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12.18.15

Links 18/12/2015: Linux in Blockchain and Red Hat’s Good Results

Posted in News Roundup at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Embrace Open Source Software, For the Good of Nerdmanity

    Software analysts at Deutsche Bank AG -5.56% recently sent around a list of 2016 predictions, and one caught my eye: “Open source keeps eating the world.” Open source is more-or-less free software that developers share with each other for the good of nerdmanity.

  • Top 5 open source frameworks every application developer should know

    Given the insane variety of superb open source frameworks available, I picked our top 5 open source frameworks of 2015 not from a single ranked order, but from all levels of the stack. (For front-ends, I focused on the web and, still more narrowly, true client-side frameworks—simply because browsers and mobile devices are growing increasingly capable, and because SPAs [single page applications] and the like avoid sending data over the wire unnecessarily.)

  • 3 open source genealogy tools for mapping your family tree

    Genealogy, the study of family histories, is a popular pastime for millions of people worldwide. Individuals seeking to learn more about their pedigree or simply discover more about their family’s past have built vibrant communities of like-minded (and possibly related) individuals to help each other play historical detective and track down the missing links in their chain of ancestry.

    Fortunately, to assist in this historical sleuthing and help to organize all of the important names, dates, and documents which paint the picture of their kinship, amateur and professional genealogists alike have access to a slew of software tools. Providing a number of different features, and running on a variety of platforms, family tree researchers can choose between many options to meet their needs, and many of these choices are open source and usable on a Linux operating system.

  • Yahoo open-sources Anthelion web crawler for parsing structured data on HTML pages

    Yahoo today announced that it has released the source code for its Anthelion web crawler designed for parsing structured data from HTML pages under an open source license.

    Web crawling is at the very core of Yahoo, even though it has many other applications, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Messenger, Flickr, and Tumblr. For Yahoo to share code in an area as competitive as web search is significant.

  • Yahoo open-sources Data Sketches algorithms for blazing fast counting and sorting

    Yahoo is announcing today that it has open-sourced algorithms for doing very quick and efficient computations on streams of data. The Java-based Data Sketches algorithms are now available for download on GitHub under an Apache License.

  • Internet access and privacy with FreedomBox

    Recently, I learned about FreedomBox, a personal server that allows you to use the Internet privately or in locations that have bad or no Internet connection. I was visiting Swecha, a non-profit in the Indian city of Hyderabad that is working to bring about social change with the use of free and open source software, as part of the Free Software Movement of India. The FreedomBox is a revolution in itself and a big part of their initiative.

    According to the open source operating system Debian wiki page, FreedomBox is a free software stack that is able to host applications like file sharing, shared calendaring, instant messaging, secure voice conference calling, blogs, and wikis. And, it can be installed on one of the supported hardware devices, installed on a standard Debian machine, or deployed on a virtual machine. FreedomBox has the ability to store data and provides secure instant messaging and voice conference calling that works on low bandwidth.

  • Publisher’s picks: 29 open source books for 2015
  • Why working openly works (even when it’s hard)

    When I talk about working openly, I mean that doing things “the open source way” is more than using an open source license (although clearly you must have one of those, too). Working openly means being public about your process, from start to finish, including all the messy bits in between.

  • BetConstruct’s Spring to be open source

    Spring offers a single gaming management environment that supports multiple products, with a range of management functions covering player management, accounts, payment systems, back-office users, permissions, currencies, languages, main reports and business performance.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium 47 available for testing

        Chromium users of both architectures (32 e 64 bit), release 47.0.2526.80 is available for testing now. There are no major updates, you will probably notice the bookmark folders now are black instead of yellow. This can make them unreadable if you are using a dark theme. Developers are aware of that, if you want to follow the discussion just look at this ticket.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Users Can Now Watch Netflix HTML5 Video on Windows

        Netflix announced today that their HTML5 video player now supports Firefox on Windows Vista and later using Adobe’s new Primetime CDM (Content Decryption Module). This means Netflix fans can watch their favorite shows on Firefox without installing NPAPI plugins.

      • Compiling to WebAssembly: It’s Happening!

