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Links 30/4/2014: Android Rising in Tablets, More NSA Leaks

Posted in News Roundup at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Presence of Chromebooks in businesses grows with recent deals

      Google already provided the Chromebook Business Management Console to businesses, but now these businesses can work with familiar companies to use it in their business. In addition, with major manufacturers offering Chromebooks, including Dell, HP, Samsung, Acer, and Lenovo, businesses can stick with a preferred brand and have a wide variety of Chromebooks to manage.

    • Best webcam app for Chromebooks
    • Chromebooks: Not much room for competition

      Major laptop makers are paying attention and are adding Chromebooks to their product lines. They require basically the same production methods as their Windows laptops, so it’s a low-cost effort to build them. The Chromebook doesn’t require big hardware, so the component inventory is not too heavy.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Wins Award, Tails 1.0, and Ubuntu Warning

      Linus Torvalds is back in the news, but this time it’s good. Torvalds tops the news tonight for being the recipient of a prestigious award. LibreOffice 4.1.6 was released today with about 90 fixes and squeezably fresh Tails 1.0 is making headlines. And our final story tonight, The Register is reporting that upgrading Ubuntu 13.10 to 14.04 “may knacker your Linux PC.”

    • Linux Training Becomes Embedded Engineer’s Plan B

      When electrical engineer Manjinder Bains learned in January that his employer’s planned restructuring would put his job at risk, he wasn’t sure what to do. There aren’t a lot of companies in his home town of Sacramento, Calif., that employ embedded developers with his skill set, he said, so finding a new job would be tough.

      He decided to broaden his knowledge and his job prospects and signed up to take Linux Kernel Internals and Debugging (LFD320), a training course that teaches how the Linux kernel is built, and the tools used for debugging and monitoring the kernel. It would be the third training course Bains had taken with the Linux Foundation in the past year, but the first one he had paid for on his own – his employer had sponsored the first two.

      “Boosting my Linux skills will make me more employable,” he said via phone last month.

    • Linux Kernel 3.14.2 Officially Released

      The latest version of the stable Linux kernel, 3.14.2, has been announced by Greg Kroah-Hartman, marking yet another update in the most recent stable release.

      The updates and improvements that preceded the launch of the Linux kernel 3.14 branch indicated that this was going to be one of the most interesting releases in quite a while, but the updates for this version have been lagging a little behind.

      In the past, the first updates to the fresh kernel were quite large and featured a multitude of fixes and changes. Either the new kernels are more stable and require less work, or the developers are focusing more on the upcoming 3.15 branch.

      “I’m announcing the release of the 3.14.2 kernel. All users of the 3.14 kernel series must upgrade.”

    • AMD, Mentor Graphics Join Advisory Board for Embedded Linux

      Two major backers — AMD and Mentor Graphics — have revamped their support for embedded Linux development. This week, the companies joined the advisory board of the Yocto Project, an open source initiative for creating custom Linux-based operating systems for embedded devices.

    • SystemTap 2.5 Supports UEFI/SecureBoot & Other Features
    • SystemTap 2.5 release

      The SystemTap team announces release 2.5, “boot loot”!

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Ultrabook Benchmarks On The Linux 3.15 Kernel

        You can view more of these early Linux 3.13/3.14/3.15 kernel test results from the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX32VDA via OpenBenchmarking.org, but overall, there isn’t too much to get excited about with the results. When comparing these three kernel series, there wasn’t much in the way of performance changes for disk, graphics, or the computational workloads. The power usage also didn’t appear to change much between these recent versions of the Linux kernel.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Musix Linux: Sweet Strains Jarred by Sour Notes

      As a general OS, Musix sounds a few sour notes. It has a meager collection of text editors, word processors and Web tools. You can do some real work with the software that is provided, but you might resort to manually installing some of the programs typically available in distro repositories but missing here. Musix also provides a poor user experience with its menus.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva and Linux Solutions Brazil, sign partnership

        With the Brazilian arm of Mandriva gaining activity, a new partner to on-board our partner ecosystem recently is Linux Solutions a leading consulting, services and solutions based company using Linux platform and offering a wide range of integrated programs and high technical quality since 15 years.Throughout its existence, Linux Solutions has handled more than 150 projects and assisted over 100 clients. More than 1000 students have also been trained. Linux Solutions specializes in clusters and various demands solutions in TCP / IP networks, such as file services, email, firewall, routing, proxy, among others

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • IoT survey offers MinnowBoard Max SBC prize

      An IoT survey targeting attendees of this week’s Embedded Linux Conference offers a MinnowBoard Max SBC giveaway, but anyone interested can participate.

    • Rugged IoT box runs Linux on a pico-ITX core

      Via’s rugged, Linux-ready “AMOS-3003″ industrial computer for IoT builds on Via’s EPIA-P910 pico-ITX board, which features its 1.2GHz Nano E2 processor.

    • Phones

      • Ballnux

        • Samsung Galaxy K Zoom packs 20.7 MP camera, 10x optical zoom

          We had anticipated that a special “camera” version of Samsung’s flagship device will be launched soon and here it is finally with the moniker ‘Galaxy K Zoom’. The device boasts of a 20.7-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 10X optical Zoom. This is not the first time Samsung has attempted to put zoom lenses on the back of a smartphone. Last year’s Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom featured similar 10x optical zoom, but it was a bulky mess, while Galaxy K Zoom has managed to keep a much slimmer profile at 0.8 inch thickness.

      • Android

        • Rumor: HP set to introduce a 14-inch Android notebook

          The market for lightweight notebooks may get a lot messier in the coming weeks as Notebook Italia reports that HP is planning to release a 14-inch touchscreen laptop running Android, Google‘s mobile operating system for phones and tablets (and now wearables), rather than its Chrome OS operating system for lightweight notebooks. Notebook Italia claims to have found a demo video and promotional pictures tucked away on HP’s website. The videos have since been removed, but some screen grabs of the video are still up.

        • Asus Fonepad 7 Dual SIM now available on Infibeam

          Asus Fonepad 7 Dual SIM, the refreshed version of Fonepad 7 voice-calling tablet, is now available for purchase on Infibeam.com for INR 12,875. Powered by Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the tablet supports dual-SIM functionality and voice-calling. The Fonepad 7 Dual SIM features a 7-inch screen with LED backlight and WXVGA screen IPS panel.

        • Google’s Nexus phones will reportedly be replaced by premium Android Silver handsets

          The Android Silver project, which was rumored earlier this month, has today been corroborated by four fresh sources, all of whom point to a major shift in Google’s mobile strategy. The Information reports that the current scheme of offering Nexus-branded handsets with Google’s unadulterated vision of the best Android user experience will be scrapped, to be replaced by a set of high-end Silver phones that will closely adhere to it. The change is both expansive and expensive, as Google is said to be planning to spend heavily on promoting these devices in wireless carriers’ stores and through advertising, essentially subsidizing the development and marketing costs for its hardware partners.

        • Android signage player supports Apple iBeacon

          Noxel’s Android-based Xtream A700 signage player integrates Apple’s BLE-based iBeacon indoor positioning tech with Noxel’s cloud-based signage service.

