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12.27.15

Links 27/12/2015: Perl 6, Solus 1.0

Posted in News Roundup at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why Don’t You Contribute to Open Source?

    In my How Much Do You Cost? post last year, I said open-source contribution is a very important factor in defining who is good and who isn’t, as far as programmers go. I was saying that if you’re not contributing to open source, and if your GitHub profile is not full of projects and commits, your “value” as a software developer is low, simply because this lack of open-source activity tells everybody that you’re not passionate about software development and are simply working for money. I keep getting angry comments about that every week. Let me answer them all here.

  • Open Source Software Went Nuclear This Year

    Open source software—software freely shared with the world at large—is an old idea. A guy named Richard Stallman started preaching the gospel in the early ’80s, though he called it free software. Linus Torvalds started work on Linux, the enormously successful open source operating system, in 1991, and today, it drives our daily lives—literally. The Android operating system that runs Google phones and the iOS operating system that runs the Apple iPhone are based on Linux. When you open a phone app like Twitter or Facebook and pull down all those tweets and status updates, you’re tapping into massive computer data centers filled with hundreds of Linux machines. Linux is the foundation of the Internet.

  • ownCloud 8.2.2, 8.1.5, 8.0.10 and 7.0.12 here with Sharing, LDAP fixes

    The latest ownCloud stability and security updates are available, bringing improvements to sharing capabilities and performance enhancements to the ownCloud 8.2 series and LDAP, sharing and many minor fixes to the earlier releases. We recommend to upgrade as soon as possible! Please note the change in upgrade behavior for the Linux packages which require system administrators to manually run the occ upgrade command. Read on for more details about this end-of-year gift from your friends at ownCloud.

  • The problem with self-driving cars: who controls the code?

    The Trolley Problem is an ethical brainteaser that’s been entertaining philosophers since it was posed by Philippa Foot in 1967:

    A runaway train will slaughter five innocents tied to its track unless you pull a lever to switch it to a siding on which one man, also innocent and unawares, is standing. Pull the lever, you save the five, but kill the one: what is the ethical course of action?

    The problem has run many variants over time, including ones in which you have to choose between a trolley killing five innocents or personally shoving a man who is fat enough to stop the train (but not to survive the impact) into its path; a variant in which the fat man is the villain who tied the innocents to the track in the first place, and so on.

  • Events

    • Nha Trang ICT 2015

      I came to Nha Trang this year to bring Fedora back there after the successful event last year. This year, the event was held in another university in Nha Trang, TCU with more participants from other universities in Nha Trang and nearby cities.

      There was a academy/science conference in the morning with some talks from open source enterprises who sponsor the whole event. The afternoon was reserved for FOSS communities and I had a session to introduce about the Fedora project to all students and lectures. There were about 200 attendees join into a big classroom.

      During the session, I talked to them about the benefit of contributing to FOSS and Fedora. I told participants what the employers need in general when they recruit new employees, especially young students. Basically, they need candidates to have critical thinking, group working, English speaking and technical skills. Students can study those skills during participating in a FOSS project like Fedora.

  • BSD

    • 2.2.6-RELEASE Now Available!

      pfSense® software version 2.2.6 is now available. This release includes a few bug fixes and security updates.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Little Helper: Open Source Hardware Hacker Multitool

        The open source gadget looks like an iPod (if an iPod had header pins sticking out of it). It has basic analog I/O capability, can generate PWM pulses, sniff I2C traffic, and do lots of other features. It is open source, so you can always add more capabilities if you need them.

  • Programming

    • Santa Claus in Linux Style: Top Linux Hardware and Free Linux/Programming Books & Courses Recommendations
    • PHP version 7.0.2RC1

      Release Candidate versions are available in remi-test repository for Fedora and Enterprise Linux (RHEL / CentOS) to allow more people to test them. They are available as Software Collections, for a parallel installation, perfect solution for such tests. For x86_64 only.

    • The Perl 6 release

      The December 25 entry follows with the Rakudo Perl 6 release. “This version of the compiler targets the v6.c ‘Christmas’ specification of the Perl 6 language. The Perl 6 community has been working toward this release over the last 15 years.”

    • Signs that you’re a good programmer

      The most frequently viewed page on this site is Signs you’re a bad programmer, which has also now been published on dead trees by Hacker Monthly, and I think that behoves me to write its antithesis. “Bad programmer” is also considered inflammatory by some who think I’m speaking down to them. Not so; it was personal catharsis from an author who exhibited many of those problems himself. And what I think made the article popular was the “remedies”–I didn’t want someone to get depressed when they recognized themselves, I wanted to be constructive.

      Therefore if you think you’re missing any of the qualities below, don’t be offended. I didn’t pick these up for a while, either, and many of them came from watching other programmers or reading their code.

Leftovers

  • Two men miraculously found alive 72 hours after Shenzhen landslide in China

    RESCUERS scrabbling through the aftermath of a huge three-day-old landslide discovered two people alive in the mud, as China’s cabinet announced a probe into the country’s latest industrial accident.

    Almost 72 hours after being buried alive by a tide of earth and rubble, 19-year-old Tian Zeming was pulled from the soil by emergency workers who have been battling around the clock in the search for survivors.

    Images from the scene showed dozens of firefighters and police thronging around a stretcher, apparently bearing the teenager to a waiting ambulance.

    [...]

