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01.27.16

Links 27/1/2016: Tails 2.0, GPUOpen

Posted in News Roundup at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux and open source are the future

    To me, open source is the future of computing and of jobs. Programming, especially on the web, is in high demand. So, we must make sure that our youth are on the path to intersect with these jobs. Several years ago, Brazil adopted open source for use with their 50 million K-12 students, and I sometimes wonder if the United States will be playing catch-up to get students into open source.

    One of my dreams is to help unite open source enthusiasts in the Washington D.C. area. There’s so much we can learn from each other, and the time to start is now.

  • Linux through a journalist’s eyes

    How does a self-proclaimed “English and history guy” make a career writing about Linux? In this video, veteran technology journalist Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols tells us precisely how.

    Vaughan-Nichols takes listeners on a journey through his storied career, highlighting his early days translating programming languages for non-technical users. He still remembers the day he stumbled on Linux. “I discovered that Linux was actually neat—that this little Finnish graduate student with the funny name on the Minix newsgroup was on to something,” he says. And for nearly 25 years, Vaughan-Nichols says, that special “something” has propelled his career.

  • Desktop

    • The U.S. Government and Open Standards: A Tale of Personal Woe

      That was a little annoying for me because I didn’t have Acrobat — which Adobe no longer offers for Linux — on my Ubuntu Linux computer. Fortunately, I was able to download an older version of Acrobat and install it on Ubuntu easily enough. With that in place, I could fill out the document.

    • Free

      It’s been an interesting few months, getting used to this whole advertising-among-the-stories thing. But in the end, I have come to realize that everything being free might be good, but there are times when all of that free stuff can bring an end to things we’ve come to count on. It was mentioned to me just a day ago, that if a news website like FOSS Force goes under, then there are a lot more to fill that space. I asked him what sites he was speaking of and he pointed out two of the biggest, those being LXer and LinuxToday.com. I then asked him just where he thought those two website got their news. He’s probably standing just where I left him. The same deer-in-the-headlights look. Like I had explained quantum mechanics to him.

    • Why Linux is still better than Windows 10

      Microsoft’s release of Windows 10 has added a new wrinkle to the eternal “Windows versus Linux” discussions online. And recently a Linux redditor took the time to install Windows 10 and do some exploring. While he found Windows 10 to be a prettier version of Windows, it wasn’t long before he realized that Linux still beats Windows as a desktop operating system.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Architecting Next-Gen Linux Car Systems: AGL’s Michael Fabry

      The Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) project is one of many independently funded software projects hosted by the Linux Foundation. For these Collaborative Projects, as they’re called, the Linux Foundation provides the essential framework so that participants can focus on innovation and results.

      To learn more, we are talking with key contributors about what they do and how they became involved. For this feature, we spoke with Michael Fabry, Project Manager Engineering at Microchip, about his work with the AGL, which is dedicated to creating open source software solutions for automotive applications and which recently added automakers Subaru, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Ford to its list of members.

    • The Linux Test Project has been released for January 2016

      Good news everyone,

      the Linux Test Project test suite stable release for *January 2016*
      has been released.

      Since the last release 191 patches by 29 authors were merged.

      Notable changes are:

      * Rewritten and new cgroup tests for cpuacct and pids controllers

      * Rewritten basic cgroup functional and stress tests

      * New userns07 test for user namespaces

      * New syscall tests for:
      - renameat2()
      - sched_getattr()
      - sched_setattr()
      - kcmp()
      - fcntl(fd, F_SETLEASE)
      - preadv()
      - pwritev()

    • Has the Linux Foundation Sold out to VMware? Probably Not

      Has the Linux Foundation, the most powerful nonprofit organization in the open source world, sold out to corporate interests? And how committed is it to defending the GPL free software license? Those are questions some critics are asking in the wake of recent changes to the Linux Foundation’s by-laws.

    • Digital Asset Holdings Discloses New Details About Its Hyperledger Platform

      Digital Asset is excited to announce that Hyperledger has become one of the most highly requested project participants in the Linux Foundation’s history.

    • Digital Asset Announces Progress Made In Hyperledger Project

      Digital Asset has recently announced the progress made in the Hyperledger project. The company describes it as an enterprise-ready blockchain server with a client API, which has a modular architecture and configurable protocol properties.

    • Digital Asset Holdings says Linux Foundation partnership boosts critical Hyperledger development

      Fresh from the completion of a major funding round, Digital Asset Holdings said its announcement last month that it was moving its Hyperledger platform to the Linux Foundation has been critical to further developing the platform. In just one month since the Linux Foundation announced a collaborative effort to advance blockchain technology, the project has become one of the efforts with the most participation requests in Linux Foundation history, according to a Digital Asset announcement.

    • Linux Kernel 3.10.95 LTS Updates USB Drivers, Improves the Networking Stack

      Renowned kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the ninty-fifth maintenance build for the long-term supported Linux 3.10 kernel series, urging all users to update as soon as possible.

      The announcement for Linux kernel 3.10.95 LTS comes right after Mr. Greg Kroah-Hartman informed us about the general availability of the Linux kernel 4.3.4, Linux kernel 4.1.16 LTS, and Linux kernel 3.14.59 LTS versions, and just by looking at the appended shortlog we can notice that it’s a small update with only 46 files changed consisting of 336 insertions and 92 deletions.

    • Voice of the Masses: Should the Linux Foundation have community representation?

      According to their own website: “The Linux Foundation protects and promotes the ideals of freedom and generous collaboration established through the development of Linux, and shares these ideals to power any endeavor aiming to make the future a better place in which to live.” This is indeed a noble goal, and to assist it in this endeavor, many of the world’s largest technology companies pay tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. All this money is first stored in a Scrooge McDuck style silo before being used to pay the salaries of some kernel developers, passed on to projects improving security in open source, and used to promote Linux in a wide variety of ways.

    • Graphics Stack

      • It’s Time to Open up the GPU

        The second is a commitment to open source software. The game and graphics development community is an active hub of enthusiastic individuals who believe in the value of sharing knowledge. Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games.

      • AMD emits fresh open-source GPU tools for HPC, game devs

        AMD has fleshed out its notion of an openly defined GPU architecture, GPUOpen, with the launch of a bunch of open-source tools on GitHub plus a shiny new website.

        The move has been welcomed by the gaming press, but GPUOpen is not all about blasting people in 3D death matches – AMD also has the high performance computing (HPC) community in mind. The “Professional Compute” side of the initiative brings together tools like.

      • Trying To Run The AMDGPU Driver With A Hawaii GPU On Linux 4.5

        After installing that 4.5-rc1 kernel spin and then blacklisting the Radeon DRM driver (since it will still try to auto-load by default as it matches the hardware PCI ID), I booted with AMDGPU. However, I quickly realized things weren’t working right when the R9 290 didn’t mode-set to 4K.

      • OpenGL 3.1 Core Support Lands In X.Org Server’s GLAMOR

        A number of GLAMOR commits landed today within the X.Org Server Git repository.

        Most noticeable to the GLAMOR work that landed today is the OpenGL core profile support from the patches originally posted earlier this month and since revised. With the patches, there is core profile support with GLAMOR for EGL/ephyr/XWayland. There’s also VBO support for GLAMOR X-Video vertex array objects usage, and more as part of this work.

      • RTG Announces Radeon Open Compute Platform

        Their latest post reads, “Today the Radeon Technology Group is releasing a preview version of the Radeon Open Compute Kernel driver (ROCK) and Radeon Open Compute runtime ROCR, allowing the exploration of what is possible with the open GPU computing foundation. The objective of this release is to start a dialog with the commercial and academic HPC communities that will shape the future direction of the Boltzmann Initiative, both for the coming year and beyond. We are excited to present to you our first public release of the Boltzmann driver and runtime with HCC and HIP.”

