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04.04.15

Links 4/4/2015: Rust 1.0 Beta, IceCat 31.6.0

Posted in News Roundup at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Get 91% off the Linux Learner Bundle

    Master Linux quickly & efficiently with the next great courseware offer from TNW Deals! The Linux Learner Bundle puts you in command of the basics with 6 elite courses and 50+ hours of interactive learning content.

  • Desktop

    • Meerkat Is a Superb Mini-PC from System76 That Can Be Anything, Including Steam Link

      Meerkat is a mini-PC developed by System76 that is based on the NUC Intel platform and that comes with some insane specifications. The good news is Meerkat is now available for purchase.

    • Ubuntu on the Asus Zenbook UX305 ultrabook

      The Asus Zenbook UX305 is a thin and light laptop that offers a pretty great value. For $699 you get a 2.6 pounds notebook with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of solid state storage, a 13.3 inch full HD matte display, and an Intel Core M Broadwell processor.

    • Vive La France Libre! GNU/Linux Rolls Onwards And Upwards
    • A Linux Paradox Needs Explanation: Making Your Linux OS Look like Windows

      The Linux platform is extremely flexible, and it can be implemented pretty much anywhere, either as a server, a firewall or as an OS for your heating system at home. The same flexibility allows users to customize their operating systems to look like Windows, and that is somewhat of a paradox.

    • Google Unveils 4 New Chromebooks and Chrome OS on a Stick

      Google has unveiled five new computers running its Linux-based Chrome OS, including the first Chrome OS stick computer and the lowest priced touchscreen Chromebook to date.

      The new models move Chrome OS closer to the mobile embedded realm of Android, a trend underscored with Google now opening up its technology for porting Android apps to Chrome OS to any Android app developer. Google also showed off a beta Chrome Launcher 2.0 that switches the UI to a more Android-like Material Design look and feel, as well as Google Now.

    • Five New Chrome OS Computers

      The candy-bar sized Chromebit HDMI stick has some of the same innards as the four new Chromebooks including a Rockchip RK3288, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of eMMC. The under $100 TV plug-in also sports a USB port, Bluetooth, and WiFi ac.

    • Google announces new Chromebooks and Chromebit HDMI sticks

      Google’s Chromebooks have long been burning up the sales charts on Amazon’s list of bestselling laptops. Now the company has announced four new Chromebooks, new HDMI sticks called Chromebits, and an update to its App Runtime for Chrome.

    • Chromebook Flip: Incentive for Google to improve touch for Chrome OS

      Chromebooks have been available with touch screens since the original Chromebook Pixel. They aren’t common but there are a few models on the market. One reason they aren’t common is that touch support in Chrome OS is not very good, so there’s no incentive for OEMs to build Chromebooks with touch.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Important X.Org Election Is Ending This Weekend

        For X.Org members that haven’t yet voted in this year’s particularly important elections, there’s just a few days to cast your ballot.

        The elections were supposed to happen back from 9 March to 22 March, but were significantly delayed and didn’t get started until 23 March. As such, they’re now expected to end on 5 April at 23:59 UTC.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Countdown on elementary OS Website Suggests a New Freya Release

      A countdown has appeared today, April 4, on the elementary OS website suggesting that a new release of the highly anticipated operating system will be unveiled in approximately 7 days and 10 hours from the moment of writing this article.

    • New Releases

    • Arch Family

      • BlackArch Linux Offers Wealth of Security Research Tools

        There is no shortage of Linux-based operating systems focused on security research in the market today, including BackBox, Pentoo, CAINE and Kali Linux. While all of those Linux operating systems include a healthy volume of tools, BlackArch is in a category of its own in terms of the sheer number of included applications. BlackArch Linux version 2015.03.29, released March 29, provides users with more than 1,200 security tools. BlackArch is an Arch Linux-based security research operating system. Arch Linux is what is known as a rolling release Linux distribution that is constantly being updated. BlackArch includes anti-forensic, automation, backdoor, crypto, honeypot, networking, scanners, spoofers and wireless security tools. Among the interesting tools that BlackArch includes is Easy Creds, which aims to make it easier for security researchers to obtain user credentials during a penetration test. Within BlackArch’s backdoor tools category is OpenStego, a steganography application, which can be used to hide data inside an image. eWEEK takes a look at some of the features in the BlackArch 2015.03.29 release.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Scientific Linux 7.1 to Offer ZFS on Linux, UEFI Secure Boot Support Still Not Fully Implemented

        The Scientific Linux development team, through Pat Riehecky, has announced a couple of days ago that the first Release Candidate (RC) version of the upcoming Scientific Linux 7.1 computer operating system is available for download and testing.

      • Scientific Linux 7.1 Is Coming Soon, Up To An RC State

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 was released in March and since then all of the RHEL derivatives have been busy testing and pushing out their updates. The Scientific Linux development community is close to getting out their SL7.1 release but they’re hoping for some last-minute testing.

        Scientific Linux 7.1 RC1 was released last night with all of the RHEL 7.1 changes incorporated. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 brought Kpatch support, SSSD for CISF, USB 3.0 support for KVM as a tech preview feature, vCPU support in KVM up to 240 vCPUs, Btrfs improvements, and many package updates throughout. Those wanting to find out about the upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 improvements can find the release notes at RedHat.com.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Hack The Home: creating the home of the future

            These days, the free availability of open source software – take Snappy Ubuntu Core as a great example – means the near future is more sci-fi than DIY. Now, as GE’s company FirstBuild is about to prove, the home is the playground of the inventor, and freely available open source software like Snappy is their toolkit.

          • Canonical Wants Ubuntu to Power the House of the Future

            The home of tomorrow will be smart and it will be a part of the Internet of Things, but what operating systems will be behind everything? Canonical wants to make Ubuntu Snappy Core the engine for the house of the future, and that’s the reason it’s sponsoring the Mega Hackathon: Hack the Home event.

          • Users Report Some Bq Aquaris 4.5 Ubuntu Phones Going into Reboot Loop

            Users have reported that some of the Bq Aquaris 4.5 Ubuntu Edition phones are stuck in a continuous reboot loop and Canonical took notice. They are now investigating the problem, and they are looking for solutions.

          • Lots of GnuPG Vulnerabilities Have Been Closed in All Ubuntu OSes

            Canonical has published details in a security notice about a number of GnuPG vulnerabilities that have been found and fixed in Ubuntu 14.10, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS operating systems.

          • Cube i7-CM is an Ubuntu tablet with Intel Core M

            Chinese device maker Cube offers a range of tablets with Android, Windows, or both. Now the company’s launching its first tablet running Ubuntu Linux.

            The Cube i7-CM is a tablet with an Intel Core M processor Canonical’s Linux-based operating system. It launches in China this week, but you should be able to have one shipped internationally if you find a seller at AliExpress or a store that exports Chinese tablets.

          • Is Radio Ready for Ubuntu?

            In the early 1990s, it seemed that the major PC operating systems had pretty well marked their territories. Creative endeavors went with Macintosh; business and finance adopted Windows; Linux was embraced by the computer geeks.

            But are those boundaries cast in stone? Andrew (A.J.) Janitscheck, director of program operations and support for Radio Free Asia, thinks it might be time for radio stations to do a rethink.

            His NAB Show presentation “Ubuntu — Radio Ready” describes RFA’s adoption of Linux, which began with system administrators and spread much further. Today, the RFA studios and broadcast network are powered by Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio.

