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12.29.15

Links 29/12/2015: SparkyLinux 4.2, Ian Murdock’s Rants

Posted in News Roundup at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 projects to fork in 2016

    2015 was a year of many new open source projects hitting the scene with a splash. From enterprise solutions to home brewed open source concoctions, many of the projects released as open source software this year have made a huge impact on the world of computing in a very short amount of time. While flash stardom isn’t always the best predictor of longevity, we think these 10 projects just might have come onto the scene with enough momentum to continue their success in the new year.

  • 32C3: A Free and Open Source Verilog-to-Bitstream Flow for iCE40 FPGAs

    The toolchain, or “flow” as the FPGA kids like to call it, consists of three parts: Project IceStorm, a low-level tool that can build the bitstreams that flip individual bits inside the FPGA, Arachne-pnr, a place-and-route tool that turns a symbolic netlist into the physical stuff that IceStorm needs, and Yosys which synthesizes Verilog code into the netlists needed by Arachne. [Clifford] developed both IceStorm and Yosys, so he knows what he’s talking about.

  • Codes of Conduct

    What is the role of programmers in software development? The question is never far away in free and open source software (FOSS). Last month, however, the issues surrounding the question were emphasized by Robert C. Martin’s attempt to write a programmer’s oath that states best practices and the resulting discussion.

  • Enterprise startups: Open source may be your only hope

    No, not because second-tier developers wrote it. You probably have great developers. Instead, the real problem is that your developers are stuck building new code on top of old code. Over and over and over again.

    Ironically, this is a sign of success. But, it also creates problems.

    As professor Zeynep Tufekci describes it, “We are building skyscraper favelas in code—in earthquake zones.” While she’s referring to the security vulnerabilities inherent in such code development, the problem is actually broader.

  • Open Source Software’s Role in Breach Prevention and Detection

    Security professionals are increasingly acknowledging an uncomfortable truth: No network is secure from a sufficiently skilled and determined attacker. So while every effort should be made to prevent intruders getting on to the corporate network, it’s important that you can quickly spot an intrusion and minimize the damage that can result.

    Anton Chuvakin, a security expert at Gartner, points out that if hackers are made to work hard to find what they are after, intrusion prevention and detection systems have a far greater chance of spotting them before they can do too much damage.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Mesosphere Releases Datacenter Operating System Version 1.4

      Version 1.4 of the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) is now generally available, featuring user interface updates, support for Marathon 0.13.0 and Chronos, and the Mesos 0.25.0 kernel.

    • A 2016 to do list for the OpenStack board

      One look around the airport waiting lounge or family living room will tell you everything you need to know about where the cloud is headed. Christmas carols drift on by thanks to Pandora, gifts come without having to stand in line at the mall, and those holiday snaps of the family will be stored on someone else’s server.

      In the next 12 months, software running on clouds will rule our world more than ever—but unfortunately not many of those clouds are powered by OpenStack.

      While we rightly raise a glass to celebrate the substantial gains OpenStack has achieved in 2015, it’s time to recognize the vast potential to gain new ground in 2016. So, let’s put those New Year’s resolutions to good use by rallying application developers to the cause. To win them over, we must make OpenStack a more inviting and immediately valuable solution to serve their needs.

    • How Docker and containers improved software development at eZ

      Docker sparked the trend in software containers less than two years ago. And since its modest presentation at PyCon in 2013, the startup has vaulted to a value of nearly one billion dollars, drawn 2,500 attendees to DockerCon, and its namesake technology has become a marketable skill to have, entering Hacker News’ top 20 most frequently requested job skills.

    • Apache Turns to Big Data Projects — Big Time

      Kylin. Meanwhile, the foundation has also just announced that Apache Kylin, an open source big data project born at eBay, has graduated to Top-Level status. Kylin is an open source Distributed Analytics Engine designed to provide an SQL interface and multi-dimensional analysis (OLAP) on Apache Hadoop, supporting extremely large datasets. It is widely used at eBay and at a few other organizations.

      “Apache Kylin’s incubation journey has demonstrated the value of Open Source governance at ASF and the power of building an open-source community and ecosystem around the project,” said Luke Han, Vice President of Apache Kylin. “Our community is engaging the world’s biggest local developer community in alignment with the Apache Way.”

    • 10 cool tools from the Docker community

      Looking back at 2015, there have been many projects created by the Docker community that have advanced the developer experience. Although choosing among all the great contributions is hard, here are 10 “cool tools” that you should be using if you are looking for ways to expand your knowledge and use of Docker.

    • Linux Containers – Benefits and Market Trends

      In April, Docker announced a $95 million series D round of funding. This is one of many events over the past year that has demonstrated how the industry has shifted towards the use of Linux containers (LXC) to deploy online services. Even giant cloud services companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Redhat, IBM and VMware, are pushing towards containerization. With the market leaning in the direction of containers, let’s take a deeper look at what they are, their history and current developments.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Getting LibreOffice to Do the Write Thing

      We install Linux on every one of our Reglue computers. Included in that installation is the entire suite of LibreOffice. Unfortunately, a number of Reglue Kids began complaining about homework assignments being rejected. Most times they were scolded and told to re-submit the assignment in the proper format…you know, that well known proprietary one. Sometimes students were given a lower grade for not following the submission instructions.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Rebases Its Intel Kernel Graphics Driver Against Linux 4.0

      DragonFlyBSD’s Francois Tigeot has done some more great work in allowing their open-source Intel graphics driver to be more featureful and comparable to the Linux i915 kernel DRM driver for which it is based.