          Noxel claims its Xtream A700 is the most powerful Android signage computer around, and considering its quad-core system-on-chip and the relative novelty of Android signage, we imagine they are correct. Aside from the sheer performance, the device is notable for its use of Apple’s iBeacon indoor positioning technology, which can provide precise location information via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The device’s iBeacon support enables retailers and brand marketers to provide in-store navigation and location-specific push messaging to smartphones, says the company.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Albania Considers Free/Libre Open Source Software

    “Taking into consideration the current stage of utilization of OSS in the Albanian public administration, the local ICT business experience and capacities and the current education system, it is strongly recommended to the Albanian government to start implementing initially the neutral approach combined with some enabling initiatives, thus recognizing, guaranteeing and ensuring fair and equal competition of OSS with other proprietary software.”

  • 3 tips for localizing open source projects

    Open source software (OSS) has had a huge impact on the development of technology today. From apps and web browsers to content management platforms and operating systems, there’s no doubt that open source projects have influenced the way that we create and access information.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Did Mozilla jump the shark with Firefox 29?

        Firefox 29 has been released and it’s causing quite a wave of controversy among Firefox users. Firefox 29 comes with a new interface called Australis that features rounded tabs, along with a menu icon in the top right corner. As you might imagine, some users are having trouble adjusting to the new interface and are making their feelings very clear to the Firefox developers.

      • Firefox 29 Launches With Major Redesign, Firefox Account Integration

        Mozilla is launching its most important release of Firefox in a very long time today. After almost two years of working on its Australis redesign, the company is now finally ready to bring it to its stable release channel.

      • Firefox 30 Beta Finally Supports GStreamer 1.0

        Firefox 30 also has a new Box Model Highlighter, new CSS property support, ECMAScript 6.0 support improvements, and many other changes. While Firefox 30 is now in a beta state, it will be officially released in June.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Updated OpenOffice ‘good news for administrations

      The improved accessibility features included in today’s new version of Apache OpenOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools, is good news for public administrations, expects Rob Weir, Project Management Committee Member at the Apache Software Foundation. Public administrations favour software solutions with strong accessibility support, he says. “By including Iaccesible2 support, we’ve removed a potential objection against the adoption of OpenOffice.”

    • Oracle Solaris 11.2 Now Available In Beta Form

      Oracle has put out the first public beta of the forthcoming Solaris 11.2 operating system release. The big focus of Solaris 11.2 is on embracing support for cloud computing.

  • CMS

  • Education

    • Yes, The World Can And Does Make Its Own Software Cheaper Than Renting

      The case in the article linked below describes some US colleges that were faced with $millions per annum of payments to a few corporations for permission to have computers the colleges owned compute stuff like finances and enrolments. One university spent $100million installing some software from Oracle and setting it up (Oracle charges ~$10 per employee per function per annum and ~$1000 per user per function per annum. It adds up to $millions per college per annum.). Now they are spending ~$1million per annum instead, contributing to a FLOSS project, Kuali, which will do what they want how they want it done. They share with a bunch of other colleges all with similar motivations. By sharing the load, each college gets what it needs for a lot less than paying some corporation multiple times what software costs to develop. The world does not owe big corporations a living. Make them earn it by competing on price/performance instead of lock-in.

  • Healthcare

    • Helping African hospitals with open source software

      The daily management and operation of a hospital requires enormous effort. These days, most hospitals utilize Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to centralize facility operations including inventory, budgets, invoicing, and employee management. Any hospital administrator will tell you that ERP software is essential to efficiently managing their hospital as the software lowers inventory costs and improves efficiencies and quality.


  • Public Services/Government

    • Warsaw to donate PCs to school for Linux labs

      The council of Poland’s capital will this year donate 400 PCs to schools in the city, to be refurbished with Ubuntu Linux and educational applications, in a joint-venture with the Foundation of the Free and Open Source Software (FWIOO). Announcing the project, Warsaw city’s department for education, praised the “beautiful idea of ​​a common, selfless work for others” ingrained in free and open source. “It also brings huge economic and functional merit to schools and students.”


  • High Speed Trains are Killing the European Railway Network
  • Science

    • The man with 42 hours to get home

      In the course of a month, Peter Hodes plans to visit Poland, Israel, Germany and South Africa. Wherever he goes – even Australia – he always makes sure to get home in 42 hours or less. The reason? He’s a volunteer stem cell courier. Here he describes his unusual pastime.

      Since March 2012, I’ve done 89 trips – of those, 51 have been abroad. I have 42 hours to carry stem cells in my little box because I’ve got two ice packs and that’s how long they last.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • How the U.S. Created the Afghan War—Then Lost It

      And so many years later, his followers are still fighting. Even with the U.S. withdrawing the bulk of its troops this year, up to 10,000 Special Operations forces, CIA paramilitaries, and their proxies will likely stay behind to battle the Haqqanis, the Taliban, and similar outfits in a war that seemingly has no end. With such entrenched enemies, the conflict today has an air of inevitability — but it could all have gone so differently.

    • Armed to the milk teeth: America’s gun-toting kids

      Available in bright blues and hot pinks, rifles for kids sell in their thousands in America. They look like toys – but they’re lethal. An-Sofie Kesteleyn travelled to photograph this juvenile army

    • CIA: On Again Off Again Love Affair with Iran

      In case you have been asleep for the past 61 years, the CIA overthrew Mossadegh in 1953. This kept the Shah in power for another 26 years until in 1979 the people mind you, and not Islam, overthrew him, and were then hijacked by Islam, which eventually became the IRHI or the Islamic Republic of Hijacked Iran.

    • Obama and Holder: Making Killing “Legal”

      When President Obama decided sometime during his first term that he wanted to be able to use unmanned aerial drones in foreign lands to kill people — including Americans — he instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to find a way to make it legal — despite the absolute prohibition on governmental extra-judicial killing in federal and state laws and in the Constitution itself.

    • ‘Problem is not interrogation, it’s war itself’

      US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh disclosed the torture scandal of Abu Ghraib 10 years ago. But as he told DW, he is convinced that the US hasn’t learned any lessons from it.

    • Ron Paul: US Drone War Undermines American Values

      Earlier this month, CIA-operated drones killed as many as 55 people in Yemen in several separate strikes. Although it was claimed that those killed were “militants,” according to press reports at least three civilians were killed and at least five others wounded. That makes at least 92 U.S. drone attacks against Yemen during the Obama administration, which have killed nearly 1,000 people including many civilians.

    • Column: Obama’s drone wars undermine American values
    • Who Are the Dead Special Operations Forces Picked Up After Drone & Air Strikes in Yemen?

      One week ago, multiple air strikes, including possible drone strikes, in Yemen were reported. An escalation in counterterrorism operations took place with many alleged “militants” being reported killed but the names of them were not announced. It is unclear if any senior al Qaeda leaders were killed but the governments have claimed success.

    • Pakistan: US drone killed my friend, now ‘I simply hate America’ – drone victim
    • Creating Enemies the American Way

      So many years later, they seem to be repeating the process in Yemen. They are now escalating a “successful” drone and special operations war against a group in that impoverished land that calls itself al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The drones turn out to be pretty good at knocking off various figures in that movement, but they are in another sense like a godsend for it. In what are called “targeted killings,” but might better be termed (as Paul Woodward has) “speculative murders,” they repeatedly wipe out civilians, including women, children, and in one recent case, part of a wedding party. They are Washington’s calling card of death and as such they only ensure that more Yemenis will join or support AQAP.

