renewed relevance of the essay “Civil Disobedience” with Donald Trump moving into the White House, but that’s not the only reason the 19th-century thinker is on our minds. In 2017, if the air at Walden had been really, really health-giving, Thoreau would have turned 200. With the bicentennial arrive several books about the naturalist. (Kevin Dann’s “Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau” is reviewed on Page 13 this week by John Kaag.) This spring will see a focus on narrow slices of his work, like Richard Higgins’s “Thoreau and the Language of Trees,” and “Thoreau’s Animals,” edited by Geoff Wisner. Robert M. Thorson’s “The Boatman,” about Thoreau’s relationship to the Concord River and alterations made to it during his lifetime, promises what the publisher, Harvard University, calls, “the most complete account to date of this ‘flowage controversy.’ ”

      An ambitious new full biography by Laura Dassow Walls, an English professor at Notre Dame, will be published in July — the month when Thoreau officially turns the big 2-0-0.

    • Trump Team Considers Moving Press Corps, Alarming Reporters

      In the 1890s, journalists covering the president were forced to stand vigil outside the White House fence, querying visitors for scraps of information and appealing for audiences with presidential aides.

      Today’s reporters are concerned that President-elect Donald J. Trump could send them back into the past.

      The White House press corps was stunned on Sunday by reports of a proposal by the Trump administration to eject reporters from their home in the West Wing — a move that, if carried out, would uproot decades of established protocol whereby journalists are allowed to work in the White House close to senior officials.

    • Donald Trump blames dissolution of European Union on refugees — ‘all of these illegals’

      President-elect Donald Trump blamed Europe’s acceptance of Mideast refugees — as he put it, “all of these illegals” — for the decision by Britain to leave the European Union, and predicted the organization would disintegrate barring a reversal of immigration policies promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

      “People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” Trump told representatives of the Times of London and the German publication Bild about the June Brexit vote. “But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”

      “I believe others will leave … I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”

      Merkel, a longtime U.S. ally who is facing election this year, came in for tough treatment from Trump, who also criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has been the western bulwark against Russia on the European continent.

    • Britons’ trust in government, media and business falls sharply

      Levels of trust in the UK government, media and businesses have plummeted, according to a key survey.

      The annual trust barometer survey by PR firm Edelman has for the first time published a separate UK-specific supplement, which showed a sharp drop in levels of trust in the last 12 months.

      Trust in the British government, which was already low at 36% at the start of last year, fell to 26% by the start of 2017, the survey showed.

      In a separate question, the prime minister, Theresa May, was given a trust rating of 35% following the EU referendum but this compared favourably with 23% for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.

      The number of people in the UK saying they trusted the media fell from 36% in 2016 to 24%, while trust in businesses fell from 46% to 33% and charities from 50% to 32%.

    • Former Intelligence Official: Trump Conflict With Spy Agencies Creates ‘Dangerous Moment’

      I think it’s a dangerous moment. Because of how important it is for the political leadership of the country, up to and including the president, to have confidence in the information and analysis that we are getting from the intelligence community. And right now the intelligence community is being told that what they say doesn’t matter, or that it’s biased, or that it’s partisan, and those criticisms cut to the core of the whole reason for the existence of the intelligence community. That is, to be outside of the political process, to be expert, so your opinions do matter, and then to be able to inform political leaders in a way that gives leadership a decision advantage. That’s the mission of the intelligence community. And if the President-elect is saying that those things aren’t true, then there’s no reason for the intelligence community to exist. That’s why the most significant criticism that can be levelled at an intelligence professional is this idea that they’re biased.

      In the short term, if the president just ignores the intelligence community that’s obviously extremely dangerous, because the decisions won’t be made based on the facts. But in the long run, you can actually have an impact on the intelligence community itself. So that a young person coming out of a graduate program decides instead of going to the CIA, I’m going to instead go to Goldman Sachs, and make a lot more money anyway.

      For now, what I experienced at the National Counterterrorism Center, out of the thousand or so people there, across the board there were just incredibly talented, mostly young people, who could’ve gone to Wall Street or to Silicon Valley, but wanted to go fight al-Qaida. And it was enormously gratifying to walk into a briefing room and have these people who were just incredibly talented and dedicated. And I’m concerned that one of the impacts of the latest controversy over the Russian hacking starts to undermine the fact that the intelligence community can continue to recruit and retain the most talented thinkers in the country.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • President Duterte has banned porn in the Philippines; Filipinos now need to unblock porn websites

      Internet users in the Philippines are now being forced by their government to use technological means to unblock porn. The South East Asian country is the latest to ban the world’s biggest legal porn websites, following in the steps of the UAE and Russia. Major porn sites such as Pornhub and Xvideos have been blocked by the government as of Saturday. Those attempting to visit these websites from within the Philippines without a VPN or proxy end up seeing this message:

    • The Philippine government has reportedly shut down a range of adult sites

      THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN SWIFT action after it discovered that a lot, and we mean a lot, of its citizens are accessing adult sites and probably masturbating over them.

      People reckon that the cold shower of a block on pages is down to a recent report from at least one page that we have never heard of called PornHub. PornHub recently revealed that it gets a lot of visitors from the country and that they hang around on its pages.

      “The Philippines is holding onto its first place position here with an average visit length to Pornhub of 12:45, exactly the same as where they were at in 2015,” says Pornhub.

    • YouTube under siege as porn is hidden in its privates

      YOUTUBE IS under siege from drive-by smut-peddlers who are uploading dinkles and fou-fous to the video-sharing site using a loophole to pull it off.

      As long as the video isn’t posted publically, it doesn’t appear in YouTube listings and is served up from the old Google Videos site.

      TorrentFreak reports that the embed code for these private videos still works, meaning that any budding Paul Raymonds can start their own debauched domain of dinkles and use YouTube to host the video.

    • Record Labels Target ‘Singing’ President Obama with Takedown Notices

      President Obama has many talents, and with help from the people at “baracksdubs” he can sing virtually any song. Whether it’s Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ or Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas,’ Obama can do it. These parodies have also drawn the attention of some rightsholders who, perhaps unintentionally, are targeting them with takedown requests.

    • Women talk about self-censorship

      On Wednesday January 11, a salon-style discussion about women’s experiences with self-silencing was organized by Imago Theatre, in partnership with Béatrice Média, at Cafe Sfouf, an intimate venue welcoming approximately thirty people.

      Hosted by Rebecca Munroe, a radio host at CJLO – 1690AM, the talk featured three panelists: Dominique Pirolo, a Talent Acquisition Specialist for the German multinational software corporation SAP; Tracey Steer, a writer and blogger whose work has appeared in Today’s Parent and Reader’s Digest; and Christina Vroom, the Associate Director of University Advancement at McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry.

      The panel discussion accounted for the first part of the event, in which the panelists explored when and why they censored themselves. Following this, audience members were invited to share their own experiences of self-censorship. Eventually, the conversation progressed into a collective exchange of strategies to combat the entrenched structures that contribute to why women feel inclined to recede and self-silence.

    • Milo isn’t dangerous, but censorship is

      Thanks to its decision to publish a book by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, Simon & Schuster is the latest company threatened with a consumer boycott. ‘YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS’, comedian Sarah Silverman elegantly tweeted after news of his $250,000 advance. He may well earn more from royalties, especially if feminists and other progressives continue providing him with free publicity and an excuse to proclaim himself a victim of political correctness.

      But the prospect that Yiannopoulos stands to profit from a boycott should trouble his opponents less than the chilling effect of consumer book boycotts on speech. As the National Coalition Against Censorship points out, boycotts like this are increasingly familiar: ‘We are aware of at least seven other similar situations involving threats or fears of boycotts, four of which were successful in having books withdrawn, delayed, revised, or not reprinted.’ As boycotts become more common, corporate media may become less willing to publish controversial books, right and left. Simon & Schuster’s entire publishing enterprise, not just the Yiannopoulos screed or the imprint publishing it, is being targeted, which means that Yiannopoulos could prosper while the company and other authors suffer.

    • Robin Greenler: DNR censorship of science is shameful

      The DNR website now says that “the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change … are being debated and researched by academic entities …” The best scientists our country has ever produced have done the research and they are in consensus: Climate change is real and caused by human actions (see the National Academy of Sciences, Science Magazine, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports). That train has left the station.

    • From the Quad to the Kremlin: Exploring Russian Censorship

      On Wednesday, January 11, Choldin gave a talk at the Seminary Co-Op on her latest book, Garden of Broken Statues: Exploring Censorship in Russia. The memoir begins here in Chicago, with Choldin growing up in Hyde Park and listening to her grandmother’s stories of life as a young Jewish girl in Ukraine.

      Judith Stein, Choldin’s interlocutor and close friend since O-Week 1958, said Choldin has been an impressive force since her days at the College. (Other friends from the audience jumped in: “Since the College? No, since high school!” And another: “No, since elementary school!”) Insatiably curious, with a drive to match, she even translated a book from English to German in her spare time while she was a student.

      Indeed, Choldin described herself as a “conference kid,” going to academic talks and conferences from a young age with her father, an anthropology professor at UChicago. It was at one of these conferences that Choldin’s “love affair with Russian” began. She was 14, sitting on a bench outside the lecture hall, nose buried in an English translation of War and Peace. Two Soviet anthropologists—the first Soviets she met, as it was during the heart of the Cold War—noticed her book. They sternly told her that if she was to read War and Peace, she must read it in Russian.

      Later, as a first-year at UChicago, she drilled verb patterns in her Russian 101 class in preparation for a trip to Moscow that summer, benefiting from a slight thaw in the Cold War. For Choldin, the experience was like walking “onto another planet—not another world, another planet.” The people looked different, spoke differently, and lived by different rules and customs. Her curiosity was irreversibly piqued as she explored the city, pushing the bounds of her one-year knowledge of Russian. Choldin would eventually return to UChicago for her doctorate in the 1970s.

      A run-in with a Soviet customs officer, who confiscated books and magazines from passengers entering Russia by train, spurred Choldin’s obsession with censorship. Her responsibilities of organizing and managing the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign led her to stumble upon literary works that had been marked up and edited by Tsarist censors.

      According to Choldin, censorship in Imperial Russia was blatant. Books arriving from Western Europe would have lines blacked out with pen, pages cut out with razor blades, and passages taped over with scraps from other books.

    • Manchester City’s Bacary Sagna fined £40,000 by FA for social media post

      Bacary Sagna has been fined £40,000 for misconduct in relation to a comment on social media about the referee Lee Mason. The Manchester City defender has also been warned about his future conduct.

    • In Our Opinion: Apple caved in to censorship and tyranny

      We know it’s an outrageous concept, but there should be some things more important than profit.

      Things such as integrity and the courage to tell a major client that there are just some things his threats won’t make you do.

      Well, we did say it was an outrageous concept.

      We doubt very much whether the folks who own the majority shares in Apple — the multi-multibillion-dollar operation that sold you your iPhone — are hurting for money.

      We mean, how many billions of dollars are enough? As the old saying goes, how many horses can you ride when you only have one tushie?

