Links 14/2/2015: Mageia 5 Beta 3 Released, TPP Imperialism

Posted in News Roundup at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Valentine’s Comes to Linux

    Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day and a lot of Open Source is feeling mushy. The Free Software Foundation began a campaign to show all the hard-working developers, managers, and support staff appreciate and has dubbed February 14 I love Free Software Day. openSUSE and the Document Foundation are in the act as well. Elsewhere, the Mageia project has announced their Valentine’s gift – Mageia 5 Beta 3.

  • Desktop

    • Digitimes Research: Google to finish 2-in-1 Chromebook development in 1Q15

      Google is planning to push 2-in-1 devices in 2015, according Digitimes Research’s inquiries within the upstream supply chain. Google’s 2-in-1 Chromebook designed by Quanta Computer is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

    • Uh oh! Steam Machines are doomed or something

      So I think it a good idea for Linux gamers and gamers in general to try to be patient while Valve does its work. The worst thing that could happen is for Valve to prematurely release SteamOS or the Steam Machines before they are ready for prime time. A buggy, slow version of SteamOS would cause many gamers to think twice about using it. And a badly designed controller or other hardware screw up would also damage the entire SteamOS platform.

    • Cutegram 2, the Best Telegram Client for Linux Ever

      Cutegram is one of those new apps that you fall in love with them instantly, especially if they provide overwhelming features. It is a Telegram client for GNU/Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X systems, written in Qt5/QML and designed to blend perfectly into the KDE Plasma graphical desktop environment and dubbed by its developers “Best Telegram Client Ever.”

  • Server

    • Docker

      … is the new hype these days. Everyone seems to want to be part of it; even Microsoft wants to allow Docker to run on its platform. How they visualise that is slightly beyond me, seen as how Docker is mostly a case of “run a bunch of LXC instances”, which by their definition can’t happen on Windows. Presumably they’ll just run a lot more VMs, then, which is a possible workaround.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0r1 (Nestor) Officially Released – Screenshot Tour

        The Parsix GNU/Linux Project proudly announced a few minutes ago, February 14, that the first maintenance release of the Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 (codename Nestor) computer operating system based on the Debian 7 Wheezy distribution has been officially released and is now available for download from its website or as an upgrade to existing Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 users.

      • 7.0r1 Release Notes

        Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 (code name Nestor) brings the latest stable GNOME desktop environment, a brand new kernel built using or modernized kernel build system, updated installer and support for UEFI based systems. This version has been synchronized with Debian Wheezy repositories as of February 6, 2015. Parsix Nestor ships with GNOME 3.12 and LibreOffice productivity suit by default. Highlights: GNOME Shell 3.12.2, X.Org 1.14.7, GRUB 2, GNU Iceweasel (Firefox) 35.0.1, GParted 0.12.1, Empathy 3.12.7, LibreOffice 3.5.4, VirtualBox 4.3.18 and a brand new kernel based on Linux 3.14.32 with TuxOnIce 3.3, BFS and other extra patches. Live DVD has been compressed using SquashFS and XZ.

      • Rebellin Linux v2.5 Released!

        We’re proud to announce the release of Rebellin Linux v2.5! Plenty of great news from the Rebellin Project!

      • MeX Linux Uses Linux Kernel 3.19, It’s Based on Ubuntu 14.10 and Debian Jessie

        Arne Exton, the creator of numerous distributions of GNU/Linux, including the untroublesome and fast Exton|OS, had the pleasure of informing us today, February 14, about a new build for its MeX Linux computer operating system based on Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn), Debian 8 Jessie, and Linux Mint 17.1 (Rebecca).

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Release Critical Bug report for Week 07
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Samsung’s Spying TVs, Ubuntu Phone Sells Out & More…

            The sale of the first ever Ubuntu phone through a European flash sale was evidently a success. Of course, we wouldn’t know as the phone isn’t available yet to those of us who live on this side of the pond, so it hasn’t been getting much press over here. However, EU sites are all atwitter with headlines like “Ubuntu Sells Out!”

          • Mir 0.11 Released With Many Enhancements

            Version 0.11 of the Mir Display Server was released this week for Ubuntu.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • elementary misses the point

              A recent post on the elementary blog about how they ask for payment on download created a bit of a stir this week. One particular sentence struck a nerve (it has since been removed from the post): “We want users to understand that they’re pretty much cheating the system when they choose not to pay for software.”

              No, they aren’t. I understand that people want to get paid for their work. It’s only natural. Especially when you’d really like that work to be what puts food on the table and not something you do after you work a full week for someone else. I certainly don’t begrudge developers asking for money. I don’t even begrudge requiring payment before being able to download the software. The developers are absolutely right when they say “elementary is under no obligation to release our compiled operating system for free download.”

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Basics of Open Source Software

    With many organizations incorporating open source code into their software, business managers should have a basic understanding of what open source is all about. After all, Gartner and Accenture report open source adoption rates nearing 100% so it’s likely that your development team is already incorporating open source code into their projects.

    So, what is open source? When a developer chooses to make his or her project open source, it gives third party developers the right to tinker and innovate with it. Check out this comprehensive video for an in depth explanation.

    Developers incorporate open source into their projects to accelerate development time, thus reducing costs for the organization overall. Most of the time, the code is open to the public; but it is imperative that collaborators refer to a set of chief regulations and terms involved in open source software license management and dispersal.

  • Google launches PerfKit, open source benchmarking tool for cloud performance

    Google has announced the launch of PerfKit, an open source cloud benchmarking tool aimed at aiding developers evaluating performance features.

  • Events

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle says it still fully supports the Sparc processor

      My blog post on the Oracle/Sun merger got quite a bit of attention, and a few folks from Oracle took exception to my portrayal of Sparc dying on the vine and a thin roadmap. After a few conversations, I have a better picture of things, and I was wrong.

  • CMS

    • How sleeping 6 times a day helped the founder of WordPress build a billion-dollar company

      But before Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, was on the path to being a billion-dollar company, Mullenweg was simply an eager coder with a healthy attitude for self-experimentation.

      In conversation with author Tim Ferriss this week, Mullenweg elaborated on some of his productivity hacks, including his now-famous stint with the “Uberman” polyphasic sleep schedule. Polyphasic sleep simply means more than one sleep period per day; many of our friends in Spain are on a polyphasic sleep cycle with their luxurious afternoon siestas.

  • Healthcare

    • OpenEMR 4.2.0 is released

      The OpenEMR community has released version 4.2.0. This new version will be 2014 ONC Certified as a Modular EHR.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD 11.0-CURRENT Images Now Available!

      We hope to continue rolling these –CURRENT images as a way for testers and developers to tryout both FreeBSD and PC-BSD bleeding edge features, often months before a planned release. These images include a full PKG repository compiled for that months image. Users of this system will also be able to “upgrade” when the next monthly image is published.

    • First Release Of PC-BSD 11.0-CURRENT Images

      The PC-BSD camp has started spinning development images of FreeBSD/PC-BSD 11.0 in the present 11.0-CURRENT state that is still far out from being officially released.

    • LLVM 3.6 Release Candidate 3

    • I love Free Software Day 2015

      Valentine’s Day traditionally is a day to show and celebrate love. So why do not take this as a chance to show your love for Free Software this year?

    • Show your love for Free Software

      Every year on 14th February, the Free Software Foundation Europe asks all Free Software users to think about the hard-working people in the Free Software community and to show them their appreciation individually on this “I love Free Software”-Day.

    • We love the projects around us!

      Today the Free Software Foundation Europe reminds us to thank and celebrate all those in Free Software we love and whose work we enjoy and built upon. In KDE, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Everything we do in some way depends on Free Software written by many other people – the huge ecosystem around us.

    • Gallery of Free Software lovers

      A picture is worth thousand words and describing love with letters is much more harder than with images. On this page we collect some examples of people from all over the world expressing their enthusiasm for freedom in both software and society with photos.

    • I ♥ Free Software
  • Openness/Sharing


  • Your next favorite collaboration tool

    Last night I had a crazy realization: I could probably replace the majority of what my team hopes to accomplish with standup meetings, design documents, project management apps, and social code sharing features with a single tool.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Govt employing hackers to attack own facilities – hacking expert

      The internet has connected millions across the globe, rooting itself into the day-to-day activities. If something happens to it, it’s not just the end of kitty pictures – the whole world’s economy would collapse. What would the fallout be? How much harm can be done online? What does it mean to be a hacker these days? We ask professor at the University of Sussex and author of a book about hacking communities, Tim Jordan, on Sophie&Co.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Obama Undecided on Sending Arms to Ukraine

      President Obama says he has not yet decided whether to send arms to the Ukrainian military to fight Russian-backed rebels. Obama criticized Russia’s role in the conflict during a joint news conference at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • Healing in post-war Gaza

      The emotional weight a photojournalist endures in covering conflict can be suppressed, but it can never be understated. And the commitment to highlighting the spirit of survival in the victims of the conflict can never be overstated. For American photojournalist Heidi Levine, that emotional toll has been severely challenged over her nearly 30 years documenting the Palestinian-Israel conflict. In the past year, she has done her work while also facing the almost simultaneous passing of two family members–her grandmother and father–while on assignment nearly 8,000 miles away from home.

    • Did Obama just declare war on Syria?

      The news that President Obama has formally asked US Congress to authorize military force against ISIS is not surprising. What may come as a shock to Americans oblivious to these developments is that the administration has de facto declared war on Syria.

    • UN envoy says Yemen national talks will resume amid crisis

      The U.N. envoy to Yemen has returned to Sanaa and resumed contacts with major political players to find a way out of a deepening crisis caused by a Shiite rebel takeover, participants in the talks said Sunday.