    • Game of Drones: Author George RR Martin says ‘isolated’ way of killing people by missiles and drones is more brutal than anything he has written
    • Game of Thrones Creator Says Drones Are Worse Than The Dothraki

      Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has definitely come up with some of the most shocking ways to kill people, from gasp-inducing beheadings to blood-spattered Red Weddings. But in an interview with Rolling Stone, Martin says the way we engage in modern warfare is far more brutal.

    • George R.R. Martin Condemns Drones

      Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin condemned drone attacks in a recent interview, claiming that the method of killing enemies is not personal enough.

    • How Many Have We Killed?

      The Senate’s decision is particularly troubling in view of how reticent the administration itself continues to be about the drone program. To date, Obama has publicly admitted to the deaths of only four people in targeted killing operations. That came in May 2013, when, in conjunction with a speech at the National Defense University, and, in his words, “to facilitate transparency and debate on the issue,” President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the United States had killed four Americans in drone strikes. But according to credible accounts, Obama has overseen the killing of several thousand people in drone strikes since taking office. Why only admit to the four Americans’ deaths? Is the issue of targeted killings only appropriate for debate when we kill our own citizens? Don’t all human beings have a right to life?

    • Feinstein And Chambliss Let James Clapper Talk Them Out Of Requiring Transparency On The Administration’s Drone Strikes

      Feinstein’s relationship with drones is, of course, somewhat hypocritical. She feels there should be stricter regulations on commercial drone usage (partially prompted by a non-commercial drone appearing outside her house during a Code Pink anti-NSA protest) and seems generally opposed to drone surveillance. However, she does stand strongly behind the nation’s counterterrorism efforts and believes killing people with drones (rather than just watching them) is more acceptable.

    • Intelligence Authorization Act Provision Demanding Disclosure Of Civilians Killed In US Drone Attacks In Other Countries Dropped By US Senators

      The U.S. Senate has dropped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Barack Obama’s administration to disclose the number of people killed or injured in drone attacks conducted by the U.S. in other countries.

    • Senators drop demand for drone death tallies
    • US senators remove requirement for disclosure over drone strike victims
    • Rally calls for end to drone attacks

      Hundreds crowded in to listen to Dr. Cornel West speak about the relationship between racism, poverty and drones in Syracuse.

    • Protest over drones draws big crowd after civil rights activist Cornel West energizes crowd in Syracuse

      But after hearing civil rights activist Cornel West talk about the connections between racism, poverty and drones at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, Jones said it “riled” her up and she decided to join hundreds of others protesting the United States’ use of drones in military actions.

    • Keep killer autonomous drones off the battlefield, activists say

      Canada is being urged to lead a new international effort to ban so-called “killer robots” — the new generation of deadly high-tech equipment that can select and fire on targets without human help.

    • Canada asked to help keep ‘killer robots’ off battlefields

      Somewhere deep in a lab in China, scientists are working toward building autonomous military machines that could some day end up on a battlefield.

      It’s not just China. Russia and Israel are working on their own deadly hardware.

      The U.K., U.S. and South Korea have even conducted tests on autonomous weapons in military scenarios.

    • Australians were killed by a US drone strike, and we deserve to know why

      The killing of two Australian citizens is not end of the conversation, but the beginning. If these men were threats to national security, then the public deserves to know why

    • Drone victims and anti-drone activists demonstrate outside Parliament

      Parliament voted to prohibit drone strikes in mid-December 2013. Votes from Yemen’s parliament can be struck down by the president and are non-binding.

    • Drone strikes based on work at Pine Gap could see Australians charged, Malcolm Fraser says

      Australian military and intelligence personnel involved in controversial US drone targeting operations could face crimes against humanity charges, according to former prime minister Malcolm Fraser.

    • EDITORIAL: The haunting of a president not spooked by drone killings

      The Almighty answers to no one in exercising the power of life and death over His creatures, and the president of the United States, despite the powerful weapons at his hand, can make no such claim. Barack Obama has some explaining to do for his drone killings of purported terrorists.

      The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled last week that the Obama administration must allow the public to review the internal legal documents that justify the president’s drone killings of those, including American citizens, who are suspected of terrorism. The Justice Department had claimed that White House executive privilege shields its internal records from public scrutiny, but the court said by releasing selected portions of the documents, the administration waived its right to secrecy.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • DOJ Is Still Investigating Wikileaks

      It’s no secret that many in the US government would love to find a way to charge Wikileaks and Julian Assange with criminal activities for reporting on leaks. However, as many have pointed out, doing so would create a firestorm, because it’s difficult to see how what Wikileaks did is any different than what any news publication would do in publishing leaked documents. The attack on press freedom would be a major problem. Still, the Justice Department has spent years trying to come up with any way possible to charge Assange with a crime. They even tortured Chelsea Manning and then offered her a deal if she lied and claimed that she “conspired” with Assange to release the State Department cables. That didn’t work. Even as the DOJ couldn’t produce any evidence that Manning and Assange conspired, the Defense Department insisted it had to be true. Last year, however, there were finally reports that the DOJ was just about ready to admit that it had no legal case against Assange, with officials effectively admitting that it would be tantamount to suing a newspaper.

  • Finance

    • Income Inequality Has Spurred a Boom in Private Security

      Perhaps this is our dystopian, Piketty-esque future: a small class of ultra-wealthy rentiers; a breakdown of public safety because the rich employ their own private security forces and don’t feel like funding anything further; a retainer class of managerial drones; and then everyone else—sullen and resentful, but kept in line by the hard men in dark glasses toting automatic weapons and driving armored limos.

      Actually, probably not. Eventually robots will provide better security services than fragile human beings, so the security forces will be out of jobs too. By then, however, even the ultra-wealthy won’t care if robots produce enough to make life lovely for everyone. Sure, they’ll still want their share of the still-scarce status goods—coastal property, penthouse apartments, original Rembrandts—but beyond that why should they care if everyone lives like kings? They won’t, and we probably will. As long as we don’t all kill ourselves first.

    • Prisons governors ordered to cut costs by £149m a year

      Prison governors have been ordered to cut the cost of holding inmates in England’s bulging jails by £149m a year, as part of a radical programme designed to slash the costs of incarceration by £2,200 a year per prison place.

    • Obama Administration Argues in Favor of Right to Fire Public Employees Who Testify at Corruption Trials

      The Supreme Court heard arguments today over whether public employee who testify under subpoena at public corruption trials should be protected by the First Amendment. The position of President Barack Obama’s administration appears to be that they should not be protected.

      The case is Lane v. Franks and it involves Edward Lane, who according to NPR was “hired in 2006 to head a program for juvenile offenders” at Central Alabama Community College that provided “counseling and education as an alternative to incarceration.” The program “received substantial federal funds.”

    • Chase Bank Slutshames Their Adult Performer Customers

      Porn. It’s what the internet is for, as they say. Also, it’s very hard for some people to avoid. Entire governments, too. But what about the little people with big parts that make all this wonderfully ubiquitous smut possible? It’s easy to forget about the hard (ahem) working individuals that make these small businesses and big industry spurt out their wares like (insert grossest applicable analogy here). And now it’s apparently difficult for those mostly-young laborers to get paid, since some banks seem to have adopted a rather convenient moral code when it comes to who can open accounts with their institutions.

