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11.27.13

The Cheapening of ‘Open Source’, Where Source No Longer Means Source Code

Posted in Free/Libre Software, OSI at 12:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vulnerable terms die hard

Tim O'Reilly
Photo by Brian Solis

Summary: Free/libre software — unlike “Open Source” — highlights the main strength of code people are sharing among one another

WHEN it comes to freedom-respecting hardware, an explanation to the public about the benefits is relatively simple. Many refer to particular actions as “unlocking” or “jail-breaking”, so there is also familiar terminology one can use. The words “free” and “freedom” would have been very helpful in this context, but the “Open Source” movement sought to bury those words.

Nowadays it’s rather common to see articles about the subject accompanied by terms like “open-source” or “Open Hardware” (misnomers because they overlook the main benefit). Some refer to it as a matter of “control” [1]. use it as a metaphor for a process [2], a financial model [3], a business model [4], and even ecosystems [5]. There are many other new articles about it [6-10] and few actually have anything to do with source code.

By going along with a term like “open source” — a term originally coined and used by the spies (like the NSA) to mean something completely different — the “Open Source” movement made itself susceptible to brand dilution and confusion. Companies like Microsoft now call “open” some of their proprietary software products and formats.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open Source Design Offers Greater Control Over Personal Gadgets

    Matthew Casebeer Computer Scientist for MAYA Design, a consulting group that’s focused on simplifying devices and data. He finds that open source design benefits all who share information through their devices, not just computer scientists that work on fixing problems for large groups of users.

  2. It’s Time to Build an Open-Source Music Industry: A Chat with CASH Music

    Six years ago, Maggie Vail and Jesse von Doom launched CASH Music, a nonprofit with the express goal of building open-source tools to help musicians reach their audience—and make a living. Vail originally cut her teeth at the Kill Rock Stars label, while von Doom’s background was in web development. Both wanted to streamline the musician-to-audience experience. And so they made the CASH (which stands for Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders) platform open-source, allowing artists and labels to build networks in their own unique and flexible ways.

  3. Open-Source Capitalism and the HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit

    Open-source capitalism is the same exact thing that made early America a successful nation to begin with.

  4. Open source bioinformatics firm raises £1m

    Proof that open source can pay arrived today in the guise of Cambridge bioinformatics company, Eagle Genomics, who closed a £1 million funding round that it said would allow it to further develop its core platform technology and scale up operations including a doubling of staff.

    Having started in human health and expanded into the areas of crop science and personal hygiene, the company also plans to move further into non-traditional areas for bioinformatics such as consumer goods, food safety and animal health.

  5. Can A Smart Beehive Network Of Open-Source Hives Help Stop The Bee Apocalypse?

    The Open Source Beehives Project aims to lower the barriers to backyard beekeeping with simple, low-cost hive designs. With bees dying by the millions, they need to spread the buzz.

  6. Public Labs Open Source Smartphone Spectrometer Let’s You Find Your Wavelength
  7. Out in the Open: The German Plot to Give You Complete Control of Your Phone

    When your last smartphone started to get a little long in the tooth, you probably just bought a new one. Maybe you kept the old one around as a backup. Maybe you recycled it. But, chances are, whatever you did, you didn’t physically upgrade the thing. You didn’t toss in more memory or a new processor or any aftermarket parts.

  8. An open source robotic lawn mower
  9. ArduMower Open Source Arduino Based Robot Lawn Mower (video)

    If like me you would prefer to be dining something else rather than mowing the lawn, you might be interested in this awesome open source Arduino mower which brings a little more fun back to moving your yard and has been under development for some time.

  10. Open-source through the lens of a microscope

Links 27/11/2013: Programming News

Posted in News Roundup at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Python catches up by leaps and bounds in the enterprise

    Python, the programming language, is an open source, volunteer-driven project. Historically viewed as a scripting language (think: slow), the Python of today has developed into a robust and responsive language for the enterprise and other open initiatives around the world—with a Foundation to boot that reinvests money into the community and works to attract newcomers.