    “The lack of safety supervision and passive attitude in taking precautions has caused the whole nation to shake with anger and shocked the world!” user Xizidan wrote in a post that was taken down by authorities, but found on the censorship tracking website Weiboscope.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bottled air from Canada is selling like crazy in China

      The startup has been capturing that air in “massive cans” through a clean compression process, which according to Vitality Air, “lock[s] in the pure air without any contamination.” The siphoned air is taken back to the company’s bottling facility, where “we begin filling our convenient delivery cans to the brim with excellent air.”

      Vitality Air’s pitch might read like a throwaway joke on Silicon Valley, but the company has found a market for their version of Canada Dry. People in smog-filled Chinese cities have been buying up the cans in bulk.

  • Security

    • #OLEOutlook – bypass almost every Corporate security control with a point’n’click GUI

      In this tutorial, I will show you how to embed an executable into a corporate network via email, behind the firewall(s), disguised as a Word document. There is no patch for this issue.

    • Somebody Tried to Get a Raspberry Pi Exec to Install Malware on Its Devices

      Liz Upton, the Director of Communications for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, has tweeted out a screenshot of an email where an unknown person has proposed that the Foundation install malware on all of its devices.

      In the email, a person named Linda, is proposing Mrs. Upton an agreement where their company would provide an EXE file that installs a desktop shortcut, that when clicked redirects users to a specific website. (Raspberry Pi devices can run Windows as well, not just Linux variants.)

    • Botnet of Aethra Routers Used for Brute-Forcing WordPress Sites

      Italian security researchers from VoidSec have come across a botnet structure that was using vulnerable Aethra Internet routers and modems to launch brute-force attacks on WordPress websites.

    • Steam Had A Very Rough Christmas With A Major Security Issue

      The security issue looks like it might be resolved now, but resulted in gamers being able to see other account holder’s information. Seeing other accounts included partial credit card information, addresses, and other personal information. For a while, the Steam store was completely shut down. The issue seems to stem from some caching issues due to account holders being presented with the wrong information.

    • Xen Project blunder blows own embargo with premature bug report

      The Xen Project has reported a new bug, XSA-169, that means “A malicious guest could cause repeated logging to the hypervisor console, leading to a Denial of Service attack.”

      The fix is simple – running only paravirtualised guests – but the bug is a big blunder for another reason.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Has More than 200,000 Soldiers Deployed Around the World

      The United States armed forces now have more than 200,000 soldiers deployed in one hundred countries of all continents, according to Defense Department reports.
      About 9,800 remain in Afghanistan, while about 3,500 in Iraq and Syria under the pretext of fighting Islamic State (IS), most of the latest from the 82nd Airborne Division.

      The Navy maintains about 40 ships deployed, the largest of which is the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, with about 5,000 sailors and officers on board-.

      In recent days, this naval unit crossed the Suez Canal with its escorts ships to station in the Persian Gulf Gulf and from there to take part in the bombing against the IS targets in the region.

    • America’s Unending War On Terrorism Will Destroy Humanity And Planet Earth

      Ostensibly, the Arab Middle East is controlled and managed by the US intelligence network; otherwise, Arab leaders would have hard time to stay afloat. The authoritarian Arab leaders live in palaces, not with people to understand the outcomes of their political folly and ignorance. Ironically, the US-Russian air strikes and killings of the civilians in Syria and Iraq will instigate reactionary opposition and increased insurgency to topple the puppet regimes. Daveed Gartenstein-Rosss writing in Foreign Policy (“Thank you for Bombing-Obama- Why al Qaeda might be the biggest winner of America’s airstrikes on the Islamic State.”), argues that President Obama is using wrong strategy to attack ISIL: ‘But an emphasis on degrading and destroying IS while giving a pass to other jihadist groups in Syria could have serious consequences that could leave al Qaeda in the catbird seat.’ America enjoys a record of failure in strategic thinking and practices if you view the war theater in Afghanistan and Iraq and now the forged battleground is Syria.

    • Cameron, Spy Chiefs Trade Secrets With Merkel Over Daesh Terror Threat

      UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the chiefs of Britain’s three intelligence services have briefed German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the latest terror threats, including Daesh, also known as ISIL, in what analysts say is a rare move.

    • Letter: A reader’s election year thoughts

      The current crises with the ISIS/terrorist threat has political and media fear mongers salivating over the potential of going into another prolonged military conflict. Money would once again flow freely into corporations (mostly Cheney’s Halliburton) involved in supporting combat operations in addition to the weapons of war manufacturers and technology industries developing and maintaining hundreds of technology based combat support systems, most of which are not needed nor completed. In this greedy quest, there appears to be little, if any, concern for thousands of military and civilian deaths and the destruction of in-country vital infra-structure essential for post operation stabilization and reconstruction.

    • France out-Bushing George W. Bush in its terror fight

      France once led the world in lambasting George W. Bush’s “war on terror”. But as François Hollande looks to enshrine emergency powers in the constitution, the country’s leaders are suddenly sounding like the US president they once held in contempt.

    • Palace: No ISIS training camps in PH

      Malacañang on Tuesday denied reports that there is now an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) training camp in the country.

      Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said National Security Adviser (NSA) Cesar Garcia has denied the report.

    • NATO: Seeking Russia’s Destruction Since 1949

      In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. president George H. W. Bush through his secretary of state James Baker promised Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev that in exchange for Soviet cooperation on German reunification, the Cold War era NATO alliance would not expand “one inch” eastwards towards Russia. Baker told Gorbachev: “Look, if you remove your [300,000] troops [from east Germany] and allow unification of Germany in NATO, NATO will not expand one inch to the east.”