      While DragonFly’s i915 DRM driver started out as woefully outdated compared to the upstream Linux kernel code, the work done by Tigeot and others is quite close to re-basing against the latest mainline code. With patches published recently, the DragonFlyBSD driver would now be comparable to what’s in the Linux 4.0 kernel.

    • FuguIta-5.8
  • Public Services/Government

    • 18F site facilitates open-source bargain hunting

      To facilitate this, the team launched a new website — Micropurchase.18F.gov — as place to post new projects for registered users to peruse and bid on.

      “Our goal is to enable parts of our own agency and the rest of the federal government to use this platform to ask the developer community to create open source code for their project,” 18F said in an email to companies that expressed interest in the original micro-purchase pilot. “We anticipate posting auctions for micro-purchase tasks throughout 2016.”

    • Estonia updates X-Road server

      The X-road update is financed in part by the European Regional Development Fund. Estonia’s secure document exchange system is developed as open source.

  • Licensing

    • Shining a spotlight on free software: the FSF’s Licensing & Compliance Lab’s interview series

      In August of 2012, the Licensing & Compliance Lab kicked off a series of interviews with developers of free software. With 2015 in the rear-view mirror, we take a moment to look back on the series and highlight these great projects once again.

      In August of 2012, the Licensing & Compliance Lab kicked off a series of interviews with developers of free software. These interviews were a chance to highlight cool free software projects, especially those using copyleft licenses, and learn more about why they are dedicated to free software. What started as a single interview has grown into a regular feature of the Licensing & Compliance Lab blog. With 2015 in the rear-view mirror, we take a moment to look back on the series and highlight these great projects once again.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Google, HP, Oracle Join RISC-V

      RISC-V is on the march as an open source alternative to ARM and Mips. Fifteen sponsors, including a handful of high tech giants, are queuing up to be the first members of its new trade group which will host next week its third workshop for the processor core.

      RISC V is the latest evolution of the original RISC core developed more than 25 years ago by Berkeley’s David Patterson and Stanford’s John Hennessey. In August 2014, Patterson and colleagues launched an open source effort around the core as an enabler for a new class of processors and SoCs with small teams and volumes that can’t afford licensed cores or get the attention of their vendors.

    • An Open Source Reference Architecture For Real-Time Stock Prediction

      While this post does not cover the details of stock analysis, it does propose a way to solve the hard problem of real-time data analysis at scale, using open source tools in a highly scalable and extensible reference architecture. The architecture below is focused on financial trading, but it also applies to real-time use cases across virtually every industry. More information on the architecture covered in this article is also available online via The Linux Foundation, Slideshare, YouTube, and Pivotal Open Source Hub, where the components in this architecture can be downloaded.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Origins of the Irish down to mass migration, ancient DNA confirms

      Scientists from Dublin and Belfast have looked deep into Ireland’s early history to discover a still-familiar pattern of migration: of stone age settlers with origins in the Fertile Crescent, and bronze age economic migrants who began a journey somewhere in eastern Europe.

      The evidence has lain for more than 5,000 years in the bones of a woman farmer unearthed from a tomb in Ballynahatty, near Belfast, and in the remains of three men who lived between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago and were buried on Rathlin Island in County Antrim.

      Scientists at Trinity College Dublin used a technique called whole-genome analysis to “read” not the unique characteristics of each individual, but a wider a history of ancestral migration and settlement in the DNA from all four bodies.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip

      “The aerial spraying of herbicides and germination inhibitors was conducted in the area along the border fence last week in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations,” an IDF Spokesperson told +972 on Sunday.

      Palestinian Agricultural Ministry officials told Ma’an news that farmers said Israeli planes had been spraying their agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence for several days straight. Spinach, pea, parsley and bean crops were reportedly destroyed around the al-Qarrara area in eastern Khan Younis and the Wadi al-Salqa area in central Gaza, according to the report.

      The military spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question about the destruction of agricultural crops.

    • USDA Whistleblower Accuses Agency of Censorship of Pesticide Research

      Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, an expert on the risk assessment of pesticides and genetically modified crops, worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research for more than a decade. But when his findings on the ill effects of systemic pesticides and RNAi (a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression) on pollinators began to gain traction and visibility, the harassment and punishments did as well.

    • USDA whistleblower launches new bee research effort

      Scientist Jonathan Lundgren believes the USDA retaliated against him because of his research on neonicotinoid insecticides and potential effects on bees and butterflies.

      Neonicotinoids are among the most widely used pesticides. Some research shows they harm bees and butterflies, but the chemical industry disputes much of the research.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • Towards (reasonably) trustworthy x86 laptops

      Can we build trustworthy client systems on x86 hardware? What are the main challenges? What can we do about them, realistically? Is there anything we can?

    • Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encryption Key [Ed: yes, flawed by design]

      One of the excellent features of new Windows devices is that disk encryption is built-in and turned on by default, protecting your data in case your device is lost or stolen. But what is less well-known is that, if you are like most users and login to Windows 10 using your Microsoft account, your computer automatically uploaded a copy of your recovery key – which can be used to unlock your encrypted disk – to Microsoft’s servers, probably without your knowledge and without an option to opt-out.

      During the “crypto wars” of the nineties, the National Security Agency developed an encryption backdoor technology – endorsed and promoted by the Clinton administration – called the Clipper chip, which they hoped telecom companies would use to sell backdoored crypto phones. Essentially, every phone with a Clipper chip would come with an encryption key, but the government would also get a copy of that key – this is known as key escrow – with the promise to only use it in response to a valid warrant. But due to public outcry and the availability of encryption tools like PGP, which the government didn’t control, the Clipper chip program ceased to be relevant by 1996. (Today, most phone calls still aren’t encrypted. You can use the free, open source, backdoorless Signal app to make encrypted calls.)

    • Chaos Computer Club: Europe’s biggest hackers’ congress underway in Hamburg

      Some 12,000 hackers are challenging the power of Google, Facebook and Youtube to filter information and shape users’ view of the world. One of them demonstrated how to hack into VW’s cheating software.

    • Password-less database ‘open-sources’ 191m US voter records on the web

      Austin-based Chris Vickery – who earlier this month found records on 3.3 million Hello Kitty users splashed online – says the wide-open system contains the full names, dates of birth, home addresses, and phone numbers of voters, as well as their likely political affiliation and which elections they have voted in since 2000.

    • The next wave of cybercrime will come through your smart TV

      Smart TVs are opening a new window of attack for cybercriminals, as their security defenses often lag far behind those of smartphones and desktop computers.

      Smart TVs are opening a new window of attack for cybercriminals, as the security defenses of the devices often lag far behind those of smartphones and desktop computers.

      Running mobile operating systems such as Android, smart TVs present a soft target due to how to manufacturers are emphasizing convenience for users over security, a trade-off that could have severe consequences.

    • Nemesis Bootkit Malware the new stealthy Payment Card.

      After I read many articles I got this infos about Nemesis Bootkit Malware:
      – suspected to originate from Russia;
      – infect PCs by loading before Windows starts
      – has ability to modify the legitimate volume boot record;
      – seam to be like another Windows rootkit named Alureon;
      – intercepts several system interrupts to pass boot process;
      – can steal payment data from anyone’s not just targeting financial institutions and retailers;
      – this malware hides between partitions and is also almost impossible to remove;

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Syria anti-Islamic State documentary maker ‘assassinated’ in Turkey

      A Syrian opposition film-maker was gunned down in broad daylight in the Turkish city of Gazientep on Sunday, apparently by Isil supporters.

      Friends said that Naji Jerf, 38, was shot twice in the head after being approached by an unknown car outside of a local restaurant.

    • Why Britishers left India in 1947? explains NSA Ajit Doval

      ncumbent National Security Advisor, had once said that the spark which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose created within the Indian Army forced Britishers to quit India in 1947.

      In a video posted on Youtube, Doval has given a detailed explanation of the main reason as to why the mighty British Empire which, won the Second World War in 1945, decided to quit India in a hurry.

      On August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio announced the ‘death’ of Netaji in an air crash in Formosa (now Taiwan) on August 18, 1945, en route to Japan.

      But the crash theory has been rejected by scores of Netaji’s followers and admirers and several claims of the revolutionary leader resurfacing continue to intrigue and divide Indians over the years.

    • Endless War, Undeclared and Undebated

      The Obama administration is waging war all over the world – without congressional authorization

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Saudi Arabia unveils record deficit as it succumbs to oil price rout

      A brutal sell-off in oil prices has forced Saudi Arabia’s government to post the largest budget deficit in its history, as the state’s revenues have crumbled.

      The country’s deficit rose to 367bn riyals (£66bn), after government spending rose 13pc above officials’ plans in the wake of declining oil prices and a war with Yemen. A Saudi official said that the deficit was “considered an acceptable figure” under the circumstances.

      Stock markets reacted positively to the government’s spending plans, as investors had feared far worse news was to come, anticipating an overshoot well in excess of 13pc. The total deficit stood at 16pc of the economy’s size, while analysts had expected a gap of 20pc. The Tadawul All Share Index made a daily gain of 0.7pc.

    • Here Are 58 Million Reasons to Care About California’s Drought

      The past four years of punishing drought have badly hurt California’s forests. Rain was scarce, the days were too hot, and this year’s wildfire season was the worst anyone has seen in years, burning up nearly 10 million acres across the West. For the first time, a team of researchers has measured the severity of the blow the drought dealt the trees, uncovering potential future destruction in the process. The resulting paper, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a rich visual testament to just how much California needs its trees and how close the state is to losing 58 million of them.