  • Introducing GPU Accelerator Programming to Popular Linux GCC Compiler

    There is no doubt that the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) Titan, the nation’s most powerful supercomputer, gets its kick from its 18,688 GPU accelerators. On Titan, GPUs operate in tandem with CPUs to simulate groundbreaking scientific research at breakneck speeds. Now, the OLCF is working with Mentor Graphics, a leading electronic design automation company, to bring accelerated computing to a broader audience.

  • Google opens Mirror API: Now ANYONE can develop for gizmohead specs

    The API originally came as a limited developer preview, which was only open to Glass-owners, Google said, because “to develop great experiences and effectively test them, you need to have Glass”.

  • Google encourages teens to contribute to open source projects

    For the fourth year in a row, Google has organized its Code-in contest for pre-university students to contribute to open source projects.

  • Google hosts ‘code-in’ to get teens contributing to open-source projects

    Most devs end up using a huge amount of open-source code in their projects, so giving back to these projects only makes sense.

  • ARM Cortex-A7 Support Appears In LLVM & Clang
  • LLVM 3.4 Branched, Christmas Compiler Present Planned
  • The Role of Open Source in Orchestration
  • How civic hackers can build apps that last

    I leave out .NET on my own philosophical grounds where I believe you should not be tied to an operating system, particularly one of a monopolist. If you can get past that objection then I would add it to the list since a lot of civic governments IT departments are currently Windows shops. Look I understand you know and love {insert favorite tech here} but if your goal is to really help civic governments, then make life easy for them, not for you.

    I put PHP first because it is everywhere and easy for people to pick up and use. There are a bazillion books on it, there are tutorials all over the web, there are plenty of hosting providers, and it is easy to find people who know it outside of the tech hubs in the US. Java is next because most Computer Science departments teach their students Java, it is stable, there are tutorials for it all over the web, it is used by large enterprises and small shops so it may be in the government IT shop already, and there are libraries for almost anything you want to do. Finally, I put Python in the list because it meets the needs of those who like dynamic languages, it is mature and stable, it is the programming language to extend quite a few desktop applications, it is relatively easy to read and learn, plus there are tons of books and tutorials, and it also has a lot of libraries to carry out almost any function you want.

  • Clang’s C++ Modernizer Is Becoming More Useful

    Last year Intel proposed a tool to auto-convert C++ code into C++11 compliant code. The last time I wrote about this automatic code migrator it was called the C++11 Migrator and was still making steady progress, but that was months ago. Today we have an update on this useful utility now known as the C++ Modernizer and can auto-convert large amounts of code.

  • Will we code our own future or just wait for jobs to disappear?

    Coders are the new rock stars! And next week, 25-30 November, is Europe Code Week. Today a guest blog from Alja Isaković, one of my young advisors from Slovenia – plus my video message welcoming all those taking part.

    “I have this great business idea, but no technical skills to build it.” This is exactly what I kept hearing all over again when reading hundreds of applications from women, age 14 to 64, who signed up for Rails Girls in Ljubljana and were eager to learn more about how the internet works. Can you imagine what would happen if we gave even a small percentage of those ideas a chance to see the light of the day?

  • The Gambas Project: It’s Like Visual Basic On Linux

    Gambas is an open-source development environment based on a Basic interpreter and with support for object extensions. It’s been compared to Visual Basic, but Gambas supports Linux and is GPLv2 software.

Latest NSA Scandals: Interception of UK Wired Communications, Blackmail and Demonisation by Spying on Sex Surfing

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obama won't look

Summary: Espionage, warrantless interception, and other illegal activities highlight the need for freedom-respecting software (with ethics built in)

THE CRIMINAL, villainous operations of the NSA just keep getting worse. More so-called ‘allies’ turn out to have been stabbed in the back. Based on [1,2], we in the UK are under NSA surveillance in a wholesale fashion (no discrimination) and the NSA goes after civil disobedience by means of shaming, e.g. espionage and blackmail [3]. It’s like COINTELPRO all over again, but this time it’s international and it targets many groups.