    • Exclusive: Islamic State sanctioned organ harvesting in document taken in U.S. raid

      Islamic State has sanctioned the harvesting of human organs in a previously undisclosed ruling by the group’s Islamic scholars, raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Hundreds evacuated after further flooding in northern England – latest updates
    • More than 100,000 flee El Niño flooding in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

      More than 100,000 people evacuated their homes in the bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina due to severe flooding in the wake of heavy summer rains brought on by El Niño, authorities said.

      The Paraguayan government declared a state of emergency in Asunción and seven regions of the country. Several people were killed by falling trees, local media reported.

    • Hanging out with the orangutan whisperer

      But the modest, grey pony-tailed founder and president of the Orangutan Project has made world-first discoveries about the orangutan, which literally translates as a “person of the forest” in Indonesian.

    • Climate Change: A Tale of Two Governors

      That brief conversation in Miami would result in Florida becoming, however briefly, a pioneer in grappling with the effects of climate change — such as flooding and freshwater drinking supplies contaminated with saltwater. After Crist was elected governor, he convened a summit, appointed a task force and helped usher in new laws intended to address a future of climate change and rising sea levels. Crist and the Florida Legislature set goals to reduce emissions back to 1990 levels.

    • UK Deploys Army to Rescue People in North Western County Hit by Floods

      British Armed Forces personnel have been deployed to the English county of Cumbria to rescue people whose homes have been flooded, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Friday.

      Earlier this month, Storm Desmond brought record amounts of rain to Cumbria, resulting in several bouts of flooding in the region.

    • UK weather: M62 20ft sinkhole causes travel chaos as north of England battered by floods

      The M62 has been closed around a 20ft sinkhole which opened up in the road as the north of England was battered by a month’s rain in a few hours.

      The massive hole opened up between junctions 20 and 19 near Rochdale, Greater Manchester shortly after midday, bringing traffic grinding to a halt.

      The westbound carriageway has been closed as engineers examine the scene.

      Meanwhile, the Met Office has issued ‘danger to life’ flood warnings and the army has been called in to evacuate residents in flood-hit parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

    • Live updates: Homes evacuated, pub collapses, city centre on flood alert as rivers across Manchester burst their banks

      Greater Manchester is on flood alert after torrential rain throughout the night.

      Rivers across the region have burst their banks with many roads closed.

      Part of the Waterside pub in Summerseat in Bury has collapsed

      We will bring you all the latest updates here.

    • 10,000 properties without power across Lancashire and Rochdale

      Severe flooding has caused widespread disruption throughout the morning causing loss of power to customers in Rochdale and Lancashire with 10,000 properties currently off supply.

      30,000 properties are usually supplied with electricity from the main substation in Rochdale. Engineers from Electricity North West shifted 10,000 properties from the substation an hour before the flooding hit to secure supplies.

    • Govt looking at new insurance levy over floods

      The Government is considering whether a new insurance levy should be introduced to fund flood cover for homeowners who cannot buy policies.

      Insurance companies do not offer cover to homes and businesses in areas at risk of flooding.

      The Department of Environment, the Department of Finance and the Office of Public works are working on possible solutions.

    • Flooding Causes Manchester Gas Explosion

      Listen to this account from an eyewitness who says that flooding has caused a gas explosion in Bury, Greater Manchester.

    • Pub washed away in Summerseat on River Irwell
  • Finance

    • Capitalism – Not China – Is to Blame for the Current Global Economic Decline

      Capitalism, like a speeding train, barreled into a stone wall in 2008. Shocked and dazed, its leaders have been trying to “recover.” By that, they mean to fix the mangled tracks, reposition the locomotive and cars on those tracks and resume forward motion. No basic economic change, in their view, is needed or even considered. They see no absurdity in such a “recovery plan” – just as they saw no approaching catastrophe in the years leading up to 2008.

    • Prof. Wolff comments on U.S. exports of crude oil at RT International
    • Bitcoin: What It Is And How It Works

      In 2008, a programmer issued a white paper in which he argued that we need an Internet currency not subject to the fees and permissions of third-party intermediaries. So he came up with the digital equivalent of cash online, a system that lets participants send value to anyone else with a Bitcoin address the same way they might send an email. “Like the Internet flattened global speech, Bitcoin can flatten global money,” says computer scientist Nick Szabo, who is suspected as Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Robin Kelley, Malkia Cyril, Richard Rothstein: Do Black Lives Matter to Media?

      This week on CounterSpin: From community rallies around the country to the presidential election, the Black Lives Matter movement has changed the conversation. Keeping a spotlight on state-sanctioned violence against black people, activists have opened up a debate, including in corporate media, that addresses racism and white supremacy in ways more searching and less euphemistic than we’re used to. At least, fewer pundits tell us we’re living in a “post-racial” society—that’s a start.

    • Senate Bill 571 censors factual election information

      And helping taxpayers understand how these vital public goods are going to be delivered or paid for is important too. Which is why many people across Michigan are baffled by the Michigan Legislature’s desire to prevent school districts and other public bodies from distributing factual and unbiased information about ballot proposals within 60 days of the election.

      Gov. Rick Snyder should stand for more information and transparency, not less, and veto Senate Bill 571, now before him.