    • Calls Grow to Reject AUMF That Permits ‘Waging War All Over World’

      ‘The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,’ says Congressional Progressive Caucus

    • Peter Van Buren Writes An Embassy Evacuation Explainer

      What is not silly is that we still have local employees at Embassy Sana’a. They, typically, are not evacuated when post suspends operations. In 2003, Ghulam Sakhi Ahmadzai, the building maintenance supervisor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was the Foreign Service National Employee of the Year. He was recognized for his exceptional efforts in Afghanistan during the 13-year absence of American employees and following the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in December 2001. His loyalty to the U.S. government and to maintaining the integrity of the embassy during that absence, despite personal risk, could not be repaid by that one award. No doubt there are other Ghulams in Tripoli and Sana’a and in other posts where we have suspended operations in the past. Please keep them in your thoughts.

    • Houston Muslim School Burned Down In What Investigators Say Is Likely An Arson Attack

      The arson attack was the third incident of Islamaphobic violence this week.

    • Arson suspected in fire at Islamic center

      An early morning fire Friday at an Islamic center in southeast Houston left the facility’s faithful wondering if what appears to be an intentionally set fire was tied to their religion.

    • Turkey’s Erdogan chides Obama for silence on N.C. Muslim murders

      Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday criticized President Obama for his silence following the killings of three young Muslims in North Carolina this week, the latest sign relations between the two leaders have become strained.

    • Syrian townspeople insist U.S. airstrike killed civilians

      Mohammad Na’us was one of the most respected men in al Bab. He was the undertaker who washed the bodies of the dead prior to burial, a pious Quranic scholar who issued the sundown call to prayer in the Syrian town near the Turkish border, and for the past year, a seller of bread in his neighborhood.

      But on Dec. 28, the bakery’s delivery was late and he missed the prayers at sundown. Religious police arrested Na’us, a father of five in his 50s, and ordered him to spend one night in prison.

    • ‘American Terrorist’: Middle East reacts to Murder of 3 Muslim-American Students in N Carolina

      If American mass media seemed reluctant to cover the murder of three Muslims students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill as a hate crime, the same was not true in the Middle East, where strong opinions were aroused.

      Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan criticized President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for not speaking out on the issue (which is under investigation by local police and the FBI).

      Erdogan said, “If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this, and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you . . . As politicians, we are responsible for everything that happens in our countries and we have to show our positions.”

    • Morning Plum: American public appears ready for some more war

      The good folks at NBC send over a partisan breakdown. Fifty two percent of Republicans support Obama’s authorization request, as do 51 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats.

      A few points about this. First, Republican voters appear at odds with GOP lawmakers on this topic. The latter have been arguing that, if anything, Obama’s request is too limiting. As Marco Rubio put it so felicitously, Congress should give Obama an authorization that says nothing more than we “authorize the president to take whatever steps are necessary to defeat ISIS. Period.” But a bare majority of Republicans supports the limits in the authorization Obama proposed, such as they are.

    • Egypt to Purchase Fighter Jets and a Warship From France

      President François Hollande of France on Thursday announced the sale of nearly $6 billion worth of military hardware to Egypt, including two dozen Rafale fighter jets and a naval frigate.

      The contract represents the first foreign sale of the Rafale for its manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, which has been under intense pressure to find export customers for the warplane as France scales back its orders as part of government spending cuts.

    • Top U.S. General in Afghanistan Provides ‘Options’ for Slowing Troop Withdrawal

      The four-star general in charge of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan told senators today that he has given the Pentagon different options for slowing the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

      There are now roughly 13,000 international troops in Afghanistan, 9,800 of them Americans, Campbell said. President Obama’s current plan would have reduced that to 5,500 soldiers, mostly centered in Kabul, by the end of this year. Army Gen. Cambell said that the Afghan government under its new president, Ashraf Ghani, did not want the U.S. to pull back so quickly.

    • FBI Director Defends Police, Says Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist

      FBI Director James Comey repeatedly defended the police in a speech intended to address race relations after a series of high-profile killings by law enforcement officers.

      Speaking at Georgetown University this morning, Comey said citizens need to have more empathy for police, that police response time is not influenced by race, and that “law enforcement is not the root cause of problems in our hardest-hit neighborhoods.”

      Comey also cited and quoted from the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from the Broadway play “Avenue Q,” adding that while everyone has a duty to try and overcome bias, “racial bias isn’t epidemic in those who join law enforcement any more than it is epidemic in academia or the arts.” And yet “after years of police work, officers often can’t help but be influenced by the cynicism they feel” and begin viewing black citizens differently.

    • Chapel Hill Victim’s Sister: ‘Insulting and Outrageous’ to Call Shooting ‘Parking Dispute’

      Dr. Suzanne Barakat, sister of one of the Chapel Hill shooting victims, appeared on Morning Joe Friday morning to strongly dispute the early police theory that her brother, his wife, and sister-in-law were shot by Craig Stephens Hicks over a “parking dispute.” That all three victims were Muslim, and that Hicks had loudly proclaimed anti-religious sentiment, has led many to label the triple murder a hate crime.

    • Obama’s new secretary of defense predicted 9/11 and the NSA mass spying that followed

      Three years before 9/11, Ash Carter was already talking catastrophe.

      Carter, confirmed Thursday as Obama’s new Secretary of Defense, vividly predicted in 1998 a near-future terrorist attack that would have long-lasting consequences beyond the immediate loss of thousands of lives.

    • Life under drones — in victims’ own words

      Mohammed Saleh Tauiman was just 13 years old in 2014 when the Guardian newspaper gave him a camera so he could record life under the drones that flew over Marib province, Yemen.

    • Halt drone strikes, say faith leaders

      One of more than 150 religious leaders who drafted a statement opposing the use of lethal drones by the United States military said Feb. 11 it’s an issue that more Baptists should care about.

    • Drones make war too easy, too remote, faith leaders say
    • Military drones heard in West Midlands

      After readings from the Bible and the Qur’an the worshippers dedicated themselves to peace and shouted out “Stop the drones!” and “Drones kill”. Most of the protestors were men and women training for ordained ministry in the Church of England and the Methodist Church. Bishop Edward Musonda from the Anglican Church in Zambia said: “It is a pleasure to take part in this act of Christian witness against this savage military weaponry.”

    • “Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed”

      A US drone strike which killed a senior al-Shabaab leader in Somalia a week ago appears to have been part of a change of tactics by the Americans since they started targeting the militant group in 2007. It was the fifth consecutive such strike against al-Shabaab’s leadership, with drones now appearing to have superseded other, manned aircraft and cruise missiles in the seven years since attacks began in Somalia.

    • Maine Voices: Let’s stand together against dehumanizing, immoral drone warfare

      Morality is missing in action as innocent people die in the strikes, fueling anger around the globe.

    • Yemen chaos shows drones can take out key targets, but they’ll never defeat terrorism

      For years, the US has relied on drones to prevent Yemen from collapsing. The strategy hasn’t worked.

    • Senators From Both Parties Back ACLU, New York Times in FOIA Lawsuit for Drone Memos
    • Four Senators File Brief Challenging DOJ’s Drone Law Secrecy
    • Paul, Dems demand release of drone docs

      Sen. Rand Paul is joining three Democrats in urging a federal court to release secret documents about the government’s use of drones to kill three Americans.

      Along with Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.), the Kentucky Republican filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Wednesday supporting a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and The New York Times.

    • Heinrich among senators urging court to make drone killing memos public
    • US senators urge NY court to make drone killing memos public

      Saying the government cites “national security” too often to shield information from scrutiny, four U.S. senators urged a federal appeals court Wednesday to divulge more about rules it follows when it makes U.S. citizens the target of anti-terror drone strikes.

    • Senators call to release drone memos
    • In drone warfare we ought not trust

      While deployed, I concluded our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people. As a military chaplain, I preached a sermon questioning the morality of such warfare. After my commander read it, he said “the message does not support the mission” and had me investigated, officially reprimanded and released from active duty for “retraining.”

    • Think Tank Publishes Report On Tanks That Think

      No military technology is perhaps more viscerally upsetting than the idea of a machine, armed with a gun, making the decision on its own to kill people. It’s a theme throughout dystopian fiction and films, and it animates protests against drones, despite the fact that military drones still have humans at the controls. Autonomy for weapons–where a gun turret or future machine will be programmed to press the trigger on its own–is a definite possibility in future wars. A new report from the Center for New American Security, a Washington D.C. think tank, wants to guide us calmly into understanding this future of armed thinking machines.

    • Playing With Fire in an Age of Absurdity

      The peace movement is dead, the media are mute, and, in all likelihood, we will soon be engulfed in an electoral season in which the plain fact that Democrats and Republicans know not what they do will hardly even come up.

    • James Bond is Dead

      Well, not exactly. New James Bond novels and movies pop up all the time, but Gérard de Villiers (who died in 2013) wrote either 100 or 200 novels about an Austrian (and freelance CIA operative), named Malko Linge, that have sold millions of copies in France and made him “the most popular writer of spy thrillers in French history.” The discrepancy with the numbers (100 or 200) hardly matters, though those figures are cited in the biographical information about the writer at the beginning of the two novels discussed here: Chaos in Kabul and The Madmen of Benghazi, both originally published in France in 2013. Clearly, the guy was prolific—much more than Ian Fleming. His expertise was the Middle East, which made his stories not only current but, often, prescient.