    • Why the Richest Americans Don’t Care about Income Inequality

      Does income inequality matter to the richest Americans? Not very much. Here’s why. And it’s more than just greed-is-good– it’s because the rich will just get richer.
      A study by economists at Washington University in St. Louis tells us stagnant income for the bottom 95 percent of wage earners makes it impossible for them to consume as they did in the years before the downturn. Consumer spending, some say, drives the U.S. economy, and is likely to continue to continue to dominate, as the decomposition of America’s industrial base dilutes old economy sales of appliances, cars, steel and the like. That should be bad news for the super-wealthy, us buying less stuff?
      But that same study shows that while rising inequality reduced income growth for the bottom 95 percent of beginning around 1980, the group’s consumption growth did not fall proportionally at first. Instead, lower savings and hyper-available credit (remember Countrywide mortgages and usurous re-fi’s?) put the middle and bottom portions of our society on an unsustainable financial path which increased spending until it triggered the Great Recession. So, without surprise, consumption fell sharply in the recession, consistent with tighter borrowing constraints. Meanwhile, America’s the top earners’ wealth grew. The recession represented the largest redistribution of wealth in this century.

  • Privacy

    • How One Woman Hid Her Pregnancy From Big Data

      For the past nine months, Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, tried to hide from the Internet the fact that she’s pregnant — and it wasn’t easy.

    • British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools

      Alexander was told that Lobban might ask about the safeguards in place to prevent any data that GCHQ shared with the NSA from being handed to others, such as Israel, who might use it in “lethal operations.”

      Under the heading “key topic areas,” the document notes that gaining “unsupervised access” to data collected by the NSA under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “remains on GCHQ’s wish list and is something its leadership still desires.”

      Section 702 of FISA grants the NSA wide latitude to collect the email and phone communications of “persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.” It authorizes PRISM and several other programs – with codenames such as BLARNEY and STORMBREW – that covertly mine communications directly from phone lines and internet cables.

    • Maths spying: The quandary of working for the spooks

      FOR the past 10 months, a major international scandal has engulfed some of the world’s largest employers of mathematicians. These organisations stand accused of law-breaking on an industrial scale and are now the object of widespread outrage. How has the mathematics community responded? Largely by ignoring it.

      Those employers – the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – have been systematically monitoring as much of our lives as they can, including our emails, texts, phone and Skype calls, web browsing, bank transactions and location data. They have tapped internet trunk cables, bugged charities and political leaders, conducted economic espionage, hacked cloud servers and disrupted lawful activist groups, all under the banner of national security. The goal, to quote former NSA director Keith Alexander, is to “collect all the signals, all the time”.

    • Turkey: Spy Agency Law Opens Door to Abuse

      Jail for Journalists Publishing Leaks, Immunity for Intelligence Personnel

    • The NED, the NGOs and the CIA

      William Blum, the author of the book, “Rogue State,” said that while the object of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the post Cold War era has been relegated to history, many are not inclined to believe that subversion has lost its relevance. Rather, it has only been redirected at overthrowing governments that refuse to tow the line gleaned from the NED’s slogan of “Supporting Freedom Around the World.”

    • ODNI Seeks to Obscure CIA Role in Human Intelligence

      The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is attempting to conceal unclassified information about the structure and function of U.S. intelligence agencies, including the leading role of the Central Intelligence Agency in collecting human intelligence.

      Last month, ODNI issued a heavily redacted version of its Intelligence Community Directive 304 on “Human Intelligence.” The redacted document was produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Robert Sesek, and posted on ScribD.

      The new redactions come as a surprise because most of the censored text had already been published by ODNI itself in an earlier iteration of the same unclassified Directive from 2008. That document has since been removed from the ODNI website but it is preserved on the FAS website here.

    • Drone prohibition bill rejected by House committee

      Lawmakers in the House have killed a bill that would have banned drones from flying over areas deemed “critical infrastructure” in Louisiana.

    • Use of drones will heighten privacy issues
    • Report: Snowden hired Espionage Act expert
    • Snowden reportedly retained high-ranked lawyer to negotiate return to the US
    • Meet the lawyer working on a plea deal for NSA leaker Edward Snowden

      National Security Agency-leaker Edward Snowden called on one of the best-known Espionage Act lawyers last year when he entered into plea negotiations with the United States government.

      According to a Tuesday article in the New York Times, Plato Cacheris, a prominent Washington, D.C. lawyer and name-partner at Trout Cacheris, has been working for nearly a year to get Snowden a deal from the United States government. According to the Times, Snowden hired Cacheris, who has previously represented convicted spies Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, and convicted leaker Lawrence Franklin, in the hopes of securing a plea bargain that would spare him significant jail time. Snowden, who fled to Moscow last year after being charged with multiple violations of the Espionage Act stemming from his decision to leak details of N.S.A. eavesdropping programs to The Guardian, is facing 30 years in prison.

    • Merkel pressed to confront Obama over NSA scandal prior to talks

      Angela Merkel should ask Barack Obama to destroy her NSA file when she meets the American president in Washington later this week, a leading German opposition politician has told the Guardian.

    • NSA will sit on security vulnerabilities because of terrorism

      THE UNITED STATES National Security Agency (NSA) has advised the American people that although it knows that telling them about security issues is in the public interest, it will not always do that.

      Following the exposure of the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL, the NSA explained its stance via the White House blog, sort of, and revealed that each security vulnerability that comes its way is assessed on a range of merits and will only be disclosed depending on its risk assessment.

    • NSA launches ‘lablets’ tech initiative with major U.S. universities

      The agency has launched an initiative to strengthen contacts between tech-heavy U.S. American colleges and universities. The project will coordinate academic collaboration to best protect Internet infrastructure. Already, the NSA has awarded funds and resources to Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland, and the University of North Carolina to set up so-called “lablets” on their campuses.

    • New water records show NSA Utah Data Center likely behind schedule
    • Utah Republican Congressmen Want to Stop NSA from Collecting Citizen Data
    • Ukraine overshadows NSA rift ahead of Obama-Merkel talks

      German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets US President Barack Obama this week with shared fears over the mounting Ukraine crisis helping to mend ties ruptured by the NSA eavesdropping scandal.

    • Campaign fosters discussion about NSA

      Students and faculty are trying to raise awareness about surveillance in the United States.

    • Mathematicians: refuse to work for the NSA!

      In a stirring editorial in the New Scientist, University of Edinburgh mathematician Tom Leinster calls on the world’s mathematicians to boycott working for the NSA, which describes itself as the “largest employer of mathematicians in the US” and which may the world’s number one employer of mathematicians.

    • Comedian Outdoes ‘60 Minutes’ In Interview With Former NSA Official
    • John Oliver Shows ’60 Minutes’ How To Do An Interview With The NSA
    • Alexander: NSA’s brand has been damaged
    • Can cops legally fire “GPS bullets” at fleeing cars to track suspects?
    • Tired? Angry? Your car knows how you feel
    • 4 Proposals to Reform NSA Human Rights Violations: Feinstein=Worst; Leahy-Sensenbrenner=Best

      Several proposals have been put forward that would address the National Security Agency (NSA) spying abuses of privacy and human rights as documented in the Edward Snowden revelations. Four legislative pathways to curbing privacy abuses stand out, yet none comply fully with the 13 International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. However, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the proposals is a worthy starting point, while another of the bills would make the situation worse than it already is.