      Senate Bill 571 would prohibit a public body, or person acting for a public body from using public resources for factual communications referencing local ballot questions by radio, television, mass mailing, or prerecorded telephone message for 60 days prior to an election.

    • Donald Trump: Another Terrorist from the 1 Percent

      “What most concerns the [New York] Times is that the crude politics of Trump shatters the lying rhetoric used by Democrats and Republicans alike to justify the policies of the ruling class, at home and abroad. Thus, it worries that Trump is doing “serious damage” to the country’s “reputation overseas” by “twisting its message of tolerance and welcome.” What is the “tolerance and welcome” of which the Times speaks? Is it perhaps the Obama administration’s deportation of more immigrants to Mexico and Central America than any other president? Or the construction of brutal detention facilities in the southern US to hold men, women and children seeking refuge in the US. The Times writes that Trump “has not [yet] deported anyone, nor locked up or otherwise brutalized any Muslims, immigrants or others.” The newspaper fails to add, “Obama, however, has.”

    • Sanders-Clinton Voter Database Hack: a Campaign Pro’s Perspective

      As you probably already know, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was involved in some recent hijinks involving improper access to campaign data from the Hillary Clinton campaign, after a buggy software patch applied by the contractor maintaining the Democratic Party’s voter database, NGPVAN, inadvertently opened a data firewall. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) suspended the Sanders’ campaign access to Democratic voter lists (a subscription that the campaign had paid for); Sanders responded by suing the DNC; after a brief negotiation, the DNC restored the Sanders campaign access; and Sanders apologized to Clinton for the hack in Saturday night’s debate. Clinton accepted the apology, and noted that most Americans don’t care anyway.

  • Censorship

    • To tolerate or to take offence? That’s the question

      AMOS Yee’s most recent blog post has got him into trouble with the authorities again and has led to vehement responses online. However one response, by the President of the Humanist Society, has chosen not to focus on the 17-year-old himself, but on the perceived vitriol against the youth, in turn sparking two camps of responses both online and offline.

      Even though the letter Humanist Society president Paul Tobin wrote was in response to Amos Yee, his letter about the vitriolic responses towards Yee’s blog post has engaged citizens on a general discussion of intolerance towards offensive remarks online.

    • Tuesdays at Cheongster Cafe: Report Police Report

      It seems like Singaporeans have found themselves a new pastime – filing police reports. The past week alone saw two police reports filed against former Nominated MP Calvin Cheng, for incitement to violence. Add to that police reports filed against Amos Yee earlier this year, filed by National Solidarity Party, and another by Workers Party candidate Daniel Goh during GE2015 and so on, and it seems like our boys in blue have no time to nab criminals but spend their days attending to people with grievances to air.

    • Remembrance theme ranks high on Google Singapore searches

      Outspoken blogger Amos Yee, who sparked an uproar for his criticisms of Lee Kuan Yew, was high on the search list of Singaporeans who followed the controversy online.

    • Anonymous Hacks Asia Pacific Telecommunity Portal to Protest Against Censorship In Asia

      Members of the Anonymous hacker collective have defaced the Asia Pacific Telecommunity website (apt.int), gained access to the site’s admin panel (running Drupal), and also managed to get their hands on a database dump.

    • When Censorship is Really Tempting

      Needless to say competing voices and groups oppose this kind of censorship. Officially I think of censorship as acts of governments to limit or punish ideas that threaten them. On a less legalistic basis, I think we tend to use the term to refer to efforts to shut up any views by anybody that the other person or party or organization objects to. You could say, for example, that when our fellow citizens called us peace activists opposed to the Iraq War “unpatriotic” that were attempting to censor our speech. Bullying, peer pressure, threatened loss of livelihood…all are techniques for suppressing unpopular or unwanted ideas separate from any specific government action.

    • Free speech trumps censorship – be it Cecil Rhodes or Adolf Hitler

      Now they want the statue of the man the campaigners call “the Hitler of South Africa” removed. One can see why. Rhodes began enforced racial segregation in South Africa and was – avowedly – a racist, proclaiming the superiority of Anglo-Saxons. Looking back at him today, it is difficult not to regard him and much of his legacy as toxic.

    • International publishers blast censorship in Turkey

      The International Publishers Association on Dec. 22 condemned what it called “blatant political censorship” in Turkey, saying three journalists’ books had been pulled from shelves on court orders.

      “Books by Hasan Cemal, Tuğçe Tatari and Müslüm Yücel will be removed from sale merely because they were found in the possession of people arrested on suspicion of being members of various outlawed political parties,” the Geneva-based IPA said in a statement.

      The Third Criminal Court of Peace in southeastern Gaziantep province decided to remove a total of three books focusing on the Kurdish problem by journalists Hasan Cemal and Tuğçe Tatari from bookstores after being seized during an operation into a cell where suspected militants of the outlawed Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), youth-wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were detained. The court ruled for the confiscation of the books on Dec. 4, arguing they spread terrorist propaganda and praised criminal activity.

    • Turkey attacked by international publishers for ‘blatant political censorship’

      The International Publishers Association on Tuesday condemned what it called “blatant political censorship” in Turkey, saying three journalists’ books had been pulled from shelves on court orders.

      “Books by Hasan Cemal, Tugce Tatari and Muslum Yucel will be removed from sale merely because they were found in the possession of people arrested on suspicion of being members of various outlawed political parties,” the Geneva-based IPA said in a statement.