          • You Can Now Send Web Pages to Your Ubuntu Phone from Any Browser

            A Softpedia user brought to our attention that there’s a new application for Ubuntu Touch OS, as well as corresponding browser extensions, that allow users to send web pages (basically any URL) to their Ubuntu Phone devices.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tiny SODIMM-style module runs Linux on Cortex-A5

      Denx announced an “MA5D4″ COM that runs Linux on Atmel’s SAMA5D4 SoC, plus a baseboard kit that adds a touchscreen and CAN, serial, HDMI, USB, and camera ports.

      Like Denx Computer Systems’s recent, Freescale i.MX6-based Denx M6R computer-on-module, the MA5D4 is supplied with the Yocto Linux based Embedded Linux Development Kit (ELDK) distribution from sister company Denx Software Engineering. Applications are said to include mobile input and output terminals, measuring instruments, or scanners with simple UIs. Many other types of IoT gizmos could make use of this module, especially those that require low power consumption, which is claimed to be ~500mW on the MA5D4.

    • Open spec x86 SBCs gain prototyping add-ons

      Newark Element14 launched a $20 motor control add-on for AMD’s Gizmo 2 SBC, and MinnowBoard.org tipped a new “Lure” LED add-on for the Minnowboard Max.

    • Tiny SBC runs Linux on Vybrid-based COM

      F&S announced an open-spec “PCOMnetA5″ SBC, combining a carrier board with a Linux-ready COM equipped with Freescale’s Cortex-A5 and -M4 based Vybrid SoC.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • IoT on Tizen with IoTivity

          First, what is the Internet of Things? I will try to answer this question based on my personal research and experiments as a Tizen and IoTivity community contributor.

          Many analysts or programmers may feel the “IoT hype” is overrated, since it became one of top buzz word of this year 2015, (it replaced big data which took the place of cloud the year before).

          Believe it or not but I also think something big is happening now in the embedded world, pretty much similar to what happened when local networks were connected together into the Internet.

          This can be a hasty analogy, but I see the very same pattern: while we’re used to connect embedded devices or computers, let’s transpose this one level down, then it’s easy to imagine the connections between each components of the system and the ability to deal with them as network nodes.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Meteor: An amazing free, open source Web app platform you have to try

    So, you’re probably wondering what makes Meteor so damn exciting … first of all, you code in JavaScript on both the client- and the server-side. Second, Meteor is real-time even for implementing code updates for running apps. Third, it’s based on Node.js:

    … a platform built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime for easily building fast, scalable network applications. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient, perfect for data-intensive real-time applications that run across distributed devices.

  • Hidden Costs of Open Source
  • Open Source as a Force Multiplier

    In essence, the Open Source approach serves as a force multiplier for my development team. Welcome to the team!

  • Open-source eats open-source: Why the innovation will never stop

    Technology only exists thanks to innovation. If nobody was pushing the boundaries with fresh ideas, then technology, and the people who depend on it, would have died out with the neanderthals. But while many people might believe the big tech vendors are the ones responsible for driving most of the innovation in computing today, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • OpenIndiana 2015.03 “Hipster” Solaris OS Adds Enlightenment 0.19 as Alternative Desktop

    After half of year of development, Ken Mays has announced earlier this week the availability of a new OpenIndiana release, 2015.03, dubbed Hipster. OpenIndiana is the continuation of the OpenSolaris operating system, and this new release introduces several updated packages, an alternative desktop environment, and various under-the-hood improvements.

  • Events

    • LLVM Microconference Accepted into 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      This microconference will cover all things LLVM related to Linux. Discussions will range from progress in compiling the Linux kernel (and changes in clang/LLVM) to support of clang in yocto, and even to compiling an entire distro with clang (while also using the “musl” replacement for glibc and uclibc). The topics will also include LLVM being used for bug hunting and for the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF).

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Rust 1.0 beta released

        The Rust team at Mozilla Research has announced the first beta release of Rust 1.0. The release notes detail a number of important changes, but the announcement adds some additional noteworthy items.

      • Rust 1.0 Now In Beta
      • Announcing Rust 1.0 Beta

        Today we are excited to announce the release of Rust 1.0 beta! The beta release marks a very significant “state transition” in the move towards 1.0. In particular, with the beta release, all libraries and language features that are planned to be stable for 1.0 have been marked as stable. As such, the beta release represents an accurate preview of what Rust 1.0 will include.

      • Mozilla Firefox 37.0.1 Out Now, Disables HTTP/2 AltSvc and Fixes Bugs

        Mozilla has pushed the first point release of its recently announced Firefox 37.0 web browser to mirrors worldwide. The new version will be available to users via the application’s built-in updater.

      • IceCat 31.6.0 release

        GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Survey Results Disagree on the True State of Hadoop Adoption

      How much traction are Hadoop and other Big Data tools getting in enterprises? That depends on which studies you put credence in. A new report from Barclays Bank PLC notes that Hadoop is gaining substantial enterprise traction, but other reports note that many enterprises remain in evaluation stage. Meanwhile, a recent report from Snowflake Computing, a cloud data warehousing company, found that nearly two thirds of the respondents said that they believe Hadoop will not have any impact on their legacy data environments.

    • OpenStack Innovator Nebula Ceases Operations: Is OpenStack in Trouble?

      The company founded by the OpenStack founder (and former NASA CTO) goes bust; what happened and does this mean OpenStack as a whole is in trouble?

  • Databases

    • Open source is better off without FoundationDB

      Database startup FoundationDB mysteriously vanished at the end of last month, along with both the downloads of its proprietary database and its open source projects.

      As it turned out, Apple bought the company for internal use. I was interested in how this was perceived. When Ben Kepes of Forbes initially wrote about the purchase, for example, he erred in characterizing FoundationDB as all open source. It was an easy mistake; the company used the language of developer communities. Many of us assume “open” when we hear “community” because open source is so much the default these days.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Thousands of Spaniards leave Twitter for GNU social

      Unlike Twitter, which is controlled by a centralized authority, GNU social is a network of independent servers called nodes. Federation technology allows users to communicate between nodes, preserving the unified experience of traditional social media systems, and the free GNU social software allows anybody with an Internet connection to start their own public or private node and join the network. These administrators can even customize their nodes to suit the unique needs of their users.

    • Social FLOSS “Out There”
  • Public Services/Government

    • Overhaul to ensure relevance of projects on Joinup

      The projects shared on the Joinup collaboration platform are being checked for relevance. Over the past 8 years, Joinup and the original two communities, OSOR and SEMIC, have collected over 4000 software solutions and more than 2000 semantic assets. Some of these projects have meanwhile been replaced by new tools, some moved to different repositories, and others have become obsolete.

  • Licensing

    • European Commission finalises the draft EUPL v1.2

      After this presentation, a specific point was still under investigation: the possibility of an “opt out” clause regarding the updated list of compatible licences. This list is not only extended to the GPLv3 and AGPLv3, but also to other copyleft licences like the MPL or the LGPL that protect the covered files or the derivatives of the covered works against exclusive appropriation (prohibition of re-licensing the covered files or their derivatives under a proprietary licence) without any ambition to extend their coverage to the whole work or application in which the covered file is integrated or linked.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Suing EPA for failure to regulate nano-pesticides

      We finally know what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will and will not do about regulating the use of nanomaterials in pesticides. It has taken seven years and a lawsuit to force the EPA to act. And unfortunately, its action leaves much to be desired: there are still no requirements to protect nano-pesticide manufacturer workers, farmer workers and those living downwind from nano-pesticide drift. (A 2014 General Accountability Office report stated that the EPA’s oversight of pesticide residue testing laboratories was inadequate. Nano-pesticide residue testing standards have yet to be developed.)

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Nuclear deal: Iranians find ways to celebrate on social media

      As news of Thursday evening’s breakthrough in nuclear negotiations began to sink in, Iranians reacted jubilantly – both in the streets of Iran and online.