    • Another brick in the Great Firewall: China begins censoring mobile apps
    • China Continues to Crack Down on App Stores – Tightens App Oversight
    • App stores must register with state: China
    • Enough with the self-censorship
    • Your Voice Deserves to be Heard
    • Syrian Migrant Says He’s Tired Of Being The Subject Of ‘Fake News,’ Sues Facebook For Posts Linking Him To Terrorism

      No sooner had Germany announced it was looking to start fining Facebook for the publication of “fake news” than we have a lawsuit being filed to take advantage of this brand new breed of criminal violation.

      Syrian migrant Anas Modamani has announced he will sue Facebook over posts by users depicting him as a supposed participant in multiple terrorist attacks.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Obama approves expansion of NSA’s power to share private data on US citizens

      In his final few days in office, President Barack Obama has overseen a measure that dramatically expands the power of the National Security Agency (NSA) to share intercepted data with other intelligence agencies.

      The new rules put into place by President Obama permit the sharing of data the NSA gathers on private citizens with a number of other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, all before applying the legally required privacy protections or obtaining a warrant. In order to be intercepted legally, communications such as phone calls and emails must cross network switches abroad, so any digital interactions you have with people outside of the United States, or even domestic communications that travel across international switches, are already susceptible to legal NSA surveillance, but now the data gathered can be shared more freely within the law enforcement community.

    • Now It’s Much Easier for Government Agencies to Get NSA Surveillance Data

      Just days before Donald Trump takes office, the director of national intelligence and attorney general have issued new procedures that undermine Americans’ right to privacy and Fourth Amendment constitutional protections. These procedures will allow the NSA to share with other intelligence agencies “raw intelligence” that it collects while conducting mass surveillance under Executive Order 12333, which has been in effect since 1981. Raw intelligence just what it sounds like—emails and phone calls and anything else that the NSA collects during its daily surveillance. These records aren’t minimized or redacted to mask identifying information.

    • Why Is Obama Expanding Surveillance Powers Right Before He Leaves Office?

      On Thursday, the Obama administration finalized new rules that allow the National Security Agency to share information it gleans from its vast international surveillance apparatus with the 16 other agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

      With the new changes, which were long in the works, those agencies can apply for access to various feeds of raw, undoctored NSA intelligence. Analysts will then be able to sift through the contents of those feeds as they see fit, before implementing required privacy protections. Previously, the NSA applied those privacy protections itself, before forwarding select pieces of information to agencies that might need to see them.

    • A Plea to President Obama: Pardon Edward Snowden

      The constitutional pardon power is best known for its association with historic events like Watergate, which is why it is generally discussed in terms of the worthiness of its beneficiaries, rather than the god-like authority it vests in the president alone. There are only theoretical restrictions on the scope of federal lawbreaking the president has the power to forgive. But precisely because the power is so broadly applicable, and so narrowly held, its potential for abuse is tightly circumscribed by politics. Presidents might be tempted to pardon many people, but few want to answer for why this or that high-profile felon or suspect deserves leniency when others don’t.

      There is a regular exception to this dynamic, though. The end of every presidency eases political constraints considerably, and makes the pardon power a potential source of incredible good or, as in Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, gross impropriety.

      President Barack Obama has been relatively stingy with the pardon power over the past eight years, but he has an important opportunity in this final week of his presidency to use the power in a way that pays lasting political dividends, and signals his belief that the Trump era will be a trying one for liberal democracy.

    • Google Launches Key Transparency While a Trade-Off in WhatsApp Is Called a Backdoor

      The issue at question is WhatsApp’s answer to the question of what applications should do when someone’s phone number changes (or they reinstall their app, or switch phones).

      Suppose Alice sends a message to Bob encrypted with Bob’s key K1. Alice’s message is stored encrypted at the server until Bob can connect and download it. This behavior is required for any app that allows asynchronous communications (meaning you can send a message to somebody while they are offline), which nearly all popular messaging apps support.

    • Let’s save ‘backdoor’ for the real thing

      The Guardian reported on Friday last week that WhatsApp – owned by Facebook – has a “backdoor” that “allows snooping on encrypted messages”. The report was based on research by Tobias Boelter, published in April 2016. The Guardian has since changed the word “backdoor” in its article to “vulnerability” or “security vulnerability”.

      A few days before the Guardian article was published, the journalist contacted ORG for a quote. She couldn’t discuss the details of the alleged security flaw so we gave a generic quote about the importance of transparency from companies that offer end-to-end encryption and the dangers to encryption within the Investigatory Powers Act.

    • Will Mark Zuckerberg run for political office?

      That’s the question percolating in tech and media circles in recent days.

      The Facebook (FB, Tech30) CEO announced this week he has hired David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, to head policy and advocacy efforts at his philanthropic effort.

      The high-profile politico’s appointment came just days after Zuckerberg unveiled his New Year’s resolution to meet with people from every state in the U.S.

      “After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post, sounding curiously like a politician.

    • What you eat, how you drive and even if you’ve brushed your teeth: What insurance companies want to know about you

      Twice a day, Scott Ozawa’s Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush tells his dental insurer if he brushed for a full two minutes.

      In return, the 41-year-old software engineer gets free brush heads and the employer which bought his insurance gets premium discounts.

      The scheme, devised by Beam Technologies Inc, is just one of the latest uses of technology by insurers hungry for more real-time information on their customers that they say lets them assess risk more accurately and set rates accordingly.

    • Over 1 million people signed a petition urging Obama to pardon Edward Snowden

      According to PardonSnowden.org, the Pardon Snowden campaign submitted a petition to President President Obama last Friday that it claims contained over 1 million signatures, urging the president to see to it that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is pardoned.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Smearing Snowden and WikiLeaks In The Name Of Anonymous

      The WikiLeaks and Snowden smears are getting more disingenuous by the day.

      In the latest attack on what is without doubt the most significant media organization in the world—WikiLeaks—a far less consequential publisher—The Daily Kos—has managed to squeeze an entire article out of one Twitter rant by what they describe as a “quasi-official Anonymous Twitter account” – @YourAnonCentral, also known as YAC.

      In doing so, The Daily Kos is the latest to demonstrate that there is nothing more intellectually insubstantial than the recent trend of quasi-journalists slapping together an entire quasi-article about someone having had a moan on Twitter.

    • More Swedish Women Haunted by Fears of Rape

      Sweden was once known as one of the world’s most secure countries, where violent crime was almost non-existent. Apparently, this is not the case any longer, as almost a third of Swedish women (31 percent) believe the streets are unsafe. Sexual assaults have more than doubled in the Nordic nation in the past three years.

    • Viral Washburn High School fight video was a hoax, district says

      A video posted Friday afternoon to Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook purportedly showing a Muslim student at Washburn High School using her fists to exact revenge on a boy who tugged her hijab is fake, a Minneapolis schools spokesman said Saturday.

      The video, titled “Welcome to Washburn,” has gone viral since it was posted to Facebook, with more than 6.5 million views, more than 161,000 shares and more than 29,000 comments — many supporting the girl, who appears to be defending herself.

      But Dirk Tedmon, a spokesman for the school district, said Saturday that school officials who talked to families of the students after viewing the video learned that it was a “play fight” and intended as a joke. School safety and security staff confirmed the alleged incident never happened. By the time it was discovered to be a hoax, the video had gone viral, Tedmon said.

    • Egypt Drops Case Against Mob That Attacked Christian Woman

      Egyptian prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a Muslim mob who stripped off her clothes and paraded her naked through the streets, her lawyer said Sunday.

      Last May’s assault in the central Minya province began after rumors spread that the son of the 70-year-old woman had an affair with a Muslim woman — a taboo in majority Muslim and conservative Egypt.

      Saturday’s decision by the prosecutors cited lack of sufficient evidence, according to the lawyer, Eihab Ramzy. Another case against the alleged perpetrators of the violence, which also targeted Christian homes, remains ongoing.

    • Martin Luther King Day: Lady Liberty is Black

      The United States will release a gold coin featuring Lady Liberty as a Black woman, the first time she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation’s currency.

      “Part of our intent was to honor our tradition and heritage,” stated a spokesperson from the Mint. “But we also think it’s always worthwhile to have a conversation about liberty, and we certainly have started that conversation.”

      Good for everyone. Only the most dark hearted could be upset that a fictional character is represented in any particular way. This can’t be bad.

    • US Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison in Italy

      Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy on Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush-era rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

      The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

      An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers.

    • As Obama’s Presidency Comes to an End, Take Some Time to Reflect but Never Forget to Keep Climbing

      When thinking of President Obama’s presidency, I invariably return to thoughts of the night in 2008 when he was elected. I spent the early part of the evening watching the returns with my now 97-year-old mother. My mother was born in Summerville, South Carolina, and came up to New York at age 9 in 1928 to rejoin her mother, who had moved north to work as a domestic for white families in Pennsylvania and New York. Like so many black families who were part of the great migration, they had moved north to escape discrimination and the lack of opportunity in the South only to face different manifestations of America’s original sin in the North.

    • Remember Dr. King—and What He Endured

      Annual celebrations of the life and work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often lionize the civil rights era, rightfully focusing on its achievements.

      But celebrations often overlook the federal government’s attempts to “neutralize” the movement. While we remember Dr. King’s many achievements today, we also must remember the documented and unfounded vilification by U.S. intelligence agencies that he, and others in the civil rights movement, endured.

      As our nation approaches a new administration, led by a president-elect whose rhetoric has shown little respect for constitutional limits on executive power and armed with an entrenched surveillance state, that experience offers a prescient warning.

    • EU: Orwellian counter-terrorism laws stripping rights under guise of defending them

      Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe reveals how a deluge of laws and amendments passed with break-neck speed, is undermining fundamental freedoms and dismantling hard-won human rights protections.

      “In the wake of a series of appalling attacks, from Paris to Berlin, governments have rushed through a raft of disproportionate and discriminatory laws,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

      “Taken alone these individual counter-terrorism measures are worrying enough, but when seen together, a disturbing picture emerges in which unchecked powers are trampling freedoms that have long been taken for granted.”

      The report, based on more than two years’ research across 14 EU member states, as well as analysis of initiatives at international and European levels, reveals the extent to which new legislation and policies intended to address the threat of terrorism have steamrolled rights protections.

    • What the “Santa Clausification” of Martin Luther King Jr. Leaves Out

      The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated annually on a federal holiday on the third Monday of January. Politicians across the political spectrum put out statements praising his life’s work, and children in classrooms across America are told the tale of a man who stood up defiantly against racism and helped changed civil rights law.

      But what they don’t mention is that King was not just a fighter for racial justice, he also fought for economic justice and against war. And as a result, he spent the last years of his life, before being assassinated in 1968, clashing not just with reactionary Southern segregationists, but with the Democratic Party’s elite and other civil rights leaders, who viewed his turn against the Vietnam War and the American economic system as dangerous and radical.

    • Dr. King, Labor Leader

      The photograph is iconic. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only 39 years old but the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, lay fatally wounded on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. His lieutenants stood over his body, pointing frantically across the parking lot in the direction of the shooter.