      • AMD launches GPUOpen website
      • AMD Launches GPUOpen – Refines Philosophy Into Two Tiers: CGI and Gaming and Professional Compute
      • AMD wants to open up PC graphics chips
      • AMD opens up the GPU
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.5.4 Has Fixes For Multi-Screen Users

        KDE Plasma 5.5.4 was released today as a bug-fix update to Plasma 5.5 as released in December. With this new point release there are fixes primarily for multi-screen users receiving notifications.

        The lone prominent change listed by today’s 5.5.4 release announcement is “Many improvements and refactoring to notification positioning making them appear in the right place for multi-screen use.”

      • How to integrate OpenGL code with Qt Quick 2 applications (part 2)
      • Integrating OpenGL With Qt Quick 2 Apps

        The post today covers hooking in with the Qt Quick 2 renderer, OpenGL underlays/overlays, and the other steps for integrating this OpenGL code with Qt Quick 2 applications. HOwever, at this time there is no support with the Qt Quick renderer for modifying the OpenGL state.

      • Kdenlive: Café, Sprint and More

        And for the pleasure, here is a screenshot of Kdenlive’s clip monitor where you can see several of the new features that are currently being worked on for the 16.04 release. The monitor looks a bit cluttered like this but it’s just for the demo – everything is configurable.

      • Creating a Qt 5 port to Apple tvOS

        Back in November, Apple released the latest generation of it’s Apple TV product. Besides the slightly improved hardware, the true new feature is the OS which is now officially based on iOS and comes with the dedicated SDK and App Store! So we started investigating what it would take to port Qt to tvOS and start writing some apps for the big screen.

      • App Review of GCompris: Kids’ Happiness

        If you have children, you know how hard it is to make a child happy and interested in something for a long time. But there is an easy way to do that: show them GCompris. It is a really great game set for children 2-10 years old and they surely will like it. You may ask, if GCompris is really so good, and I would answer you “Yes”. And that is not a joke. Here are some proofs of that. But, you know, nothing is ideal, so I will also mention its bad sides (unfortunately, they are present too).

      • KDE Ships Plasma 5.5.4, bugfix Release for January
      • KDE Plasma 5.5.4 Lands with Notification Improvements for Multi-Monitor Setups

        Today, January 26, 2016, KDE proudly announced that the fourth maintenance release for the Plasma 5 desktop environment is now available for GNU/Linux distribution vendors to compile and push to their default repositories for users to update.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Yosembiance A Smooth and Sleek Theme Based On Ambiance

        Do you like Ambiance theme but also like flat themes? Yosembiance is smoothed and slightly flattened version of Ubuntu default theme Ambiance and it is modified by Brain Sundman, he tried to make this theme more beautiful and he succeeded, the Ubuntu’s default theme Ambiance is also beautiful there is no doubt about it. The initial release of this theme was in 2014 and with the passage of time Brain also made this theme available for newer Ubuntu versions. There is blue version too, if you don’t want to stick with orange one then you can choose blue for your desktop. I added this theme to PPA for Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial/15.10 Wily/15.04 Vivid/14.04 Trusty, and this theme is not tested on Linux Mint but hopefully it will work just fine, you can give it a shot and let us know in the comment below. You can use Unity Tweak Tool, Gnome-tweak-tool or Ubuntu-Tweak to change themes/icons.

  • Distributions

    • Which Linux Is Secure? The Analysis Of Top Popular Distributions

      So, can I be sure that web site of my lovely Linux Distribution is real and hackers doesn’t replace it with infected software? Can I get a backdoor in my operating system from installed updates? No, but only with these conditions:

    • Linux Top 3: Kali Rolls, Gparted partions and Android x86 Mobilizes Linux

      As always there is no shortage of activity in the Linux distribution space and this week is no exception as multiple types of Linux distributions are out with updates.

    • Reviews

      • Fast Times With Nelum OS

        Nelum OS is a light and fast live-installable Linux distribution family offering three separate releases.

        “Nelum” means “lotus” in Sinhalese, the language of Sri Lanka, according to developer Ostro Leka.

        The distro is a brand-new entry to the land of Linux, with its initial release posted earlier this month. It is an unusual twist on what you usually see with a Linux release.

    • New Releases

      • Lakka Is A Linux OS That Converts Any Computer Into A Gaming Console

        It’s time to go to your basement, clean your dusty old PC and make it ready for something fun. Using the lightweight Linux distro Lakka, you can turn that old pal into a retro gaming machine. This ready-to-install system is derived from OpenELEC, a version of Kodi home theater software. The OS also acts as a DIY retro emulation console based upon the RetroArch emulator software.

        The strength of Lakka lies in the wide range of hardware it supports and useful feature like Braid-like rewinding, video streaming, and joypad hotplug. Once installed on your SD card, it is easy to set up and runs all your favorite vintage games.

      • BackBox Linux 4.5 Security-Oriented OS Comes Preinstalled with New Hacking Tools

        The developers of the BackBox Linux operating system have announced the release and immediate availability for download of the BackBox Linux 4.5 release, which promises to bring a new kernel and lots of updated packages.

        According to the release notes, BackBox Linux 4.5 comes preinstalled with Linux kernel 4.2 and adds various new and special tools, such as Automotive Analysis and OpenVAS, which promise to make a big difference when talking about the overall performance of the system.

      • BOSS – Barath Operating System Solutions

        Our meetings with BOSS developers have been very pleasant. Even those working at the top of cloud or big data stacks – furthest away from our mindset of tightly “locking down” all parts as packages – were patient with us.

        Thanks in particular to Prema S and Prathibha B, working on packaging of BOSS for the past 5+ years, and both likely to enter the Debian New Maintainer Queue before long :-)

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Arch Family

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • All About Folder Sharing on OpenSUSE 42.1

        This is not the Brazilian dance guys. Samba is a free software licensed under the GNU General Public License and a re-implementation of the SMB/CIFS networking protocol which was originally developed by Andrew Tridgell. Samba is used for sharing files & folders between UNIX & Linux like system towards a Windows OS driven PC. Samba allows a non-Windows server to communicate with the same networking protocol as the Windows products and that’s the interesting part of it. Samba was originally developed for UNIX but now a days it can run on Linux, FreeBSD and other UNIX variants.The name Samba comes from SMB (Server Message Block). Samba works on the majority of modern operating systems available today.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • OpenAMP heterogeneous multicore standard targets Linux

      The MCA announced its Open Asymmetric Multi Processing Framework (OpenAMP) for Linux multicore development, with support from Mentor Graphics and Xilinx.

      The Multicore Association (MCA) formally unveiled its open source “Open Asymmetric Multi Processing Framework” (OpenAMP), and announced a working group to establish standardization of the multicore development framework. The working group will expand and document the specification for Linux, and collaborate with the OpenAMP open source community.

    • ARM-based “Colibri” COMs hatch a hardware ecosystem

      Toradex launched a partner program aimed at supporting its Linux-ready, ARM based “Colibri” COMs with carrier boards, displays, enclosures, and more.

      Toradex has structured a new third party hardware partner ecosystem for its Linux-ready Colibri family of ARM-based computer-on-modules. The Swiss embedded vendor is also actively recruiting partners to make third-party, general purpose and application specific carrier boards for Colibri COMs.

    • Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

      We chatted for a while and it became apparent that they had been holding themselves back from actually making something because they were afraid the result would be wrong. I went to my box and retrieved the failures from my most recent case design for a Raspberry Pi model B to put alongside the successful end product to try and encourage them.

