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01.21.16

Links 21/1/2016: Linux Foundation, Gates Foundation Under Fire; OpenStack Foundation Event Coverage

Posted in News Roundup at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • The State Of Meteor Part 1: Growing Pains

    The result of all this is that Meteor has ended up in an awkward place.

    New developers love how easy it is to get started with it, but can get discouraged when they start struggling with more complex apps. And purely from a financial standpoint, it’s hard to build a sustainable business on the back of new developers hacking on smaller apps.

  • Hardware

    • Can We Now Finally Agree that Smart Watches Were a Dumb Idea? – This is Apple’s Revenge on the Nerds

      Quick note to discuss the silly brief fad that was around smart watches. I said before they came that there was no real economy in it, and I said when the iToy sorry iWatch sorry Apple Watch was introduced, that it won’t set the world on fire, and that it will be a rare iFlop like the Newton and Lisa, not anything like total reinvention of tech such as the Mac was to PCs, iPod was to musicplayers and iPhone was to mobile phones (the last two, that I also predicted and discussed in my writing, including this, considered by many the best forecast about iPhone’s impact, by anyone who wrote about the iPhone before it launched). And when the Apple Watch was launched for sale, I wrote one more piece warning that there was nothing there. So now, the facts are slowly emerging. So lets take stock.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Michael Moore: Dear President Obama, please visit Flint

      I am writing this to you from the place where I was born—Flint, Michigan. Please consider this personal appeal from me and the 102,000 citizens of the city of Flint who have been poisoned, not by mistake or a natural disaster, but by a governor and his administration who, to cut costs, took over the city of Flint from its duly elected leaders, unhooked the city from its fresh water supply of Lake Huron, and then made the people drink toxic water from the Flint River. This was nearly two years ago.

      This week it was revealed that at least 10 people in Flint have been killed by these premeditated actions of the governor of Michigan. This governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the democratic election of this mostly African-American city—where 41% of the people live below the official poverty line—and replaced the elected mayor and city council with a crony who was instructed to take all his orders from the governor’s office.

    • Meet the Mom Who Helped Expose Flint’s Toxic Water Nightmare

      On a chilly evening last March in Flint, Michigan, LeeAnne Walters was getting ready for bed when she heard her daughter shriek from the bathroom of the family’s two-story clapboard house. She ran upstairs to find 18-year-old Kaylie standing in the shower, staring at a clump of long brown hair that had fallen from her head.

      Walters, a 37-year-old mother of four, was alarmed but not surprised—the entire family was losing hair. There had been other strange maladies over the previous few months: The twins, three-year-old Gavin and Garrett, kept breaking out in rashes. Gavin had stopped growing. On several occasions, 14-year-old JD had suffered abdominal pains so severe that Walters took him to the hospital. At one point, all of LeeAnne’s own eyelashes fell out.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Why Won’t Iran Act Like Our Enemy?

      What a bad week for the war party. Darn you, Iran! The country that the armchair warriors most love to hate refuses to play the villain’s role assigned by the neoconservatives, “humanitarian” interventionists, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the establishment media.

    • The Story You Aren’t Being Told About Iran Capturing Two American Vessels

      The burning question now relates to whether or not Iran’s actions constitute an attack on the U.S. It’s not a simple question. Electronic warfare and cyber warfare have become common place. It is also worth noting the two US vessels were within just a few miles of Farsi Island. Farsi Island is the home of the Revolutionary Guards’ Navy (RGN). The RGN is Iran’s maritime unconventional warfare force. For comparison, imagine a scenario in which a nation that has attacked a US civilian airliner and whose political leaders have constantly threatened war sent two boats to pass extraordinarily close to the home base of a U.S. Seal Team. The reader can decide if Iran’s actions were appropriate.

      The most important takeaway from this incident is to remember the high-tech military of the United States has an exposed vulnerability. It’s a vulnerability that was exploited by Iran. Iran is not a nation many in military circles would see as technologically advanced. The drone warfare system has a fatal flaw. If Iran can exploit it, China and Russia certainly can. Even North Korea has been able to successfully disrupt the GPS system. Beyond simple navigation, the U.S. employs the GPS system to guide missiles. If the Iranians can jam and spoof their way into controlling a drone, it isn’t a huge leap to believe have the ability, or will soon have the ability, to do the same thing with guided missiles.

      It should be noted that GPS jammers are available on the civilian market and have been detected in use inside the United Kingdom. This revelation may also be the reasoning behind the U.S. decision to require drone operators to register their aircraft.

    • How Iraqis Remember The First Gulf War

      Twenty-five years after the first Iraq War, Operation Desert Storm is widely seen as a resounding American victory.