    • Fukushima Today

      Throughout the world, the name Fukushima has become synonymous with nuclear disaster and running for the hills. Yet, Fukushima may be one of the least understood disasters in modern times, as nobody knows how to fix neither the problem nor the true dimension of the damage. Thus, Fukushima is in uncharted territory, a total nuclear meltdown that dances to its own rhythm. Similar to an overly concerned parent, TEPCO merely monitors but makes big mistakes along the way.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Michael Moore just exploded the right’s biggest lie

      Michael Moore’s new film, “Where to Invade Next,” is sure to generate Oscar buzz. It is already on the short list of 15 documentaries from which the final five nominations will be announced on Jan. 14. But rather than wonder whether Moore will score a second Oscar (his first was for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002), the question to ask is whether this film can spark a political revolution just in time for the 2016 election.

      “Where to Invade Next” has a wide release set for Feb. 12, which is also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the week of the New Hampshire primary. Coincidence? Definitely not.

    • Trump: Muslims Knew About San Bernardino Shooters But Didn’t Report Them
  • Censorship

    • How China Tries To Censor The Whole World
    • Time to take a re-look at Censor Board’s role: Arun Jaitley

      Having witnessed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) getting embroiled in one controversy after the other through the past few months, the government is now considering taking a re-look at the body so as to make it “controversy free”.

    • Amid Censorship Flap, Steinmetz To Discontinue 81-Year-Old School Newspaper

      “School newspapers provide students with a powerful voice and a positive learning experience, and we are committed to providing journalism opportunities to our students,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman said. “Steinmetz High School will continue to offer journalism courses for the foreseeable future, and the Steinmetz Star will remain in operation as an online publication that will continue to serve as a valuable learning opportunity for students.”

    • Kremlin’s Censorship Of Shenderovich Interview Backfiring – OpEd

      But the Shenderovich case may provide the Putin regime with an object lesson because it is obvious that the Kremlin took this action because of Shenderovich’s criticism of Putin himself (openrussia.org/post/view/11565/) and because it is obvious that taking down the interview in one place won’t block the spread of the text.

    • China publisher pulls ‘racy’ Tagore poems translation

      A Chinese publisher has pulled a translation of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s poems after it sparked controversy for racy content.

      The translation of works from one of India’s most famous poets was by Chinese novelist Feng Tang.

      His publisher said on Monday that it was removing the work from sale following the “huge debate” in China’s literary and translation circles.

      Mr Feng has defended his translation, saying a previous version lacked style.

      Tagore, known as the Bard of Bengal and seen as a literary god in India, was the first non-European to win the Nobel prize for literature.

    • Five reasons why we must NOT censor ISIS propaganda

      First of all, censoring ISIS in this way is simply not feasible. We can very well demand that mainstream newspapers and TV news stations limit their coverage of these issues, but that would leave the entire field of discussion to the unregulated areas of the internet, the “blogosphere” and social media. ISIS would still dominate in these areas, except now we will have removed from the discourse those outlets that would be most capable to hold the ISIS narrative to scrutiny.

    • Orwellian model won’t keep the internet free

      Last week brought a positively Orwellian moment to the debate about Internet freedom.

      Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at a state-organised internet conference in Wuzhen, in Zhejiang province, where he was once party secretary. Xi declared, “As in the real world, freedom and order are both necessary in cyberspace.” He said, “Freedom is what order is meant for, and order is the guarantee of freedom.”

      These slogans are more than just propaganda from the leader of a country with the world’s largest internet censorship operation. Behind them lurks a dangerous ambition.

    • China Invokes UN Decree for Its Right to Censor the Internet

      China’s President Xi Jinping invoked “cyber sovereignty” to describe his country’s right to create its national cyber policy while giving the opening speech at the second World Internet Conference, held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang, on December 16.

      “We should respect the right of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber development, model of cyber regulation, and participate in international cyberspace governance on an equal footing,” said President Xi. “No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries’ internal affairs or engage in, connive at or support cyber activities that undermine other countries’ national security.”

    • Not allowing free speech on-campus is dangerous – universities need to defend their right to be offensive

      2015 has been an eventful year for freedom of speech. In January, #JeSuisCharlie was a global trend championing freedom of expression, lack of censorship, and the right to offend. Yet, as the year draws to a close, it seems the Facebook generation is becoming more and more suppressed.

      Once upon a time, universities were bastions of free speech, where world leaders would debate with fresh-faced 18-year-olds who were determined to save the planet. Once, just about anything could be discussed in the name of free speech. But, this year, there have been countless examples of speakers being banned, societies being stopped, and student media being censored, all in the name of “protecting students.”

    • Syria, France Deadliest Countries for Journalists

      The Committee to Protect Journalists says 2015 was one of the deadliest years on record for members of the press worldwide, with 69 journalists killed on-assignment. According to the CPJ, 2015 was the sixth year out of the last ten (and eighth since 1992) in which more than 60 journalists were killed in the line of duty—a figure that includes those targeted for their profession as well as those killed in combat, crossfire or while covering other assignments deemed dangerous.

    • Reading Everything Aaron Swartz Wrote

      It was cowardly, disrespectful, and it isolated Aaron again in death. He was The Boy, a tragic waste, not a murdered comrade or a martyr. Saying he was misguided served as an excuse for not being at his side.