      At the beginning of Chaos in Kabul, Linge is hired to eliminate Hamid Karzai. Yes, you read that correctly. So Linge is flown into Afghanistan after responding to his CIA agent, “This mission is impossible. The Agency has everything it needs in Afghanistan. You operate a fleet of drones that can hit anything. What can you expect from one man against the Karzai machine? Besides, you know I’m not a killer.” And the answer to his response? It can’t be obvious that Americans caused Karzai’s death. So, Linge agrees, but first he’s got to find an accomplice who will do the actual killing. That guy is a South African thug, and the plan is that Karzai will be shot when he’s riding in his motorcade.

    • Unauthorized Government Attacks Are Murder

      Even Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, the author of numerous books and a legal expert for Fox News, in an otherwise excellent history of the usurpation of unique American civil liberties at the expense of ever expanding executive power (see Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty) focuses too much on President Barack Obama’s killing of American citizens without due process – for example, Anwar al Alawki in Yemen in 2011. Napolitano correctly argues that an American president is essentially claiming the right to murder his own citizens without prior legal niceties, but he focuses too much on the use of exotic drone technology to do so and not enough on a larger and more important problem. If anyone – U.S. citizen or not – is attempting to attack the United States, the president should have a right to take them out, provided the Congress has authorized military action or declared war. Even then, according to the founders’ original constitutional vision, if the country is under imminent threat of attack, the president can take appropriate action and get congressional authorization at the earliest possible time. If the president doesn’t have such legislative approval or a legitimate “imminent attack” rationale, he is essentially murdering people – U.S. citizens or not.

    • President Obama puts his legacy at risk with new war in Middle East

      In light of the threat posed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, President Obama wants Congress to authorize military force against the Islamist group in the Middle East. Although the president believes a 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) gives him the legal grounds to go to war on his own, he has sent Congress a draft authorization for their approval.

    • Confront ‘American Sniper’

      If you already understand U.S. imperialism’s crimes in Iraq, that’s what you might take away from the movie, “American Sniper.” But many viewers, unaware of the truth behind the war, receive a distorted message. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film looks at the events only through U.S. eyes. It twists the truth, falsifying historical context while adding poisonous anti-Arab bigotry.

    • Jamil Maidan Flores: Truth Also a Casualty in Mindanao ‘Mis-encounter’

      I didn’t think much of this until hours ago when I read a banner story of the Manila Times written by its chairman emeritus Dr. Dante Ang. The burden of the piece is that in the Mamasapano raid, codenamed Operation Wolverine, the main protagonists were American agents out to get the Malaysian terrorist Marwan and the BIFF leader Abdulbasit Usman. The PNP-SAF commandos were only security escorts to the agents.

    • Purisima asked AFP for support during Mamasapano clash – general
    • Chiz asks if US involved in Marwan operation
    • Sacked SAF commander: What drones?

      This was revealed by its commander then, now relieved Police Director Getulio Napeñas, during a hearing Monday, February 9, on the operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that claimed the lives of at least 68 individuals, including 44 elite SAF troopers.

    • COMMENT: Marwan Dead at Pyrrhic Cost

      Lives: A total of 66 lives, not including Marwan’s, were lost – 44 SAF, 18 MILF and four civilians. The SAF casualties were nine of the 42 members of the 84th SAF Company dispatched to Pidsandawan to get Marwan and 35 of the 36 members of the 55th deployed in Tukanalipao – the lone survivor PO3 Robert Lalang.

    • “How many dead women, children and innocent men for every dead terrorist?”
    • Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes

      Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

      Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

      Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

      Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

      Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

      It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

    • Obama’s Drones are far Deadlier than the Spanish Inquisition
  • Transparency Reporting

    • Politician Facing Investigation Tries To Destroy His Emails; Assistant ‘Helps Out’ By Emailing Order To Other Staffers

      Far too many politicians and legislators aren’t happy with the fact that their emails are subject to public records requests. Some attempt to dodge this layer of accountability by using personal email accounts to handle official business. Oregon governor John Kitzhaber is one such politician.

      Unfortunately for Kitzhaber and many others just like him, public records laws anticipate this endaround. In many states, personal email accounts are also FOIA-able if the emails discuss official (read: public) business. Kitzhaber, however, believed he could outbludgeon the system.

    • David Carr obituary: must-read newsman with a burning belief in the importance of truth

      At the end of an hour-long panel discussion on the film Citizenfour on Thursday night that he was moderating, David Carr sat back in his chair and in his distinctive, weather-worn voice asked Edward Snowden, the NSA exile, a final question via video link. “I’ve got to channel all the moms in the audience for just a sec,” he said. “You’re in Russia. So are you getting enough to eat? Is the food good?” It was classic David Carr. Unexpected, empathetic, funny. It raised a robust laugh from the packed crowd.

    • David Carr, rumpled mensch and writers’ writer, dies on the job

      On Twitter Thursday night, I tried to fight the rumor that beloved New York Times media columnist David Carr died the same evening. I’d seen him less than three hours earlier, interviewing Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden (via satellite) at a sold out “Times Talk.” He was sharp and funny; he seemed happy; he had a bad cough. But he could not possibly be dead.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The World Has Reached Peak Chicken, Peak Rice, And Peak Milk

      We still haven’t reached peak oil. But peak milk happened in 2004, peak soybeans in 2009, and peak chicken in 2006. Rice peaked in 1988.

      A new study published in Ecology and Society explains that 21 key resources that humans rely on—mostly food—have already passed their peak rate of production.

      “Peak,” in this case, doesn’t mean that we’re actually producing fewer chickens or less milk yet. Instead, the researchers looked at the fact that the rate of production has plateaued, at the same time that population is increasing.

    • Regionalism too tough to swallow? Try Flint’s water

      So it turns out that building your own regional water system is costly, time-consuming and difficult. Who knew?

      Apparently not officials in Genesee, Lapeer and Sanilac counties, which unhooked from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to build their own system, the unpronounceable Karegnondi Water Authority, helmed by Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright.

    • In the eye of a mega-drought: Researchers warn US should prepare for ‘unprecedented drought conditions’ unlike anything in past 1,000 years

      Since the turn of this century, the US south-west has spent more than a decade in drought. Last year was the warmest on record in California, which is in the middle of its driest spell for more than 400 years. But according to a new scientific study, that’s nothing compared to what comes next.

  • Finance

    • Setting SYRIZA Straight, NYT Gets It Wrong on Debt

      But Alderman got the primary surplus back to front. The definition should actually be before interest payments–the primary surplus being a measure of whether a government would be spending more than it takes in if it weren’t paying back past borrowing. Could it be the Times reporter does not understand the magnitude of Greece’s financial challenges?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Prosecutor in Scott Walker Probe Asks Justices to Recuse

      The prosecutor leading the probe into possible coordination between Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and outside groups has asked some Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from hearing a challenge to the investigation.

      A notation in court records titled “Motion for Recusal and Notice of Ethical Concerns” indicates that on February 12, Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz filed a sealed motion for one or more of the Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from the case. Schmitz was previously on George W. Bush’s shortlist for U.S. Attorney and said that he voted for Walker.

    • James Henry on HSBC, Mary Bottari on Scott Walker

      Scott WalkerAlso on the show: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said it was just a “drafting error” that led to his proposed budget calling for the evisceration of the central philosophy guiding the state’s university system, along with $300 million in cuts. Reporters and activists showed that to be a falsehood, and Walker’s proposed changes look like a revealing peak at the agenda of the man who wants to be the next president. We’ll hear from a key player in that story, Mary Bottari from the Center for Media and Democracy.

    • Fox Hosts Promote Scott Walker As The “Sexy” Republican 2016 Hopeful
    • Sun News Network, Canada’s “Fox News North,” Has Been Canceled

      Sun News Network, the right-wing Canadian news network described as “Fox News North,” is shutting down.

    • ‘He Just Made It Up’: New York Post Accused of Fabrication in Machete Lawsuit Story

      It was the NYPD’s very own “Hot Coffee” case–a sign of a supposedly hyper-litigious system spiraling out of control. A “machete-wielding mad man” attacks the cops, gets shot in the leg, and then sues the NYPD for damages.

    • Rand Paul’s claim — twice in one day — that he has a biology degree

      We first spotted a version of this quote in a Bloomberg column by David Weigel, and then checked the quotes with our colleague Jose DelReal, who had attended the conference.

    • Presidential politics: all personality, no platform

      Hillary Clinton has everything she needs to run for president: money, name recognition, staff, organization. Everything except ideas.

      The 2016 presidential campaign will begin in earnest in late summer. This hasn’t snuck up on her; she has known this was coming since at least 2008. Yet here she is, six months before the unofficial start of her run, starting to figure out what she’ll do if she wins.

  • Censorship

    • Police hunting for lone suspect in deadly Copenhagen cafe shooting

      François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark who was also at the event, tweeted that he was “still alive.”

      Vilks, a 68-year-old Swedish artist, has faced several attempted attacks and death threats after he depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007.

  • Privacy

    • BBC could get power to access private data

      The BBC could be given new powers to access to people’s private and public data as part of a raft of new measures to tackle licence-fee evasion.

      An independent consultation suggested that the corporation could be given access to “new data sources” to help make collection of the charge more efficient.

    • UK Surveillance Consultation Suggests It Is End-Point Security, Not Encryption, That Cameron Wants To Subvert

      It is also striking that the codes of conduct were released on the same day that the UK’s secretive Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that British intelligence services had broken the law, but that they were now in compliance because previously unknown policies had been made public. As Nyst speculates, it could be that the UK government is releasing more details of its spying in the form of these consultation documents in an attempt to head off future losses in the courts.