      “Desert Storm was probably the single most successful military campaign in the history of warfare,” retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey told Stars and Stripes. “It was an astonishing display by the country.”

      While the U.S. military successfully drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, the plight of Iraqi civilians — many of whom suffered under then-dictator Saddam Hussein before, during, and after Desert Storm — is often overlooked.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • What’s Being Done to Stop Palm Oil Plantations from Destroying Indonesia’s Rainforests?

      Palm oil is everywhere. The cheap substitute for trans fats can be found in products ranging from soap to processed foods, butter to lipstick to detergent. It’s primarily produced on plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, and that’s the problem—for years, the palm oil industry has been destroying the rainforests in the region, sometimes breaking Indonesian laws in the process and committing acts of violence against the indigenous people who live in these places.

    • Oil Rout Threatens to Scupper Demand for Palm Oil in Biofuel

      Crude oil’s slump has been so severe that it’s now threatening the government-aided biodiesel programs in the world’s top producers of palm oil.

      Indonesia may miss its target of raising blending to 20 percent if crude stays below $30 a barrel, according to Fadhil Hasan, executive director at the country’s palm oil association. The slump in crude will impact the implementation of the biodiesel program in Malaysia, the nation’s Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Douglas Uggah Embas told an industry conference in Kuala Lumpur. The two nations account for 86 percent of the global palm oil supply.

      Oil is down about 21 percent this year amid volatility in Chinese markets and speculation the removal of restrictions that capped Iran’s crude sales will help to prolong a global glut. That’s sent the premium of crude palm oil over low sulphur gasoil futures to almost $290 a metric ton from the five-year average of a $13 discount. That’s clouded the outlook for palm oil prices, according to Thomas Mielke, executive director of Oil World, an industry researcher.

    • African elephants could be extinct ‘within a decade’

      African elephants could be extinct in the wild within the next decade, a major conservation conference in Botswana has been told.

      The Africa Elephant Summit, attended by delegates from around 20 countries including China – which is accused of fuelling the poaching trade – heard new figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature that showed the African elephant population fell from 550,000 to 470,000 between 2006 and 2013.

    • 2015 smashes record for hottest year, final figures confirm

      Experts warn that global warming is tipping climate into ‘uncharted territory’, as Met Office, Nasa and Noaa data all confirm record global temperatures for second year running

    • Pakistan turns to coal to keep factories running

      Till now, Pakistan has not used the bulk of its coal reserves – some of the largest in the world – for power generation. Not any more.

      Within the last month the government in Islamabad has signed a number of financial and technological agreements with China aimed at exploiting massive coal reserves at the Tharparkar mine in Sindh province, in the south of the country.

  • Finance

    • Domino’s delivery driver forced out for signing ‘minimum wage’ Change.org petition

      DOMINO’S is once again in hot water over its treatment of young employees after a delivery driver was forced to resign for sharing a link on Facebook.

      The 18-year-old driver, who did not wish to use his name, signed and shared a Change.org petition calling for better pay for Domino’s drivers.

      His regional manager, alerted to the post by a mutual friend, then shared the link to her own Facebook page, tagging the young driver.

      “What’s the go, mate?” she wrote, going on to single out another employee who had also signed the petition.

    • Gates Foundation accused of ‘dangerously skewing’ aid priorities by promoting ‘corporate globalisation’

      They are among the richest people on earth, have won plaudits for their fight to eradicate some of the world’s deadliest and prolific killers, and donated billions to better educate and feed the poorest on the planet.

      Despite this, Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation, according to a controversial new report.

      Far from a “neutral charitable strategy”, the Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to the report published by the campaign group Global Justice. Its influence is “dangerously skewing” aid priorities, the group says.

      [...]

      The group accuse the Gates Foundation of using its massive financial clout to silence international development experts and groups which would criticise its practices.

      Bill Gates, the report claims, “who has regular access to world leaders and is in effect personally bankrolling hundreds of universities, international organisations, NGOs and media outlets, has become the single most influential voice in international development.”

      [...]

      It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. “Much of the Foundation’s work appears to bypass local knowledge,” the report claims.

      The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.”

    • TransCanada Corporation’s Arbitration Against the U.S. is Worrying for Democracy

      Each year companies lodge dozens of legal cases against governments under a little-known mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Few make headlines. But occasionally these cases do break through to the public’s attention, given the money at stake and the public interest involved.

      The latest case to fit that bill is by TransCanada Corporation—the Calgary-based energy firm—against the United States. The company seeks US$ 15 billion in damages over President Barack Obama’s decision to deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

    • CK*wirtschaftsfacts in conversation with Michael Hudson

      It meant that if other governments do not pay the United States they are outcasts.