    • How Websites Will Signal When They’re Censored
    • Bradbury-Inspired 451 Error Code Warns of Online Censorship
    • Error 451 is the new HTTP code for online censorship

      The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the body responsible for overseeing the internet’s technical standards, has approved HTTP 451, “an HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles”. The new status code will show viewers when a web page is being blocked for legal reasons.

    • Forget 404 Errors: HTTP Now Has a Code for Censorship

      HTTP status codes are not normally a thing that aids political dissidents, or really anything to get excited about. But the newly-made code 451, to be used when something is taken down for legal reasons, is a timely exception.

      Status codes are used when requesting and transmitting data over the internet, for example, pulling up this page. There are five classes, 100s-500s, and tens or hundreds of specific codes within those classes. You normally don’t encounter the codes unless something goes wrong—the infamous 404 error for a page not found, for example.

    • CALLING OUT CENSORSHIP BY NAME, OR AT LEAST BY NUMBER

      With those words, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) announced new HTTP status code 451, to be used when access to a website is denied due to legal demands.

      Most users pay little attention to status codes, which are numerical indicators of how a website is responding to a browser request. If they are familiar with status codes at all, they have most likely encountered a “404 – File Not Found” or possibly an occasional “403—Forbidden.”

    • Burmese artists caught in self-censorship

      Burmese artists lived under strict laws of censorship since 1964. Through their artworks they battled for freedom and it’s only since 2012 that censorship was abolished. Since then there was an explosion of political art but artists stayed very careful in their choice of subject.

      Walking through the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, you could feel an air of silenced excitement. The first free elections in 25 years were only a month away and artist Khin Maung Zaw took me to his home and gallery. The idyllic paintings of Buddhist monks and Burmese landscapes on the wall express the love he feels for his country but “Myanmar is a shattered country. We need to choose democracy. It’s the only way we can talk about our needs.”, says a soft-spoken Zaw. Still, he doesn’t call his work revolutionary: “my works are snapshots of the daily lives of Burmese people.”

    • Mercury News editorial: China’s Internet conference is all about censorship

      If you were planning to hold an Internet conference for the world, where would you choose to hold it?

      “Anyplace but China” would be a reasonable response. Yet last week, no less a luminary that Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed more than 2,000 guests to the coastal city of Wuzhen, as they opened the World Internet Conference.

      That’s right. China hosted an Internet conference. Has one of world’s heaviest-handed cyber censors decided to join the digital marketplace of ideas? Hardly. Check out the guest list, including delegates from such freedom-loving places as Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

      The purpose of this conference was not to be to open the Internet, but how better to close it. China is promoting the idea of “Internet sovereignty,” which is basically a web of fiefdoms gagged by official censors.

    • China is Finally Taking its Seat at the Big Table
    • China’s Xi calls for cooperation on Internet regulation

      President Xi Jinping has defended his government’s broad censorship of the internet, in a high-profile speech underscoring China’s increasingly emphatic attempts to justify its strict online control.

    • Is American film industry pandering to Chinese censors?

      The director of China’s state-controlled film bureau, Zhang Hongshen, has said that China is at war with Hollywood. China’s propaganda chief, Liu Qibao, believes that Chinese movies should reflect the Chinese Dream. President Xi Jinping declared that art should be patriotic and that foreign films should be sanitized.

    • So you think Thai Internet censorship is bad?

      Every hotel I stayed at in China offered free WiFi, but it was a meaningless gesture. While some of my email got through, I was not able to reply to any of it until I returned to Thailand. Likewise Facebook was blocked, though many might see that as a blessing in disguise.

    • The Delicate Dance of a Chinese Journalist

      China jails more journalists than any other country, but media students say the landscape is changing.

    • Students Call for ‘Terrifying’ Wave of Censorship

      A video shows filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz on the campus of Yale University asking students to sign a petition calling for a repeal of the First Amendment.

      Horowitz said he was able to quickly gather more than 50 signatures in less than an hour and believes most who signed were students.

    • Trigger Warnings on College Campuses Are Nothing but Censorship

      Two Yale University professors recently said they would no longer be teaching classes after students expressed outrage that the instructors called for open debate and dialogue in an email. Increasingly, students are making demands of university faculty to limit exposure to material that the students deem to be discomforting. One way this is being expressed is in the call for trigger warnings in course syllabi. The student government at the University of California–Santa Barbara, for example, passed a resolution requiring trigger warnings on every syllabus with no penalties for students who skip a trigger class or assignment.

    • Self-censorship makes us victims of political jihad

      Well-respected ASIO chief Duncan Lewis has advised MPs to use soothing language when publicly discussing Islam, apparently to prevent a backlash. Malcolm Turnbull’s tacit support for the advice is not merely an error of judgment, it is profoundly misconceived.

      During the past week, the government has changed the parameters of the public debate on Islamism in Australia. Along with ASIO, it has reframed the debate to propose the cause of militant Islam is, in part, our response to it.

    • Tact is tactical. Obsequiousness signals surrender
    • Self-censorship? Lok Sabha Speaker expunges her own remarks after Congress raises concern

      Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who had returned to the House by this time, protested against Naidu making comments against the opposition in his absence.

    • e-Books help overcome Book Censorship in the Middle East

      The Middle East is notorious for banning books due to moral, political, religious, or commercial reasons. Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Syria are often heralded as the countries that tend to ban the most books.