    • A Cheap WiFi Memory Card Reader Hacked To Run OpenWRT

      The ZSun WiFi Memory Card Reader isn’t intended for running OpenWRT, but has been modified to do so. There is this detailed Wiki page explaining how to adapt this cheap WiFI SD card reader into running OpenWRT for WiFi networking purposes, possible use-cases around IoT, play around with mesh networking, or really any other interesting scenarios along those lines. The Zsun device is powered by an AR9331 SoC with 64MB of RAM and 16MB of flash storage.

    • Raspberry Pi Zero Cluster Packs a Punch

      If you could actually buy 16 Raspberry Pi Zeros, you might be able to build your very own Raspberry Pi Cluster for only $80! Well… minus the cost of the board to tie them all together…

    • Enea AB: Enea Linux 5 is CGL 5.0 registered for leading telecom companies to rely on when building their NFV applications, equipment, and networks
    • The Pine A64 is about to become the cheapest ARM 64-bit platform to run Docker

      Last Saturday one of the more promising Kickstarter campaigns that piqued our curiosity ended after 44 days and was able to raise 1.7 million dollars. It was a campaign to fund the cheapest 64-bit ARM board that can currently be bought for money.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Even Microsoft’s Windows Phone chief is using an iPhone

          Funny things happen when you’re no longer championing the least popular phone platform out there: you stop using it.

          Joe Belfiore is technically the Corporate Vice President, Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, but he took a year off starting in October 2015 for a worldwide trip.

        • Smartphone Wars 2015: Now Apple. iPhone sold 231.4 million units for roughly 15% market share

          Apple announced its Q4 (Christmas quarter) results and reports it sold 74.8 million iPhones. which is a preliminary market share of 15.4% for the quarter. The unit sales is up 56% compared to Q3 but as our readers remember, Apple cannot be analyzed on quarter-to-quarter unit sales because of the once-per-year new model launch cycle, so that is not comparable to the other companies and performance vs last quarter. Nor should one quarter of Apple be compared to the same quarter last year (which would suggest the growth rate of under one half of one percent, also totally not true). The way to compare Apple is to see growth in the past 12 month moving average. And conveniently, now at the end of the year, we have that number so its easy to do. Apple sold 231.4 million iPhones which is up 20% compared to 2014 when they sold 192.7 million iPhones. Thats the real growth rate for Apple’s iPhone. Now what is Apple’s market share for the year? I have been using the 1.55 Billion total smartphone shipment estimate, at which level Apple’s smartphone market share would be 14.9% ie flat compared to 2014 when it was also 14.9%. With this number, however, I would warn that several signs suggest a slow-down of year-end smartphone sales globally, if the year ends up less than 1.55B then the market share(s for all brands) will be a bit better than my preliminary estimates. So in rough terms if you round it up to even percentages, iPhones is at about 15%, same as last year. Apple is certain to finish 2015 again as second largest smartphone maker behind Samsung and ahead of Huawei.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Tech Dominates Top Paying Skills

    Beyond that, though, the top 10 list is chock full of open source technologies, ranging from OpenStack and CloudStack in the “Cloud” category to a bevy of Big Data-related skills, such as MapReduce, Pig, Cassandra and Cloudera.

  • Show us the code! You should be able to peek inside the gadgets you buy – FTC commish

    FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny supports the idea of giving people access to the source code to stuff to ensure better security and privacy in the era of the internet of things.

    The idea is that obvious bad bugs and poor security mechanisms can be quickly spotted and either fixed or the item stays on the store shelf.

    Speaking at the State of the Net conference in Washington DC on Monday, McSweeny noted that US consumer watchdog the FTC was looking closely at the proliferation of connected devices that gather and store highly personal information.

  • Recent Discussion on Unfairness in FLOSS

    I include above some pieces that, on the surface, are adjacent to this conversation rather than in it: on open data, on emotional burnout, on GitHub’s tooling, on license compliance, on setting expectations about unmaintained projects. But I see these frustrations as — like the injustice driving volunteer maintainers to step away — coming from a fundamental perception of unfairness. Free and open source software makers will notice if there is no measure of reciprocity in an environment that pays lip service to gift culture.

  • Project Calico Now Fully Supports Kubernetes

    On Friday, Project Calico, an open source virtual networking stack, released its 1.0 version plugin for Kubernetes – a signal that the plugin been well-tested and ready for production, according to Andy Randall, the project’s lead evangelist.

  • Events

    • Vault linux storage and filesystems CFP is open

      The Linux Foundation promotes, protects and advances Linux by marshalling the resources of its members and the open source development community to ensure Linux remains free and technically advanced.

    • Kohei Yoshida: LibreOffice mini-Conference 2016 in Osaka

      First off, let me just say that it was such an honor and pleasure to have had the opportunity to present a keynote at the LibreOffice mini-Conference in Osaka. It was a bit surreal to be given such an opportunity almost one year after my involvement with LibreOffice as a paid full-time engineer ended, but I’m grateful that I can still give some tales that some people find interesting. I must admit that I haven’t been that active since I left Collabora in terms of the number of git commits to the LibreOffice core repository, but that doesn’t mean that my passion for that project has faded. In reality it is far from it.

    • LinuxFest NorthWest

      Fedora will have a presence at LinuxFest NorthWest, April 23-24 in Bellingham, Washington, and can use your help. If you would like to help out with a few hours in the booth or at the Friday game night, add your name to the list on the Fedora Wiki page. You can earn a LFNW shirt or lunch for a few hours of service.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox v44 Rolling out to Android with Improved Tabs Screen

        On Tuesday, Mozilla rolled out a new update to their Firefox web browser that’s available on Android. Effectively bringing it to version 44. The update has a few new features, as well as fixing some other bugs and such. The update is available in the Google Play Store now, for those of you that don’t use Chrome. Included in the update is an improved tab screen. The reasoning behind this improved tab screen, Mozilla says is for uniformity with tablets using the same browser. The company also says that the thumbnails shown on the tab screen should also be a bit more accurate this time around.

      • Firefox 44 released

        Firefox 44.0 has been released.

      • Perfect storm: GTK+3.x behaviour under KDE and Firefox’s move to GTK+3.x

        At Mageia, various people suddenly started complaining about the scrollbar behaviour of GTK+3.x. Not always in the most constructive manner.

        [...]

        Loads of people use Firefox. These people don’t like their Firefox behaving different from what they’re used to and expect.

      • Firefox Can Now Get Push Notifications From Your Favorite Sites

        Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux now lets you choose to receive push notifications from websites if you give them permission. This is similar to Web notifications, except now you can receive notifications for websites even when they’re not loaded in a tab. This is super useful for websites like email, weather, social networks and shopping, which you might check frequently for updates.

      • Mozilla Now Has Push Notifications for Websites That Are Not Loaded Yet

        Mozilla is trying to inform users on their new “Push Notification” feature that makes it easier for websites to send notifications even when the tab is not loaded.

      • Mozilla “Push”es Firefox 44, Most Secure Linux Projects

        Firefox 44 was released today with Mozilla touting new Push technology. Push allows websites to push content to users without their having to visit the site directly. Elsewhere, The Linux Homefront Project researched which Linux distributions take user security seriously and some of the results are surprising. Jack M. Germain reviewed Nelum OS and Neil Rickert shared his multi-boot techniques.

      • Web Push Arrives in Firefox 44
      • Firefox 44 Debuts With Improved Security

        Mozilla adds push notification support and provides 11 security advisories with its latest open-source browser release.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • EnterpriseDB talks up shift to open source databases as it unveils Postgres Advanced Server 9.5

      Database firm EnterpriseDB has delivered the latest version of Postgres Advanced Server, the firm’s commercially supported distribution based on the open source PostgreSQL code, claiming that it is increasingly finding favour among Fortune 500 firms for its scalability and cost-effectiveness.

