EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.22.14

Links 23/5/2014: Linux 3.15 RC6, KDE Previews

Posted in News Roundup at 8:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Why are there so few high quality science communicators?

      Well scientists have to take their share of the blame for this, in that if anyone can promote science, it’s them. However speaking as a research scientist I KNOW why communicating science/ debunking pseudoscience (in science circles) is generally seen as a gamma rate objective, typically only pursued by betas.

  • Security

    • eBay Hacked – Will Ask Users to Change Passwords

      eBay announced this morning that they’ve been hacked and that “encrypted passwords and other non-financial data” have been compromised. They’re expected to begin notifying their customer base later today, which will include a suggestion for users to change their passwords. The company says that PayPal, an eBay subsidiary, uses its own servers and was not affected by the attack.

    • Another password scare, billion-dollar duds and Obama’s empty NSA talk

      PayPal did not say why the passwords needed to be changed, and then later the message was removed altogether.

    • eBay hacked, requests all users change passwords

      eBay’s morning just went from bad to worse. The e-commerce site confirmed Wednesday that its corporate network was hacked and a database with users’ passwords was compromised. While eBay says there is no evidence that users’ financial information was accessed in the hack, the company is telling all users to change their passwords.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • CIA Triumph

      It is quite extraordinary to me how very little publicity is being given to the CIA sponsored military coup in Libya, following the same event in Egypt. The Arab Spring was front page headlines. The CIA and Saudi sponsored cooperation to turn it back to the deepest of freezes virtually gets no mention. This is even true of Libya, where we bombed tens of thousands of civilians to a pulp to ensure the changeover of regime, under the guise of installing democracy. The real aim was never democracy, but a neo-con friendly government, which is so much better secured under the auspices of the CIA.

    • Top Iran Terrorist Under CIA Protection in U.S., Book Says

      The senior former Iranian intelligence officer who quarterbacked the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and killed scores of Americans was recently living under CIA protection in the United States, a book being published Tuesday says.

    • Coup leader? CIA asset? Mystery surrounds Libya’s rogue General Haftar

      From alleged connections to the CIA to possible plans to overthrow the government, there is a sense of mystery surrounding Khalifa Haftar, the rogue general whose forces led an attack on the Libyan parliament in Tripoli Sunday.

    • An Ex-CIA Recruit Adds to Libyan Chaos

      This could be the real Benghazi scandal: As Libya’s major cities see some of the worst fighting since 2011, a Libyan general who once defected to the U.S. is leading the charge.

    • Report: CIA blocked U.S. group’s effort to arm Syrian rebels

      The CIA is said to have blocked a plan to supply Western-backed Syrian rebels with up to 70,000 assault rifles for the war against President Bashar Assad.

      The Wall Street Journal said a plan by a private U.S. group to provide Russian-made light weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition to the Free Syrian Army was foiled by the CIA.

    • CIA Can Keep Bay Of Pigs History Secret, DC Circ. Says
    • Appeals Court: CIA Can Keep Bay of Pigs History Secret

      In a 2-1 split ruling, the US Court of Appeals has decided that the CIA can keep its Bay of Pigs invasion history report secret on the grounds that the history only exists in a “draft” form, and was never marked as a final document.

    • CIA denies its agents were killed in eastern Ukraine
    • CIA, FBI Agents Dying for Illegal Junta in Ukraine
    • White House will release memo that justifies using drones to kill U.S. citizens

      After receiving a court order in April to reveal a secret memo that justifies drone strikes to kill U.S. citizens who live overseas, the Obama administration has announced that it will not appeal the order and will comply with the request. The announcement came as the Senate votes on President Obama’s nomination of David Barron—the author of the memo—to the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

    • Guest Post: David Barron and the OTHER missing memos

      When the Administration first released the Awlaki memo to all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, Dianne Feinstein revealed that the Committee had never seen at least 5 other OLC memos pertaining to targeted killing. In her statement, she cited 9 total memos, while reporting at the time suggested there might be 11 (and therefore 7 memos even the Intelligence Committees had not seen).