US politicians are growingly uncomfortable about it [4] and so are European politicians [5]. Those who were complicit are getting negative publicity [6,7] as there is clear abuse of the law (using anti-terror pretext for corporate purposes [8]) at huge but secret expense to the public [9].

Those who publish the facts receive an award [10], those who repeat propaganda get educated [11], and FOSS developers are working on solutions right about now [12,13,14].

The NSA has helped show why Free software is essential; without it, there is no trust and there is a lot of complicity/collusion. Secrecy is often an indication of misconduct. We need to fight secrecy.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Verizon, BT, Vodafone, Level 3 ‘let NSA hook into Google, Yahoo! fiber’

    Verizon, BT, Vodafone, Level 3 ‘let NSA hook into Google, Yahoo! fiber’ • The Register

  2. NYT: NSA May Have Spied on Google, Yahoo Data Centers Via Fiber-Optic Cables
  3. Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit ‘Radicalizers’

    The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

    The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

  4. Senators want to stop giving the NSA a big ol’ ‘stamp of approval’ to spy on anyone

    “They who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

  5. Brussels considers options to respond to NSA spying scandal
  6. EU intelligence agencies complicit in NSA snoops, says top US senator
  7. The German BND does the bidding of USA spies

    An inter­view on the Ger­man main­stream TV chan­nel ARD. The pro­gramme is called FAKT Magazin:

  8. Korea and Singapore Alleged to Have Assisted NSA in Eavesdropping – See more at: http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/article/2279/help-eavesdropping-korea-and-singapore-alleged-have-assisted-nsa-eavesdropping#sthash.8hwNaK0z.dpuf
  9. New Zealand MP asks if NSA spied on Kim Dotcom

    A cryptic comment in a police report is raising questions about whether the United States’ National Security Agency spied on internet tycoon and New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom.

  10. Illuminating The Billion Dollar U.S. Intelligence Budget: Project SpyLighter Documents NSA Surveillance Technology

    Documents released by the U.S. National Security Agency in the last couple of months, following successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as part of a new crowdsourcing project called SpyLighter, reveal the agency purchased products from Packet Forensics and VUPEN Security in 2010 and 2012. The two companies are well known for selling Internet surveillance technology and software exploits to governments and businesses world-wide.

  11. Guardian wins Liberty award for articles about GCHQ and NSA spying
  12. If You Don’t Care About The NSA Because You ‘Haven’t Done Anything Wrong,’ You’re Wrong

    That’s worth keeping in mind any time someone writes off the NSA as not being an issue for them because they’ve “done nothing wrong.” Driving home that point is an excellent short “Op-Doc” in the NY Times by filmmaker Brian Knappenberger, which has brief interviews with a bunch of great people (many of whom you’ll hopefully recognize) explaining in very clear terms why you should absolutely care about the NSA. There are many reasons discussed, but a simple one, highlighted by David Sirota, goes back to that quote above. You can claim that you’ve done nothing wrong all you want. However, if someone really powerful decides they want to railroad you, you’d be surprised at how much it can be made to look like you’ve “done wrong.” And when the NSA (or the FBI) can readily access all sorts of data about your life, their ability to build such a story increases tremendously.

  13. Is open source encryption the answer to NSA snooping?

    The NSA had cracked Internet encryption.

    The NSA was listening in to everything.

    European customers were especially concerned, he says.

    Fortunately, many of the headlines had been unnecessarily alarmist.

    “The earlier types of encryption, with 64 bits or less, the NSA has figured out how to brute force decrypt at least some of that traffic,” he says. “But the more modern, strong encryption, with 128 or 256 encryption units, they can’t decrypt that. And it bothers them no end.”

  14. Open router project launched to improve network privacy

    But could the push back against the NSA’s comprehensive surveillance with new privacy-enhancing technology be jeopardised by community reluctance for large-scale collaboration?

