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11.07.15

The EPO’s Investigative Unit Exposed: Part V

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Spanish inquisition may be worth crediting for inspiration

Bernard Picard: Inquisition torture chamber
Bernard Picard: Inquisition torture chamber (public domain)

Summary: A quick look at the known track record of the head of the EPO’s interrogation chamber

IN the previous four parts of this series [1, 2, 3, 4] we have already covered the roots of the EPO‘s Investigative Unit, its founder, and its current PDIAO or PD 0.6 — the Brit who succeeded the founder and subjected EPO staff to military-grade surveillance. The reason we deem this series necessary is that the EPO brags about “transparency”, exempting the Investigative Unit (as well as much of the higher management) from this transparency. The only transparency we find is in the 'poaching' of staff from transparency groups — groups that were supposed to actually investigate the EPO’s higher management.

Today we take a look at the Head of the Investigative Unit, Claudio Zanghi. Little is known about him apart from the fact that he is Italian. Mr. Zanghi is the Head of the Investigative Unit, so he must be working quite closely with PD 0.6. Someone once told us that he was the one who asked Mr Battistelli to sign the contract of the EPO with Control Risks, but it’s not clear to what degree — if any — PD 0.6 was responsible for this. Either way, it was a decision made by the high management. In this older letter he was seen corresponding with (by CC) Control Risks staff, in a rather threatening letter sent to EPO staff. This redacted letter was later uploaded to the Web by Florian Müller.

“The reason we deem this series necessary is that the EPO brags about “transparency”, exempting the Investigative Unit (as well as much of the higher management) from this transparency.”“By a curious coincidence,” told us a source, “Zanghi shares his name with a prominent Italian Professor of Law who specialises in human rights issues. This distinguished academic namesake, Prof. Cluadio Zanghi, is a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Italian Society for International Organizations and a founder of the International Center of Sociological, Penal and Penitentiary Research and Studies in Messina.”

Our source has been unable to find out whether there is any family connection between these two Zanghis, but “it would be another bizarre coincidence worthy of the EPO if that turned out to be the case,” the source told us.

Who are the investigators working below the management? Stay tune for future parts of this series.

Red Hat is Chastised For Playing Along With Microsoft’s Patent Scheme Rather Than Challenge the Patents Like Google and the Alice Case Did

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China has already made publicly known which patents Microsoft uses against Linux/Android

Nixon visit to China
Context: 1972 Nixon visit to China [1, 2]

Summary: Criticism of Red Hat’s approach to dealing with Microsoft spreads to more sites, especially those that understand the impact of patents in this area

WE REALLY wanted to avoid further commentary on the Microsoft-Red Hat deal, but another shallow article has just come out, this time from Linux Insider (not necessarily a Linux-friendly site). The authur says nothing about patents, which is often what’s missing from all the puff pieces about this subject.

“Well, Richard Nixon was at least opening up to trade. In the case of Red Hat, it opens up other companies to potential patent lawsuits from Microsoft.”Over at FOSS Force, a pro-FOSS site, Larry Cafiero wrote: “Red Hat and Microsoft on Wednesday announced a partnership that will allow businesses to deploy Red Hat’s open source software on the Microsoft Azure cloud. From news reports, the deal makes Red Hat the “preferred choice” on Microsoft Azure, Redmond’s infrastructure-as-a-service platform. Make what you will of this. Me? If you know my distaste for what’s nebulously called “the cloud,” I’m just walking away from it, though the one comment I read in one story comparing this to Nixon going to China is probably the best comparison.”

Well, Richard Nixon was at least opening up to trade. In the case of Red Hat, it opens up other companies to potential patent lawsuits from Microsoft. We have already explained this in 5 articles, namely:

Florian Müller, who had worked as a patents spinner for Microsoft (for a while), was very hard on Red Hat. He wrote that “Red Hat hopes to leverage patents to cement its Linux market leadership [with the] Microsoft deal” and makes a claim similar to claims we have been making here for over half a decade. “I’ve been saying for years,” he wrote, “that Red Hat is utterly hypocritical when it comes to patents. It has a history of feeding patent trolls and fooling the open source community. There is, to put it mildly, no assurance that all of its related dealings actually comply with the GPL.”

This is exactly our concern and unless there is transparency from the “Open Organisation”, we don’t know for sure. The patent “standstill” does not extend to companies other than Red Hat, so where does that leave even CentOS users (Techrights uses CentOS)? “Red Hat now wants to tell Linux users,” Müller explains, “that the way to be protected with respect to patents is to use Red Hat Linux. “Reduce your exposure, buy from us.” That is a way of seeking to benefit from software patents.”

That’s similar to what Novell did, but secrecy makes it harder to know what really goes on here.

“If you know my distaste for what’s nebulously called “the cloud,” I’m just walking away from it, though the one comment I read in one story comparing this to Nixon going to China is probably the best comparison.”
      –Larry Cafiero
“I want to give Simon Phipps credit,” Müller wrote, “for distinguishing between the positive and not so positive ramifications of this partnership from an open source point of view. The Open Source Initiative is an organization on whose board Simon Phipps serves with, among others, a Red Hat lawyer.

“Without the Red Hat connection, Simon Phipps would presumably have criticized Red Hat clearly as opposed to just making it sound like Microsoft should do more. He says Microsoft should relinquish its patent rights because that’s how he defines “love” for Linux. However, he doesn’t talk about what Red Hat could have done. Red Hat could have challenged any Microsoft patents that allegedly infringe Linux: in court (declaratory judgment actions) and through reexamination requests. That course of action would have done free and open source software a greater service than a deal.”

In Twitter, Müller goes on and chastises the FSF, SFLC etc. for not criticising Red Hat (because of financial ties). This very much reminds us of the reluctance to criticise systemd, which is mostly Red Hat’s own creation. Red Hat’s clout in the community almost makes it immune to criticism.

“Google-Moto defended Linux against MSFT’s patent infringement allegations in court and won,” Müller wrote in Twitter, whereas “Red Hat decided to benefit from them.”

He said that “GPL enforcers like Harald Welte should sue Red Hat for alleged breach of the GPLv2 patent clause, arguing a covenant not to sue is a license” (we don’t know if there is such a covenant because the “Open Organisation” is still quite secretive about it).

“Android,” he says, “not Red Hat, is the #1 Linux distribution. Google, not Red Hat, is the #1 defender of Linux against Microsoft’s patents.”

As we said at the very start (hours after the Microsoft-Red Hat deal had been announced), Red Hat’s actions are defeatist and dangerous. They come at a time when, at least in the US, software patents rapidly lose their teeth anyway.

“”It’s one thing to be a Linux parasite. It’s another to be a Trojan horse. And the worst option is to be both at the same time.”
      –Florian Müller
According to Patent Buddy, citing the Bilski Blog, “Sue L Robinson, the Patent Killer Judge, Has Not Held a Single Patent Valid under 101/Alice” and even at the capital of patent trolls, “E. Dist. Of TX has Alice / 101 Invalidity Rate of 34.8%” (that’s pretty high for such a corrupt district).