      Just after that disclosure, the National Journal provided some description of what might be in the memos withheld even from the Intelligence Committees: “secret protocols with foreign governments, including Pakistan and Yemen,” the two countries where the US is known to have used signature strikes. Members of the House Judiciary Committee have twice asked for memos pertaining to signature strikes; and John McCain has posed questions about them as well.

    • Drone Memo Author Nears Senate OK as Federal Judge

      Bolstered by the promised public release of a secret legal memo, Senate Democrats are ready to approve a top federal judgeship for a former Obama administration official who helped formulate the justification for the drone killings of suspected American terrorists overseas.

      The Senate was expected Thursday to approve David Barron to join the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Boston.

    • AP sources: Justice Dept. to reveal drone memo
    • Senate Backs Judge Pick Who Wrote Drone Memos
    • Activists Walk Across Georgia in Critique of Drones

      The 120-mile walk had begun eight days earlier at the gates of Ft. Benning. Drones researched and developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Research Institute are then tested at the Fort Benning Maneuver Battle Lab through a project federally funded by the U.S. Army Threat Systems Management Office.

    • Why I Don’t Want to See the Drone Memo

      And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us a secret memo that gets us out of the bit about Thou-shalt-not-kill.

      And, lo, as I was driving home from the committee hearing I was pulled over for speeding, and I said unto the officer, “I’ve got a memo that lets me speed. Would you like to see it?” and he said, “No thank you, and not your grocery list or your diary either.”

      Transparency in drone murders has been a demand pushed by U.N. lawyers and pre-vetted Congressional witnesses, and not by the victims’ families. Nobody asks for transparency in child abuse or rape. “Oh, have you got a memo that explains how aliens commanded you to kill and eat those people? Oh, well that’s all right then.”

      Seriously, what the filibuster?

      I don’t want to see the memo that David Barron wrote “legalizing” the killing of U.S. citizens with drone strikes, after which (or is it beforehand?) I’ll decide whether he should be a federal judge.

    • Rand Paul to Filibuster Pro-Drone Lawyer’s Judgeship

      The Los Angeles Times is reporting: “President Obama’s Justice Department will release a long-sought secret document laying out the legal basis for using drones to kill Americans suspected of terrorist activities abroad, administration officials confirmed Tuesday.

    • After 21 requests, Obama administration coming clean about drone policy

      Faced with the threat the U.S. Senate would block judicial nominees, the Obama administration announced this week it would release the so-called “drone memos” outlining the supposed legal rationale for using drones to attack and kill American citizens.

      The “most transparent administration in history” just needed to be asked 22 different ways.

    • Gordon Campbell on New Zealand’s role in the US drone programme

      So, thanks to our membership of the Five Eyes network, the GCSB spy agency has been supplying information on “persons of interest” in Afghanistan (at least) that may be used for targeting them in US drone strikes. At his post-Cabinet press conference yesterday, Prime Minister John Key said that he did not know how, or for what purposes, the information that New Zealand supplies to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is being used. He did however confirm that GCSB-supplied information had not been used to target the New Zealand citizen Daryl Jones, killed by a drone strike in Yemen last November. (How Key could be so sure when he claimed not to know the purposes for which ISAF uses the data that we supply, was left unclear.) Key would not confirm whether any other New Zealanders had been killed by drone operations.

    • Key ‘comfortable’ with occasional drone mistake

      Prime Minister John Key admits drones occasionally hit the wrong targets and kill innocent civilians, but he’s comfortable with New Zealand’s indirect involvement in the programme.

      The Government Communications Security Bureau doesn’t give the United States information for the express purpose of carrying out strikes, Mr Key said on Firstline this morning – but it does pass on intelligence that could be useful.

      “There are environments like Afghanistan where our people have gathered information, and that’s information on people of interest to our ISAF partners, and we’ve passed that information onto ISAF partners – and one of those is the United States – and ISAF have passed that information on,” says Mr Key.

    • Key admits role in illegal drone wars

      John Key today admitted that the GCSB is supporting the US state sanctioned assassination programme. He said that the GCSB provided information to the United States that was used to conduct drone strikes in Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.