      Dr. King was in Memphis to support the city’s sanitation workers — members of the union I’m proud to serve as president, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — who were striking in protest of poverty wages and dangerous, degrading working conditions. Their fight for dignity and respect was expressed with a simple, compelling slogan: “I Am a Man.”

    • Let’s not forget — Martin Luther King Jr. was preaching economic justice, too

      “Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service,” wrote King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.

      In Atlanta, where King pastored, volunteers will hand out energy-efficient light bulbs in low-income communities. In Chicago, where King lived briefly to draw attention to segregated housing, volunteers will package food for needy elderly residents and give coats to the homeless.

      In Memphis, Tennessee, where King was killed nearly 50 years ago, volunteers will pick up trash in more than a dozen neighborhoods.

    • Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

      The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

      Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

      The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

    • Chelsea Manning: majority of prison sentence commuted by Obama

      Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who became one of the most prominent whistleblowers in modern times when she exposed the nature of modern warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who then went on to pay the price with a 35-year military prison sentence, is to be freed in May as a gift of outgoing president Barack Obama.

      In the most audacious – and contentious – commutation decision to come from Obama yet, the sitting president used his constitutional power just three days before he leaves the White House to give Manning her freedom. She will walk from the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on 17 May, almost seven years to the day since she was arrested in a base outside Baghdad for offenses relating to the leaking of a vast trove of US state secrets.

    • DOJ, Obama Administration Fight Order Requiring The Full CIA Torture Report To Be Turned Over To The Court

      The Obama administration has responded to calls to declassify the full CIA Torture Report with a “will this do?” promise to lock up one copy in the presidential archives. While this ensures one copy of the full report will survive the next presidency, it doesn’t make it any more likely the public will ever see more than the Executive Summary released in 2014.

      Other copies may still be scattered around the federal government, many of them in an unread state. The Department of Defense can’t even say for sure whether its copy is intact. Meanwhile, an ongoing prosecution in which the defendant is alleging being waterboarded by the CIA has resulted in an order to turn over a copy of the full report to the court.

      This order would preserve a second full copy — with this copy being as close as we’ve gotten so far to seeing it become part of the public record. Of course, the DOJ is challenging this court order on behalf of the Obama administration, which certainly never intended to participate in this much transparency. Charlie Savage of the New York Times notes (on his personal blog) that a motion has been filed seeking to reverse the court’s preservation/deposit order.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC chairman warns next administration: Don’t go backward

      The outgoing chairman of the Federal Communications Commission issued an impassioned warning to the next administration: Don’t go backwards.

      “We are at a fork in the road. One path leads forward. The other leads back to re-litigating solutions that are demonstrably working,” Tom Wheeler said in his final public speech as head of the FCC on Friday, according to prepared remarks.

      “It is time to keep moving forward,” he added in the speech at the Aspen Institute. “This is not the time to retreat and take things away.”

      Wheeler focused much of his speech on upholding net neutrality regulations, which are intended to keep the Internet and open fair. The rules, approved in early 2015, require Internet service providers to treat traffic from all web services and apps equally.

    • Outgoing FCC Boss Warns New FCC About The Perils Of Killing Net Neutrality

      We’ve noted a few times how the incoming Trump-lead FCC has made it clear it not only wants to roll back net neutrality and new broadband privacy rules, but defund and defang the FCC entirely. The majority of Trump telecom advisors believe that the FCC serves absolutely no role as a consumer protection agency, and should be torn down to the studs — its only function being to help manage wireless spectrum. With the broadband market clearly broken and uncompetitive (exhibit A: Comcast and its hidden fees, usage caps, and historically awful customer service), eliminating most regulatory oversight of the sector would obviously compound most of the existing problems.

      In his last speech as acting agency head (pdf) ahead of his resignation this week, FCC boss Tom Wheeler warned the new, incoming FCC that rolling back net neutrality is going to not only drive massive consumer backlash against net neutrality opponents, but it’s going to be legally difficult after the FCC’s court victory last year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • UK Company Sues Disney Over Its Use Of The Same Public Domain Book Title

        Because the Disney corporation is so overprotective of its IP and generally willing to pull the trigger on legal threats/lawsuits, it’s always a bit entertaining to see lawsuits filed against it for alleged infringement. But the quality of lawsuits brought against the entertainment giant are very much hit-and-miss. And just because it’s the courtroom villain being sued, it doesn’t automatically make those bringing the suits the heroes.

        UK company Alice Looking Ltd. has registered trademarks on the phrase “Alice Through The Looking Glass” covering a wide variety of products, most of them being expensive shirts. What it doesn’t have is any claim to “Alice” the character, or anything from the Lewis Carroll original, or really anything else other than those words in that order. (h/t Courthouse News Service)

        Disney, on the other hand, recently released a film entitled “Alice Through The Looking Glass” — a live-action take on the Carroll original and yet another rerub of stuff taken from the public domain by a studio that has done its best for the last 70 years to ensure nothing it owns will ever end up in the public’s control. Alice Looking Ltd. feels the release of the Disney movie undercuts the US market for high-end goods with its trademarked phrase on them.

      • It’s Copyright Week: Join Us in the Fight For A Better Copyright Law

        Copyright law touches everyone. But despite its constitutional mandate to serve the public, policymakers have often treated it as the private preserve of major media and entertainment industries. Those industries built entire empires on copyrighted works, and they’ve shaped the law to reflect their interests and desires. But with copyrighted software and digital technologies now integral to our daily lives, copyright affects everyone – and the law should serve all of us.

        Today, copyright law not only impacts the music you hear or the movies you watch, it shapes your ability to communicate with others online, to create, post or share content to online platforms, to make art that talks back to popular culture, and to use, fix, and tinker with your own belongings. When copyright law is out of balance – when content holders are given too much power to control how new technologies and copyrighted works are used – it limits our basic freedoms to access information, to express ourselves, to control our own digital devices, and to innovate to create new tools and creative works.

      • Landmark Movie Streaming Trial Gets Underway in Sweden

        A landmark trial of two men accused of running a popular streaming site begins today. The operators of Swefilmer, whose case had been put on hold pending a copyright ruling from the European Court, face charges of copyright infringement and money laundering. The case is a first of its kind in Sweden.

01.16.17

Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Turn an old laptop into a Chromebook-Linux hybrid

    Common scenario: You buy a new laptop, thinking you’ll sell, donate or hand down the old one… but it never happens. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the hassles of Craigslist or Ebay, not to mention wiping all your data, reinstalling Windows and so on.

    Whatever the case, now it’s just taking up space. But it doesn’t have to: You can give that old laptop new life.

    With Linux, right? Wrong! I mean, yes, you could install Linux, which has always been the go-to option, but not everybody needs or wants the complexity of that operating system. For some, Chromium might be the better choice.

    Chromium is the OS that’s at the heart of Chromebooks — those fast-booting, cloud-powered devices that are so popular these days. Think about it: For whatever reason, no one buys Linux laptops. They buy Chromebooks.

    If you like the idea of giving your old system a Chromebook-like lease on life, good news: It’s fast, free and easy. And it’s not even permanent unless you want it to be.

  • When Peer Pressure Nukes Linux for Windows

    Several months ago, my 16-year-old grandson decided he wanted a powerful computer for gaming. I showed him Steam and some other stuff in Linux and he thought that looked good, so I started accumulating parts. If it was substantially more powerful than anything I have for myself, it was on the list. Sorry I don’t have the details list nearby, but it had a motherboard with a name I had heard, a fairly fast AMD processor with six cores, maxed out RAM, 1TB hard drive, video that took up two slots and had two fans, power supply you could use for welding, and a pair of 22″ monitors.

    I installed Mint 17.3 KDE in less than half an hour (the usual), including separate swap and home partitions (it’s a neurotic thing), setting wallpaper and the like, and doing whatever came to mind at the time. It ran flawlessly and I was happy, so I played with it a while. I really liked it. If I could think of a use, I’d build one for myself.

  • That Other Operating System Continues Its Decline

    The big winner is the Linux kernel. The vociferous opponents of GNU/Linux who haunt this blog can’t have it both ways. If GNU/Linux is not “GNU” and is Linux, then Android/Linux can’t be just Android. It’s Linux underneath.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 417: OpenHMD

      Fredrik Hultin is the Co-founder of the OpenHMD project (together with Jakob Bornecrantz). OpenHMD aims to provide a Free and Open Source API and drivers for immersive technology, such as head-mounted displays with built-in head tracking. The project’s aim is to implement support for as many devices as possible in a portable, cross-platform package.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.10-rc4

      Things are still looking fairly normal, and this is the usual weekly
      Sunday rc release. We’re up to rc4, and people are clearly starting to
      find the regressions. Good, good.

      it’s a slightly more random collection of fixes from last week: the
      bulk of it is still drivers (gpu, net, sound, usb stand out), and
      there’s the usual architecture work (but mostly just x86 this time
      around), but there’s a fair amount of fixes all over. Filesystems
      (xfs, btrfs, some core vfs), tooling (mostly perf), core mm,
      networking etc etc.

      This is also the point where I start hoping that the rc’s start
      shrinking. We’ll see how the tiny rc2 affects things – this may
      technically be rc4, but with that one almost dead week, it feels like
      rc3. But I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll have less next week.

      Regardless, go out and test. This was not a huge merge window, I think
      we’re in pretty good shape for people to dive in..

      Linus

    • Linux 4.10-rc4 Kernel Released

      The fourth weekly test release of the Linux 4.10 kernel is now available.

      For those not up to speed on Linux 4.10, see our Linux 4.10 feature overview. There is a lot of great work included like Nouveau atomic mode-setting, Nouveau boost support, AMD Zen/Ryzen work, new ARM board/platform support, EXT4/XFS DAX iomap support, ATA command priority support, Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0, and much more.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Fourth Linux 4.10 Kernel Release Candidate, Get It Now

      It’s Sunday evening, again, and Linus Torvalds just made his weekly announcement to inform the community about the immediate availability for download of a new Release Candidate of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel.

      One more week has passed in our lives, but the development of the Linux kernel never stops, and we’re now seeing the release of fourth RC (Release Candidate) build of Linux kernel 4.10, which appears to be fairly normal, yet again, bringing only a collection of assorted bug fixes and improvements from last week.

    • Linux 4.9.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.4 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.4.43
    • Linux Kernel 4.9.4 Released with Various ARM/ARM64 and Networking Improvements

      Only three days after announcing the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel series, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is now informing us about the availability of Linux kernel 4.9.4.

      If you were afraid that your patch did not land in Linux 4.9, which is currently the most advanced stable kernel branch available for GNU/Linux distributions, or if you thought that your device hasn’t yet received the right drivers, think again, because Linux kernel 4.9.4 is full of goodies. Yes, again, but this time the patch is a little smaller and fixes a total of 59 files, with 507 insertions and 205 deletions.