To quote the Bilski Blog: “There have been 34 district court decisions in the past two months, but the percentage of invalidity decision is holding constant at 70.5%. The number of patent claims invalidated is now over 11,000, but also holding steady at around 71%.

“There have been no new Federal Circuit Section 101 decisions, but we’re going to see a flurry of activity in the next couple of months, as the court has recently heard oral argument in a number of patent eligibility cases, and more are on calendar for November.

“Motions on the pleadings have soared, with 23 in the past two months alone, and the success rate is up a tick from 70.1% to 71.4%.

“PTAB is a bit mixed: the CBM institution rate is down from 86.2% 83.7%, but the final decision rate is still 100%, with 6 decisions in the past two months invalidating the patents in suit.”

Red Hat could make use of what Bilski Blog called #AliceStorm (referring to the avalanche of software patents) to basically invalidate a lot of Microsoft’s software patents. Instead, Red Hat reached a patent agreement with Microsoft.

Müller’s analysis ends with strong words that we don’t agree with but are worth quoting nonetheless: “It’s one thing to be a Linux parasite. It’s another to be a Trojan horse. And the worst option is to be both at the same time.”

Major Technical Support Departments Discourage People From Adopting Vista 10, Even Suggest Deleting It

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The dominance of Windows wanes even on desktops and laptops as large OEMs are evidently fed up with the latest version of Windows (while Chromebooks outsell Windows laptops)

In 1995 people queued up to BUY Windows 95. 20 years later, with Vista 10, people reject Windows even when it’s a gratis ‘upgrade’ (no buying necessary for existing Windows users), so Microsoft FORCE-FEEDS it, as we have shown here in numerous past articles, e.g. [1, 2, 3].

“Phone-support reps from Dell and HP told us they discourage users from upgrading to Windows 10.”
      –Laptop Mag
According to this new (and apparently exclusive) report, “Microsoft may be gung-ho about upgrading your PC to Windows 10, but some of the company’s partners aren’t quite as enthusiastic about the new OS, at least if you ask their tech-support reps. While going undercover for our annual Tech Support Showdown — in which we test each laptop vendor’s phone, social and Web support — we spoke with several agents who either actively discouraged us from upgrading to Windows 10 or failed to understand core features of the new OS.

“Phone-support reps from Dell and HP told us they discourage users from upgrading to Windows 10. An HP rep even tried to help us roll back to Windows 8.1 during one of our support calls. A Lenovo rep had nothing negative to say about Windows 10, but was confused about how Cortana works.”

The word is already spreading and one news site says that “Laptop Mag has reported that tech-support reps are telling their clients to avoid Windows 10, or uninstall the operating system.”

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, at times a Microsoft apologist, is upset about privacy violations in Vista 10. “Microsoft is collecting telemetry from PCs running Windows,” he explained, “but what I’m not OK with is the fact that there’s no off switch. In fact, I can’t understand why Microsoft wants to get into a privacy brawl with Windows 10 users at such a critical time.”

Well, Microsoft is trying to turn users of Windows into products, to be sold in bulk perhaps (their data). ‘Free’ Windows will basically be like a ‘free’ Facebook account. Now is a great time to say goodbye to Microsoft and Windows (before the force-feeding becomes way over the top).

“Gates had never been involved in any of the architectural design of Windows, nor had he ever been personally involved in writing such large amounts of code. Now, very late in the game, he was throwing out knee-jerk requests based on the competition. And he seemed totally oblivious to the fact that every such feature change radically screwed up Windows’s stability, testing, and ship date.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul

Links 7/11/2015: Croatia’s GNU/Linux/LibreOffice Manual, LibreOffice Big in Italy

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Locked Up with Linux

    The sheer versatility of the Linux kernel truly knows no bounds. It can be found, literally, everywhere. From your local library to your local big box retailer, Linux is barely a stone’s throw away. There are very few places in the world that can be considered Linux-free. A small tribal village? Maybe. A shade tree mechanic? Possibly. A Prison? Well … not really. That’s right. It seems that Linux has been sent to the joint, and it poised to be there for a very long time.

  • The Future of the Bloomberg Terminal is Open Source

    The technology has withstood the test of time by continuously evolving to meet the needs of financial traders – though until recently new features have been largely developed with in-house, proprietary code.

    The way Bloomberg keeps up with users’ expectations is changing, however, McCracken writes. The company is adopting open source technologies such as Linux, Hadoop, and Solr and contributing code back upstream.

  • Croatia publishes Linux & LibreOffice manual

    Croatia’s Ministry of Veterans has published a manual on how to use Linux and LibreOffice. The document is part of a feasibility pilot in the Ministry. “The text is intended for public administrations, but can be useful to others interested in using these tools”, the Ministry writes in its announcement on 5 November.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.4 HID: Better Skylake Touchpads, Corsair K90 & Logitech G29 Support

      The HID driver updates were mailed in on Friday for the Linux 4.4 merge window.

    • Linux 4.4 Sound: Better Firmware Support, Adds Intel Lewisburg

      Takashi Iwai has lined up the sound driver updates for the Linux 4.4 kernel merge window.

      Highlights in the sound/audio realm for Linux 4.4 include new device support for some Firewire sound devices along with MIDI functionality, more ASoC updates around the Intel Skylake support added to Linux 4.3, and Intel’s Lewisburg controller has been added to the HD Audio driver.

    • Btrfs In Linux 4.4 Has Many Improvements/Fixes

      Chris Mason sent in the pull request today for updating the Btrfs file-system for Linux 4.4.

      The Btrfs file-system in Linux 4.4 has a number of sub-volume quota improvements, many code clean-ups, and a number of allocator fixes based upon their usage at Facebook. The allocator fixes should also help improve the RAID 5/6 performance when the file-system is mounted with ssd_spread as previously it hit some CPU bottlenecks.

    • Linux 4.4 To Support Google Fiber TV Remote Controls & More

      Dmitry Torokhov sent in the input driver updates today for the Linux 4.4 merge window.

      New input driver support with Linux 4.4 includes handling the remote controls for the Google Fiber TV Box, FocalTech FT6236 touchscreen controller support, ROHM BU21023/24 touchscreen controller.

    • EXT4 In Linux 4.4 Brings Fixes, Particularly For Encryption Support

      Besides the Btrfs pull request being sent in today for the Linux 4.4 merge window, the EXT4 updates were also sent in today by Ted Ts’o.

      The EXT4 changes for Linux 4.4 largely come down to a smothering of bug-fixes for this stable Linxu file-system. In particular, there’s also fixes around the EXT4 encryption support and Ted is encouraging any EXT4 encrypted users to update their patches against Linux 4.4 to avoid a memory leak and file-system corruption bug.

