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06.21.14

Links 21/6/2014: Russia Dumps x86/Wintel, Steam Summer Sale is On

Posted in News Roundup, Site News at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-Source Tool Aimed At Propelling Honeypots Into the Mainstream

    Researchers have built a free open-source honeypot software program aimed at propelling the hacker decoys into security weapons for everyday organizations.

  • Google investing $50 million to get girls to code

    Google conducted research to determine why girls are opting out of learning how to code? As a result Google found that most girls decide before they even enter college whether they want to learn to code—so the Tech-world must win them over them at a young age. They also found that there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science: social encouragement, self-perception, academic exposure and career perception. According to recent studies less than 1 percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla working on a WordPress, Disqus competitor?
      • ​How to Try Firefox OS Apps on Android

        Android: Mozilla is best known for its web browser, but the company also produces Firefox OS for a limited number of handsets. With a little sideways thinking, though, you can try some of its apps in Android.

        Much like Google Chrome, Firefox supports webapps—the OS and apps are built with the same technology—and this is how you can bring Firefox OS to Android. Apps work like browser extensions, so they take up very little room making them ideal for older devices or those with limited storage. Download a copy of Firefox for Android from the Google Play Store, or update your existing copy to 29 or above.

        Fire up Firefox and visit the Firefox Marketplace, the Firefox version of Google Play or the Chrome Web Store. Take a browse through the Marketplace and tap an app that takes your fancy. Just as with regular Android apps, Firefox OS apps let you know about the permissions they need, and you have to accept this before you install anything.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • It’s time to stop the open-on-open violence in cloud computing

      A Structure conference panel discussing the state of open source cloud computing agreed that open source clouds need to get easier to use, but not on much else.

    • LeaseWeb Offers CloudStack-based Flat-Fee Private Cloud Service
    • Why I Built OwnCloud and Made It Open Source

      There I was, 4 years ago (this past January) at CampKDE in San Diego, giving a talk on data privacy, warning the audience about the risks to their privacy from cloud vendors – in particular, Dropbox. So, build it yourself they said. Sure, I’ve built things in the past, so sure, I’ll do it. And there is where I started my odyssey, first, to protect myself, my friends and my colleagues from the snooping of governments, and other bad guys, and later – as I saw the worldwide interest grow – to build a real and successful project.

      I had to decide a few things before I got started of course, including what it is I wanted ownCloud to do, what development platform to use, how I wanted to structure ownCloud, and of course, to name it ownCloud.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.3 RC1 Get Multiple DOCX Improvements
    • LibreOffice 4.2.5 Released with Fixes from 800 Contributors

      The Document Foundation has announced that the final version for LibreOffice 4.2.5 has been released for all the available platforms, including Linux.

      This is just a maintenance release for the 4.2.x branch, but users of this particular version should consider upgrading nonetheless. The developers have squashed numerous bugs for this release and that can be easily observed from the changelog,

      LibreOffice 4.2.5 is now the most advanced build available from The Document Foundation, but the developers maintain a number of other branches as well. Users will be able to find the 4.1.6, 4.2.3, and 4.2.4 downloads on the official website…

  • BSD

Leftovers

  • After Forty-Seven Years, Computerworld, Tech Publishing’s Elder Statesman, is a Print Publication No More

    The news comes three months after the passing of Pat McGovern, who started IDG in 1964 as a research firm and put out Computerworld with a tiny staff in its earliest days. It’s sad to think of IDG losing its founder and flagship print publication so close together, but in a way, it’s also fitting.

  • Maybe it’s time to consider a Gross Domestic Happiness Index

    Just for fun, I checked to see which countries are the wealthiest in the world, based on a ranking of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) World Factbook, the crown goes to energy-rich Qatar, where GDP per capita last year stood at more than $102,000 US.

    Rounding out the list of top-10 richest nations are Liechenstein, Macau, Bermuda, Monaco, Luxembourg, Singapore, Jersey, Norway, and the Falkland Islands.

    Paraguay ranked a lowly 143rd, with a GDP per capita of just $6,800 per person in 2013. In fact, most of the happiest countries according to the Gallup poll results failed to crack the top-100 list of the world’s wealthiest nations, based on the CIA’s data.

  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Reflections on Fascism

      Iraq is back, as in blowback: this replaces Ukraine for the moment, America always on the lookout for a situation which can be turned, because of US policy in the first place, into a source of provocation. Iraq, our intervention guaranteed internal civil war, here, with the gains of ISIS, a chance to return in some form, concentrated drone attacks, rather than so-called “boots on the ground,” possibly to inflame the entire region, itself destabilized for obvious reasons (protection of Israel and the continued plight of the Palestinians). As Spinney and Polk wrote in CounterPunch, contradiction plagues American policy, in this case, turning to Iran for help against ISIS while threatening Iran for some time with severe military and economic punishment. How Obama and Kerry can keep straight faces is one for the annals of war.