    • Yemen’s Chaos

      If women’s rights in Yemen were of real international concern, say locals, health funding would not remain a meager 4 percent of the government’s budget, leaving little money to provide primary health care and nutrition, and nothing for reproductive health. The development community would be working to combat female illiteracy (which hovers at a staggering 70 percent) and helping women set up small businesses and monitor the use of money — which we know women are better at than men — to cut down on rampant corruption. Since social capital remains strong among women, and they are providing much of the remaining glue in this unstable society, this is where the West should invest.

    • Blood on the hands of our spy agency

      Greg Dawes condemns New Zealand’s involvement with drone strike ”murders”.

      Almost a year ago, I drew readers’ attention to the fact our security services may be spying on New Zealanders.

      Sadly, it now seems they may be doing much worse.

      They may be complicit in extra-judicial killings, acts that violate principles of natural justice and, almost certainly, international law.

      If they are supporting such actions – and the prime minister has all but admitted it – our security services have blood on their hands.

      What I am talking about is the involvement of the GSCB, the Government’s electronic spy agency, in the drone killing programme that for some years has been undertaken by the United States.

    • Rand Paul: ‘Drone judge’ betrayed Bill of Rights, promotes ‘vigilantism’

      Declaring that a Harvard University law professor nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals violated the Bill of Rights by penning a memo justifying the administration’s drone killing of Americans overseas, Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday vowed to fight David Barron’s appointment.

      “I cannot and will not support a lifetime appointment of someone who believes it is okay to kill an American citizen not involved in combat without a trial,” Paul said in a Senate floor speech in opposing Barron’s nomination to the Boston court, considered a sure bet.

    • Obama’s revamp of anti-terror policies stalls

      In a Senate hearing Wednesday, irate lawmakers criticized senior administration officials over the lack of follow-up with one of the strategy’s principal goals: Obama had said he was looking forward to “engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine and ultimately repeal” the nearly 13-year-old congressional authorization to use force against those individuals, groups and nations responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

    • Obama Administration Doesn’t Think It Needs Authorization from Congress to Wage War Anywhere in World

      Does the President have to have a statute authorizing the use of military force in order to legally wage war against terrorist groups that may or may not pose an imminent threat to the United States? Or can the President simply target, capture and kill whomever in whatever terrorist group wherever, even if Congress has not authorized action?

    • Paul, Wyden Clash Over Barron Nomination, Use of Drones Abroad

      “It’s unfortunate that it took Mr. Barron’s nomination for the Justice Department to make these memos public,” Wyden said. “I believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them.”

    • Death to the Death Penalty
    • Key won’t say if more Kiwis killed in drone strikes

      He has also rubbished claims by a US journalist the country’s spies likely provided information which led to a drone strike which killed a New Zealander.

    • Drone strikes justified – Key

      Drone strikes are justified – even if innocent civilians are mistakenly killed, Prime Minister John Key says.

      Key confirmed yesterday that intelligence collected by the Government Communications Security Bureau might be passed to the controversial US programme.

    • Drone strike leaves 4 Taliban militants dead in Kunar province

      At least four Taliban militants were killed following a drone strike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan, local officials said Wednesday.

    • The entire basis for Obama’s drone strategy may be wrong

      The basic premise of the Obama Administration’s drone program is that decapitation, the killing of a terrorist organization’s top leadership, works. Killing al-Qaeda’s leadership should, in theory, limit the organization’s ability to plot attacks on the US and its allies.

      But what if that’s not true? That’s the core finding of a just-published study in the prestigious journal International Security. In it, Georgia Tech professor Jenna Jordan takes a look at the history of targeting terrorist leaders and draws lessons for the fight against al-Qaeda. According to Jordan, believing that targeted killing can actually weaken al-Qaeda means assuming al-Qaeda depends on a group of charismatic leaders. But that’s wrong, and that mistaken assumption has led the Obama Administration to pursue a strategy centered on targeting al-Qaeda’s leadership with drones when it’d really be better to cut down on targeted killings altogether.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Wikileaks and The Intercept clash over censorship – spot the real media hero

      When whistleblowers clash over whether information should be censored from the public then alarm bells should be ringing in the heads of all free thinkers. In this particular instance we are talking about an organisation headed by a political prisoner and another spearheaded by an acclaimed prize winning journalist.