      Available now, Postgres Advanced Server 9.5 is based on PostgreSQL 9.5, which was released by its developer community earlier this month. EnterpriseDB provides this to organisations under a Postgres Enterprise subscription along with the Postgres Enterprise Manager tool and other value-add enhancements.

      Like the community release, Postgres Advanced Server 9.5 features enhancements to increase performance and scalability when operating business-critical workloads, including a claimed 96 percent performance boost when handling 64 concurrent connections, compared with the previous release of the platform.

  • CMS

    • Lean WordPress: A guide to optimizing your CMS

      The first thing to do with plugins on an existing WordPress site is to deactivate any that aren’t being used. Active plugins load resources (and make HTTP requests), adding overhead to every page that loads. If a plugin is not being used, shut it down.

  • Healthcare

    • Open source healthcare system adds 3 more hospitals

      OpenMaxims, an electronic patient record system developed in the United Kingdom and made available as open source software, is now used by three more UK hospitals. The software solution is implemented for the Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Clifton Hospital and Fleetwood Hospital, all three in England’s northwest coast.

    • Open-source laser fabrication lowers costs for cancer research

      In a move that slashes 90 percent of the cost of mass-producing metastatic microtumors and therapeutic microtissues for screening and research, Rice University bioengineers have adapted techniques from the “maker” movement to reprogram a commercial laser cutter to etch up to 50,000 tiny “microwells” per hour into sheets of silicone.

      The fabrication technique, which was developed with open-source software and hardware, is described in a new study published in the journal RSC Advances.

    • Laser cut microwells could lower the cost of cancer research

      The fabrication technique, which was developed with open-source software and hardware, could slash 90% of the cost of mass-producing metastatic microtumours and therapeutic microtissues for screening and research.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Changes Start Heading Into AMDGPU For LLVM 3.9

      A number of AMDGPU LLVM back-end changes have been hitting the mainline LLVM SVN/Git code-base in recent days.

      However, all of this activity won’t be found in next month’s LLVM 3.8 release since it’s already branched but rather is new work going into LLVM 3.9. This latest LLVM 3.9 code drops compatibility for the Mesa 11.0 series, adds some new intrinsics, some new tests were added, and more.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Key charities that advance software freedom are worthy of your urgent support

      Conservancy and the FSF show in concrete terms that two charities can work together to increase their impact. Last year, our organizations collaborated on many projects, such as the proposed FCC rule changes for wireless devices, jointly handled a GPL enforcement action against Canonical, Ltd., published the principles of community-oriented GPL enforcement, and continued our collaboration on copyleft.org. We’re already discussing lots of ways that the two organizations can work together in 2016!

  • Public Services/Government

    • Oviedo reuses Madrids citizens participation tool

      The city of Oviedo, capital of Spain’s Principality of Asturias, in December unveiled Oviedoparticipa.es. This citizen participation and open government platform is based on Madrid’s decide.madrid.es platform, which is available as open source software.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Stop Driving Laser Cutters with 3D Printer Software!

        Laser cutters are fantastic pieces of equipment, and thanks to open-source improvements in recent years, are getting even cheaper to make. It can be as simple as throwing a high-powered laser diode onto the head of your 3D printer! With so many home-brew designs out there, wouldn’t it be nice if there was some all-encompassing open-source, laser-cutter controller software? Well, as it turns out — there is, and it’s called LaserWeb.

  • Programming

    • 5 keys to project success on GitHub

      Open source is more than a license and software development model; it’s also largely about the people. Encourage both users and maintainers to collaborate to promote a surge in new ideas. You’ll find that most prominent projects incorporate a community of contributors with a mailing list, GitHub project, and/or IRC/Slack channel.

    • LLVM Drops Its Autoconf Build System

      LLVM/Clang is the latest high-profile project to abandon its Autoconf build system.

      As of today in the latest LLVM development code it removes the Autoconf build system for LLVM and Clang.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The caste system has left its mark on Indians’ genomes

      A group of researchers has identified exactly when Indians stopped intermarrying.

    • Chess endgame tablebases

      A very short post: This link contains an interesting exposition of the 50-move rule in chess, and what it means for various endings. You can probably stop halfway, though; most of it is only interest for people deeply into endgame theory.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Paul Krugman: The Flint Water Disaster Was No Accident

      The poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water and the irreversible harm to the city’s children, was no accident, Paul Krugman argues in his Monday column. The nightmare stems from a disturbing trend in which hardline right-wingers are rejecting their most basic responsibilities to safeguard public health and safety, particularly where the public is low-income and majority African American.

    • Flint water crisis: AG hopes to avoid conflict of interest with ‘conflict wall’

      Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Monday he is appointing an ex-prosecutor and Detroit’s former FBI chief to join the investigation into Flint’s water crisis, creating a “conflict wall” between the state’s probe and the lawsuits targeting the state.

      The previously announced investigation will determine “whether any Michigan laws were violated in the process that created a major public health crisis for Flint residents.”

    • Flint, Michigan’s water crisis has still left the city with fewer poisoned children than Detroit

      The Flint water crisis has captured national attention, but, paradoxically, one benefit of city services failing as egregiously as they have in Flint is that many families have been able to largely avoid the toxic water that was pumping into the city’s homes. Urban soil lead, by contrast, is a problem that slips past people unnoticed. So unnoticed, in fact, that there is actually a higher incidence of lead-poisoned children in nearby Detroit, where the water is fine, than there is in Flint.

    • It’s not just a Flint problem: Other U.S. cities are suffering from toxic water

      In the wake of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, residents in other U.S. cities are following suit by turning to social media to condemn government inaction on toxic drinking water and call for federal help.

      A photo of what appears to be polluted water surfaced on Twitter over the weekend showing brown-colored running water coming from a tap in Lousiana. The caption reads “If you think the #flintwatercrisis was an isolated event, you’d better think again. This is water from St. Joseph, Louisisana.”

    • Flint is part of a pattern: 7 toxic assaults on communities of color

      From Pennsylvania to California and across the South, black families are most vulnerable to environmental disaster

    • A Toxic Timeline of Flint’s Water Fiasco

      New twists emerge almost daily in the story of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents were left to drink, cook, and bathe in lead-contaminated water for 17 months as city and state officials insisted the water was safe. Here’s a timeline of how things unfolded, which we’ll update as significant new details come to light.

    • Governor Snyder: You Were Not Hired to Be Jerry Lewis

      First of all, Rick Snyder is worth something like $200 million, and while he returns his gubernatorial salary, he brings in around $1.9 million a year. So this is a guy making making $36,500 a week asking people who (using the Michigan average household, not individual, income) $48,500 a year to donate to help Flint. Your average Michigan household is doing almost twice as well as your average Flint household (average $25,000 a year) — so it is certainly within their charitable ability to help their fellow Michigander. But clearly the kinds of donations that Rick Snyder could afford would go much further to helping Flint than the kind of donations most Michiganders could afford.

    • Livestock Diversity Is Crucial For Future Food Security On A Harsher Planet

      Our livestock is increasingly being raised indoors and fed on concentrate feed that is often imported. Intensive production of chickens, pigs and dairy cows is based on a few breeds worldwide. These developments are risky, as we and future generations are losing the potential to adapt livestock production systems to increasingly harsh conditions such as those associated with higher temperatures and shortages of nutritious feeds.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Uncle Sam’s Suicide Squads

      For years now, the U.S. has been employing extremist jihadi assets, brothers in arms with Al Qaeda, to destabilize and attempt to overthrow the Syrian government. Al Qaeda allies played a similar role in the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Libyan government. And Al Qaeda itself is an outgrowth of the CIA’s Mujahideen assets that the U.S. unleashed against the Soviets in the Afghan Jihad of the 80s as part of Operation Cyclone.