    • It Didn’t Happen

      It is so unthinkable, that IT NEVER HAPPENED. Not one British mainstream media report of the debate mentions Trident missiles or nuclear weapons. A Google news search on trident missiles or on nuclear weapons throws up zero references to the leaders’ debate or Nicola Sturgeon in British mainstream media today. Not one of the broadcasters’ highlight packages repeated Nicola’s outrage at the country’s throwing away money on weapons of mass destruction when so many children are living in poverty.

    • Whisper it Gently: Iran Played a Blinder

      Three months ago, I published this: “I remain hopeful that Iran will realise that there is a huge opportunity here. If Iran tactically backs down on its nuclear programme in the current circumstances, that will not be a defeat for Iran but a defeat for the neo-cons.”

      That is precisely what has happened. My own Western diplomatic source with access to the talks, has told me today that he estimates 96% of the movement since December has been on the Iranian side, and only 4% on the international side. At the end, the Iranians took everyone by surprise by agreeing to take 2,000 more centrifuges out of use than anybody ever thought they would.

    • At least 54 Colombian girls sexually abused by immune US military: Report

      US soldiers and military contractors sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007, according to a recently released historic document on the country’s conflict. The suspects have allegedly not been prosecuted due to immunity clauses in bilateral agreements.

    • US Military’s Sexual Assault of Colombian Children

      …not a single U.S. mainstream domestic news outlet has covered any aspects of the report to date.

    • Five Years On, the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” Video Matters More than Ever

      This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the release of the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video which showed a July 12, 2007 US Apache attack helicopter attack upon individuals in a Baghdad suburb. Amongst the over twelve people killed by the 30mm cannon-fire were two Reuters staff. The video was part of the huge cache of material leaked to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning.

    • The Case for Giving Iran’s Scholar-Diplomats a Chance

      Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, has more cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama does. In fact, Iran has more holders of American Ph.D.s in its presidential cabinet than France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, or Spain—combined.

    • Top Bush Administration Official Says There’s No Alternative To Diplomacy With Iran

      Gen. Michael Hayden, President George W. Bush’s director of the NSA and CIA, told Fox News on Friday morning that he was “heartened” by the tentative deal the Obama administration and its international partners have reached with Iran in an effort to contain its nuclear program.

    • Iran: US Drone Killed Two of Our Advisers in Iraq
    • Iran US Drone Strike: Revolutionary Guard Claims America Killed 2 ‘Advisers’ In Iraq
    • Iranian Guard says US drone killed 2 of its advisers in Iraq; US says it only struck militants
    • Iran Says U.S. Drone Killed Two Advisers In Iraq
    • Monthly Drone Report, March 2015: US drone strikes drop 50% as chaos envelops Yemen
    • ‘Kill Chain’ holds up the drone and looks at it from every angle

      Recall, fondly, the $435.00 hammer. That was the $15.00 hammer the Pentagon bought back in the 1980s, after $420.00 had been tacked on for research and development. R&D on a hammer (a pause here to reflect on this), a tool that hasn’t changed since the first years of the Iron Age (1200 BC). Good for a laugh, that kind of cheesy, bureaucratic thievery.

      Now consider the drone, as Andrew Cockburn does with mordancy in Kill Chain: an unmanned aerial vehicle that has been with us for some time; imagine a hot-air balloon that escapes its mooring. But the kind that takes pictures and fires a high-explosive missile you do not want to be on the receiving end of (and the receiving end is not necessarily its target).

    • Trusting High-Tech Weapons of War
    • Review of “Kill Chain: Rise of the High-tech Assassins”

      Cockburn has provided a highly readable, and logically devastating story, written from a bottom-up empirical perspective. He explains why our strategy in Yemen was doomed to fail, as indeed it has in recent weeks. His meticulously referenced historical and empirical research makes this book hard to pick apart. No doubt, there are some small errors of fact. For example, not all the drone/bombers deployed in ill starred Operation Aphrodite (which blew up JFK’s elder brother) in 1944 were B-24s as Cockburn incorrectly suggests; the operation also used B-17s. But I defy anyone to find a single thread or family of threads that can be used to unravel his tapestry.

    • Television Commercial in California Asks Drone Pilots to Stop Killing

      The ad was produced by KnowDrones.com, and is cosponsored by Veterans for Peace/Sacramento, and Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento. It is airing on CNN, FoxNews and other networks starting Tuesday in the Sacramento/Yuba City area, near Beale Air Force Base.

    • Think drones technology is not really the problem? Think again

      While US targeted killing outside international law did not originate with drones, without a doubt it is the technology that has enabled a wholesale expansion of it – so much so that it has almost become normalised. And it is not just ‘anti-drone’ campaigners who are making this point. The 2014 report of the Stimson Task Force on US Drone Policy, authored by former senior US military and administration officials, states “it would be difficult to conclude that US targeted strikes are consistent with core rule of law norms” and declares that “the availability of lethal UAV technologies has enabled US policies that likely would not have been adopted in the absence of UAVs.” (For more on drones and targeted killing see here). But the problem with drones is not just their use for targeted killing as we continue to stress.

    • UG#706 – When Are Terrorists Not Terrorists? (States assassinating by drones)

      We conclude with Wendy Patten, who looks at the US government’s use of drones, specifically the policies which guide it. She begins by describing what is currently known of a May 2013 presidential policy guidance (PPG), which purports to constrain use of drones. Only a 2 page ‘fact sheet’ of this has currently been declassified. Then she looks at what has emerged from the efforts to use litigation as regards drone usage.

    • Mike Tipping: Maine’s senators can help end hypocrisy over war and peace

      Traditionally, Maine’s senators have used positions like these to advocate for steady spending on shipbuilding as a way of safeguarding jobs at Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. At this crucial moment, however, Maine’s representatives in Washington also should take a broader view and ask deeper questions about our military spending, our foreign policy goals and our priorities as a nation.

    • How Yemen’s US-backed ex-dictator is tearing his country apart

      For years, the Americans saw President Ali Abdullah Saleh as a key ally in the fight against al-Qaeda. He allowed his air bases to be used by US drones to strike at the movement’s operatives, and gladly received Western aid in development cash and arms supplies.

    • The collapse of the Obama doctrine: Yemen war as an opportunity?

      Despite a preliminary nuclear deal agreed upon between Iran and its allies, it is unlikely Obama will enact any major shift in regional policies, but continue to hide behind its allies to achieve muddled objectives

    • Scotland’s biggest public sector pension scheme has £83mn stake in arms trade

      Scotland’s most substantial local authority pension scheme has been sharply criticized for investing £83 million in 11 of the world’s biggest arms firms.

      At the close of 2014, Glasgow City Council’s Strathclyde Pension Fund had shares amounting to £19.6 million in Lockheed Martin and Boeing – two of the biggest arms manufacturers on the planet.

    • US drone programme: ‘Schizophrenia’ comes to the big screen
    • DARPA’s Vision of Future War — Swarms of Missiles and Drones

      One of the most important jobs for an air force is suppressing enemy air defenses. It means hacking, jamming or otherwise blowing up radars and anti-aircraft missile sites — often during the opening stages of a war.

    • DARPA needs drones, fighters, missiles to attack in tandem; wants open systems to make it happen

      Pentagon researchers have decided the most effective way to penetrate state-of-the-art air defenses is the same approach with which users have flummoxed large-scale IT security operations for years:

    • DARPA wants modular, specialized, cheaper and drop in upgradable swarm cloud of drones, missiles and mothership airplanes
    • Religious leaders urge a ban on fully autonomous weapons

      Diplomats, soldiers, scholars and concerned citizens will meet in Geneva immediately after Easter to discuss these and other implications of a new class of arms known as “lethal autonomous weapons”, or “killer robots”.