    • Does The US Really Want A North Korean Internet?

      With all of the news about the holidays, one story you might have missed yesterday is that China passed with little fanfare its new antiterrorism law that bears substantial resemblance to proposals currently under review in the US and UK that would require backdoors or other weakened measures to allow encrypted communications to be secretly monitored by governments.

      The Chinese law requires that “telecommunications and Internet service providers should provide technical interfaces and technical support and assistance in terms of decryption and other techniques to the public and national security agencies in the lawful conduct of terrorism prevention and investigation.” It is remarkably similar to the wording of a UK proposal that would require companies to offer the government “permanent interception capabilities … [including] the ability to remove any encryption” and similar to calls by US intelligence officials for the ability to decrypt civilian communication.

      On the surface such proposals seem highly desirable: the ability to monitor and disrupt terrorist and criminal communications in order to protect life and ensure national security. The problem, as I pointed out last week, is that there is no universal definition of “terrorism” or “national security threats.” In fact, one of the focal points of the Chinese online censorship apparatus is the removal of material relating to protests and mass organization, which the government views as a threat to the stability and well-being of the nation.

      [...]

      North Korea is one of the few countries to take this model of a safe and secure internet to its logical conclusion, creating its own walled-off private version of the internet where only a small number of approved websites are accessible. The government even created its own operating system called Red Star OS, designed for total government surveillance. Yesterday two German researchers offered the latest in-depth look at the functioning of this operating system custom built for the world of a surveillance state.

    • Those Demanding Free Speech Limits to Fight ISIS Pose a Greater Threat to U.S. Than ISIS

      In 2006 – years before ISIS replaced Al Qaeda as the New and Unprecedentedly Evil Villain – Newt Gingrich gave a speech in New Hampshire in which, as he put it afterward, he “called for a serious debate about the First Amendment and how terrorists are abusing our rights–using them as they once used passenger jets–to threaten and kill Americans.”

    • Chinese president Xi Jinping blogged for the first time—and 48,000 people commented

      China’s biggest microblogging site, Weibo, is not unfamiliar to foreign head of states. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, UK prime minister David Cameron, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro—all have opened accounts on the site and have interacted with readers in Chinese. But China’s own leaders are more reluctant to engage with online audiences.

      Chinese president Xi Jinping’s limited number of social media contributions include a selfie with Cameron and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero during Xi’s state visit to the UK in October, while Chinese premier Li Keqiang indulged Modi in a joint selfie, said to be Li’s first, at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven in May. Neither of these were posted by the Chinese leaders on Weibo. Instead, they surfaced on Twitter—a social media platform blocked by China’s elaborate censorship machine.

      But finally, on Dec. 25, during his visit to the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army Daily—a mouthpiece newspaper of the Communist Party and the army—Xi crafted his first post on Weibo. It’s the first Weibo message from any of China’s senior officials, as far as we can tell. Xi wrote the message personally, according to state media.

    • Thai media decide junta chief no laughing matter

      Every New Year Thailand’s top political journalists traditionally come up with satirical nicknames for the government and senior ministers. But this year they will forego the pleasure, having decided the junta is no laughing matter.

      The occasion is usually a rare moment of light relief for reporters covering the febrile world of Thai politics, in a country which has witnessed a string of military coups, violent street protests and toppled governments – and where defamation is a criminal offence.

    • Was 2015 a Bad Year for Campus Free Speech? Let’s Ask the Experts

      Are easily-offended students and their allies within the university bureaucracy ushering in a new era of censorship on American college campuses? Even President Obama is worried that excessive political correctness is stifling legitimate debate at universities.

    • The militarization of the press in Syria

      Ahmed Abu al-Hamza, “Software” as he was known by his friends, stood behind the camera on November 6 as a gunman explained how rebel forces took Tel Sukayk, a strategic hilltop north of Hama, from government forces. Suddenly the camera’s sound recorder picked up the faint thud of a mortar shell firing in the distance. A few seconds of confusion then turned to horror as the shell exploded right in front of the camera, killing Abu al-Hamza and the rebel fighter and injuring several others.

    • Dr. Timaree: How to be mindful, ethical when it comes to porn

      Censorship, though, is not an effective way of fixing a social problem.

    • Why Latin America Needs PEN

      The Mexican way of death is unique, issuing from a symbiosis of indigenous beliefs and practices with Catholic rituals. To celebrate the return of the souls of the dead every November, Mexicans set up altars laden with the departed’s favorite food and drink and sugar skulls emblazoned with that person’s name, while images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints flank a photo of the deceased. Marigolds festoon the altars and the graves where relatives gather to share a meal and news of the past year with the visiting spirits.

      [...]

      Journalists are not only pursued by organized crime in all its forms, but also by local, state and federal governments, police forces, the military, and even by people whose job it is to impart justice. Not only must the federal government guarantee the safety of journalists, it must also resolve pending cases and punish the criminals, even if they work in government. Otherwise, as time passes most of the cases become enveloped in a tangle of conflicting lines of investigation where the real one is lost or the victim is morphed into the guilty party. A journalist friend recently told me about how when dealing with a notorious political crime, officials often present a new line of inquiry every once in a while which leads the investigation further away from reality, until it reaches a point where nobody knows anything for sure, a kind of legal shell game with the truth.

    • Pirate Bay’s Suspended Domain Names Spell Trouble for File-Sharing Sites

      Earlier in December, file-sharing site the Pirate Bay went down due to a problem regarding the registration of the thepiratebay.org domain — a seemingly innocuous hitch. But then, a week later, thepiratebay.com and several other of the site’s domain properties, including piratebrowser.com, piratebrowser.net, and piratebrowser.org — which link to the Pirate Bay’s TOR-based anti-censorship tool — also went down, suspended for similar violations of ICANN registration policy. And though thepiratebay.org was quickly restored after a transfer from EuroDNS to a new registrar, the other domains remain suspended.

    • YouTube dumps Holocaust memory

      “Why do I see beheadings and bestiality on YouTube, but the story of an aged Holocaust survivor must be removed? Is there an agenda going on? If so, what is it?” she asked. “This ministry is being targeted for some unexplainable reason. Is it because we tap in Michele Bachmann regularly? I do not hear of other ministries undergoing this kind of an exam and retribution.”

    • George Washington University apologizes for censorship of Palestinian flag

      Earlier this month, six weeks after receiving a “Warning Letter” for hanging a Palestinian flag out his dormitory window, George Washington University (GWU) student Ramie Abounaja obtained a formal apology from university president Steven Knapp for the attack on his free speech rights. The apology came after an implied threat of legal action against the university.

    • Silencing Students: The 8 Most Loathsome Campus Censors of 2015

      Every year brings new examples of ruthless college administrators trampling the free expression rights of students and faculty, and 2015 was no different. Here are eight of the most notable campus censors I wrote about this year.

    • Students of color frustrated with campus climate

      Multicultural student groups are calling for more inclusion at AU after a rash of anonymous social media posts and posters targeting minorities have appeared on and around campus.

      Yik Yak is a smartphone application that allows smartphone users to make posts anonymously and view posts made by those within close proximity to them. Racist posts on the platform prompted University forums last year and inspired an Undergraduate Senate discussion about race, the Eagle previously reported. In recent months, users have continued to write discriminatory comments in the the app around campus.

    • Chinese filmmaker claims victory in online film censorship lawsuit

      Beijing-based filmmaker Fan Popo, whose gay rights documentary was removed from Chinese video streaming websites, has claimed victory in a lawsuit over government censorship despite the courts ruling that regulators were not to blame.

      In its verdict released last week, Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court found censors had not ordered his documentary “Mama Rainbow” to be taken down from prominent streaming websites Youku, Tudou and 56.com.

    • Artists oppose Erdogan’s censorship

      Turkey welcomes private investors in the field of art and culture, but many artists feel oppressed by their government. Beyond censorship and commercial speculation, an alternative art scene offers some hope.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • DOJ’s Equitable Sharing Program Takes $1.2 Billion Hit, Much To Dismay Of Asset Forfeiture-Abusing Law Enforcement Agencies

      Good news (of sorts) on the asset forfeiture front: the same budget bill that delivered us into the hands of CISA also helped “rob” the nation’s highwaymen of $1.2 billion in equitable sharing funds.

    • Federal judge: Drinking tea, shopping at a gardening store is probable cause for a SWAT raid on your home

      In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home. He was told to lie on the floor. When Addie Harte came out to see what was going on, she saw her husband on his stomach as SWAT cop stood over him with a gun. The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. Though they claimed to be looking for evidence of a major marijuana growing operation, they later stated that they knew within about 20 minutes that they wouldn’t find any such operation. So they switched to search for evidence of “personal use.” They found no evidence of any criminal activity.

    • Italian president reduces sentences in CIA kidnapping case

      Italy’s president has shaved two years off the sentence of a former CIA base chief convicted in absentia in the 2003 extraordinary rendition abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect.

      With the decree, announced Wednesday night by the presidential palace, President Sergio Mattarella reduced to seven from nine years Robert Seldon Lady’s sentence. Mattarella also wiped out the three-year sentence handed down by a Milan court to another US defendant convicted in absentia, Betnie Medero.

    • Former CIA chief’s rendition sentence reduced in Italy
    • Italian president offers pardons in CIA rendition convictions

      Italy has partially pardoned the former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady who was convicted for his role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric under the U.S. “extraordinary rendition” programme.

      Another U.S. citizen found guilty in the case, Betnie Medero, was also granted a pardon by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, his office said in a statement.

    • From the Shadows of the Cold War: the Rise of the CIA

      The longest running director of the CIA (1952-1961), Dulles helped coordinate extremely bloody coups throughout the world. Not surprisingly, he comes off as a nasty piece of work. He and his brother John Foster Dulles both worked with the prestigious Wall Street firm Sullivan and Cromwell, which made a fortune representing cartels that were part of the Nazi war machine (John Foster Dulles went on to become Eisenhower’s Secretary of State). The Dulles brothers were quite cozy with Nazi higher ups in the ’30s and remained staunch apologists for Hitler well into the the ’40s.

    • Sudanese security enjoys “good relations” with the CIA: NISS chief

      The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Mohamed Atta said his agency maintains “good ties” with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    • Trump praises Putin after being told he kills political opponents

      “I’m saying when you say a man has killed reporters, I’d like you to prove it”, Trump argued. But, in all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. In response, Trump said he appreciated “when people call you brilliant” and that “it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russian Federation”.

      McCain’s comments come after Putin complimented Trump last week, and Trump responded it was an “honor” to receive the compliment. “Not a bad thing”, Trump said. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports Russian journalists experience intimidation and censorship.

      “I think I’ll win the Hispanic vote”, Trump told reporters after touring the bridge.

    • Russia can only use the United States as an excuse for so long

      Sergei Guriev, Russia’s most prominent free market economist, left Moscow in 2013 for Paris, in fear of his liberty. He had publicly supported dissidents, criticized the administration’s policies, was an active and committed liberal, in politics as in economics. He produced, earlier this year, a 21st century equivalent of Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince”: a blueprint of how the modern autocrat rules, and remains.

      Unlike the Florentine, though, Guriev isn’t recommending a course of action, he’s describing it; and he doesn’t believe it will be good for the state, but ruinous. If, in this and other writings and interviews, he’s right about the nature of Russia’s governance, his country is in for a bad crash. And when Russia in its present condition crashes, the world will shake.

    • Why Russia Can Only Go Backward

      The Public Opinion Foundation conducted a survey this month asking Russians two questions: “What was the main event of the year in Russia?” and “What was the main global event of the year?”

      Noteworthy is that fully 40 percent of the respondents had trouble answering either question. And the most brutal political murder in modern Russia — the assassination of my father — did not even figure in the responses. State-controlled television hardly mentions it, with the exception of the first few days after the killing, when commentators spoke of him in contemptuous tones.

    • How Fox News’ Primetime Lineup Demonized Black Lives Matter In 2015

      In 2015, Fox News’ three primetime hosts engaged in a smear campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement, fearmongering about the alleged threat they pose to law and order and hyping racist canards aimed at discrediting the movement’s calls for justice.

      The Black Lives Matter movement — which emerged after the 2013 shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin — became a regular news fixture in 2015 following the high-profile deaths of several unarmed black civilians at the hands of police officers. The movement brought national attention to the issues of police brutality and racial disparities in criminal justice. One group associated with the movement introduced a set of concrete policy solutions, and the movement as a whole became a politically relevant force amid the 2016 presidential race.

    • WaPo Tallies Police Killings–but Holds Back Some of the Numbers That Count

      “The kind of incidents that have ignited protests…represent less than 4 percent of fatal police shootings”: That sure sounds like an attempt to play down the number, doesn’t it? Particularly since the write-up never presents the raw number for fatal police shootings of unarmed African-Americans in 2015—which is 37—or the more comprehensive number of all unarmed civilians shot and killed: 90. Those numbers can be found on a graphic that accompanied the story in the paper’s print edition, and in an interactive feature online–but are nowhere to be found in the Post‘s own article on its project. (“Just 9 percent of shootings involved an unarmed victim,” a sidebar accompanying the graphic began—that word “just” indicating that we should read that as “not so many.”)

      And the Post‘s “meanwhile,” juxtaposed against “incidents that have ignited protests,” implies that the categories that follow would not inspire protest: those killed “wielding weapons,” who were “suicidal or mentally troubled,” or who “ran when officers told them to halt.”

    • Egypt’s censorship authority raid Merit Publishing house in Cairo

      Egypt’s censorship authority raided and searched on Tuesday afternoon Merit Publishing house in downtown Cairo without providing any reason, owner Mohamed Hashem wrote on his Facebook page.

      Staff member Mohamed Zein, 23, was arrested during the raid then released a few hours later.

    • Egypt Raids 2 Major Independent Cultural Institutions In 2 Days

      Egyptian authorities have raided two pillars of the independent arts and culture scene in Cairo over the past 48 hours.

    • TSA Says It Will Stop Accepting Driver’s Licenses From Nine States

      The last time we took notice of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), it was to inform you that the unpopular, expensive, and ineffectual outfit had decided it could force travelers on domestic airline flights to go through full-body scanners. Previously, TSA had allowed folks to submit instead to a full-body pat-down.

    • Who Needs A No-Fly List When You Can Just Ground 91 Million Citizens?

      For the residents of Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington (along with American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands), this means their ID cards are perfectly legal within those states, but only as long as they stay in those states. (And, apparently, never need to enter a government building — like, say, to acquire a new, compliant ID card).

    • Human Research Loopholes: Alive and Well

      In one of the darkest chapters in medical ethics, the United States government ran an experiment from the 1930s to the 1970s in which it withheld treatment and medical information from rural African-American men suffering from syphilis. The public uproar generated by the Tuskegee Syphilis Study eventually resulted in regulations restricting government-supported research testing on humans. These regulations are called the “Common Rule,” and they are right now up for their first full update.