    • Open APIs, Microsoft Loves Red Hat & More…

      One more thing: You know how many of us in FOSS consider the whole Linus Torvalds rant thing as a in-family squabble? Well, thanks to our friends at the Washington Post, now it’s out there for everyone to see — “everyone” meaning the general public and, worse, the non-tech parrots who will now say Linux is insecure (as an operating system, not as an idea). The article also operates under the subtext that because security is not Linus’ main focus, somehow Linux may be lacking in the security department. Internally we know better. Externally this is what the public sees.

    • The Washington Post questions the security of the Linux kernel

      The Washington Post has been doing a series on the vulnerabilities of the Internet. Part five of the series focuses on Linus Torvalds and the state of security in the Linux kernel. Does Linus need to focus more on security?

    • The Linux Foundation Launches the Open API Initiative, with Big Backers

      The Linux Foundation has announced the Open API Initiative, and some mighty powerful backers are on board. Founding members of the Open API Initiative include 3Scale, Apigee, Capital One, Google, IBM, Intuit, Microsoft, PayPal, Restlet and SmartBear.

      “The Initiative will extend the Swagger specification and format to create an open technical community within which members can easily contribute to building a vendor neutral, portable and open specification for providing metadata for RESTful APIs,” the announcement notes. The new open specification is targeted to allow both humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of respective services without a lot of implementation logic. The Initiative is also aimed to promote and facilitate the adoption and use of an open API standard.

    • Trinity 1.6

      Don’t send me feature requests. I’ve got more than enough ideas for stuff *I* want to implement. Diffs speak louder than words.

    • Graphics Stack

      • An AMD GCN Assembler For Linux That Supports The Open & Closed Drivers

        This CLRadeonExtender project has complete GCN assembler/disassembler support for all GCN GPUs from GCN 1.0 through GCN 1.2, including full Fiji support. The assembler supports the binary formats of the AMD Catalyst driver with OpenCL 1.2 as well as Gallium3D compute for using the RadeonSI open-source driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • Antergos, Manjaro, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora & OpenSUSE Performance Showdown

        This is a larger and more interesting comparison than the Linux distro comparison of September plus the fact that all stable Linux distributions are now in use thanks to a lot of distributions having put out their Q4 updates recently.

        OpenSUSE 42.1, Fedora Workstation 23, Ubuntu 15.10, Antergos 2015.10-Rolling, Debian 8.2, CentOS 7, and Manjaro 15.11 were all cleanly installed on the same system and carried out a variety of benchmarks to measure their out-of-the-box performance across multiple subsystems.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • October Plasma on Wayland Update: all about geometry

        Last month our Wayland efforts made a huge step forward. In KWin we are now at a state where I think the big underlying work is finished, we entered the finishing line of the KWin Wayland porting. The whole system though still needs a little bit more work.

        The big remaining task which I worked on last month was geometry handling. That is simplified: moving and resizing windows. Sounds relatively easy, but isn’t. Moving and resizing windows or in general the geometry handling is one of the core aspects of a window manager. It’s where our expertise is, the code which makes KWin such a good window manager. Naturally we don’t want to throw that code out and want to reuse it in a Wayland world.

      • KDE 4.14.3 Bugfix release for Kubuntu Trusty (14.04.3 LTS) is now available.

        Packages for the release of KDE’s Applications and Platform 4.14.3 are available for Kubuntu 14.04.3. You can get them from the Kubuntu Backports PPA.

      • Handling Screen Management With KDE’s Plasma Wayland

        For KDE users interested in the latest Wayland porting process, one of the big tasks currently being tackled is on Plasma’s screen management handling.

        KDE’s Sebastian Kügler has written a blog post about screen management in Wayland. The lengthy post goes over the good and bad of screen management in the Wayland world and how it’s going to be implemented within KDE Plasma’s Wayland support.

      • KDE Plasma 5.5 On Wayland May Be Ready For Early Adopters

        KWin maintainer Martin Gräßlin has written a monthly status update concerning the state of KWin and KDE Plasma on Wayland.

        The German open-source developer explained that most of the underlying work is finished as is most of the KWin Wayland porting, but the complete stack still needs more time to bake with Wayland. Much of October was spent working on the geometry handling with Wayland and still dealing with X11-specific KDE code.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The November 2015 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved.

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • Mom & Me Grows Its Business With SUSE Linux

        Fashion retailers are constantly investing in new technologies to keep pace with the ever-changing market demand. Mahindra Retail, part of the $6.3 billion Mahindra Group that operates the Mom & Me chain of stores in India, was looking to grow its business. However, its existing ERP system was posing a major challenge. The Bangalore-based fashion retailer implemented SAP ERP, with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the operating system – a move that has helped them to lower operational costs and boost business productivity.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Given Buy Rating at Mizuho (RHT)

        Mizuho reaffirmed their buy rating on shares of Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) in a research report report published on Friday, AnalystRatings.Net reports. They currently have a $88.00 target price on the open-source software company’s stock.

      • Red Hat (RHT): Moving Average Crossover Alert
      • Fedora

        • Lenovo Yoga 900 and Fedora Review

          A few weeks ago, Lenovo came out with the Yoga 900, which was the successor to last years Yoga 3 pro and it in turn my Yoga 2 pro. The stats and early reviews looked pretty nice, so I ordered one.

          I was hoping for a smooth Fedora experience, but sadly I ran into two issues right away after booting from a Fedora Live USB.

        • Fedora 23: In The Ocean Again

          This week was the release week for Fedora 23, and the Fedora Project has again worked together with the DigitalOcean team to make Fedora 23 available in their service. If you’re not familiar with DigitalOcean already, it is a dead simple cloud hosting platform which is great for developers.

        • Fedora 23 – Mate Desktop – Sticky Windows

          One of the things I like about windows is the way the windows snap as you move the actual windows to the left or right of the screen. By default Mate in Fedora 23 doesn’t have this enabled, but it’s an easy fix

        • F23, Developer Portal, internships, G11N, and conferences!

          On Monday, the Fedora Developer Portal was released to the public. This is for developers using Fedora, not about developing Fedora itself. It’s a central hub for numerous resources to help both new and current developers set up their workspaces for new projects. Interested? Read more in the announcement post — and please share with your software developer friends!

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • COM/baseboard duo play Linux on Cortex-A9 Sitara SoC

      MYIR’s “MYC-C437x” and “MYD-C437X” COM and baseboard pair run Linux on TI’s Cortex-A9 Sitara AM437x SoC, and offer dual GbE ports and touchscreen options.