    • Police encourage social media censorship
    • Students need education, not indoctrination

      There is, it turns out, a bright side to this otherwise depressing affair. A small group of brave and principled students, who identified themselves as ‘representatives of the Harvard undergraduate council’, made themselves heard and announced their outraged opposition to the administration’s latest experiment in thought control. A truly diverse array (just judging by last names such as Biebelberg, Ely, Gupta, Kelley, Khansarinia, Kim, Popovski and so forth) wrote ‘to express concern regarding’ the placemat dissemination. ‘Reject[ing] the premise that there is a “right” way to answer the questions posed’, the protesting students affirmed that ‘we should work to foster a climate that is conducive to frank, open discussion – especially among students who disagree’. The placemat, they complained, ‘gives the impression that the points it articulates are positions endorsed by the college and, more disturbingly, positions that the college thinks students should hold’. College, concluded the students, ‘should engage in the task of helping students to think and speak for themselves, not telling them what to think and what to say’.

    • In Hong Kong, Fears for an Art Museum

      “The problem in Hong Kong is not censorship,” said Pi Li, the Sigg senior curator at M+. “The problem in Hong Kong is self-censorship. It’s self-censorship hidden in the procedures, so it’s difficult to distinguish.”

    • Don’t Let Principals Censor the Internet

      Public schools should not have the power to punish off-campus speech.

    • The Palestinian-Israeli singer challenging everyone’s misconceptions

      Call her a traitor, call her a normalizer — Palestinian-Israeli singer Amal Murkus has heard it all. Now as she gets ready to release her brilliant new album, the avowed Marxist and feminist is speaking out against the racism of the Israeli mainstream as well as Palestinian attempts to silence her.

    • Closing down access to ‘free speech’ is not a joking matter

      The U.S. Supreme Court has a long string of decisions defending speech and speakers that many Americans would like to shut off or shut down. But within a just a few days of each other:

      • Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, said in an Op-ed piece for The New York Times that his company and others should create algorithmic “tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media – sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment.”

      • Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton called on Web companies to “disrupt” terror groups’ ability to use social media for recruitment and communication, to “deprive jihadists of virtual territory.”

      • GOP poll leader Donald Trump said at a South Carolina rally that “in certain areas” we should just shut down the Internet.

    • Why did Iranian TV censor interview with Zarif?

      After a highly promoted holiday interview with Iran’s popular Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was canceled at the last minute, Iranians cried foul, accusing state television of taking sides in a partisan quarrel ahead of the elections.

    • NY Times Warns About Europe Expanding The ‘Right To Be Forgotten’

      We recently warned about how the new Data Protection Directive in the EU, while written with good intentions, unfortunately appears to both lock-in and expand the whole right to be forgotten idea in potentially dangerous ways. A big part of it is that the directive is just too vague, meaning that the RTBF may apply to all kinds of internet services, but we won’t know for certain until the lawsuits are all finally decided many years in the future. Also unclear are what sorts of safe harbors there may be and how the directive protects against abusing the right to be forgotten for out and out censorship. Unfortunately, many are simply celebrating these new rules for the fact that they do give end users some more power over their data and how it’s used.

    • Keystrokes in the West may mean a death sentence in Saudi Arabia

      From posting a message on Facebook to watching the cursor blink on a screen, many of us take online communication for granted. For most, the idea that such activities might lead to severe punishment is absurd. But, in Saudi Arabia, the West’s treasured Middle East ally, keystrokes can result in public stoning, flogging, life imprisonment, crucifixion, or beheading. Saudi Arabia appears to be existentially threatened by freedom of expression.

      On 16 December Ensaf Haida, the wife of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi accepted, on his behalf, the 2015 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Saudi authorities had sentenced the blogger to 10 years in prison with 1,000 lashes for posting comments that criticized the kingdom’s extremist Wahhabi ideology. They consider his views blasphemous.

      In January 2015, the Saudi authorities publicly gave Badawi 50 lashes. This first round of flogging resulted in such a serious deterioration in his physical health that doctors were able to halt the flogging for a while. But, a remaining 950 lashes still await Badawi.

      United Nations human rights expert David Kaye has expressed alarm at growing repression in Saudi Arabia: ‘Such attacks on freedom of expression deter critical thinking, public participation, and civic engagement, the very things that are crucial to human development and democratic culture,’ he said.

    • Rated R for Ridiculous

      MPAA ratings are more political than ever, so parents should do their own research

    • Why Did Facebook Block the Sharing of This New York Times Article About Nuclear Targets?

      When atomic weapons historian Stephen Schwartz tried to post information about 1950s U.S. nuclear targets to Facebook Wednesday, the site stopped him. “The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems detected to be unsafe,” an automated error message announced. Here’s the strange thing: Schwartz—who pointed out the oddity on Twitter (where Washington Post journalist Dan Zak noticed it)—wasn’t sharing state secrets. He was posting a New York Times article.

      It’s not immediately clear why Facebook blocked the story—a fascinating and chilling historical narrative woven from publicly available information—or even whether the block was algorithmic or manual. At first, Slate colleagues told me they were able to link to it through the Facebook widget on the New York Times’ page, but attempting that method now generates a message that reads, “The server found your request confusing and isn’t sure how to proceed.” As some have noted, posting the mobile version of the article appears to work, and other articles about nuclear targets failed to generate the same issues. All this suggests that Facebook isn’t really taking issue with the article itself, so what exactly is going on here?