    • Freedom! 19,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed in Less Than Two Years

      It is also an estimate, given that many areas of the country are not readily accessible, and because the death toll from the siege of Ramadi is not accounted for in the figures. More than 3.2 million Iraqis are internally displaced and/or homeless.

    • Failed States and States of Failure

      “We Destroyed the Cities to Save Them” and Other Future Headlines

      [...]

      Let’s start with an event that occurred in Iraq as 2015 ended and generated headlines that included “victory,” a word Americans haven’t often seen in the twenty-first century — except, of course, in Trumpian patter. (“We’re going to win so much — win after win after win — that you’re going to be begging me: ‘Please, Mr. President, let us lose once or twice. We can’t stand it any more.’ And I’m going to say: ‘No way. We’re going to keep winning. We’re never going to lose. We’re never, ever going to lose.’”) I’m talking about the “victory” achieved at Ramadi, a city in al-Anbar Province that Islamic State (IS or ISIL) militants seized from the Iraqi army in May 2015. With the backing of the U.S. Air Force — there were more than 600 American air strikes in and around Ramadi in the months leading up to that victory — and with U.S.-trained and U.S.-financed local special ops units leading the way, the Iraqi military did indeed largely take back that intricately booby-trapped and mined city from heavily entrenched IS militants in late December. The news was clearly a relief for the Obama administration and those headlines followed.

    • Egypt Is Covering Up A Police Brutality Crisis With Talk Of Terrorism

      Police brutality in Egypt is still rampant even five years after protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square toppled the brutal Mubarak regime, according to Amnesty International.

      “Five years since the uprising that ousted Mubarak, Egypt is once more a police state,” Nicholas Piachaud, Egypt Researcher at Amnesty International, wrote.

      “We are in a worse off position than we were in Mubarak years,” human rights lawyer Ragia Omran told CNN.

    • The Republican myth of Ronald Reagan and the Iran hostages, debunked

      Some stories are too good to check, and some myths are too perfect to bust. We’ve seen that dynamic in action all month, as GOP presidential candidates trot out their favorite foreign policy anecdote: the Parable of the Hostages.

      The story goes that on the day of his inauguration, in January 1981, President Reagan convinced the Iranian regime to free the American Embassy hostages more or less just by glaring harshly in the direction of Tehran, which quailed in the face of his unyielding toughness and released the Americans immediately.

    • Lara Marlowe: France has a fatal attraction to the Middle East

      The French writer and statesman André Malraux allegedly predicted that “the 21st century will be a century of religion or it will not be at all.”

    • Documentary Featuring Jihadists Confronts Censorship in France

      Speaking on French radio yesterday, filmmakers François Margolin and Lemine Ould Salem defended their documentary. Margolin said, “We are not advocating terrorism, we are just showing a discourse that exists.”

    • Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him

      Russia is so far winning big in Syria, and making Moscow’s projection of force in the Middle East a reality that the other great powers have to recognize. As Russia has emerged as a major combatant against Syrian al-Qaeda and against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), it is being accepted back into a Europe traumatized by two major attacks on Paris. France is signalling that it hopes to end sanctions on Russia over Ukraine by this summer. While the Minsk peace process is going all right, the motivation here is to ally more closely with Moscow against Muslim radicals in the wake of Russia’s successes against them in Syria.

    • Saudi Arabia Is Killing Civilians With US Bombs

      Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance. In September 2015, Saudi aircraft killed 135 wedding celebrants in Yemen. The air strikes have killed 2,800 civilians, including 500 children. Human Rights Watch charges that these bombings “have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians.”

    • The Iraq War’s Known Unknowns

      There is a lot more than meets the eye in the newly revealed Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence briefing of Sept. 5, 2002, which showed there was a lack of evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – just as President George W. Bush’s administration was launching its sales job for the Iraq War.

      The briefing report and its quick demise amount to an indictment not only of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but also of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers, who is exposed once again as a Rumsfeld patsy who put politics ahead of his responsibility to American soldiers and to the nation as a whole.

      In a Jan. 24 report at Politico entitled “What Donald Rumsfeld Knew We Didn’t Know About Iraq,” journalist John Walcott presents a wealth of detail about the JCS intelligence report of Sept. 5, 2002, offering additional corroboration that the Bush administration lied to the American people about the evidence of WMD in Iraq.

      [...]

      On Sept. 8, 2002, a New York Times front-pager – headlined “US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts” by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon – got the juggernaut rolling downhill to war. Their piece featured some aluminum tubes that they mistakenly thought could be used only for nuclear centrifuges (when they were actually for conventional artillery). Iraq’s provocative behavior, wrote the Times, has “brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war.”

    • Iran Is Guilty of ‘Contempt of Empire,’ Nothing More

      Case in point: Iran, a relatively modern country (far more tolerant than Saudi Arabia, considering the number of synagogues within its border) that has never attacked the United States and has in no way threatened the US, is nevertheless the target of a never-ending campaign of threats, warmongering, and acts of war by those with decision-making power over US foreign policy (I really hate saying “we” when discussing the actions of the political elite). The Iranians, while never having threatened the US with attack, have nevertheless committed the unforgivable sin of refusing to bend to the will of DC, a severe crime as seen from the warped capitol of the papier-mâché Empire, a crime that many within the political class are bristling to watch Iran burn under the “false sun” of nuclear fire.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • The Case of the Missing Comma: Why Congress Must Fix FOIA’s Law Enforcement Exemption

      As Congress considers big changes to the Freedom of Information Act, a court’s decision on Monday underscores how some of the best ways to fix the ailing transparency statute are really small—like adding a comma.

      Last fall in Naji Hamdan v. U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit read the lack of a comma in FOIA’s law enforcement exemption to limit public access to investigatory techniques and procedures.

      EFF thought that decision was wrong, both because it misread FOIA’s text and legislative history and because it emphasized technical form over the statute’s goal of ensuring robust access to government records. We filed a brief asking the court to reconsider its decision, but the court denied the effort in a summary opinion on Monday.

      For Mr. Hamdan, the denial means that an American citizen may never learn the extent to which law enforcement and national security agencies knew about or were otherwise complicit in his detention and torture abroad. For the broader public, however, the decision could result in greater secrecy surrounding law enforcement’s use of controversial investigatory techniques and procedures.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Can’t Hide From Reality: Florida Mayors Request Climate Change Meeting With Senator Marco Rubio

      Fifteen South Florida mayors released a letter Tuesday that was sent to Senator Marco Rubio requesting a meeting with the presidential candidate to talk about the climate change risk facing the state’s communities. The mayors underscore the economic burden of climate change in South Florida, urging Rubio to “acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the crisis it presents our communities.”

      “Anyone who thinks that the topic of climate change is a partisan issue is not focused on the reality which we as public officials and citizens are dealing with. This is a crisis that grows day by day,” said Tomas Regalado, mayor of Miami, asking Rubio to “help us face and tackle this urgent issue — and the risks associated with it — so we may deal with it head-on.”

    • Noam Chomsky: Why the Republican Party Is a Threat to Human Survival

      Speaking with The Huffington Post on Monday, Chomsky cited the Republican Party’s refusal to tackle—or even acknowledge—the “looming environmental catastrophe” of climate change, thereby “dooming our grandchildren.”