        WebAssembly is a new binary format for compilation to the web. It is in the process of being designed and implemented as we speak, in collaboration among the major browser vendors. Things are moving quickly! In this post we’ll show some of our recent progress with a deep dive into the toolchain side of WebAssembly.

      • Work Continues On WebAssembly For Low-Level, In-Browser Computing

        Work continues on the WebAssembly project that’s the joint effort by Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Apple to allow C/C++ (and potentially other languages) to target a virtual ISA that would be executed within the web-browser.

        WebAssembly is a virtual ISA designed around allowing portable code, compatibility across different browsers, a small download footprint, and other traits for effective client-side browser scripting. Much of WebAssembly’s development continues to happen on its LLVM back-end.

      • Mozilla rolls out Firefox version 43 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android
  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack N and O Looking for a Name

      OpenStack release names are tied by context to the location of the design summit preceding the release. The next design summit is set to be held in Austin, Texas.

    • ​Firewalling the OpenStack cloud

      Securing the cloud is not easy. Now, Mirantis, the pure-play OpenStack business, and Palo Alto Networks, an important network security company, have joined forces to add firewalls via virtual network function (VNF) to Mirantis OpenStack. The partners claim this combination will protect “applications from cyber threats while taking advantage of the agility, cost savings, and innovation of the OpenStack cloud ecosystem.”

    • £5,400 worth of PostgreSQL training to be won

      The UK Met Office approved PostgreSQL as its preferred RDBMS, following an evaluation of alternatives. The decision was influenced by 2ndQuadrant training. Data Services Portfolio Technical Lead James Tomkins commented: “With the training we had from 2ndQuadrant we could feel the weight of expertise that came with Gianni [Dr Gianni Ciolli, tutor] and it was obvious he really knew his subject inside-out. It was an enormous confidence-building exercise and has been consistent with all of our interactions with 2ndQuadrant.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • An open source tool for every classroom need

      Students would often come to school with an assortment of file formats from software that was bundled with computers they or their parents had purchased in local stores. Supporting differing file formats was difficult, and by distributing OpenOffice (and later, LibreOffice) to students and teaching them how to save files in a format that they could share with their teachers was a boon.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Plotting Out the BSD Year

      What’s good to know is that BSD will be well-represented at both of these events. At SCALE 14x — which is the first-of-the-year FOSS event worldwide from Jan. 21-24, 2016, in Pasadena, Calif. — the FreeBSD Foundation (along with FreeBSD in its own booth, of course) will be there, as well as pfSense. What’s more, there’s a BSD certification exam being offered, as it has been for the last several years at SCALE. More on this in a later post.

    • LLVM Begins Looking At PKU Memory Protection Keys Support

      This week mainline LLVM received support for the PKU feature flag as prep work towards supporting the new RDPKRU and WRPKRU instructions for Intel’s forthcoming memory protection keys capabilities.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Guix starts fundraising campaign with support from the FSF
    • FSF announces fundraising support for GNU Guix, a new approach to GNU/Linux

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced that we would begin accepting donations as part of our support for GNU Guix, a dependable and customizable package manager, along with GuixSD, GNU’s advanced free GNU/Linux distribution. Donations will primarily go to increasing the project’s build farm capacity so it can manage the growing number of packages and users.

    • VCS friendly, patchable, document line wrapping

      If you do enough work in any sort of free software environment, you get used to doing lots of writing of documentation or all sorts of other things in some plaintext system which exports to some non-plaintext system. One way or another you have to decide: are you going to wrap your lines with newlines? And of course the answer should be “yes” because lines that trail all the way off the edge of your terminal is a sin against the plaintext gods, who are deceptively mighty, and whose wrath is to be feared (and blessings to be embraced). So okay, of course one line per paragraph is off the table. So what do you do?