    • The Redrawing of the Map of the Middle East Begins with the Destruction of Iraq

      The US is playing all sides of this exploding conflict, towards larger US/NATO objectives.

      The invading force, ISIS, is a creation of the US CIA and oil-soaked US allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.It is an Al-Qaeda front. Al-Qaeda has been the military-intelligence arm of the CIA since the Cold War. ISIS is the Anglo-American empire’s leading military-intelligence army in its ongoing war against Syria.

    • Amerika’s “Third Crusade” In Iraq Is Having Trouble …

      Back in the early 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle produced a masterpiece entitled “Black Bush” – a comedic mockumentary of the events leading up to (and immediately following) the United States’ “second crusade” in Iraq, led by former president George W. Bush.

      [...]

      Now they’re our allies or something … sort of like al-Qaeda (who we were supporting in Syria) is now our enemy in Iraq.

    • Is Obama’s new Iraq strategy just a cover for expanding his secret war?

      At the White House on Thursday afternoon, the American president outlined an everything-but-the-war strategy that was classic Barack Obama: his press briefing offered perhaps a telling signal about his own expansive version of the Global War on Terror, while still managing to be subtly evasive about what he might actually do in Iraq.

      The US military will be increasing surveillance, Obama said, preparing to send military “advisers” to Iraq and urging, not so subtly, for a political shift away from Nouri al-Maliki’s government. He did not, of course, answer the question on everyone’s minds about how America plans to deal with the Iraq crisis: Will Obama engage in fighting to stabilize the country?

    • Pakistan condemns drone strike in North Waziristan

      Six suspected militants were killed in a drone strike in Miranshah Tehsil in North Waziristan, Pakistan, local tribesmen and Pakistani intelligence sources not authorized to speak to media told CNN on Wednesday.

      The drone struck a house and a pickup truck in the Daraga Mandi area of Miranshah, they said.

    • More than 400 US military drones lost in crashes: report
    • Dick Cheney Should be Rotting in The Hague, Not Writing Editorials

      This should be obvious to pretty everyone by now, but apparently the Wall Street Journal didn’t get the message. Today, the paper published an editorial by Cheney and his daughter Liz in which the former Vice President blasts the “collapsing Obama doctrine” of foreign policy.”

    • The U.N. Says 257 civilians Have Been Killed in East Ukraine but Refuses to Condemn the Ongoing Bombardment

      According to a recent report by the U.N. 356 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Of these 257 were civilians, 86 were Ukrainian military. If these numbers are accurate it would mean that only 13 separatists have been killed so far (I find that hard to believe). The real death toll is likely higher than this.

    • CNN Brings Back Those Who Were Wrong on Iraq

      TV coverage of the current Iraq crisis looks a lot like 2003, when pro-war pundits, former generals and hawkish politicians dominated the debate. CNN’s Situation Room, hosted by Wolf Blitzer, illustrates how TV has returned to that narrow, pro-government discussion of Iraq.

    • Bertrand Russell Society Calls for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Supports Lawsuit

      The Bertrand Russell Society held its 41st annual conference at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario on June 13-15, 2014. Dozens of academics, students, and Russell admirers from five countries and eight US states attended the conference, which featured presentations on various aspects of Russell’s diverse interests and works, including his work in logic and philosophy, and his political writing and activism. Bertrand Russell was one of the twentieth century’s most important and influential philosophers and public intellectuals. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, and he was a founder and early leader of the nuclear disarmament movement.

    • Obama Prepares for Drone War in Iraq

      President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he will send 300 Green Beret Army special operations soldiers to Iraq. They will be detailed to Iraqi National Army Headquarters and brigade HQs and their primary task will apparently be intelligence-gathering and helping with the Iraqi National Army response to the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). Likely the intelligence-gathering in turn is intended to allow the deployment in Iraq of American drones. At the moment, the US has no good intelligence on the basis of which to fly the drones.

    • Iraq strategy: Obama, Congress leaders meeting

      Obama has ruled out returning combat troops to Iraq in order to quell the insurgency. However, he has notified Congress that up to 275 armed U.S. forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. interests.

    • Best Case Against Attacking Iraq? The Last Attack On Iraq

      As the latest reporting from both Baghdad and Washington, D.C. reveal diplomatic machinations paving the way for possible U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, increasing numbers of people are asking President Obama—and the American people—to look at the repeated and failed policy of military intervention in the region as the best argument against making the same mistake yet again.