      MYIR first tapped the Sitara AM437x SoC from Texas Instruments earlier this year with its Rico Board. While the Rico had an integrated SBC design, the new MYD-C437X development board is one of MYIR’s sandwich-style concoctions featuring a separately available MYC-C437X computer-on-module. Similarly, MYIR’s Zynq-based MYD-C7Z010/20 offers a sandwich-style alternative to its Z-turn Board SBC.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • How a better understanding of open source can lower the risks

    The advantages of open source are well known: lower costs, the security and higher quality that arise from a large developer community and the absence of ties to one manufacturer are powerful arguments. In some areas open source products are already leaders in their field.

  • ​Etsy: Here’s how we add and retire software tools in our engineering stack

    As part of the company’s regular engagement with the wider coding community, Etsy engineers Maggie Zhou and Melissa Santos recently told an audience at O’Reilly’s OSCON open-source programming conference in Amsterdam exactly how Etsy successfully updates its technology to meet growing data demands.

    [...]

    The Etsy team uses open-source software and is committed to keeping its coding practices transparent.

  • Leadership in Software Development Part 1
  • Leadership in Software Development Part 2
  • Leadership in Software Development Part 3
  • Leadership in Software Development Part 4
  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack Building a Developer Story for Mitaka

      OpenStack is finding its way into carriers and enterprise deployments around the world, but what about developers? At the recent OpenStack Summit in Tokyo, Japan, developers gathered to discuss the Mitaka release of OpenStack, set to debut in 2016. One of the themes that is emerging in OpenStack is the idea of focusing on a developer story, according to Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski.

      Mirantis is one of the largest contributors to OpenStack and has raised $200 million in equity to help fuel its efforts. Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski also sits on the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors, giving him particular insight into the open-source cloud project.

    • Cask Data, Focused on Simplifying Hadoop, Gets $20 Million in Funding

      Large funding rounds by Hadoop-focused startups seem to be par for the course these days, as the open source big data framework becomes more of an attraction for businesses everywhere. The concept of making Hadoop easier to use is also not new. We’ve reported on the new front-ends and connecting tools that are appearing for the platform.

      Now, Cask Data, an open source software company that helps developers deliver enterprise-class Apache Hadoop solutions for simplifying its use, has announced that it’s raising a $20 million Series B financing round led by Safeguard Scientifics, with participation from Battery Ventures, Ignition Partners and other existing investors.

  • Databases

    • Hello, I’m Mr. Null. My Name Makes Me Invisible to Computers

      Pretty much every name offers some possibility for being turned into a schoolyard taunt. But even though I’m an adult who left the schoolyard decades ago, my name still inspires giggles among the technologically minded. My last name is “Null,” and it comes preloaded with entertainment value. If you want to be cheeky, you will probably start with “Null and void.” If you’re a WIRED reader, you might move on to “Null set.” Down-the-rabbit-hole geeks prefer the classic “dev/null.”

      As a technology journalist, being a Null has served me rather well. (John Dvorak, you know what I’m talking about!) The geek connotations provide a bit of instant nerd cred—to the point where more than one person has accused me of using a nom de plume to make me seem like a bigger nerd than I am.

      But there’s a dark side to being a Null, and you coders out there are way ahead of me on this. For those of you unwise in the ways of programming, the problem is that “null” is one of those famously “reserved” text strings in many programming languages. Making matters worse is that software programs frequently use “null” specifically to ensure that a data field is not empty, so it’s often rejected as input in a web form.

      In other words: if lastname = null then… well, then try again with a lastname that isn’t “null.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Bitnami Helps to Enable Oracle’s Cloud Aspirations

      Brescia explained that the Bitnami cloud launchpad is now available to Oracle Cloud users, providing over one hundred different open-source applications and development environments. Bitnami is no stranger to cloud deployments and is also available on the Google Cloud as well as other cloud environments. Bitnami’s core promise is that it enables users to rapidly deploy applications, which is a mission the company has been on since 2011.

  • Business

  • BSD

    • pfSense 2.2.5-RELEASE Now Available!

      pfSense® software version 2.2.5 is now available. This release includes a number of bug fixes and some security updates.

      Today is also the 11 year birthday of the project. While work started in late summer 2004, the domains were registered and the project made public on November 5, 2004. Thanks to everyone that has helped make the project a great success for 11 years. Things just keep getting better, and the best is yet to come.

    • OpenBGPd and route filters

      Many moons ago, OpenBGPd was extensively used throughout the networking world as a Route Server. However, over the years, many have stopped using it and have migrated away to other implementations. Recently, I have been getting more involved with the networking community, so I decided to ask “why”. Almost exclusively, they told me “filter performance”.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • New release of Docker, R-Hub for R packages, and more news
    • Open Data

      • UK government looks to harness the potential of open data through APIs

        In a speech earlier this week, Matt Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office, referred to data as being “no longer just a record” but a “mineable commodity, from which value can be extracted” and outlined how the UK government intends to improve its use of the information at its disposal and help others exploit the data too.

        “Government data is no longer a forgotten filing cabinet, locked away in some dusty corner of Whitehall,” Hancock said. “It’s raw material, infinite possibility, waiting to be unleashed. No longer just a record of what’s happened, but a map of what might be.”

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Lawyer: Blatter in hospital for checkup but is ‘fine’

    His statement came shortly after Blatter’s spokesman, Klaus Stoehlker, said the 79-year-old Swiss official was under “medical evaluation” for stress-related reasons and had been told by doctors to relax.

  • Sepp Blatter under medical evaluation after suffering from stress

    Sepp Blatter has been ordered by doctors to take five days off work after having a medical evaluation for stress.

    The 79-year-old, currently suspended from his role as Fifa president, consulted a doctor after feeling unwell, and although no underlying problem was discovered he has been ordered to rest.

  • They don’t make them like Ralph Bakshi anymore: “Now, animators don’t have ideas. They just like to move things around”

    If you grew up in the ‘70s or ‘80s, the name Ralph Bakshi got your blood pumping. His films were bold and profane, hysterical, politically incorrect, gothic and gorgeous to look at. They were shot through with a real sense of rock and roll and street smarts — see the dirty satire “Fritz the Cat” (a take on R. Crumb’s famously horny feline, which was the first animated film to be rated X).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The CIA’s experiments with psychedelic drugs led to the Grateful Dead

      “Earlier this year, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead played sold-out ‘Fare Thee Well’ concerts in Santa Clara and Chicago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of their band,” says Ben Mark of Collectors Weekly. “But Jerry Garcia and company did not start using the name Grateful Dead until December of 1965. The exact date is surprisingly hard to pin down, as my story for Collectors Weekly reveals, but we do know that the Grateful Dead’s sound grew out of its experiences as the house band at the Acid Tests of 1965 and 1966, which were organized (if that’s even the right word…) by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.

    • Did the CIA’s Experiments With Psychedelic Drugs Unwittingly Create the Grateful Dead?

      Trying to write a definitive history of the Acid Tests, a series of multimedia happenings in 1965 and 1966, in which everyone in attendance was stoned on LSD, is like trying to organize an aquarium’s worth of electric eels into a nice neat row, sorted by length. You will never get the creatures to stop writhing, let alone straighten out, and if you touch them, well, they are electric eels.