    • TheSetup ChangeLog

      Of course, my setup has changed since 2012. Although the vast majority is still the same, there is a growing list of modifications and additions. To address this, I’ve been keeping a changelog on my wiki where I detail every major change and addition I’ve made to the setup that I described in the original interview.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: December 18th
  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Node.js Version Chaos Management

      I’m just starting out in the world of development, and many of the projects I’m interested in exploring are written in Node.js. If you’re an old hand at such things, you already know that which version of Node you use on a particular application is vitally important. (This is actually one of the reasons Docker is so amazingly amazing when it comes to deploying Node apps, but I digress.)

  • Standards/Consortia

    • NIFO refines interoperability data collection

      The National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) community is making available on the Joinup platform an updated series of European countries factsheets and analytical models. The updates track interoperability initiatives in 2015, and refine scoring. They also describe more precisely the implementation and monitoring of the National Interoperability Frameworks (NIFs).

Leftovers

  • Don’t blame Marissa Mayer: Nobody was going to save Yahoo [Ed: remember what happened]

    If I asked you to name the most-popular websites in the world, you might mention Google, Facebook and Amazon. In another part of the world, candidates might include Tencent, China’s social networking phenomenon; and Baidu, its incumbent search engine.

  • One hedge fund’s plan to fix Yahoo: Fire 9,000 – and Marissa Mayer too [Ed: sounds familiar]

    An activist shareholder is calling for Yahoo to radically change its strategy, fire CEO Marissa Mayer and even revert to its old logo.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • World’s Small Farmers Fighting Back as WTO Pushes Corporate Agenda

      The World Trade Organization (WTO) kicked off its 10th ministerial conference in Kenya on Tuesday to develop a new free trade agreement, as grassroots activists rallied worldwide against measures they say would undermine the rights of small-scale farmers in developing countries.

    • Flint Kids Have So Much Lead in Their Blood That the Mayor Declared a State of Emergency. Thanks GOP.

      Children in Flint, Michigan, have such high levels of lead in their blood that Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency on Monday, calling the situation a “manmade disaster.” The origins of the escalating situation in Flint go back to 2011, when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency financial manager to balance Flint’s budget—largely by cutting costs on basic public services. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Media Take Diet Advice From Coke-Funded Academics

      Readers of USA Today, the LA Times and Atlantic Monthly might expect that prominent university professors quoted as independent experts on obesity would relay objective information based on the best science. They would be wrong.

      Over the past few months, through excellent investigative work, journalists Anahad O’Connor and Candice Choi unmasked a scheme that should look familiar to anyone following health and environmental news: corporations paying front groups and scientists to spin the media and public in order to protect their products.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • John McAfee: We have created a cyberwar doomsday machine that Isis can turn against us

      That we stand today on the brink of some form of war does not seem to be debatable. America has enemies – people that would do us harm and even destroy our way of life. Who these enemies are is more fertile ground for debate. The world is simply too complicated, and the American public too uninformed by our government, to say with certainty who our real enemies are and who they are ultimately working for.

      What we can do in an effort to be prepared is to look at all of the possible sources of attack – all of the other nations and groups that have interests in conflict with our own. When we do this a startling pattern emerges. Every significant threat against the Unites States has demonstrated some measure of tech savvy.

    • Trump doesn’t want ISIS “using our Internet”

      A week after saying the US should disrupt the Islamic terrorist group ISIS’ online recruiting by “closing that Internet up in some way,” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was given a chance to clarify what he meant at last night’s GOP debate.

    • Why Donald Trump Can’t Actually Close ‘Parts of the Internet’

      During Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, frontrunner Donald Trump doubled down on his call for “closing off parts of the Internet” in order to stymie terrorist groups’ online recruitment efforts. “I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody,” Trump said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS. “I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Indonesia forest clearing fires questioned under Paris climate agreement

      The Paris climate agreement could see big changes in Indonesia, where a developing economy depends on practices like open-cut coal mining and using fires to clear forests for farming.

      Changing those industries could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions but many Indonesians have more pressing concerns.

    • Indonesia: Fires Cause Massive Pollution

      Indonesia is currently undergoing one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century. Fires rage across the length of Indonesia as a result of companies looking to profit from the land. The smoke has reduced visibility to 30 meters in some cities while there are reports of children who have choked to death. There have been over 10,000 cases of respiratory infection and counting.