      Of course we are talking about two giants in the whistleblowing community – Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald – both of whom work for very different organisations.

      Assange, who heads up Wikileaks, has been a political prisoner, held without charge, for more than three years, including almost two years in the tiny Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Wikileaks has also been treated as a pariah organisation cut off from the usual avenues of international funding from would be donors.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Nasty surprise for some student loan borrowers

      Students who take out private loans to pay for college could face a nasty surprise if their co-signer dies or files for bankruptcy: The lender may suddenly demand the loan be paid in full—or even worse, put that loan in default—even though all payments are being made on time.

  • Censorship

    • Facebook‘s censorship strategy under fire over removal of lesbian kiss snap

      Facebook’s censorship rules have been thrust into the spotlight after a seemingly innocuous photo of two women kissing was removed on the grounds that it ‘violated the community’s standards on nudity and pornography’.

    • Science fiction and the law: free speech, censorship, privacy and surveillance
    • Bromley: Lessons in school censorship

      Students learn so much in fighting for their First Amendment rights. They learn the extent of their resolve. They learn that the ideals of the Bill of Rights extolled in the classroom aren’t so revered by school administrators intent on protecting their fiefdoms. And they learn that there’s nothing like a swimsuit issue to boost circulation.

      [...]

      Fond du Lac High School’s student newspaper, the Cardinal Columns, won multiple awards this year, including a prize for a recent article about rape victims at the school. After publication of the piece, titled “The Rape Joke,” administrators enacted oversight guidelines. Let it be known that award-winning journalism will not go unchecked at Fond du Lac High.

    • Twitter’s selective censorship of tweets may be the best option, but it’s still censorship

      Twitter’s ability to block certain tweets or users from being seen in specific countries, a somewhat Orwellian feature it calls the “country-withheld content” tool, seems to be getting more popular, according to the Chilling Effects clearinghouse, which tracks such things: tweets and/or users are now being blocked in Pakistan as well as Turkey, and a pro-Ukrainian account is apparently unavailable to users who try to view it from inside Russia, at the request of the government.

    • Twitter Steps Down From the Free Speech Party

      In 2012, when Twitter announced in a blog post that it was launching a system that would allow the company to take down content on a country-by-country basis—as opposed to taking it down across the entire Twitter network—EFF defended that decision as the least terrible option. After all, when a company refuses to comply with an official government request, the government’s response is often to block an entire platform.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Senate review of secret CIA detention and interrogation program “shocking”, said Senator Feinstein

      “The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking. The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.

    • Feinstein takes on the CIA

      Future American historians will marvel at how long the CIA engaged in such utter unconstitutional lawlessness as the torture of its captives and drone-plane executions of alleged terrorists — including U.S. citizens — without trials, using “kill lists” provided by President Barack Obama.

    • Federal Judge: Pennsylvania’s Law Banning Same-Sex Marriage Is Unconstitutional

      A federal judge has ruled that Pennsylvania’s state law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, bringing the total number of state marriage amendments to be overturned in the federal courts over the past year to over a dozen. Pennsylvania is one of the five states that does not have marriage equality but only has a state law banning it — not a state constitutional amendment. The decision did not include a stay, which means couples could possibly begin applying for marriages immediately immediately. Pennsylvania law, however requires a 3-day waiting period between when an application is filed and when a license can be issued, which could prevent any marriages from being finalized should the 3rd Circuit issue an emergency stay.

    • AT&T hacker invoices Justice Dept. for time spent in federal prison

      A computer hacker who was released early from prison last month due to a federal appeals court decision is demanding that the Justice Department pay him for what he calls acts of fraud and violence committed by the United States government.

      On Tuesday, 28-year-old Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Arkansas published an open letter addressed to the members of the New Jersey Direct Court and US Department of Justice who oversaw his 2012 conviction for computer hacking and identity fraud vacated last month by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

    • AT&T hacker wants government to pay him $13M

      Andrew ‘weev’ Auernheimer, whose struggles with federal prosecutors have fueled calls for reforming the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), wants the government to pay him $13 million for taking away his freedom for the past three years.