    • A Yet-To-Be-Merged Kernel Patch May Boost Kabylake Graphics In Some Cases
    • A Look At Where The P-State Linux Driver Does Bad Against CPUFreq, Clear Linux Tests

      I’m still running more benchmarks in investigating the Core i5 7600K Linux performance and with even its graphics performance being slower than Skylake. I fired up Clear Linux on this Kaby Lake system this weekend and it’s indeed faster than Ubuntu, though there still is some sort of fundamental issue at play with these new CPUs on Linux. But what is clear is that there are cases where the P-State CPU frequency scaling driver does perform very poorly over the mature, generic CPUFreq scaling driver.

    • The Linux Test Project has been released

      the Linux Test Project test suite stable release for *January 2017* has been released.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At The Huge Performance Boosts With Nouveau Mesa 17.0-devel On Maxwell

        Landing this week in Mesa 17.0-devel Git was OpenGL 4.3 for NVC0 Maxwell and a big performance boost as well for these GeForce GTX 750 / 900 series NVIDIA “Maxwell” graphics processors. Here are some before/after benchmarks of the performance improvements, which the patch cited as “1.5~3.5x better”, when testing a GeForce GTX 750 Ti and GTX 980.

      • Fresh Tests Of Intel Beignet OpenCL

        When firing up Intel’s Beignet OpenCL implementation on Clear Linux this weekend, I was surprised to see it was happily chugging along with many of our different CL benchmarks.

  • Applications

    • Top Software

      The number of open source applications and tools that are available on today’s popular operating systems is simply mind-blowing. They come in all forms. Small scripts and console tools that can be easily integrated into large projects, feature-rich applications that offer everything a complete solution, well designed tools, games that encourage real participation, and eye catching candy.

      Open source software holds many compelling advantages over proprietary software. Open source improves the quality of the code, keeps costs down, encourages innovation and collaboration, combined with superior security, freedom, flexibility, interoperability, business agility, and much more.

    • Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” Release Candidate 3 Updates Estuary Skin, Fixes More Bugs

      The wait is almost over, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy a much modern, improved, and full of new technologies Kodi media center on your PC or HTPC device, be it an Apple TV or Raspberry Pi.

      Martijn Kaijser announced the third Release Candidate (RC) development version for the Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” media center, and it looks to us like these pre-releases are getting smaller by the day, the RC3 build including only seven changes listed on the release notes attached to the official announcement.

    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 Improves Compatibility For Origin, GOG Galaxy & More

        Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 was released on Sunday as the newest version of this experimental/testing Wine build. This time around there are some exciting new patches.

        On top of re-basing off Friday’s Wine 2.0-rc5 release and continuing to maintain quite a number of patches that haven’t yet made their way into mainline Wine, a few more patches were added. Upstream Wine is currently under a code freeze until the 2.0 release later this month but that doesn’t stop the Wine-Staging crew.

      • Release 2.0-rc5

        Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 improves the compatibility of various applications that require at least Windows Vista or Windows 7. This includes Origin, Uplay, GOG Galaxy and many more. Several bugs were fixed in the PE loader to support loading of packed executables with truncated headers and/or on-the-fly section decompression. If you are using the 64 bit version of Wine, you may also benefit from the memory manager improvements, which allow applications to reserve/allocate more than 32 GB of virtual memory. The memory allocations are now only constrained by resource limitations of the hardware / the operating system and no longer by an artificial design limit in Wine.

      • Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 released, better support for Origin, GOG Galaxy and more
    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calligra 3.0 released

        A new wonderful era for the Calligra Suite has begun with the release of version 3.0.

        We have chosen to cut back on the number of applications. Krita has left us to be independent and although it was emotional it was also done with complete support from both sides. We are saying goodbye to Author, which never differentiated itself from Words. We also removed Brainstorm the purpose of which will be better fitted by a new application (nothing planned from our side). Flow and Stage has gone in this release but we intend to bring them back in the future.

      • Calligra 3.0 Officially Announced, Drops Some Apps, Ports To KF5/Qt5

        This six-year-old split from KOffice is finally living in the KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt5 world with the Calligra 3.0 release. Besides the porting to KF5/Qt5, Calligra 3.0 does away with Krita since it’s moved onto releasing as its own project, the Author e-book application was dropped since it never became much different from Words, and the Brainstorm note-taking app was droped. The Flow flowchart software and Stage presentation program were also dropped from Calligra 3.0 but they are expected to be brought back in the future, such as when fully-ported to KF5/Qt5.

      • Kirigami 2.0 Released, KDE’s Framework for Convergent Mobile and Desktop UIs

        After being in development for the past six months, KDE’s Kirigami 2.0 open-source UI (User Interface) framework has been officially released in its final, production-ready state.

        If memory recalls, the first public release of the Kirigami UI framework saw the light of day at the beginning of August last year, allowing early adopters to test drive KDE’s brand-new tool for creating beautiful, convergent user interfaces written in Qt for both mobile and desktop applications.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • My next EP will be released as a corrupted GPT image

        Endless OS is distributed as a compressed disk image, so you just write it to disk to install it. On first boot, it resizes itself to fill the whole disk. So, to “install” it to a file we decompress the image file, then extend it to the desired length. When booting, in principle we want to loopback-mount the image file and treat that as the root device. But there’s a problem: NTFS-3G, the most mature NTFS implementation for Linux, runs in userspace using FUSE. There are some practical problems arranging for the userspace processes to survive the transition out of the initramfs, but the bigger problem is that accessing a loopback-mounted image on an NTFS partition is slow, presumably because every disk access has an extra round-trip to userspace and back. Is there some way we can avoid this performance penalty?

      • This week in GTK+ – 31

        In this last week, the master branch of GTK+ has seen 52 commits, with 10254 lines added and 9466 lines removed.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MParted 21 Disk Partitioning Live CD Gets Beta Release, Based on GParted 0.26.1

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki is informing Softpedia today about the Beta release of his upcoming 4MParted 21.0 distribution, a small Live CD that you can use to partition disk drives without having to install any software application or script.

      • Q4OS 1.8.2, Orion

        New version 1.8.2 is based on the the most recent release of stable Debian Jessie 8.7, important security patches have been applied and core system packages have been updated. Q4OS Update manager has been rewritten from scratch to provide a robust and reliable tool for safe system upgrades. Other Q4OS specific fixes and under the hood improvements are delivered as usual. All the updates are immediately available for existing Q4OS users from the regular Q4OS repositories.

        Most attention is now focused on the development of the testing Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ version 2.2, based on Debian 9 Stretch. Q4OS 2.2 Scorpion continues to be under development so far, and it will stay as long as Debian Stretch will be testing, the release date is preliminarily scheduled at about the turn of April and May 2017. Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ will be supported at least five years from the official release date.

      • NuTyX 8.2.93 released
      • Linux Top 3: Parted Magic, Quirky and Ultimate Edition

        Parted Magic is a very niche Linux distribution that many users first discover when they’re trying to either re-partition a drive or recover data from an older system. The new Parted Magic 2017_01_08 release is an incremental update that follows the very large 2016_10_18 update that provided 800 updates.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian from 10,000 feet

        Many of you are big fans of S.W.O.T analysis, I am sure of that! :-) Technical competence is our strongest suit, but we have reached a size and sphere of influence which requires an increase in organisation.

        We all love our project and want to make sure Debian still shines in the next decades (and centuries!). One way to secure that goal is to identify elements/events/things which could put that goal at risk. To this end, we’ve organized a short S.W.O.T analysis session at DebConf16. Minutes of the meeting can be found here. I believe it is an interesting read and is useful for Debian old-timers as well as newcomers. It helps to convey a better understanding of the project’s status. For each item, we’ve tried to identify an action.

      • Debian Outs First Release Candidate of Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Installer

        Work on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system is ongoing, and Debian Project’s Cyril Brulebois announced today the availability of the first Release Candidate of the Debian Installer for Stretch.

        A lot of things have been implemented since the eight, and last Alpha development release of the Debian Stretch Installer, but the most important changes outlined in the announcement for the RC1 build are the revert of the switch to merged-/usr as default setting for debootstrap and disablement of Debian Pure Blends support.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 release

        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the first release candidate of the installer for Debian 9 “Stretch”.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 Arrives, The /usr Merge Has Been Postponed

        The Debian Installer is getting ready for the 9.0 “Stretch” release.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available for Download

        We reported the other day that the Debian Project released Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie,” which is the seventh maintenance update to the current Debian Stable series of Linux-based computer operating systems.

        As promised, we told you then that installation mediums aren’t yet available for download, nor Live ISO images, which help users install the latest, most up-to-date version of Debian Linux on their PCs or laptops without having download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories.

      • Debian Project launches updated Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 with bug fixes

        An updated version of Debian, a popular Linux distribution is now available for users to download and install. According to the post on the Debian website by Debian Project, the new version is 8.7. This is the seventh update to the Debian eight distribution, and the update primarily focuses on fixing bugs and security problems. This update also includes some adjustments to fix serious problems present in the previous version.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2016

        The number of sponsored hours did not increase but a new silver sponsor is in the process of joining. We are only missing another silver sponsor (or two to four bronze sponsors) to reach our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position.

      • APK, images and other stuff.

        Also, I was pleased to see F-droid Verification Server as a sign of F-droid progress on reproducible builds effort – I hope these changes to diffoscope will help them!

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 2.10 Will Upgrade to Linux Kernel 4.8 and Tor 0.2.9, Add exFAT Support

          A new stable release of Tails, the beloved anonymous Live CD that helps you stay hidden online when navigating various websites on the Internet, is being prepared.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • MATE 1.16 Desktop Now Available for Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Here’s How to Install It

            The wait is finally over, as the MATE 1.16 desktop environment is now available for those who use the Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system or later versions, such as 16.04.1.

            After thoroughly testing them, Martin Wimpress and his team updated the PPA (Personal Package Archive) containing the MATE desktop packages for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS, a long-term supported version of the officially recognized Ubuntu flavor built around the lightweight and customizable MATE desktop environment, to version 1.16.

            MATE 1.16.1 is, in fact, the current version of the desktop environment included in said PPA for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS users, which they can install as we speak by using the installation instructions provided in the next paragraphs, and it looks like it was derived from those prepared for the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” release.

          • Intel Haswell GPUs Now Support OpenGL 4.2 for Ubuntu Gamers in Padoka/Oibaf PPAs

            Ubuntu gamers relying upon their Intel Haswell graphics card series to play various games that support these GPUs will be happy to learn that the open-source Intel drivers now support OpenGL 4.2.

            Until today, the Intel i965 graphics drivers offered by the well-known Padoka and Oibaf PPAs for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating systems exposed only OpenGL 4.0 for Intel Haswell GPUs, thus support for some demanding games just wasn’t there.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Linux OS Is Out, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Kernel 4.4

              After announcing the release of Ultimate Edition 5.0 Gamers Edition, an Ubuntu-based operating system designed for Linux gamers, last week, TheeMahn is now releasing Ultimate Edition 5.1.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta is available for download now

              A Beta release for Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE is here. There are already versions available featuring other desktop environments, such as Cinnamon, Mate, and Xfce. You’d think that would be enough, but no! Apparently a fourth edition is needed. Some people feel that a KDE version is a waste of resources, but either way, here we are.