    • The West and its flawed anti-IS strategy

      Finally, there is a need for introspection inside Europe, the U.S., and even Australia, which have seen growing numbers of their citizens get through Turkey to join IS. While the brutality of the Assad regime and economic distress in the region have been blamed for the thousands of Arab youth taking up arms for IS, what explains the hundreds of citizens joining it from the U.K., France and the U.S.? According to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, 3,400 of the 20,000 IS foreign fighters are from Western countries. Why are British and French girls becoming jihadi brides, schoolboys and young doctors learning to kill, and teenage Americans travelling all the way just to join IS ranks? Could it be that in the early years of a push for regime change and sanctions against Syria, Western governments themselves promoted the propaganda against Mr. Assad’s government, allowing many of their Muslim citizens to think they had not just religious but national sanction to join the war?

    • Blackwater: One of the Pentagon’s Top Contractors for Afghanistan Training

      Despite a sordid and deadly reputation in Iraq, the mercenary army that began as Blackwater and is now known as Academi was a top recipient of Pentagon contracts for training Afghanistan’s security forces from 2002 to 2014, a government watchdog reported Tuesday.

    • America is still fighting the Cold War: Why its military “strategy” is hopeless

      Current levels of Pentagon spending simply aren’t sustainable. The time is now to abandon our global war on terror

    • There is nothing conservative about the Republican ‘War’ Party

      Neocons have so corrupted the Republican Party that in order to be considered a viable national presidential candidate and to be embraced by the rank and file and Tea Party right, one must openly advocate for an open-ended continuation of the war on terror and a de facto war against Iran.

    • Yemen’s Houthis seize central Aden district, presidential site

      China’s Xinhua news agency said a Chinese missile frigate evacuated 225 people, all non-Chinese nationals, from Aden on Thursday to Djibouti.

    • 35 dead, 88 wounded as Saudi-led air strikes hit Yemen for fifth day

      The Health Ministry, loyal to the Houthi fighters who control the capital, said Saudi-led air strikes had killed 35 people and wounded 88 overnight. The figures could not be independently confirmed.

    • Freedom Rider: American Hell for Yemen

      The U.S.-spawned whirlwind of carnage and destruction has wrecked the societies of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, yet most Americans feel themselves blameless. “The people, the corporate media and the political system all accept that their government has the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations and that it is always right and moral in its claims.” They behave like zombified cogs in an imperial death machine.

    • COMMENT: The bodies pile up in Yemen’s civil war and Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign, but who is counting the casualties?

      Between 29 and 45 people were reported killed by an apparent air attack at the al Mazraq camp – some were said to have been burned beyond recognition. Depressingly, the victims also included children.

      Although the attack came shortly after Saudi Arabia had launched an aerial bombardment of Yemen, Yemen’s foreign minister, speaking from Riyadh, blamed artillery fired by the Houthi militia which stormed the country’s capital Sanaa late last year. A Saudi spokesman meanwhile said that rebels had been firing from a residential area in response to a question about the bombing.

    • Causing genocide to protect us from terror

      A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.

    • Report: At Least 1.3 Million People Killed In US War On Terror

      A recent report found that in the estimated number of casualties from the United States’ “War on Terror,” at least 1.3 million people were killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. While the report emphasizes that this is a “conservative estimate,” 1.3 million is 10 times higher than the number of casualties previously reported by mainstream media in the US.

    • US War on Terror Leaves 1.3 Million Dead in Three Countries
    • The ‘War on Terror’ has killed 1.3 million people, report finds

      A report has found that 1.3m people have lost their lives as a direct or indirect result of the ‘War on Terror’.

    • Muslim vs. White Mass Murderers

      There is no blame attributed to the French socioeconomic system, which relegates most of France’s Arab population to a permanent underclass of unemployment and poverty. As racial minorities in a country that holds few opportunities for people with their background, the brothers worked dead-end jobs like delivering pizzas and fish mongering. They were not able to get jobs at French investment banks or in the fashion industry. Certainly this must have produced adverse mental health effects.

    • Land safely? ‘Let’s wait and see:’ Alps co-pilot’s last words revealed

      The co-pilot who investigators believe deliberately crashed Germany Wings Flight 9252 gave clues to what he was about to do in the last few sentences he uttered before his actions killed all 150 people on board.

      In transcripts obtained by the German press, Andreas Lubitz repeatedly tells Captain Patrick Sondeimer that he is ready to take over “any time,” the Independent reported.

      Sondheimer then orders his co-pilot to prepare the plane for landing, to which Lubitz responds to with “hopefully” and “let’s wait and see.”

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Julian Assange: ‘I still enjoy crushing bastards’

      Five years after ‘Collateral Murder’, the secret US military video which made the Pentagon furious and WikiLeaks famous around the world, l’Espresso meets the WikiLeaks founder in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he is holed up to ask whether he has changed his mind and goals

    • eymour Hersh on My Lai and the state of investigative journalism

      When he first reported the My Lai story, Hersh was a freelancer. Magazines including Life turned down his initial account of the massacre, which included a difficult-to-obtain interview with Lieutenant William L. Calley, the commander who led the slaughter. Hersh initially published his blockbuster scoop with a small antiwar newswire called the Dispatch News Service.

    • Latest Wikileaks TPP Document Release Has Obama Administration on the Defensive

      The White House is once again on the defensive. Last week, Wikileaks released a document from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which have been notoriously private and closed off to the public, and hours later, the White House posted a lengthy blog to defend the most controversial aspect of the document, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision.

      For a while now, we have known that the TPP was going to include the ISDS, which allows corporations and other investors to sue foreign governments when a new law or regulation hurts the companies investment or when a government expropriates the property all together. But the public has also been clueless as to whether the provision would be worded differently than in previous trade agreements that had the ISDS, such as NAFTA. The Obama administration has quite adamantly insisted that the TPP will be transparent and that governments will not have to worry about challenges to health or environmental regulations, which has happened in previous trade agreements with the ISDS.

    • Zimbabwe: Politics – Where the Media Goes Against Journalism

      It must be a very difficult period for America, Obama especially. There is no rhyme, no reason, to the workings of the world that America has made.

      Everything looks Frankensteinian, all proving runaway, unknown and unknowable.

      Not such a burden for mere mortals, whose very humanity is founded on a limited ken. But not so for gods, who should know, make and determine everything. And America regards itself as a god, the only one in fact.

      A real monotheist god, politically that is. Godliness rests in the power to make reality, to write and dispose of rules of life and nations, as meets the creator’s caprices. And Shakespeare had his finger on the whimsical proclivity of gods. He wrote: “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods/ They kill us for their sport”.

    • Chinese ‘Thunderbolt’ copters to replace US Cobras in Pakistan

      In line with a January 2015 contract, Pakistan has received three Chinese Z-10 “Thunderbolt” attack helicopters to replace its American Cobra helicopter.

    • Chinese attack helicopters could soon replace American Cobras in Pakistan
    • Drone Warfare: Death Delivered From a Location Near You

      On March 7th, my Family and 20 or so other people protested drone warfare in front of the main gate of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base in Michigan. In 2013, the base was named a Reaper Drone Operating Station and should be operational any day, if not already. Weaponized drone operators are dropping bombs from my backyard.

      We stood in the mud on the side of the four-lane highway from Noon to 1pm. A few of us held signs with slogans like “Stop Drone Warfare” while others offered conversation to each other or waved at honking cars. One father and fellow protester brought fresh-popped popcorn, which he passed out in little blue bowls to the few children that were present. In between piling kernels in their mouths, the kids stomped in the water and slid on the ice behind us that had accumulated at the base of a mountain of plowed snow.