    • Fracking under national parks backed by MPs

      MPs have voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites.

      The new regulations – which permit drilling from outside the protected areas – were approved by 298 to 261.

      Opposition parties and campaigners criticised the lack of a Commons debate – and accused ministers of a U-turn as they previously pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks.

    • College Football Brought to You by Koch Industries

      Through Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch, are funding a dozen college football games during the 2015-2016 season. This funding will allow them to have an increased presence at twelve major games this year. Koch-branded video equipment as well as Koch-themed giveaways will be regular occurrences at these college football games. However, as Nick Surgey writes, the Koch brothers’ history of buying influence and manipulating course content on college campuses provides an important context for understanding their newfound interest in college football.

    • Botanist says squatters in Kalimantan could be smoke culprits

      The Malaysian botanist had then just been made the director at the newly established Centre for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia.

      At the time, the entire south of Kalimantan was blanketed in smoke and the airports had to be closed.

      The fires were low, producing more smoke than heat, so the roads were still usable.

      He found squatter homes all along the road, each about 100m apart. Every house was occupied.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Report Claims That Big Political Funder Sheldon Adelson Is The ‘Anonymous’ Owner Of Las Vegas Newspaper

      Earlier this week, we wrote about the truly bizarre situation in which the Las Vegas Review Journal — the largest newspaper in Nevada — had been purchased for $140 million… and no one knew who the owner was. For fairly obvious reasons, this started to make a lot of people uncomfortable — including the reporters for the NVRJ. Suspicion quickly focused on big time political funders, with some noting that Nevada is an early primary state, and may play a key role in the presidential election. The Koch brothers, who are big time funders of candidates flat out denied it, leading to more intense scrutiny on the other key guess: Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a key funder of Mitt Romney in the last election.

    • Koch Self-Interest in Criminal Justice Reform, Exposed

      Charles and David Koch have received positive press for backing a bipartisan effort to reform American criminal justice laws, which have helped make the U.S. the world’s biggest jailer and whose burdens have fallen disproportionately on people of color.

      But, as the Kochs ride the wave of momentum toward criminal justice reform, it is becoming increasingly clear that part of their agenda would actually make it harder to prosecute corporate violations of environmental and financial laws that protect the public from corporate wrongdoing. The changes would make it harder to hold executives and their employees responsible for violating U.S. laws and would protect their financial interests, at the public’s expense.

      Over at least the past five years, the Kochs and Koch-backed groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been pushing to increase the “intent” standard for criminal violations, particularly for so-called “white collar” crime and executive suite criminals.

    • Glenn Beck: If GOP Nominates Donald Trump, It Will Bring “An End To The Republican Party”

      He didn’t even know what are the missile silos and the strategic air command with missiles on the planes and our nuclear submarines. He didn’t even know what that meant. He couldn’t answer that question. It was bizarre. He is also a giant progressive. So I can’t vote for progressive. I can’t vote for Hillary, and I can’t vote for him.

    • Carly Fiorina is a liar: And everyone should finally just say it — loudly

      Carly Fiorina is unique among all the candidates in the Republican presidential field for her visceral, aggressive hatred for anything resembling truth. Other candidates lie, of course, but they at least go to the trouble of dressing up their lies with weasel words and other forms of qualifying language that allow them to squirm their way out of fact checks. Fiorina doesn’t care about any of that. She makes firm, declarative statements that are unquestionably inaccurate, and when confronted with inarguable facts that prove her wrong, she insists against all evidence that she is correct and bristles at the very notion that anyone might challenger her. She does not care. She does not pretend to care. As far as Fiorina’s concerned, the fact that she said it is what makes it true.

  • Censorship

    • West Papua: Mining in an occupation forgotten by the world

      Now more than ever, say activists, media access to West Papua is crucial in order to bring global attention to a planned smelter, and to give the world a true understanding of the human rights situation in the region – and Freeport’s role in it. Nithin Coca reports.