    • End the DEA

      The DEA is a bloated, wasteful, scandal-ridden bureaucracy charged with the impossible task of keeping humans from doing something they’ve been doing for thousands of years – altering their consciousness. As states legalize marijuana, reform sentencing laws, and treat drug use more as a health issue and less as a criminal justice issue, the DEA must change with the times. Federal drug enforcement should focus on large cases that cross international and state boundaries, with an exclusive focus on violent traffickers and major crime syndicates. All other cases should be left to the states.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • ProtonMail Pays Crooks $6,000 In Bitcoin To Cease DDoS Bombardment

      ProtonMail is getting its first taste of life as an entity known to criminals looking for a quick, easy payday.

      Throughout most of yesterday and through to this morning, the encrypted email service, set up by CERN scientists in Geneva last year to fight snooping by the likes of the NSA, was offline. The company had to use a WordPress blog to disclose what was happening to customers.

      Its datacenter was effectively shut down by waves of traffic thanks to two separate Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. One of the groups responsible for flooding the servers demanded ProtonMail cough up 15 Bitcoin (currently worth around $6,000), or the attack would continue.

    • Ransomware Found Targeting Linux Servers and Coding Repositories

      A newly discovered ransomware is attacking Linux Web servers, taking aim at Web development environments used to host websites or code repositories.

    • Linux Ransomware Is Now Attacking Webmasters

      A new bit of ransomware is now attacking Linux-based machines, specifically the folders associated with serving web pages. Called Linux.Encoder.1 the ransomware will encrypt your MySQL, Apache, and home/root folders. The system then asks for a single bitcoin to decrypt the files.

    • Auto-Hacking Class Action Likely to Die

      A federal judge Tuesday indicated he will dismiss with leave to amend a class action claiming Ford, Toyota and General Motors made their cars vulnerable to hackers.

    • Volkswagen and the Real Insider Threat

      Over the last several weeks, reporting has revealed a coordinated insider effort at Volkswagen to insert a malicious piece of software—a defeat device—into the car’s electronic control module. The device was able to sense when emission tests were being conducted by monitoring things like “speed, engine operation, air pressure and even the position of the steering wheel,” and triggered changes to the car’s operations to reduce emissions during the testing process so that those cars would pass the tests. When the malicious software remained dormant, the emission controls were disabled and the cars spewed up to 40 times the EPA-mandated emissions limits. Through the defeat device, Volkswagen was able to sell more than half a million diesel-fueled cars in the U.S. in violation of U.S. environmental laws.

    • Encrypted resistance: from digital security to dual power

      Digital technology is often seen as a curiosity in revolutionary politics, perhaps as a specialized skill set that is peripheral to the hard work of organizing. But the growing trend of “cyber-resistance” might hold more potential than we have given it credit for. Specifically, the popularized use of encryption gives us the ability to form a type of liberated space within the shifting maze of cables and servers that make up the Internet. The “web” is bound by the laws of math and physics before the laws of states, and in that cyberspace we may be able to birth a new revolutionary consciousness.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • U.S. Plane Shot Victims Fleeing Doctors Without Borders Hospital: Charity

      A U.S. warplane shot people trying to flee a burning hospital destroyed in airstrikes last month, according to the charity that ran the facility.

      “Thirty of our patients and medical staff died [in the bombing],” Doctors Without Borders General Director Christopher Stokes said during a speech in Kabul unveiling a report on the incident. “Some of them lost their limbs and were decapitated in the explosions. Others were shot by the circling gunship while fleeing the burning building.”

      The hospital in Kunduz was bombed on Oct. 3 as Afghan government forces fought to regain control of the city from Taliban insurgents.

      After the U.S. gave shifting explanations for the incident — which Doctors Without Borders has called a war crime — President Barack Obama apologized to the charity. The U.S. and Afghan governments have launched three separate investigations but the charity, which is also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is calling for an international inquiry.

    • The Most Militarized Universities in America: A VICE News Investigation

      An information and intelligence shift has emerged in America’s national security state over the last two decades, and that change has been reflected in the country’s educational institutions as they have become increasingly tied to the military, intelligence, and law enforcement worlds. This is why VICE News has analyzed and ranked the 100 most militarized universities in America.

      Initially, we hesitated to use the term militarized to describe these schools. The term was not meant to simply evoke robust campus police forces or ROTC drills held on a campus quad. It was also a measure of university labs funded by US intelligence agencies, administrators with strong ties to those same agencies, and, most importantly, the educational backgrounds of the approximately 1.4 million people who hold Top Secret clearance in the United States.

    • Meet the drone defender who hates neo-cons, attacks Glenn Greenwald — and may have conflicts of her own

      The U.S. drone program creates more militants than it kills, according to the head of intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the U.S. military unit that oversees that very program.

      “When you drop a bomb from a drone… you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,” remarked Michael T. Flynn. The retired Army lieutenant general, who also served as the U.S. Central Command’s director of intelligence, says that “the more bombs we drop, that just… fuels the conflict.”

      Not everyone accepts the assessment of the former JSOC intelligence chief, however. Still today, defenders of the U.S. drone program insist it does more good than harm. One scholar, Georgetown University professor Christine Fair, is particularly strident in her support.

    • CIA, Saudis To Give “Select” Syrian Militants Weapons Capable Of Downing Commercial Airliners

      First there was an audio recording from ISIS’ Egyptian affiliate reiterating that they did indeed “down” the plane. Next, the ISIS home office in Raqqa (or Langley or Hollywood) released a video of five guys sitting in the front yard congratulating their Egyptian “brothers” on the accomplishment.

    • US and Saudis go Full Retardo – to arm Good Terrorists with weapons to down Commercial Jets

      Wednesday brought a veritable smorgasbord of “new” information about the Russian passenger jet which fell out of the sky above the Sinai Peninsula last weekend.

      First there was an audio recording from ISIS’ Egyptian affiliate reiterating that they did indeed “down” the plane. Next, the ISIS home office in Raqqa (or Langley or Hollywood) released a video of five guys sitting in the front yard congratulating their Egyptian “brothers” on the accomplishment.

    • US Should Offer Assistance to Russia in A321 Crash Probe – Keith Alexander
    • Morell: U.K. “overstating” likelihood of bomb on Russian jet
    • What we know and don’t know about downed Russian jetliner
    • Cameron’s comments on Egypt crash ‘un-British’ – ex-CIA boss

      David Cameron has said it is increasingly likely a “terrorist bomb” brought down the Airbus jet on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board.

    • Rocket which came ‘within 1,000ft’ of Thomson flight fired during Egyptian military training exercise, Government says

      The rocket which reportedly came “within 1,000ft” of a British aircraft as it approached Sharm el-Sheikh in August was fired by the Egyptian military during a routine training exercise, the Government has said.