    • Some Kids Get Charged Twice for One Crime

      A little-known aspect of the juvenile justice system requires young offenders to pay for their own prosecution and incarceration.

    • Fmr CIA spy criticises US policy to ban use of vaccination programs as cover for spy operations
    • White House: CIA has ended use of vaccine programmes

      The CIA has ended the use of vaccine programmes in its spying operations amid concerns for the safety of health workers, the White House has said.

      In a letter to US public health schools, a White House aide said the CIA stopped such practices in August.

      The CIA used a fake vaccine programme to try to find Osama Bin Laden before US special forces killed him in 2011.

    • CIA will not use vaccination schemes for spying, says White House official
    • CIA To Stop Using Vaccination Schemes As Cover
    • Missing MH370: Ex-Malaysian PM hints at CIA conspiracy and claims ‘someone is hiding something’

      The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, has accused the CIA of possibly knowing the whereabouts of missing flight MH370.

      Dr Mahathir says that someone is hiding something because if the plane’s GPS system failed then Boeing or the US government agency would know why.

    • Missing MH370: CIA ‘Withholding Information About Flight Disappearance’ says Ex-Malysia PM Mahathir Mohamad
    • Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: ‘CIA hiding something’ claims former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad

      The former Prime Minister of Malaysia has accused a US intelligence agency and the Boeing aircraft firm of concealing the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which has been missing since 8 March.

    • Historian: Espionage Not Just for CIA, KGB Anymore

      Get ready to live in a world without privacy or secrecy, warns historian Richard Aldrich, who specializes in intelligence gathering and espionage.

      Speaking at the PINC 15 conference in Amsterdam, Aldrich said it’s not just government agencies that are spying on us now.

      According to Wired, Aldrich believes the big intelligence gatherers are now airlines, banks, Internet providers, and others.

    • The Guantánamo “Suicides” Revisited: Did CIA Hide Deaths of Tortured Prisoners at Secret Site?

      In one of the great mysteries of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, three prisoners, two from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen, died the night of June 9, 2006. Authorities at Guantánamo said the three men — Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, Salah Ahmed al-Salami and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi — had killed themselves. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, described their deaths as an “act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”

    • Report Explores Possible CIA Cover-Up At Guantanamo

      “If we look at the original report that was released some years ago, about four years ago now, it gave a narrative of how these three prisoners committed suicide in their cells simultaneously and in a rather strange way,” Horton explained. “When we reviewed that account with well-known medical examiners, they all had the same conclusion, which was: impossible. No one has ever committed suicide that way and it’s pretty much impossible to do.”

    • Torture Report for Public Isn’t Ready, CIA Says

      On the hook to release a redacted version of the so-called torture report, the CIA has asked a federal judge for more time to review the study by the Senate Intelligence Committee that harshly criticizes its interrogation techniques.

    • Stop revolving door between Human Rights Watch and the C.I.A.

      Why did Human Rights Watch select a former CIA official to sit on its advisory committee for eight years?

      That’s a question two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, a former UN assistant secretary general, a UN special rapporteur, and over 100 scholars are asking HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth in an open letter. They note that Miguel Díaz, a CIA analyst in the 1990s, served as an advisor on human rights to HRW Americas from 2003-11 before moving back into government, as a State Department “interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts.”

    • Wyoming drafts bill to reintroduce firing squads for executions

      Wyoming has become the latest death penalty state to consider a return to the firing squad, as concern rises over the scarcity and secrecy surrounding medical drugs used in lethal injections.

      State legislators have begun to draft a bill that they plan to introduce in Wyoming’s next legislative session that would reintroduce executions at the point of a gun. The move was prompted, elected members said, by the drought in lethal injection drugs caused by a pharmaceutical boycott of US death chambers.

