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02.05.16

Links 5/2/2016: Wine 1.9.3, Slackware 14.2 Beta 2

Posted in News Roundup at 5:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • A love for technology leads to Linux and open source

    Presently, I support about 200 Linux virtual machines at work in a private cloud and am delighted to write software on my operating system of choice.

    More than a decade after my first Linux experience, all my computers at home now run it. I use GIMP to edit photographs I capture, listen to songs and watch movies on MPlayer, create and edit documents in LibreOffice, and use KVM and VirtualBox to run other Linux distros in virtualized environments.

  • MaruOS claims to turn your Android phone into a Linux desktop

    Odds are that the smartphone in your pocket is powerful enough to run some desktop apps like office suites, web browsers, and other productivity tools. But the software on most phones is designed for mobile devices, not desktop screens.

  • Desktop

    • Readers Say ‘No’ to Antivirus on Linux

      A few weeks back when Ken Starks wrote an anecdotal column on an experience with a false positive from Avast antivirus on GNU/Linux, we started thinking. We run antivirus on our LAMP servers with the intent of protecting poor suckers on Windows, but on our Linux desktops and laptops? Pretty much, no. Some of us had tried the open source ClamAV at one time or another, mainly out of curiosity, but none of us had stuck with it. To our knowledge, until Starks wrote his column none of us even knew anybody who had ever run proprietary AV on Linux boxes.

  • Server

    • CoreOS Launches Docker Rival Rkt 1.0

      CoreOS released today rkt (pronounced Rock-it) 1.0, providing container users with an alternative runtime to Docker. CoreOS first announced rkt in December 2014 after dissatisfaction arose with the state of the Docker runtime.

      While rkt is a competitor to the Docker runtime, users will still be able to run application containers that have been built with Docker tools. The promise of rkt is that of improved performance and security controls, as well as integration with CoreOS’ larger platform effort Tectonic, which provides orchestration.

    • Docker 1.10 Linux Container Engine Brings over 100 Changes, Removes LXC Support

      Docker, the open-source and powerful Linux container engine software, has reached today, February 4, a new milestone, version 1.10, which promises to introduce a whole lot of fresh features.

  • Kernel Space

    • IBM Supports Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Blockchain as Industry Standard, Plans Deployment

      In December Bitcoin Magazine reported that IBM and a group of top tech and finance companies are joining forces to develop a new open source blockchain separated from the Bitcoin blockchain. The group will work with the Linux Foundation to create a public network that lets blockchain applications built on top of it communicate with each other.

    • Unikernels

      When Linux applications have bugs that are difficult to diagnose (EG buffer overruns that happen in production and can’t be reproduced in a test environment) there are a variety of ways of debugging them. Tools such as Valgrind can analyse memory access and tell the developers which code had a bug and what the bug does. It’s theoretically possible to link something like Valgrind into a Unikernel, but the lack of multiple processes would make it difficult to manage.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Robert Hallock: GPUOpen is AMD’s Long-Term Open Source Strategy

        Last week AMD completed a major step in its initiative to open things up to the public under GPUOpen — a collection of tools for graphics, high performance compute and heterogeneous computing – as open source under the MIT license model. So when a company does something out of the ordinary, especially one with a large indirect influence in the mobile community, it’s worth looking further into it. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Robert Hallock, AMD’s Head of Global Technical Marketing, and ask a few questions about what this all means.

      • A Ton Of Direct3D 9 “Nine” State Tracker Improvements Hit Mesa
      • xf86-video-geode 2.11.18

        Yesterday, I pushed out version 2.11.18 of the Geode X.Org driver. This is the driver used by the OLPC XO-1 and by a plethora of low-power desktops, micro notebooks and thin clients. This release mostly includes maintenance fixes of all sorts. Of noticeable interest is a fix for the long-standing issue that switching between X and a VT would result in a blank screen (this should probably be cherry-picked for distributions running earlier releases of this driver). Many thanks to Connor Behan for the fix!