      The Thomson flight took evasive action after the pilot spotted the missile, The Daily Mail reported.

      Their source said: “The first officer was in charge at the time but the pilot was in the cockpit and saw the rocket coming towards the plane.

      “He ordered that the flight turn to the left to avoid the rocket, which was about 1,000ft away.”

      They reportedly went on to say that the staff were offered the chance to stay in Egypt, but chose to head back to the UK on a flight which took off with no internal or external lights.

    • Sudanese citizen tried to kill Israeli on int’l flight

      Arik, 54, works in an Israeli communications company that operates in Africa. He had intended to travel on to Israel after landing in Addis Ababa.

      “About 20 minutes before the plane started its descent the passenger sitting behind me identified me as Israeli and Jewish,” Arik told Ynet.

      “He came up behind my seat and started to choke me with a lot of force,” he continued, “and at first I couldn’t get my voice out and call for help.

      “He hit me over the head with a metal tray and shouted ‘Allah akbar’ and ‘I will slaughter the Jew.’ Only after a few seconds, just before I was about to lose consciousness, did I manage to call out and a flight attendant who saw what was happening summoned her colleagues,” Arik added.

      According to Arik, most of the passengers on the half-empty flight refrained from getting involved. “After they pulled him off me he hit me and shouted in Arabic. Some of the flight staff took me to the rear section of the plane and two guarded the attacked during the last part of the flight.”

    • Washington prepares for World War III

      The US military-intelligence complex is engaged in systematic preparations for World War III. As far as the Pentagon is concerned, a military conflict with China and/or Russia is inevitable, and this prospect has become the driving force of its tactical and strategic planning.

      Three congressional hearings Tuesday demonstrated this reality. In the morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a lengthy hearing on cyberwarfare. In the afternoon, a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee discussed the present size and deployment of the US fleet of aircraft carriers, while another subcommittee of the same panel discussed the modernization of US nuclear weapons.

    • The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: Part one

      The new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual is essentially a guidebook for violating international and domestic law and committing war crimes. The 1,165-page document, dated June 2015 and recently made available online, is not a statement of existing law as much as a compendium of what the Pentagon wishes the law to be.

    • Roger That: Pentagon to send special ops teams to Syria

      As part of a major overhaul of the U.S. government’s strategy against the Islamic State, President Barack Obama last week authorized the deployment of “fewer than 50” U.S. special operations troops to northern Syria, where they will work with local forces in the fight against the militants, according to Military Times.

    • There’s tyranny aplenty

      When Cheney and Bush used the NSA to institute flagrantly, unabashedly unconstitutional surveillance on American citizens, I didn’t see you guys pulling out your side-arms. Were you protecting the constitutionally guaranteed right to assembly and redress of grievances against armed police in Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore, Maryland?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Ford Revealed as Funder of Climate Denial Group ALEC

      Ford Motor Company, despite its much-hyped commitment to the environment, has been quietly funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group widely criticized for its promotion of climate change denial and for its opposition to the development of renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.

      A Ford spokesperson, Christin Baker, confirmed the ALEC grant to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch, but said that the funding was not intended to be used by ALEC to block action on climate change.

      “Ford participates in a broad range of organizations that support our business needs, but no organization speaks for Ford on every issue. We do not engage with ALEC on climate change,” said Baker.

    • Secrets of the climate deniers exposed: Exxon Mobil and the plot to keep the public in the dark

      And it gets worse. “From 1998 to 2005,” Egan writes, Exxon contributed “almost $16 million to organizations designed to muddy the scientific waters.” I suppose it isn’t shocking that a titan of the decaying industrial economy would seek to distort the science and profit from our collective predicament. What is shocking, however, is that such a campaign would be so successful.

    • Iowa Democrats Call for a ‘WWII-Scale Mobilization’ to Fight Climate Change

      Today, three Iowa politicians signed a pledge calling for “a World War II-scale mobilization” to fight climate change. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, State Rep. Dan Kelley, and State Senator Rob Hogg, a leading candidate for US Senate, all Democrats, signed a document calling on the US government to reduce emissions 100 percent by 2025 by “enlisting” tens of millions of Americans to work on clean energy projects—creating full employment in the process.

      It’s likely the most ambitious pledge to fight climate change put forward this election cycle, even if right now, it’s a symbolic gesture aimed at drawing attention to climate policy during the high season of presidential campaigning.

    • Illegally planted palm oil already growing on burnt land in Indonesia
    • Indonesia fires are a world crisis

      The timing is accidental but impeccable. Just as governments are about to launch an unprecedented effort to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions, one of the biggest carbon-dioxide gushers ever known has erupted with record force. At times during the past several weeks, fires in Indonesia have released as much carbon as the entire U.S. economy, even as they have destroyed millions of acres of tropical forest, a natural carbon sink. Neighboring countries, along with economic giants such as the U.S., China and Europe, have to join forces to turn off this tap.

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin: Discussing Code Changes Is Half The Battle

      Discussions about changing the dynamic code that runs the Bitcoin blockchain should constantly be happening. Over the course of the past year, the talks of changing the block size have been an overwhelming topic of conversation. There have been some pretty stubborn people when it comes to changing the protocols code, and this is not to say that forking the code is the right step. There has been censorship and subsequently has created a rift between people who want to raise the block size and those that don’t. In time, other discussions may have to occur regarding the underlying hash functions involved with the Bitcoin protocol and to assume things will always stay the same may be naive.

    • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Says The Government Will ‘Stop’ Bitcoin

      Of course, that confidence that the US government will kill the innovation is perhaps the biggest weakness of Dimon’s argument. We have no doubt that governments are already trying their damnedest to kill off innovation around cryptocurrencies, but the larger question is really whether or not that’s even really possible.

      Here’s the problem for Dimon: should Bitcoin really reach the point at which Wall Street really views it as a true threat, then it’s probably too late for it to be stopped. That’s one of the (many) interesting parts about cryptocurrencies. The ability to stop them as they get more and more successful becomes significantly more difficult, to the point of reaching a near impossibility. But, it sure will lead to some amusing and ridiculous regulatory fights.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Movie on Amos Yee seeks USD$25,000 from crowdfunding

      In July this year, 16-year-old blogger was given a four-week backdated jail sentence after being found guilty of making offensive remarks against Christianity, and for circulating an obscene image.

    • Internet Freedom? Singapore’s Not Faring Too Well

      Well, well, well. It looks like there’s something perfect little Singapore is not excelling in: Freedom on the net.

      We may be a powerhouse in a lot of areas — trade, commerce, economy, health, education and anti-corruption — but when it comes to freedom on the Internet, our results are pretty dismal. This was revealed in the report ‘Freedom on the Net 2015’, an annual study by the group Freedom House, an independent watchdog organisation dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.