              So what is new? The KDE Plasma 5.8 desktop environment is the star of the show — after all, if you do not want KDE, you wouldn’t choose this version. The shipping Linux kernel is 4.4.0-53, which is surprisingly outdated. Ubuntu-based operating systems are never known for being bleeding-edge, however.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Gets a Beta Release, Ships with KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS

              After landing on the official download channels a few days ago, the Beta version of the upcoming Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Edition operating system got today, January 16, 2017, an official announcement.

              The KDE Edition is the last in the new Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” stable series to be published, and it was delayed a little bit because Clement Lefebvre and his team wanted it to ship with latest KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS desktop environment from the Kubuntu Backports PPA repository.

            • Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 — Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu In One ISO

              Linux AIO is a multiboot ISO carrying different flavors of a single Linux distribution and eases you from the pain of keeping different bootable USBs. The latest Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 is now available for download in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. It features various Ubuntu flavors including Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google’s open-source Draco promises to squeeze richer 3D worlds into the web, gaming, and VR

    Google has published a set of open source libraries that should improve the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which could help deliver more detailed 3D apps.

  • Why every business should consider an open source point of sale system

    Point of sale (POS) systems have come a long way from the days of simple cash registers that rang up purchases. Today, POS systems can be all-in-one solutions that include payment processing, inventory management, marketing tools, and more. Retailers can receive daily reports on their cash flow and labor costs, often from a mobile device.

    The POS is the lifeblood of a business, and that means you need to choose one carefully. There are a ton of options out there, but if you want to save money, adapt to changing business needs, and keep up with technological advances, you would be wise to consider an open source system. An open source POS, where the source code is exposed for your use, offers significant advantages over a proprietary system that keeps its code rigidly under wraps.

  • Events

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Target CIO explains how DevOps took root inside the retail giant [Ed: Don’t ever make/give Target any payments, certainly not digitally. They use a lot of Microsoft Mindows i.e. back doors]

      When I arrived at Target in mid-2015, I was excited to find an active grassroots DevOps and agile movement in pockets of the technology team. We’d already seen some great results with our digital teams and our enterprise architecture group moving to agile and DevOps. And we had a lot of engineers and team members who were hungry to start working this way.

    • OpenStack Vendor Mirantis Offers Managed OpenContrail SDN Services

      The open-source OpenContrail Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology is one of the most widely used and deployed networking approaches in the OpenStack cloud market. That’s a fact that is not lost on OpenStack vendor Mirantis, which is why today Mirantis is announcing commercial support for OpenContrail.

    • Cloud Kindergarten preps students for OpenStack careers

      Cloud Kindergarten began this year to offer students a chance to learn about OpenStack and how to work with it. The students taking part in this program have access to Devstack so that they can learn about different commands and how to best utilize them in practice. Students are also able to create a tenant or network with routers and host an application like WordPress with databases and web servers.

    • OpenStack private cloud: benefits, challenges and what the future holds

      Many businesses in the UK have turned to private cloud to run mission-critical applications, with 80 percent of senior IT professionals having moved, or planning to move, to the OpenStack private cloud.

      The impact and adoption rates of this “cloud of choice” were explored in a recent study by SUSE, looking into the key benefits of private cloud and the effect its growth is having on UK businesses.

    • Navigating OpenStack: community, release cycles and events

      Hopefully last week we piqued your interest in a career path in OpenStack. Like any other open source project, if you’re going to use it—professionally or personally—it’s important to understand its community and design/release patterns.

    • Containers on the CERN cloud

      We have recently made the Container-Engine-as-a-Service (Magnum) available in production at CERN as part of the CERN IT department services for the LHC experiments and other CERN communities. This gives the OpenStack cloud users Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm on demand within the accounting, quota and project permissions structures already implemented for virtual machines.

    • Effective OpenStack contribution: Seven things to avoid at all cost

      There are numerous blogs and resources for the new and aspiring OpenStack contributor, providing tips, listing what to do. Here are seven things to avoid if you want to be an effective OpenStack contributor.

    • Tips for contributors, managing containers at CERN, and more OpenStack news

      Are you interested in keeping track of what is happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for news in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP’s Progress In 2016, What’s Ahead For 2017

      GIMP contributor Alexandre Prokoudine published a lengthy blog post today looking back at what were the accomplishments for this open-source image manipulation program in 2016 and some of what’s ahead for the program this year.

      [...]

      Among the work still being done before GIMP 2.10 is released includes cleaning up libgimp, changing linear/gamma-corrected workflows, and 16/32-bit per color channel support, a new color management implementation, and more. GIMP 2.10 will hopefully ship later in 2017.

    • How To Install The Latest GIMP 2.9 Development Build on Ubuntu
    • What To Expect In GIMP 2.10

      The GIMP is our favorite image editing app for Linux, and this year it’s set to get even better. The development team behind the hugely popular open-source project this week shared word about ‘what’s next for GIMP‘ in 2017.

    • AMD HSA IL / BRIG Front-End Still Hoping To Get Into GCC 7

      For many months now there’s been work on an AMD HSA IL front-end for GCC with supporting the BRIG binary form of the Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language (HSA IL). It’s getting late into GCC 7 development and onwards to its final development stage while this new front-end has yet to be merged.

      Developer Pekka Jääskeläinen has been trying to get in the finishing reviews and changes for getting approval to land this BRIG front-end into the GNU Compiler Collection. It’s a big addition and with GCC 7 soon just focusing on wrong-code fixes, bug fixes, and documentation fixes starting on 19 January, there would be just a few days left to land this new front-end for GCC 7 to avoid having to wait until next year for it to debut in stable with GCC 8.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Can academic faculty members teach with Wikipedia?

        Since 2010, 29,000 students have completed the Wiki Ed program. They have added 25 million words to Wikipedia, or the equivalent of 85,000 printed pages of content. This is 66% of the total words in the last print edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. When Wiki Ed students are most active, they are contributing 10% of all the content being added to underdeveloped, academic content areas on Wikipedia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Can RISC-V – Linux of Microprocessors – Start an Open Hardware Renaissance?

        I share the hope with many people that we will soon have access to modern, capable devices powered by both open hardware AND software. There have been advancements in recent years and more hardware is being opened up, but the microprocessors in our pc’s and other devices are stuck running one of the dominant, closed Instruction Set Architectures. RISC-V aims to fix this.

  • Programming/Development

    • Rcpp 0.12.9: Next round

      Yesterday afternoon, the nineth update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp made it to the CRAN network for GNU R. Windows binaries have by now been generated; and the package was updated in Debian too. This 0.12.9 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, and the 0.12.8 release in November — making it the thirteenth release at the steady bi-montly release frequency.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 906 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further. That is up by sixthythree packages over the two months since the last release — or about a package a day!

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • MSI X99A RAIDER Plays Fine With Linux

      This shouldn’t be a big surprise though given the Intel X99 chipset is now rather mature and in the past I’ve successfully tested the MSI X99A WORKSTATION and X99S SLI PLUS motherboards on Linux. The X99A RAIDER is lower cost than these other MSI X99 motherboards I’ve tested, which led me in its direction, and then sticking with MSI due to the success with these other boards and MSI being a supporter of Phoronix and encouraging our Linux hardware testing compared to some other vendors.

    • First 3.5-inch Kaby Lake SBC reaches market

      Axiomtek’s 3.5-inch CAPA500 SBC taps LGA1151-ready CPUs from Intel’s 7th and 6th Generations, and offers PCIe, dual GbE, and optional “ZIO” expansion.

      Axiomtek’s CAPA500 is the first 3.5-inch form-factor SBC that we’ve seen that supports Intel’s latest 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” processors. Kaby Lake is similar enough to the 6th Gen “Skylake” family, sharing 14nm fabrication, Intel Gen 9 Graphics, and other features, to enable the CAPA500 to support both 7th and 6th Gen Core i7/i5/i3 CPUs as long as they use an LGA1151 socket. Advantech’s Kaby Lake based AIMB-205 Mini-ITX board supports the same socket. The CAPA500 ships with an Intel H110 chipset, and a Q170 is optional.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Veterans’ Corner: Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

      The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to expand disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune.

      Water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from 1953-1987 with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has proposed presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemicals.

      The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks. It has been determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

    • Medicare for All should replace Obamacare: Column

      Even before the election of Donald Trump, Obamacare was in trouble. Premiums on the government exchanges for individual policies are projected to increase an average of 11% next year, nearly four times the increase for employer-based family policies. And some large insurers are pulling out of that market altogether in parts of the country.

      Those who buy insurance on the exchanges often find that even with subsidies, they can’t afford to use the insurance because of mounting deductibles (about $6,000 for individual Bronze plans). It has become clear that health insurance is not the same as health care.

  • Security

    • Microsoft slates end to security bulletins in February [iophk: “further obscuring”; Ed: See this]

      Microsoft next month will stop issuing detailed security bulletins, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.

      One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”

    • Reflected XSS through AngularJS sandbox bypass causes password exposure of McDonald users

      By abusing an insecure cryptographic storage vulnerability (link) and a reflected server cross-site-scripting vulnerability (link) it is possible to steal and decrypt the password from a McDonald’s user. Besides that, other personal details like the user’s name, address & contact details can be stolen too.

    • DragonFlyBSD Installer Updated To Support UEFI System Setup

      DragonFlyBSD has been working on its (U)EFI support and with the latest Git code its installer now has basic UEFI support.

    • Monday’s security updates
    • What does security and USB-C have in common?

      I’ve decided to create yet another security analogy! You can’t tell, but I’m very excited to do this. One of my long standing complaints about security is there are basically no good analogies that make sense. We always try to talk about auto safety, or food safety, or maybe building security, how about pollution. There’s always some sort of existing real world scenario we try warp and twist in a way so we can tell a security story that makes sense. So far they’ve all failed. The analogy always starts out strong, then something happens that makes everything fall apart. I imagine a big part of this is because security is really new, but it’s also really hard to understand. It’s just not something humans are good at understanding.

      [...]

      The TL;DR is essentially the world of USB-C cables is sort of a modern day wild west. There’s no way to really tell which ones are good and which ones are bad, so there are some people who test the cables. It’s nothing official, they’re basically volunteers doing this in their free time. Their feedback is literally the only real way to decide which cables are good and which are bad. That’s sort of crazy if you think about it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Taiwan’s President Takes a ‘Walk on the International Stage’ While Trump Baits Beijing

      The U.S. President-elect’s insistence that recognition of the “one China” policy is negotiable has infuriated China

      Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has risked Beijing’s wrath by remarking that her trip to Central America via the U.S. has allowed “Taiwan to walk on the international stage,” just a day after President-elect Donald Trump reiterated that American recognition of the “one China” principle was up for negotiation.

      China and Taiwan effectively split in 1949 following a civil war, though Beijing considers the self-governing island of 25 million a breakaway province with which it must one day be reunified — by force if necessary. Chinese officials are extremely wary of any statement — like Tsai’s — that might give the impression that Taiwan is an independent nation.

    • Donald Trump warned Beijing will ‘take off the gloves’ if he continues Taiwan agenda, says Chinese state media

      President-elect Donald Trump has been warned he is “playing with fire” and that Beijing will “take off the gloves” if he continues to provoke China’s government by suggesting the “One China” policy could change.