    • Guardian wins three Webby awards

      The Guardian has picked up three Webby awards for work including interactive coverage of the NSA files and a video report on the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar.

    • Feds Beg Supreme Court to Let Them Search Phones Without a Warrant

      American law enforcement has long advocated for universal “kill switches” in cellphones to cut down on mobile device thefts. Now the Department of Justice argues that the same remote locking and data-wiping technology represents a threat to police investigations–one that means they should be free to search phones without a warrant.

    • Error from license plate scanner leads to police stop that startles PV-based attorney

      A false reading by a license-plate scanner mounted on a Prairie Village police car led officers to stop an innocent motorist on 75th Street Monday — an incident that has the PV-based attorney questioning the department’s protocol for officers unholstering their weapons.

  • Civil Rights

    • Study suggests that 4% of the people we put on death row are innocent

      The vast majority of felony cases don’t end in decisions regarding guilt or innocence. Instead, 93 percent are subject to plea bargains. Of the remainder, most convictions aren’t reexamined carefully—appeals tend to focus on technicalities of the case rather than matters of guilt or innocence.

    • The Morality Police in Your Checking Account: Chase Bank Shuts Down Accounts of Adult Entertainers

      In the latest example of a troubling trend in which companies play the role of law enforcement and moral police, Chase Bank has shut down the personal bank accounts of hundreds of adult entertainers.

      We’ve written before about the dire consequences to online speech when service providers start acting like content police. These same consequences are applicable when financial services make decisions about to whom they provide services.

      Just as ISPs and search engines can become weak links for digital speech, too often financial service providers are pressured by the government to shut down speech or punish speakers who would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment. It’s unclear whether this is an example of government pressure, an internal corporate decision, or some combination.

    • No evidence Finns knew of secret prisoner transfers

      Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen says there is no evidence that Finnish officials had any knowledge of the alleged use of Finnish airspace or airports for prisoner rendition flights by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 2001 and 2006.

    • Finland: CIA rendition probe findings ‘disappointing’

      The failure of an official investigation to uncover hard evidence of Finland’s alleged role in the US-led programmes of rendition and secret detention a decade ago is deeply disappointing, said Amnesty International today.

    • Walter Pincus: Lingering tensions at CIA over Senate probe

      Today, staffers on the Senate intelligence panel as well as CIA officers and perhaps contractors could be potential subjects of a preliminary DOJ criminal inquiry into the handling of the “Panetta Review,” a set of controversial classified documents that fell into the hands of Senate investigators working on the panel’s probe.

    • Release the CIA’s torture report

      How much should the American public be allowed to know about the use of torture and other forms of cruelty practiced by U.S. interrogators against captives of the war on terror? Everything.

    • Abu Ghraib: A Torture Story Without a Hero or an Ending

      Despite all evidence to the contrary, many Americans continue to believe that brutality, torture and rank illegality is the road to national safety.

    • Mystery surrounds move of Afghan ‘torturer in chief’ to U.S. amid allegations of spy agency abuse

      Because of his reputation for brutality, Gulalai was someone both sides of the war wanted gone. The Taliban tried at least twice to kill him. Despite Gulalai’s ties to the CIA and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, United Nations officials and U.S. coalition partners sought to rein him in or have him removed.

      Today, Gulalai lives in a pink two-story house in Southern California, on a street of stucco homes on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

      How he managed to land in the United States remains murky. Afghan officials and former Gulalai colleagues said that his U.S. connections — and mounting concern about his safety — account for his extraordinary accommodation.

    • The Torturer Next Door
    • ‘They went through some form of hell’: Psychiatrist for Gitmo detainee testifies

      An Army psychiatrist said the accused USS Cole bomber was given adequate access to treatment for his mental health problems, although he admitted he had no access the secret CIA files documenting the suspect’s extensive torture, the Miami Herald reports.

    • “The US Is The World’s Worst Human Rights Violator”

      The US government has always been the first to call out other nations with poor track records on human rights abuses. Invariably they are the two nations viewed most threatening to America’s global hegemony and power – rivals Russia and China.

    • Execution Drugs Harm Breathing and Heart Function

      Oklahoma changed its execution protocols twice this year. State officials have five options for lethal injections, including a new three-drug mixture that was used for the first time Tuesday.

    • Cops BUSTED Planting Drugs and Guns Inside Marijuana Dispensary (Video)

      We often hear about the police planting drugs or guns on people, but how about buildings? Something needed to be done to make marijuana dispensaries in California appear dangerous, and two officers of the law had an idea: “Why don’t we just plant some illegal stuff in there?

    • The Apartheid Israel Poison Is Out
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The Internet Is About to Become Worse Than Television

      Last week, an obscure but potentially internet-transforming document was leaked from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. It revealed that government regulators are considering rules that would give big companies a chance to make their online services run faster than smaller ones.

      The proposed rules were revealed in the New York Times, and they would overturn the principle of “network neutrality” on the internet. Put simply, network neutrality allows you to use services from rich companies like Google and small startups with equal speed through your ISP. You can read a blog hosted on somebody’s home server, and it loads just as quickly as a blog on Tumblr.

    • Why you’ll hate the Internet ‘fast lane’

      Recently, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, came under fire for reportedly proposing exceedingly weak “open Internet rules.” If the reports are correct, the FCC will allow broadband providers like Comcast to make special deals that give some companies preferential treatment, as long as those deals are “commercially reasonable.”

      In other words, rather then requiring broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic more or less equally, the FCC will permit them to create an Internet “fast lane” and shake down content providers like Netflix, Google and Amazon for the right to travel in it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Accused Movie Pirate Wins Extortion Case Against Copyright Trolls

        Law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, pioneers of the BitTorrent copyright troll cases in the United States, have thrown in the towel. The law firm conceded defeat in a fraud and abuse case that was brought against them by an alleged pirate, and were ordered to pay nearly $40,000.

      • Kim Dotcom Faces Appeal in Seized Property Battle

        Earlier this month the New Zealand High Court said that police could no longer hold onto property seized from Kim Dotcom during the 2012 raid on his mansion. Today and at the eleventh hour, the Crown indicated that it intends to fight by filing an appeal to keep control of Dotcom’s property.

Newer Approach for Advocating Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Credit: Will Hill

Summary: How awareness of mass surveillance can propel Free software to dominance in more areas of computing

FOR a number of decades people such as Richard Stallman have been trying to persuade the public that Free software should be favoured, not because of nationalism, branding, or even cost but because only with Free software can the user (person or business) be in control. Techrights has covered the NSA’s abuses for a number of years (even well before the leaks) and recently observed great public concern when it comes to mass surveillance. Where apathy used to prevail there are now strong sentiments and people are eager to make informed choices that protect their rights.

When advocating Free software to people (not just GNU/Linux but even browsers like Firefox) it is worth using the privacy card. It really seems to help a lot.


Links 29/4/2014: New Debian, New Award for Torvalds

Posted in News Roundup at 4:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • BirdCam, Round Two

    If you like fun projects like these involving Linux, please read on and join in my birdy obsession!

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Exclusive: Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘An Apartheid State’

      The secretary of state said that if Israel doesn’t make peace soon, it could become ‘an apartheid state,’ like the old South Africa. Jewish leaders are fuming over the comparison.

    • Israel risks becoming apartheid state if peace talks fail, says John Kerry

      The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has warned in a closed-door meeting in Washington that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid state” if US-sponsored efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement fail.