    • Local Christians unite to protest for peace

      Critics claim these drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including children.

    • Pentagon crashed more than 400 military drones
    • 400 drones crashed since 2001, six in Pakistan

      More than 400 large US military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

    • Military drones fall from the sky

      The unmanned military planes have slammed into homes, farms, runways and a transport plane in midair.

    • Drones crash with alarming frequency

      Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge.

    • Report: Over 400 Military Drones Have Crashed Since 2001
  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Criminal Justice Media’s ‘Twisted’ Coverage

      Khan strayed from most media coverage around New York’s “biggest gang raid ever” by writing about the people living in the housing projects at the heart of the early-morning 400+ officer raid (complete with helicopters and riot gear), and by including voices of residents critical of it. The initial New York Times story (6/4/14) included only official accounts. The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post (6/4/14) printed Facebook quotes of some of the teenagers indicted (an apparent attempt to prove their guilt in the court of public opinion–a guilt assumed by the headline’s flat assertion about “Rival Gangs Arrested”), as well as quotes from the Manhattan district attorney and residents offering comments supportive of the end to alleged violence–if not the raid itself.

      [...]

      It’s of course this type of media objectivity that allows for authorities to dominate public discourse through the virtual invisibility of criticism. Their heightened voice, made possible by the media’s willingness to become echo chambers for them, point to a relationship where the line between media and the state is blurred.

  • Censorship

    • Laziness Is Censoring the Internet

      Every time a government attempts to censor the Internet and block access to websites, advocates of Web freedom ritually respond that the effort is useless: Technology will beat police action every time. It’s true — but only to the extent that people are interested in resisting. Most aren’t, which is why governments have not stopped messing with site blockages and other Web restrictions.

      A few days ago, Iraq blocked the social networks, as beleaguered governments sometimes do, believing it would cut off activists from each other and stop them from organizing. Immediately, traffic to Tor, the anonymous network supported by volunteers throughout the world, rocketed…

    • Twitter ends censorship of ‘blasphemous’ tweets after #TwitterTheocracy campaign
    • Government of [CENSORED] censors cyberbullying docs

      The Star has obtained documents related to the Conservatives’ controversial Internet surveillance bill that have been heavily censored — even blocking out the “Canada” in “Government of Canada.”

  • Privacy

    • Don’t panic about Facebook outages, the NSA has your back

      Yet they don’t seem to think about what they lose when Facebook hands that personal data over to the NSA, or to any other security or intelligence authorities, such as GCHQ in the UK.

    • EU judgement on Facebook to take over a year

      Any EU-level judgement on a case filed against Facebook for its alleged involvement in helping the Americans snoop on millions of people is likely to take over a year.

    • The case that might cripple FacebookThe case that might cripple Facebook
    • Top 10 Reasons Why Corporate Social Media is Not Your Friend, and Dark Social Media Is

      Facebook currently limits the number of your “friends” who can see your posts to about 7 or 8%. What? You thought that “friends” list was yours? It’s not. It’s theirs. And think about it, if you had a thousand friends, and 25 of them, that’s 2.5% posted 3 or 4 times a day, another 25 posted once a day, and a hundred posted once a week, that would be at least 150 daily posts for you to comb through, leaving little room for Facebook to insert ads and promoted content which customers have paid for into your news feed.

    • The German Government has reportedly tightened tender rules for sensitive public IT contracts

      The German Government has reportedly tightened the rules for awarding sensitive public IT contracts, following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the US National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) mass surveillance activities.

    • Opinion: Where is Europe’s outrage?

      One year ago, Europeans were livid when Edward Snowden revealed NSA mass surveillance of European citizens. Now that new documents show most EU countries are in cahoots with the NSA, the public remains mostly mum.

    • House votes 293-123 to cut funding for NSA spying on Americans
    • EU states let NSA tap data cables, Danish media say
    • Danes tapped Norway data for NSA: Information

      Denmark’s Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS) is intercepting data sent through fibre cables from Norway, according to newly published documents leaked from the US’s National Security Agency (NSA)

    • NSA Working With Denmark, Germany To Access ‘Three Terabits Of Data Per Second’ From Overseas Cables

      Another set of leaked NSA documents has been posted in a team effort by The Intercept and Danish newspaper Dagbladet. This one deals with the NSA’s RAMPART-A program, a surveillance effort that depends on the cooperation of involved countries to be successful. As the NSA has always made an effort to point out, its interception of foreign communications is both completely legal and the sort of thing people would expect a national security agency to be doing.