      Mr Trump once again suggested the “One China” principle, in which the US recognises the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of China, is up for negotiation in a recent interview.

      Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the President-elect said: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China”. China’s foreign ministry responded to the comments by stating that the “One China” principle is the foundation of US ties and is non-negotiable.

    • Yemen death toll has reached 10,000, UN says

      At least 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen, according to the United Nations, which is urging both sides to come together to end nearly two years of conflict.

      The UN’s humanitarian affairs office said the figure, which is a low estimate, was reached using data from health facilities that have kept track of the victims of the war, which has largely been ignored by the international community.

      The figure does not include those recorded by hospitals and health centres as having died, which is likely to be most of the combatants on both sides of the conflict.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange: Scapegoat or villain?

      One of the most banal tropes of Hollywood blockbuster trailers is about one man pitted against an all-powerful enemy, and ultimately prevailing. The figure of the lone ranger battling on with his back to the wall is a popular figure of American pop culture. How ironic, then, that this very figure seems to have become the bane of the country’s righteous political establishment.

      So one man, holed up in the embassy of a tiny Latin American nation, a man who hasn’t seen much sunlight in four years, who is under round-the-clock surveillance, and is subject to arbitrary denial of Internet access, has managed to swing the presidential election of the most powerful country in the world in a direction it ought not to have gone. Or so we are told by influential sections of the Western press.

    • Media beware, your credibility is all you have: Column

      BuzzFeed News drew a tongue-lashing from President-elect Donald Trump this week for publishing a 35-page bombshell document with inflammatory allegations about his ties to Russia.

      Disclosing the Trump dossier — with its errors and unproven claims — reflects BuzzFeed’s principles “to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” editor Ben Smith said in a memo to his staff. He said it also reflects “how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

      But many journalists and critics aren’t so sure. “It’s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo,” Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post. The Atlantic’s David Graham, meanwhile, worried about the ethics of publishing specific claims other reporters had tried to verify but could not.

      Once again, it comes down to credibility — the only real currency journalism has.

    • Social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news in the 18th century: Thomas Jefferson and the “Mazzei letter”

      In today’s public discourse, nothing is more super-charged than social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Japan criticised after whale slaughtered in Australian waters

      Australia’s federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, has criticised Japan following the release of photographs allegedly showing the slaughtering of protected whales inside Australia’s Antarctic whale sanctuary.

      Frydenberg’s statement came as conservationists called for tougher action from Australia.

      “The Australian government is deeply disappointed that Japan has decided to return to the Southern Ocean this summer to undertake so-called ‘scientific’ whaling,” Frydenberg said.

    • Green MEP calls on police chief to investigate ‘threats’ against anti-drilling campaigners

      Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has written to Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police urging the force to investigate ‘harassment’ claims made by various anti-drilling campaigners.

      In November, Keith visited constituents at the peaceful anti-drilling protection camp in Leith Hill, Dorking before meeting with the Keep Billingshurst Frack Free campaign group. During the meetings, and in subsequent correspondence, campaigners reported escalating levels of ‘stalking’ and ‘harassment’ by individuals they allege to be shareholders of the drilling company, UK Oil and Gas (UKOG).

  • Finance

    • A Republican Privatization of Social Security Is a Real Possibility

      Social Security was among the most important issues heading into the 2016 election. Yet, interestingly enough, it wasn’t paid very much attention during the debates, which is surprising when you consider that 61% of current retired beneficiaries count on Social Security to provide at least half of their monthly income.

      The reason Social Security is causing such concern among retirees and working Americans is an expected budgetary shortfall in the program that’s being caused by the retirement of baby boomers from the workforce and the relatively steady lengthening of life expectancies since the mid-1960s. According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Trust is slated to exhaust its more than $2.8 trillion in spare cash by 2034. Should Congress fail to find a way to generate more revenue, cut benefits, or enact some combination of the two, the Trustees report estimates that a 21% across-the-board benefit cut would be needed to sustain Social Security through the year 2090. For those aforementioned reliant seniors, a 21% cut in their benefits is a terrifying reality.

      During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump offered one simple solution to the American public: that he would leave Social Security alone. Trump opined that it was the duty of congressional leaders to fulfill their promise to retired workers of a steady monthly benefit check.

    • World’s eight richest men own as much as poorest 50%

      The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released on Monday.

      Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem.

      If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

    • The Coming Crusade Against Public Education

      Betsy DeVos, whose nomination for secretary of education will be reviewed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, has never taught in a classroom. She’s never worked in a school administration, nor in a state education system, nor has she studied pedagogy. She’s never been to public school, and neither have her children. She has no record on higher education, except as an investor in the student-loan industry, which the Department of Education oversees. As Massachusetts Senator (and HELP Committee member) Elizabeth Warren wrote recently, there is “no precedent” for an education secretary with DeVos’s lack of experience in public education.

    • Sterling Options Signal More Turmoil as May Speech, Ruling Loom

      A measure of anticipated swings for the pound climbed to the highest in three months before U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit plans Tuesday and a court ruling this month on whether the British leader or Parliament carries the power to invoke the exit.

    • World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

      The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

      In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

      The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

    • [Old] Gates Foundation accused of ‘dangerously skewing’ aid priorities by promoting ‘corporate globalisation’

      They are among the richest people on earth, have won plaudits for their fight to eradicate some of the world’s deadliest and prolific killers, and donated billions to better educate and feed the poorest on the planet.

      Despite this, Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation, according to a controversial new report.

      Far from a “neutral charitable strategy”, the Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to the report published by the campaign group Global Justice Now. Its influence is “dangerously skewing” aid priorities, the group says.

      [...]

      The report is critical of the close working relations between the Foundation and major international pharmaceutical corporations and points out many of the same firms have been criticised for their over-pricing of life-saving vaccines. It warns that philanthropic influence is skewing health priorities “towards the interests of wealthy donors (vaccines) rather than resilient health systems”.

      [...]

      It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. “Much of the Foundation’s work appears to bypass local knowledge,” the report claims.

      The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.”

      [...]

      It calls for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to carry out an inquiry into the foundation’s work on top of a British Parliamentary inquiry.

    • The Clinton Foundation Shuts Down Clinton Global Initiative

      The Clinton Foundation’s long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization’s charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency.

      But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

    • Looking forward to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit

      This week’s speech is expected to say that the United Kingdom is prepared to leave the single market. But, as I have set out on this blog and at the FT, the departure of the United Kingdom from the single market is the necessary implication of the positions which the prime minister has admitted to holding.

      Perhaps the speech will reveal something about how the United Kingdom is seeking to attain the objectives. Perhaps there will be some statements about still-unknown issues such as the United Kingdom’s position on a customs union.

      Or perhaps it will be a sequence of slogans and ambitions, without any substance on how they will be converted into reality.

      More important may be the interview from the chancellor of the exchequer Phillip Hammond with a German newspaper. He often seems to be the only grown-up in the cabinet.

    • Swedish minister ‘shocked’ by xenophobia towards Swedes in UK

      The Swedish government wants the issue of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British people settled elsewhere in Europe to be resolved urgently and removed from the Brexit negotiating table as quickly as possible.

      Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, said she was shocked by the uncertainty and xenophobia experienced by Swedes in the UK since the referendum.

      She said the future of an estimated 100,000 Swedish people in Britain and 30,000 British people in Sweden, had to be urgently dealt with. She said: “This is one of the very most important issues and we have to solve it in a very constructive way in the first part of the negotiations.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • French progressives dare to hope as maverick Macron surges in polls

      From the stage in a packed concert hall, France’s youngest presidential candidate looked up at the thousands of people who had come to witness his trademark thunderous speaking style.

      “Never accept those who promote exclusion, hatred or closing in on ourselves!” Emmanuel Macron urged the audience in Lille, a city surrounded by France’s leftwing northern heartlands that are increasingly turning to Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National. “When the Front National promises to restore security points at the border, they are lying,” he said.

    • Donald Trump v. the Spooks

      In that corner, we have a deal-making, billionaire “man of the people” who, to European sensibilities at least, reputedly espouses some of the madder domestic obsessions and yet has seemed to offer hope to many aggrieved Americans. But it is his professed position on building a rapprochement with Russia and cooperating with Moscow to sort out the Syrian mess that caught my attention and that of many other independent commentators internationally.

      In the opposite corner, Trump’s opponents have pushed the CIA into the ring to deliver the knock-out blow, but this has yet to land. Despite jab after jab, Trump keeps evading the blows and comes rattling back against all odds. One has to admire the guy’s footwork.

      So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS. However, since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, those villains no longer packed as scary a punch, so a more enduring villain, like Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984, was required. Russia was the obvious new choice, the old favorite from the Cold War playbook.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Calling Something Hate: The New Form Of Silencing

      See how easy it is to tar someone as an unacceptable person?

      They say something you don’t like.

      Or maybe they’re in your way for some reason — perhaps keeping you from having an entirely clear path to the top.

      “J’accuse!” time!

      I think this is becoming — and will continue to become — an extremely convenient way to go after people who’ve done nothing wrong…well, that is, in a society that values civil liberties, including free speech, enough to protect them.

    • ‘Telly viewers hate censorship more than swearing’, say academics

      Television viewers are less offended by swear words than censorship when it comes to regulators, academics have found.

      Researchers from Leicester and Birmingham City universities travelled the country – and Germany – to study people watching daytime TV.

      They watched programmes reported to be offensive or problematic and discussed these with the viewers.

      Dr Ranjana Das, from Leicester’s School of Media, Communication and Sociology, and Dr Anne Graefer, from the Birmingham School of Media, found swear words, bad language or flashy lighting were rarely considered worth complaints to regulators.

    • IMDb Draws Support In Fight Against California Censorship Law

      A California law requiring Amazon’s IMDb to scrub actors’ ages from its site could pave the way for other new measures aimed at squelching truthful information, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says in new court papers.

      “If it is constitutional for the government to suppress IMDb’s public site from reporting age information, there will be virtually no limit to the government’s ability to suppress the reporting of many other truthful facts by many other sources,” the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues in a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week. “In an age where the media is struggling to combat the pernicious effects of false news, the truth should not be suppressed.”

      The organization, along with a host of legal scholars, is backing IMDb’s effort to block enforcement of the new law, which was passed last year at the urging of the Screen Actors Guild and took effect on January 1.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Obama administration signs off on wider data-sharing for NSA

      The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) has signed off on new rules to let the National Security Agency (NSA) share globally intercepted personal information with the country’s other 16 intelligence agencies, before it applies privacy protection to or minimizes the raw data.

      Or, as Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), put it in an interview with the New York Times, 17 intelligence agencies are now going to be “rooting… through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant”.