      Whether or not that is the case, it certainly seems that the attempts by civil liberties groups to end or at least limit mass surveillance are already having an effect on the UK government, and forcing it to provide basic details of its hitherto completely-secret activities. That success is a strong incentive to continue fighting for more proportionality and meaningful oversight here.

    • How Canadian Spies Infiltrated the Internet’s Core to Watch What You Do Online

      You might not think Canada’s digital spies are on par with those in the US and UK—but rest assured, America’s northern neighbour is just as capable of perpetuating mass surveillance on a global scale. Case in point: at over 200 locations around the world, spies from Canada’s cyberintelligence agency have been monitoring huge volumes of global internet traffic travelling across the internet’s core.

      ​From these locations, Communications Security Establishment (CSE) can track who is accessing websites and files of interest. Its analysts can also log email addresses, phone numbers and even the content of unencrypted communications—and retain encrypted communication for later study, too—as well as intercept passwords and login details for later access to remote servers and websites.

      ​But perhaps more importantly, tapping into global internet traffic is a means for CSE to monitor, and also exploit, an ever growing list of digital threats, such as vulnerabilities in networks and computers and the spread of malware as well as botnets and the computers under their control. In the process, analysts can keep tabs on both friendly and foreign governments conducting covert cyber attacks and infiltration of their own.

    • NSA Braced for New Leaks

      The National Security Agency, still reeling from massive leaks caused by Edward Snowden, is preparing to be hit with another major loss of secrets, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

      The leaks are expected to be published in the near future by a news outlet that was not further identified by the officials familiar with details of the compromise. The NSA is aware of the news outlet’s forthcoming disclosures and is taking steps to try and minimize any damage they will cause.

      According to the officials, the latest NSA disclosure of secrets is not the result of an insider stealing documents, as occurred in the case of fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      Instead, the leaks will reveal certain NSA technical cyber intelligence gathering capabilities. The officials did not provide details about the leaks.

    • Snowden filmmaker says US surveillance ‘out of control’

      For most Oscar nominees, the weeks before the February 22 ceremony are a whirlpool of stress.

      But Laura Poitras, up for best documentary for “Citizenfour,” insists it is like going for a healthy walk — compared to what she went through to get here.

      When former National Security Agency (NSA) consultant Edward Snowden, who revealed the massive scope of US intelligence surveillance, contacted the filmmaker, she found her life turned into a spy novel.

    • Three of Tech’s Top CEOs to Skip Obama Cybersecurity Summit

      The top executives of Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Facebook Inc. won’t attend President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity summit on Friday, at a time when relations between the White House and Silicon Valley have frayed over privacy issues.

      Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt all were invited but won’t attend the public conference at Stanford University, according to the companies. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook is planning to be at the event, where Obama is scheduled to give the keynote speech and have a private lunch with a select group of attendees.

    • An NSA spy, a Fed and a sysadmin walk into a bar – that’s Obama’s new cyber-security order

      President Obama has signed an executive order that will attempt to protect America’s crucial computer networks by sharing knowhow between g-men and techies.

      The new order instructs federal agencies to set up a clearing house of real-time, up-to-the-minute information on what’s menacing US infrastructure. Companies running those networks and systems will be able to look into the intelligence stream, get an idea of what’s about to hit them, and beef up their defenses accordingly. This is assuming the system works as described.

      This sharing of information is supposed to go two ways: businesses can use the clearing house to tip off the Feds about threats that everyone ought to know about, we’re told.

    • Obama Focuses on Cyber Security, but NSA Remains an Issue

      President Obama called for companies to voluntarily share more cyber attack information with federal agencies during a first-ever White House summit on cyber security issues, signing an executive action to help pave the way for such sharing.

    • In the NSA’s aftermath, expect less cybersecurity cooperation

      The Obama administration is expected to take executive action Friday, sweeping aside two years of congressional negotiations and bickering in an effort to bolster the country’s cyber-defenses.

    • ANOTHER US court smacks down EFF’s NSA wiretap sueball – but won’t say why

      A California court has once again upheld the legality of the US National Security Agency’s Bush-era mass telephone surveillance program, but has withheld its reasoning on grounds of national security.

    • US judge backs NSA in people vs privacy case

      A US JUDGE HAS ruled in favour of the National Security Agency (NSA) in a personal privacy case, despite the protests of rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

      Jewel vs the NSA was ruled on by judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, who told plaintiffs that they had failed to prove that the government violated a long established hope that ‘a man’s home is his castle’, or rather the Fourth Amendment.

    • Snowden: NSA Surveillance About Control, Fight Against It About Democracy

      An entire ballroom of more than 1,000 stood to applaud Edward Snowden as he was introduced at the Students for Liberty convention in Washington, and again after Snowden challenged them to “win” against the government’s attempt to expand its own power.

    • Did the NSA and the UK’s Spy Agency Launch a Joint Cyberattack on Iran?

      An NSA document newly published today suggests two interesting facts that haven’t previously been reported.

      The Intercept, which published the document, highlighted that in it the NSA expresses fear that it may be teaching Iran how to hack, but there are two other points in the document that merit attention.

      One concerns the spy tool known as Flame; the other refers to concerns the NSA had about partnering with the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters and Israeli intelligence in surveillance operations.

    • US likely responsible for Iran’s cyber warfare know-how
    • The NSA Acknowledges What We All Feared: Iran Learns From US Cyberattacks

      The document suggests that such attacks don’t just invite counterattacks but also school adversaries on new techniques and tools to use in their counterattacks, allowing them to increase the sophistication of these assaults. Iran, the document states, ‘has demonstrated a clear ability to learn from the capabilities and actions of others.’”

    • NSA Spy Program So Secret Judge Can’t Explain Why It Can’t Be Challenged

      A federal judge ruled in favor of the National Security Agency in a key surveillance case on Tuesday, dismissing a challenge which claimed the government’s spying operations were groundless and unconstitutional.

    • Court clamps down on warrantless surveillance case against NSA

      This week, a US District Court judge ruled in favor of the NSA in a case challenging its tactics of intercepting messages on the internet without a warrant. California District Judge Jeffrey White said that the plaintiffs in Jewel vs. NSA didn’t establish the legal standing needed to pursue claims that the US government violated their Fourth Amendment rights. White ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence presented by the plaintiffs, and that the risk of revealing of state secrets would prevent the case from going forward even if they had. The group, who are all AT&T customers being represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), still has a case against the wider telephone record collection and other forms of mass surveillance employed by the National Security Agency. Jewel vs. NSA was filed in 2008 and is one of the earliest lawsuits brought against the federal government over its monitoring practices, preceding the whistleblowing work of Edward Snowden.

    • Tennessee Bills Take on NSA Code-Breaking Facility, Ban Material Support or Resources

      On Wednesday, Tennessee legislators filed bills to directly take on NSA spying by withholding vital state resources and material support from any federal agency engaged in warrantless surveillance.

    • Data privacy becoming an Orwellian maze

      The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruling that GCHQ’s access to information intercepted by the NSA breached human rights laws is feeding a growing and increasingly heated global debate regarding the whole issue of digital privacy.

    • Barack Obama acknowledges damage from NSA eavesdropping on Angela Merkel
    • Obama acknowledges damage from NSA eavesdropping on Merkel

      U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that revelations of U.S. surveillance on German Chancellor Angela Merkel “damaged impressions” Germans hold of the U.S. government.

    • ‘Privacy Critical to Human Freedom’: Snowden, Poitras, and Greenwald Talk NSA

      Though Snowden beamed in remotely, conversation hosted by New York Times brings together trio that revealed vast secretive surveillance network to global public.

    • Obama tells Germany to relax about NSA mass surveillance

      President Barack Obama has called for the German people, and by extension Europe, to trust that the US is not infringing on their privacy, despite the Snowden leaks.

      Obama issued the call for “trust” about the PRISM leaks during a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel when asked how the leaks have affected the two nations’ relationship.

      “There’s no doubt that the Snowden revelations damaged the impressions of Germans with respect to the US government and our intelligence cooperation,” he said.

      “What I would ask would be that the German people recognise that the US has always been at the forefront of trying to promote civil liberties, and that we have traditions of due process that we respect.

    • Obama: Snowden revelations ‘damaged impressions’ of NSA in Germany

      Talks in Washington on Monday focused on the conflict in Ukraine, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama also touched on issues including NSA espionage and nuclear negotiations with Iran.

    • Obama Asks Germany to Stop ‘Assuming the Worst’ About NSA Spying
    • Obama asks Germany “to give us the benefit of the doubt” on NSA spying
    • Obama asks Germans for ‘benefit of the doubt’ on NSA

      President Barack Obama is asking Germans to give the United States “the benefit of the doubt” on National Security Agency surveillance, given U.S. history.

      Obama says “there’s no doubt” that NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. spying programs damaged the impression of U.S. intelligence operations among Germans. He says that’s understandable, given Germany’s history.

    • Court backs NSA on internet spying as Obama ducks call for reform

      It’s been a lousy week so far for opponents of U.S. spy tactics: a federal judge shut down a long-running challenge to the NSA’s mass collection of customer internet data, while President Obama brushed off a call to do something about the sprawl of government surveillance.

    • NSA’s Section 215 Telephony Metadata Program Should and Can Be Shut Down

      One year ago, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) reviewed the National Security Agency’s bulk telephony metadata program and concluded the program was both illegal and imprudent as a policy matter. Under this program conducted pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA on a daily basis indiscriminately collects Americans’ calling records from telephone companies, including each call’s date and time, duration, and participating telephone numbers. This “metadata” does not include the contents of telephone conversations. The program is intended to enable the government to identify communications among known and unknown terrorism suspects. PCLOB recommended that the program be discontinued and that the government instead seek telephone call records directly from phone companies on a case-by-case basis where there is evidence of potential terrorist activity.