    • Raising West Papua’s Flag on 1 December

      It is over half a century since the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised with pomp and ceremony on 1 December 1961 in the capital Hollandia (now Jayapura). The flag and accompanying national anthem had been chosen by Papuans in a democratic process and accepted by the colonial Dutch as part of their programme for granting independence. The flag was then flown alongside the Dutch flag on official buildings. A halcyon time? No, Indonesia ramped up its claim to the territory with military incursions and an attempted torpedo boat assault.

    • Facebook, Google, Twitter agree to delete hate speech in 24 hours: Germany

      Germany said on Tuesday that Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours, a new step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis.

      The government has been trying to get social platforms to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web as the country struggles to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees this year.

      The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

    • Germany makes Facebook, Google, and Twitter remove hate speech within 24 hours

      The German government has struck a deal with Facebook, Google, and Twitter will supposedly make it easier to report and remove hate speech from the Internet. The big Web companies will now have 24 hours to remove instances of hate speech after they have been first reported.

      “When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net,” said German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. “And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.”

      The agreement also changes how the complaints are processed. By the new workflow, they will be assessed by “specialist teams” at the companies, which will look at them from the standpoint of German law “and no longer just the terms of use of each network,” Maas said.

    • Disney Grapples With Light-Side/Dark-Side, Retracts Toy DMCA, Resubmits It, Is Probably Our Father, Aaaah!

      It’s a struggle that Disney ought to know quite well, having taken over the Star Wars franchise. The struggle between good and evil; the light side of the force… and the dark side. And it looks like we’re all getting a front row seat to the internal strife of Disney via the ongoing silliness surrounding the image of a Star Wars toy accidentally released to the public by a retailer.

    • Trump Calls For Partial Shutdown Of The Internet, Doesn’t Understand What He’s Saying

      I have to admit that I find Donald Trump’s presidential campaign fascinating. Or, rather, I find its survival to this point fascinating. What amazes me about it is that the Trump campaign exhibited a strong commitment to not actually putting forward any detailed policy prescriptions, except for a few general policy ideas that mostly conflict with the party whose nomination he’s seeking. And those policy ideas he does express have generally been either despicable, impossible to implement, or both. Deporting six million Latin Americans? Yeah, that just isn’t going to happen. Putting a hold, however temporary, on legal immigration by using a religious test to keep Muslims out of the country? That violates the very founding document an American President would be tasked with upholding. Also, it’s disgusting.

  • Privacy

    • S.754 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015
    • As Predicted, Congress Turned CISA Into A Clear Surveillance Bill… And Put It Into The ‘Must Pass’ Gov’t Funding Bill

      Yesterday we warned that Congress was quietly looking to do two horrible things: (1) strip all pretense from the “cybersecurity” information sharing bills and turn them into full-on surveillance bills and (2) then shove it into the “must pass” omnibus bill which is supposed to be about funding the government and nothing more. And… it looks like our warning was almost entirely accurate, as the bill has been released and within its over 2000 pages, it includes CISA and has been stripped of many of the key privacy protections (if you want to find it, it’s buried on page 1728), while expanding how the information can be shared and used. In part, due to concerns raised yesterday, a few of the absolutely worst ideas didn’t make it into the final bill, but it’s still bad (and clearly worse than what had previously been voted on, which was already bad!).

    • Teenagers simply can’t imagine a world without social media – that’s why we need to ban it

      This week, the European Union put forward proposals recommending a legal ban on under 16s joining social networking sites without parental permission. Naturally, this was reported in some quarters as another excuse to whip up anti-European sentiment. However, as the government’s mental health tsar for schools, my initial reaction to the news was positive.

      Of course, I paused to ponder how on earth such a law would be enforced. After all, we live in a world where the average 10 year old has far more technological expertise than their parents (as a recent experiment in which a teenager was handed the “Fort Knox of laptops”, with every conceivable parental block in place and proceeded to access online pornography within 30 seconds proved). Putting aside the practical considerations, however, I believe the general sentiment of the proposal to be sound.