    • Luftwaffe Fighter Pilots Learn to Fly Israeli Drones by Mouse

      The German pilot simply presses a key on a keyboard to make his approach to land on the airfield at the military base at Mazar-e-Sharif in northern

    • Just Say No

      Why the United States can’t kick the bad habit of repeating failed campaigns in its war against terror.

    • America That We Need (3-5)

      American airpower has blown away parts or all of at least eight wedding parties in three countries

    • Terrorism, Violence, and the Culture of Madness

      Chris Hedges crystalizes this premise in arguing that Americans now live in a society in which “violence is the habitual response by the state to every dilemma,” legitimizing war as a permanent feature of society and violence as the organizing principle of politics. Under such circumstances, malevolent modes of rationality now impose the values of a militarized neoliberal regime on everyone, shattering viable modes of agency, solidarity, and hope. Amid the bleakness and despair, the discourses of militarism, danger and war now fuel a war on terrorism “that represents the negation of politics—since all interaction is reduced to a test of military strength war brings death and destruction, not only to the adversary but also to one’s side, and without distinguishing between guilty and innocent.” Human barbarity is no longer invisible, hidden under the bureaucratic language of Orwellian doublespeak. Its conspicuousness, if not celebration, emerged in the new editions of American exceptionalism ushered in by the post 9/11 exacerbation of the war on terror.

    • State Department found 4 emails about drones sent by Clinton
    • Hillary Clinton also used iPad for e-mail
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 15 ways the world will be terrifying in 2050

      But despite our technological advances, humanity has failed to solve many of its problems. The world hasn’t weaned itself off fossil fuels or antibiotics, protected the rain forest, or reduced the stigma surrounding mental illness. We haven’t flood-proofed our cities or protected our energy grids from natural disasters.

    • Instagram endangers rhinos

      Posting your rhino pictures from your game reserve getaway on social media might be inadvertently giving poachers directions to their next kill.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Britain Used Spy Team to Shape Latin American Public Opinion on Falklands

      Faced with mounting international pressure over the Falkland Islands territorial dispute, the British government enlisted its spy service, including a highly secretive unit known for using “dirty tricks,” to covertly launch offensive cyberoperations to prevent Argentina from taking the islands.

      A shadowy unit of the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had been preparing a bold, covert plan called “Operation QUITO” since at least 2009. Documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, published in partnership with Argentine news site Todo Notícias, refer to the mission as a “long-running, large scale, pioneering effects operation.”

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Truecrypt report

      The NCC audit found no evidence of deliberate backdoors…

    • Tor Summer of Privacy–Accepting Applications Now

      The Tor Project, in collaboration with ​The Electronic Frontier Foundation, has taken part in Google Summer of Code for 2007 through 2014, mentoring a total of 53 students. But this year ​https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2015-March/008358.html, the program was trimmed back and room was needed for new organizations. We think that is important, too.

    • HTTPS Everywhere Version 5: Sixteen New Languages and Thousands of New Rules

      This week we released the latest version of HTTPS Everywhere to all of our users. Compared to the previous major release, this version introduces thousands of new rules, translations of the interface into sixteen new languages, and support for “Block All HTTP Requests” in Chrome. If you already use HTTPS Everywhere, you will automatically be updated to the latest version. If you don’t have HTTPS Everywhere installed, you can get it here.

    • Bill would stop feds from mandating ‘backdoor’ to data

      A bipartisan group of lawmakers is set to push for legislation that would bar federal agents from forcing tech companies to give them access to customers’ emails, texts and photos.

      “I think you have the right to go about your business without government — in a Big Brother way — listening to your phone calls or reading your emails,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.

      Pocan is sponsoring the Surveillance State Repeal Act with Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. The bill includes a provision that the federal government cannot require electronics or software manufacturers to build in a mechanism to allow the government to bypass privacy technology.

    • Pm Has Us Report On Nsa Interception Of Phone Calls

      AMERICAN officials presented Prime Minister Perry Christie with a formal communication regarding reports that the US’ National Security Agency had been intercepting and monitoring the telephone conversations of Bahamians, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell confirmed yesterday.

      #The official correspondence, The Tribune understands, contained an assurance from the United States that consideration would be given to changing America’s oversees telephone monitoring procedures.

      #However, Mr Mitchell declined comment on this saying he had yet to formally present the communication to Cabinet. He said once this was done, it was his intention to make a formal statement in Parliament when it meets next, pending instructions from Cabinet.

    • Your Parents Just Became The NSA With This Car Manufacturer’s Spying App

      GM has a message for teenagers who want to drive its cars: even if your older sibling has left for college, Big Brother is still watching you.

    • Destroyed Snowden laptop: the curatorial view
    • A British Museum Is Showing Off a MacBook Air — But Not Because of Apple’s Design
    • Smashed Snowden laptop on display in British museum

      A laptop that was used to store leaked files from Edward Snowden and then destroyed under watch from U.K. intelligence officers is now on display at a prominent London museum.

      The smashed MacBook Air is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of an exhibition examining “the role of public institutions in contemporary life and what it means to be responsible for a national collection.”

    • In New Video, Congressman Explains Why His Fellow Lawmakers Couldn’t Be Trusted with NSA Oversight

      Congressmen who asked about oversight of NSA mass surveillance and domestic spying in 2013 could have “compromise[d] security” and were denied the records they sought because of concerns they lacked formal government security clearance, a former member of the House Intelligence Committee says in a newly-released video.

      The footage, from an August 29, 2013 town hall meeting, sheds new light on why lawmakers were denied key rulings and reports from the secret courts overseeing the National Security Agency — even as the Obama administration and intelligence officials claimed that all NSA programs were subject to strict congressional oversight and therefore could be held accountable.

    • When Will the NSA Stop Spying on Innocent Americans?

      Unless Congress acts, Americans will soon benefit from one of the Patriot Act’s most important safeguards against abuse: Language in Section 215 of the law is scheduled to expire in June, depriving the FBI and NSA of a provision they’ve used to justify monitoring the phone calls of tens of millions of innocents (though a primary author of the law insists that it grants no such authority). If you’ve used a landline to call an abortion clinic, a gun store, a suicide hotline, a therapist, an oncologist, a phone sex operator, an investigative journalist, or a union organizer, odds are the government has logged a record of the call. If your Congressional representative has a spouse or child who has made an embarrassing phone call, the executive branch may well possess the ability to document it, though government apologists insist that they’d never do so and are strangely confident that future governments composed of unknown people won’t either.

    • NY Times Reporter Demands Access to NSA Inspector General Reports

      Savage says the NSA denied expedited processing of his request, and then never followed up on it.

    • The simple math problem that blows apart the NSA’s surveillance justifications

      At any rate, as I’ve argued before, simple bureaucratic competence and bog-standard detective work are vastly underrated compared to piling up gigantic quantities of irrelevant data. But the false positive problem ought to be the final nail in the dragnet coffin. Unless terrorism becomes thousands of times more common than it is today, such broad techniques will be utterly useless against real terrorism.

    • Advancing cyber bills spark fresh NSA worries

      The House Intelligence panel is preparing to move a cybersecurity bill that privacy advocates argue would embolden the National Security Agency (NSA).

      Before the contentious bill hits the floor, though, Intelligence Committee leaders want to join forces with their Homeland Security panel colleagues who are considering a bill of their own.

    • NSA looks to continue cybersecurity partnership with private sector

      The National Security Agency has helped investigate every major cyber intrusion in the private sector in the last six months, Director Adm. Michael Rogers said, adding that he wants that collaboration to get faster and more anticipatory.