    • Montana State Rep. Files Bill to go Head-to-Head with NSA Spying

      A bill filed in Montana yesterday would not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah, but would have practical effects on federal surveillance programs if passed.

      Montana Rep. Daniel Zolnikov (R-45) introduced HB443, a bill that would ban “material support or resources” from the state to warrantless federal spy programs, making it the 10th state to introduce legislation similar to a bill up for consideration in Utah this year.

      “The best thing about privacy is that it is not a partisan issue,” said Zolnikov. “Groups like the ACLU and the Tea Party can work together to protect the rights of Montanans.”

    • Mass Surveillance, Liberty & Activism talk

      ORG’s Executive Director Jim Killock will talk about mass surveillance, liberty and activism. He’ll say why mass surveillance is a danger to democracy and how we can work together to curb it.

    • MPs want assurances over wider powers for security services

      MPs wants guarantees from the government that the decision to give the security services wider powers to tap phones and internet traffic will not be abused, website nu.nl reports on Tuesday. Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk and defence minister Jeanine Hennis are due to present their draft legislation for expanding the security services’ intelligence-gathering powers shortly. Nu.nl questioned various party representatives about their position.

    • Dutch intelligence won’t become America’s NSA: MP

      VVD Parliamentarian Klaas Dijkhoff denounced the phantom images raised by opponents that large scale data trawls will soon be conducted in the Netherlands, just like the NSA does in the United states, NU. reports. “The fear exists and people like to call up that feeling, but there is not country in the world where information is dealt with more carefully.” he said. But the Tweede Kamer (lower house of parliament) still wants guarantees that the expansion of the intelligence services’ surveillance capabilities will not lead to NSA practices.

    • Obama defers to Congress to end NSA phone tracking

      President Obama won’t end the government’s controversial collection of data about millions of Americans on his own, because he’d rather the matter be dealt with by Congress.

    • Oklahoma Action Alert: Help Stop NSA Spying, Support HB1738 and SB444

      Oklahoma HB1738 would deny much-needed material support or resources to warrantless federal spying programs. And SB444 would ban the state from participating in an unconstitutional federal-state information program. HB1738 must pass out of the House State and Federal Relations Committee while SB444 must pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee before the bills can receive full votes in their respective chambers.

    • NSA, CIA, and FBI Implementation of PPD-28

      As we continue to read through documents released on February 3 that collectively detail the intelligence community’s efforts to implement Presidential Policy Directive-28, (PPD-28), we thought it would be helpful to overview briefly, and to compare. implementing documents issued by three agencies in particular: NSA, CIA, and FBI.

      Overall, there is a great deal of overlap between the three agencies’ implementation policies. But they differ from each other in interesting ways, both with regard to retention and dissemination of information, and with regard to permitted departures from general rules contemplated by the policies themselves.

    • Watch President Obama Talk Cybersecurity In Silicon Valley
    • Obama’s cybersecurity summit was a dog-and-pony show

      To drive the point home, he signed an executive order to this effect, in the hopes of inspiring collaboration between companies and government security agencies.

    • Twitter: U.S. government shares (some) info on data NSA requests from us

      Twitter said today that the U.S. government has filed a highly redacted version of the company’s draft national security transparency report, a step that shows for the first time information about data requests Twitter has gotten from the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

    • Twitter receives NSA requests for user information for less than one percent of users
    • IT industry experts speak out against the ‘unlawful’ nature of the GCHQ’s mass surveillance

      Mass surveillance of the internet by GCHQ prior to December was unlawful, according to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

      It said that the “intelligence sharing” process did not comply with human rights law, and there was a lack of transparency.

    • You can’t control the internet. GCHQ needs to grow up and accept it

      In the end – and maybe this is the biggest change of all – we all have to accept that perfect safety is illusory. Doing so would make society will be a little more open, a little more liberal, a little more scary, and perhaps a little more dangerous. But I think any democracy worthy of the name can live with that, because it’s the price of freedom.

    • US plots to KILL hackers – with bureaucracy!

      A new US government “cyber threat” agency will take information on computer security breaches at private companies, pair it with classified intelligence – and put it back out to businesses so they can learn how to beef up their defences.

      That’s the dream, anyway, according to President Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism advisor Lisa Monaco, who launched the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) on Tuesday in Washington DC.

    • Did the US Accidentally Give the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon to Terrorists?

      Next time Brian Williams or his carefully-coiffed successor assigns blame to some foreign actor for a cyberoutrage, I expect the “Cyber Threats Intelligence Integration Center” to figure prominently in the coverage.

    • Mind what you say – because your TV might be listening

      We live in privacy obsessed times, which is rather ironic. After all, many of those who complained most vociferously about the alleged snooping of the NSA on our personal emails failed to realise that by posting every conceivable piece of personal information on social media, the average spook merely needs to follow you on Twitter to find out everything they need to know.

    • Pop-up ads on TVs? Say it ain’t so!

      It’s a bad week for Samsung. After the firm addressed privacy concerns, some of its Smart TVs began displaying annoying pop-up ads. Meanwhile, the White House plans to form a cybersecurity agency, and smartphone thefts decline thanks to kill switches.

    • Samsung warns people not to discuss ‘sensitive information’ in front of their SmartTV
    • Be Warned, Samsung Smart TVs Can “Listen” to Your Living Room Chatter
    • Bruce Schneier: Your TV may be watching you

      Our smartphones and computers, of course, listen to us when we’re making audio and video calls. But the microphones are always there, and there are ways a hacker, government, or clever company can turn those microphones on without our knowledge. Sometimes we turn them on ourselves. If we have an iPhone, the voice-processing system Siri listens to us, but only when we push the iPhone’s button. Like Samsung, iPhones with the “Hey Siri” feature enabled listen all the time. So do Android devices with the “OK Google” feature enabled, and so does an Amazon voice-activated system called Echo. Facebook has the ability to turn your smartphone’s microphone on when you’re using the app.

    • Data retention: It seems BORING … until your TV SPIES ON YOU

      If there’s one thing we can thank this whole Samsung privacy brouhaha for, it’s casting data retention debates in a whole new light.

    • Privacy board head: End data collection program

      The head of a federal privacy board is reiterating his call to end the government’s bulk collection and storage of Americans’ phone records.

      David Medine, the chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, called for either President Obama or Congress to shut down the National Security Agency program. Obama has deferred to Congress to make the change.

    • America’s surveillance state. Part 6 – The future of expanded spying & surveillance

      While some citizens fight back against more encroachments on privacy, the NSA and its backers in the White House, Congress and the Courts are expanding their own reach, now monitoring literally trillions of messages. While legislators have been unable to restrain the NSA, corporations and enterprising journalists are using encryption. Even as intelligence agencies in the US and abroad are escalating their cyber war capacities, private companies are commercializing their technology. All of these issues concern whistleblowers, who say they fear the emergence of a police state if the mass surveillance is not curtailed or stopped.

    • To combat fraud, Visa wants to track your smartphone

      Those days of calling your bank to let them know that, yes, you really are in Thailand, and yes, you really did use your credit card to buy $200 in sarongs, may be coming to an end.

      The payment processing company Visa will roll out a new feature this spring that will allow its cardholders to inform their banks where they are automatically, using the location function found in nearly every smartphone.

      Having your bank and Visa know where you are at all times may sound a little like “Big Brother.” But privacy experts are actually applauding the feature, saying that, if used correctly, it could protect cardholders and cut down on credit card fraud.

    • Obama’s Big Cybersecurity Order Is Meh

      Look, his net neutrality proposal was great. It’s clear that Obama has a deeper understanding of how the internet works than at least a shitload of other politicians. But this cybersecurity order looks potentially milquetoast on the threat-prevention front and straight-up worrisome on the government-slurping-all-our-data horizon.

    • Sour grapes! Zuckerberg, Mayer, and Page expected to miss Obama’s cybersecurity order

      Not only were Yahoo, Facebook, and Google among the original “PRISM” companies revealed by Edward Snowden to have been forced into turning over information about their customers to the NSA, but France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany were among nations the NSA is accused of spying on as part of related programs. Perhaps today is a bit late to ask for a more open policy of sharing information.

    • Obama’s Surveillance Reform Theater

      What we’re witnessing is Reform Theater. A sort of kabuki act which is intended to provide the impression that, in the wake of Ed blundenSnowden’s revelations, something is being done. Officials create the perception of action by occupying themselves with narrow aspects of mass interception and this is intentional. They wouldn’t dare do anything substantial that would threaten the gears of the surveillance state. Instead they’ll leave Big Brother’s infrastructure in place and dither around the edges.

    • Samsung’s listening TV is proof that tech has outpaced our rights

      The Sun was an unlikely advocate for privacy in its special investigation piece early this week on the snooping Samsung telly. Forget phone hacking, it’s the technology companies you need to watch out for. The Sun’s outrage was not confined to Samsung: a neighbouring article reminded us of recent privacy complaints against Facebook and Google.

    • Barack Obama’s cyber security push spurs privacy fears

      After the bruising recriminations between the White House and the technology industry over the National Security Agency, Barack Obama will travel to the Bay Area on Friday to enlist Silicon Valley’s support for his post-Snowden push for cyber security legislation.

    • Facebook: Hey guys, come share all your securo-blunders with us!

      Facebook is teaming up with other big names on the interwebs to create a security information sharing portal, dubbed ThreatExchange*, which went live on Wednesday.