    • Martin Luther King — Paul Craig Roberts

      Martin Luther King, like John F. Kennedy, was a victim of the paranoia of the Washington national security establishment. Kennedy rejected General Lyman Lemnitzer’s Northwoods Project for regime change in Cuba, opposed the CIA’s invasion plan for Cuba, nixed Lemnitzer’s plans for conflict with the Soviet Union over the Cuban missile crisis, removed Lemnitzer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and negotiated behind the scenes with Khrushchev to tone down the Cold War. Consequently, members of the military/security complex had it in for Kennedy and convinced themselves that Kennedy’s softness toward communism made him a security threat to the United States. The Secret Service itself was drawn into the plot. The films of the assassination show that the protective Secret Service personnel were ordered away from the President’s car just before the fatal shots.

    • An Oligarchy Has Broken Our Democracy. It Must Be Dislodged

      The concept of a ‘Deep State’ has been around for a while, but rarely to describe the United States.The term, used in Kemalist Turkey by the political class, referred to an informal grouping of oligarchs, senior military and intelligence operatives and organized crime, who ran the state along anti-democratic lines regardless of who was formally in power.

      I define the American Deep State as a hybrid association of elements of government and top-level finance and industry that is able, through campaign financing of elected officials, influence networks and co-option via the promise of lucrative post-government careers, to govern the United States in spite of elections and without reference to the consent of the governed.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Bowie and the Beeb [2016]

      To me this is his last great gift, he couldn’t give everything away but he did give us an idea of what it would mean to be popular, accessible and weird, angelic and liberated. The infrastructure of a public service broadcaster such as the BBC had a role in making David Bowie’s world, our world. This is the light by which it could navigate its future.

    • CMD Submits Testimony to U.S. Senate on Koch Self-Interest in Criminal Justice Reform

      The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee about the Koch-backed push to undermine corporate criminal accountability under the guise of “mens rea” reform. The testimony was submitted for the Committee’s January 20 hearing titled “The Adequacy of Criminal Intent Standards in Federal Prosecutions.”

      “Nobody should be above the law, no matter how rich, but the billionaire Koch Brothers have fueled a campaign through myriad groups they fund that would make it harder to prosecute corporate criminals for violating laws intended to protect American families from products or industrial practices that poison our water or air or that violate other environmental and financial laws,” said Lisa Graves, CMD’s Executive Director, who was previously served as the Chief Counsel for Nominations for Chairman Patrick Leahy of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice where she worked on criminal and civil justice policy.

    • VIDEO: Trevor Noah: British Debate on Barring Donald Trump Was Mostly an Excuse to Ridicule the Guy

      “The greatest part about this whole debate is that it actually wasn’t a debate,” says the “Daily Show” host about the U.K.’s recent discussion regarding a petition to bar Donald Trump from entering the U.K. “It turns out Parliament didn’t even hold a vote. They were all just there to sit around and make fun of Donald Trump.”

  • Censorship

    • After Auction House Censorship, Reporters Without Borders Cancels Benefit Art Sale

      An art auction intended to benefit the organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has been canceled after the Israeli embassy in Paris complained about one of the featured works. The piece in question, by French street artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest, included a drawing of the Palestinian politician Marwan Barghouti in handcuffs and a brief handwritten note comparing him to Nelson Mandela. (Barghouti, whom some have called “the Palestinian Mandela,” is currently serving five life sentences in Israel.)

    • Science and Censorship

      These acts represent an erosion of our constitutional rights to freedom of speech, inquiry and exchange of ideas. They create a “chilling effect” for scientists, textbook and other publishers who fear repercussions for producing data or advocating positions that are inconsistent with current political agendas or powerful corporate interests.

    • Fighting censorship with circumvention tools: Tor + Psiphon

      The censoring of information online is one of the greatest dangers to free speech on the Internet today. Many countries filter a wide variety of information of social and political significance, sometimes under the guise of ‘national security’. This problem is on the rise as the methods being used by governments have become more sophisticated and more resources are being allocated to the practice of censoring content.

      But activists and free expression advocates have not been sitting back. As the practice of Internet filtering spreads throughout the world, so does access to the “circumvention tools” that have been created, deployed and publicised by activists, programmers and volunteers The process of bypassing filtering and blocking websites is often called censorship circumvention, or simply circumvention. Some of these tools also allow users to share information securely and anonymously.

    • Censorship in the social media age

      Nearly half a million people had already seen the video before Dan Ilic tried to upload it to Facebook. A self-professed “investigative humorist,” Ilic manages the Facebook page for Hungry Beast, an Australian comedy show. The video—titled “The Labiaplasty Fad”—had been circulating on YouTube since the Hungry Beast released it in 2011, and Ilic wanted to repromote it after seeing mentions of labiaplasty in the news. But soon after clicking “Post,” he received a notice from the social site that the content had been removed and that he was banned from logging in for 24 hours. There was no additional explanation.