    • Mozilla warns against data-storage rules in NSA reform

      Mozilla on Friday warned against a government policy that could require phone companies to hold on to customer data longer than their business purposes require.

      Advocates for National Security Agency reform have cautioned against such a measure for the past year. Lawmakers are considering ending the government’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records in exchange for a system where officials could search records stored with the private companies themselves with approval from the surveillance court.
      The data retention provision did not make it into reform bills last year, including one in the Senate that narrowly failed on a procedural vote. Mozilla’s director of public policy, Chris Riley, wants it to stay that way.

      “It is an unnecessary, and harmful, posture for any democratic government to take. Data retention mandates are not a missing piece of the long-term surveillance ecosystem; they are a bridge too far,” he wrote in a blog post. Riley asserted that kind of deal would amount to “misguided pragmatism.”

    • NSA spying caused 9 percent of foreign firms to dump U.S. clouds

      In the weeks following Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s massive web surveillance program PRISM, speculation was raised about the negative implications it could have on U.S. cloud companies.

      Now, Forrester Research has taken the time to see just what kind of impact it has had, asking a host of foreign firms whether or not PRISM has caused them to scale back their spending on U.S. cloud services, and the answer makes for some uneasy reading.

    • ​Snowden, PRISM fallout will cost U.S. tech vendors $47 billion, less than expected
    • How To Make A Secret Phone Call

      To show how hard phone privacy can be, one artist examined the CIA, consulted hackers, and went far off the map (with a stop at Rite Aid).

    • Why Is Obama Keeping Secret Four Seconds of a Nixon-Era Tape?

      Releasing it “would reveal information that would impair U.S. cryptologic systems or activities,” a National Security Agency spokeswoman says.

    • The Dutch “Surveillance Kings of Europe” Are About to Get Even Nosier

      The Netherlands is considering a new law that would give its spooks unprecedented access to global data, including yours and mine.

    • Off the Cuff: Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times

      You’ve expressed regret that Edward Snowden went to The Guardian and The Washington Post to make his NSA disclosures instead of going to The New York Times. But looking at the Times’ history, when it sat on the warrantless wiretapping story during the Bush administration, and also during your career, when you sat on an NSA story at the LA Times, didn’t Snowden make the right choice? Why should the next big whistleblower come to the Times?

      Was he right? No, I don’t think he was right. I understand why he made his decision. I don’t think he was right. First off — and I wasn’t at The New York Times for the [warrantless wiretapping] NSA story — it did publish it, it didn’t kill it.

      But only after the [2004] election.

      It had nothing to do with the election. If you read the accounts at the time, Jim Risen was about to put it in a book. It wasn’t because of the election; it was because Risen was about to put it in a book and that forced the hand of the editors of The New York Times. I wasn’t there, so I’m not going to judge how they made the decision. I was at the LA Times at the time, but they did publish it.

      If you were to say one reason he didn’t come [was because] The New York Times screwed up in the post-war coverage before the US went to war in Iraq, he’s right, The New York Times did. So did the LA Times, which I ran at the time. Everybody did. … But I think that if he looks at our overall track record, we publish stuff very aggressively. We published the NSA stuff, we’ve published other Risen stories, we’ve published hard-hitting reports about the Obama administration that they hate, we’ve published lots of stories about drones [and] we’ve published other stories about surveillance. And it breaks my heart that he went elsewhere. But I think my appeal to him and future Snowdens would be, ‘we do publish.’ You’re isolating a couple of things where you thought we were too slow or did something off, but if you look at the whole history of The New York Times, you have to include the Pentagon Papers, you got to include coverage of Vietnam [and] you got to include our aggressive coverage of the world. I think our track record is really good.

      The LA Times thing has always been misunderstood. The allegation was that when I was editor of the LA Times, an engineer in AT&T or an employee of AT&T became very suspicious about a room at the headquarters in San Francisco, where he was convinced there was some surveillance going on. Nobody could go into the room and the room was always locked. So he came to the LA Times and we reported the hell out of it. We went nuts to report it, but we could never prove it was anything other than a mysterious closed door. This is before people realized how much spying there was, before people realized what the NSA had become. So all we had, with all that reporting, was that there was closed door, it was mysterious, and the government wouldn’t talk about it. And I don’t think that was enough for a story. So we didn’t write a story. It wasn’t because the government told us not to write a story; it was because I didn’t think we had enough for a story. If you look at what people wrote at the time, because eventually The New York Times wrote a modest inside story about the guy’s allegations, all it said was that an engineer at AT&T thinks that there’s a door down the hall that’s locked, etc. So I don’t have any regrets about that one. It turned out it was part of NSA spying, but, jeez, if we published everything where people are concerned about closed doors and mysteries like that, mostly we’d be wrong.

    • Whistleblower’s Legacy: President Reforms Key Surveillance Law; Europe Questions Safe Harbor Regime

      On June 1, 2015, Section 215 of the U.S. PATRIOT Act (50 U.S.C. § 1861) (“Section 215”) is set to expire. Section 215 is the authority that allows the NSA, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), to collect “metadata” of every phone call that originated or terminated in the United States. Some of the first documents revealed by Edward Snowden were orders by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) (the court that entertains applications submitted by the U.S. government for electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes) requiring Verizon, Sprint and AT&T to hand over such metadata. The FBI obtained these orders for the benefit of the NSA.

    • Is Big Brother Watching Our Campuses?

      At Georgia State University, algorithms alert advisers when a student falls behind in class. Course-planning tools tell students the classes and majors they’re likely to complete, based on the performance of other students like them. When students swipe their ID cards to attend a tutoring or financial-literacy session, the university can send attendance data to advisers and staff.

    • The Brennan Center Report on the FISA Court and Proposals for FISA Reform

      As Wells noted when it first came out last month, the Brennan Center has a new report: What Went Wrong With the FISA Court. Despite the title, the report is really a condensed history of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC or the Court), with the Brennan Center’s judgements about what has gone wrong with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) itself. The report also provides a vehicle for the Brennan Center to highlight proposals for surveillance reform, some, but not all of which, relate to the upcoming sunset of certain FISA provisions, unless Congress extends them this spring.

      [...]

      For all the criticisms of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, changing FISA’s standard to “a significant purpose” and removing the justification for the old “wall” is one that has been overwhelmingly understood as an important substantive correction. There is no reason to go backwards.

    • Why ‘The Nation’ Is Suing the Federal Government

      The NSA is monitoring almost all of our international communications. This is a fundamental violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights.

    • A mayday mystery and secrets of the NSA

      “We were monitored every second of everyday and we sent those tapes to NSA, headquarters Fort Meade Maryland and the British GCHQ in London. So both the tape and the logs went off to both of them but the way the NSA talks they have everything.”

    • Maine Bill Taking On NSA Scheduled For Important Committee Hearing

      A Maine bill that would turn off support and resources to the NSA in the Pine Tree State will have an important committee hearing Thursday.

      Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) introduced LD531 On Feb. 26. His seven cosponsors literally span the political spectrum, including Republicans, Democrats and an Independent.

      [...]

      Reuters revealed the extent of such NSA data sharing with state and local law enforcement in an August 2013 article. According to documents obtained by the news agency, the NSA passes information to police through a formerly secret DEA unit known Special Operations Divisions and the cases “rarely involve national security issues.” Almost all of the information involves regular criminal investigations, not terror-related investigations.

      In other words, not only does the NSA collect and store this data, using it to build profiles. The agency encourages state and local law enforcement to violate the Fourth Amendment by making use of this information in their day-to-day investigations.

    • Lawmakers Consider Bill That Could Hinder NSA Operations in Maine

      On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Maine Fourth Amendment Protection Act, a bill introduced by freshman Senator Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin).