      ThreatExchange is billed as a platform that enables security professionals to “share threat information more easily, learn from each other’s discoveries, and make their own systems safer”.

    • Is Big Brother Here for Good?

      If we are to end our post-9/11 national security state, the congressional leadership must come to believe that blocking efforts to restore the Bill of Rights will result in real political consequences. If, however, they continue to see no political consequences, Americans’ rights to privacy and due process will continue to diminish into artifacts of a bygone era.

    • Obama responds to hacks and Silicon Valley with ‘emerging cyber threat’ plan

      President announces executive order ahead of summit to spur development of go-between for technology sector and government to share information

    • Three of tech’s top CEOs to skip Obama cybersecurity summit

      The top executives of Google Inc, Yahoo! Inc and Facebook Inc won’t attend President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity summit on Friday, at a time when relations between the White House and Silicon Valley have frayed over privacy issues.

      Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt were all invited but won’t attend the public conference at Stanford University, according to the companies. Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook is planning to show to the event, where Obama is scheduled to give the keynote speech and have a private lunch with a select group of attendees.

    • Obama Heads to Tech Security Talks Amid Tensions

      President Obama will meet here on Friday with the nation’s top technologists on a host of cybersecurity issues and the threats posed by increasingly sophisticated hackers. But nowhere on the agenda is the real issue for the chief executives and tech company officials who will gather on the Stanford campus: the deepening estrangement between Silicon Valley and the government.

    • Homeland Security to be put in charge of info sharing

      President Obama will announce a new executive order on the sharing of cybersecurity threats and information at Friday’s cybersecurity summit at Stanford University, the White House said.

      Most importantly to Silicon Valley, the president’s proposal is expected to cement the role of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the National Security Agency, as the government lead for information-sharing with the private sector.

    • Homeland Security to be put in charge of info sharing

      President Obama will announce a new executive order on the sharing of cybersecurity threats and information at Friday’s cybersecurity summit at Stanford University, the White House said.

      Most importantly to Silicon Valley, the president’s proposal is expected to cement the role of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the National Security Agency, as the government lead for information-sharing with the private sector.

    • Apple CEO signals he’s not backing down on iPhone encryption

      On Friday, the White House convened a “cyber summit” at Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto so that business and government leaders could get together and talk, essentially, about how scary hackers are.

    • Kara Swisher Interviews President Barack Obama on Cyber Security, Privacy and His Relationship With Silicon Valley (Video)

      President Barack Obama took the hot seat with Re/code’s Kara Swisher Friday as the two talked about a range of tech-focused topics, including cyber warfare, the White House’s relationship with Silicon Valley tech giants and the Apple Watch.

    • Obama Calls for Public Debate Over Encryption

      President Barack Obama said Friday that he probably leans more toward strong computer data encryption than many in law enforcement, but added that he understands investigators’ concerns over the matter because of their need to protect people from attacks.

      He suggested having a “public conversation” about the issue because “the first time that attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn’t follow up on it, the public’s going to demand answers.”

    • Thank Snowden: Internet Industry Now Considers The Intelligence Community An Adversary, Not A Partner

      In fact, it seems noteworthy that this whole issue of increasing encryption by the tech companies to keep everyone out has been left off the official summit schedule. As the NY Times notes (in the link above), Silicon Valley seems to be pretty much completely fed up with the intelligence community after multiple Snowden revelations revealed just how far the NSA had gone in trying to “collect it all” — including hacking into the foreign data centers of Google and Yahoo.

    • Guest Post: US Intelligence Reforms Still Allow Plenty of Suspicionless Spying on Americans

      Last week, the Obama Administration released a report and documents cataloging progress toward signals intelligence (SIGINT) reform goals set a year ago by the President in a document known as PPD-28. PPD-28 promises foreigners some of the same privacy protections given to US citizens and residents. But it turns out that those protections, even for citizens, are fairly meager, in ways that have not yet fully entered the public conversation about surveillance. US citizens and residents have been — and remain — exposed to suspicionless electronic surveillance. Implementation of PPD-28 will do little to change that.

    • Administration’s New Cyber Threat Center Replaces Old Cyber Threat Center

      This week the Obama administration is releasing its second Executive Order in as many years on computer (“cyber”) security, which reports are saying will create a new department in the intelligence community to handle computer security threat information sharing. Officials are hailing the center as “new” and unprecedented.

  • Civil Rights

    • ‘I’m Facing Years In Prison For Medical Marijuana — For Me, That’s A Death Sentence’

      Larry Harvey, 71, thought he was doing everything right growing medical marijuana for his personal use. His home state of Washington legalized medical cannabis in 1998, and Harvey says his cultivation of plants with his wife, other family members and a close friend complied with the law.

    • These Six American Heroes Said No to Torture

      Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because everyone knows that being afraid gives you moral license to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. That’s why we don’t shame or punish those who were too scared to imagine doing anything else. We honor and revere them.

    • Exclusive: US Senate Intelligence committee corrects CIA torture report after Bureau probe

      The US Senate Committee on Intelligence has issued a significant correction to an appendix to its report on CIA torture after mistakes were highlighted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

      A “notice of errata” was published earlier this month showing amendments for almost half of the 119 prisoners held in the CIA’s rendition and enhanced interrogation programme.

      The mistakes, which have been put down to a “technical error”, relate to the number of days the detainees were held by the CIA during the programme.

    • Man Held 20 Hours for Asking to File TSA Complaint

      Random American Citizen Roger Vanderklok (aka “Josef K.“) had the misfortune of going through TSA Supervisor Charles Kieser’s security-screening area. Vanderklok, 57, pictured with his wife, is a Philadelphia architect who runs half-marathons. He flies around the country for weekend races.

      The TSA said it was concerned about the gear in his carry-on bag, and pulled him out of line. The items of concern turned out to be only a running watch and some Power Bars, wrapped in a small PVC pipe for protection against crushing. Nonetheless, for the next 30 minutes, screeners checked and rechecked the bag. They found nothing dangerous. Vanderklok protested that he was no threat, and that the items were of no danger to anyone, and insisted on making a complaint.

      Electronics and “organic mass” can be used to make bombs, TSA Supervisor Charles Kieser said in response to Vanderlok’s complaint. “The passenger made a bomb threat to me,” Kieser testified later according to a court transcript. “He said ‘I’ll bring a bomb through here any day that I want… and you’ll never find it.’”
      - See more at: http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2015/02/13/man-held-20-hours-for-asking-to-file-tsa-complaint/#sthash.3S4vcvuH.dpuf

    • The Guardian view on whistleblowers: heroes working in the public interest

      The world needs its whistleblowers. They are indispensable to a healthy society. The employee who, in the public interest, has the independence of judgment and the personal courage to challenge malpractice or illegality is a kind of public hero. Yet, as Sir Robert Francis reported on Wednesday , in the NHS as in any large and bureaucratic organisation, whistleblowers are far more likely to be resented than respected, as Helene Donnelly, the nurse who protested about the failings in care at Mid Staffs, found out. Far from having their names embossed on a roll of honour, Francis found that the doctors and nurses and other NHS staff who reported their anxieties about failings in patient care had been shunned, suspended or even sacked by hospital bosses. Many were left struggling to find a new job. Some have been driven to contemplate suicide.

    • What’s behind the lower U.S. press freedom ranking?

      Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index Thursday and revealed the U.S. has received its lowest score since 2006.

      The U.S. is ranked 49th in the world — dropping from 46th — right behind Malta, Niger, Burkina Faso and El Salvador.

      In comparison, our northern neighbor Canada was ranked eighth this year. Mexico, on the other hand, is 148th.

    • Today in the News: Former cop charged with hiring hitman

      Imprisoned former Chicago-area police sergeant Drew Peterson was charged today with hiring a hitman to kill the prosecutor who sent him to prison for 38 years.

      Dressed in his prison uniform, Peterson asked for a public defender after hearing the charges against him. Peterson has been in jail since 2012, when he was found guilty of the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

    • The Terror We Give Is the Terror We Get

      We fire missiles from the sky that incinerate families huddled in their houses. They incinerate a pilot cowering in a cage. We torture hostages in our black sites and choke them to death by stuffing rags down their throats. They torture hostages in squalid hovels and behead them. We organize Shiite death squads to kill Sunnis. They organize Sunni death squads to kill Shiites. We produce high-budget films such as “American Sniper” to glorify our war crimes. They produce inspirational videos to glorify their twisted version of jihad.

    • Let Us No Longer Keep Silent About Torture
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Tim Berners-Lee: we need to re-decentralise the web

      Twenty-five years on from the web’s inception, its creator has urged the public to re-engage with its original design: a decentralised internet that at its very core, remains open to all.

      Speaking with Wired editor David Rowan at an event launching the magazine’s March issue, Tim Berners-Lee said that although part of this is about keeping an eye on for-profit internet monopolies such as search engines and social networks, the greatest danger is the emergence of a balkanised web.

    • Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age’

      Vint Cerf is promoting an idea to preserve every piece of software and hardware so that it never becomes obsolete – just like what happens in a museum – but in digital form, in servers in the cloud.

    • Republicans Are Shooting Themselves in the Foot Over Net Neutrality

      I’ve written before about the GOP’s peculiarly uncompromising stance on net neutrality. At its core, net neutrality has always been a battle between two huge industry groups and therefore never really presented an obvious reason for Republicans to feel strongly about one side or the other. But they’ve taken sides anyway, energetically supporting the anti-neutrality broadband industry against the pro-neutrality tech industry. Today an LA Times article dives more deeply into the problems this is causing:

    • Stop Demonizing the Internet

      In May 2013 I engaged in an hour long web chat with Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, a think tank that describes itself as “dedicated to understanding global challenges by applying technological solutions.”