      In an apparent sign of Kerry’s deep frustration over the almost certain collapse of the current nine-month round of peace talks – due to conclude on Tuesday – he blamed both sides for the lack of progress and said failure could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens.

    • Ukraine mayor Gennady Kernes fighting for life after being shot

      Kharkiv mayor, who was key figure in ex-president Yanukovych’s party, shot in the back while on his way for morning swim

    • Pulitzer Prize – winner Chris Hedges: Using fake evidence is usual Washington tactic

      The crisis in Ukraine and the steadily dropping temperature in relations between Moscow and Washington made many talk about a new Cold War; and many others are worried it may turn ‘hot’. But there’s another war going on right now: the information war. US Secretary of State Kerry has already attacked RT, calling it “Putin’s propaganda machine.” But Washington itself uses dubious evidence and fake facts. What is the information war? What methods is America using? Sophie talks to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and veteran correspondent Chris Hedges.

    • Obama Plays With Fire in Ukraine

      Since Ukraine is not (yet) a member of NATO, the U.S. government would not have the same formal obligation to intervene should a shooting war break out between Ukraine and Russia. But what if something happens between Russia and Poland or one of the Baltic states? Under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, an attack on one member is regarded as an attack on all. But it also says,

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • This cash for grouse scandal shows how Britain has become a plutocrats’ paradise

      So now you might have to buy your own crutches, but you’ll get your shotgun subsidised by the state. A few days after it was revealed that an NHS group is considering charging patients for the crutches, walking sticks and neck braces it issues, we discovered that David Cameron has intervened to keep the cost of gun licences frozen at £50: a price that hasn’t changed since 2001.

      The police are furious: it costs them £196 to conduct the background checks required to ensure shotguns are issued only to the kind of dangerous lunatics who use them for mowing down pheasants, rather than to the common or garden variety. As a result they – sorry, we – lose £17m a year, by subsidising the pursuits of the exceedingly rich.

  • Censorship

    • Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably

      Parents in Idaho called the cops last week on junior-high student Brady Kissel when she had the nerve to help distribute a book they’d succeeded in banning from the school curriculum.

    • YouTube deletes Stefan Molyneux´s liberty minded channel

      It appears as though Google run YouTube is targeting popular channels that promote freedom and liberty by deleting them and all their content off it´s servers.


      In the past we have seen this happen to Russia Today a very popular english speaking news channel having their youtube channel cancelled twice and a Ron Paul promoting channel also deleted.

  • Privacy

    • New surveillance techniques raise privacy concerns

      A report from the Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED delves into a wide-scale surveillance system being developed for police forces. How can the trade off between safety and privacy be negotiated as technology gets more and more sophisticated?

  • Civil Rights

    • How to Disappear a Mentally Ill Grandmother: Throw Her in Solitary

      Her cell was so dirty that a sock rotted into an open wound on her foot. For two and a half years, she didn’t have a bed. She slept on a mat on the floor. She bled on herself, because the jail denied her sanitary napkins.

      Jan Green, a 51-year-old grandmother, never even stood trial. Because of the dramatic mood swings and psychosis associated with her bipolar disorder, Green was found unfit to stand trial – which meant that she should’ve been hospitalized to get the intensive mental health care she needed.

    • Egyptian judge sentences 720 men to death

      In a similar but separate case, the same judge then upheld the death sentences of 37 of 529 men he notoriously ordered to hang last month, bringing the total number of death sentences to 720. The remaining 492 had their sentences commuted to 25-year jail terms. All cases are subject to further appeals.

    • NYT to SCOTUS: Cops should get warrant before searching your cellphone after arrest
    • Smartphones and the 4th Amendment

      More than 90 percent of American adults own a mobile phone, and more than half of the devices are smartphones. But “smartphone” is a misnomer. They are personal computers that happen to include a phone function, and like any computer they can store or wirelessly retrieve enormous amounts of personal information: emails, photos and videos; document files; financial and medical records; and virtually everywhere a person has been.

Microsoft Killed Nokia, Turned It Into a Pile of Android-hostile Patents

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 2:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Surely a ‘new’ Microsoft

Satya Ballmer
Satya Ballmer

Summary: Stacking patents with patent trolls and Apple (including Nokia patents) the strategy Microsoft currently has against Linux/Android

MICROSOFT keeps on killing companies, having left a long line of carcasses at the entrance of its cave. People who haven’t been paying attention might carry on observing, not participating, keeping apathetic towards the destructive force which is Microsoft. “I was expecting them to go under more than 10 years ago,” writes iophk, “but they seem to keep getting government contracts and finding ways to block competitors.”

“Nokia is currently being buried with yet “more revisionism”, as iophk calls it.”Microsoft’s latest big victim is Nokia, which was killed after a Microsoft mole had been put in charge of it. According to this, Microsoft now uses Nokia to spread its spyware and surveillance platforms. As Jim Lynch put it the other day: “I can’t help but wonder about the wisdom of blending elements from Windows Phone into Android. The two mobile operating systems are so different that it might come across as a franken-os that just doesn’t fit together properly. If somebody really wants the Windows Phone user interface then doesn’t it make more sense for them to just buy a Windows Phone and skip Microsoft’s Android phones altogether?”

Nokia is currently being buried with yet “more revisionism”, as iophk calls it. Writers at CNET (part of CBS) are not blaming Microsoft and Windows, only blaming or accusing in hindsight what was actually working out much better (Linux). Since Android (Linux) is now victorious we know that Nokia had much better options, but CNET reports give Elop (the Microsoft Trojan horse) a platform and one article is titled “Microsoft’s Elop: Nokia brand soon to vanish from smartphones” (so much for loyalty to Nokia).

Nokia is soon going to be just a pile of patents for trolls to tax phones with, especially Android phones (Nokia and Apple have patent peace and Nokia is becoming part of Microsoft). Microsoft has already fed some of these patents to trolls.

It is easy to see what Apple and Microsoft are trying to achieve here. Microsoft has hidden its financial problems for a number of years and Apple too is going down the same route. Android is eating Apple’s lunch and Microsoft is not even a contender, so Microsoft is passing prohibitive costs to Linux-powered phones, through trolls and partners such as Apple. It’s a strategy known as patent-stacking and it should be treated as a antitrust violation.

Patent litigation has cost as much as a trillion dollars in a quarter century based on some new research from James Bessen. As Glyn Moody put it:

Techdirt recently wrote about the ever-growing flood of patents being granted by the USPTO. As we’ve emphasized, more patents do not mean more innovation; nor do they necessarily lead to greater overall benefits for business. That’s clear in an important new paper from a team including James Bessen, whose work has been mentioned here several times before. It builds on the approach described in the 2008 book “Patent Failure” by James Bessen and Michael Meurer, and seeks to estimate both the private costs and private benefits accruing from patents in the US during the years 1984 to 2009.

In the coming years watch how Microsoft uses Nokia not just to interfere with Android markets but also with the price of Android, using patents that it is passing to patent trolls. Nokia is the newer Novell.