    • NSA uses 33 countries to intercept web traffic – Snowden Files
    • UK urged to give Germany access to RAF base that ‘helped spy on Merkel’

      The UK needs to grant Germany access to RAF Croughton military base which reportedly hosts a joint CIA/NSA unit, a Labor MP told British PM David Cameron, urging him to help the German federal investigation of the phone tapping of Angela Merkel.

    • Scenes of the NSA Are Watching Over the London Underground

      Paglen’s latest work, a site-specific piece for the London Underground stop, is a huge photographic panorama that depicts the area surrounding Menwith Hill, an RAF base used by the NSA. At first glance, the landscape is idyllic and unmistakably British, with luscious green fields and a smattering of stone cottages. But lurking on the horizon are a series of white bubbles; a rare but tell-tale physical sign of the secretive surveillance conducted by the security agency.

    • ZOMG! The FBI commissioned this WTF list of netspeak
    • British gov’t reportedly intercepting conversations from Facebook, Twitter, and Google

      The British government is reportedly intercepting communications from social networks, emails and text messages even when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing. According to a report from Privacy International, British spy agencies have been monitoring the Facebook and Twitter activity of every Internet user in the country. Authorities are also said to be collecting data on people’s web searches and emails.

    • How did ‘don’t mess with the money’ become the NSA’s motto?

      So why doesn’t the NSA start watching Wall Street’s agents of financial terror? Why don’t its snoops look into every nook and cranny of our economy where investment bankers, hedge fund managers, private equity kingpins, and derivative wheeler-dealers are trading inside information and rigging markets, milking mergers and nuking jobs, all the while stuffing multiple millions (or billions) in their pockets?

    • House Votes to Defund NSA ‘Backdoor’ Searches
    • House unexpectedly votes to stop warrantless NSA searches

      In what’s being billed as a momentum boost for anti-surveillance advocates, the US House of Representative on Thursday approved an amendment that significantly reigns in warrantless searches on Americans’ communication records.

    • Here’s how the NSA snoops on India

      According to these documents, India is an “Approved SIGINT partner” with the NSA. SIGINT is a common term used in intelligence circles that stands for signals Intelligence, and refers to capturing of communication between two people. Decrypting of messages, traffic analysis etc are also part of SIGINT. The agency then taps these SIGINT partnerships for creating two major programs called RAMPART-A and WINDSTOP for collecting data in transit between the source and the servers, as opposed to collecting data from each Internet company (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo) separately. Considering WINDSTOP only partners with second parties, primarily the UK, to access communications into and out of Europe and Middle East, third-party partner like India should fall under RAMPART-A.

    • Can you spy on a phone when it is turned off?

      Whether you consider Edward Snowden a traitor or a patriot, before he hit the news most people didn’t give much thought to government spying on everyday citizens. During a recent interview, he said that the NSA has the ability to spy on your smartphone, even if it’s turned off.

    • Spook Rebuke

      Keep in mind what the NSA is up to. This goes well beyond a sniffer program scanning Karachi-bound text messages for “Death to the Great Satan! Allahu Akbar!” The NSA has been intercepting laptop computers being shipped to customers in order to install software bugs in them, redirecting Web traffic to install malware on computers, installing agents in video games, and generally behaving like an implausible villain in a Robert Ludlum novel. It is using the flimsiest rationales to extend its surveillance to domestic targets. The toothless USA Freedom Bill passed by the House last month was intended to curtail some of this, but would have relatively little practical effect even if it were to become law, its enforcement protocols being remarkably loosey-goosey. The bipartisan amendment put forth by Kentucky’s Thomas Massie (R.) and California’s Zoe Lofgren (D.) passed 293 to 123, and would impose funding restrictions as well as implement a specific ban on any agency effort “to mandate or request that a person redesign its product or service to facilitate” surveillance.

    • NSA helps foreign governments conduct mass surveillance at home

      A new release of Snowden’s leaked NSA docs detail RAMPART-A, through which the NSA gives foreign governments the ability to conduct mass surveillance against their own populations in exchange for NSA access to their communications. RAMPART-A, is spread across 13 sites, accesses three terabytes/second from 70 cables and networks. It cost US taxpayers $170M between 2011 and 2013, allocated through the NSA’s “black budget.”

    • Senator Wyden Congratulates House on Bipartisan Vote to Ban Backdoor Searches
    • House backs limits on government spying
    • New leaks show Germany’s collusion with NSA

      Several new Snowden-leaked documents show how closely Germany’s intelligence agencies work with the NSA. But did the German government deliberately soften laws protecting privacy to make life easier for them?

    • Even The NSA Likes Final Fantasy

      Documents published earlier this week by German magazine Der Spiegel reveal that one of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs in Germany was named “WILDCHOCOBO.”