  • DRM

    • New Encryption Method Fights Reverse Engineering

      New submitter Dharkfiber sends an article about the Hardened Anti-Reverse Engineering System (HARES), which is an encryption tool for software that doesn’t allow the code to be decrypted until the last possible moment before it’s executed. The purpose is to make applications as opaque as possible to malicious hackers trying to find vulnerabilities to exploit. It’s likely to find work as an anti-piracy tool as well.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Bonobos Issues ‘Cease & Insist’ To Katy Perry After It Promised To Sell Left Shark Suits

        So the saga of the Left Shark and Katy Perry’s lawyers keeps getting more and more strange. We’ve already covered the legal threat from Perry’s lawyers to the guy who was offering a 3D printed figurine of the Left Shark, followed by the response explaining to Perry’s lawyers that there is no copyright in left shark, leading to Perry’s lawyers to issue a uh huh there is… while also using the figurine maker’s own photo of his 3D printed shark in their (now abandoned) trademark application.

      • Megaupload Programmer Sentenced to a Year in Prison

        Andrus Nomm, one of the Megaupload employees indicted by the United States, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison. Nomm signed a plea deal and admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from Mega’s sites.

      • Megaupload Programmer Takes Plea Deal, Though It’s Still Unclear What Criminal Law He Violated

        A few days ago, it came out that programmer Andrus Nomm had flown to Virginia to be arrested. Nomm had worked for Megaupload in Europe and had been listed in the criminal case against Megaupload and its various employees. His name had mostly fallen off the radar, since he wasn’t down in New Zealand with most of the rest of them. It was obvious in his move to come to the US and be arrested that he must have worked out a plea deal with the feds, and that’s confirmed today with him pleading “guilty” to criminal copyright infringement with prosecutors asking for a year and a day in prison, which the court granted. Kim Dotcom noted that he has “nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm.”

      • Go to Prison for File Sharing? That’s What Hollywood Wants in the Secret TPP Deal

        The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) poses massive threats to users in a dizzying number of ways. It will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States’ excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. It contains DRM anti-circumvention provisions that will make it a crime to tinker with, hack, re-sell, preserve, and otherwise control any number of digital files and devices that you own. The TPP will encourage ISPs to monitor and police their users, likely leading to more censorship measures such as the blockage and filtering of content online in the name of copyright enforcement. And in the most recent leak of the TPP’s Intellectual Property chapter, we found an even more alarming provision on trade secrets that could be used to crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers who report on corporate wrongdoing.

      • TPP will bring the world under US copyright control

        The text from the TPP reads “penalties that include sentences of imprisonment as well as monetary fines sufficiently high to provide a deterrent to future acts of infringement, consistently with the level of penalties applied for crimes of corresponding gravity.” The EFF suggest that countries who do not have “sufficiently high” fines could be subject to pressure from the US Trade Representative to impose fines the US deems suitable.

        It doesn’t stop there though, TPP’s current copyright provisions enable judges to order the seizure, destruction or forfeiture of anything that can be “traceable to infringing activity”, used in the “creation of pirated copyright goods” or is “documentary evidence relevant to the alleged offence”. I find the last quote the most troubling, ‘documentary evidence’ could include the machine on which the content was created, servers it’s hosted on and could, at a stretch, include seizure of another persons machine based on chat logs if the activity was being discussed with a friend.

Microsoft’s Latest Lock-in Strategy in Detail, Now Exploiting the Public Sector and Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s ‘free lunch’

Green chillies

Summary: Parasitical plot and subversive acts that strive to make people inadvertently dependent on proprietary software/spyware from Microsoft are now piggybacking taxpayers-funded institutions and Free software

SEVERAL YEARS ago many in the UK were up in arms over the BBC’s exclusion of GNU/Linux and promotion of Microsoft lock-in. It happened after many employees from Microsoft UK had occupied key positions in the BBC.

According to this new report from the British media: “The BBC’s Audio Factory goes live today, bringing with it the end of streaming audio over Windows Media.

“The broadcaster flagged the demise of Windows Media last year, when it also announced Audio Factory, a streaming tool delivering audio in the AAC codec over http. Audio Factory aims to standardise Auntie’s audio delivery practices and infrastructure.

“As of today, the Beeb says Audio Factory will carry “11 national services, six Nations services and 40 local radio stations”.”

Citing our analysis of Microsoft entryism in the BBC, Soylent News wrote: “As Roy Schestowitz has pointed out repeatedly at TechRights, there has been an incestuous revolving door thing going on between the Beeb and Microsoft, so this is a noteworthy step.”

But there is also some bad news. It turns out that in the mean time Microsoft lock-in infects national records in the US. As Mr. Updegrove put it, “Library of Congress “Opens Up” with (wait for it…) OOXML”. Talk about making data obsolete!

Last week, the Library of Congress announced that it will “open up with OOXML.” Nine new OOXML format descriptions will be added to the LoC Format Sustainability Website.

Last July, the U.K. Cabinet Office formally adopted ODF, the OpenDocument Format developed by OASIS and adopted by ISO/IEC, as an approved open format for editable public documents. It did not give the same approval to OOXML, another XML-based document format that was based on a contribution from Microsoft to ECMA, another standards organization. OOXML was also in due course adopted by ISO/IEC. The Cabinet Office decision came ten years after the largest standards war of the decade was launched by a similar, but later reversed, decision by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As that war heated up, both sides (ODF was supported by IBM, Oracle, Motorola, Google and others) recruited as many allies as they could. One of those recruited by Microsoft was the U.S. Library of Congress.

Not too long ago Microsoft was trying to get people ‘hooked’ on Microsoft surveillance search, but this surely failed. As a new report puts it, “Microsoft is effectively killing off the Windows with Bing notebook market less than a year after it was created.”

It sure looks like Microsoft is now relying on sticking its lock-in right inside Android, but it’s likely to be done via Samsung, Cyanogen, Nokia, Facebook, or even Amazon (where many Microsoft executives moved to). Microsoft also tries to make Free software dependent or tied to OOXML.

Microsoft has not changed. If may have only morphed into more of a mole, embedded itself more deeply into the fabric of its competition.

More People With Microsoft Roots Enter the Linux Foundation, Occupying Top Positions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 5:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Entryism (also referred to as entrism, occasionally as enterism) is a political strategy in which an organisation or state encourages its members or supporters to join another, usually larger organisation in an attempt to expand influence and expand their ideas and program. In situations where the organization being “entered” is hostile to entrism, the entrists may engage in a degree of subterfuge to hide the fact that they are an organisation in their own right.” ~Wikipedia

Summary: The most infamous Microsoft mole inside Free/Open Source software (FOSS) lands right inside the Linux Foundation

Microsoft is actively attacking Linux (example from the past hour), but some in the Linux Foundation are willfully blind to it. They also ignore, at their own peril, Microsoft’s track record of entryism.

We were extremely disappointed to learn that the Linux Foundation-linked Cloud Foundry Foundation had put a Microsoft mole in charge, repeating a similar mistake from last year. This one is actually a lot worse because Nicolas (Neela) Jacques did not work as a mole/infiltrator for Microsoft but as actual staff.

“This enables Microsoft to exercise influence in the Linux Foundation and also makes it hard for the Foundation to openly criticise Microsoft.”Several press release copies were thrown at the wires for propaganda’s sake to announce this mole’s appointment and Microsoft fan sites, in addition to Microsoft boosters like Gavin Clarke, took advantage of it to openwash Microsoft and portray Microsoft as a friend of Linux. How sick is that?

Other coverage we have come across was rather shallow as it did nothing to highlight criticism, which was widespread when the mole (Ramji) worked for Microsoft. We wrote several dozens of articles about it.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has disappointedly enough been grooming this Microsoft mole and didn’t know him well enough to spell his name correctly (misspelled in 4 places). If he cannot even spell a 5-letter surname, then we doubt he knows to what extent the mole has been damaging FOSS. Vaughan-Nichols, moreover, still gives too much credit to Microsoft for pretending to be Open Source while it’s actually attacking FOSS. From his article:

The Cloud Foundry Foundation was created a year ago to form an open-source industry consortium to back Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) project written in Ruby and Go. It was then reorganized in December as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. It operates under a system of open governance by open-source experts from founding Platinum Members EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, SAP, and VMware.

If the Linux Foundation can trust people from a criminal company (Microsoft) and a weapons company (BEA Systems), then we truly worry about its judgment. This enables Microsoft to exercise influence in the Linux Foundation and also makes it hard for the Foundation to openly criticise Microsoft. Zemlin blesses this choice of Ramji, which makes him not just an observer of this worrisome move.

Microsoft Reportedly Uses Patent Blackmail Against Android to Force Samsung to Spread Microsoft Spyware (Incorporated Into Android) (Updated)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Samsung at 4:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Samsung at risk of climbing back into Microsoft’s bed

Samsung Mouse

Summary: Microsoft is reportedly pressuring Samsung, by means of expensive patent lawsuits, to turn Android into “Microsoft Android” (Microsoft spyware installed by default)

THE clown called Microsoft, which claims to “love Linux”, is still attacking Linux in a big way. Usually this is done more or less covertly, so enough “useful idiots” won’t see it and even defend Microsoft.

The other day we saw Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols addressing Microsoft's attack on Android through Cyanogen. Microsoft wants the world to believe that it ‘owns’ part of Android as it even claims to be ‘licensing’ Android, despite having nothing to do with Android development. Microsoft actively attacks Android from multiple directions and as Vaughan-Nichols put it:

The only thing that makes me take Cyanogen’s plans seriously is that Amazon and Microsoft appear to be looking into investing in Cyanogen to help create an Android software eco-system that’s not under Google’s control. But, honestly, even if Amazon and Microsoft backed Cyanogen to the hilt, would that really matter?