      The new rules mean that the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, and intelligence agencies of the US military’s branches and more, will be able to search through raw signals intelligence (SIGINT): intercepted signals that include all manner of people’s communications, be it via satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, as well as messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

    • Obama Expands NSA Spying. Attack against Democratic Rights
    • Barack Obama Allowed NSA to Share Surveillance Data With All Government Intelligence Agencies

      Barack Obama, the outgoing US president, allowed the NSA (National Security Agency) to share surveillance data with all government security and intelligence agencies. The new rules were signed by Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, on January 3, 2017. There are 16 government security and intelligence agencies in total, some of them are the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

    • White House Approves New Rules for Sharing of Raw Intelligence Data

      President Obama last week approved a change in the way the National Security Agency shares raw signals intelligence data with the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, a shift that privacy experts worry will erode the civil liberties of Americans.

    • Pardon Snowden Campaign Delivers Over One Million Signatures to Obama

      With less than a week left of Obama’s presidency, a coalition of organizations has collected more than a million signatures on a petition urging Obama to issue a full pardon to Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who revealed the size and scope of the surveillance conducted by the NSA and other federal agencies. Snowden (shown) fled the country and has lived in exile in Russia since May of 2013. If pardoned, he could return to American soil a hero to many.

    • Records show timesheet falsifications at NSA

      The National Security Agency’s internal watchdog has found more than 100 cases in five years in which civilian employees and contractors falsely claimed to have been at work.

      Details about the cases were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun (http://bsun.md/2iuZO9g ). An NSA spokesman says the incidents cost the agency almost $3.5 million, though about 80 percent of the money lost to the fraud has been recovered.

    • Amazon snapped up an AI security startup for around $20 million

      Amazon has acquired a San Diego security startup called Harvest.ai for around $20 million (£17 million), TechCrunch reports.

      The acquisition was reportedly made through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud services group.

      Founded by two former NSA employees, Harvest.ai has developed technology that can help companies to find and stop targeted attacks on their data.

    • 3Apple, please help to save private e-mail encryption

      After the latest Mac OS upgrade (Sierra) – GPG encryption of mail doesn’t work. Apparently, the GPGTools-people need to do a lot of reverse engineering. And as they kindly offer the world encryption for free their resources are limited.

      This might lead to people turning away from e-mail encryption, at a point in time where more people ought to take it up. This should be an argument strong enough for Apple to give the GPG-team a helping hand.

    • When It Comes to Police Surveillance, Local Politics Matter

      On Friday, the Boston Police Department said that it would not go ahead with a controversial plan to spend $1.4 million dollars on software used to monitor social media activity.

      “After reviewing the submitted proposals I felt that the technology that was presented exceeds the needs of our department,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement.

      The announcement comes after a sustained campaign led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future, and other community organizers to defeat the proposal, which was first made public in late October.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama’s Legacy: A Historic War On Whistleblowers

      As President Barack Obama soared into office eight years ago, he promised, on his first day in the White House, to launch “a new era of open government.”

      “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in a Jan. 21, 2009 memorandum.

      Obama was urging the attorney general to issue new guidelines protecting The Freedom of Information Act. “In the face of doubt,” Obama proclaimed, “openness prevails.”

    • Sick Muslim migrant gang that broke girl’s jaw accused of REGULAR ‘Sharia patrol’ attacks

      The girl, named only as Leonie, heads up the gang of six migrants who are purported to have carried out several Sharia-inspired attacks across the European capital of Vienna.

      Leonie, 15, was among the six Muslim youths from Chechnya who allegedly beat up a teenage girl, named as Patricia, in the centre of the Austrian capital city.

      Patricia, a Polish schoolgirl, was falsely accused of pulling off a Muslim woman’s headscarf.

      The attack, which left her with a broken jaw in two places, shocked Austria when footage of the beating went viral.

    • Pastor vandalized for fourth time after anti-mosque remarks

      A pastor who has been outspoken about his opposition to construction of a mosque in Bayonne is the victim of vandalism for the fourth time.

      [...]

      Basile says he asked the men in charge if they believed in Sharia law and they refused to answer. Their lawyer wouldn’t let them answer.

    • Saudi Arabia cleric warns of ‘depravity’ of cinema, concerts

      Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric has warned of the “depravity” of cinemas and music concerts, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed in the ultra-conservative kingdom. “We know that singing concerts and cinemas are a depravity,” Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said in a television interview cited by Sabq news website late Friday. The head of the Saudi supreme council of clerics was responding to a question about the plans of the kingdom’s General Authority for Entertainment to licence concerts and study opening cinemas.

    • Saudi Arabia religious chief says legalising cinemas risks ‘mixing of sexes’ and ‘rotten’ influence

      Saudi Arabia’s religious authority has said the legalisation of cinemas and concerts could lead to the “mixing of sexes” and “atheistic or rotten” influences in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

      Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh made the statements on his weekly television programme as the Saudi government prepares to begin cultural and economic reforms known as Vision 2030.

      The head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani has raised the potential for opening cinemas and holding concerts as early as this year.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • In Final Speech, FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Warns GOP Not to Kill Net Neutrality

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered an impassioned defense of US net neutrality protections on Friday, one week before Republicans who have vowed to roll back the policy are set to take control of the agency.

      In his final public speech as the nation’s top telecom regulator, Wheeler warned that Republican efforts to weaken FCC rules ensuring that all internet content is treated equally will harm consumers, stifle online innovation, and threaten broadband industry competition.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patents and know-how power new GE move into China battery market

      The fact that GE is willing to eventually part with the concerned patents altogether, if the price is right, is a good sign that this particular technology is a decent candidate for an external partnership in China. It signals that not having control of the relevant IP is an eventuality the business is prepared to face – to the extent that it has put an approximate dollar price on. GE does appear to know its way around China’s patent sales market – this blog reported last year on its transfer of 131 LED-related patents to Beijing-based display maker BOE Technology.

    • New Book Highlights IP Trade Law Flexibilities For Public Health

      “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for access to medicines” by Ellen ’t Hoen, an authoritative public health advocate who previously led the global Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, and the Medicines Patent Pool.

      Ellen ‘t Hoen is a member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management, and a researcher at the University Medical Centre at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

    • Copyrights

      • Don’t Go Back on the Deal – IFLA, EIFL and EBLIDA call on EU Member States to Deliver on Marrakesh Treaty Ratification

        As IFLA and partner organisations have underlined, this is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people with print disabilities – who cannot pick up and read a book in the same way as everyone else – both in Europe and beyond.

      • Understanding the fundamental, irreconcilable conflict between copyright enforcement and privacy of communication

        Enforcement of copyright is fundamentally, conceptually incompatible with privacy of correspondence. You can’t have the sealed and private letter in existence at the same time as you enforce copyright, once communications have gone digital. This is the reason you see VPN companies and other privacy advocates fight copyright enforcement and copyright law: because society has to choose between privacy and copyright, and basic civil liberties are considered more important than one particular entertainment business model.

        Why is a VPN company interested in copyright law? Why does a VPN company even question copyright law expansion and enforcement? Why do the most appreciated internet operators talk back a lot to the copyright industry – and are appreciated by their customers for that very reason? Why does the net generation generally say, as a blanket statement, that copyright law just has no place in an Internet world?

        Is it, as some would claim, because BitTorrent users make up a majority of the paying customers of a VPN company or an internet operator? That the net generation just wants everything for free? That the VPN company profits from protecting criminals? You know, there are people who would actually claim this with a straight face, apparently serious. The facts are clear on the matter, though: BitTorrent usage is neither a majority reason for using a VPN, nor are heavy-bandwidth users particularly profitable. And the net generation has no illusion about everything-for-free being sustainable or even desirable – but they do defend their liberty ferociously.

01.15.17

Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • CC4 – Linux – A Brief Introduction

    Here I’ve given a speech concerning the topic of Linux, it’s benefits and where it stands today, with a little bit of history.

  • Some improbable 2017 predictions [Older, no longer behind paywall]

    Another important single point of failure is Android. It has brought a lot of freedom to the mobile device world, but it is still a company-controlled project that is not entirely free and, by some measures at least, is becoming less free over time. A shift of emphasis at Google could easily push Android more in the proprietary direction. Meanwhile, the end of CyanogenMod has, temporarily, brought about the loss of our most successful community-oriented Android derivative.

    The good news is that the efforts to bring vendor kernels closer to the mainline will bear some fruit this year, making it easier to run systems that, if not fully free, are more free than before. Lineage OS, rising from the ashes of CyanogenMod, should help to ensure the availability of alternative Android builds. But it seems likely that efforts to provide free software at the higher levels of the stack (microG, for example) will languish.

  • Desktop

    • Why I switched from OS X to GNU/Linux

      After I was done with my studies at the university I wanted to work for some company which worked with Open Source, I started at Pelagicore, where I still work. There we are creating custom Linux distributions for car manufacturers, we do UI work, we write Linux drivers, Linux middleware and so on. Because we work with Linux it is much more convinient to run Linux nativelly for developement too. At Pelagicore (almosc) all developers work on Linux desktops and laptops, I felt that I fit right in with my ThinkPad. And this was also why I used my iMac less and less, everybody around me was using Linux, it became cumbersome to do the overhead to get stuff running on the iMac which I already had running at work and on my laptop on Linux.

      I started with Ubuntu, but quite fast switched to Debian testing with Gnome 3 because I learned about how Canonical treats everyone, their users (the [Amazon problem (http://www.zdnet.com/article/shuttleworth-defends-ubuntu-linux-integrating-amazon/) with Unity Dash search results, problems with their Intellectual Property Policy, etc.) It also helped that there was Jeremiah, who evangalizes debian day in day out at work.

      In between I wanted to try out Arch Linux so I installed it on my ThinkPad, and man this was a performance boost, it felt like a new machine in comperison to Ubuntu. Nowadays I run Arch at work too. For stuff which doesn’t work, like some specific version of Yocto, I wrap it into a docker container with a Ubuntu image for compatibility.

    • Mintbox Mini Pro computer with Linux Mint now available for $395

      The Mintbox Mini Pro is a tiny desktop computer with a fanless design for silent operation, a low-power AMD processor, 8GB of RAM, 120GB of solid state storage, and Linux Mint 18 software pre-installed.

      It measures about 4.3″ x 3.3″ x 0,9″ and has a metal case made from zinc and aluminum.

      First introduced in September, the MintBox Mini Pro is now available for purchase for $395.

    • Librem 13 coreboot report – January 12, 2017

      Hello again Purists! I’ve made some progress on the coreboot port to the Librem 13 v1 hardware.

  • Server

    • Top 10 Linux Server Distributions of 2017

      You know that Linux is a hot data center server. You know it can save you money in licensing and maintenance costs. But that still leaves the question of what your best options are for Linux as a server operating system.

      We’ve researched, crunched the numbers and put dozens of Linux distros through their paces to compile our latest list of the top ten Linux server distributions (aka “Linux server distros”) — some of which you may not be aware.

      The following characteristics, in no particular order, qualified a Linux server distro for inclusion in this list: ease of installation and use, cost, available commercial support and data center reliability.

      Without further ado, here are the top 10 Linux server operating systems for 2017.

    • A Web Service Written in Pure Bash.