  15. Brisbane devs design open source router to beat NSA snooping

    Four Brisbane security researchers are fighting back against government surveillance by building a router based on open source components designed to make security and privacy verifiable and more accessible to users.

    The Open Router Project (ORP-1) router would be built on open source hardware and software to allow users to check that the unit was free of vulnerabilities and backdoors.

NSA Shows Why We Should Abandon All Proprietary Software and Verify Trust

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Security at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Without source code of all levels/layers of the software trust just cannot be established

Compiler

Summary: Proprietary software can never be secure and back doors inside of it can be assumed (unless proven otherwise), based on some of the latest NSA leaks

THE NSA is a criminal operation, so we expect it to work with other criminal operations. Microsoft and the NSA collude to make the world a less secure place, enabling espionage with Windows (Stuxnet for example) and providing video/audio surveillance in people’s own homes without any warrants. Microsoft is about lawlessness is the same way the NSA is. The law of “rule” supersedes the rule of law.

Some say that the Windows-centric Stuxnet is the “world’s first true cyber-weapon”, but that is not true. History aside, to put it as IDG put it: “Stuxnet’s creators recognized they had built the world’s first true cyber-weapon and were more interested in pushing the envelope of this new type of digital warfare than causing large-scale destruction within targeted Iranian nuclear facilities, a study shows.

“In an analysis released last week, Ralph Langner, head of The Langner Group and a renowned expert in industrial control systems (ICS), also refuted arguments that only a nation-state had the resources to launch a Stuxnet-like attack. Assailants with less ambition could take the lessons learned and apply them to civilian critical infrastructure, he said.”

This was an example of overreach and violation of the law, enabled of course by Microsoft and Windows. GNU/Linux does not sell its users down the river the way Windows does.

Sadly, firms like White Source make a comeback with their FUD and they single out FOSS for security issues (here is the press release). This is not acceptable because they totally ignore the much bigger threats, as above (where security issues are there by design).

The White House is at war against FOSS geeks and other phantom enemies [1,2], where the logic is something along the lines of, if we don’t control it (we as in the government), then it’s a threat to national security. While it seems clear that a brute force attack is the Achilles Heel of FOSS [3,4,5] and Google keeps improving security of FOSS projects like Android [6,7,8,9.10] and others [11,12], the logic followed by the likes of White Source and White House is that if something proprietary keeps its flaws (or back doors) secret, then it’s secure and we should not pay attention to real security. Again, this is simply not acceptable.

The head of the Linux Foundation recently said that FOSS is safer, and Linux is more secure than any other OS [13]. Mikko Hypponen seems to agree with him [14] and despite some new known flaws in Red Hat software [15,16] (transparency makes weaknesses visible) we should remember that lack of knowledge about something does not mean it’s not there. Just because we cannot easily see back doors in proprietary software doesn’t mean they’re not there (some groups of people know they’re there and they exploit them silently). If Europe is serious about cyber security [17], then it should dump all proprietary software (back doors-friendly software) as soon as possible. Given everything we now know about the NSA, ignorance and uncertainty are no longer an excuse. A Dutch source has just revealed that the NSA cracked 50,000 computer networks. The evidence is overwhelming. Stuxnet is peanuts next to that.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. How Antisec Died

    Depending on when one asked, Antisec was generally between 8-10 people, with a solid core of about six. Not all of them were comfortable with talking to me, and certain ones were designated to communicate with press. I was never entirely sure who was in or out at any particular time — it was a fluid group. I never knew all the nicks. I talked repeatedly with five of them, including Sabu.

  2. Bizarre Online Gambling Movie-Plot Threat

    This article argues that online gambling is a strategic national threat because terrorists could use it to launder money.

  3. Huge horde of droids whacks code box GitHub in password-guess attack
  4. GitHub resets user passwords following rash of account hijack attacks

    GitHub is experiencing an increase in user account hijackings that’s being fueled by a rash of automated login attempts from as many as 40,000 unique Internet addresses.