    • Disgraced Georgia Dentist Files Bogus Defamation Lawsuit To Go After Person Who Posted News Report To YouTube

      Years back, Georgia dentist Gordon Austin was indicted on 12 counts “with multiple counts of simple battery, aggravated assault, and cruelty to children.” The details of the case were pretty horrifying, involving claims of Medicare fraud, along with multiple claims that Austin hit his patients when they would complain loudly (apparently after the anesthesia did not work properly).

    • Facebook resorts to ‘like attacks’ on ISIS propaganda after losing censorship battle

      Facebook has resorted to pleading with its members to drown out hate filled propaganda messages from ISIS members with love after conceding defeat in its efforts to take offensive material offline.

      The switch in tactics will see people encouraged to mount ‘like attacks’ against pages professing support for the terror organisation after Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg admitted losing a game of whack-a-mole with terrorist sympathisers who simply post new messages for every disabled page or account.

    • Facebook “Likes” Can Stop ISIS Recruiters, Says Sheryl Sandberg

      Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said “counter-speech” is best way to combat terrorist propaganda.

    • Sheryl Sandberg Thinks Facebook Likes Can Help Stop ISIS

      At the World Economic Forum and international billionaire side-hug exercise Davos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg cited “like attacks” and positivity as ways to fight hate groups online. I know tech companies are struggling to meet the US government’s increasingly forceful pleas to eradicate terrorist activity on the internet, but this is getting ridiculous.

    • People can stop terrorists by liking their Facebook pages: Sheryl Sandberg
    • Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg claims the ‘like button’ could be used to defeat ISIS
    • Pakistan unblocks access to YouTube
    • Internet Censorship in Pakistan is Not Just About YouTube

      When rights groups and citizens took the state to court over the blocking of YouTube, the presiding judge, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, shared their anguish over the state’s ambiguity. The right to information cannot be crippled in the garb of national security, morality or religion. And if it must be done, the restrictions imposed must be “reasonable”.

    • Facebook adds support for app that can bypass China’s censors
    • Facebook makes an app that tries to bypass China’s censors

      A tweak that Facebook made to its Android app could allow mobile customers in restricted places like China and Iran to connect to the social network.

      It’s a big step forward for human rights activists — and it could greatly expand Facebook’s reach into countries where its services are banned.

    • Facebook makes an app that can bypass China’s censors
    • Facebook Makes App that Can Bypass China’s Censors
  • Privacy

    • Adblock Plus just got uninvited from the internet-advertising industry’s big conference

      Popular ad blocker Adblock Plus claims that it was uninvited from the US Interactive Advertising Bureau’s big conference.

      The IAB represents the biggest names in the digital-advertising industry: Google, Facebook, Twitter, online publishers, and ad-tech companies.

      Each year it holds its annual leadership meeting in Palm Desert, California. It’s where the biggest names in the online-advertising industry network and thrash out their ideas on the issues and trends of the day.

      This year they’ve got Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison, Yahoo’s global revenue chief Lisa Utzschneider, and Google ads boss Sridhar Ramaswamy speaking.

      Adblock Plus won’t be attending, though.

      Last week, Adblock Plus received an email saying that the company’s registration fee was being returned and its registration had been canceled.

    • EFF Pries More Information on Zero Days from the Government’s Grasp

      Until just last week, the U.S. government kept up the charade that its use of a stockpile of security vulnerabilities for hacking was a closely held secret.1 In fact, in response to EFF’s FOIA suit to get access to the official U.S. policy on zero days, the government redacted every single reference to “offensive” use of vulnerabilities. To add insult to injury, the government’s claim was that even admitting to offensive use would cause damage to national security. Now, in the face of EFF’s brief marshaling overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the charade is over.

    • Chance for students to get feet in spy agency GCHQ door with £250-a-week summer job [Ed: Even today a free-of-charge job ad (recruitment) for GCHQ was published by corporate media]
    • Comparing Cell Phones To Houses Not Exactly Deterring Use Of Generalized Warrants, Court Finds

      Sometimes the courts realize today’s smartphones can’t be reasonably compared to anything else people have historically carried with them, like wallets, address books and the contents of their pockets. In the Supreme Court’s Riley decision, it noted that searching a smartphone is roughly analogous to searching someone’s house — people’s entire lives are contained in these devices. Hence, the warrant requirement, which turns phones from a “container” to the most sacrosanct domain under the Fourth Amendment.