Novell Receives One Last Punch From Microsoft After Microsoft Took Novell’s Patents

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 2:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Legacy of Novell’s worst CEO, Ron Hovsepian

Ron Hovsepian confused

Summary: The WordPerfect case gets trashed decades after Microsoft’s abuses and 8 years after Microsoft paid Novell to become its puppy

SEVERAL years ago we wrote a lot about CPTN. As we explained CPTN at the time, it was the passage of Novell patents to Microsoft after Microsoft had bribed Novell to stop competing against Microsoft and instead damage everything GNU/Linux by casting the shadow of Microsoft patents. There are many other things that Microsoft’s bribery had achieved, such as OOXML promotion, Silverlight promotion, .NET promotion, Hyper-V promotion, etc. Novell basically became an extension of Microsoft, whereupon we called for a boycott of Novell.

According to this new report, the corporations-leaning “U.S. Supreme Court ended a lawsuit that accused Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) of illegally protecting its Windows computer operating system from competition 20 years ago by undercutting a rival word-processing program.”

WordPerfect was acquired by Novell and this case does the software a great disservice and injustice. It shows, once again, that Microsoft is able to get away with crimes as long as it can drag its accusers through the mud, driving them to bankruptcy or simply bribing them (Microsoft bribed numerous companies in recent years to not challenge Microsoft’s criminal racketeering strategy).

There is a timely article in the open source column this week. It says that “Microsoft may still have an ability to slap its name on a box and sell things better than most, but to say ‘we are the only ones’ flies in the face of collaboration, more logical ways of working, and – without wishing to get too po-faced – the greater good.”

Let’s face it. Microsoft has not changed. It only changed its marketing a slight bit. Microsoft deserves to be eradicated from this world. The sooner, the better. Microsoft is a destructive force.

Boosters of Development for Microsoft

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Controlling information by controlling tools of dissemination

Rupert Murdoch with Bill Gates

Summary: Indoctrination and control, as well as the habitual revisionism, help ensure that Microsoft just won’t go away very soon

Development for Microsoft is silly at best and irresponsible by most assessments that take into account Microsoft’s criminal track record and role in espionage. Harry McCracken, a Microsoft-bribed booster who has worked with Microsoft development tools, is currently propping up the idea that BASIC is what “Made Computers Personal” (published in widely-distributed corporate press). This is revisionism — the kind of revisionism that helps Microsoft portray itself as the ‘inventor’ of PCs. We should reject such Gates-led revisionism. The truth is, Microsoft and Gates stole, sabotaged, and subverted personal computing. In the public sector, Gates and Microsoft still turn computers into surveillance devices (used against their so-called ‘users’) and based on these new announcements from Microsoft, lobbying by Bill Gates (pressuring politicians and pulling strings) leads to yet more government subsidies for Microsoft, including the use of teachers as agents of indoctrination for Microsoft (or salespeople of Microsoft). This isn’t only outrageous; it should be treated as corrupt and even criminal. As many politicians are badly informed about the true role of Bill Gates in computing, the lobbying works.

“…lobbying by Bill Gates (pressuring politicians and pulling strings) leads to yet more government subsidies for Microsoft, including the use of teachers as agents of indoctrination for Microsoft (or salespeople of Microsoft).”It is truly sad that Microsoft training and development indoctrination is making its way into the obligatory public sector (schools), and owing to Microsoft-tied subsidies to Xamarin and turncoats like Miguel de Icaza, it is also making its way into Microsoft competitors, notably UNIX and GNU/Linux. Microsoft must be very proud of de Icaza for saying yesterday that:

As promised, we are now tracking the Unix-friendly Roslyn port on Mono’s GitHub Organization.

What the world needs to do it move away from Microsoft APIs, not spread them to more platforms. Boosters of .NET, BASIC etc. are ensuring that we stay locked in and enslaved to Microsoft. To them, this is evidently a goal.

Federal Government Warns About Microsoft Windows Back Doors

Posted in Security, Vista 8, Windows at 1:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Back door

Summary: Back door in all versions of Windows (for Internet Explorer has been embedded deep inside Windows to suppress browser competition) worries governments around the world, including those behind NSA and GCHQ

IT HAS long been known that Microsoft and the NSA work together and share information about back doors, voluntary or involuntary. Any government that still uses Windows is leaving itself vulnerable to espionage and sabotage like Stuxnet. It’s a strange mystery that many governments still have Windows in their networks. Technically it makes no sense and strategically it’s suicidal.

A few days ago we learned about a permanent back door in Windows XP. To quote one site: “Microsoft reported an alarming security flaw exposed by security farm FireEye, Inc. that affects all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 to 11. Though the newer versions of Windows operating systems will be patched in a couple of weeks, Windows XP users should be worried. Windows XP support was discontinued by Microsoft from April 8, 2014 and it is not going to get any more security patches.”

“Even when a flaw in OpenSSL was found and reported it had already been patched by all the major GNU/Linux distributions. It hadn’t yet been patched by Microsoft and Apple.”Feds are genuinely concerned about this based on the Canadian and the US corporate press, not just because Microsoft will leave Windows XP vulnerable but because at present every version of Windows is vulnerable and there is no fix. Since it’s proprietary software, nobody other than Microsoft can create a fix, either.

This latest back door shows that moving to GNU/Linux makes the most sense. Even when a flaw in OpenSSL was found and reported it had already been patched by all the major GNU/Linux distributions. It hadn’t yet been patched by Microsoft and Apple.

For those who think that Vista 8 (or 8.1) is going to offer some kind protection, mind this unfavourable new analysis. To quote just one bit: “Before shutting down, I manually told it to check for updates. It found one. The description says “Windows 8.1 Update”, and the accompanying text says the stuff about you must install this update to ensure that your computer can continue to receive future updates. So, was my HP updated or not? According to the test described by Microsoft, it was; but according to the Windows Update that is waiting to install, it was not.

“Which is correct? Beats me. How do you tell for sure? Beats me.”

Windows is a mess and this mess is filled with back doors. No government anywhere (not even the US government) should rely on it. The world is moving on and it’s time to move with it. GNU/Linux is the secure option.


Links 28/4/2014: Debate About Improving GNU/Linux, Android Beyond Mobile

Posted in News Roundup at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Tools to Empower Librarians

    Open source software is a popular choice for libraries and librarians, not simply because recent austerity measures in many developed countries have tightened available budgets. The ability to customise the software for a library’s particular needs, the potential for interoperation with other software, and the lack of license restrictions makes open source software attractive.

    Modern libraries need robust, scalable and flexible software to make their collections and services attractive, especially as digital libraries are radically transforming how information is disseminated. There are very few barriers to any library adopting an open source library system.

  • Out in the Open: Occupy Wall Street Reincarnated as Open Source Software

    Those challenges could become more important as the software spreads to other uses. Unlike applicators like Democracy OS or Liquid Feedback, Loomio isn’t really designed for large scale political decision making. But it’s already been used for at least one government initiative. Last year, the Wellington City Council used Loomio to gather ideas and feedback from the public for new alcohol policies. The ideas floated included closing bars at midnight — which was shot down — and limiting the hours of operation of 24 hour liquor stores.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack fundamentals taught by Rackspace gurus

      An OpenStack training workshop was held as part of the recent, 4th Open Source Festival at the State University of New York at Albany. The workshop brought together over 40 participants for three hours to learn some of the fundamentals of OpenStack.

  • Databases

  • CMS

    • Dutch municipality tailors and shares Drupal site

      The Dutch town of Vught is making available the source code for its website, a preconfigured version of Drupal, an open source content management system. The software is now being implemented by the municipality of Almelo, and, says Frank Schaap, ICT policy maker for the town of Vught, “there are three more that are seriously considering to do the same.”