  • Finance

    • Doha may be dead. Long live free trade

      This weekend, trade ministers from some 30 countries will meet in Davos for their first discussion since the World Trade Organization’s Nairobi ministerial conference in December. Given the importance of trade for achieving growth and development, the continuing uncertainty in the global economy and the fact that protectionist measures have been on the rise — as the 2015 Global Trade Alert report showed — ministers should use the meeting to reflect on how to revitalize negotiations in the WTO.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 58: Just How Bad Is The TPP?
    • America’s dangerous “self-made” mythology: Why our ideas about upward mobility are seriously misinformed

      Inequality, President Obama has claimed, “is the defining challenge of our time.” And yet, though many of his reforms are positive, he has done far too little to actually alleviate inequality. But that’s not entirely his fault; presidents, like all other humans, are confined by their circumstances, both material and ideological. Although there are a number of factors that prevent action on inequality (including racial resentment and political information), one is ideological: our society’s commitment to the mythology of upward mobility. To see how ideology functions to halt legislative action on inequality, we should examine how a bipartisan commitment to upward mobility has obfuscated the true debate.

    • Part 2: Oxfam Says Privatization, Tax Havens Drive Global Inequality to Staggering Levels

      Extended web-only interview with Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. The group just issued the report, “An Economy for the 1%: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme Inequality and How This Can Be Stopped.”

    • Slouching Toward Hillary?

      Will 2016 be the year when a new representative of elite wealth assumes the mantle of power, reading to fulfill the Davos claim that seven million jobs will soon be replaced by wageless robots? Or will a political insurgency—be it left or right—finally unseat the standard neoliberal program? Will a faux socialist or a bombastic billionaire be swept into office by the popular tide? If recent history is any guide, Hillary is a lock. If the Great Depression is the better barometer, beware the man who would save capitalism from itself by mitigating its indifference to surplus humanity (i.e., FDR-styled Bernie Sanders). In any event, the new president will encounter a dire state of affairs on entering the Oval Office. As a kind of parting gesture, Wall Street’s “black mascot” Barack Obama recently treated the soporific millionaires of Congress—as well the lumpen proletariat—to one last textbook example of elite deceit about nearly everything that matters. Obama, a superb crafter of bold fictions, has been “polishing the brass on the Titanic” for some time now. Breathtakingly oblivious to the gash in the hull of the ship of state and to the icebergs in its immediate path, Obama used his final State of the Union (SOTU) address to fine-tune the rhetorical constructs he will soon slip into the brisk and heartfelt memoir of another purblind one-percenter. False optimism never sounded so good.

    • As Sanders Slams Wall Street Elite, Clinton Ditches Iowa To Fetch Their Checks

      Seemingly undeterred by the consistent critique that her close ties to the financial industry are hurting her campaign, The Intercept on Tuesday reports that with less than a week until the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton will soon leave the hotly-contested state to attend a pair of Wall Street-sponsored fundraising events.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Wonks and Trump

      The elite pundits are still operating — on the election itself, but also on health care and economic policy — on the assumption that no one will or is holding them responsible for their undelivered promises.

    • Trump Touts Endorsement From ‘Reverend Jerry Fallwell Jr.,’ Who Is Not A Reverend

      While Falwell is certainly a prominent figure in the evangelical community, he is not actually a reverend, a title specific to members of the clergy who have completed religious training.

    • Sanders to Press: Stop Trying to Get Me to Attack Clinton

      Sen. Bernie Sanders is sick of the media’s attempts to get him to attack Hillary Clinton. “I’m not going to be engaged in personal attacks on Secretary Clinton, or anybody else,” he said after repeated questioning from reporters outside an event Tuesday morning in Des Moines. But whatever distaste he has for going negative doesn’t seem to be enough to keep him from getting in a few digs at his leading Democratic opponent in the caucuses that will take place here in Iowa in less than a week.

    • Chicago Tribune Warns Voters Away From ‘Socialism’ Cliff

      The idea that you can’t be president if you believe in socialism—which Sanders defines as “a government that works for the many, not the few”—rests heavily on that Gallup poll, which found that 50 percent of respondents said they would not vote for “a socialist.”

      It also found that 38 percent said they would not vote for a Muslim—though clearly the Tribune would not be bringing that up as the sole reason a Muslim politician should not be running for president. Nor does it mention that 40 percent said they wouldn’t vote for an atheist, even though Sanders is widely (though apparently wrongly) believed to be an atheist. How come? Because corporate media in general treat religious prejudice as a shameful thing, whereas capitalist institutions like giant media conglomerates tend to see an aversion to socialism as normal and healthy.

    • Howard Dean Says He’s Not a Lobbyist But He Sure Acts Like One

      Last week, we reported that Howard Dean, former presidential candidate and current supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, had attacked Bernie Sanders for supporting a single-payer health plan, claiming that having the government pay for everyone’s health care would “undo people’s health care” and result in “chaos.” In our story, we noted that Dean, once a proponent of single-payer, now works for the lobbying practice of Dentons, a law firm retained to lobby on behalf of a number of pharmaceutical and for-profit health care interests.

    • Bernie Sanders Gets Group Endorsements When Members Decide; Hillary Clinton When Leaders Decide

      In the war for endorsements in the Democratic presidential primary, there is a clear trend.

      Every major union or progressive organization that let its members have a vote endorsed Bernie Sanders.

      Meanwhile, all of Hillary Clinton’s major group endorsements come from organizations where the leaders decide. And several of those endorsements were accompanied by criticisms from members about the lack of a democratic process.

      It’s perhaps the clearest example yet of Clinton’s powerful appeal to the Democratic Party’s elite, even as support for Sanders explodes among the rank and file.

    • Holding a ‘Go Donald!’ Media Accountable for ‘Normalizing Extremism’

      Great Britain won’t actually ban Donald Trump from the country but Parliament did spend time taking seriously what was called Trump’s “poisonous, corrosive” effect on public discourse. At the same time, actors, writers and others, including Harry Belafonte, Eve Ensler and Noam Chomsky, launched a Stop Hate Dump Trump campaign, that included serving notice to media that they “are accountable for normalizing Trump’s extremism by treating it as entertainment, by giving it inordinate and unequal air time and by refusing to investigate, interrogate or condemn it appropriately.”

    • The Seven Stages of Establishment Backlash: Corbyn/Sanders Edition

      The British political and media establishment incrementally lost its collective mind over the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the country’s Labour Party, and its unraveling and implosion show no signs of receding yet. Bernie Sanders is nowhere near as radical as Corbyn; they are not even in the same universe. But, especially on economic issues, Sanders is a more fundamental, systemic critic than the oligarchical power centers are willing to tolerate, and his rejection of corporate dominance over politics, and corporate support for his campaigns, is particularly menacing. He is thus regarded as America’s version of a far-left extremist, threatening establishment power.

    • Donald Trump will skip Fox News’s debate because of Megyn Kelly

      Donald Trump reignited his feud with Fox News over Thursday’s scheduled debate by threatening to pull the ultimate trump card: not show up.

      In a telephone interview with Good Morning America, he said he was considering this move because of the scheduled moderators: Megyn Kelly, longtime Fox News anchor and Kelly File host, who has rankled Trump in the past.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Nest Thermostat Goes From ‘Internet Of Things’ Darling To Cautionary Tale

      Again, that’s the poster child of the so-called “smart” device revolution failing utterly to complete a task thermostats have been successfully accomplishing for a generation. Other tech reporters like Stacey Higginbotham reported the exact opposite. As in, her Nest device began trying to cook her family in the middle of the night, something Nest first tried to blame on her smart garage door opener, then tried to blame on her Jawbone fitness tracker (Nest never did seem to pinpoint the cause).

      [...]