  5. Google extends its proactive Patch Reward Program to include Android Open Source Project, Web servers, and more
  6. Google adds Android Open Source Project to Patch Rewards program
  7. Google expands Patch Rewards Program
  8. Google extends open source bug bounty programme to Android and Apache
  9. Android now part of Google’s Patch Reward Program
  10. Google adds Android and Apache to open source security rewards programme

    Google has extended its Patch Reward Program to include a raft of new platforms and technologies including its own Android system as it looks to improve the securiry of open source software.

    The firm announced an overhaul to its security patch policies last month, offering white hats up to $3,133 for fixes.

  11. Experts applaud Google completion of SSL certificate upgrade

    Step up to 2048-bit keys optimizes balance between protection of company services and maintaining performance

  12. Pinkie Pie and His Google Exploits: The Legend Grows

    Pinkie Pie returned in 2013 for the desktop Pwn2Own event operated by Hewlett-Packard’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), taking aim once again at Google. This time, it was Google’s Chrome browser running on Chrome OS. Pinkie Pie’s effort landed him another $40,000 in award money for the discovery and reporting of what turned out to be a trio of flaws, including one buried deep within the Linux kernel. Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system that Google uses on its Chromebook notebooks.

    But wait. There is still more.

    Just this week in Japan at HP’s Mobile Pwn2Own event, the legend of Pinkie Pie grew as the My Little Pony-loving security researcher once again demonstrated previously unknown zero-day flaws in Google’s Chrome. Pinkie Pie was able to pwn Chrome on both a Nexus 4 as well as a Samsung Galaxy S 4 smartphone. This time, Pinkie Pie pocketed $50,000 for his efforts.

  13. Linux chief: ‘Open source is safer, and Linux is more secure than any other OS’ (exclusive)
  14. Mikko Hypponen: Open Source Software Will Make the World More Secure

    Open source software can be one answer to combating the global surveillance of innocent citizens, said security expert Mikko Hypponen in his keynote last week at LinuxCon and CloudOpen Europe in Edinburgh.

  15. Hackers actively exploiting JBoss vulnerability to compromise servers, researchers say

    Attackers are actively exploiting a known vulnerability to compromise JBoss Java EE application servers that expose the HTTP Invoker service to the Internet in an insecure manner.

  16. Red Hat: 2013:1521-01: python-django: Moderate Advisory
  17. European businesses urged implement anti-cyber security systems

    The European Cyber Security Directive, which proposes that European businesses have a legal obligation to ensure they have suitable IT security mechanisms in place, is soon to be enforced in the UK.

NVIDIA Should Stop With Words and Lead With Actions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NVIDIA

Summary: NVIDIA’s drivers still cannot be trusted and NVIDIA’s assurance of performance improvements isn’t enough

NVIDIA, the world’s most proprietary GPU maker (which artificially cripples Linux drivers), is trying to appeal to gamers on GNU/Linux [1], perhaps with some performance gains [2] but hardly with any source code. NVIDIA, which already left back doors in Linux some years ago (severe flaw in the driver), should try harder than that. Freedreno [3] recognises the value of source code, Mesa 10.0 is coming [4] with an open door to public participation [5], and even Intel, the company behind restricted boot through UEFI, is giving source code to buyers of physical hardware [6]. There is nothing detrminetal when it comes to releasing source code to accompany hardware one sells (hardware which requires placing binaries in one’s computer with ‘root’ privileges). NVIDIA should wake up already and become respectful to software freedom, or at least those who want reassurance that NVIDIA’s blobs are not just Linux back doors. We already know that the NSA wanted back doors in Linux and it was eager to even bribe companies to help achieve this. NVIDIA is an American company.