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux Benchmarks Of The C.H.I.P. $9 Computer

        While Next Thing Co is still working to fulfill orders on the C.H.I.P. $9 computer over the next several months, I noticed that some benchmarks of this cheap Raspberry Pi competitor have begun appearing on OpenBenchmarking.org via the Phoronix Test Suite. Here are some of those benchmark results for this ARB single-board computer.

        For those that don’t recall this crowd-funding campaign, the C.H.I.P. is a $9 computer with a 1GHz ARM single-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage. The C.H.I.P. is cheap. I hadn’t paid much attention to the campaign since I’m more into high-performance ARM chips than whatever the cheapest ARM SBC is around. However, these early benchmark results on OpenBenchmarking.org are rather interesting.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Project Br-Print3D at Campus Party Brazil

        Last week, between January 26 and 31, the ninth Campus Party Brazil (promo video on Facebook) was held in Sao Paulo. 8000 people inside an arena, with talks, workshops and hackathons, with the main subject being technology.

        The team from KDE project Br-Print3D was invited to participate of this event. To show our work on the Free Software stage and on the tables there are scattered all over of this arena.

      • Calligra 2.9.11 Office Suite Launches for Linux with New Krita and Kexi Bugfixes

        The developers of the KDE-oriented Calligra office suite have announced the release and immediate availability for download of the eleventh maintenance release in the Calligra 2.9 series of the open-source project.

      • Krita 2.9.11 to Be the Last in the Series, Krita 3.0 Gets Second Alpha Build

        The developers of the awesome Krita digital painting software for Linux, Mac and Windows platforms have announced the release of two new versions of the acclaimed open-source project.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • EggColumnLayout

        The widget behind the new preferences implementation in Builder was pretty fun to write. Some of the details were tricky, so I thought I’d make the widget reusable in case others would like to use it. I’m sure you can find uses for something like this.

      • Rio Design Hackfest

        A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a design hackfest in Rio de Janeiro, which was hosted by the good people at Endless. The main purpose of the event was to foster a closer relationship between the design teams at GNOME and Endless. Those of us on the GNOME side also wanted to learn more about Endless users, so that we can support them better.

      • Endless joins the GNOME Advisory Board

        The GNOME Foundation is pleased to announce that Endless, creator of the Endless computer and operating system, has joined the GNOME Foundation advisory board. The Advisory Board is a body of stakeholder organizations and companies who support the GNOME Project by providing funding and expert consultation. The board includes Google, Intel, the Linux Foundation, and the Free Software Foundation, among others.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Linux Lite 2.8 Review At A Glance

        Linux Lite is based on the Ubuntu LTS series of releases. LTS stands for Long Term Support, this means each release has a support period of 5 years. This is a great basis for stability, but not only that, you only need to install once every 5 years. During that period your system will continue to receive updates. Linux Lite is fully functional out of the box, this means that you won’t have to install extra software when you boot your computer for the first time. We believe that a computer should be ready to use straight away on the first boot after a new install. You’re going to need this kind of functionality on a daily basis when you are using your computer so we take the hassle out of trying to find the right software from the start.

    • New Releases

    • Ballnux/SUSE

    • Slackware Family

      • SlackEX Released with Linux Kernel 4.4.1 and KDE 4.14.3, Based on Slackware 14.2

        After announcing the availability of a custom Linux 4.4.1 kernel for Slackware 14.2 and derivative distributions, today Linux developer Arne Exton informs Softpedia about the release of a new build of his SlackEX GNU/Linux operating system.

      • Slackware 14.2 Beta 2 and the Ubuntu Tablet Revealed

        Slackware 14.2 is making progress as it has officially reached Beta 2. The big news of the day must be the announcement of new Ubuntu tablet Aquaris M10. This is being touted as the fulfillment of the convergence promise as the Aquaris M10 is said to be a tablet that can also be used as a really small PC or a really large phone.