      And fast-forward to last week, when researchers putting various internet of thing devices through tests found that the Nest thermostat was one of many IOT devices happily leaking subscriber location data in cleartext (with Nest, it’s only the zip code, something the company quickly fixed in a patch). Granted Nest’s not alone in being an inadvertent advertisement for a product’s “dumb” alternatives. In 2016, smart tea kettles, refrigerators, televisions and automobiles are all busy leaking your private information and exposing you to malicious intrusion (or worse).

    • FinFisher spyware: Indonesian government ‘using Sydney server for surveillance program’

      A proxy server inside the Global Switch data centre in Ultimo, Sydney is being used to obscure the real user of the spyware, in this case an Indonesian government agency, according to a group of technology researchers.

    • Canadian Supreme Court Tightens Up Rules On Law Enforcement’s Use Of Cell Tower Dumps

      Matthew Braga at Motherboard reports the Canadian Supreme Court has laid down some guidelines for law enforcement’s access to “tower dumps” — call records containing every phone that accessed towers during a specified period of time. While it doesn’t direct law enforcement to seek warrants, it does at least provide more restrictive guidance for collection of these data dumps, which the court originally found to be so broad as to be unconstitutional.

    • Ethics charges filed against DOJ lawyer who exposed Bush-era surveillance

      A former Justice Department lawyer is facing legal ethics charges for exposing the President George W. Bush-era surveillance tactics—a leak that earned The New York Times a Pulitzer and opened the debate about warrantless surveillance that continues today.

      The lawyer, Thomas Tamm, now a Maryland state public defender, is accused of breaching Washington ethics rules for going to The New York Times instead of his superiors about his concerns about what was described as “the program.”

      Tamm was a member of the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review and, among other things, was charged with requesting electronic surveillance warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

      The District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board of Professional Responsibility said Tamm became aware in 2004 that certain applications to the FISA Court for national security surveillance authority “were given special treatment.”

    • “No Cost” License Plate Readers Are Turning Texas Police into Mobile Debt Collectors and Data Miners

      Vigilant Solutions, one of the country’s largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology, is offering a hell of a deal to law enforcement agencies in Texas: a whole suite of automated license plate reader (ALPR) equipment and access to the company’s massive databases and analytical tools—and it won’t cost the agency a dime.

      Even though the technology is marketed as budget neutral, that doesn’t mean no one has to pay. Instead, Texas police fund it by gouging people who have outstanding court fines and handing Vigilant all of the data they gather on drivers for nearly unlimited commercial use.

    • So What About those Phone Records Now? EFF Writes to FISA Court

      Now that the mass collection of telephone records by the NSA under Section 215 of the Patriot Act has ended due to the passage of USA Freedom, the question has arisen: what should the NSA do with the big mass of records that it already has? The secret FISA Court recently asked the government what it thinks should happen, and EFF sent a letter to the FISA Court (by way of the Department of Justice, asking that it be conveyed to the Court) giving our perspective.

      EFF, and our clients, are in the thick of these questions because of our two pending cases, Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA. In both cases, we sought not only the end of the mass telephone records program, but also a remedy for the past 14 years that the records were illegally collected. In both cases, we have orders from the court requiring the government to preserve relevant evidence, including our clients’ call records.

      We sued to stop the government from collecting the records in the first place, so we would obviously like to see those records destroyed as soon as possible, even as our lawsuits continue.

    • If You Use An Adblocker You Hate Free Speech, Says Internet Ads Guy

      Mother of God. You may recall that we recently discussed the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) unfortunate decision to refuse Adblock Plus’ registration for its annual conference. At a time when adblocking software is seeing its greatest use, it seemed to us that the IAB and its members might have a great deal to learn from Adblock Plus and that, rather than walling off its conference to them, the IAB could instead try to learn why so many people are using that software and software like it. That is because I had thought at the time that the IAB’s refusal had mostly to do with it seeing such software as a threat to its members’ business. Well, the conference has begun and in the keynote speech delivered by IAB chief, Randall Rothenberg, we learn that barring Adblock Plus from the conference wasn’t about ad revenue at all. It was about freedom of speech, an appreciation of diversity, pushing back on racist Republican presidential candidates, and good old apple pie America.

    • AT&T CEO Thinks You’re A Forgetful Idiot, Hilariously Gives Apple Encryption Advice

      You really can’t find a pair of cozier bosom buddies than AT&T and the NSA. Long before Snowden, whistleblowers like 22-year AT&T employee Mark Klein highlighted (pdf) how AT&T was duplicating fiber streams, effectively providing the NSA with its own mirror copy of every shred of data that touched the AT&T network. More recent documents have also highlighted AT&T’s “extreme willingness” to help, whether that involves having its employees act as intelligence analysts themselves, or giving advice to the government on the best ways to skirt, dance around, or smash directly through privacy and surveillance law.

    • NSA Water, Electricity Supply Safe as ‘Off Now’ Push Ends in Failure

      An effort in state legislatures across the country to pull the plug – literally – on the National Security Agency has ended in failure, with mass surveillance opponents lamenting over spineless colleagues and the national group behind the push looking to support more bite-size reforms.

      The almost completely abandoned effort aimed to deny water and electricity to the spy agency following Edward Snowden’s 2013 disclosures about the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records and Internet surveillance programs.

      Through legislation, state politicians sought to ban state and local governments from providing “material support” to the NSA, including services from public utilities. Bills in Maryland, home to the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters, and Utah, location of a massive NSA data storage facility, threatened water deals with local governments that are essential to agency operations.

      The ambitious legislative campaign attracted wide media coverage, but failed to achieve victory.

    • GCHQ looking for a CISO, chief data scientist and deputy CTO

      GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence agency, is on the hunt for several new IT leaders to join its senior technology leadership team.

  • Civil Rights

    • Missouri Court To Chuck Johnson: WTF Are You Doing In A Missouri Court?!? Go Away

      Back in June, we had a post about an absolutely ridiculous lawsuit filed by noted internet news troll Chuck C. Johnson against Gawker, basically because they said some mean things about him, and mocked Johnson’s own style of publishing bullshit articles that attempt to imply something awful about someone by asking a question about them. In this case, Gawker, mockingly seized upon some joking claims about Johnson supposedly shitting on the floor of a dormroom, which no one believed, but which Gawker used to mock Johnson. Johnson, for months and months and months, used to threaten libel lawsuits against basically anyone who mocked him, so it was interesting to see one actually get filed. But that was about the extent of the interest. Because the lawsuit was nuts. Almost nothing in it made even the slightest bit of sense,

    • Daniel Holtzclaw Sentenced to 263 Consecutive Years in Prison for Raping Black Women

      In December, an all-white jury convicted Holtzclaw of rape and other crimes against eight of the 13 women who accused him. All 13 victims testified during the trial, each with similar stories of rape, sexual assault, and threats if they did not comply with Holtzclaw’s demands. Holtzclaw targeted them during traffic stops and interrogations, forcing them into sexual acts in his police car or in their homes. Prosecutors say Holtzclaw deliberately preyed on vulnerable black women from low-income neighborhoods. He was reportedly under investigation by the Oklahoma City police sex crimes unit six weeks before his final crime. That means Holtzclaw assaulted half of the women he was convicted of attacking while under investigation.

    • Breaking: Daniel Holtzclaw Sentenced to 263 Consecutive Years in Prison for Raping Black Women

      Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw has just been sentenced to 263 consecutive years in prison for the serial rapes of African-American women. Judge Timothy Henderson also denied his request for a new trial.

    • John Pilger on the Indigenous struggle: ‘There is no alternative now’

      Why are we here? Why are we doing this every 26th January – year after year? Of course, we know why – Indigenous people are saying to Australia: ‘Look, we are still here. We have survived the massacres and the cynicism. We have survived.’

      But is that enough, I wonder? Is survival without action ever enough?