    • GCHQ-developed phone security ‘open to surveillance’
    • Researcher warns of backdoor in GCHQ-developed encryption
    • UCL research says government-backed encryption has a big backdoor
    • The US Military Wants A Computer to Convert Your Brain Activity Into Binary Code

      As a part of DARPA’s programs to support President Obama’s brain initiative, this advanced research organization has announced a new program called Neural Engineering System Design (NESD). This program aims to create a new computer-brain interface (‘biocompatible’ device) that will support data transfer at super fast speed.

    • Thanks to our supporters, we can make our mass surveillance film

      Thanks to our supporters, we more than reached the target of our Indiegogo crowd-funder. With your help we raised £20,624, which we’re going to use to produce a high-quality campaign video to explain the implications of the Investigatory Powers Bill to people who may not be fully aware of it.

    • The White House Asked Social Media Companies to Look for Terrorists. Here’s Why They’d #Fail.

      An increasingly large proportion of terrorism investigations these days start with tweets or posts, generally flagged by family members or informants. Civil libertarians worry that the FBI is using protected speech to identify potential subjects of entrapment. But the FBI’s concern is that it’s not seeing everything it needs to see.

      And at the same time, there’s increased pressure for social media companies to deny radical groups an open platform for speech.

      No wonder the government wants an algorithm.

      But there are some major problems with trying to use computer code to find “terrorists” or “terrorist” content.

      First of all, it doesn’t work. Many experts, including people with law enforcement, academic, and scientific backgrounds, agree that it’s practically impossible to boil down the essential predictive markers that make up a terrorist who is willing and capable of carrying out an attack and then successfully pick him out of a crowd.

    • Does the government want to break encryption or not?

      As TechCrunch observes, however, this kind of threat of companies enabling internal backdoors is already displacing the technology used by ISIS to set ups that are not under the control of central platforms. So such an approach could end up with privacy for the criminals, but not for ordinary, law abiding ctiizens.

    • What Agency Is Claiming Hillary Received SAP Emails?

      Note, the letter makes clear that those reporting Hillary had two SAP emails may not be correct: Charles McCullough’s letter doesn’t say how many emails were SAP and how many were CONFIDENTIAL. And the letter is conveniently written in a form that can be shared with the press without key information that would allow us to test the claims made in it.

    • EFF Pries More Information on Zero Days from the Government’s Grasp

      Until just last week, the U.S. government kept up the charade that its use of a stockpile of security vulnerabilities for hacking was a closely held secret.1 In fact, in response to EFF’s FOIA suit to get access to the official U.S. policy on zero days, the government redacted every single reference to “offensive” use of vulnerabilities. To add insult to injury, the government’s claim was that even admitting to offensive use would cause damage to national security. Now, in the face of EFF’s brief marshaling overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the charade is over.

    • Pkware aims to take pain out of crypto (and give IT the golden key)

      One of the reasons that most people don’t use public key encryption to protect their e-mails is that the process is simply too arduous for everyday communications. Open source projects like GNU Privacy Guard and GPGTools have made it easier for individuals to use PGP encryption, but managing the keys used in OpenPGP and other public-key encryption formats still requires effort. And it’s even more of a challenge when you want to read encrypted messages on your phone. If you’re a company that has concerns about things like compliance and data loss, doing crypto without having some sort of key management can also create all sorts of risks.

    • French say ‘Non, merci’ to encryption backdoors

      The French government has rejected an amendment to its forthcoming Digital Republic law that required backdoors in encryption systems.

      Axelle Lemaire, the Euro nation’s digital affairs minister, shot down the amendment during the committee stage of the forthcoming omnibus digital bill, saying it would be counterproductive and would leave personal data unprotected.

      “Recent events show how the fact of introducing faults deliberately at the request – sometimes even without knowing – the intelligence agencies has an effect that is harming the whole community,” she said according to Numerama.

    • France Rejects Backdoors in Encryption Products
    • Groups want U.S. to adopt strong broadband privacy rules

      A coalition of U.S. groups on Wednesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to write sweeping privacy protections for the nation’s broadband users.

      The groups want providers of broadband internet services including mobile and landline phone, cable and satellite TV firms to be subject to tough privacy regulations.

      Among the firms that would be affected are AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and Cablevision Systems Corp.

    • These emails show how upset NSA spies were with the ‘Enemy of the State’ film

      Employees at the secretive National Security Agency were not too happy about the 1998 blockbuster film “Enemy of the State” that starred Will Smith.

      That shouldn’t come as a surprise — the spy agency was portrayed as the villain — but now BuzzFeed News has obtained internal emails that prove it.

      “I saw a preview for the new movie ‘Enemy of the State’ and to my surprise found out that NSA were the ‘bad guys’ in it,” wrote one NSA employee in a question to the agency’s public affairs team.