      [...]

      Again, whatever’s going on here clearly isn’t willful censorship. What’s troubling is the lack of transparency. The more powerful Facebook gets, the more such erratic quirks threaten to shape our everyday experience. At the very least, the company would do well to elaborate on what they mean by “unsafe.” Without providing further details, the site is effectively infantilizing its user base. Even if Facebook eventually explains what happened with the New York Times article, the initial mystery is a potent reminder of who really controls our ability to share information.

    • Thai high court upholds conviction of webmaster for postings

      Thailand’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the 2012 conviction of a webmaster for not acting quickly enough to delete online comments deemed insulting to the country’s monarchy, a decision decried by rights advocates as another blow to freedom of expression.

    • British pub’s Facebook account banned over ‘offensive’ name

      Facebook has suspended a 175-year-old British pub’s social media account over its “offensive” name, saying it was derived from a black cockerel — a male chicken, the media reported.

      The manager of the Blackcock Inn in Llanfihangel Talyllyn, a small village in Wales, in November this year received a message from Facebook saying the pub’s account he created had been suspended for “racist or offensive language”, he told the Independent in an interview.

    • Twitter says it is beating the trolls

      After making it easier to report abusive tweets and increasing the size of its anti-troll team, Twitter believes it is getting ‘bad behavior’ under control. As well as bullying of acquaintances and work colleagues, Twitter has also been used to attack celebrities, the gay community, religious groups, and more, with many people feeling driven from the site. It seems that the decision to take a very hands-on approach to troll tackling is starting to pay off.

    • ICFJ’s Butler: American journalists feel the attacks on colleagues in Turkey and elsewhere

      In the past several years, Turkey has been facing increasing unlawful government oppression on civil society and aggressive assaults against the media.

      After consolidating his power, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government did not hesitate to arrest critical voices and media professionals, and has even seized private property and companies. While known as a democracy — even if not a liberal one — Turkey, embracing these tyrannical tendencies of President Erdoğan, has brought the entire nation to very unsteady ground.

      Patrick Butler, vice president for programs at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a Washington-based non-profit organization that works to improve the skills and standards of journalists and media around the world, says he is deeply saddened to see assaults on journalists in Turkey.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Digital Rights Battles in 2015: NSA Reform, Net Neutrality, CISA and Beyond

      From John Oliver quizzing Edward Snowden on whether the NSA is collecting our “dick pics” to EFF’s legal team obliterating the patent that was used to go after podcaster Adam Carolla, digital rights issues have been in the public spotlight this year. For the most part, 2015 found us winning hard-fought battles to advance our freedoms online.

    • 10 human rights cases that defined 2015

      It has been a fascinating year in which to edit this Blog. Political and social challenges – from continued government cuts to the alarming rise of Islamic State – have presented new human rights conundrums that have, as ever, slowly percolated to the doors of the country’s highest courts. And all this during the year of an astonishing General Election result and amid continually shifting sands around the future of the Human Rights Act.

      [...]

      This was a historic decision if only for the fact that it was the first time the Investigatory Powers Tribunal had ever found against the Government. It all began with the Edward Snowden leaks and revelations surrounding the US National Security Agency’s communications interception programme. Liberty and other NGOs cited breaches of Articles 8 and 10 ECHR as a result of the UK authorities’ reception, storage, use and transmission of material intercepted and shared with them by their US counterparts.

    • US revokes visa of British Muslim without explanation

      The imam, Ajmal Masroor has accused the United States of enacting the anti-Muslim policies propagated by Republican presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, who prompted global condemnation this month when he pledged to ban Muslims from entering the US.

    • Conservative Media’s Demand That Muslims Atone For Terrorism Is A Rigged Game
    • Iranian-Americans Are Once Again The Escape-Goats. Why?

      We reaffirm our commitment to the principled American ideals of equal opportunity, due process, and the transparent application of the rule of law and justice afforded to all citizens irrespective of one’s national origin, presumed religion, creed, ethnicity, or gender. I submit this note specifically to YOU to take appropriate action to ameliorate the adverse ramifications of certain aspects of HR158:

    • Congress Put Iranian-Americans and Others At Risk for Becoming Second-Class Citizens

      As a powerful Iranian-American community, we are politically passive. Many of our parents came to the US to avoid politics and politicians. But it seems our passive disposition relative to politics and lack of unity regarding politicians has hurt us and the passing of this legislation is a representative example. The legislation that passed last week by both democrats and republicans is un-American. This legislation is legally, socially, and morally wrong.

    • Yahoo now warns users if they’re targets of state-sponsored hackers

      Bob Lord, the company’s newly appointed chief information security officer, said in a blog post that it will notify users if it suspects suspect that their account may have been targeted by a state-sponsored actor.

      “We’ll provide these specific notifications so that our users can take appropriate measures to protect their accounts and devices in light of these sophisticated attacks,” said Lord.

    • Yahoo becomes the latest company to warn users of suspected state-sponsored attacks
    • Controversial China anti-terror law looks set to pass this month

      China’s controversial anti-terrorism law could be passed as soon as the end of this month, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday, legislation that has drawn concern in Western capitals for its cyber provisions.

      The draft law, which could require technology firms to install “backdoors” in products or to hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government, has also been criticised by some Western business groups.

    • These are the people responsible for our out of control police…

      Matthew Harwood’s definitive article shows that America’s police have gone out of control.