  • Education

    • 5 lessons open education resources can learn from FOSS

      One of the distinctive elements of the open source software movement are open development projects. These are the projects where software is developed cooperatively (not collaboratively, necessarily) in public, often by people contributing from multiple organizations. All the processes that lead to the creation and release of software—design, development, testing, planning—happen using publicly visible tools. Projects also actively try to grow their contributor base.

  • Healthcare


  • Public Services/Government

    • 143 French politicians pledge to support free software

      Of all the politicians newly elected in France’s municipal elections 143 have pledged their support for free software. The new councillors signed the Free Software Pact, a support campaign organised by April, an advocacy group. Signatories include the mayor of the city of Dijon, François Rebsamen, appointed Minister for Employment in France’s new government on 2 April.

  • Openness/Sharing


  • 64-bit MenuetOS M64 0.99.57 Released

    On the MenuetOS download page, the 0.99.57 release notes just list, “Updates and improvements (httpc, ehci, picview, memcheck, menu, wallpaper, ohci, uhci, maps/streetview, icons, dhcp, freeform window, smp threads, smp init).”

  • Stop It With the Silicon Valley Buzzwords

    The entire Silicon Valley tech scene is filled with ludicrous buzz phrases that are often decried by the media. Terms like “engagement,” “disrupt,” and “innovation” are commonly thrown around by those who want to be part of the Valley subculture.

  • Science

    • Giant Chinese 3D printer builds 10 houses in just 1 day (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

      A private company located in eastern China has printed ten full-size houses using a huge 3D printer in the space of a day. The process utilizes quick-drying cement, but the creators are being careful not to reveal the secrets of the technology.

      China’s WinSun company, used a system of four 10 meter wide by 6.6 meter high printers with multi-directional sprays to create the houses. Cement and construction waste was used to build the walls layer-by-layer, state news agency Xinhua reported.

  • Security

    • Active 0day attack hijacking IE users threatens a quarter of browser market

      The zero-day code-execution hole in IE versions 6 through 11 represents a significant threat to the Internet security because there is currently no fix for the underlying bug, which affects an estimated 26 percent of the total browser market. It’s also the first significant vulnerability to target Windows XP users since Microsoft withdrew support for that aging OS earlier this month. Users who have the option of using an alternate browser should avoid all use of IE for the time being. Those who remain dependent on the Microsoft browser should immediately install EMET, Microsoft’s freely available toolkit that greatly extends the security of Windows systems.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Deal Welcoming US Military Into Philippines Slammed As ‘Betrayal’

      The U.S. and Philippine governments have agreed on a 10-year pact to open this southeast Asian country to more U.S. troops, warships, and fighter planes, flouting the people’s movements that booted the U.S. military from its permanent Philippine bases over twenty years ago.

      “We have lost too much because of the U.S. military presence in our country,” Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA—an alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S, told Common Dreams. “The Philippines has long history of protests against militarization. The protests now are only going to grow.”

      The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was announced Sunday by the White House and confirmed by two anonymous Philippine officials speaking to the Associated Press.

    • Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive

      Pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine were holding a group of European military observers in the city of Slavyansk on Friday night, claiming they had been travelling with a spy for the Kiev government.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China says more than half of its groundwater is polluted

      Nearly 60% of China’s underground water is polluted, state media has reported, underscoring the severity of the country’s environmental woes.

      The country’s land and resources ministry found that among 4,778 testing spots in 203 cities, 44% had “relatively poor” underground water quality; the groundwater in another 15.7% tested as “very poor”.

      Water quality improved year-on-year at 647 spots, and worsened in 754 spots, the ministry said.

    • Some Birds Thrive in Chernobyl’s Radioactive Glow

      Nearly 28 years after the worst nuclear accident in history, several bird species are doing the seemingly impossible: flourishing inside the radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine. Due to lingering radiation from the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, humans aren’t allowed to live there—but the region has become an accidental ecological testing ground for scientists interested in studying the effects of radiation on wild animals. Ionizing radiation damages living cells by producing free radicals, leading to genetic damage and, eventually, death. An animal’s only hope is to neutralize those free radicals by upping its production of antioxidants. And that’s exactly what most birds in Chernobyl seem to be doing—with even better results than scientists expected. A team of ecologists used nets to capture 152 birds from 16 species inside and around the 2600-square-kilometer exclusion zone. After assessing the birds’ antioxidant levels, amount of DNA damage, and body condition, the researchers were surprised to find that most of the birds, like the hawfinch pictured above, seemed to benefit from the chronic exposure to radiation. Birds found in areas with higher radiation levels had more antioxidants and better overall body condition, the team reports online this week in Functional Ecology. This is the first known example of wild animals adapting to chronic radiation exposure, the researchers say. The only two bird species negatively affected by the radiation—the great tit (Parus major) and barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)—both produce large amounts of pinkish pheomelanin pigment in their feathers. Because pheomelanin production requires lots of antioxidants, the researchers suspect these birds may not have enough left over to fight off the free radicals. In Chernobyl, it seems that fancy feathers come at a high price.

    • Earth: Game Over?

      We’re in the middle of a sixth mass extinction, and this will be the first one—and possibly the last—we will witness as human beings.

    • Top award for toxic dump campaigner

      Mr D’Sa said he would not be prevented from standing up for the truth

    • Report: US Unprepared for Arctic Oil Spill

      A warming Arctic and the clamor for more unconventional energy resources bring increased interest by fossil fuel giants in exploiting the fragile region’s potential vast resources.

      Yet a new report warns that the the United States is inadequately prepared to deal with an oil spill in the Arctic.

      The nearly 200-page report issued Wednesday by the National Research Council follows years of warnings from environmental groups that there is no way to safely drill for oil in the Arctic.

  • Finance

  • Privacy

    • Pretty soon, we could all be using the Dark Net

      The term “Dark Net” is shorthand to describe the hidden and encrypted part of the internet beyond the reach of normal browsers, accessible only using the anonymous browser Tor. It’s protected by a clever traffic encryption system which makes it very difficult to locate the servers which host sites – called Tor Hidden Services – and the IP addresses of the people the visit them. Tor used to stand for The Onion Router, and so some call this world “Onionland”. Anonymity and freedom rule Onionland, not censorship.

    • Reddit Scope Leaking User Queries

      If you are currently using the Reddit Unity Scope on Ubuntu, you should consider disabling it. The reason for this is that a Reddit admin pointed out that Ubuntu user dash searches were ending up in Reddit’s server logs.

      This is happening because the Reddit Unity Scope uses a URL that does not have SSL configured so instead redirects those queries to HTTP plain text. The good news is a fix is already under way on a bug I filed and Reddit’s API documentation explains how to properly use SSL when making queries.

    • An Eerie New Project Shows How Much Facebook Really Knows About You

      A new, eerie web project called Digital Shadow combs through your Facebook profile and pulls together enough of your information to create a dossier creepy enough to make you want to quit social networking altogether.

      Once you login and grant the site access to your Facebook profile, the system simulates a hacker attack and creates a list of “pawns” (friends who can betray you), “obsessions” (people you creep on the most) and “scapegoats” (people you would be willing to sacrifice), as well as photos of your favorite places and an analysis of your posting habits.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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