    • Montana Newspaper Decides To Just Delete Old Comments After People Get Upset About Plans To Reveal Their Names

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about a plan by the Montana Standard newspaper to change its commenting policy, publishing the “real names” of any commenters. While we generally think that’s a silly policy for a variety of reasons, the real problem was that it was retroactively applying it to all old comments, despite clearly telling earlier commenters that their names would not be revealed (and potentially violate the newspaper’s own privacy policy). In its defense, the newspaper insisted that (1) anyone who wanted otherwise could contact the paper and have their comments deleted and (2) that while it might have liked to have only applied the policy to new comments after January 1, its content management system wouldn’t allow that. Of course, while that seems like something that, perhaps, should be fixed by the newspaper, I can understand that it might not have the resources to do so.

    • Big Brother is born. And we find out 15 years too late to stop him

      PRESTON, which collects about four million intercepted phone calls a year, has also recently been used to plant malware on iPhones, according to disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The phones were then targetted for MI5 “implants” (malware), authorised by a ministerial warrant.

    • Microsoft extends China link with government version of Windows 10 [Ed: dumb move into a trap]

      MICROSOFT’S JAMMY SOD DEPARTMENT has managed to pull off something of a coup with the announcement that it is to form a joint venture to bring Windows 10 to the Chinese public sector.

    • Congressman Who Supports Undermining Encryption Says We Need CISA (Which Undermines Privacy) To ‘Protect Privacy’

      Nearly everything Schiff says here is complete hogwash. This bill is far from “the most protective of privacy of any cyber bill” that has advanced. Other versions clearly had more privacy protections (mainly the one advanced by the House Judiciary Committee). And, this latest one clearly strips out privacy provisions and makes it that much more difficult to protect our privacy.

      And the fearmongering about “these innumerable hacks” and how “our privacy is being violated every day” is totally meaningless, because CISA does nothing to stop these hacks. We’ve asked many times before how would CISA have stopped a single hack and no one ever answers. We’ve looked hard and cannot find a single online security expert who thinks that CISA would be useful in preventing online hacks and attacks. Because it wouldn’t. There is nothing in there geared towards stopping attacks.

      You know what would help in protecting our privacy and limiting the damage from hacks? Stronger encryption. I wonder what Rep. Adam Schiff thinks about that?

    • Why The New CISA Is So Bad For Privacy

      We warned earlier this week that Congress was going to make the cybersecurity bill CISA much worse on privacy, and then shove it into the “must pass” omnibus spending bill, and that’s exactly what happened. The 2000+ page bill was only released early yesterday morning and the vote on it is tomorrow, meaning people have been scrambling to figure out what exactly is actually in there. The intelligence community has been using that confusion to push the bill, highlighting a couple of the predictions that didn’t make it into the bill to argue that people against CISA are overstating the problems of the bill. That’s pretty low, even for the intelligence community.

    • Is your browser safe against tracking? Use Panopticlick to find out

      Worried about privacy, about the websites you visit tracking you, whether you accept their cookies or not?

      Panopticlick to the rescue!

      Panopticlick is a tool released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that makes it easy to tell if your browser settings are putting up enough resistance against online tracking.

    • Stingrays: A Secret Catalogue of Government Gear for Spying on Your Cellphone

      THE INTERCEPT HAS OBTAINED a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies. The document, thick with previously undisclosed information, also offers rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police inside the United States.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Punishment Should Fit the Crime: Matthew Keys and the CFAA

      One of the basic tenets of a civilized society is that the punishment should be proportionate with the crime. What essentially amounts to vandalism should not result in even the remote possibility of a 25-year jail sentence. But that very possibility is on the table in the government’s case against journalist Matthew Keys, whose sentencing hearing is about one month off. The case is an illustration of prosecutorial discretion run amok—and once again shows why reform of the federal anti-hacking statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), is long overdue.

    • Facebook Messenger Lets You Book an Uber [Ed: Two malicious companies join forces]

      Taking another page from its counterparts in Asia, Facebook will add a feature for booking a ride through its messaging application. Users of Facebook Messenger in the U.S. will be able to summon an Uber car with a few taps starting on Wednesday.