Both companies have tried, and failed, to produce a popular smartphone. Indeed, Amazon’s Fire smartphone lost approximately $170 million.

As for Cyanogen, its most well-known efforts to contract with phone vendors ended up with Indian phone giant Micromax and Chinese company Shenzhen OnePlus Technology locked in a lawsuit in the Indian courts. McMaster also made no friends for Cyanogen when he declared that “Samsung couldn’t build a good OS if they tried.” Since Samsung is the world’s number one Android phone vendor and Kondik’s former employer, this doesn’t strike me as a way to win sales partners and influence carriers.


Only Microsoft with Windows Phone has seen even 2 percent of the mobile market. That’s not enough. Even Windows Phone fans, given the lack of support for the platform from carriers like Verizon, have given up on Windows Phone. Major companies, including Chase and Bank of America, are also no longer supporting Windows Phone.

Cyanogen will fail just like similar attempts at disrupting Android at Microsoft’s behalf. But it doesn’t make the above any less harmful.

Samsung, based on some sources, is again leaning to Microsoft, which may blackmailing the Android leader (in terms of market share) into the agenda of “Microsoft Android” (extortion by Microsoft so as to get its way, as usual).

Engadget, for instance, wrote that “[q]uite a few smartphone fans will tell you that a Samsung phone’s Achilles’ heel is its software — you’ll find a ton of (frequently unwanted) apps and features that do little besides chew up space and slow things down. You may get to wave goodbye to that cruft when the Galaxy S6 shows up, however. A SamMobile source claims that Samsung is yanking a lot of its usual pre-installed bloatware, making the GS6 “amazingly fast” compared to a weighed-down phone like the Galaxy Note 4. The titles wouldn’t go away forever, but you’d have to download in-house apps if you did want them. Instead, the focus would be on a host of included Microsoft apps: Office, OneDrive, OneNote and Skype would give you some solid productivity out of the box. It’s not clear if the Microsoft deal has any connection to a recent truce with Samsung over patent royalties, although it wouldn’t be surprising.”

Samsung was the first devices company that publicly subscribed/signed up for Microsoft’s patent attack on Linux in 2007, so we wouldn’t be shocked if Samsung indeed decided to play ball for Microsoft, much as Nokia and Facebook had attempted (both Microsoft-owned, at least in part).

Update: Mary Jo Foley is Distorting or Making Up ‘Facts’ About Microsoft’s Patent Attack on Android/Linux

An article by Paul Hill, linking to this widely-cited article, says that Microsoft is trying to hijack Android. He writes the following: “It looks like the two companies settled under the condition that Samsung will pre-load Microsoft’s apps on their Android devices.

“It’s likely that the next Samsung flagship smartphone will squarely try to appeal to corporate users as Samsung is already extremely popular with casual users. The device is expected to be launched on March 1st at Samsung’s annual ‘Unpacked’ event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona alongside the Galaxy S Edge, an offering with curved edges that look as though they may give quick access to apps, but for obvious reasons, this isn’t clear.”

It has been clear that Microsoft would try hard to make Android users dependent on OOXML and other Microsoft traps, but ZDNet, which is owned by CBS, continues to distort some facts and we must respond to that. The company’s Microsoft booster (one of many) Mary Jo Foley promotes the infiltration by saying that “SamMobile claims the Galaxy S6 will remove pre-installed Samsung apps like S Voice, S Health, S Note and Scrapbook. These will be replaced by Microsoft apps like OneDrive, OneNote, the new standalone Office mobile apps and Skype.”

Putting aside the crucial observation that this is not yet confirmed (see context above and bear in mind that SamMobile is scarcely known and hasn’t acquired reputation), she adds some nonsense to it all by not introducing the full history of Microsoft and Samsung, including that old patent deal which apparently was more to do with FAT than anything else. ZDNet posts a summary [1] linking to the booster’s [2] biased claims that add to the unsubstantiated smear, repeating the lie that has Microsoft portrayed as making billions out of Android, despite there being no concrete evidence (it’s most likely that scaring OEMs is the goal). Given the patterns of Microsoft propaganda in ZDNet, we are not too shocked to see this. We do need to respond to these perceptions that are propagated to damage Android/Linux. These perceptions are mostly created and spread by sources that are aligned with Microsoft, as we’ve demonstrated in past years.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Top Android news of the week: Shipments drop, Android Wear not big, royalty battle ends

    The suit against Samsung over royalty payments for Microsoft’s patents has been settled. It involved payments to Microsoft that Samsung had stopped paying due to claims that the former’s purchase of Nokia’s handset business was a breach of the royalty agreement.

    Neither company disclosed terms of the settlement.

  2. Microsoft, Samsung settle contract dispute over Android patent payments

    Samsung is one of about two dozen companies selling Android, Chrome OS and/or Linux devices that are paying patent-royalty licensing fees to Microsoft.

Software Patents Continue Their Demise in The United States After Alice Ruling

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 4:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No Constitutional rights to patent

Stone book

Summary: Court cases which serve to highlight the end of an era of software patents to all

Software patents are a terrifying concept. One can become an infringer and very quickly get sued (in bulk even) for merely typing one’s own ideas on a keyboard. When it comes to the United States, things are at least improving. This lawyers’ site has just shared the outcome of another case involving software patents where the patents lost in a big way. Moreover, it’s the most zealous pro-software patents court that ruled against software patents. As the site puts it, “The Federal Circuit on Monday rejected software company E-Lynxx Corp.’s bid to revive claims in a $50 million lawsuit accusing InnerWorkings Inc., Cirqit.com Inc. and others of infringing patents for products that help choose the lowest bidder from a variety of vendors.”

In other uplifting news: “As patent reform moved into the political spotlight during the last Congress, one patent that kept coming up was the “online shopping cart.” It seemed to resonate as a technology that clearly shouldn’t have been patented.

“By the time it started being brought up in Congressional hearings, though, the shopping cart patent was dead. Its owner, Soverain Software, was beaten when computer retailer Newegg won an appellate ruling invalidating its patents and throwing out the $2.5 million jury verdict against it.”

Excellent! It’s a step in the right direction and by precedence it will pave the way for similar rulings to come. This isn’t about patent trolls; rather, it is about patent scope.

TechDirt just covered a study which claims to have busted the myth about hoarding ideas. Remember that patents were (way back in the days) a very different animal. There was a different rationale well before computers even existed. Patents were in some sense about increase in sharing and collaboration. That’s what patents were about all at first, at the very beginning. It was about dissemination of knowledge (publication) in exchange for a temporary monopoly, ensuring knowledge is not completely lost in the interest of profit/protectionism by secrecy. Another myth is being addressed at Patent Progress these days, tackling the misconception about Constitutional rights to patents:

Congress was granted the power to promote progress of “science and useful arts” in a particular way. While Congress has the power to grant patents, it has no obligation to do so, which means that there is no constitutional right to a patent.

Patents should be granted (if ever at all) when there is empirical evidence that doing so would be collectively beneficial. All that software patents seem to have brought about is a circus of patent trolls, patent blackmail, removal of key features from programs, and retardation of startups. Many studies have been showing that the net outcome of software patents is overwhelmingly negative and US policy will hopefully be evidence-based as opposed to lawyers-driven and monopolies-steered.

Obsession With Branded Bugs in Free Software, Not Bugging by Proprietary Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Discussions revolve around brands, not objectivity


Summary: The bogus ‘debate’ about bugs, where built-in bugs (like wiretapping, bugging, and back doors in proprietary software) are conveniently overlooked

DESPITE acknowledging that Free software is more secure than proprietary software, Veracode recently turned opportunistic. It was using bugs with "branding" to promote itself and it wasn’t alone.

“FOSS has some bugs, whereas proprietary software is a bug.”Several opportunistic firms, including Black Duck, are appearing in the press again, exploiting “branding” of few bugs in FOSS to sell proprietary stuff. Veracode is again doing it and Black Duck’s latest FUD piece is resurfacing yet again, as very recently noted by us after its placement had been pushed by IDG — an extensive network which gives this proprietary firm a platform as author on FOSS matters. “Black Duck Software presents 5 tips for a secure enterprise relationship with open source,” says IDG, but since when is Black Duck an authority in the area? It’s a proprietary software firm.

FOSS has some bugs, whereas proprietary software is a bug. It’s bugging. We recently wrote about Outlook being ousted as a surveillance platform and amid revelations about the NSA’s spying on EU Parliament Outlook (the ‘app’) is reportedly banned. To quote a British report: “The EU Parliament has blocked politicians from using the Microsoft mobile Outlook app in the wake of security and privacy concerns centred on the siphoning of corporate credentials to a third party, according to reports.

“The Parliament’s IT department, DG ITEC, has reportedly told staff to delete the app and reset corporate email passwords if it was used.”

Nevertheless, the jingoistic Microsoft Peter (Peter Bright) tries to paint Microsoft as “cool” while it is “shutting down a[nother] competitor” as a source put it to us, citing this article:

Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed its purchase of mobile calendar app Sunrise.

This will immediately become a PRISM-included surveillance app. Reading reports about it helps show that the security issue is proprietary software, especially Microsoft’s (the NSA’s top ally). It oughtn’t be so shocking that Black Duck, which is strongly connected to Microsoft, would hastily and repeatedly overlook Microsoft’s ill effect on software, turning software into bugs, wiretapping everyone.

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