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Links 28/1/2013: Galaxy S4 Rumours, Counter-Strike and Half-Life for GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Cool thing Thursday: Contribute to opensource without leaving your browser
  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The meaning of the 4.0

      The Document Foundation will be releasing LibreOffice 4.0 in the beginning of February. It is a big and important release for us, and a major symbolic milestone. We have received questions and comments, however, that were basically about our reasons to change the major number, from the 3.x to the 4.x . I believe it’s important to explain why we are doing this, and what the 4.0 release is all about.

    • Will Oracle Wake Up & Smell the Java?
  • Funding


    • Making Your Code Walk: GNU Autotools
    • Understanding Free and Open Source Software

      We received an email from Richard M. Stallman (RMS), after publishing the article about the Egyptian demonstration calling for the government to adopt Free Software. I can’t deny that one of the motives behind writing this article is to show off that someone as important to the history of computers as RMS is reading what we write here. Nevertheless, the main reason for writing this article is the following:

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • OpenOakland: Another city learns the value of open communication

      I recently co-founded an organization called OpenOakland with Code for America alumni Eddie Tejeda. One of our passions was that we both believe that government can and should be much more than a vending machine. It’s no secret that current local governments have a ton of changing to do, but we think it is unlikely that these changes will come about swiftly without all of us being involved and engaged; and supporting our government staff and leaders to make these changes.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Digital Activist’s Suicide Casts Spotlight on Growth of Open Access Movement

        Aaron Swartz was threatened with criminal trial for downloading millions of academic articles. Although he may have employed questionable methods, the data-access principles he fought for are becoming widely embraced

      • AG Eric Holder Agrees to Stick Around (At Least for Now)

        Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has agreed to serve at the helm of the U.S. Justice Department as President Barack Obama prepares to begin his second term, the White House said today.

      • How academia betrayed and continues to betray Aaron Swartz

        As news spread last week that digital rights activist Aaron Swartz had killed himself ahead of a federal trial on charges that he illegally downloaded a large database of scholarly articles with the intent to freely disseminate its contents, thousands of academics began posting free copies of their work online, coalescing around the Twitter hashtag #pdftribute.

        This was a touching tribute: a collective effort to complete the task Swartz had tried – and many people felt died trying – to accomplish himself. But it is a tragic irony that the only reason Swartz had to break the law to fulfill his quest to liberate human knowledge was that the same academic community that rose up to support his cause after he died had routinely betrayed it while he was alive.

      • Access denied

        ON JANUARY 1st each year the Centre for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University fetes Public Domain Day. It is a joyous occasion, celebrating the end of copyright protection for works that at long last leave the bosom of legal monopoly for the commonweal. The centre does, however, temper the elation with an important caveat: while much of the rest of the world may take cheer from mass migration of material to the public domain each year, America has not seen one since the 1970s, nor will it until 2019.
        The public domain is a catch-all term for material outside of the strictures of reproductive limits, or for which rights were formally foresworn. The centre promotes a balance between a creator’s and the public’s interest, says Duke’s James Boyle. Mr Boyle, one of the drafters of the set of liberal copyright assignment licences known as Creative Commons, invokes countless studies arguing that tight copyright makes sense over short periods, to encourage creative endeavour, but can be counterproductive if extended too far. Yet rightsholders lobby for greater control (and legislators often oblige them) “even when it turns out that it hurts their interest,” says Mr Boyle.

      • Aaron Swartz: Opening access to knowledge

        He did so through his work on the RSS (Rich Site Summary) Web-syndication protocol, building essential technology for the copyright open-licensing project, Creative Commons, and his activism against the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have authorized blocking access to Internet sites that were alleged to be hosting infringing materials.
        He faced quite a hurdle in opening access to academic works: For almost all academic and scientific research, the public is asked to pay for it essentially twice. First, when government agencies or public universities sponsor the research, and a second time, when users must pay for access to the article, often via subscribing to a journal. Subscription fees often amount to tens of thousands of dollars. And most of those journals do not pay the authors; instead, they keep the fees as profits.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming


  • Things I learned by pretending to be blind for a week

    I’m a full visually-able user and I love looking at websites. I know though, that not everyone experiences websites in the same way. Browsing websites at different screen sizes is a hot topic at the moment, but lets not forget that it’s not just mobile users that experience websites differently, blind users experience them in a way you might not even realise.

  • Hardware

    • China wants eight new Lenovos by 2015

      Western technology companies’ view of China as the biggest pool of potential customers ever is looking less accurate than ever, after the Chinese government called for the formation of up to eight super-companies through mergers and acquisition by 2015.