    • Professor suspended after saying Christians, Muslims have same God

      Wheaton College has suspended a political science professor who said her fellow Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

      The prominent Christian college’s decision, which sparked protest on campus on Wednesday, came days after Larycia Hawkins, a tenured professor, received attention in Christian media outlets after announcing she would wear a traditional headscarf known as a hijab through the Christian Advent season. Wearing the hijab is part of her personal effort to show solidarity with Muslims, who have faced backlash in the aftermath of recent mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. and Paris.

    • Family of teenage Saudi protester sentenced to death appeal for his life

      The family of a teenage protester who faces beheading in Saudi Arabia have come forward in public for the first time to plead for his life.

      The father of Abdullah al-Zaher, 19, called on the world to help before it is too late and his son is executed in the kingdom along with a reported 51 other people.

      “Please help me save my son from the imminent threat of death. He doesn’t deserve to die just because he participated in a protest rally,” Hassan al-Zaher told the Guardian.

    • The Controversial “Rule” Police Rely on to Shoot and Kill Supsects

      Last month, the attorney representing the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald offered an explanation for his client’s actions: “There is this 21-foot rule,” the attorney, Dan Herbert, told CBS News. “It talks about how an individual is a significant threat to a police officer when they’re in that 21-foot boundary.”

      Chicago police officials said the black teen held a four-inch folding knife on the night of the shooting last October, and that he waved it aggressively at Jason Van Dyke and other officers, ignoring orders to drop the weapon. But the video, released in late November on court orders, showed McDonald was wielding a knife but was shot with 16 bullets as he was facing away from the officers and then fell to the ground.

    • How Old Should Kids Be Before They’re Allowed to Play in the Front Yard on Their Own?

      I don’t know how this has changed over time, but these figures sure seem strange. I played on my own in front of my house when I was five,1 but today’s parents think you need to be 10—and a substantial fraction think you need to be over 12 to play in front of the house unsupervised.

    • Our Proud and Fascist Heritage

      Yesterday’s revelation that Prince Charles sees Cabinet Office memoranda denied to most ministers did not spark as much public outrage as might be expected. Part of that is because of the view that, by and large, Charles is a fairly decent old stick with some surprisingly progressive opinions.

      The problem is, of course, that with a monarchy you have no choice what you get. The defence deployed yesterday across all media was that this is a longstanding practice, in place for many decades. What they did not tell you is that it was instituted at the insistence of the Prince of Wales who was the future Edward VIII, and at the very least sympathetic to fascism. Strange how the media omitted that bit, don’t you think?

    • Is the SNP Campaigning for Independence?

      Let me put it this way. It is definitely a possibility that the coming real domination of both MPs and MSPs will never happen again. If the SNP do not even try to use that dominance to deliver Independence, then what is the point of the SNP?

      Oh sorry, I forgot. They manage the institutions better, and are an effective opposition at Westminster. That apparently is the point. But not what I joined for.

    • Wash. Post Editorial Board Slams GOP’s Embrace Of “Bigotry, Hatred and Magical Thinking”

      The Washington Post editorial board criticized the Republican Party for pushing “fear-mongering and raw xenophobia” into the mainstream during the GOP presidential debates.

    • Laura Ingraham Applauds Her Show For Helping To Block Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    • ‘It’s Just One in a Long Series of Attacks on Planned Parenthood’

      Janine Jackson: It’s a crime story, a culture war story, a debate about what gets called terrorism and about presidential candidates’ ability to rise or sink to an occasion. But for all the worthy stories being aired, the killing of three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic by a man angry about “baby parts” hasn’t quite become a story about women and our right to decide whether to have a child.

      With Colorado only the latest in a long, long history of attacks, how do we move the conversation off the dime of whether reproductive justice advocates have a right to be upset toward what must be done to secure an atmosphere in which women can actually exercise their full human and legal rights? Jodi Jacobson is editor-in-chief at RH Reality Check. She joins us now by phone from Maryland. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Jodi Jacobson.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Tech Companies Urge Lawmakers To Stop Trying To Kill Net Neutrality With Sneaky Budget Bill Riders

      Since the FCC passed net neutrality rules last February, ISP allies in Congress have been working tirelessly to either gut the rules, or shame and defund the FCC so it can’t enforce them. This has included an endless number of House “fact-finding” hearings that usually involve using discredited ISP data to claim the rules are demolishing the Internet. Of course the opposite appears to be true; network investment (at least in competitive areas) continues undaunted, and the rules have actually helped stop a lot of the anti-competitive shenanigans that were occurring on the streaming video front.