      The bill’s purpose is to withhold material support or other assistance to a federal agency, specifically the National Security Administration, in its efforts “in the collection or use of a person’s electronic data or metadata” without informed consent, a warrant, or a legally recognized exemption.

    • IT Independence is National Security

      The NSA’s “Equation Group” is apparently behind the infection with malware of hard drive firmware on computers used by nations considered “enemies” by the United State. The installation of the malware is believed to have required access to trade secrets of IT manufacturers as well as physical access to the soon-to-be infected computers. Popular Science in their article “The World’s Most Sophisticated Malware Ever Infects Hard Drive Firmware“suggests that the NSA intercepted computers in transit through global logistical chains.

      However, a simpler and more logical explanation remains, though it is one manufacturers vehemently deny; that the NSA had/has direct access to the factory floors of several IT giants. These include Western Digital Corpororation, Seagate Technology, Toshiba Corporation, IBM, Micron Technology and Samsung Electronics.

      The infection of hardware starting on the factory floor is nothing new. Australia’s Financial Review revealed in 2013 in an article titled, “Intel chips could let US spies inside: expert,” that, “one of Silicon Valley’s most respected technology experts, Steve Blank, says he would be “surprised” if the US National Security Agency was not embedding “back doors” inside chips produced by Intel and AMD, two of the world’s largest semiconductor firms, giving them the possibility to access and control machines.”
      First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/03/29/it-independence-is-national-security/

    • 3 Reasons Apple Is Pushing for NSA Spying Reforms

      As the owner of the world’s most valuable brand, Apple is probably keenly aware that appearing to help the government with its controversial bulk data collection programs would tarnish its carefully crafted image as the consumer electronics brand for those who dare to “Think Different.” In this sense, Apple’s public opposition to the government’s surveillance programs is an effort to protect its brand from losing its appeal to consumers.

    • Documents on NSA’s zero-day policy provide little insight, EFF says

      When the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the National Security Agency (NSA) over records regarding the government’s alleged prior knowledge of Heartbleed, the privacy group hoped to gain insight into the agency’s zero-day exploitation policy.

      Within the heavily redacted pages of the obtained documents, however, a policy was nowhere to be found, the EFF wrote in a blog post on Monday.

    • Freddy Martinez Is Exposing Chicago Cops’ NSA-Style Surveillance Gear

      It took the curiosity of a skinny, fidgeting 27-year-old to force the Chicago Police Department to admit they purchased controversial surveillance technology. The department, legally boxed into a corner over its use of a device known as the StingRay, finally admitted to acquiring the cell-phone tracking product last summer, six years after actually buying the thing. The watchdog work came not from a newspaper or any other media outlet in the city, but Freddy Martinez, an information technology worker who oversees websites for a private company from a downtown office building.

    • Snowden-endorsed security software has no NSA backdoors

      An independent audit has concluded that popular encryption software TrueCrypt has no government backdoors or serious security flaws.

    • Audit Concludes No NSA Backdoors in TrueCrypt Software
    • TrueCrypt doesn’t contain NSA backdoors

      However, the software was found to contain a few other security vulnerabilities, including one relating to the use of the Windows API to generate random numbers for master encryption key material.

    • TrueCrypt audit shows no sign of NSA backdoors, just some minor glitches
  • Civil Rights

    • The Limits of Ken Roth’s Criticism of Obama

      Roth’s view seems optimistic, but it is inappropriate to argue that Obama should engage in a number of tasks while not criticizing increased presidential power. In fact, the actions he recommends could be used to justify a further expansion of executive power. At the same time, Roth’s support for “limits” on mass surveillance and “rules” for drone use, are even worse. This is because these measures would be ineffective in stopping the death and suffering caused by the reign of terror brought on by drone assassinations or in efforts protecting the inherent right of privacy of not only Americans, but people of the world.

    • Under President’s New Cybersecurity Executive Order… Is Wikileaks Now An Evil Cyberhacker For Releasing Trade Deal?

      Yesterday we talked about the ridiculousness of President Obama’s new cybersecurity executive order, in which he declares a national emergency around “malicious cyber-enabled activities” and enables his own government to do mean things to anyone they think is responsible for cyber badness (that his own NSA is the primary instigator of serious cyberattacks gets left ignored, of course). One of the points we made is that the definitions in the executive agreement were really vague, meaning that it’s likely that they could be abused in all sorts of ways that we wouldn’t normally think of as malicious hacking.

    • New Executive Order Could Sanction Cyber Activists, Wikileaks

      After spending a week trying to narrow its scope, President Obama on Wednesday released an executive order that still grants the White House broad authority to sanction individuals and organizations engaged in civil society online.

      The order targets entities located partially or wholly outside the United States “directly or indirectly” responsible for cyber-activities “harming, or otherwise significantly compromising…entities in a critical infrastructure sector.”

      “I’m for the first time authorizing targeted sanctions against individuals or entities whose actions in cyberspace result in significant threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States,” the President wrote in an article published on Medium to accompany the executive order. He also described the threat of such attacks as a “national emergency.”

    • Saudi Arabia warns Canada to not support blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes

      Saudi Arabia’s aggressive response to international criticism of its human rights and justice system continues with a warning to Canadian politicians. According to CBC News, the Saudi ambassador to Canada, Naif Bin Bandir Al-Sudairy, sent a letter to Quebec’s National Assembly telling it not to interfere in the case of blogger Raif Badawi.

    • Legislators Trying To Shield Cops From Accountability Are Running Into Unexpected Opposition: Cops

      Police misconduct has never been more visible, thanks to the internet and advancements in cell phone technology. Between this and increased use of public records requests, there’s a wealth of information surfacing daily on the misdeeds of law enforcement personnel. In theory, this should be raising the level of accountability. In practice, however, it’s a different story.

    • Police Chief Unable To Simply Do Nothing Over Reported Teen Sexting, Brings Child Porn Charges Against Four Minors

      Good, old-fashioned “sexting” has netted more teens some child pornography charges. Despite the teens involved claiming the photographed behavior was consensual, Joliet’s (IL) police chief still believes the only way to address a situation he and the laws he enforces aren’t built to handle, is to handle it as poorly as possible.

    • Final Four, the Madness Continues

      Yes, the NCAA Tournament is in full swing and nothing has changed. Once again, unpaid, logo-covered young men race up and down the court on every channel round the clock, creating billions in revenue for some, millions in salary for others and little for themselves.

      Of course, this is far from a new revelation. The ludicrous injustice of big time college athletics has been uncovered, covered, and re-covered. And the tide of public perception is slowly but unmistakably shifting. More and more people are seeing college amateurism for what is has always been: a thinly veiled attempt to avoid paying workers compensation for injuries as well as compensation in the broader sense.

    • Automakers Say You Don’t Really Own Your Car

      EFF is fighting for vehicle owners’ rights to inspect the code that runs their vehicles and to repair and modify their vehicles, or have a mechanic of their choice do the work. At the moment, the anti-circumvention prohibition in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act arguably restricts vehicle inspection, repair, and modification. If EFF is successful then vehicle owners will be free to inspect and tinker, as long as they don’t run afoul of other regulations, such as those governing vehicle emissions, safety, or copyright law.

    • The Real Monopoly Board: The Victimization of Students by the College Board

      Have you ever applied to college? If so, you probably found yourself in the same situation that many of us have, whether or not to take standardized admission tests. Sadly, this isn’t actually a question because the answer is handed to you; you must take standardized tests in order to apply to a competitive college. Because of this monopoly, standardized test companies can charge any price they want. Being a senior in high school who is (almost) done with the college application process, I have spent hundreds of dollars on the College Board. I have been the victim on countless occasions of their unfair prices, and have found my bank account suffering as a result. It is completely wrong that students are the victims of this monopoly, and College Board should be stopped.