  • Security

    • Anonymous threatens Justice Department over hacktivist death
    • Hackers take over gov’t website to avenge Swartz
    • Hacktavist Group Anonymous Defaced USSC Site

      Aaron Swartz was a well known author and founder of Demand Progress, who launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA which now has over a million members. He was also well known for his frequent television appearances and articles on a variety of topics, particularly the corrupting influence of big money on institutions and politics. He is best now known as the first martyr of the internet freedom fight after committing suicide to avoid what most would call unjust prosecution for victimless crimes.

    • Anonymous Strikes Again

      In the world of Hacktavism it would appear that they seldom have a dull moment or minute to spare. Just hours after hijacking and defacing USSC.gov in the United States in response to Aaron Swarz suicide, Anonymous turned their attention to the government of Turkey. Once again attacking and defacing a government sites in what they are calling “OPBigBrother”.

    • Backdoors in many Barracuda appliances

      Security researcher S. Viehboeck from SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab discovered that the /etc/shadow and /etc/password files on the appliances had user accounts with names such as product, support and websupport. These accounts were protected with weak passwords and the researcher says he produced a usable list of passwords in a short time. It is not possible to delete these accounts easily as they appear to be used for remote maintenance.

    • Github Search Exposes Passwords
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Kiriakou and Stuxnet: the danger of the still-escalating Obama whistleblower war
    • FBI is increasing pressure on suspects in Stuxnet inquiry

      Federal investigators looking into disclosures of classified information about a cyberoperation that targeted Iran’s nuclear program have increased pressure on current and former senior government officials suspected of involvement, according to people familiar with the investigation.

    • Talking to Reporters Is Not A Crime: New Leak Investigation Threatens Press Freedom

      A disturbing report in Saturday’s Washington Post describes an FBI investigation of a large number of government officials suspected of leaking classified information to the press, engulfing an unknown group of reporters along the way. The investigation includes data-mining officials’ personal and professional communications to find any contact with journalists. Just to be clear: It seems officials are being targeted for just talking to the press.

      While the Obama administration has already shamefully prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined, this investigation—given its unprecedented scope and scale—has the potential to permanently chill both press freedom and the public’s right to kno

    • Marine gets no jail time in killing of 24 Iraqi civilians

      Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will not serve a jail sentence following his guilty plea in the killing of 24 Iraqis in 2005, a military judge said Tuesday.

      The announcement by Lt. Col. David Jones came after Wuterich took responsibility during his sentencing hearing at Camp Pendleton for the killings in the Euphrates River town of Haditha and expressed remorse to the victims’ families.

    • David Hicks Tells His Story
    • Prison Population Can Shrink When Police Crowd Streets

      …2.3 million people behind bars in America…

    • When Police Violate the Constitution

      The judge excoriated the city for flagrant indifference to the Fourth Amendment. The amendment has been interpreted by the courts to mean that police officers can legally stop and detain a person only when they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime.

    • Pentagon cybersecurity force to grow fivefold under multi-year expansion

      The Pentagon has just approved a major expansion for its cybersecurity force, increasing the headcount from 900 to 4,900 over the next several years, reports The Washington Post. While yet to be formally announced, the enlargement is said to come at the request of Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the Defense Department’s head of Cyber Command, and director of the NSA.

    • Pentagon Announces Cyber Force Expansion As Anonymous Hacks Government Websites
    • Report: Cyber Command to Expand to Nearly 5,000
    • Kill Him Silently

      The story behind Mossad’s bungled bid to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

    • Preserve CIA prisons as evidence, lawyers for 9/11 suspects ask
    • Former CIA officer: Jail sentence a ‘badge of honor’

      A federal judge has sentenced former CIA officer John Kiriakou to 30 months in jail, making him the first officer to be sent to jail for leaking classified secrets. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports on the case and Kiriakou says he leaked the information to speak out against torture, calling himself a “whistleblower.”

    • Explosion at Fordow: Israeli propaganda or Iran’s biggest secret?

      Contradictory reports of an explosion at Iran’s uranium enrichment site have been emerging. Iran denies it ever happened, calling it “Western propaganda” while Israel confirms it, putting tensions around upcoming nuclear talks.

    • Ex-CIA man: Iran blast largest sabotage in decades

      Iranian dissident-turned CIA operative Reza Kahlili told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that an alleged blast at the Fordow nuclear installation in Iran is “the largest case of sabotage in decades.”

    • The CIA’s Secret Prisons in Poland

      Reportedly, the results of this investigation could link some of Poland’s most senior politicians with illegal detention and torture, as well as impact negatively on the relationship between Poland and its key ally, the US, according to Reuters.

      The news agency’s sources, including lawyers and human rights activists, reveal that the investigation was halted after the original investigators were taken off the case early last year.