    • Singapore sees slight dip in Internet freedom: Report

      The level of Internet freedom in Singapore declined this year, according to an annual report by US-based NGO Freedom House.

      Singapore scored 41 on a scale of 0-100, with 0 indicating the most free and 100 indicating the least, up from 40 last year.

    • Myanmar and Australia see biggest declines in internet freedom in Asia Pacific finds report

      Myanmar, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Thailand and South Korea all saw declines in internet freedom over the last year, according to a report by US-based think tank Freedom House released this week.

      Despite the introduction of mobile carriers Telenor and Ooredoo to the market, Myanmar saw the biggest decline in internet freedom in the region, followed by Australia, which is considered to have the freest internet in Asia Pacific (New Zealand was not measured).

    • Facebook Bans Tsu Links Entirely, Choosing Control Over User Empowerment

      Facebook has brought out the ban-hammer on its competitors in the past. Most notably, the social media giant banned advertisements from users for links to Google+, when that was still a thing. That said, the most recent example of Facebook banning what can be seen as a competitive product has gone even further, preventing users from linking to Tsu.co in status updates or on its messaging service.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • FBI agent guilty of assault after shoving teen to ground, threatening him with gun: ‘If I have to shoot you, I will’ (VIDEO)

      A veteran FBI agent who was caught on camera shoving a 15-year-old boy to the ground and threatening the teen with his gun has been found guilty of assault.

      Gerald John Rogero, 45, was off-duty last December when he meddled into a Maryland family’s dispute over a child custody drop-off.

      The agent, who knew one of the family members involved, was rebuking a man for being late to drop off his child when a teenager confronted him for intruding.

    • Judge tried to bribe FBI agent with beer to get family’s text messages

      “[S]ee what you can do without drawing attention. This involves family so I don’t want anyone to know.”

      That’s what a North Carolina local judge told an FBI official in seeking the agent’s cooperation to get the text messages of two different phone numbers, according to the federal indictment (PDF) lodged against Wayne County Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones.

      How much is that illegal, warrantless surveillance worth?

    • Teens who hacked the CIA are now going after the FBI

      About three weeks ago, a team of teenage hackers managed to hack into the personal AOL email account of CIA Director John Brennan. In the process, they were not only able to access Brennan’s personal correspondence, but also sensitive security information regarding top-secret Intelligence matters.

    • CIA Email Hackers Return With Major Law Enforcement Breach

      Hackers who broke into the personal email account of CIA Director John Brennan have struck again.

      This time the group, which goes by the name Crackas With Attitude, says it gained access to an even more important target—a portal for law enforcement that grants access to arrest records and other sensitive data, including what appears to be a tool for sharing information about active shooters and terrorist events, and a system for real-time chats between law enforcement agents.

    • Teenage ‘Cracka’ Hackers Hit FBI Deputy Director
    • Teens Who Hacked CIA Chief’s AOL Email Now Allege Breaching FBI Systems
    • Teen Hackers Who Doxed CIA Chief Are Targeting More Government Officials

      A cybersecurity expert once told me something I’ll never forget: “don’t underestimate what bored teenagers can do.”

      A group teenagers that call themselves “Crackas With Attitude” reminded me of those words when they were able to hack into the personal AOL email account of CIA Director John Brennan. The teenagers, who described themselves as “stoners,” even had the guts to give multiple media interviews, boasting about their feats.

    • ‘Smokescreen’ allegations over rendition flights probe

      A human rights group has criticised the “smokescreen” surrounding the ongoing probe into CIA rendition flights landing at Scottish airports.

      Amnesty International’s Naomi McAuliffe said “excessive secrecy” was “fuelling the national security threat”.

      Police Scotland is investigating claims airports were used as stop-offs for planes transferring suspected terrorists to secret jails overseas.

    • Former CIA Directors Disagree On Torture

      A sneak peek of a soon-to-be-released documentary reveals mixed sentiments among former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency on the United States’ use of torture.

    • The CIA Is an Ethics-Free Zone

      I joined the CIA in January 1990.

      The CIA was vastly different back then from the agency that emerged in the days after the 9/11 attacks. And it was a far cry from the flawed and confused organization it is today.

      One reason for those flaws — and for the convulsions the agency has experienced over the past decade and a half — is its utter lack of ethics in intelligence operations.

      It’s no secret that the CIA has gone through periods where violating U.S. law and basic ethics were standard operating procedure. During the Cold War, the agency assassinated foreign leaders, toppled governments, spied on American citizens, and conducted operations with no legal authority to do so. That’s an historical fact.

      I liked to think that things had changed by the time I worked there. CIA officers, I believed, were taught about legal limits to their operations — they learned what was and wasn’t permitted by law.

    • Rights Groups Call on U.S. Agencies to Appoint Human Rights Contact

      More than two dozen civic groups groups are asking why government agencies haven’t found somebody to respond to possible human rights violations within the agencies’ areas of responsibility — as required by a 1998 executive order.

      The groups sent letters to six agencies on Wednesday — the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — echoing their past request for a point of contact who can respond to violations of international human rights treaties.

      The authors of the letter, including government accountability, civil rights, and consumer advocate organizations, pointed to the recent decision by the EU Court of Justice — invalidating a free-flowing data-sharing pact between the U.S. and Europe out of privacy concerns — as a reason for urgency in filling the role.

    • Fisa courts stifle the due process they were supposed to protect. End them

      The US intelligence community is in a very poor position to be trusted with protecting civil liberties while engaging in intelligence work. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail; when you’re a skilled intelligence professional, everything looks like a vital source for collection.

      Members of the intelligence community are, it’s true, under immense stress to prevent a devastating national catastrophe. I understand a little of how that feels: while working as an analyst in Iraq, thousands of military personnel, contractors and local civilians were dependent on our ability to effectively understand the threats we were facing, and to explain them to US military commanders, the commanders of Iraqi forces and the civilian leadership of both nations.

      General Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security, frequently pushed very hard to “collect it all”; during my time as an intelligence analyst, I completely agreed with his mantra. So it’s not surprising that today’s intelligence community – as well as law enforcement at all levels of government – aggressively pursue an increasingly large and sophisticated wish list of intelligence tools regardless of whether appropriate oversight mechanisms are in place.

    • Giving Intelligence Contractors Whistleblower Protections Doesn’t Have to Be “Complicated”

      The intelligence community’s top lawyer said Thursday that giving contractors whistleblower protection is “complicated.”

      Robert Litt, general counsel for the director of national intelligence, said a contractor “isn’t working for the government,” and as a result, under current law: “The government doesn’t straight out have the authority to say whether that person can be fired; that’s up to the contractor.”

      The lack of whistleblower protection for intelligence community contractors has become a central issue in the debate over whether Edward Snowden, then working at the National Security Agency as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton, did the right thing in taking his concerns about surveillance programs — and a trove of documents — to journalists. Public figures including Hillary Clinton have incorrectly asserted that Snowden would have been protected from reprisal had he gone through proper channels.