      The service itself is currently running on a Ubuntu 16.10 droplet on DigitalOcean. To expose my service I needed to open a connection with the outside world and initially played with netcat as it’s preinstalled on most *nix machines. This task wasn’t familiar to me at all, but I couldn’t read the incoming request and I couldn’t handle two users connecting at the same time. I explored inetd which lacked of documentation beyond the man page. Continuing with my research I found xinetd which is a more secure version of inetd. I also found a lot more sufficient documentation and user guides on creating a service. After installing xinetd I began building a primitive version of my pure bash service called beeroclock.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Deloitte Blockchain Lab Opens in NYC

      Here’s another sign that blockchain is becoming big business.

      Deloitte today announced the formation of a blockchain lab in the heart of New York City’s financial district in what the global audit and consultancy firm expects will be a “make or break” year the technology. The lab is home to more than 20 developers and designers and will work with Deloitte teams abroad as well as over a dozen of the company’s technology partners.

      Open now and dubbed the Americas Blockchain Lab at Deloitte, the new practice will help drive the development of blockchains solutions for financial services firms, from proofs of concepts to ready-to-integrate solutions, stated the company.

      “Financial institutions have the power and ability to move blockchain to the next level,” said Eric Piscini, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. “To get there, companies will need to move away from churning out proofs of concept and begin producing and implementing solutions.”

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Google Code-in draws to a close — students finish your final task by January 16, 2017 at 09:00 (PST)

        Mentors, you have until January 18, 2017 at 09:00 (PST) to evaluate your student’s work. Please get that done before the deadline, so that admins don’t have to judge the student work.

      • Mycroft Plasmoid for KDE Plasma 5
      • Plasma 5.9 Beta Kicks off 2017 in Style.

        Thursday, 12 January 2017. Today KDE releases the beta of this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we’ll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • The hype is great: WikiToLearn India Conf2017 is almost here!

        In less than two weeks WikiToLearn India Conf2017 is about to happen. We are extremely happy because this is the first big international event entirely dedicated to WikiToLearn. We have to thank the members of our community who are working hard to provide you this amazing event. For sure, the best thing about this conference is the great variety of speakers: Ruphy is flying from Italy to India to attend the conference and give a talk about WTL. For this event we have speakers lined up from Mediawiki, KDE and Mozilla Community. Several projects and ideas will meet at WTL India Conf2017 and this is simply amazing for us! The entire event will be recorded and videos will be uploaded online: you won’t miss any talk!

      • Fixing old stuff

        On FreeBSD, Qt4 is still a thing — for instance, for the KDE4 desktop that is still the latest full-KDE experience you can get from the official packages. And although that software is pretty old, the base system still evolves. FreeBSD 9 has been put to rest, and with it all the GCC-based FreeBSD systems. That frees us from having to deal with GCC and Clang at the same time, and we can generally patch things in just one way (usually towards more-modern C++). But the base system also evolves “out from under” older software. There’s an effort to update the base system compiler (for FreeBSD 12) to Clang 4.0 (sometime soon-ish), and that means that our older C++ code is being exposed to a newer, pickier, compiler.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Intro To Netrunner Desktop 17.01 GNU/Linux for Beginners

        This review of Netrunner Desktop 17.01 GNU/Linux is intended for end users and beginners. Netrunner is a desktop oriented operating system, ships with complete daily-usage desktop applications, and full multimedia codecs support. It means once the users install Netrunner they do not need to install anything anymore for all daily works. In this article you will find 12 points of review, download links, and some notes at the end. Enjoy it.

      • MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis – Winds of change

        MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis is a very decent distribution. It’s a small product, not very well known, and probably not your first home choice when it comes to Linux. But then, despite its humble upbringing, it does offer a powerful punch. You get all the goodies out of the box, and except for some Bluetooth issues and less-than-trivial customization, the slate is spotless. Music, phones, speed, battery life, fun, all there.

        Of course, the question is, can MX Linux sustain this record. If we look back, there were some rough patches, a bit of identity crisis, and the existential question of quality, the same journey that Xubuntu underwent. But then it kind of peaked and degraded some recently. Will MX Linux follow the same path? The last few years were good, with a steady, consistent improvement on all fronts. Then again, I thought Xubuntu was invincible, too.

        For the time being, predicting the future remains tricky. However, here and now, MX-16 is a great choice for a lightweight desktop. Xfce has come a long way, and you get all the essentials you expect from a home system. It’s all there, plus good looks, plus speed that rivals anything out there, among the best battery life numbers, great stability, and even some extra unique features like the live session save and MX Tools. A most worthy combo. All in all, 9.5/10. Warmly recommended for testing and sampling.

    • New Releases

      • Devil-Linux 1.8.0-rc2 released

        Devil-Linux 1.8.0-rc2 has been released! This is a major overhaul of Devil-Linux. Most programs and libraries have been updated and unmaintained ones have been removed. The main file system has been switched to squashfs, to further reduce the iso size. See the changelog for additional details.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Week 2017/02

        I hope you all ended up well fed and healthy in the new year. For the last few weeks we have seen quite a slow pace for Tumbleweed, just as pre-announced in my last review of the year 2016. We can surely expect an increased pace again as people from all around the world resume their regular life rhythms. For completeness sake I will cover in this weeks’ review not only this week, but also the few snapshots since my last review. That means, we cover 8 snapshots: from 2016: 1216, 1217, 1219, 1222 and 1226 and from 2017: 0104, 0109 and 0110. Sadly, 0111 and 0112 ran into some issues on openQA – but the issues are to most parts in the testing framework, not the product (from what we know). But not being able to fully confirm it, I did not feel comfortable releasing them into the wild onto you. After all, I know some of you are still having issues with the kernel 4.9 series (but good new on that part is on the horizon). 0112 might still cut it, if we solve the openQA issues in time.

      • Forget Ubuntu, now OpenSuse Linux comes to Windows 10

        If you have been following Techworm, you will know that you can run Ubuntu Apps on Windows using Bash. Microsoft brought the fun and power of Linux to Windows 10 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This allowed the Windows 10 users to run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows 10 and enjoy Ubuntu Apps without having to install the Ubuntu distro separately.

      • You can now install SUSE Linux distribution inside WSL on Windows 10
      • It’s Now Possible to Use openSUSE Inside Windows 10, Here’s How to Install It
    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Updated Debian 8: 8.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 8 (codename “jessie”). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

        Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 8 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “jessie” CDs or DVDs but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated.

      • Debian 8.7 Jessie Released
      • Debian 8.7 released

        This update adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with adjustments for serious problems.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Released

        The Debian Project has released the seventh update of Debian 8 Jessie. This release ships with tons of security updates, bug fixes, and updated packages. The existing users of Debian 8 need to point the apt package tool to one of the updated Debian mirrors and get the update. The new installation media and ISO images are yet to be published.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Released With New Features and 85 Security Updates
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • TedPage: The Case for Ubuntu Phone

            What I find most interesting thing about this discussion is that it is the original reason that Google bought Android. They were concerned that with Apple controlling the smartphone market they’d be in a position to damage Google’s ability to compete in services. They were right. But instead of opening it up to competition (a competition that certainly at the time and even today they’re likely to win) they decided to lock down Android with their own services. So now we see in places like China where Google services are limited there is no way for Android to win, only forks that use a different set of integrations. One has to wonder if Ubuntu Phone existed earlier whether Google would have bought Android, while Ubuntu Phone competes with Android it doesn’t pose any threat to Google’s core businesses.

            It is always a failure to try and convince people to change their patterns and devices just for the sake of change. Early adopters are people who enjoy that, but not the majority of people. This means that we need to be an order of magnitude better, which is a pretty high bar to set, but one I enjoy working towards. I think that Ubuntu Phone has the fundamental DNA to win in this race.

          • new Ubuntu Terminal snap – tabs and tiled view on Ubuntu 16.04 Unity 8
          • The Case for Ubuntu Phone: Flexibility for Mobile Networks

            Canonical engineer Ted Gould has put the case for Ubuntu Phone, arguing that mobile carriers will appreciate the ‘flexibility’ to bundle apps and services.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Baidu released artificial intelligence operating system DuerOS

    At this year’s CES show, Baidu released its artificial intelligence operating system system DuerOS, also announced at home with small fish to reach cooperation, small fish at home is the first equipped with Baidu DuerOS artificial intelligence manufacturers. Baidu said that this is the first time the introduction of dialogue type artificial intelligence operating system, Baidu is an important strategic product of artificial intelligence. DuerOS emphasizes the interactive nature of voice conversations through natural language. At the same time with the cloud of the brain, can always learn evolution, become more intelligent.

  • Intel Open-Sources BigDL, Distributed Deep Learning Library for Apache Spark

    Intel open-sources BigDL, a distributed deep learning library that runs on Apache Spark. It leverages existing Spark clusters to run deep learning computations and simplifies the data loading from big datasets stored in Hadoop.

    Tests show a significant speedup performance running on Xeon servers compared to other open source frameworks Caffe, Torch or TensorFlow. The speed is comparable with a mainstream GPU and BigDL is able to scale to tens of Xeon servers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • New Port for RISC-V

      We’d like to submit for inclusion in GCC a port for the RISC-V architecture. The port suffices to build a substantial body of software (including Linux and some 2,000 Fedora packages) and passes most of the gcc and g++ test suites; so, while it is doubtlessly not complete, we think it is far enough along to start the upstreaming process. It is our understanding that it is OK to submit this port during stage 3 because it does not touch any shared code. Our binutils port has already been accepted for the 2.28 release, and we plan on submitting glibc and Linux patch sets soon.

    • [Older] Twenty-four new GNU releases in December
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Getting Election Data, and Why Open Data is Important

        Back in 2012, I got interested in fiddling around with election data as a way to learn about data analysis in Python. So I went searching for results data on the presidential election. And got a surprise: it wasn’t available anywhere in the US. After many hours of searching, the only source I ever found was at the UK newspaper, The Guardian.

        Surely in 2016, we’re better off, right? But when I went looking, I found otherwise. There’s still no official source for US election results data; there isn’t even a source as reliable as The Guardian this time.

        You might think Data.gov would be the place to go for official election results, but no: searching for 2016 election on Data.gov yields nothing remotely useful.

        The Federal Election Commission has an election results page, but it only goes up to 2014 and only includes the Senate and House, not presidential elections. Archives.gov has popular vote totals for the 2012 election but not the current one. Maybe in four years, they’ll have some data.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

Leftovers

  • New evidence: Was DB Cooper a Boeing employee?

    A band of amateur scientists selected by the Seattle FBI to look for clues in the world’s most infamous skyjacking may have found new evidence in the 45-year-old case.

    They’re asking for the public’s help because of new, potential leads that could link DB Cooper to the Puget Sound aerospace industry in the early 1970s.

    The scientific team has been analyzing particles removed from the clip-on tie left behind by Cooper after he hijacked a Northwest Orient passenger jet in November 1971.

    A powerful electron microscope located more than 100,000 particles on old the JCPenny tie. The team has identified particles like Cerium, Strontium Sulfide, and pure titanium.

  • If you don’t finish then you’re just busy, not productive

    I find this message extremely compelling, because I frequently find myself starting new programming projects in my spare time. In a lot of ways they are not a waste – I definitely learn a lot from these projects and gain a new skill.

  • Hardware