      The Wyoming move adds to a mounting sense of crisis across the US in the practice of the death penalty, which is arguably more profound that at any time since a federal moratorium was imposed by the supreme court in Furman V Georgia in 1972. Utah is also considering reviving the firing squad, which it abolished for all death sentences handed down since 2004, and states including Missouri have also debated the return of the gas chamber.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Lawmakers to FCC: stop mulling net neutrality reclassification

      Republican legislators don’t even want the Federal Communications Commission to think about reclassifying broadband as a utility—a route the regulator could take in order to reinstate net neutrality rules.

    • The Net Neutrality Hysteria

      Mania is peaking over the “open Internet,” but the last thing you should want is the FCC getting involved.

      [...]

      The public can find a lot of ways to punish a corporation that abuses its privileges. This situation should not be escalated to the point that the FCC has anything to do with it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Son of ACTA pours fuel on IP trade fire

      Activists are mobilising against another international trade treaty, with the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations between America and the EU starting to cause angst.

    • European Milk Board rejects TTIP agreement

      European milk producers are calling for the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement negotiations between the USA and the EU to cease.

      It says: “The negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – the TTIP – are causing the European Milk Board (EMB) great concern.

    • Copyrights

      • These five MEP candidates care about your digital right

        The European Elections are upon us and several groups are keen to see as many pro-digital rights MEPs elected as possible. A campaign called WePromise.eu is encouraging MEP candidates to support a charter of 10 digital rights principles, and in returning is encouraging citizens to pledge their votes to those candidates.

        Wired.co.uk has picked out five MEPs and wannabes who have shown real dedication to supporting digital rights with input from the Open Rights Group, which is supporting the WePromise campaign, and the Pirate Party, which has many of its candidates signed up to the charter.

      • Supreme Court Rejects Application of Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde

        The Swedish Supreme Court has rejected an application by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde to have his case reopened. Based on new EU rulings, Sunde’s legal team argued that he cannot be held responsible for copyright infringements carried out by users of The Pirate Bay, but the Court didn’t see any reason to reopen the case.

      • Shameful: American Society Of Civil Engineers Issues DMCA Notices Against Academics For Posting Their Own Research

        As we’ve pointed out many times in the past, the originally stated purpose of copyright law was to encourage the sharing of scientific knowledge for the purpose of learning. The first copyright act in the US was actually entitled “for the encouragement of learning.” Yet, as copyright law has evolved, it’s frequently been used to make learning much more difficult. Just a few months ago, we covered how publishing giant Elsevier had started to demand that academics who had published their own research on Academia.edu take down those works. As we noted then, while big journal publishers often demand that academics hand over their copyright in order to get published, they usually would either grant an exception for an academic to post their own work, or at least look the other way when the academics would do so. And many, many academics obviously decided to post their own papers to the web.

World’s Largest Population Heading Towards GNU/Linux Because Windows is Not Secure (NSA Trojan Horse)

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stallman in China
Stallman’s trip to China; image from stallman.org

Summary: Following espionage and other incidents of cracking against China the government decides to ban the latest Windows while encouraging the population to abandon Windows

An interesting but unsurprising report from Reuters revealed some fairly important news from China, whose government is saying no to Windows (latest version). This is even characterised as a ban. To quote one report: “The Chinese government has announced that its agencies will be forbidden from upgrading their ageing and end-of-life Windows XP systems to Windows 8.1, banning Microsoft’s latest operating system in the name of security.”

Vista 8 is banned not just because it is terrible but because it is a threat to national security [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. This is a significant turning point which may lead other governments to pretty much the same policy.

This exodus oughtn’t be too shocking given some recent news from China about GNU/Linux. Richard Stallman visits the country these days (delivering talks and other such activities) while Chinese people are urged by their government to embrace GNU/Linux (there are calls for migration on national television). There is state support for these efforts. NSA-Microsoft ties, in addition to cracking against Huawei, may further contribute to this. Don’t be shocked if Bill Gates already books some plane tickets or prepares his private jet for a trip to China.

Vista 7 is a horrible mess too, no matter the hype Microsoft spent billions to produce. Watch what happened at Emory this past week. This was summarised by a pro-Windows sites that said “Whoops! Emory University server sent reformat request to all of its Windows 7 PCs” (link).