    • NSA Tried P.R. Effort With Film “Enemy Of The State,” Was Massively Disappointed

      The National Security Agency attempted a public relations makeover in 1998 via the Jerry Bruckheimer produced spy-thriller, Enemy of the State, but the agency was disappointed it was portrayed as the “bad guys” in the film, internal emails between agency officials obtained by BuzzFeed News through the Freedom of Information Act show.

      One employe wrote in 1998, “Unfortunately, the truth isn’t always as riveting as fiction and creative license may mean that ‘the NSA,’ as portrayed in a given production, bears little resemblance to the place where we all work.”

      In the 1998 blockbuster film starring Will Smith, Congress, pressed by the NSA, attempts to pass a bill expanding the agency’s surveillance powers. At the start of the film, several NSA agents kill a congressman opposing their efforts. However, they do not realized they were secretly recorded by a bird watcher. The bird watcher, chased by the NSA, passes the information along to Will Smith’s character, who subsequently finds his phones tapped, clothing bugged, and house burglarized.

  • Civil Rights

    • Jimmy Savile: BBC staff say corporation has ‘ingrained’ culture of quashing dissent

      The BBC has an “ingrained” culture of quashing dissent, staff said, as a leaked official report expressed concerns that “a predatory child abuser could be lurking undiscovered in the BBC even today”.

      A draft of the Dame Janet Smith Review of practices at the BBC found that the fear of whistle-blowing at the organisation was “even worse” in the current era than at the time Jimmy Savile was abusing children while working for the broadcaster.

    • Jimmy Savile inquiry leak reveals scathing criticism of BBC

      A draft report into the BBC’s practices at the time of the Jimmy Savile scandal has been leaked by the investigative news website, Exaro.

      The review led by Dame Janet Smith is said to include “devastating detail” of the broadcaster’s “sheer scale of awareness” of the late TV and radio star’s activities.

      It will criticise the corporation’s culture, according to Exaro, which says it has seen a leaked draft.

      The report is said to point to a “deferential culture”, “untouchable stars” and “above the law” managers at the corporation. However, the BBC cannot be criticised for failing to uncover Savile’s “sexual deviancy”, it says.

      The retired judge’s report outlines multiple rapes and indecent assaults on children by Savile which she claims were all “in some way associated with the BBC”.

    • How a Young American Escaped the No-Fly List

      YASEEN KADURA ARRIVED at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport more than four hours early for his flight to New York on January 15, hoping to ensure that security delays wouldn’t stop him from making his flight on time. Kadura had not been allowed to board a plane for roughly three-and-a-half years, but in his hand was a laminated copy of a letter from the Department of Homeland Security, which stated in writing that “the U.S. government knows of no reason Mr. Kadura should be unable to fly.”

      Kadura, an American citizen, was placed on the federal government’s no-fly list in 2012. Since then, in addition to being prevented from boarding flights, he has been detained, interrogated, and harassed at border crossings and pressured by authorities to become a government informant.

    • Web Exclusive: Drone War Protester Mary Anne Grady Flores Speaks Out Ahead of Six-Month Jail Term

      Peace activist Mary Anne Grady Flores gives an extended web-only interview just hours before she reports to jail to begin a six-month sentence for photographing a protest at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in New York, where U.S. drones are piloted remotely. We also speak with Jonathan Wallace, an attorney who has worked extensively with the drone resistance movement.

    • Two Americans Detained in Iran Are Not Coming Home

      After retiring from the FBI in 1998, Levinson worked as a CIA contractor. Levinson was supposed to produce academic papers for the agency, but operated much like a case officer. Levinson traveled the globe to meet with potential sources, sometimes using a fake name. CIA station chiefs in those countries were allegedly never notified of Levinson’s activities overseas, even though the agency reimbursed him for his travel.

    • DOJ’s Double Standard on Osama Bin Laden Trophy Photos

      I don’t defend Bissonnette if his side deals were corrupt. But this is bullshit on several levels.

      Of course, many people, including me, have noted that Bissonnette’s book was an attempt to push back on the information asymmetry — and with it, propaganda — that the government uses classification to pull off.

      [...]

      Bissonnette’s problem, I guess, is he was allegedly both, someone who shared information that undercut official propaganda, and someone who traded on his position.

    • When resting is resistance

      Activists fixate on the future: impatient for the world we want to see.

    • Let’s Put Prison Sentences on Probation

      You may have heard there’s a growing political movement against mass incarceration. Someone should clue in the judges.

      In the past 30 years, federal judges have turned to imprisonment — as opposed to probation — as the punishment of choice for even minor crimes, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. During that same period, federal cases have tripled in number.