Those who chastised Richard Stallman for rejecting proprietary components in his computers have hopefully changed their views after the NSA leaks/scandals.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. NVIDIA Is “Taking Linux Gaming Serious”
  2. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Steams Ahead On Linux
  3. Freedreno ARM GPU Driver Keeps Hitting Milestones

    The Freedreno open-source graphics driver project that’s a clean-room reverse-engineered implementation of the Qualcomm Adreno graphics core on the company’s ARM SoCs keeps reaching new milestones. While the driver is mostly just worked on by Rob Clark and without any support from Qualcomm, it’s quickly becoming the flagship open-source ARM graphics driver for the Linux desktop.

  4. Mesa 10.0 Release Candidate 2 Has Arrived
  5. How to start contributing to Mesa3D

    If you really want to contribute to Mesa you should at least have some C\C++ experience, if you don’t buy yourself a book and go for it. Knowledge of OpenGL would also obviously be useful The OpenGL SuperBible is generally the most recommended book on OpenGL.

  6. Intel’s Open-Source Broadwell Driver Claims OpenGL 3.3

    Intel’s open-source Linux graphics driver for supporting Broadwell is continuing to move along ahead of the availability of the new Intel processors in a few months time.

    While Intel only open-sourced the Broadwell graphics driver changes earlier this month and began pushing the code forward into the Linux kernel, Mesa, libdrm, and xf86-video-intel drivers, the support is moving along nicely.

KDE 12 Iterations After the 4.0 Release

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 10:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Now is the time to abandon Windows and dodge Microsoft trespassing

Windows

Summary: The world’s most features-rich desktop is coming to a milestone which represents expansion to yet more form factors

KDE SC is approaching its 12th KDE4 release [1], which brings further improvement [2] not just for desktops [3]. KDE has become a platform for tablets and perhaps phones, not just desktops and laptops. Even home media centers are an area of focus and in places like CERN KDE gets uses scientifically as a kind of server/experiments front end. Based on what we’ve seen on the Web, these efforts from KDE are all fruitful and people are increasingly satisfied with KDE, even those who used to dislike it. Development of KDE continues [4] even if some KDE/Qt applications lose momentum [5] (they cannot die, in part owing to the licence) and new GNU/Linux releases continue to show signs of confidence in KDE; even the bad guys use KDE [6]. GNOME has a new release too [7] and it brings significant improvements [8], which helps show that a decade and a half down the line these two leading desktop environments can coexist and mutually thrive. Now is an excellent time to migrate to GNU/Linux. It’s mature, it’s reliable, it is easy to use, and it’s user-respecting. People no longer should assume that Microsoft is inescapable.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. KDE Ships Third Beta of Applications and Platform 4.12

    KDE has released the third beta of the 4.12 versions of Applications and Development Platform. With API, dependency and feature freezes in place, the focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing. Your assistance is requested.

  2. KDE Applications Get Further Fixes In 4.12 Beta 3

    The third beta of KDE 4.12 was released this week, but for those that missed the news only really are the 4.12 apps being improved in this next KDE desktop release.

  3. KDE Plasma Media Center 1.2 Beta Has New Features

    Plasma Media Center, the KDE project to slowly take on the likes of XBMC and provide a nice user-interface for multimedia tasks atop the KDE experience, is up to version 1.2 beta. The 1.2 beta release of Plasma Media Center is packing a number of new features.

  4. KDE Commit-Digest for 10th November 2013
  5. KDE’s Kdenlive Video Editor Has Gone Dark

    While there’s many Kdenlive fans out there for the KDE-focused open-source video editor, it seems new development efforts around the project have ceased.

  6. openSUSE 13.1 KDE
  7. GNOME 3.10.2 Has Been Officially Released
  8. GNOME Shell 3.11.2 Supports Disabling Browser Plugin

Links 27/11/2013: Screenshots

Posted in News Roundup at 10:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman About Protests, Boycotts

Posted in TechBytes Video at 3:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg (00:02:09, 7.1 MB)

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, speaks about how we can organise for change in society and/or in the political/corporate system


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