There was a fair deal of coverage about it. Neowin wrote:

Sometimes, there are incidents that take place that remind people who use PCs to back up their files on a regular basis. Such an event happened earlier this week at Emory University in Atlanta, where an “accident” resulted in a server sending out a reformat request to all of the Windows 7 PCs at the school, including the server that sent out the request itself.

How highly insecure. Remember that the NSA built back doors into Windows, so imagine what it can do with ‘features’ like the above, e.g. at times of war.

What such idiocy may cause for national security should teach everyone to abandon Windows immediately, especially in the public sector.

Germany is now introducing new procurement rules that take into account NSA espionage. It also forbade UEFI (on government computers), perhaps foreseeing the bricking of hardware remotely (yes, it enables rendering PCs “bricks” [1, 2]). Disregard the new spin and the hogwash from Linux Journal; it is written by Doran from Intel; it’s basically advertising of restricted boot, portraying it as benign while masquerading as an informative article. Intel and Microsoft must be desperate for some kind of new lock-in.

It is worth adding that Microsoft is far worse than Google when it comes to NSA connections, no matter what it’s extremely misleading attack ads say/insinuate. Here is a decent new blog post that says:

In the battle between office productivity vendors, Microsoft has long distanced itself from Google GOOGL +1.72% claiming that the fact that Google scans emails in order to deliver contextual advertising to customers is a data security breach. Never mind that the scanning was completely anonymized and digital – Microsoft leveraged the conspiracy theory that it was somehow a case of Google employees reading all of our email.

China already develops mobile operating systems that are based on Android/Linux (COS for example). These can help assure China’s national sovereignty. They deserve it.

New Claims That Brendan Eich Got Abused and Pushed Out for Opposing DRM, Not for Opposing Gay Marriage Some Time in the Past

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software at 10:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brendan Eich
Photo by Darcy Padilla

Summary: A look at Brendan Eich’s musings from some months ago reveals hostility, as a matter of principle, towards DRM and some other items which suggest turf wars might be going on inside Mozilla

This sure is fascinating. Following the widely-chastised decision to embrace DRM it turns out that Eich was against the decision. We congratulated him for being a FOSS proponent who can end Mono dependence back when he was first appointed CEO and even before that. Remember that the patron of Firefox, Mozilla, was quick to embrace Ogg (we love Ogg), but later disappointed many of us by liaising with MPEG-LA (essentially stomping on the whole policy of supporting Ogg at the core). There certainly seems to be a turf war inside Mozilla. This is probably why Eich got ejected (through intense pressure on him).

With DRM and MPEG, Mozilla Firefox is no longer a FOSS browser. According to this one new blog post, DRM was why Brendan Eich had to go. “Eich stood firmly in the way of Mozilla incorporating DRM into Firefox,” says the source. Eich is a FOSS supporter, so this makes sense. Without him, Firefox can become FOSS only in the Chrome sense (FOSS with many blobs on top). Here is what Eich wrote in his site: “I continue to collaborate with others, including some in Hollywood, on watermarking, not DRM.”

He also said “DRM is about gaining leverage over “playback devices” and ultimately “users” in order to jack prices a bit” (source). To quote another take on it:

Eich stood firmly in the way of Mozilla incorporating DRM into Firefox. Now that he’s gone, and his technological authority with him, Mozilla immediately caved to Hollywood interests. It’s also interesting to note that the justification for Mozilla making this change is given as fear that users will abandon them. That demonstrates that the campaign to #uninstallfirefox was based on a sound principle, even if it was not quite as successful as I would have liked it to be.

Well, guess what, Mozilla? The treatment of Eich and promotion of DRM will do huge harm to Firefox and Mozilla. Many people disagreed with a position that Eich held outside his professional field half a decade ago, but those same people strongly disagree with the way some people in Mozilla treated Eich, not to mention the actions taken after his departure. Mozilla seems to be suffering an identity crisis of some kind.