    • Three Days of the Condor: 1975 – The CIA in the movies
    • CIA Thriller ‘Argo’ Leads SAG Awards
    • SYRIA: CIA-MI6 Intel Ops and Sabotage

      In late 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, Matthew Jones, a Reader in International History, at London’s Royal Holloway College, discovered “frighteningly frank” documents:1957 plans between then UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, and then President, Dwight Eisenhower, endorsing: “a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion (of Syria) by Syria’s pro-western neighbours.” (ii)

      At the heart of the plan was the assassination of the perceived power behind then President Shukri al-Quwatli. Those targeted were: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, Head of Military Intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, Chief of Syrian General Staff: and Khalid Bakdash, who headed the Syrian Communist Party.

      The document was drawn up in Washington in the September of 1957:

      “In order to facilitate the action of liberative (sic) forces, reduce the capabilities of the regime to organize and direct its military actions … to bring about the desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals.

    • White House keeps its secrets as CIA agent goes to prison

      When he receives an expected sentence of 30 months in federal prison later this week, John Kiriakou will pay the price for a catastrophic error in judgment. But he shouldn’t suffer alone: The Obama administration, too, needs to do a little penance if it hopes to live up to the president’s famous promise to “usher in a new era of open government.”

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Greg Smith: On Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and students entering finance

      Greg Smith ’01 is a former executive director and vice president of investing banking firm Goldman Sachs. In March 2012, he resigned from the firm in an op-ed in The New York Times decrying the firm’s change in culture and loss of client focus. He has since written “Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story.” Smith spoke to The Stanford Daily about his time at the firm, Stanford students on Wall Street and the difference between Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

    • How Iceland Overthrew The Banks: The Only 3 Minutes Of Any Worth From Davos

      “Why do we consider banks to be like holy churches?” is the rhetorical question that Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimson asks (and answers) in this truly epic three minutes of truthiness from the farce that is the World Economic Forum in Davos. Amid a week of back-slapping and self-congratulatory party-outdoing, as John Aziz notes, the Icelandic President explains why his nation is growing strongly, why unemployment is negligible, and how they moved from the world’s poster-child for banking crisis 5 years ago to a thriving nation once again. Simply put, he says, “we didn’t follow the prevailing orthodoxies of the last 30 years in the Western world.” There are lessons here for everyone – as Grimson explains the process of creative destruction that remains much needed in Western economies – though we suspect his holographic pass for next year’s Swiss fun will be reneged…

    • Bill Black: Why the World Economic Forum and Goldman Sachs are Capitalism’s Worst Enemies

      It is fitting that Goldman Sachs is the recipient of this year’s “Public Eye” designation, but it is even more fitting that it is being announced during the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos. Goldman Sachs exemplifies the travesty that WEF has created. It is not the worst of the worst. It is representative of the financial world of systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) that are spreading crony capitalism through the West. The SDIs are the so-called “too big to fail (or prosecute)” banks.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • A CNET Reporter Resigns Amid CBS-Dish Tussle

      A CNET reporter has quit in the wake of CNET parent CBS ’ statement that it blocked the technology news website from considering Dish Network ’s controversial ad-skipping device for its annual Consumer Electronics Show awards.
      “Sad to report that I’ve resigned from CNET,” CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval announced via Twitter Monday morning. “I no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence.”
      CBS Interactive, which owns CNET, said Friday that Dish’s device, “Hopper with Sling,” was “removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp,” as the Journal reported at the time. The device is the latest version of Dish’s digital video recorder that makes it easy for viewers to skip over television commercials.

  • Censorship

    • Freedom Of Speech Is Primarily The Right For Stupid People To Say Dumb Things (And That’s A GOOD Thing)

      Yesterday, a French court decided that people on Twitter have no right to anonymity when posting xenophobic comments. This is deeply troubling: the court says that unpopular opinions don’t have the same protection from freedom of speech as popular ones. Further, and more troubling still, this is a pan-European trend.

    • WH: Piers Morgan has free speech rights

      The White House is defending the right of Piers Morgan to speak out on gun control.
      The forum: A formal response to a White House petition calling on President Obama to deport the CNN host for advocating new restrictions on guns after the Dec. 14 mass killing at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
      “Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First,” said the response written by White House press secretary Jay Carney.

    • Facebook Apologizes for Tolerating Violent Imagery Toward Women

      Today, a Facebook spokesman reached out to Wired to reverse its previous stance on imagery that promoted violence toward women, stating that a photo it had previously deemed acceptable for the social networking site “should have been taken down when it was reported to us and we apologize for the mistake.”

    • Buffy vs Edward Remix Unfairly Removed by Lionsgate
    • Burma dissolves censorship office, but needs to do more for press freedom

      Burma (Myanmar) announced that it has dissolved the press censorship board which was officially known as Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), the state-run New Light of Myanmar said Friday. The termination of PSRD has been approved during Thursday’s cabinet meeting, the newspaper said.