      The Pew study reports that “nine in 10 federal offenders received prison sentences in 2014, up from less than half in 1980, as the use of probation steadily declined.” Despite the ballooning number of cases in that time, 2014 saw 2,300 fewer probation sentences than 1980.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Numbers don’t lie—it’s time to build your own router

      I’ve noticed a trend lately. Rather than replacing a router when it literally stops working, I’ve needed to act earlier—swapping in new gear because an old router could no longer keep up with increasing Internet speeds available in the area. (Note, I am duly thankful for this problem.) As the latest example, a whole bunch of Netgear ProSafe 318G routers failed me for the last time as small businesses have upgraded from 1.5-9mbps traditional T1 connections to 50mbps coax (cable).

      Yes, coax—not fiber. Even coax has proved too much for the old ProSafe series. These devices didn’t just fail to keep up, they fell flat on their faces. Frequently, the old routers dropped speed test results from 9mbps with the old connection to 3mbps or less with the 50mbps connection. Obviously, that doesn’t fly.

    • VPN providers mad about Netflix crackdown but say they can evade it

      With Netflix saying it intends to disable video when customers use VPN services, VPN providers are criticizing the online video company and vowing to evade any measures designed to prevent their use.

      Under pressure from content owners, Netflix said last week that it will step up enforcement against subscribers who use VPNs, proxies, and unblocking services to view content not available in their countries. But even Netflix acknowledges that it’s “trivial” for VPN providers to avoid blocks by switching IP addresses, and VPN providers say they’re ready.

    • Netflix Is About To Get More Expensive for Some Users

      The company reiterated in a note to shareholders Tuesday that those lower-paying users will soon face a choice: Keep paying $7.99 a month but get downgraded to standard-definition streaming only, or fork over the $9.99 a month that new customers pay and get full high-definition content.

    • Netflix Applauds T-Mobile’s Binge On, Forgets It Opposed Zero Rating Just Last Year

      But as the EFF has pointed out, the fact that users can opt out is irrelevant. T-Mobile’s been throttling every shred of video that touches its network to 1.5 Mbps (streamed or direct downloaded) by default, and then lying about it. Critics like YouTube and the EFF have, quite correctly, pointed out that such a program should be opt-in, for both consumers and content partners. The other problem is simply one of precedent; let T-Mobile dick about with how content gets treated, and that opens the door to every carrier modifying traffic to their own benefit.

      By refusing to ban zero rating outright, the FCC has opened the door to a flood of similar ideas that are even worse and, cumulatively and aggressively, are eroding the idea of an open Internet. Worse, it’s happening to the thunderous applause of some consumers, who think they’re being given a gift when an ISP imposes utterly arbitrary usage caps, then graciously allows select content to bypass said caps. Make no mistake though; the act of fucking about with traffic in this fashion is an assault on net neutrality. That many people don’t understand this yet (or are eager to ignore the fact when it benefits them) doesn’t magically make it less true.

      A few years ago, Netflix’s Hastings went on a Facebook rant about how Comcast was unfairly letting its own streaming services bypass the company’s usage caps. But now that Netflix is seeing benefits from zero rating, it’s apparently willing to throw its principles in the toilet. Netflix may want to be careful where it treads. As some companies have discovered, zero rating isn’t your friend — and the special treatment that benefits you today may come back to bite you tomorrow.

    • 8 reasons to make the switch to IPv6

      Owen DeLong is a Senior Manager of Network Architecture at Akamai Technologies, a leader in content delivery network (CDN) services that help to make the Internet “fast, reliable, and secure.” He will be speaking at SCaLE 14x about IPv6 adoption (because we’re out of IPv4!). Owen is also a member of the ARIN Advisory Council—an advisory group to the Board of Trustees on Internet number resource policy and related matters—and is an active member of the systems administration, operations, and Internet Protocol policy communities.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • GM’s Newly Acquired Patent Could Be a Problem for Uber

      Two weeks after announcing it’s working with Lyft on a network of self-driving cars, General Motors is snapping up employees and intellectual property from the recently defunct ride sharing company Sidecar.

      The move, reported by Bloomberg Business, will bring about 20 former Sidecar employees to GM, including CTO Jahan Khanna. GM has confirmed it’s scooping up employees and IP from Sidecar, but declined to specify details.

      GM hasn’t said anything about what kind of work its new employees will be doing or how it will use the newly acquired IP. A spokesman says the move has nothing to do with the Lyft deal, and that the automaker simply jumped on a good opportunity to pick up some expertise in an area it’s starting to explore.