    • Smiles and Nerves: Schools reopen in Ukraine’s frontline villages

      Children have been returning to schools in eastern Ukraine after the Red Cross provided materials to repair the damage and allow them to restart their studies this winter.

      Although the guns have been mostly silent since the early September in Ukraine, government troops and Russian-backed militant forces continue to report casualties in the region. Among the most vulnerable populations are children attending schools near the frontline.

    • Trump’s Muslim ban is as American as apple pie

      Genuinely appalled members of the public and press, as well as elements of the Republican establishment, desperate to stop Trump as a loose cannon not beholden either to the party or its decisive megadonors, labored mightily to make Trump’s Muslim ban blather a huge issue, the killer gaffe that would disqualify him as presidential material.

      However, efforts to neutralize Trump through public censure–“bigot” “fascist” etc.—do not appear to be getting much traction.

      I believe there’s a good reason for that.

      When confronted by discriminatory speech and actions, some make the high-minded appeal to Americans’ better nature: “this isn’t us.”

    • Western Democracy: Who’s Watching the Watchers?

      What kind of society do our so-called “Western and networked democracies” count as normal if humans are constantly objectified, monitored and profiled?

    • China’s cyber-diplomacy

      China’s World Internet Conference is last week’s news, but the event will likely reverberate for years to come, as China seeks international support for its notion of a “multilateral” approach to the governance of global cyberspace.

      The piece that follows is one of the most informative I have read so far on the so-called “Wuzhen Summit,” attended this year by President Xi Jinping. Published in The Initium, a Hong Kong start-up that has done some very good reporting on China over the past six months, the piece is written by Fang Kecheng (方可成), a former journalist at Guangzhou’s Southern Weekly newspaper.

    • The Advocates: Four Public Interest Lawyers To Know

      The Bay Area is home to several legal nonprofits focused on issue advocacy. We asked state and federal judges to identify the staff litigators they see as particularly effective advocates.

    • The Perfect Storm in Digital Law

      The final element in this perfect storm is differing cultural expectations about the role of digital laws. The United States, says the stereotype, sees Europe’s digital laws as anti-business, anti-free speech, and pro-regulation. The EU, in turn, sees the United States’ digital laws as anti-privacy, reckless, and dictated by corporate interests.

    • 2 fatally shot, 1 accidentally, by Chicago police on West Side; families demand answers

      Police responding to a call about a domestic disturbance shot and killed a 19-year-old engineering student and a 55-year-old mother of five, and authorities acknowledged late Saturday that the woman had been shot by accident.

      The families of both victims demanded answers after the deaths, which were the first fatal shootings by Chicago police officers since last month’s release of a 2014 video of Laquan McDonald’s death put a national spotlight on the city.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • There’s wi-fi in the middle of the only place in the U.S. where wi-fi is ‘outlawed’

      At the beginning of this year, the Washingtonian ran an incredible piece about “electrosensitives” who had moved to “the town without wi-fi.” These people believe all the signals crowding the air to power our telecommunications-dependent society are making them sick, so they fled to Green Bank, West Virginia, which exists in the US’s only federally-mandated “radio quiet zone.”

    • Facebook’s Fraudulent Campaign on Free Basics

      Facebook is back with its game of trying to pretend that its platform is a substitute for the Internet, particularly for the poor. The originally controversial Internet.org is now back, re-branded as Free Basics, with full page ads in major papers, hoardings and a completely misleading on-line campaign using Facebook itself.

      The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued a notice for public consultation on the issue. While TRAI has put on hold Facebook’s agreement with Reliance offering Free Basics for now, it has not stopped Facebook’s campaign.

    • 10 reasons that explain why you should oppose Facebook’s Free Basics campaign

      Free Basics violates a fundamental principle of the Internet.

  • DRM

    • Welcome to the Digital Dark Ages

      Historians and archivists call our times the “digital dark ages.” The name evokes the medieval period that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire, which led to a radical decline in the recorded history of the West for 1000 years. But don’t blame the Visigoths or the Vandals. The culprit is the ephemeral nature of digital recording devices. Remember all the stuff you stored on floppy discs, now lost forever? Over the last 25 years, we’ve seen big 8-inch floppies replaced by 5.25-inch medium replaced by little 3.5-inch floppies, Zip discs and CD-ROMs, external hard drives and now the Cloud — and let’s not forget memory sticks and also-rans like the DAT and Minidisc.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Netgear Shows Customers How to Share Pirate Movies

        Showing users how to send large video files is a task undertaken by dozens of software and hardware manufacturers but for the folks at Netgear the issue is now a controversial one. Want to send a pirate movie to a friend after downloading it from a torrent site? Netgear apparently has an app for that.

      • New Zealand court rules that Kim Dotcom can be extradited

        Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand-based German entrepreneur behind the Mega Upload file-sharing website, can be extradited to the US along with three associates, an Auckland court has ruled.

        Dotcom and his three associates are accused by the US authorities of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. However, Dotcom claims that his file-sharing website was little different from many other file-sharing websites.

      • Kim Dotcom Challenges U.S. Govt. in Christmas Address

        The past several years have been a roller-coaster ride for Internet mogul Kim Dotcom. As he continues to fight an aggressive government determined to extradite him to the United States to face serious criminal charges, this Christmas Day the Megaupload founder recaps his case here on TorrentFreak.

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