With Moodlerooms, Blackboard is Almost Killing the Free Software Project (Moodle)

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Blackboard seems to be ‘pulling a Microsoft’ on an essential FOSS project that makes Blackboard redundant

Moodle is a fantastic and comprehensive piece of free/libre software. I use it at work. I have it installed in my own Web site as well, having set up and configured Moodle for clients. It’s an impressive collection of software for which I produced some documentation, so seeing how Blackboard is trying to ruin it feels quite personal. First Blackboard was exploring patent litigation and now it uses “embrace, extend, and extinguish” (the Microsoft modus operandi).

According to this new post, there is threat to Moodle and Blackboard is involved. To quote: “When services are not conveying but users interact the GPL does not seem to come into play. While companies like Moodlerooms allege they donate a lot of funding to Moodle, we are unable to use the source code from this deriv because it is “Cloud” based and no copies are distributed.

“I was absolutely surprised when I saw that Moodlerooms did not have a GPL notice on their website. I was confused, shocked and dismayed when I realized they were not required to have one. Honestly, they use Moodle as a backend. They use both 1.9x (GPL v2) and 2.x (GPL v3). At least, according to their Joule documentation, this is how their service works.

“They take a 1.9x course and archive it. They then use 2.x to convert this to Common Cartridge format for importing to Learning Management Systems like Moodle and Blackboard – the company who bought them or whatever – Blackboard is proprietary. Moodlerooms code and Joule is closed source even though it uses open source.

“The interface of Moodlerooms is admittedly Moodle. The look and feel is exactly Moodle. The processes on the back are not seen, but seems like a simple backup, restore, export process.

“However, maybe I want to see the code. I cannot. This is a service.”

Remember that Moodlerooms is now controlled by the biggest enemy of Moodle which is linked to Microsoft. The author of the rant does not seem to note this (perhaps unaware).

Apple is Abandoning Steve Jobs’ Thermonuclear War on Linux/Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Samsung at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple is reportedly folding and moving away from the counterproductive war that Steve Jobs started before his death

There are indications in the media (both large and small outlets) that after vicious attacks against HTC Apple may end litigation against Samsung, quite similarly. As one person put it: “The long and drawn out battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple over the ownership of various intellectual properties may be coming to a close.”

Samsung and Apple have been in the courts for years (only lawyers won). Apple started it all because Apple is silly and it was headed by an arrogant man at the time. To quote HBR:

Look out across today’s ultra-competitive smartphone market and you’ll see something resembling the religious wars of the Middle Ages. This is no quaint summer-weekend reenactment. The weapons being brandished are devilishly constructed patents; the rules of engagement the arcane procedures of federal courts. And the havoc being wreaked — in higher prices, banned devices, and stifled innovation — is laying waste to the industry landscape.

The central battle pits Apple against everyone and everything involved with Android, Google’s open source operating system.

Android’s release, for Apple’s late founder and CEO Steve Jobs, was the ultimate heresy. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to,” Jobs is quoted as saying in a series of jeremiads, “and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40bn in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

And so Apple has. Between 2006 and 2012, the company was involved, sometimes as plaintiff and sometimes as defendant, in nearly 150 patent lawsuits around the world over various features of its iPhone — including hardware, software, and product design.

Like the religious wars of old, a complex web of alliances, side agreements, and mutual defense pacts have conspired to draw the entire industry into open warfare. Sony is suing LG. Nokia is suing HTC. Motorola (owned by Google since 2011) is suing and being sued by everyone.

Based on this other new report, Apple is close to giving up, having failed to tax Android in any significant way. Reuters says the following:

Apple Inc and Google Inc’s Motorola Mobility unit have agreed to settle all patent litigation between them over smartphone technology, ending one of the highest profile lawsuits in technology.

In a joint statement on Friday, the companies said the settlement does not include a cross license to their respective patents.

“Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform,” the statement said.

Apple and companies that make phones using Google’s Android software have filed dozens of such lawsuits against each other around the world to protect their technology. Apple argued that Android phones that use Google software copy its iPhones.

It is starting to look like Apple is admitting defeat and abandoning Jobs’ aggressive legacy. It is worth noting that Apple has launched no new major cases since Jobs died. It is a good sign because it may mean that Apple as an aggressor in the courtroom might be a dead legacy.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts