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01.04.16

Links 4/1/2016: Jolla Tablets, 4MLinux 15.0, Budgie Desktop

Posted in News Roundup at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Meshed Again In 2016

    As of January 1st 2016, my main work focus is once again Meshed Insights Ltd., which we’ve kept ticking over during 2015. Working at Wipro was an interesting experiment, but frankly I did not enjoy it at all. I could have probably have lingered there indefinitely if I’d wanted, but leaving on December 31st was entirely my own decision. The company is simply not ready to speak up for software freedom or encourage its clients to set themselves free from the proprietary vendors Wipro loves and from which it profits.

  • My biggest benefit of open source wasn’t what it was supposed to be

    Earlier this year I built my first real Open Source Software (OSS) project. I saw a problem that hadn’t been solved and I decided to fix it. It took some long nights, but eventually I released it. Other people eventually ran into the same problem I had and decided to use my project for their solution. Now, this project isn’t huge by any means. It’s not Redux, Babel, or React Router. You’ve probably never even heard of it. However, it’s big enough that I’ve learned many things about building an open source project that people rely on for their production apps. Surprisingly, my biggest and most valuable take away wasn’t what I thought it would be because it’s not in the usual “the benefits of building an OSS project” list.

  • OS.js Is A New Javascript Based Open Source Operating System Running In Your Browser

    OS.js is a free and open source operating system that runs in your web browser. Based on Javascript, this operating system comes with a fully-fledged window manager, ability to install applications, access to virtual filesystems and a lot more. Read more to know about the OS in detail.

  • My 2015 and looking at 2016

    Today 2015 end and 2016 begins. So I want to use the opportunity to look back what happened in the ownCloud world in the last 12 month but also in my personal life.

    I’m very thankful to work with so many skilled, friendly and dedicated people in the ownCloud community to push this idea and product forward. This is just amazing.

  • Reverse Engineering the GoPro Cineform codec

    Following the fine traditions of great codec reverse engineers it has now become the norm to write-up the trials and tribulations of the process.

  • Five Reasons To Upgrade Your ownCloud

    I know, upgrading can be a pain, it is work and all that. But so are problems in old versions of software you’re running and even more so is security. We’re working on a new upgrade process for 9.0.

  • libusb: Maintainer fail

    In 2010 I was asked by the second maintainer in a row to take over as new maintainer of the libusb project. The first time I had declined.

  • Events

    • Access Without Empowerment (LibrePlanet 2015 Keynote)

      At LibrePlanet 2015 (the FSF’s annual conference), I gave a talk called “Access Without Empowerment” as one of the conference keynote addresses. As I did for my 2013 LibrePlanet talk, I’ve edited together a version that includes the slides and I’ve posted it online in WebM and on YouTube.

  • Web Browsers

    • 32-bit vs 64-bit browsers: which version has the edge?

      The majority of web browsers are offered as 32-bit and 64-bit version nowadays, and it is up to the user to decide which version to run on the computer.

      This comparison guide analyzes the performance of select browsers to find out which version of it performs better.

    • Mozilla

      • W^X JIT-code enabled in Firefox

        Back in June, I added an option to SpiderMonkey to enable W^X protection of JIT code. The past weeks I’ve been working on fixing the remaining performance issues and yesterday I enabled W^X on the Nightly channel, on all platforms. What this means is that each page holding JIT code is either executable or writable, never both at the same time.

        [...]

        Last but not least, thanks to the OpenBSD and HardenedBSD teams for being brave enough to flip the W^X switch before we did!

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice finally making it to the cloud

      LibreOffice is the best free and open-source standalone office suite. But these days, people like their office suites on the cloud, not on their PCs. Just look at the success of Google Docs and Office 365 and you’ll see what I mean.

      Since 2011, LibreOffice has been trying to make a software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud version. Finally, in March 2015, Collabora was successful in creating a SaaS version of LibreOffice. That was the good news. The bad news? It wasn’t ready for primetime.

    • The way you write

      These two different approaches do not necessarily highlight the superiority of the word processor; after all one could imagine an html template instead of one in OpenDocument Format or proprietary one. What it shows, however, is that a word processor deals with documents in a visual way. A text editor sticks pretty much to the text itself. The rest can be dealt with in other ways, either externally or in a programmatic method (with LaTex for instance). My point here is to stress that the two kind of tools rely on broadly different approaches.

  • Education

    • DigiVita uses Blender to teach girls to code

      The field of computer graphics has continued to prove itself as fertile ground for getting kids interested in code and technology. It isn’t just about the extremely gratifying feeling of creating cool-looking visuals on a computer. Since so many digital content creation programs (especially open source ones like Blender) feature built-in scripting support, it’s a natural avenue for fostering curiosity in code and software development.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • The Developer Formerly Known as FreeBSDGirl

      I’m still sad I had to leave. That is a heartbreak that will probably never go away. I’ll miss the conferences and hanging out with so many incredibly talented people to discuss an operating system and open source project that I loved. This project helped me get to where I am today. I’m not advocating that minorities don’t join FreeBSD, but I hope those in charge of the project read this and understand that they’ve got to do better. I hope someone else helps them find their way.

    • randi vs xmj

      If a volunteer project has a volunteer who is honestly so dysfunctional that he doesn’t understand why he is offensive, the project does not need him. And the volunteer needs to get help until he’s capable of behaving in a civilized manner.

    • The Empathy Gap, and Why Women are Treated Badly in Open Source Communities

      Some years ago, I contributed $1000 to be one of the seed funders of the Ada Initiative, which worked to assist women in participating in Open Source projects. That worked out for several years, and the organization had sort of an ugly meltdown in their last year that is best forgotten. There was something really admirable about the Ada Initiative in its good days, which is that it stuck to one message, stuck to the positive in helping women enter and continue in communities in which they were under-represented, and wasn’t anti-male. That’s the way we should do it.

    • Women, Let This Email Plugin Teach You to Be Confident Like A Man

      Sorry, I’m no expert, but have you ever, like, just noticed that women inject many kind of undermining phrases in their day-to-day speech?

    • Initial FreeBSD Core Team comments on concerns about harassment in the FreeBSD community

      A brief comment on the Code of Conduct. The Project’s committer guide has long required that developers treat each other with respect. Community members will hopefully be aware of the more recent (and concrete) Code of Conduct (CoC). This document, already under development, was rushed into service (leading to less feedback sought than we would have liked) in July 2015 as a result of Randi’s report — and has since been updated several times following community (and legal) feedback. This CoC is critical to both documenting — and enforcing — community standards. It is, of necessity, a living document, and in October 2015 we appealed to the FreeBSD developer community for volunteers to assist with further improvements. We also solicited a number of independent reviewers from broader open-source, corporate, and academic communities to assist with updating it further (as well as auditing it for implicit bias). The FreeBSD developer community was this week (re-)invited to contact the Core Team about joining that committee, which had its most recent teleconference in the last week of December.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP & GEGL Made Much Progress In 2015

      Alexandre Prokoudine of GIMP has written an annual report on the project and its GEGL port.

      In 2015 much progress was made on GEGL, painting improvements were made, improved file format support happened, and much more. Lots of progress was made and can be found right now in the GIMP 2.9 test releases though it will culminate with the GIMP 2.10 stable release in the future.

    • GIMP and GEGL in 2015

      The GIMP project has released its annual year-end retrospective, looking back on development on the GIMP editor itself, project infrastructure, and closely related software projects like the Generic Graphics Library (GEGL). Highlights from the past twelve months include the conversion of more tools to using GEGL operations, support for a new perceptual color space, and improvements to image-blending modes. Several new features were added to support painting (including on-screen-canvas flipping and rotation), and work was put into the UI themes.

    • GIMP and GEGL in 2015

      We hope you are having great holidays. Here is our annual report about project activities in 2015.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Perl 6, EFF’s reading and watching lists, and more open source news

      In this fortnight’s edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the first official release of the Perl 6 language specification, a reading and watching list from the EFF, and more!

    • Best of Opensource.com: Interviews
    • Open Access/Content

      • Open Access Movement Demands More: 2015 in Review

        In October 2015, all six editors of the linguistics journal Lingua quit at once, along with its 31-member editorial board. The walkout brought mainstream attention to a debate that has been brewing for years over the future of academic publishing.

    • Open Hardware

      • The Hovalin: Open Source 3D Printed Violin Sounds Great

        Yes, there have been 3D-printed instruments before, but [The Hovas] have created something revolutionary – a 3D printed acoustic instrument that sounds surprisingly good. The Hovalin is a full size violin created to be printed on a desktop-sized 3D printer. The Hovas mention the Ultimaker 2, Makerbot Replicator 2 (or one of the many clones) as examples. The neck is one piece, while the body is printed in 3 sections. The Hovalin is also open source, released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.

  • Programming

    • PHP 7.0 packages released

      Packages of the new major version of PHP have been released into the stable repositories. Besides the new PHP 7 features there are the following packaging changes. In general the package configuration is now closer to what was intended by the PHP project. Also refer to the PHP 7 migration guide for upstream improvements.

    • PHP 7.0 Enters Arch Linux Stable Repository

      PHP 7 entered the stable repositories and these packages now use a package configuration closer to upstream PHP.net. Some of the nice changes to the Arch packages are no longer setting open_basedir by default and building the OpenSSL, Phar, and POSIX extensions by default. These Arch changes will also make it easier running the Phoronix Test Suite out-of-the-box on Arch.

    • Moving some of Python to GitHub?

      Over the years, Python’s source repositories have moved a number of times, from CVS on SourceForge to Subversion at Python.org and, eventually, to Mercurial (aka hg), still on Python Software Foundation (PSF) infrastructure. But the new Python.org site code lives at GitHub (thus in a Git repository) and it looks like more pieces of Python’s source may be moving in that direction. While some are concerned about moving away from a Python-based DVCS (i.e. Mercurial) into a closed-source web service, there is a strong pragmatic streak in the Python community that may be winning out. For good or ill, GitHub has won the popularity battle over any of the other alternatives, so new contributors are more likely to be familiar with that service, which makes it attractive for Python.

    • Python Is Moving From Mercurial To GitHub

      For those that didn’t hear, Python developers will be abandoning their Mercurial-based repository and development workflow in favor of using a Git repository via GitHub.

Leftovers

  • Arriva trains in Wales hit by strike

    Arriva trains across Wales will not run on Monday because of a strike by drivers over terms and conditions.

    Aslef union members at Arriva Trains Wales are walking out for 24 hours, with all of the company’s services expected to be cancelled.

    Arriva’s Gareth Thomas said the company was “extremely disappointed” that the “latest offer of improvements to terms, conditions and pay” had been rejected.

  • What’s Your State’s Favorite F**king Expletive?

    Cursing is an almost universal pleasure. Why else would so many people learn the curse and slang words in different languages before learning any other phrases? But as U.K. linguist Jack Grieve recently found out, in the U.S., the way you curse depends on where you live.

  • iOS 9 kludged our iPhones, now give us money, claims new lawsuit

    Lawyers in New York have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, saying that the iOS 9 operating system upgrade slowed their older iPhone 4S handsets into uselessness.

    “Plaintiff and other class members were faced with a difficult decision: use a buggy, slow device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy another smartphone,” reads the lawsuit spotted by Apple Insider.

  • Helmet reading challenge 2016

    Both the participants of the 2015 reading challenge and library staff have suggested new items and many of them made it also to the list. The aim has been to create a reading challenge that will broaden your worldview, inspire, and surprise. And just like last year it’s open for everyone to come and join in the fun!

  • Welcome to another year of transformation

    Unfortunately, such boundary-breaking experiments are in short supply, constantly constrained by the mantra that change is impossible because of (insert your favorite bogeyman): the world economy, footloose corporations, human nature, the weakening of governments, corruption in politics, the decline of the public, too much TV and far too much Rupert Murdoch. If we believe that only small changes are possible in our political and economic systems, then small change is all we’re going to see—another turn of the wheel with little or no forward movement.

  • Science

    • Arne Duncan: Testocracy Tsar. Educational Alchemist. Corporate Lackey.

      For example, in order for states to compete for grant money under Race to the Top, Duncan required them to increase the use of standardized testing in teacher evaluations. Duncan’s championing of the Common Core State Standards—and the tests that came shrink-wrapped with them—has ushered in developmentally inappropriate standards in the early grades that punish late bloomers, while further entrenching the idea that the intellectual and emotional process of teaching and learning can be reduced to a test score. For many, Duncan will be remembered as an educational alchemist who attempted to turn education into “testucation”—with the average student today subjected to an outlandish 112 standardized tests between preschool and high school graduation. The highest concentration of these tests are in schools serving low-income students and students of color.

    • Happy 1.5 Billion Unix Seconds

      On Jan. 1, 1970, Unix time was born. It didn’t actually exist on that day; the Unix operating system only kind of/sort of existed then anyhow. But when the first edition of the Unix manual was released in 1971, it was thus declared that the beginning of Unix time—the Unix epoch, correctly—hath began on New Year’s Day, 1970.

      Maybe you’ve heard of the Unix epoch. Simply, it’s the reference date that Unix-based computers use to tell time. It is just a count of the number of seconds that have elapsed since the beginning of the epoch. If you’re running a Unix or Unix-like machine, you can get this count in its raw form by entering “date +%s” at the command line/terminal. (“Date” by itself will just give you the boring old date-date.) As of this writing, we’re at 1,451,688,846 seconds.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Congress Did Not Legalize Medical Marijuana

      Contrary to what you may have heard, the federal ban has not been lifted.

    • Venezuela Passes Law Banning GMOs, by Popular Demand

      The National Assembly of Venezuela, in its final session before a neoliberal dominated opposition takes the helm of legislative power on January 5, passed one of the most progressive seed laws in the world on December 23, 2015; it was promptly signed into law by President Nicolas Maduro. On December 29, during his television show, “In Contact with Maduro, number 52,” Maduro said that the new seed law provides the conditions to produce food “under an agro-ecological model that respects the pacha mama (mother earth) and the right of our children to grow up healthy, eating healthy.” The law is a victory for the international movements for agroecology and food sovereignty because it bans transgenic (GMO) seed while protecting local seed from privatization. The law is also a product of direct participatory democracy –the people as legislator– in Venezuela, because it was hammered out through a deliberative partnership between members of the country’s National Assembly and a broad-based grassroots coalition of eco-socialist, peasant, and agroecological oriented organizations and institutions. This essay provides an overview of the phenomenon of people as legislator, a summary of the new Seed Law, and an appendix with an unofficial translation of some of the articles of the law.

    • The Shockingly High Number of Casualties of America’s Nuclear Weapons Program

      This point is borne out by a recently-published study by a team of investigative journalists at McClatchy News. Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases. Of these people, some 53,000 judged by government officials to have experienced excessive radiation on the job received $12 billion in compensation under the federal government’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. And 33,480 of these workers have died.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Outside the box: a Sunni endgame in Syria, Iraq?

      In October, a group of 53 Saudi imams unaffiliated with the government called for a jihad against the Russian, Iranian and Syrian governments. The group went even further than official condemnation and likened the Russian intervention to the 1980 war in Afghanistan—which led to the birth of Al Qaeda, in case anyone has forgotten. It is significant that the Saudi government allowed or was not able to stop the communication; the former would indicate approval of the intensified message while the latter would imply weakness and the desire of the Saudis to avoid internal dissension from the more radical clergy.

    • Man charged with setting Houston mosque fire says he was a devout attendee

      A Houston man has been arrested in connection with a suspected arson at a mosque on Christmas Day, but the motive for the crime remains a mystery, with the suspect maintaining he was a regular at the mosque.

    • Refugee Crisis Leaves the Deepest, and Cruelest, Mark on 2015

      A few things happened in 2015 that changed lives for the better. But not many in a year that ended with mass murder and the mean, sneering Donald Trump a top contender for the presidency.

      There wasn’t even much pleasure from watching pharmaceutical villain Martin Shkreli, in hoodie and facial stubble, perp-walked out of his Manhattan apartment to face security fraud charges. The pleasure was mean-spirited, hardly worthy of an essay on the year that was. And his worse transgression—making vital medicines virtually unaffordable—goes unpunished.

    • 74 Killed in Iraq; ISIS Attacks Ramadi Army Base

      At least six suicide bombers were killed during an attack on an army base near Ramadi. The army was forced to pull out due to an undisclosed number of casualties. With the help of airstrikes, the army was able to retake the desert base later.

    • Back to the 1930s: Hitler, Da’esh and the West

      Whilst Da’esh are constantly being compared to the Nazis, the real parallel – the West’s willingness to build up fascism in order to cripple Russia – is often forgotten.

    • Syria ­- A Light to the World

      Many Syrians are traumatized and in shock and ask ‘how did this happen to our country’? Proxy wars are something they thought only happened in other countries, but now Syria too has been turned into a war-ground in the geo-political landscape controlled by the western global elite and their allies in the Middle East.

    • Taliban Rising

      The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where they recently mounted a major military operation in Helmand province in the south and where throughout the rest of the country they are increasingly active, is emphatic evidence that NATO’s prolonged military mission there has been a dismal failure. This failure is not however a measure of the failure to impose a liberal democracy in the country but in the lives destroyed in the attempt.

    • Slouching Toward Global Disaster

      In such circumstances, it is difficult to find much hope in the current cosmodrama of world politics.

    • Hard roads across Iraq, Syria and beyond: Freedom and safety are scarce five years after the Arab Spring

      I was planning to visit Baghdad last summer and stay with my friend Ammar al-Shahbander, who ran the local office of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I had stayed with him for 10 days in June 2014, just after Isis forces had captured Mosul and Tikrit and were advancing with alarming speed on the capital.

      Ammar was a good man to be with in a moment of crisis because he had strong nerves, an ebullient personality and was highly informed about all that was happening in Iraq. He was sceptical but not cynical, though refreshingly derisive as the Iraqi government claimed mythical victories as Isis fighters approached ever closer to the capital. He did not believe that they could successfully storm Baghdad, but that did not mean they would not try – and one morning I found him handing over a Kalashnikov to somebody to have its sights readjusted.

    • Value of gun manufacturers’ stocks almost doubled in 2015

      Stock markets around the world closed down on the last trading day of 2015, with the Dow suffering its first annual drop since 2008. But for the two largest stock market-listed gun manufacturers 2015 has been another great year – their value has doubled.

      In a year marred with gun violence and peppered with calls for tougher gun control measures, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger and Company have been two of the best performing stocks in the US.

    • Fox’s Ingraham Denies Reality Of Gun Show Loophole And Public Support For Gun Background Checks
    • We Are Still Alive (Non-Terrorism Edition)

      Hard as it is to persuade a constantly re-frightened American public, there have been only 38 Americans killed inside the Homeland by so-called Islamic terrorism since 9/11.

      [...]

      We are not terrorists. No one was hurt. No bombs went off. Almost all of our homegrown lone wolves are all Google and no game. It was all panic, designed to keep us in a state of fear. Fearful people are easy to manipulate.

      Stop being afraid.

    • The Year in Gun Massacres

      Most of the 2015 mass shooters were clearly unbalanced, violent and some had police records or issued threats. Anyone could see the murders coming. Yet the gunmen had sailed through their background checks and were the “law-abiding” gun owners whose “rights” the gun lobby defends.

    • The Year in Drones: 2015

      Israel is the world’s number one exporter of drones, followed by the US, then China.

    • Gallup: Ukrainians Loathe the Kiev Government Imposed by Obama

      Gallup reports, “fewer Ukrainians now say their leadership is taking them in the right direction than before the revolution,” but that statement calling this coup a ‘revolution’ embodies the propaganda-lie of one of Gallup’s main clients, the U.S. government itself, which calls the U.S. coup in Ukraine in February 2014 a “revolution,” when every honest and knowledgeable person now knows that this U.S. government claim — that it had helped install democracy instead of having ended it in Ukraine on 20 February 2014 — to have been a lie. Even the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor has called the overthrow of Yanukovych “the most blatant coup in history.” It had been that because it was the first coup to be videoed by numerous people from many different angles with their cellphones and by TV cameras, uploaded to the Web by even anti-Yanukovych countries such as the UK’s BBC; and those videos, the best compilation of which is here, make clear that this was, indeed, a coup d’etat, no authentic revolution at all, such as the U.S. government claims.

    • The War Against the Cowboys

      The Oregon stand off and US imperialism

    • CNN Analyst: White Militiamen Aren’t a Threat Like Black Protesters Because ‘They’re Not Looting Anything’
    • On #OregonUnderAttack and #YallQaeda: Stop Calling Everyone a Terrorist
    • The Great Oregon Standoff Enters Its First Day
    • Armed Militia Occupies National Wildlife Refuge
    • As The Bundy Brothers Occupy Federal Building, Here Are The GOP Candidates Who Supported Their Dad
    • What You Need To Know About The Current Militia Standoff In Oregon
    • Chuck Todd Doesn’t Ask Rand Paul About Militia Takeover Involving Sons Of Ally Cliven Bundy
    • Media Coverage of Oregon Militia Standoff Raises Eyebrows — and Ire

      After members of a rightwing militia—many armed with assault rifles—seized the headquarters of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon on Saturday afternoon, observers questioned the corporate media’s treatment of the event, pointing to a double standard in coverage compared to other recent protests.

    • Armed Protesters in Oregon Occupy Remote Federal Outpost at Wildlife Refuge After Marching Against Sentence of Father and Son Ranchers

      Yesterday afternoon, as many as 300 demonstrators gathered in Burns, Oregon, to protest a federal appeals court’s decision to extend the length of a sentence handed down by a district chief judge in the arson case of ranchers father and son Dwight and Steven Hammond.

      The two started a series of range fires on their private property which eventually spread onto federal land. The federal government prosecuted them in 2012 on an array of charges, from conspiracy to attempting to damage property through fire. They were found guilty on only two arson counts, which covered activities (setting fires) the Hammonds admitted to. As part of their plea deal, they agreed not to appeal their sentences. 73-year-old Dwight Hammond was sentenced to three years in prison and his 46-year-old son Steven to 11 months, below the mandatory minimum of five years, which the judge, Michael Hogan, called “grossly disproportionate” and said would “shock his conscience.”

    • Large Group Of Armed Militia Members Take Over Federal Building

      A large group of armed militia members have broken into and occupied a federal building in Oregon. The group reportedly includes three sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had a tense standoff with federal officials in 2014.

    • Armed Militia Seized A Federal Building. The Media Called Them ‘Peaceful.’

      After an armed militia seized a federal building in Oregon — and proclaimed they’re willing to kill and be killed if necessary — the initial headlines about the incident suggested they’re simply peaceful protesters exercising their right to assemble.

      This weekend, radical militia members descended on an Oregon town to protest the conviction of two local ranchers facing multiple years in prison for setting fire to federal land. The right-wing protesters say that the federal government shouldn’t have so much jurisdiction over land use.

      In order to provoke a standoff with federal officials over this point, at least a dozen “heavily armed men” broke into the empty headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon on Saturday evening and refused to leave. Ammon Bundy, a spokesman for the group, told reporters that the militia “would not rule out violence” if officials attempt to remove them from the refuge building.

    • US warns Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent cleric risks inflaming sectarian tensions

      Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr risks worsening sectarian tensions, the US has warned, joining a chorus of critics from the west and the Middle East who have condemned the killing.

      As protesters in Tehran reacted with fury by setting fire to the Saudi embassy, US state department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the US was “particularly concerned” that al-Nimr’s execution risked “exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced.”

    • Unidentified Bodies Found; 88 Killed in Iraq
    • Top Investigator Says British Soldiers May Face Prosecution for Iraq Crimes

      “The ICC is looking at more than 1,200 cases of alleged ill-treatment and unlawful killing,” the paper reported, “including almost 50 Iraqis who reportedly died in British custody.”

      Meanwhile, the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War—which itself has been blasted as a “whitewash”—began in 2009 but has yet to issue its findings.

    • British soldiers could face prosecution for crimes committed during Iraq conflict, investigators confirm

      Exclusive: The unit established to test allegations of torture and unlawful killings has been overwhelmed with cases

    • Turkey’s President Erdogan cites ‘Hitler’s Germany’ as example of an effective form of government

      Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended his push for a presidential system of government by citing “Hitler’s Germany” as an historic example.

      The President has pushed ahead with efforts to increase the stature of his own position, despite fears it would split the country’s seat of power in two.

    • A-Z of Drones 2015 – Part Three

      The normalisation of drone targeted killing took a step forward in 2015 as the UK wholeheartedly embraced the tactic. Parliamentarians, US Senators, the United Nations and civil society groups continue to struggle to, at the very least, limit such activity and gain some oversight of the process. Transparency, however, is in short supply and government contempt for proper public oversight, never mind curbing the practice, is obvious. Meanwhile BAE Systems’ Taranis combat drone continued its test programme with a third (and reportedly final) set of flight tests in November. The drone, or a derivative of it, is likely to be a contender for the UK’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS) likely to see some funding decision in 2016.

    • The GOP Plan to Bring Back a Unipolar World

      Republicans seem to think that by banging the drum for increased defense spending, they can restore America’s greatness. They’re wrong.

    • Hearing the Russian Perspective

      The neocons and liberal hawks who dominate the U.S. foreign policy and media establishment are pushing the world toward a nuclear showdown with Russia as few people hear a comprehensive response from the other side, an imbalance that a new Russian documentary addresses

    • Al-Qaeda or ISIS? Al-Shabab’s loyalty dilemma

      In the decades following the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s, al-Qaeda represented the primary face of the global jihadi movement. Daniel Bynum, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution, argues that Osama Bin Laden sought to capitalise on the network of fighters they had built in Afghanistan to “create a vanguard of elite fighters who could lead the global jihad project and bring together the hundreds of small jihadist groups struggling, often feebly, against their own regimes under a single umbrella.” By the mid-1990s the orientation of this network shifted from local regimes to what they perceived to be their source of sustenance: the United States and the west. Over the next decade, al-Qaeda employed a franchising strategy, which was most attractive to smaller groups on the brink of failure who required much needed financial assistance, a steady stream of recruits, training and logistical support. In return, franchises provide a potential local haven for al-Qaeda members and enable them to remain relevant. This franchise model continues to be attractive for al-Shabab despite the rise of ISIS.

    • How False Stories of Iran Arming the Houthis Were Used to Justify War in Yemen

      The allegation of Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis – an allegation that has often been mentioned in press coverage of the conflict but never proven – was reinforced by a report released last June by a panel of experts created by the UN Security Council: The report concluded that Iran had been shipping arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen by sea since at least 2009. But an investigation of the two main allegations of such arms shipments made by the Yemeni government and cited by the expert panel shows that they were both crudely constructed ruses.

    • The American Empire: Murder Inc.

      Terror, intimidation and violence are the glue that holds empire together. Aerial bombardment, drone and missile attacks, artillery and mortar strikes, targeted assassinations, massacres, the detention of tens of thousands, death squad killings, torture, wholesale surveillance, extraordinary renditions, curfews, propaganda, a loss of civil liberties and pliant political puppets are the grist of our wars and proxy wars.

      Countries we seek to dominate, from Indonesia and Guatemala to Iraq and Afghanistan, are intimately familiar with these brutal mechanisms of control. But the reality of empire rarely reaches the American public. The few atrocities that come to light are dismissed as isolated aberrations. The public is assured what has been uncovered will be investigated and will not take place again. The goals of empire, we are told by a subservient media and our ruling elites, are virtuous and noble. And the vast killing machine grinds forward, feeding, as it has always done, the swollen bank accounts of defense contractors and corporations that exploit natural resources and cheap labor around the globe.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • LETTER: No democracy as council bans public and media

      Perhaps Arun should consider acting more like a democracy and less like a totalitarian regime?

    • EFF Fights for the Public’s Right to Know: 2015 in Review

      2015 was a busy year for transparency at EFF. We are currently litigating 10 different public records cases—the highest number of transparency cases EFF has had pending at one time in our 25 year history. The majority of the cases are in federal courts (in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), although we have two cases pending in California state courts.

      Here’s a brief, year-end rundown of each case, including what we’re after, who we sued, and the status of the case.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China clamps down on coal

      China says it will not approve any new coal mines for the next three years. The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) says more than 1,000 existing mines will also be closed over the coming year, reducing total coal production by 70 million tons.

    • Court website hacked in protest over dismissed haze lawsuit

      The website of a district court in a South Sumatran city has been hacked as a protest against a ruling it made last week rejecting a government lawsuit against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, which was accused of failing to prevent fires that blanketed South-east Asia in toxic haze.

      The hacker or hackers wrote on the website of the Palembang District Court of the disappointment with the panel of judges, led by presiding judge Parlas Nababan.

      The words were written in white against a black background on the website.

    • Palembang District Court finds no damages after forest fires

      Delivering the decision on Wednesday, the court said that the evidence collected in the case against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH, failed prove its alleged criminality in the burning of 20,000 hectares of its concession in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra, in 2014.

    • Red Lake Nation Agrees to $18.5 Million Settlement with Enbridge
    • Even Tumbling Fossil Fuel Prices Can’t Deter Clean Energy Revolution

      One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the sharp decline of oil prices, which fell this year to levels not seen in more than a decade.

      “After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30 percent in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

    • Double dilemma for Paris climate deal

      The UN’s achievement last month in persuading world leaders to agree on measures to tackle climate change leaves two prominent climate scientists far from convinced.

    • I Was Wrong: Big Banks Actually Were Exactly Like Counterfeiters

      In a recent post about the new movie The Big Short, I argued that it’s not actually necessary to decipher the abstruse jargon of the 2008 financial crisis — i.e., credit default swaps, mezzanine tranches, synthetic collateralized debt obligations, etc. — in order to understand what happened. What the big banks did during the housing bubble of the mid-2000s was in essence straightforward counterfeiting. The difference between what they did and regular counterfeiting was simply the kind of fake paper; regular counterfeiters print fake, valueless cash, while the banks were printing fake, valueless bonds.

    • During Paris Climate Summit, Obama Signed Exxon-, Koch-Backed Bill Expediting Pipeline Permits

      Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.

  • Finance

    • At Stake in 2016: Ending the Vicious Cycle of Wealth and Power

      Billionaires like Donald Trump can use bankruptcy to escape debts but average people can’t get relief from burdensome mortgage or student debt payments.

    • 2016: The Year of the Billionaire
    • The Great Malaise Continues

      At the same time, the US suffers from a milder form of the fiscal austerity prevailing in Europe. Indeed, some 500,000 fewer people are employed by the public sector in the US than before the crisis. With normal expansion in government employment since 2008, there would have been two million more.

    • Sanders: Billionaires won’t ‘rule this nation’

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is making a New Year’s resolution not to let the billionaire class take control of the nation — starting with Donald Trump.

      “I say to Mr. Trump and his supporters that the billionaires in this country will not continue to rule this nation,” Sanders said at an Amherst, Mass., rally on Saturday, according to the Washington Examiner.

      The Democratic presidential hopeful said his fourth-quarter fundraising haul of $33 million, announced Saturday, is a sign that a political revolution is underway.

      “What is revolutionary about all of that is we are showing you that you can run a national campaign … without being dependent on big money,” he said.

    • The shocking, unacceptable levels of hunger and homelessness in American cities

      The U.S. Conference of Mayors today released its 2015 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, which gathered information on 22 cities around the country between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. The cities reported on are led by mayors who serve on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.

    • Privilege, Pathology and Power

      Modern America is a society in which a growing share of income and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people, and these people have huge political influence — in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, around half the contributions came from fewer than 200 wealthy families. The usual concern about this march toward oligarchy is that the interests and policy preferences of the very rich are quite different from those of the population at large, and that is surely the biggest problem.

      But it’s also true that those empowered by money-driven politics include a disproportionate number of spoiled egomaniacs. Which brings me to the current election cycle.

    • Chris Christie Refuses To Help Unemployed New Jersey Residents Hold Onto Food Stamps

      About 11,000 New Jersey residents are set to lose their food stamps after Gov. Chris Christie (R)’s administration said it won’t seek any waivers from the program’s work requirements.

      Since 2009, state governors have been encouraged to get waivers from the federal government for the requirement that able-bodied, childless adults work at least 20 hours a week to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, thanks to a weak economy where jobs have been scarce. Those waivers are now being rescinded in states with unemployment levels below 10 percent.

    • The Final Days of the Bitcoin Foundation?

      With support dwindling, funds almost depleted, and ex-board members under criminal investigation, bitcoin’s pioneering advocacy group is a symbol for the digital currency’s growing pains.

    • Should the Fed Issue Its Own Bitcoin?

      Economic exchange depends critically on secure and trustworthy payment systems. Because payment systems are fundamentally about recording and communicating information, it should come as no surprise that payment systems have evolved in tandem with advancements in electronic data storage and communications.

      One exciting development of late is Bitcoin–an algorithmic-based, communally-operated money and payment system. I thought I’d take some time to gather my thoughts on Bitcoin and to ponder how central banks might respond to this innovation.

    • Kshama Sawant: For Many Millennials, the Dirty Word Is ‘Capitalism,’ Not ‘Socialism’
    • Of course ‘socialism’ was most-searched term of 2015: its ideas fit our times

      There is a decisive mood of resistance in America – a backlash to the status quo. The Bernie Sanders campaign for president is capturing that mood, and it is no surprise that ‘socialism’ was the most looked-up word in 2015.

      [...]

      There is deep anger against gaping income inequality and systemic racism. People are hungry for political alternatives that will serve their interests for a change instead of the insatiable greed of Wall Street.

    • Israel Exported $400,000 of Gold to North Korea Despite UN Sanctions

      So what do you call it when America’s bestest friend violates UN sanctions the U.S. pushed for by helping enrich America’s bestest enemy? And all the while the U.S. remains dead silent over the whole thing?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Sheldon Adelson’s Purchase of Las Vegas Paper Seen as a Power Play

      Sheldon Adelson’s Purchase of Las Vegas Paper Seen as a Power Play – The New York TimesTwo days after Sheldon Adelson’s lawyers lost in their attempts to have a judge removed from a contentious lawsuit that threatens his gambling empire, a call went out to the publisher of this city’s most prominent newspaper.

      Almost immediately, journalists were summoned to a meeting and told they must monitor the courtroom actions of the judge and two others in the city. When the journalists protested, they were told there was no choice in the matter.

      It is unclear whether Mr. Adelson, who was then in talks to buy the newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, or his associates were behind the directive or even knew about it. But it was an ominous coincidence for many in the city who worry what will become of the paper now that it is owned by Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate and prominent Republican donor with a history of aggressively pursuing his interests.

    • Ringing in New Year, Sanders Urges Iowans to Make ‘Political Revolution’ Happen

      The Sanders campaign also released a statement on Thursday at the end of a three-day swing through the state trumpeting the over 34,000 people that have come to Sanders-sponsored campaign events since his White house bid began in April.

      “I am very pleased that the turnouts at our meetings have been large and seem to be getting larger every day,” Sanders said in a media statement.

      “We sense real growing momentum here in Iowa and we think we have a great opportunity to win,” he added.

    • Why Isn’t the Media Feeling the Bern?

      Polls show that Bernie Sanders would trounce Donald Trump, but you’d never know that from watching TV news.

    • Identity Berned

      These books don’t make me like Bernie Sanders any more or less, or for that matter take seriously any more or less the idea that a likable personality is particularly relevant. But they do inform me about Sanders and about his supporters. Bunch’s is the most substantive, best researched, and most coherent book of the bunch so far.

      [...]

      Yes, I agree that Bernie’s injecting of a little bit of sense into corporate television is important and very hard to measure. Yes, I have no doubt that there’s a bit more integrity and relevance in Bernie’s background than there was in the legend of the African-American community-organizing author come to save us while shrewdly pretending not to. But Bernie holding the biggest political rallies in some big cities since Eugene McCarthy may not be an unmixed blessing.

    • News Media Infatuated With Donald Trump, Part 4,387

      Would the Post do this for any other candidate doing something as routine as airing an ad? Has it really been long-awaited? Or hotly anticipated? And shouldn’t that last line say “cable news and print media offered ‘exclusive’ looks”?

      I know it’s tedious to complain about the mainstream media going gaga over everything Donald Trump says, but WTF? It’s an ad. There’s nothing special about it. It’s just a narrator saying the same stuff Trump has been saying forever. It’s not raising the temperature of anything. So why not just write a short blog post about it and move on?

    • Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed”

      No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed. At presidential news conferences, especially in his first year, Ronald Reagan embarrassed himself. On one occasion, asked why he advocated putting missiles in vulnerable places, he responded, his face registering bewilderment, “I don’t know but what maybe you haven’t gotten into the area that I’m going to turn over to the secretary of defense.” Frequently, he knew nothing about events that had been headlined in the morning newspaper. In 1984, when asked a question he should have fielded easily, Reagan looked befuddled, and his wife had to step in to rescue him. “Doing everything we can,” she whispered. “Doing everything we can,” the president echoed. To be sure, his detractors sometimes exaggerated his ignorance. The publication of his radio addresses of the 1950s revealed a considerable command of facts, though in a narrow range. But nothing suggested profundity. “You could walk through Ronald Reagan’s deepest thoughts,” a California legislator said, “and not get your ankles wet.”

    • The Obama Report Card: The Good, the Bad and the Incomplete
    • Carly Fiorina Wins 2016 Pandering Championship After Only 11 Hours

      What really puts this over the top is the fact that it’s so chuckleheaded. No real Iowa fan would have anything but contempt for a Stanford grad who abandoned her school just for a chance to become president of the United States.

    • CNN Commentator Blames Hillary Clinton For Terrorist Recruitment Video Featuring Donald Trump
    • Dear Republican Party, Here’s Why You’re Stuck With Donald Trump

      The conservative establishment will never figure out Trump unless they start talking honestly about their base and race.

    • Donald Trump Featured In New Terrorist Recruitment Video

      Presidential candidate Donald Trump is featured in a new recruitment video from the terrorist group Al-Shabab, according to numerous experts.

    • NSA spying on Israel: This is how you treat your enemies
    • Why Tell the Israeli Spying Story Now?

      This may, in part, be an effort to get those implicated in the intercepts to exercise some more caution. But it also seems to be a victory dance, just as Russia ships away Iran’s uranium stockpiles.

    • What It’s Like To Ring In The New Year With Fox News

      If you are less ambitious, there is TV. Last night offered a bevy of options. Ryan Seacrest and anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy hosted the festivities on ABC, with performances by Demi Lovato, Wiz Khalifa and One Direction. On CNN, Anderson Cooper rang in the New Year with Kathy Griffin, who apparently took her shirt off. NBC’s programming started at 8PM with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, before Carson Daly took over the reins at 10PM.

    • Opportunistic Islamophobia

      If, as he and other true believers think, George W. Bush really does have to meet his Maker someday, and if He (sic) really is just and good, and if the point of the meeting is to decide whether George will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell, then that man should be thanking the alleged divinity every moment of his waking life for making ignorance bliss.

  • Censorship

    • Sin in the time of Technology

      Technology companies now hold an unprecedented ability to shape the world around us by limiting our ability to access certain content and by crafting proprietary algorithm that bring us our daily streams of content.

    • Gareth Philippou: Censorship of expression is still with us

      Gareth Philippou from Mapperley Park says censorship of expression is still an issue for artists.

    • ‘The Dress’ Is Back, But This Time It’s A Debate About Censorship on Russian TV

      “The Dress” is back. Whether you call it Dressgate, #thedress, or something else—the viral photo meme has returned. Only this time, it’s not a dress. It’s also not a question of color perception, but a matter of seeing (or not seeing) a halo in a movie still. The film in question is The Diamond Arm, the 1969 Soviet comedy classic that has aired countless times on Russian television.

    • Governments Taking Techies Offline: 2015 in Review

      The real test of whether you have rights is not what the law says: it’s what happens when you try to exercise them. For too many bloggers and technologist around the world, the price of using the Net in innovative, legitimate ways, has been jail. Some of the cases of imprisonment around the world that we’ve tracked the most closely were freed in 2015, but others continue to languish in need of our support.

    • What to Expect From Russia’s State Censor in 2016

      Alexander Zharov isn’t often credited with being one of Russia’s most powerful state officials, and yet he is the head of Roskomnadzor, the government agency tasked with regulating and censoring the media (including the Internet). In the past, Zharov’s own deputy, Maxim Ksenzov, has outshined him publicly, making headlines for various controversial claims and threats, such as a remark in May 2014, when Ksenzov said regulators could block Twitter or Facebook “in a matter of minutes.”

    • ‘We, the general public, have become our own censors’

      As a nation, we celebrate the freedom that comes from being able to celebrate diversity, freedom of expression, human rights and personal liberties. After all, such beliefs lie at the cornerstone of our democracy.

      It is not surprising, therefore, that the idea of censorship, filters, random searches and restrictions of movement, can make us nervous and fearful that rights are being diluted or undermined.

      Social libertarians are quick to speak out if they feel our freedom is under threat (and they are right to do so), but the reality is that a more insidious, more pervasive censorship is happening every day and we are not only complicit in it, but responsible for it.

    • Novel about Jewish-Palestinian love affair is barred from Israeli curriculum

      A novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man has been barred from Israel’s high school curriculum, reportedly over concerns that it could encourage intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.

      The rejection of Dorit Rabinyan’s novel Borderlife, which was published in 2014, created an uproar in Israel, with critics accusing the government of censorship.

    • Novel About Jewish-Palestinian Love Affair is Barred From Israeli Curriculum
    • Israel bans novel on Arab-Jewish romance from schools for ‘threatening Jewish identity’
    • Israel blocks book on love affair between Jew, Arab from schools
    • Education Ministry under fire for excluding novel about Jewish-Arab love story
    • Israel’s Ethical Terrorism and Special Brand of Morality

      “The banality of evil does not exist,’” wrote Jewish writer and Auschwitz survivor Jean Améry, “and Hannah Arendt, who writes about that in her book ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem,’ knew this enemy of mankind from rumors alone and only viewed him through a glass booth.”

      Like Arendt, who only saw Eichmann while he was in custody in Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded once again this week like someone viewing the Israeli reality through a glass booth.

    • China’s Top 5 Censored Posts in 2015

      Chinese President Xi Jinping rounded off 2015 by posting his first message on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, in the form of a new year’s greeting to the People’s Liberation Army. His post received 52,000 comments, mostly fawning messages of support featuring thumbs-up and smiling emoticons. This short message symbolizes the official taming of Weibo, whose early promise as a freewheeling platform for criticism and debate has been choked off by censorship, intimidation, a raft of new legislation, and a virtual army of commentators, known as the “fifty-cent party,” paid to influence online opinion.

    • The Guardian view on the foreign press in China: expelling the messenger

      It is not a new charge that authoritarianism has grown in China since president Xi Jinping came to power in 2013. Mr Xi’s strongman style has sometimes been compared to that of Mao Zedong. Under him, China has not only reasserted itself on the international stage, it has cracked down on all forms of domestic dissent. Now, Mr Xi’s government is turning the screws on the international media.

      The expulsion of the French journalist, Ursula Gauthier, the longtime Beijing correspondent for the weekly L’Obs (formerly Le Nouvel Observateur) who flew out of China on Friday after her press visa was not renewed, is an intimidatory tactic aimed at discouraging all independent, critical coverage by foreign media organisations. It comes as China’s internal tensions are on the rise, many linked to social, environmental and ethnic issues. And it sends a message that foreign journalists should think twice before contradicting the official Chinese line.

    • [India] Attacks, threats to journalists galore in 2015: Report

      The report said there were 81 cases of defamation, 26 cases of sedition and eight cases of surveillance against journalists and people belonging to the creative community.

    • New Arabic short story prize meets with cautious welcome

      Censorship further undercuts a state-sponsored prize’s role in cultural promotion. In Qatar, the ongoing imprisonment of poet Mohammed al-Ajami is particularly troubling. Al-Ajami’s 15-year prison term was the reason celebrated translator Humphrey Davies gave for withdrawing from a conference that accompanied the launch of Qatar’s giant new translation award.

    • A New Year resolution: let’s be less angry online

      In 2015, if you expressed your opinion online, you ran the risk of being waterboarded under a faucet of verbal slurry. If I could suggest one resolution for the coming year, it would be to be less angry: 2016 could be the year in which we start channelling that wasted energy. If there was a way to repurpose the effort thrown away on internet anger, Cecil the lion’s death might have landed men and women on Mars.

    • Newspapers: an intellectual legacy of the Ottoman Empire

      However, following the censorship law approved by the Party of Union and Progress (CUP), opposition voices emerged everywhere as the regime of Sultan Abdülhamid was missed. For the first time, differences in political opinion were reflected in newspapers. Hasan Fehmi and Ertuğrul Şakir, two authors for “Serbesti” (Liberty) newspaper, a prominent opposition publication, were shot on Galata Bridge by a pro-CUP group. Fehmi was killed and his funeral attracted thousands who turned out in a show of strength against the CUP. Journalist Ali Kemal, who was later known for his stance against the government in Ankara, encouraged many students at the Faculty of Political Science by saying: “These bullets were fired against freedom of thought.” Thousands marched to Bab-ı Ali (the Sublime Porte) to find the murderers. Also attracting public attention, the crowd did not find what they want at Bab-ı Ali or the Turkish Assembly, and instead, the soldiers fired into the crowd.

    • “I stand for absolutely no censorship”: Rakeysh Mehra, censor board revamp committee
    • Certification much better than censorship
    • ‘Censorship in India is Based on the Paternalistic Idea that Citizens are Not Mature’
    • Safe spaces, the void between, and the absence of trust
    • In Israel, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ an enduring taboo

      The controversy over the upcoming re-publication of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany is having particular resonance in Israel, where memories of the Holocaust run deep and the book remains taboo.

      Hitler’s anti-Semitic rant, which he wrote from prison in the early 1920s, loses its copyright in Germany on Friday, and the country’s first release of it since 1945 is due out soon in the form of an extensively annotated version.

    • In Russia, political engagement is blossoming online

      In late November, the number of websites being blocked in Russia reached 1 million, according to Roskomsvoboda, the country’s independent Internet censorship watchdog. This did not surprise the Russian online community, which is used to bad news. The Kremlin’s offensive against Internet freedom has intensified dramatically over the past three years, including the creation of website blacklists, the updating of an advanced national system of online surveillance and increased pressure on international Internet companies to share data with Russian security services.

    • Plenty left to discover in Indonesia – Mary Farrow

      The controversy of censorship over not only the 1965 genocide events but also the Bali mangrove landfill discussion only increased the public’s collective interest as reflected by the abundant attendance and the crescendo from social media.

    • Why would the whole world’s book industry gather in booze-free Sharjah?

      Because it originated in a book bazaar, the fair is also open to the general public. Schoolchildren are seen scampering down the aisles with plastic bags full of books. Through the vast halls wander local TV crews, various dancing mascots (on stilts; draped with coloured cloth; waddling and waving in giant fuzzy-felt costumes) representing who knows what, and a very Emirati mix of ladies in chic modern dress and grave, goateed men in kanduras with iPhone 6s clamped to their ears.

    • Ethiopia Censors Satellite TV Channels as Student Protests Draw Global Media Attention

      The Ethiopian government is reportedly undertaking a massive clampdown on dissenting citizen voices in relation with the ongoing Oromo student protests in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest administrative region.

      The regional political party known as the Oromo Federalist Congress reports that upwards of 80 people have been killed over the past four weeks by government forces. The government has yet to release its own updated numbers, but said on December 15 that five people had died.

      Alongside increasing tensions around protests, security forces have arrested two opposition politicians, two journalists, and summoned five bloggers — all members of the Zone9 collective, who were acquitted of baseless terrorism charges just two months ago — to appear in court on December 30.

    • Activists Deface Statues that Jackie Chan Gifted to Taiwan

      Two statues donated by Hong Kong-born actor Jackie Chan to a museum in Taiwan were vandalized with anti-China slogans on Wednesday night, reflecting the growing chasm between the two countries, the Guardian reports.

      Chan, famous for his starring roles in Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon , is close to China’s Communist party and has been criticized for defending government censorship while calling Taiwanese democracy “the biggest joke in the world.” His gifts to the National Palace Museum’s branch in the southern city of Chiayi are replicas of Imperial Chinese relics, one representing a bronze dragon and the other a horse head. The originals for both were made under the Qing Dynasty, the state that preceded both Taiwan and China’s current governments.

    • Singapore’s shifting social landscape

      The second challenge is the growing stridency of conservative Christians over public morality issues such as homosexuality and censorship. In the past two years alone conservative Christians have lobbied for the removal of children’s books that dwelt on alternative families from public libraries, protested LGBT events like the Pink Dot and petitioned against the hosting of openly gay international artists. The government prefers not to intervene in matters pertaining to morality, so such protests are likely to grow shriller.

    • Editorial: Free expression is solution to problems, not the cause

      The impulse to censor has roots in legitimate complaints and fears. The protests by students about racism’s lingering toll and their elders’ failure to address it ring important and true. And the way terrorists have used the Web to recruit or inspire would-be jihadists to slaughter innocent people from Syria to San Bernardino provides legitimate cause for alarm.

    • Russia Is Banning Country’s 15 Most Popular Torrent Websites

      The Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has decided to ban the country’s 15 most popular torrent from early 2016. This extreme step is being seen as a way to tackle the widespread piracy problem and ban these websites that aid the pirates.

    • Calls For Censorship Are Making a Comeback

      Oxford Dictionaries defines “censorship” as “the suppression or prohibition of any books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.” As I’ve noted recently here at Reason, calls for censorship, based on the supposed existential threat to the US’ national security posed by ISIS, are on the rise.

    • Charlie Hebdo editor: Censorship must not win
    • Charlie Hebdo, The Licensed Anarchist Clowns Of French Society

      SIMON: You say when you first read Charlie Hebdo in the 1970s it just wasn’t to your taste.

      GOPNIK: No. I was a kid and it was kind of scabrous, and it wasn’t the sacrilege that bothered me so much as the obscenity that challenged a 14-year-old American. But over the years, I came to have a keen appreciation of Charlie Hebdo and what it did. That was partly, Scott, because I became a pedant of the form. I did my graduate work in art history and particularly in the history of French satirical cartooning. And that made me aware of what a rich and resilient tradition this seemingly scabrous sacrilegious magazine still represented in French life.

    • Censors say S’pore film’s dialogue a ‘security threat’

      A Singapore film director withdrew her film from a festival to celebrate Malaysian-Singaporean ties this month, after the Film Censorship Board insisted that a scene be amended for being a “security threat”.

      Tan Pin Pin, director of ‘Singapore GaGa’, said the censorship board wanted a scene where a character says “animals” in Bahasa Malaysia, to be removed from the film.

    • Singapore GaGa – Another Tan Pin Pin movie cannot clear censor hurdle
    • ‘Animals’ a security threat, say Malaysian censors over Singaporean film
    • ‘Animals’ a security threat, say Malaysian censors over Singaporean film
    • ‘Animals’ a safety menace, say Malaysian censors over Singaporean movie
    • Singapore GaGa pulled from Malaysia event after film censored
    • How my run-in with Chinese censorship shows the country as more than a global Big Brother

      The People’s Republic’s burgeoning power is not all bad. Its potential for good was demonstrated at the recent climate conference in Paris, where its about-turn made the difference between success and failure. Faced with ecological Armageddon, China has grasped the dangers of galloping economic growth. And because it is an authoritarian state, we can be fairly confident that it will now go on to do something about it – on a scale that can make a difference.

      But China’s actions and policies are often not as clear and decisive as its government would like the world to believe. Because it is a one-party state with a neutered mainstream media, emerging from the historic culture of East Asia where discretion, tact and “face” have always been valued highly, China succeeds in giving the impression of a vast nation acting like a single awesome machine. But in my own experience the reality is rather different.

    • Art according to the rules: Self-censorship in Turkey

      Private investors are welcome in Turkey when it comes to arts and culture. But freedom for artists and journalists is largely restricted. The alternative arts scene has slipped into the background.

  • Privacy

    • Safe Harbor
    • In 2015, promising surveillance cases ran into legal brick walls

      To us, 2015 appeared to be the year where major change would happen whether pro- or anti-surveillance. Experts felt a shift was equally imminent. “I think it’s impossible to tell which case will be the one that does it, but I believe that, ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to step in and decide the constitutionality of some of the NSA’s practices,” Mark Rumold, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars last year.

      The presumed movement would all start with a lawsuit filed by veteran conservative activist Larry Klayman. Filed the day after the initial Snowden disclosures, his lawsuit would essentially put a stop to unchecked NSA surveillance. In January 2015, he remained the only plaintiff whose case had won when fighting for privacy against the newly understood government monitoring. (Of course, it was a victory in name only—the judicial order in Klayman was stayed pending the government’s appeal at the time).

    • Media Coverage and the Public in the Surveillance Society

      Findings from a Research Project on Digital Surveillance Post-Snowden

    • Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web

      Hossein Derakhshan was imprisoned by the regime for his blogging. On his release, he found the internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia

    • In a First, NSA Advertises Opportunities on Monster.com of Federal Contracting

      The National Security Agency has begun recruiting spy-tech inventors on the Monster.com of Beltway contractor jobs.

      The agency posted a special notice to FedBizOpps.gov, right before the holidays, advertising work for small companies that develop “innovative technologies.”

      An NSA spokesman told Nextgov on Wednesday afternoon, “NSA’s posting on FedBizOpps is intended to reach out to vendors that may not know how to do business with the agency and to direct vendors to NSA’s website for more information.”

    • GCHQ spy boss Sir Brian Tovey has died aged 89
    • Sir Brian Tovey, former director of GCHQ, dies
    • Former GCHQ director Sir Brian Tovey dies aged 89
    • GCHQ spy boss Sir Brian Tovey has died aged 89
    • Forget anonymity, we can remember you wholesale with machine intel, hackers warned

      Anonymous programmers, from malware writers to copyright infringers and those baiting governments with censorship-foiling software, may all be unveiled using stylistic programming traits which survive into the compiled binaries – regardless of common obfuscation methods.

    • These Public Comments Saved a Library’s Tor Server From a Government Shutdown

      In August, the Department of Homeland Security pressured a public library in the small town of Lebanon, New Hampshire to shut down a Tor node it was hosting on the popular anonymous browsing network. The unbridled support of dozens of citizens from both Lebanon and the entire country, including off-the-books support from an FBI computer scientist, empowered the town to turn it back on, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

    • When back doors backfire

      Some spy agencies favour “back doors” in encryption software, but who will use them?

    • Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity?

      Every new technology threatens to kill off some revered institution. But in the waning months of 2015, more than a few smart and tech-savvy commentators began suggesting a radical hypothesis: that the rise of social media threatened to deliver a death blow to civic consensus and even to truth itself.

      “The news brims with instantly produced ‘hot takes’ and a raft of fact-free assertions,” Farhad Manjoo observed in the New York Times. “The extremists of all stripes are ascendant, and just about everywhere you look, much of the internet is terrible.”

      In the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum went so far as to demand that Mark Zuckerberg donate the entirety of his fortune to undo the damage Facebook has done to democracy. “If different versions of the truth appear in different online versions; if no one can agree upon what actually happened yesterday; if fake, manipulated or mendacious news websites are backed up by mobs of internet trolls; then conspiracy theories, whether of the far left or far right, will soon have the same weight as reality. Politicians who lie will be backed by a claque of supporters.”

    • Privacy activists notched wins in 2015 but fear shift in tide

      2015 was a mixed bag for digital privacy advocates on Capitol Hill.

      Civil libertarians took one step forward this summer, reforming the National Security Agency (NSA) in the first major rollback of U.S. surveillance powers in a generation.

    • Majority of US citizens in favour of warrantless surveillance – poll

      AP-NORC also broke down the results based on how people vote. It found that Republicans (67 percent) and Democrats (55 percent) were mainly in favour of warrantless surveillance. However, it was only supported by 40 percent of Independents. The results also show that just one-in-three under-30s support warrantless surveillance.

    • Trevor Paglen: What lies beneath

      We all live under constant covert surveillance. The American photographer’s work seeks to reveal this hidden world

    • Department of Defense Nudges Contractors to Patch Juniper Backdoor

      In December, everyone was starkly reminded of the dangers posed by backdoors in security products: Juniper Networks, a massive company that creates popular networking equipment, found “unauthorized” code in its ScreenOS software which would allow an attacker to take total control of Juniper NetScreen firewalls, or even, with enough resources, passively decrypt VPN traffic.

    • What The Juniper Breach Teaches Us About The Domestic Dangers Of Backdoors

      A common refrain amongst all the conversation about encryption the last few months has been the need for technical “backdoors” to be built into encryption and communications platforms that allow authorized law enforcement to intercept and monitor civilian communications. The argument goes that without such backdoors, criminal and terrorist actors will increasingly “go dark” using encryption to organize their activities and attacks. One commonly recommended solution is the weakening of encryption by inserting secret backdoors accessible only to law enforcement. In such a model all communications are encrypted to prevent criminal actors or foreign states from being able to listen to communications, but American law enforcement and their allies will be able to access such communications using a master decryption key.

    • The Biggest Security Threats We’ll Face in 2016

      The year ended with a startling revelation from Juniper Networks that firmware on some of its firewalls contained two backdoors installed by sophisticated hackers. The nature of one of the backdoors—which gives an attacker the ability to decrypt protected traffic running through the VPN on Juniper firewalls—suggested a nation-state attacker was the culprit, since only a government intelligence agency would have the resources to intercept large amounts of VPN traffic in order to benefit from the backdoor. Even more startling was news that the backdoor was based on one attributed to the NSA.

    • In 2016, terror suspects and 7-Eleven thieves may bring surveillance to US Supreme Court

      It has now been 2.5 years since the first Snowden revelations were published. And in 2015, government surveillance marched on in both large (the National Security Agency) and small (the debut of open source license plate reader software) ways.

      Within the past year, Congress voted to end Section 215 of the Patriot Act—but then substituted it with a similar law (USA Freedom Act) that leaves the phone metadata surveillance apparatus largely in place even if the government no longer collects the data directly. Even former NSA Director Michael Hayden admitted in June 2015 that this legal change was pretty minor.

    • In 2015, promising US surveillance cases ran into legal brick walls

      Today, the first Snowden disclosures in 2013 feel like a distant memory. The public perception of surveillance has changed dramatically since and, likewise, the battle to shape the legality and logistics of such snooping is continually evolving.

    • NSA Rats Out Republicans, Proves Netanyahu Bribed Them Against Iran Nuclear Deal

      In this spy versus spy world, longtime bosom buddies Israel and America have been spying on each other for decades, even as they help each other spy on the rest of the world. As former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers once stated, “Intelligence professionals have a saying: There are no friendly intelligence services.” Proving that Rogers was absolutely correct in his statement, the Wall Street Journal just uncovered hard evidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to bribe Republicans for nay votes on America’s nuclear deal with Iran.

    • Report From the Student Privacy Frontlines: 2015 in Review

      This year the fight to protect student privacy hit a boiling point with our Spying on Students campaign, an effort to help students, parents, teachers, and school administrators learn more about the privacy issues surrounding school-issued devices and cloud services. We’re also working to push vendors like Google to put students and their parents back in control of students’ private information.

    • The fallacies of surveillance

      First, the costs of surveillance are asymmetrical. This essentially means that the cost of imposing surveillance is much greater than what it would cost for a moderately tech-savvy villain to effectively defeat this surveillance. A useful analogy here is that of a needle in a haystack — it is orders of magnitude easier for a villain to hide the needle in the hay and near impossible for the government to find it.

    • A Wake-Up Call To Fight Government Surveillance

      Look around any crowded place nowadays and it’s quite clear that many of us have literally become prisoners of our own devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops — anything and everything with an Internet connection. Our lifestyles practically require us to always be on, and connected to everyone else.

      That means at any point in the day, and at any point in the world, individuals freely exchange massive amounts of personal information among each other: names, email addresses, phone numbers, photos, bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, insurance details and so on.

      Looking at that list, it’s clear why some are calling data the oil of the digital world — data has effectively become its own currency, something we trade to either share updates about our lives or make a purchase.

    • How to Protect Your Family From Government Snooping

      If you have found yourself questioning whether you wish to participate in a surveillance state, then a TOR and VPN enabled router is an essential tool. I installed one such router myself once Australia started discussing its data retention laws (which went into effect recently), and after spending a year protecting my family’s digital privacy I thought I would share the results.

    • Contra Costa Times editorial: Spending bill slips in erosion of privacy rights for cybersecurity

      Congress just slipped another ill-conceived cybersecurity bill past Americans, removing basic privacy rights in the name of fighting terrorism.

      No one at the highest levels of government has ever been able to demonstrate that ratcheting up government surveillance of Americans has led to blocking a terrorist threat. The sad truth is that lawmakers are instead using security fears to remove the very freedoms that those who would do us harm hold in scorn.

      The cybersecurity legislation was slipped into the massive $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that passed Congress last week and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

    • Canadians’ Internet traffic at risk

      Canadian researchers find that a large amount of Canadians’ internet traffic is routed through the United States, making it vulnerable to interception.

  • Civil Rights

    • 4 Things That Were Supposed To Happen By 2016 Because Obama Was Reelected
    • New Guantánamo policy: Psychologists can treat troops, not captives

      The U.S. military has sharply curtailed the use of psychologists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in response to strict new professional ethics rules of the American Psychological Association, Pentagon officials said.

      Gen. John F. Kelly, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, has ordered that psychologists be withdrawn from a wide range of activities dealing with detainees at the prison because of the new rules of the association, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists. The group approved the rules this past summer.

    • Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric

      Sheikh Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation.

    • Outrage Follows Saudi Arabia’s Execution of Nearly 50 Prisoners

      According to Reuters, the executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, with four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading.

    • Saudi Arabia says 47 executed on terror charges, including Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimrits

      Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on Saturday for terrorism it said, an apparent message to both Sunni Muslim jihadists and Shi’ite anti-government protesters that the conservative Islamic kingdom will brook no violent dissent.

      The deaths come amid a growing war of words between Saudi Arabia and the militant group Islamic State, which called for attacks in the kingdom. But it may also raise tensions with Iran over the execution of prominent Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

    • Saudi Arabia executes 47 people in one day including Shia cleric
    • [Older] UK Government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public
    • His Aim Is True

      Hill was responding to a domestic disturbance at Steel’s home and he says her dog attacked him. He shot at the dog but missed it and hit Steele instead. Prosecutors declined to file any charges against Hill

    • Young Black Men Killed by U.S. Police at Highest Rate in Year of 1,134 Deaths

      Young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015, according to the findings of a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year.

    • Protecting Human Rights Is Not A Gift, It’s A Given

      Back in 2008, one thousand of Australia’s “best and brightest brains” met at the 2020 Summit to map out a strategy for Australia’s long-term future. They made three key recommendations for constitutional reform: Indigenous recognition, becoming a republic and the creation of a bill of rights. All three are essential for Australia to come of age as a modern and independent democracy that lives its values — respecting and protecting the rights of all its citizens.

    • New Documents Expose Texas ‘Cop of the Year’ as Member of Mexico’s ‘Most Dangerous’ Cartel

      Caught on video illegally selling assault rifles and sensitive information to undercover informants, a former officer of the year has also been accused of secretly working for Los Zetas cartel in a drug trafficking conspiracy in operation since 2006. Although the cop allegedly provided the cartel with firearms, bulletproof vests, luxury vehicles, police scanners, and database access, recently filed court documents revealed at least two convicted cocaine traffickers are cooperating with the government against the disgraced cop.

      On September 2, 2014, Efrain Grimaldo, the nephew of Houston Police Officer Noe Juarez, was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison after caught smuggling 1,640 kilograms of cocaine throughout the southern states and east coast. On June 24, 2014, Efrain’s brother, Sergio Grimaldo, was extradited from Mexico and later charged along with Officer Juarez for participating in a conspiracy to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. Juarez was also charged in a separate conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

    • Germans and their love of freedom

      Freedom of art matters a lot to most Germans – so much so that it is protected by law. But even in Germany’s democracy and with its liberal outlook, there are certain legal and moral limitations to artistic expression.

    • Cosby Accuser Slimed For Spending Settlement Money On An Apartment

      The New York Post has some shocking news: a woman who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault used money from a previous settlement with him to buy an apartment.

      Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, brought a civil suit against Cosby in 2005 saying he gave her pills and wine until she was unable to move and then sexually assaulted her after authorities declined to press charges. Her case then was settled out of court in 2006.

    • ‘The Washington Post’ Fired Lefty Columnist Harold Meyerson

      Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, has fired columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the nation’s finest journalists and perhaps the only self-proclaimed socialist to write a weekly column for a major American newspaper during the past decade or two.

      At a time when America is experiencing an upsurge of progressive organizing and activism — from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the growing movement among low-wage workers demanding higher minimum wages, to Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president — we need a regular columnist who can explain what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what it means.

      More than any other columnist for a major U.S. newspaper, Meyerson provided ongoing coverage and incisive analysis of the nation’s labor movement and other progressive causes as well as the changing economy and the increasing aggressiveness of big business in American politics. He was one of the few columnists in the country who knew labor leaders and grassroots activists by name, and who could write sympathetically and knowledgeably about working people’s experiences in their workplaces and communities.

    • The Rumble from the People Can Work

      If only the people who engage in “road rage” would engage in “corporate rage” when they are harmed by cover-ups or hazardous products and gouging services, aloof CEOs would start getting serious about safety and fair play. With press report after press report documenting how big business stiffs millions of its consumers and workers, why is it that more of these victims do not externalize some of their inner agonies by channeling them into civic outrage?

    • 2015 a Deadly Year as Journalism ‘Put Daily to the Sword’

      At least 109 journalists and media workers were slain by ‘targeted killings, bomb attacks, and cross-fire incidents,’ new report finds

    • A Case of Bribery

      A lower court had found him guilty of a much more serious bribery accusation and condemned him to a much longer prison term. The Supreme Court, after dragging his case out for as long as possible, reduced the offense and the prison term from 6 years to a mere year and a half. As usual in Israel, a third will be remitted for good behavior in prison, so he will probably “sit” for one year only.

      Hallelujah. The former Prime Minister will spend only one year in prison, where he will join a former President of Israel who has been sent there for rape.

    • Why Is Congress Undercutting PCLOB?

      As I noted last month, the Omnibus budget bill undercut the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in two ways.

      First, it affirmatively limited PCLOB’s ability to review covert actions. That effort dates to June, when Republicans responded to PCLOB Chair David Medine’s public op-ed about drone oversight by ensuring PCLOB couldn’t review the drone or any other covert program.

      More immediately troublesome, last minute changes to OmniCISA eliminated a PCLOB review of the implementation of that new domestic cyber surveillance program, even though some form of that review had been included in all three bills that passed Congress. That measure may have always been planned, but given that it wasn’t in any underlying version of the bill, more likely dates to something that happened after CISA passed the Senate in October.

    • Hundreds Demand Prosecutor In Tamir Rice Case Resign

      Protests continued on Friday following a grand jury’s recent decision not to indict the two white police officers who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

      More than 100 activists marched to the home of the prosecutor who handled Rice’s case, Timothy McGinty, on New Year’s Day and demanded his resignation. Chanting “New year, no more!” and “McGinty has got to go,” protesters called on the prosecutor be removed from his position and demanded a federal investigation into the shooting.

    • Happy New Year From the TSA!

      The huddled masses at airports will no longer be able to opt out of going through body scanners (which might be unlawful in the first place, but who’s counting?). Also, if you have the misfortune of living in one of nine of states that have objected to the feds’ REAL ID scheme, you may not even be able to use your driver’s license to get on a plane. At least the DHS now says the TSA will give you 120 days’ notice before invalidating your ID. Happy (first four months of) 2016!

    • Exclusive: UK Government urged to reveal its role in getting Saudi Arabia onto UN Human Rights Council

      The Government has been called upon to clarify the role it played in voting Saudi Arabia’s onto the UN Human Rights Council, after the kingdom executed 47 people in a single day sparking a backlash across the Middle East.

      Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last year purported to show that the UK was involved in a secret vote-trading deal to help ensure both countries a place on the influential panel.

      The exchanges, related to the November 2013 vote in New York, were published by The Australian newspaper and have never been commented on by UK officials. Both Britain and Saudi Arabia were later named among the 47 member states of the UNHRC, following the secret ballot.

    • Kurt Vonnegut’s POW nightmare: Inside the World War II battle that shaped “Slaughterhouse Five”

      At the bottom of a snowy hollow, he fixed his bayonet and waited, huddled in a group of roughly fifty soldiers. Their unit, the 423rd, had been at battle for three days, since December 16. They’d been lost for most of it. They must be somewhere in Luxembourg, someone said. Now they were surrounded, herded into a small depression in the unfamiliar land. Kurt hunched into his coat—he had a tall man’s habit of hunching—but he couldn’t get warm. That December—1944— was one of the coldest and wettest ever recorded in Europe.

    • Cameron’s renegotiation speech and intra-EU migration: how the web reacted

      Our analysis provides interesting information about the nature of Twitter and its reaction to Cameron’s proposals. In the first place, it is clear that Cameron’s speech triggered an attitudinal discussion on Twitter. Approximately 40 thousand tweets (roughly half of the tweets relevant to Cameron’s speech) can be interpreted as containing an attitude of some sort. Of these, more than a fifth, as shown, focused on the intra-EU migration issue.

    • Police Couple Wakes Up and “Accidentally” Fires 27 Rounds at Own Mom, Who Lives with Them

      The officer claimed that the 27 rounds were fired “accidentally” and so the department said there is no need for charges.

      Of course, shooting at an intruder in your home is a justified measure. However, what does it say about the trigger-happy nature of this officer who would unleash 27 rounds at her own mom, who had to have been screaming for her life upon hearing the first round being fired?

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • In net debate, many views on Free Basics

      A joint statement by IIT and IISc professors said that allowing a private entity to define for Indian Internet users what is “basic” and to have access to the personal content created and used by millions of Indians is a lethal combination which will lead to total lack of freedom on how Indians can use their own public utility, the Internet.

      “In fact, it has defined itself to be the first ‘basic’ service, as evident from Reliance’s ads on Free Facebook. Now, it will require quite a stretch of imagination to classify Facebook as ‘basic’,” said the statement.

    • Website Obesity

      This is the text version of a talk I gave on October 29, 2015, at the Web Directions conference in Sydney.

    • Net Neutrality in Europe

      After two years the fight for net neutrality in Europe about the Telecom Single Market Regulation has come to a close. In this talk we will analyse the new net neutrality law and it’s consequences and we give you the lessons learned from two years of EU campaigning.

    • Net Neutrality and More: 2015 in Review

      When it comes to net neutrality, 2015 started off with a blast. In February the FCC reclassified retail broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service, and issued strong new net neutrality rules while forbearing from almost all the other Title II regulations. In other words, Team Internet started the year off with a huge victory (with a few caveats, which we’ll return to at the end).

      Of course, the rules were quickly challenged by the ISPs in court. In order to help defend the rules, we gathered an all-star list of computer science professors and Internet engineers to explain to the court just how vital net neutrality has been in helping the Internet grow and flourish. The case itself was heard by the court in early December; it will likely be many months before we find out whether or not the court was persuaded.

      In the meantime, net neutrality wasn’t the only issue that brought the FCC onto EFF’s radar this year.

    • Facebook’s Free Web-India: Kindness Or Neo-Imperialism? [Ed: Forbes is the billionaires' most notable mouthpiece, so it's hardly surprising that it protects Zuckerberg from those he exploits]

      The problem isn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s vision per se, but the tag that comes along with it–Internet comes through Facebook and includes a limited Facebook approved list of sites.

      That raises the sensitive issue of Internet censorship for some, and the potential for exploitation of the poor, for others.

      The concern here is that Facebook is using its free web offer to expand its overseas membership base and eventually monetize a market with an enormous potential—the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid—to use C.K. Prahalad’s expression.

      [...]

      The trouble is this: where marketers and managers see potential opportunities, others see the potential for neo-imperialism, especially in countries like India — which has been through that experience before.

    • The Year in Technology Policy: It Wasn’t All That Bad!

      In the spring, the Federal Communications Commission enacted sweeping regulations to prevent Internet providers from blocking or slowing certain sites or apps. What’s surprising is how little has happened since then.

      ISPs did not all put down their tools in protest and stop investing in their networks. In fact, two of the biggest — AT&T and Comcast — ended the year bragging about how they’re expanding their gigabit Internet services.

      (Unfortunately, these new high-speed ventures rarely involve competing with other incumbent providers. And as the FCC’s latest broadband-survey results show, the phone-based DSL you can usually get anywhere has become increasingly uncompetitive with faster cable and fiber.)

    • Happy 20th Birthday IPv6 – The Hero To Save Our Internet?

      We have just completed the 20 years of the IPv6 launch. This standard was developed by IETF to replenish the drying pool of IP addresses and bring numerous performance improvements. However, the adoption numbers of the IPv6 protocol hasn’t been very encouraging.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases for 2016
    • TTIP Update II

      As I noted in my first TTIP Update about the current negotiations between the EU and US over a massive trade agreement that is far from being only about trade, it is probably true that it will not include many of the more outrageous ideas found in ACTA last year. But that is not to say that TTIP does not threaten many key aspects of the Internet – just that the attack is much more subtle.

      The problem is the inclusion of “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS). This began as a perfectly reasonable attempt to ensure that investments in developing countries were not unlawfully expropriated by rogue governments. The idea was that if such an event occurred, and the local government refused to compensate the investor, the latter had recourse to independent international courts that considered the case and awarded damages that could be levied against the government in question in other ways – for example, seizing their assets abroad.

    • The Rise and Fall of TTIP, As Told in 51 Updates

      This year will be make or break for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is already years behind its original, hopelessly-optimistic schedule, and is now running into immovable political events in the form of the US Presidential elections, and the general elections in Germany. If TTIP isn’t wrapped up this year, it is probably dead until whenever the next attempt to push through such a global takeover of democracy begins, as it surely will.

      From July 2013 until April 2015 I wrote a series of irregular TTIP Updates, which charted the latest developments of the negotiations. They form the most detailed description of how TTIP emerged and developed during the first two years of the negotiations. Although superseded by more recent events, they nonetheless offer a historical record of what happened during that time, and may help people understand the strange beast that is TTIP somewhat better.

    • The Deathbed of the WTO

      When the World Trade Organization (WTO) met in Seattle, Washington in 1999, the Africa paper[1] carefully prepared by the Kenya representatives to the WTO in Geneva, had set the stage for the rejection of the strict intellectual property rights which the Western countries’ pharmaceutical companies desired. Sixteen years later at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference that was held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015, the United States Trade Representatives had pressured the Kenyan leadership to exclude “African issues” from the agenda while simultaneously pushing through the Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which benefits US corporations. That Kenya could be caught in a position where it had to please the United Stated and thus turn its back on India, Indonesia, China and Brazil was an expression of the country’s lack of consultation with Africa and the other countries of the Global South that had been pushing for the Doha Development Agenda. At the end of the meeting, most international media outlets proclaimed the death of the Doha Development Agenda.

    • Copyrights

      • The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz

        The New Press has published a new collection of Aaron Swartz’s writing called The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz. I worked with Seth Schoen to introduce and help edit the opening section of book that includes Aaron’s writings on free culture, access to information and knowledge, and copyright. Seth and I have put our introduction online under an appropriately free license (CC BY-SA).

      • Most Pirated Films of 2015 Show That Stealing is Great for Hollywood

        Movie piracy, like music piracy and to a lesser degree book piracy, is here to stay for the simple reason that it is technologically easy to do and virtually impossible to stop. More than two decades after the first mass panics about internet-enabled entertainment piracy, it should be clear to legacy companies that such a state of affairs is hardly a death sentence.

      • Four Persistent Online Piracy Misconceptions Busted

        While regular visitors to these pages are probably extremely tuned into the way the file-sharing world operates, more casual readers may have one or two things they’d like clearing up. Here are four of the most common and persistent piracy-related misconceptions of recent years, busted for your convenience.

      • Google received requests to remove 558 million pirate links in 2015

        Google received requests from copyright owners to remove as many as 558 million links to material, which allegedly infringed on copyrights, from its search engine in 2015. The latest figure shows a surge of 60% compared to 2014.

        Google was flooded with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices. The notices are issued to search engines or web hosts to remove links to copyright-infringing material. The majority of the requests came from the music and movie industries.

        Torrent Freak recently found that the URLs submitted by copyright-holders numbered 558,860,089 compared to 2014 when Google processed 345 million pirate links. The majority of the links were removed though Google sometimes takes “no action” if the links do not infringe on copyright material or if they had already been taken down earlier.

      • When Hollywood Raids Pirates, What Do They Search For?

        During December five men from the UK received sentences totaling 17 years after leaking thousands of movies onto the Internet. In an earlier article we revealed how the men were tracked down. Today we’ll look more closely at what police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft were looking for when the men were raided.

      • The First Ten Years of the Pirate Party: Lessons Learned and Road Ahead

        Exactly ten years ago, on January 1 2006 at 20:30 CET, the Swedish and first Pirate Party was launched by me setting up an ugly website. Since then, we delivered on the proof of concept on June 7, 2009, and the movement grew from there. We weren’t always successful, though, and it’s important to be humble and do a little retrospection.

      • Movie Studios Sue Fan-Funded Star Trek Spin-Off

        Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios are suing the crowdfunded Star Trek spin-off “Prelude to Axanar.” The makers initially aimed for a $10,000 budget to start the project, but have raised close to a million since. According to the Hollywood studios they are entitled to any and all profits, claiming that the project infringes on their copyrights.

      • Full text of “The Diary Of Anne Frank”
      • Anne Frank’s diary is in the public domain; editors aren’t co-authors
      • Anne Frank’s diary is now free to download despite copyright dispute

        Anne Frank’s famous Diary of a Young Girl entered the public domain today, making it free to download, read, and distribute, 70 years after her death. Copyright on the diary, written while the young Frank was hiding in an attic with her family from soldiers during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, was scheduled to run out on January 1st, 2016. Within a few hours of the clock striking midnight on the new year, the full text was available to read — in its original Dutch — online.

      • Anne Frank foundation fights plans to publish diary online on 1 January

        An academic and a French MP have said they will go ahead with plans to publish the diary of Anne Frank online on Friday, despite the organisation holding publication rights threatening legal action.

      • Anne Frank foundation threatens legal action after activists vow to publish her diary online in its entirety from tomorrow – 70 years after her death

        An academic and a French MP are planning to publish Anne Frank’s diary online for free tomorrow.

        University lecturer Olivier Ertzscheid and French MP Isabelle Attard say New Year’s Day marks 70 years after the author’s death, and therefore European copyright laws have expired.

        But they have been met with opposition by the diary’s publisher – The Anne Frank Fund – who argues copyright for the translators of the diary is still in effect.

        European copyright laws protect the author’s rights to their work for 70 years after their death.

      • What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2016? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1959
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  19. Links 30/11/2016: Git 2.11, GOG Surprise Tomorrow

    Links for the day



  20. The UPC Scam Part IV: Bumps Along the Road for UPC, With or Without the UK and Brexit

    A sobering reality check regarding the UPC, no matter what Lucy Neville-Rolfe says under pressure from Battistelli and some selfish law firms that are based in London



  21. The UPC Scam Part III: The “Patent Mafia”

    Bigwigs like Lucy Neville-Rolfe and Benoît Battistelli, together with Team UPC and its tiny minority interests (self enrichment), are conspiring to hijack the laws of Europe, doing so across many national borders with unique and locally-steered patent policy in one fell swoop



  22. The UPC Scam Part II: The Patent Echo Chamber at Work, Prematurely Congratulating Itself in Its 'News' Sites





  23. The UPC Scam Part I: EPO-Bribed Media Outlets Lie to Brits (and to Europeans) About the UPC

    An introductory article in a multi-part series about UPC at times of Brexit and Lucy Neville-Rolfe's bizarre sellout to Battistelli



  24. European Public Service Union Asks EPO Administrative Council “to Re-establish the Rule of Law at the European Patent Office”

    The chinchillas of the Administrative Council are assertively asked to tackle the abusive management of the EPO, which gets condemned not only by CERN but also EPSU, which is working with the Dutch government to end lawlessness at the EPO



  25. Links 29/11/2016: Core Apps Hackfest, MuckRock Goes FOSS

    Links for the day



  26. ILOAT Decisions: Upcoming Publication of Two EPO Cases (Abuse Against Staff)

    Reminder about tomorrow's "exceptional public delivery" from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and a request for additional information



  27. Mixing Politics and EPO: How Battistelli Defies the Very Basic Rules of the Office

    A reminder of the fact that Battistelli was entrenched in French politics even while he was serving at the EPO



  28. EPO DG1 Principal Director “Out of the Muppet Show”

    The ridicule of EPO management is a symptom of a poisonous work environment which now resembles an assembly line of bad patents, where employees are treated unfairly, severely, and in clear defiance of labour laws



  29. Learning From the Mistakes of the US Patent System (and More Latterly China) When Assessing Patent Maximalism

    The warning signs coming both from the East and from the West, demonstrating the pitfalls of a policy too permissive on patents and thus on litigation



  30. The International Labour Organisation Once Again Proves Useless for Labour of the EPO

    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is once again failing too serve justice, instead just sending complaints elsewhere, in effect into a black hole


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