    • WILDCHOCOBO: Evidence of Final Fantasy fans at the NSA?
    • Germany opens criminal probe into spying operations by NSA

      Germany’s lead federal prosecutor has opened a criminal probe into espionage operations by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the nation’s leadership; especially the allegation of NSA’s spying against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • House passes measure aimed at NSA snooping

      The House on Friday passed a defense spending bill with an amendment that would bar the National Security Agency from conducting warrantless searches of its databases for Americans’ communications records.

    • Court Approves NSA Gathering of Phone Metadata for Three More Months

      U.S. intelligence officials disclosed late Friday that the Obama administration has received approval from a special federal court to continue the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata for another three months.

    • US lawmakers pass bill to curb NSA
    • House votes to expand protections against NSA
    • European Union’s Highest Court To Consider PRISM’s Impact On EU Data Protection Laws
    • Edward Snowden won’t meet with German officials in Moscow
    • Edward Snowden rejects German plans for meeting in Moscow
    • Digital Rights Activist Hails House Vote on Bill Limiting NSA Surveillance

      In an unusual show of bipartisan unity, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a funding bill Friday with an amendment, co-sponsored by San Jose Democrat Zoe Lofgren, that would limit the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency.

    • “Politically Explosive” Docs Show How NSA Wiretaps Earth
    • Fisa court grants extension of licence for bulk collection of US phone records
    • Macedonia gave permission to NSA to spy on citizens?

      The United States has made top-secret deals with more than 30 third-party countries so that the National Security Agency can tap into fiber optic cables carrying internet data in those parts of the world, new leaks reveal.

    • U.S. Government at War With Itself Over Civil Liberties

      Over the past year, the United States government has been in the news a lot for its efforts to undermine the Internet’s basic privacy and security protocols.

      There were the Edward Snowden revelations about the National Security Agency sweeping up metadata, paying contractors to embed backdoors into their security technologies, hacking various private accounts of network administrators and developing malware to infect computers.

    • Another US spying problem in Latin America: The DEA

      Rousseff summed it all up rather succinctly in a blunt speech at the United Nations last September, denouncing “a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.”

    • Canadians Don’t Trust the Harper Government’s New Cyberbullying Bill

      Canadians were largely unmoved by the Edward Snowden leaks and the disclosure of mass surveillance programs like PRISM, with few showing any serious worries about domestic government surveillance in a poll by Abacus Data in June 2013. But now a new poll by Forum Research suggests Canadians are growing suspicious of the latest Conservative cyberbullying bill C-13, with most rejecting a piece of legislation many think is more about beefing up government surveillance powers than protecting teens from bullies.

    • Cops hid use of phone tracking tech in court documents at feds’ request

      ACLU uncovers e-mails regarding Stingray devices borrowed from US Marshals Service.

    • Stingray Documents Show Law Enforcement Using ‘Terrorism’ To Obtain Equipment To Fight Regular Crime

      Scott Ainslie at MuckRock has pried loose a few more Stingray documents with a FOIA request. What was requested were contractual documents, which seem to be something law enforcement agencies feel more comfortable with releasing. Anything pertaining to the actual use of Stingray devices still remains heavily shrouded, thanks in no small part to the intercession of the federal government.

    • Lawyers, locals react to WPD’s surveillance device

      The Wilmington Police Department has surveillance equipment called Stingray. It turns your phone into a tracking device, giving law enforcement crucial information on where you are. But it might violate your rights.

    • Glenn Greenwald On Why Privacy Is Vital, Even If You ‘Have Nothing To Hide’

      Journalist Glenn Greenwald defended the value of digital privacy and slammed those who dismiss its importance during a stop on his national book tour Thursday.

      “We all need places where we can go to explore without the judgmental eyes of other people being cast upon us,” he said. “Only in a realm where we’re not being watched can we really test the limits of who we want to be. It’s really in the private realm where dissent, creativity and personal exploration lie.”

      He said that people who downplay the importance of privacy typically say, “I have nothing to hide.” But, he added, those people aren’t willing to publish their social media and email passwords.

    • US House Votes To Cut Funding For NSA Spying On American Citizens

      Even when the government conducts secret activities, those ventures have to be funded, and a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last night took a swipe at the NSA’s domestic spying practices by cutting some of its funding.

    • Tell a lie, remove the gear: How the NSA covers up when cable taps are found

      On March 14, 2013, an SSO weekly briefing included a note regarding such a discovery. The unit had been informed two days earlier that “the access point for WHARPDRIVE was discovered by commercial consortium personnel. Witting partner personnel have removed the evidence and a plausible cover story was provided. All collection has ceased.”