      “The division under the Printing and Publishing Enterprise has stopped functioning since 20 August, 2012 to pave ways for freedom of press,” according to the report. However, in place of PSRD, “Copyrights and Registration Division” will be shaped under the Information and Public Relations Department, NLM newspaper said.

  • Privacy

    • Hack turns the Cisco phone on your desk into a remote bugging device

      No fix yet for attack that allows eavesdropping on private conversations.

    • EU lawmakers seek to limit use of data by internet firms

      Internet companies such as Facebook and Google may have to get more permission to use information if European Union lawmakers give users more control over their personal data.

    • Facebook Blocks Vine, Wonder Apps

      A mere day after Facebook extolled the benefits of integrating Facebook Login as a user registration option for developers’ apps, the social networking giant also managed to highlight the risks of relying on third-party platforms by blocking two apps that had integrated Facebook data.

    • Berlin activists create CCTV-smashing street game
    • Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook say they require warrants to give over private content

      While the policies are somewhat reassuring, they don’t have the full force of the law yet

    • Dining with spies

      At their yearly conference the Dutch The National Cyber ​​Security Center stated this week they want to listen more to the hacker community. It is fine that the government will at last listen to the people who have been ahead of the curve for decades, although the question remains – why it has waited to do this until 2013? Even if this had been done as recently as 5 or 10 years ago it would have saved an incredible amount of trouble and public money. I sincerely hope that the consultations with the hack(tivist) community are about more than just technical tricks, because most benefits to society are derived from discussing policy. For purely technical issues the usual consulting companies can always be hired and then simply pay hackers for their knowledge and advice, just like any other experts.

  • Civil Rights

    • Bahais cannot enroll in public schools, education minister says

      The education minister has repeated remarks that Bahais cannot enroll in public schools, saying it violates the Constitution.

    • Ottawa’s anti-spam proposals prohibit secret monitoring software

      After more than a year of closed-door consultations, the government has finally released an updated draft proposal for those long-awaited anti-spam regulations.

      The latest proposed rules, which were published in the Canada Gazette over the weekend, would add several new exemptions to the law, including inter-organizational email — messages sent by one employee to another, for instance, or to a contractor or franchisee.

    • Two New Decisions on the Wiretap Act and Secondary Liability

      The last two weeks have brought two important decisions in the ongoing litigation over behavioral advertising firm NebuAd’s alleged use of a device to intercept data from ISP networks. Several ISPs allegedly permitted NebuAd to install an “appliance” on their networks in order to collect and analyze subscriber data for ad targeting purposes. In lawsuits that began to be filed in 2008, plaintiffs have alleged that NebuAd–and the ISPs with which it allegedly partnered– violated Title I of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (i.e., the Wiretap Act) as well as other federal and state laws. Plaintiffs have sued the ISPs in separate suits around the country. Two of these suits–against ISPs Embarq and WideOpen West (“WOW”)–yielded decisions in favor of the ISPs last week.

    • Evidence of things not seen

      This week, Big Brother Watch submitted our response to the consultation on Judicial Review. In conclusion, we say:

      “An overwhelming number of points in the consultation document are anecdotal and unsubstantiated; indeed many are contradicted by official figures. This consultation is absolutely not a document that should be relied upon when embarking on reform of one of our most fundamental legal rights.”

    • Iran giving out condoms for criminals to rape us, say jailed activists

      Rape victims in Iran usually stay quiet in order to protect the honour of their family but at the time when journalists based in the country are facing strict restrictions, these letters have become one of the only sources of information about the situation of hundreds of imprisoned activists.

    • Unauthorized unlocking of smartphones becomes illegal Saturday

      The feds mandate fidelity between carriers and users: New rule under DMCA outlaws unlocking new handsets without carrier permission.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Drones

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • India flouts patent for blockbuster biologic

      India’s generic industry received a windfall on November 2 when the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) withdrew a patent granted to Pegasys (pegylated interferon alfa-2a; IFN-alpha2a), marketed by the multinational Roche of Basel, for use in combination with ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazole, Copegus) in treating hepatitis C virus (HCV). The board ruled, after hearing an appeal by Mumbai-based Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, a patient advocacy group, that the drug is not a new invention, as the process by which polyethylene glycol (PEG) is added to IFN-alpha2a was already known at the time of the patent grant. The appellate board also cited the drug’s high cost (over $8,000 for a 6-month course) as a reason for revocation. The decision makes it possible for generic drugmakers to introduce low-cost copies of Pegasys. It also sets a precedent for advocacy groups to challenge the validity of previously granted patents on the grounds of patients’ rights to affordable access to lifesaving treatments.

    • Copyrights

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