    • EU’s Own Survey On Internet Regulations Broken; Please Urge Them Not To Break The Internet Too

      Last week, we wrote about an important survey put online by the EU Commission, asking for feedback on its plans to regulate certain key aspects of the internet. We noted that the survey itself was cumbersome and confusing, and because of that, via the Copia Institute, we set up our own guide to filling out the survey called Don’t Wreck The Net. We were a little mocking of the survey, as it does seem a bit silly that the people in charge of potentially putting all sorts of regulations on the internet… have a poorly designed and confusing survey (including the fact that depending on how you answer certain questions, the survey will appear quite different for you than it might for others). However, to some extent, we get it: government bureaucracies have some limitations on what technologies they can make use of.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Looking back over this GreeKat’s shoulder… Part IV: “JE SUIS… un opportuniste” – the public order as a trade mark barrier

        Twice within 2015, INPI, the French TM Office, was forced to tackle controversial trade mark registration cases. Both cases were linked to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. In January, INPI rejected some 50 trade mark applications for “Je suis Charlie” that were filed within a few days after the attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices. The attempt to capitalize on the tragic events was shocking for many. Moreover, leaving aside moral aspects [can they be left aside?!], how would one enforce such a trade mark registration? This could have been a one-off attempt (despite those 50 applications…), but, only last month, just after Paris suffered from another terrorist attack, “Je suis Paris” and “Pray for Paris” marks were also filed with INPI.

    • Copyrights

      • Rightscorp wins landmark ruling, Cox hit with $25M verdict in copyright case

        The verdict comes at the close of a two-week trial, which took place after US District Judge Liam O’Grady issued an opinion (PDF) slamming Cox’s behavior, saying that the ISP isn’t protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act “safe harbor” because the company did not “reasonably implement” a policy to terminate repeat infringers.

        Today’s verdict is a huge victory for BMG and its copyright enforcer, Rightscorp. The Rightscorp business model is based on sending massive numbers of copyright notices via email and asking for $20 or $30 per song “settlements” from users believed to have pirated songs. While Rightscorp wasn’t a named plaintiff in the suit, BMG’s case was based on evidence produced by Rightscorp, which says it found the IP addresses of the worst Cox infringers.

      • Popcorn Time Fork Goes Dark After MPAA Hounds Developers

        The MPAA has not yet given up its fight against Popcorn Time. The movie industry group is reportedly going after a group of developers who launched a “Community Edition” of the popular application. While the new fork has yet to throw in the towel, they’ve taken down their website and GitHub repository for the time being.

      • UK police busts karaoke “gang” for sharing songs that aren’t commercially available

        The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) claims to have “dismantled a gang suspected of uploading and distributing tens of thousands of karaoke tracks online.” However, it turns out that this “gang” is actually three blokes, aged 60, 53, and 50: one man from Barnstaple, Devon and two men living in Bury, Lancashire.

        PIPCU’s press release says: “hundreds of albums have had their copyright uploaded by the men, leading to thousands and thousands of tracks being accessed illegally and depriving legitimate music companies of a significant amount of money.” That sounds dramatic, but once again the reality is rather different.

      • KickassTorrents “DIY” Karaoke ‘Gang’ Busted By UK Police

        Three men from the UK have been raided by City of London Police after uploading thousands of karaoke tracks online. Although described by police as a criminal “gang”, the men in their 50s and 60s claim they only created their own karaoke tracks when alternatives weren’t commercially available.

      • Pirating Subscribers Could Cost Cox Over $200 Million

        Internet provider Cox Communications is facing more than $200 million in potential damages, if a jury holds it responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers. According to music publisher BMG there is no doubt that Cox is responsible. After a week of trial hearings the company has asked the court to confirm this, arguing that the ISP failed to rebut its allegations.

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