      The Common Rule, also known as the “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects,” is supposed to affirmatively protect us from the abuses of the future. However, the proposed regulation is lousy with loopholes, including ones that could exempt tracking online behavior and experiments related to intelligence activities.

    • Hospital Refuses Pregnancy-Related Care Again Because of Religious Directives

      Today we filed a lawsuit challenging Dignity Health’s use of religious directives to deny basic reproductive health care to its patients. Filed on behalf of patient Rebecca Chamorro and Physicians for Reproductive Health, the suit argues that withholding pregnancy-related care for reasons other than medical considerations is illegal in California.

    • Sadistic Cops Make K-9 Maul Unarmed Suicidal Teen – Caught Planning and Celebrating It in Texts

      Months after the Herald-Tribune exposed the North Port Police Department for routinely commanding their K-9 dogs to attack people without provocation, the department has done nothing to address the problem. In fact, it defends its officers even in the most egregious cases, including the mutilation of unarmed juveniles.

    • Extended Interview: Remembering Haskell Wexler, 93, Legendary Cinematographer & Activist

      In Part 2 of our look at the life and work of Haskell Wexler, we air clips from “Rebel Citizen,” a new documentary about his life, and speak to the film’s director, Pamela Yates. Wexler is perhaps best known for his 1969 film, “Medium Cool,” which captures the upheaval surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He won two Academy Awards for cinematography in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Bound for Glory,” about folk singer Woody Guthrie. His documentaries tackled political issues including the Southern Freedom Riders of the 1960s, the U.S. government’s destabilization of Nicaragua, U.S. atrocities in Vietnam, and torture under the U.S.-backed junta in Brazil.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Stupid Patent Of The Month: Microsoft’s Design Patent On A Slider

      For the first time ever, this month’s Stupid Patent of the Month is being awarded to a design patent. Microsoft recently sued Corel for, among other things, infringing its patent on a slider, D554,140, claiming that Corel Home Office has infringed Microsoft’s design.

    • Trademarks

      • Canada Too Has An Issue With Abitrary Applications Of Morality In Trademark Applications

        In our recent discussion about the delightfully vulgar filing by the Washington Redskins in an effort to point out the arbitrary application of morality by the government to trademark law, the point in the filing was driven home by just how many similarly vulgar and offensive terms the USPTO has been happy to sanctify with a valid trademark. Perhaps some of you out there thought that this was a uniquely American problem, something resulting from our overabundance of political correctness. It’s not. A case in Canada over the trademark application for “Lucky Bastard Vodka” shows this quite well. It also shows the inherent problem in trying to have a government institution apply morality to business in this way.

      • Saskatoon distillery fights feds over ‘scandalous’ trademark

        A Saskatoon company’s attempt to trademark its flagship vodka has turned into a four-year battle with the federal government over the definition of “bastard.”

        In 2011, LB Distillers applied to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) to register “Lucky Bastard vodka” as a trademark. About eight months later, the agency responsible for trademarks, patents and copyright replied.

        “The examiner came back and said it was immoral, scandalous and obscene, and that the general population of Canada would agree that it was an immoral name,” LB Distillers co-owner Cary Bowman said.

    • Copyrights

      • The DMCA Has Delivered Us Into The Hands Of The Proprietary Internet Of Disconnected Things

        The phrase “Internet of Things” suggests connection. The problem is there’s nothing financially motivating about interconnectedness. Manufacturers of connected devices would prefer homogeneity, which leads to actions like Philips’ which recently pushed a firmware update that locked competitors’ bulbs out of its Hue “smart” lighting fixtures. Sure, it rolled back the update and (mostly) allowed owners to use bulbs they had already purchased, but it was also suggested in the same quasi-apology that the company would rather limit the options available to its purchasers in the future, funneling them through its “friends of Hue” program.

      • Book Publisher Has No Idea How Google Works But Pretty Sure It Could End Piracy If It Tried

        Here’s the stupidest thing on piracy you’re going to read today. Or this month. Maybe even this whole holiday season. Rudy Shur, of Square One Publishers, has a problem with piracy, which he thinks is actually a problem with Google.

      • 50 Cent Files Stupid, Hypocritical Lawsuit Over Another Rapper’s ‘Theft’ Of His Song In A Mixtape

        I can see why 50 Cent and his lawyers might feel this lawsuit is a good idea: 50 Cent is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings. On top of that, the rapper owes $7 million to the plaintiff in a sex tape lawsuit — one that also involves rival rap star, Rick Ross. (The woman in the sex tape is the mother of one of Ross’ children. 50 Cent can be heard taunting Ross in the recording.) 50 Cent is also engaged in a $75 million lawsuit against his former legal team, so there’s bills to be paid there as well.

        50 Cent’s lawsuit takes aim at the rap industry’s standard operating procedure: mixtapes. Rick Ross rapped over 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” in his latest mixtape, much as thousands of rappers have rapped over the beats of others on mixtapes since the early days of the genre. It’s an accepted — if quasi-illegal — practice. Everyone raps over everyone else’s beats on mixtapes, almost all of which are given away as promotional tools.

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