    • UK IP Office Unveils 5-Year Strategy to Make Businesses More IP-Aware

      The United Kingdom has a vibrant creative sector but many businesses don’t take full advantage of their intellectual property, IP Minister Baroness (Lucy) Neville-Rolfe said in her introduction to an Intellectual Property Office five-year strategy report released today. IPO research shows that over 90 percent of firms haven’t valued their IP, and small to mid-sized companies often don’t understand or know how to protect it, she said. Even a modest boost in those figures could have a significant impact on the UK economy, she said.

    • Trademarks

      • Sony On A Rampage Trademarking Common Terms: Attempted Registrations For ‘Let’s Play’ And ‘VRPG’

        It’s no secret that Sony has never been shy about wielding trademark like a cudgel. That said, there seems to be something new brewing with the company in its recent attempts to trademark fairly common terms, worrying some that it would use those trademarks in the same heavy-handed way. The first of those attempts was the recent Sony filing for a trademark on the term “Let’s Play”, which any gamer will recognize as the term for popular YouTube videos showing games being played, often offered by well-known YouTube personalities. While the USPTO had already refused the trademark on the grounds that a prior mark for “Let’z Play” had already been registered, a law firm that specializes in gaming law jumped in to try and have the court instead declare that “Let’s Play” is now a generic term.

      • Arnold J rules that shape of KitKat chocolate bar cannot be registered as a trade mark

        Can the shape of the KitKat chocolate bar be registered as a trade mark on grounds that it has acquired distinctiveness through use? What is required to prove that a trade mark has acquired distinctiveness through use?

        As IPKat readers will remember, these were some of the very issues that Arnold J had to address in the context of litigation between Nestlé and Cadbury over the shape of the (in)famous chocolate bar that the former had already attempted in vain to register as a UK trade mark in Class 30.

    • Copyrights

      • Linking to unlawful content: what will the CJEU say?

        In the meantime, Katfriend and IP enthusiast Nedim Malovic (Stockholm University) has provided a recap of what has happened since Svensson [Katposts here] and ventured to anticipate what the CJEU might say in the near future. His conclusion? The CJEU will likely regard linking to unlawful content as an act of communication to the public.

      • REPORT: Copyright royalties for streaming music to increase
      • Federal Judge MAY Set Up Pro Bono Legal Assistance For Defendants Sued By Voltage Pictures/Carl Crowell [UPDATED]

        Now, it appears Crowell has made an enemy in the federal court system. Unfortunately for him, this enemy is presiding over most of his Doe lawsuits. Fight Copyright Trolls reports federal judge Michael W. Mosman has set up Default Judgment Roadblock, Esq. in response to Crowell’s tactics.

      • Copyright Week 2016: Making Copyright Work For The Public

        It’s hard to believe we’re almost three years into the U.S. copyright reform process kicked off with a call to Congress for the Next Great Copyright Act—and that we’re kicking off the third annual Copyright Week to boot. Once again, we’re working alongside great partners in the copyright space to make sure that the public—from technology users, to readers, to fans, to artists—get their voice heard in debates that are all too often limited to a few industry lobbies.

        We’re entering a critical stage, too. It’s been four years this week since Internet users staged the largest ever online protest of a bad copyright law, the Stop Online Piracy Act, that would’ve curtailed online speech and created a system of blacklists for sites and users. Four years ago, millions of us spoke up and derailed that proposal. But a lot can change in four years, and indeed we’ve started to see Hollywood and others try to sneak elements of SOPA back into the debate, through private agreements with intermediaries, influence on state officials, extraordinary injunctions in court, and more.

      • Pirate Site Trial in Norway Ends in Record Sentence

        Together the studios went tough by demanding six months in jail plus more than $93,000 in damages.

        But despite agreeing that the main had illegally made available at least 1,200 films and TV shows, downloaded around 700 from The Pirate Bay and then made them available to the public, the ruling from Tønsberg District Court falls far short of those demands.

        According to information distributed to its members yesterday, Rights Alliance said that the Court handed the now 21-year-old a six month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay around $28,000.

      • ‘Arr!’ Forget Icesave, Iceland’s Next Scare Is the Pirate Party

        From Spain’s Podemos to France’s National Front, anti-establishment parties are clamoring for power across Europe. Up north in Iceland, it’s Pirates who are making the biggest ahoys.

        With just over a year until parliamentary elections are due, the Icelandic Pirate Party has been consistently topping opinion polls.

        Should that support translate into real votes, it would win more than a third of the ballots, making it the biggest party in a country traditionally governed by coalitions.

        That could have a revolutionary effect on a country that’s only now returning to normal after the 2008 collapse of its biggest banks. While the Pirates’ main focus is on direct democracy and less stringent copyright laws, they also want to introduce a 35-hour work week and split the investment and commercial units of banks.

        The country’s prime minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, isn’t too concerned.

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