    • Statement on the suspension of Barrett Brown’s e-mail access and BOP retaliation

      An hour or so after having used the system to contact a journalist about potential BOP wrongdoing, Barrett Brown’s access to the TRULINCS prisoner e-mail system was restricted, for a full year until April 2016, without explanation.

      This is contrary to the BOP’s own policy on several points, as noted in their 2009 documentation — the administration is only allowed to remove access to TRULINCS for thirty days pending an investigation of any potential misuse, and the inmate is supposed to be informed in writing of the reason for that.

    • Informant Provided Bomb-Making Manual to Alleged “ISIS-Inspired” Plotters

      In what has been widely described in the media as the breakup of an “ISIS-inspired” plot, on April 2 the Department of Justice announced that Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of New York, had been arrested and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. The defendants “plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices” for use in New York City and sought “bomb-making instructions and materials” for an attack, the Justice Department statement said.

    • Obama’s NSA Reforms, One Year Later

      In February, the Director of National Intelligence issued a report summarizing the changes that President Obama has implemented since pledging major surveillance reforms in January 2014. The report chronicles a dizzying number of developments and contains links to several hundreds of pages of supporting documentation. But does this impressive accumulation of activity translate to meaningful reform?

    • U.S. Supreme Court: GPS Trackers Are a Form of Search and Seizure

      The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina, before sending the case back to that state’s high court. The Court’s short but unanimous opinion helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government.

    • [Australia] The security paradox: individual privacy versus digital driftnets

      The great irony of the Abbott government’s plan enforce the mandatory data retention legislation is that while this is being done to make us safer, in fact it creates new data security risks for us all.

    • [Australia] E-mail autofill blunder leaks personal details of G20 world leaders

      A mistake with Microsoft Outlook’s autofill feature sent personal details of the world’s top leaders attending the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, to organizers of the Asian Cup soccer tournament. Those affected include the presidents of the US, China, Russia, Brazil, the European Commission, France, and Mexico; the prime ministers of Japan, India, the UK, Italy, and Canada; and the German Chancellor. Among the information disclosed was the passport numbers, visa details, and other personal identifiers.

    • Bolivia’s Contested Process of Change: Views From a Regional Election
    • Deterring Cyberattacks with Sanctions

      The White House has announced a new sanctions program that will authorize the executive branch to penalize malicious cyber “actors” whose behavior endangers “the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.” Sadly the President is opting for theater that creates the perception of security rather than actually making it more difficult for attacks to succeed.

      Obama’s new executive order rests on a strategy of deterrence, a cold war idea that’s been revived by the likes of former NSA director Mike McConnell and more recently by current NSA Director Mike Rogers. The basic idea is this: if enemies fear retaliation they’re less likely to launch an attack (nuclear, cyber, or otherwise).

    • Barack Obama’s press freedom legacy

      According to the CPJ report, the Obama administration’s policies have undermined the role of the press in three fundamental ways.

    • Leading Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab arrested for highlighting prison abuse

      Head of Bahrain Center for Human Rights detained by police after speaking out over allegations of human rights abuses after riots in Jaw prison

    • Index condemns Bahrain’s continuing harassment of human rights defender

      Index on Censorship condemns the latest arrest and continued harrassment of prominent Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.

    • Empathy, rage, and resistance

      I live in a consumer culture that distracts me from the plight of others with images of beautiful bodies wearing beautiful clothes that I am encouraged to buy. I live a life of relative comfort, and I don’t know anyone who’s been killed by a drone or starved to death. But despite having been subject to soul-destroying consumer culture for twenty years, if I saw someone drowning in a pond ten feet away from me, I would not hesitate to help them. Confronted with a fellow being facing imminent death, and having the ability to help, my instincts for empathy and care would spring into action.

    • Idaho Man Charged With Felony for Posting Non-Threatening Rant Against Cop on Facebook (Updated)

      On February 2, Matthew Townsend was standing on the sidewalk near a Liberty Tax Service office in Meridian, Idaho dressed as the Grim Reaper, holding a sign that said “Taxes ≠ liberty, Taxes fund terrorism.”

      For this simple display of activism, which was a play off the usual characters dressed in Statue of Liberty costumers, Townsend would find himself arrested and jailed, charged with resisting and obstruction by a Meridian cop named Richard Brockbank.

      Seven weeks later, a day after attending a hearing for that arrest, Townsend was arrested a second time after police banged on his door at 10 p.m., rousing him from his sleep, charging him with witness intimidation over a Facebook post he had made two nights earlier that police described as a “terrorist threat.”

      In that post, which you can read below, he tagged several journalists, activists, friends as well as some of Brockbank’s family members.

    • When the Government Views Its Own Population as the Enemy

      One could go on listing such facts indefinitely. For instance, the sordid lesson to draw from the Hurricane Katrina debacle in 2005 is that protecting Americans from a natural disaster was not a priority of government at any level, at least not of the governments involved.

    • The Reflective Voter’s Fear

      It is hardly news that American voters don’t choose candidates the way democratic theorists say they should; candidates are sold to them, in much the way that consumer goods are.

    • Pakistan military court sentences 6 Islamic militants to death on terrorism charges

      Pakistani military courts have sentenced six Islamic militants to death on charges including terrorism, murder, suicide bombing and kidnapping for ransom.

    • John Brennan’s reforms would turn the CIA into a paramilitary organization

      After 70 years, it’s time for some major restructuring at the CIA — at least according to its director, John Brennan, who announced earlier this month his plan to overhaul the agency by creating “mission centers” that would concentrate resources on specific challenges or geographic areas. Brennan also announced the formation of a new “Directorate of Digital Innovation” to lead efforts to track and implement new intelligence-gathering cyber tools.

    • India asks Saudi to help evacuate citizens from Yemen

      India asked Saudi Arabia on Monday to help evacuate its citizens from Yemen, where more than 4,000 Indians, over half of them nurses, are caught up in fighting.

    • UN says remaining international staffers leave chaotic Yemen

      The United Nations says the last of its international staffers have now left Yemen as the U.N. human rights chief warns of a “total collapse” in the Arab world’s poorest country.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Despite Claims Title II Will Kill Investment, Comcast Launches Major New 2 Gigabit Deployment

      While broadband ISPs have repeatedly claimed that being reclassified as common carriers under Title II will crush sector innovation, investment, and destroy the Internet as we know it — they simultaneously continue to do a bang up job highlighting how these claims are complete and utter nonsense. For example, while Verizon was busy proclaiming that Title II would ruin, well, everything, it’s been using Title II to reap massive tax benefits. Similarly, despite the fact wireless voice has been classified under Title II for years, that didn’t stop the industry from investing massive amounts during that period or spending record amounts at the FCC’s latest spectrum auction.

    • Brace Yourselves, The Net Neutrality Legal Challenges Are Coming

      On Wednesday afternoon the Federal Communications Commission filed its net neutrality order to the Federal Register, an FCC official confirmed to TechCrunch. Once published by the Register, the filing opens the gates to an inevitable outpouring of legal challenges from net neutrality opponents.

      The FCC’s filing comes a week-and-a-half after the agency was slammed with the first lawsuits attempting to block the new rules. An FCC official said the lawsuits from both The United States Telecom Association and Alamo Broadband — which were filed just 12 days after the rules were published — jumped the gun and may be dismissed on the grounds they were filed too early.

    • Bigger is better — for telecom companies, not Internet users

      Charter Communications’ merger further consolidates an industry characterized by scant competition and unacceptably slow Internet access speeds

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