      According to Der Spiegel, Wharpdrive was a fiber-optic cable tap (underseas fiber is often laid by consortia of companies, so it’s possible this took place at an onshore landing point for such a cable). Employees from one of the companies involved—though not the company that had a relationship with NSA and the German intelligence agency BND—apparently noticed some unusual gear and commented on it. In response, the company involved with the NSA (“witting partner personnel”) removed the tap and made up a story to explain what the gear in question had been doing.

    • The NSA in Germany: Snowden’s Documents Available for Download

      In Edward Snowden’s archive on NSA spying activities around the world, there are numerous documents pertaining to the agency’s operations in Germany and its cooperation with German agencies. SPIEGEL is publishing 53 of them, available as PDF files.

    • Interview with Ex-Stasi Agent: ‘The Scope of NSA Surveillance Surprised Me’

      During the Cold War, West Germany’s foreign intelligence service cooperated closely with the NSA. Klaus Eichner, an agent with the East German Stasi, monitored it at the time, and now he tells SPIEGEL what he knew about the collaboration.

    • Watchdog urges EU leaders to shield citizens from snooping

      European Union countries need stricter controls to protect citizens from spying, a top data protection official said on Thursday, a warning that may rekindle a debate about snooping before an EU summit next week.

    • NSA Reform Gathers Momentum In Congress After Late-Night Vote

      After a somewhat desultory year of little to no change, reform of the United States surveillance state appears to have finally found momentum.

      Recently the USA FREEDOM Act was gutted and rammed through the House, and two funding amendments that would have cut monies for forced backdoors and certain government searches failed.

      Last night, however, the House passed a single amendment to the military funding bill that did what the two failed amendments had attempted. At once, a large House majority had taken an unambiguous stand against certain parts of the government’s surveillance activities.

    • Congress wants NSA reform after all. Obama and the Senate need to pass it

      An overwhelming House vote to cut funds for back doors into your private life sets up a summer surveillance fight: will the Senate stand up before the White House shuts it down?

    • Reps. Goodlatte And Ruppersberger Admit That NSA Is Warrantlessly Spying On Americans’ Communications

      We’ve already written about the surprising, but encouraging, vote late last night to defund backdoor searches by the NSA. But it’s worth looking at some of the floor debate on the amendment last night — in particular the push against the amendment from Reps. Goodlatte and Ruppersberger, who both appear to flat out admit that the NSA does warrantless spying on Americans’ communications, in direct contrast to earlier claims. The reasons for these two to argue against the amendment are clear. Goodlatte was the guy who negotiated the “deal” with the White House and the House Intelligence Committee to completely water down the USA Freedom Act, and he knows that this amendment puts some of the substance that he stripped out right back in. Ruppersberger, of course, represents the district where the NSA is headquartered, and is the ranking member for the House Intelligence Committee. His loyalty to the NSA over the American public has always been clear. But to have them basically admit that the NSA does warrantless spying on Americans is quite impressive.

    • 38 Civil Liberties and Public Interest Organizations Call on Congress to Pass Real NSA Reform

      A bipartisan coalition of 38 civil liberties and public interest organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sent a letter to Congress yesterday that draws a line in the sand on NSA reform. The coalition made it clear that it cannot support the watered-down version of the USA FREEDOM Act passed in the House of Representatives without significant changes to the legislation, and outlined clear steps that Congress can take to address problems with the bill.

    • Amash spokesman: ‘Congress is clued in’ on NSA spying programs with passage of bipartisan proposal
    • House Votes To Defund Warrantless Communications Searches

      The House voted 293 to 123 late Thursday to approve amendments to a Defense appropriations bill (HR 4670) that would defund warrantless seraches of NSA-collected communications and prevent the NSA and CIA from requiring products have “back doors” that allow them to more easily conduct searches.

    • More Than $116K Has Been Raised in 3 Days for NSA-Proof Encrypted Email

      Roughly three days ago, an Indiegogo surfaced promising “to protect people around the world from the mass surveillance that is currently being perpetrated by governments and corporations around the world.” More than $116,000 has already been raised, and that’s without the viral guidance of media attention.

    • Inflation? Only If You Look At Food, Water, Gas, Electricity And Everything Else

      Anyone that has to regularly pay for food, water, gas, electricity or anything else knows that inflation is too high. In fact, if inflation was calculated the same way that it was back in 1980, the inflation rate would be close to 10 percent right now.

    • The Supreme Court is about to decide what police can do with your phone

      Within the next week, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to decide on a pair of cases that will have major implications for the over 91 percent of Americans who carry a cellphone. At issue is the question of whether police officers are legally allowed to search through the contents of someone’s phone—that is to say, much of a person’s private life—without first obtaining a warrant.