      Litt was correct in saying that whistleblowers who work as contractors for intelligence agencies can be fired, silenced, or otherwise retaliated against for blowing the whistle with almost no legal protections.

    • Hackers have infiltrated the US arrest records database

      Earlier this year, a hacking group broke into the personal email account of CIA director John Brenner and published a host of sensitive attachments that it got its hands on (yes, Brenner should not have been using his AOL email address for CIA business). Now, Wired reports the group has hit a much more sensitive and presumably secure target: a law enforcement portal that contains arrest records as well as tools for sharing info around terrorist events and active shooters. There’s even a real-time chat system built in for the FBI to communicate with other law enforcement groups around the US.

      The group has since published a portion the data it collected to Pastebin and Cryptobin; apparently it released government, military, and police names, emails, and phone numbers. But the portal the hackers accessed held much more info. All told, they got their hands on a dozen different law enforcement tools, and Wired verified that a screenshot of the Joint Automated Booking System (JABS) provided by the hackers was legitimate. The JABS vulnerability is noteworthy because it means the hackers can view arrest records as they’re entered into the database — regardless of whether or not the arrests were under court seal. Typically, those arrests might not be made public for long periods of time as a way of keeping big investigations secret.

    • New Zealand Spy Watchdog Investigating Country’s Ties to CIA Torture

      New Zealand’s spy watchdog has launched an inquiry into her country’s links to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

      Cheryl Gwyn, the inspector general for intelligence and security, said the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report released in December 2014 named a number of countries that were involved in the torture and inhumane treatment of detainees — “but the names of those countries have been redacted.”

      That wasn’t OK with her.

    • Govt rubbishes calls for spy agency reform as CIA links probed

      The government has rubbished calls for changes to the oversight of the country’s spy agencies as the Inspector General investigates any links between them and the CIA’s torture programmes.

      A report revealed the SIS failed to provide the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn with copies of visual surveillance warrants as required by law.

      Instead, the Inspector General discovered them during a warrant review process.

    • Spy Watchdog Launches Probe Into New Zealand’s Links to CIA Torture
    • Government report investigates intelligence agency links to US torture
    • Head of SIS unlikely to go
    • Security Intelligence Service ‘broke the law’
    • David Fisher: Just how bad were our spies?
    • Inspector’s questions restore confidence in spy agencies
    • Spying watchdog ‘opened a can of worms’
    • An Ex-CIA Officer Speaks Out: The Italian Job

      Sabrina De Sousa is one of nearly two-dozen CIA officers who was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced by Italian courts in absentia in 2009 for the role she allegedly played in the rendition of a radical cleric named Abu Omar. It was the first and only criminal prosecution that has ever taken place related to the CIA’s rendition program, which involved more than 100 suspected terrorists and the assistance of dozens of European countries.

    • Maryland is the most militarized university in America, says VICE News
    • UVA is 19th most militarized university in the U.S.
    • 4th Amendment for me, but not for thee

      Last week, it was written here that federal bureaucrats issued a burdensome judge-less subpoena to McDonald’s after the company took a position on the minimum wage contrary to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)’s. McDonald’s had already spent a million dollars to produce documents complying with a judge-less subpoena from the SEIU’s “partner” in government, the National Labor Relations Board, and the NLRB still wanted the emails of McDonald’s employees.

      [...]

      The 4th Amendment’s protections of the security of papers and effects were designed to prevent the political abuses now found in the use of administrative subpoenas. Administrative subpoenas, which are issued without approval by judges, are impossible to reconcile with the 4th Amendment. They are a bigger threat to liberty than the NSA’s warrantless collection of phone call metadata precisely because they are used to intimidate and silence political opponents.

    • A Government Both More Secretive and More Open

      The same decades that saw the growth of national-security secrecy saw the rise of the public’s “right to know.”

    • Iranian actress who posted photos online not wearing a hijab forced to flee country

      An actress from Iran has gone on the run after igniting a backlash by posting photos of herself on social media showing her not wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head cover. Sadaf Taherian began posting the controversial photos on Facebook and Instagram over the last two weeks and the response from Iranians was as swift as it was extreme. In an interview with Masih Alinejad, a journalist who runs a Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom,” which features photos and videos of Iranian women walking in public with their heads uncovered, Taherian reportedly said she was initially “nervous” about the reaction the images might trigger. Indeed, many Iranians lashed out at Taherian with insults and called her “immoral.”

    • Ari Berman on Voting Rights, Joanne Doroshow on Forced Arbitration
    • ‘If this was a test, nearly everyone failed’: how tech giants deny your digital rights

      No one reads those interminable terms of service agreements on Instagram, WhatsApp and their like. But they could make the difference between life and death, according to Rebecca MacKinnon.

      “It may be about whether you get tortured for what you wrote on Facebook or not, or whether you get tried based on some of the stuff you had in your text messages or something you uploaded. They’re worth a lot to human beings,” said MacKinnon, the leader of a new project that hopes to show people just what they are signing away when they blindly click “agree”.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Despite assurances to contrary, intellectual property covered asset for TPP ISDS mechanism

      The assertions by Australia and USTR that the ISDS provisions do not apply to intellectual property were efforts to spin and exaggerate the importance of several limited exceptions to the ISDS, most of which do not actually remove key decisions and policy from ISDS arbitration.

      There is, as in earlier drafts, a limited exception for compulsory licenses or the “issuance, revocation, limitation or creation” of intellectual property rights, but only ” to the extent that the issuance, revocation, limitation or creation is consistent with Chapter 18 (Intellectual Property) and the TRIPS Agreement.” This means private investors will have the right to use the ISDS mechanism to interpret the IP chapter of the TPP and also the TRIPS agreement itself.

    • TPP: ‘Scary’ US-Pacific trade deal published – you’re going to freak out when you read it

      The deal is long and complex: it stretches to 2,000 pages and is written in largely technical and legal language, making quick analysis difficult.

    • Obama Signs Official Letter of Intent to Join the TPP

      President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he intends to agree to the massively controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in a letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.

      The letter, released just hours after the full text of the agreement became public after years of secret negotiations, is basically a formality. Still, it shows that Obama is serious about signing the TPP, and highlights the fight ahead.

      Even if Obama is gung-ho on the deal, prominent fellow Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have strongly opposed the TPP as it currently stands. There’s no guarantee that Congress will approve of the agreement.

    • Copyrights

      • Aurous Gets Beaten Up By the RIAA But Peace is Near

        The RIAA is demanding a preliminary injunction to bring the downed Aurous music service to its knees. While Aurous is fighting back, the RIAA’s lawyers are giving their adversaries a legal beat down, using developer Andrew Sampson’s words against him and giving his legal team a mountain to climb. But with all that said, peace is now on the horizon.

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