      The sources of power in Australia – especially political and media power — draw both comfort and delusion from the very idea of Survival Day.

    • Daniel Holtzclaw and the Limits of “Community Policing”

      AT THE SENTENCING last week of Daniel Holtzclaw — the 29-year-old former Oklahoma City police officer convicted on 18 counts of rape and sexual assault of African-American women in the neighborhood he was assigned to patrol — District Attorney David Prater told the media: “I think people need to realize that this is not a law enforcement officer that committed these crimes. This is a rapist who masqueraded as a law enforcement officer. If he was a true law enforcement officer, he would have upheld his duty to protect these citizens rather than victimize them.”

      Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison for his crimes. From December 2013 to June 2014, while working the night shift in a low-income neighborhood on Oklahoma City’s northeast side, Holtzclaw developed a modus operandi: By design, he targeted black women, and among them, women who had a history of drug abuse or an existing criminal record. By framing his unsolicited sexual advances as an exchange for reprieve from warrants or jail time, he used his badge to leverage the women’s backgrounds as blackmail.

    • What role can civil disobedience play in the stuggle for social change?

      What role can civil disobedience play in the stuggle for social change? Peter explores this question with two guests: first, environmental organizer Tim DeChristopher recounts his experience interfering with a federal oil and gas lease auction, and how the legal doctrine of “necessity” can be used in environmental campaigns. Then Sunsara Taylor discusses the right-wing effort to supress womens’ option of abortion, and the countercampaign to protect reproductive choice.

    • Pursuing critics, China reaches across borders. And nobody is stopping it.

      Amid extraordinary moves to rein in criticism at home, Chinese security personnel are reaching confidently across borders, targeting Chinese and foreign citizens who dare to challenge the Communist Party line, in what one Western diplomat has called the “worst crackdown since Tiananmen Square.”

      A string of incidents, including abductions from Thailand and Hong Kong, forced repatriations and the televised “confessions” of two Swedish citizens, has crossed a new red line, according to diplomats in Beijing. Yet many foreign governments seem unwilling or unable to intervene, their public response limited to mild protests.

    • Ex-Disney IT workers sue after being asked to train their own H-1B replacements

      Two former IT workers at Disney have sued, saying that Disney broke the law when it hired cheaper foreign replacements, then fired its current IT department. Disney IT employees were told they would be kept on for 90 days in order to train their replacements, who were H-1B visa holders, according to the complaints. The workers were told “if they did not stay and train they would not get a bonus and severance, which most employees reluctantly accepted.”

      Both lawsuits are proposed class-actions, filed in federal court in Florida. The suit filed by Dena Moore (PDF) names Disney and labor contractor Cognizant Technology Solutions, while a complaint filed by Leo Perrero (PDF) names Disney and HCL, another labor contractor.

      They make a novel claim, saying that Disney violated the anti-racketeering RICO statute by engaging in a “conspiracy to displace US workers.” The plaintiffs allege that Disney and the contractors weren’t truthful when they filled out immigration documents, thus violating a section of the RICO law that bars “fraud and misuse of visas, passports, and other documents.”

    • Russian border guard to STT: Russian security service behind northeast asylum traffic

      Finnish news agency STT reports a Russian border guard’s confession that the transport of asylum seekers to Finland’s two northeast border crossings is being orchestrated by the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Service, the FSB. Families with children are given priority, the source said. Finnish authorities have suspected for some time that the transfer of asylum seekers from Russia to Finland has been part of a carefully organised operation.

    • Crimea’s bright future

      In the 15 months since Crimea was annexed by Russia, Ukraine’s former resort-cum-military base has undergone severe changes. Extremism investigations, kidnapping, intimidation and harassment are all features of working in politically sensitive professions in Crimea. The central bureaucracy and government has been mired in scandal over indecision and incompetence.

    • Documents confirm rendition flight used Copenhagen Airport for mission to capture Edward Snowden

      The online media source Denfri.dk reports that, after gaining access to documents from the Justice Ministry, it has confirmed that in June 2013 Copenhagen Airport was used to hold an American rendition plane that was sent to capture Edward Snowden from Moscow Airport and return him to the USA.

      Snowden, who shot into the international limelight after making extensive revelations about the USA’s intelligence activities at home and abroad, was confined to the airport in Russia before he was offered asylum in the country.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WHO To Study Effect Of Nagoya Protocol On Sharing Of Genetic Materials

      The implementation of a protocol ensuring access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable benefit-sharing of commercial benefits might affect the sharing of pathogens samples between countries, said the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, who asked the World Health Organization to study possible implications of the protocol’s implementation.

    • Copyrights

      • No One Owns The Law. Everyone Owns The Law.

        Last week, as part of EFF’s annual Copyright Week, we wrote about the need for transparency in creating copyright restrictions in the international arena. As a current legal battle shows, however, it is equally important that copyright restrictions not interfere with transparency and open access to the law itself.

        In a democracy, no one owns the law—or to put it another way, everyone owns the law. If a judge claimed that she should be paid a toll every time someone copied a passage from one of her decisions, we would find it absurd. If the lobbyist who wrote sections of your city’s business code announced he could decide, at any time, to sharply limit public access to those sections, he would be run out of town. The right to read the law—and just as important, the right to copy, discuss, and share the law—is essential to the rule of law itself.

        But six huge industry associations are trying to undermine that principle, insisting that it doesn’t apply to a growing category of law: laws that began as private standards but are later incorporated into federal and state regulations. Insisting that they own a copyright in these laws, they’ve joined forces to stop a tiny non-profit, Public.Resource.Org, from posting them online.

      • Copyright Troll Malibu Media’s ‘Expert’ Witness Appears To Be Totally And Completely Clueless

        It’s from those guys that I first caught wind of Malibu Media v. Jesse Raleigh based initially on a bizarre lashing out by Malibu Media’s lawyer Jessica Fernandez (who works for Keith Lipscomb, the lawyer who appears to be the “John Steele” of the Malibu Media trolling operation) in the form of a Motion for Sanctions against Raleigh. The motion was oddly aggressive in arguing that Raleigh had misled Malibu Media in discovery and failed to produce certain items. The thing that caught my eye was specifically Malibu Media claiming that Raleigh had lied to them about not owning an “all-in-one computer.” While searching through his Dropbox account photos they found some photos that they insisted proved that Raleigh did own an “all in one computer” that he had failed to produce during discovery…

      • “My Little Pony” Sued For Using a Pirated Font

        Typeface company Font Brothers has filed a lawsuit against Hasbro claiming that My Little Pony uses one of its fonts without permission. According to the complaint, Harbro refuses to pay the required licenses while it continues to use the font in its My Little Pony merchandise and products.

      • Guitar Hero YouTuber Sings Acapella Version To Get Around ContentID Takedowns… Probably Is Still Violating Copyright Law

        So, Vice’s Motherboard has an amusing article about how the misleadingly named GuitarHeroFailure (misleading, because the guy’s actually good at the game) tried to get around YouTube ContentID takedowns on one of his Guitar Hero videos (of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon”) by singing an acapella version of the song over it. The overall effect is really quite amazing. Watch the video (and don’t miss his, um, “variation” at the very end) below:

      • NY Times Files Ridiculous Copyright Lawsuit Over Book That Mocks NYT For Glamorizing War

        Well, this is disappointing in the extreme. The NY Times is a famous defender of free speech, and has been a key player in many important free speech battles. And now it’s filed a ridiculously petty lawsuit claiming copyright infringement over some thumbnail images of NYT’s covers in a book (ht Rebecca Tushnet for blogging about this). The book in question is War Is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict*. The asterisk then reads *(in which the author explains why he no longer reads The New York Times).

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