    • The NSA’s big problem, explained by the NSA

      Amongst the new trove of classified documents released by Der Speigel is a rather academic discussion, in the NSA’s own foreign affairs journal, about the differences between American signals intelligence collection and German signals intelligence collection.

      One passage in particular stands out, as it highlights how the Germans give far more weight to privacy than the NSA does.

    • How to Keep Public Support for Spying

      A poll suggests intelligence agencies could benefit from some controlled leaks.

    • Senators should take Snowden’s lead, shine light on NSA

      Former federal government contract worker Edward Snowden’s disclosures of virtually limitless surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency corroborated the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ wisdom that sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants.

  • Civil Rights

    • New Meme: Liberty Movement More Dangerous Than Al-Qaida

      Is the liberty movement more dangerous than al-Qaida? CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen thinks so.

    • How many Palestinians will die in the search for missing Israeli youths?

      Mustafa Aslan died on Friday afternoon after being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier at Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah a few hours previously. He was 22-years-old.

      Mustafa is the third Palestinian victim of the Israeli authorities’ ‘search’ for three teenagers – two Israeli and one US-Israeli – who went missing on 12 June after leaving the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion near Hebron.

    • Japan Brought an End to Gun Violence by Doing What The U.S. Won’t

      Let’s say it all together now: The United States has a problem with guns.

      Since the horrifying Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012, there have been 74 school shootings and 17,042 gun deaths.

      To the frustration of many Americans, a stalled debate stands in the way of solving our gun violence problem, even though the solution is staring us in the face. The Onion captured this feeling perfectly with one of its headlines last month: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

    • Supreme Court Sides With Whistleblower In Retaliation Case

      In a case over retaliation against a public employee who was fired after testifying about corruption, the Supreme Court says the man gave testimony as a concerned citizen and should not have been punished. The decision was unanimous, overturning lower courts.

    • Let’s have a day off from ‘joy’ of technology

      TECHNOLOGY saves stress. Except when it adds stress. Supermarket self-checkout machines may look inviting enough, but were, in fact, inspired by medieval devices of torture.

    • Flying drones, quad-copters in SA: legal or illegal?

      The issue of whether it is legal or illegal to fly radio-controlled and unmanned aircraft in South Africa is a complex one involving three different organisations.

      As things stand today, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has no regulations to govern what it calls Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS’s), which means it is illegal to fly unmanned drones in South Africa.

    • EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE: CIA’s Linguistic Somersault Takes to the Sky

      This past Memorial Day weekend, New Yorkers who happened to look up may have seen the words EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE appear across the skyline in synchronized bursts of white smoke.

      The seemingly spontaneous event was a project of mine called Severe Clear. It was inspired by a letter the CIA sent the ACLU rejecting their Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to the U.S. government’s classified drone program. The letter reiterates the now familiar Glomar response, stating that the agency can “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence” of records responsive to the request.

    • G.I. Joe creator made Osama bin Laden action figure for CIA
    • CIA, G.I. Joe inventor made ‘demon’ bin Laden dolls
    • CIA Created ‘Demonic’ Osama Bin Laden Toy to Scare Afghan Children

      The CIA secretly developed a “demonic” Osama bin Laden action figure to scare Pakistani and Afghan children and undermine public support for the al-Qaida figurehead, it has emerged.

    • The State of the Fourth State in the State

      What the journalists’ body asked for from other newspapers was a form of censorship: self-censorship. George Orwell has written about the damages of self-censorship in any democratic society. The first priority of journalists is to unearth the truth and if they start exercising self censorship than truth is going to be the first casualty.

    • David Usborne: President, press and prejudice: it’s America

      At a conference in New York in March, Risen said the Obama administration has shown itself to be “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation”. By then his case had reached the Supreme Court, where the Justices declined to intervene.

    • Another View: Journalist shield law critical to democracy

      The letter was sent to Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a few days after the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of James Risen, a New York Times reporter who has been contesting a subpoena requiring him to testify at the upcoming trial of a former CIA agent.

      The agent, Jeffrey Sterling, is accused of revealing classified information about a failed CIA plan to compromise Iran’s nuclear program, an operation described in a book by Risen.

    • Media seeks Guantanamo force-feeding videos
    • Status of CIA Detention and Interrogation Program Declassification (updated)

      In the meantime, Senator Feinstein, Chair of the SSCI, has stated that the Director of National Intelligence has assured her that the declassification of the SSCI’s executive summary and findings and conclusions will be completed by early next month, ideally before July 4. If this is still the case, it is not necessarily inconsistent with the CIA’s status reports filed today. Presumably the Executive branch will be finished with its declassification review of the SSCI’s documents before it turns to the two ancillary documents (the CIA response and the Panetta Report), and will then deliver the declassified versions of the executive summary and findings and conclusions to the SSCI, which could decide to publish them before August 29. The period between early July and August 29 would also give the SSCI and the Executive branch eight weeks or so to negotiate over any possible disagreements about the scope of the declassification.

    • Here Are Some Of The Most Bizarre Ideas From The CIA

      In the 1950s, the CIA produced a pornographic film starring an actor made up to resemble Indonesian President Sukarno. The idea was to discredit Sukarno in the eyes of his countrymen, according to the 1976 memoir of a CIA officer, Joseph Burkholder Smith, as the Indonesian leader was viewed as insufficiently pro-West at the time.

    • America Is Also “Ripe For Regime Change”

      There’s been a lot of talk coming out of Washington, D.C. lately about the need for “regime change” in Iraq – which is particularly ironic when you consider the current regime was hand-picked by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during an American military invasion that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.

    • Why The World Should Care About The War Against Guatemalan Women

      Biden’s visit, though, only serves to highlight the historical role the U.S. has played in prompting some of the problems seen today in Guatemala. In 1954, the C.I.A. helped organize a coup to oust a popular leader and install a right-wing dictator who plunged the country into a 36-year civil war. Effects of the war, which Amnesty International and many other groups label a genocide of the Mayan people, are still felt today and contribute greatly to Guatemala’s current problems.

    • The assassin’s guide to Western ‘democracy’

      We live in an age now where the Western media has been virtually subsumed by banking and military interests. If “our side’s” dirty deeds are kept out of the news, and the latest “bogeyman” kept in, then today’s war profiteers can get away with whatever they want. “Defensive” NATO with its proxy armies and “deniable” private military contractors sponsoring butchery across the globe has become a Napoleon with nukes, bringing the day ever closer when these wonder-weapons might again be used in anger.

    • Pentagon Funds “Cold War-Style” Science Study to Track Political Protest in America

      The controversial program called Project Camelot had been operational nearly a decade into the Vietnam war, as the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) located at American University had received millions in funding from the US Army to conduct a six country study on civil unrest. The current social science program directed by Minerva and the Department of Defense (DoD), appears to have also partnered with some of the most well-known universities in the United States by studying the behavior of peaceful activism and how political ideology shapes protest movements in the world at large.

    • Did CIA Smear a Former Operative to Cover Up a Bad Firing?

      And now a former CIA operative may get a day in court to add to that peculiar lore. On Friday a federal trial judge in Washington, D.C. could rule on a discovery motion by “Peter B.,” a former CIA officer who contends that the spy agency fired him without due process and then badmouthed him, scuttling his chances for a job with a CIA contractor.

    • Is it right to jail someone for being offensive on Facebook or Twitter?

      Jake Newsome was jailed last week for posting offensive comments online. His is the latest in a string of cases that have led to prison terms, raising concern that free speech may be under threat from over-zealous prosecutors

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • The Senate Is Officially Considering a CISPA Clone

        The Senate Intelligence Committee is moving forward with its Cybersecurity Information Protection Act—a problematic, potentially civil liberties-killing piece of legislation that looks just like the CISPA bill the internet fought so hard to kill last year—and the year before that.

        CIPA, written by Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) will be considered by the committee next week, according to Feinstein.

      • The German war against the link

        Half the major publishers in Germany have started a process of arbitration — which, no doubt, will lead to suits — to demand that Google pay them for quoting from and thus linking to their content. And now we know how much they think they deserve: 11% of Google’s revenue related to their snippets. From their government filing, they want a cut of “gross sales, including foreign sales” that come “directly and indirectly from making excerpts from online newspapers and magazines public.” [All these links are in German.]

      • That Story You’ve Read About YouTube ‘Blocking’ Indie Artists… Yeah, That’s Not Accurate

        As you may have heard, there’s been some hubbub this week about claims that YouTube is going to remove some videos from indie musicians/labels who don’t agree to the contract terms for YouTube’s upcoming music subscription service. Ellen Huet, over at Forbes, has a good article explaining how this isn’t as dire as some are making it out to be, but the more I’m digging into it, it seems even less than that. There’s no doubt that this is a royalty dispute, with some indie labels upset about the basic terms that Google is offering, but, if you haven’t noticed, the complaints seem to be coming from the same folks who complain about the royalty rates of every single online music service. There are some people who will just never be satisfied. Furthermore, the deeper you dig into this, it becomes quite clear that any artist who wants to have their videos on YouTube can continue to do that.

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