      • Almost weekend again – what’s in store

        I updated my packages for calibre and chromium with new versions. I updated the set of “compat32” packages for a multilib setup on slackware64-current to match the Slackware packages contained in the new Slackware 14.2 Beta 2.

      • Slackware 14.2 Beta 2 Announced

        Good news for everyone. Slackware 14.2 is getting close to release as Pat now announced Slackware 14.2 Beta 2 on the latest changelog. This update also brings some security changes for all supported Slackware releases back to Slackware 13.0!!!

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat names country manager

        Open source solutions company Red Hat has appointed Hon-Loong Kok as the country manager of Malaysia.

        In his new position, Kok will play a strategic role leading the team in Malaysia to find ways to drive sustainable growth, as well as establish stronger relationships with Malaysian enterprise customers and partners.

      • FOSDEM 2016

        Lenny talked about systemd and what is going to be added in the near future. Among many things, he made DNSSEC stand out. I not sure yet whether I like it or not. One the one hand, you might get more confidence in your DNS results. Although, as he said, the benefits are small as authentication of your bank happens on a different layer.

      • systemd and Where We Want to Take the Basic Linux Userspace in 2016

        systemd is a system and service manager for Linux and is at the core of most of today’s big distributions. In this presentation I’d like to explain where systemd stands in 2016, and where we want to take it.

      • Fedora

        • PHP version 5.5.32, 5.6.18 and 7.0.3

          RPM of PHP version 7.0.3 are available in remi-php70 repository for Fedora and Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).

          RPM of PHP version 5.6.18 are available in remi repository for Fedora ≥ 21 and remi-php56 repository for Fedora and Enterprise Linux.

        • Fedora Community Booth Live Stream from SCALE14x

          We streamed live from the Fedora Booth at SCALE14x to give people an inside look at scale from the expo floor. We had the chance to talk with many people including Corey Doctorow. So here we present all the hours of video we streamed and recorded from the expo hall floor.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Updated All-Snap Ubuntu Snappy Images, Urges Users to Reflash

            Canonical, through Michael Vogt, has informed all Snappy enthusiasts about the immediate availability for download of new, updated all-snap images for the Snappy Ubuntu Core operating system.

          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS to Land with Older Nautilus Due to Bugs and Menubar

            Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) will have to use an older version of Nautilus, the file manager, the developers have decided.

          • Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu editions will be shipping soon

            As for Ubuntu, the most recent version is 15.10, and is code-named Wily Werewolf. Recent Ubuntu editions have a user interface that has placed attention on the touch interface. While Ubuntu is used in servers and PCs, it is regarded as an unpopular operating system. Dell had introduced its first Project Sputnik laptop as an experiment to bring Linux to ultrabook-style laptops with touchscreens, which were relatively new in 2012. Now that Project Sputnik lives on in the latest machines, it could mean that Dell will be slashing pricing for its previous generation notebooks, which will extremely advantageous for those on a budget and want to purchase an affordable laptop.

          • World’s First Ubuntu Linux Tablet Converts Into A Complete PC, Thanks To Convergence
          • BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition
          • Canonical Launches BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition Tablet
          • Canonical delivers on convergence with the Bq Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition

            Canonical has officially announced the first Ubuntu tablet, confirming weeks of rumors. The device is being manufactured by Bq, which already makes several Ubuntu phones. Far from being just another “me too” tablet, this hardware is a showcase for the latest Ubuntu software that can run traditional Linux desktop apps and offer a full Linux desktop experience when a mouse and keyboard are connected.

          • Ubuntu “convergence” brings PC-like features to mobiles

            Canonical has lifted the veil on its long-promised “convergence” version of Ubuntu, which enables a PC-like experience on a mobile device.

            Three years after Canonical unveiled its Ubuntu for Tablets platform, shortly after announcing the related Ubuntu Touch stack for phones, the company announced the first tablet to ship with Ubuntu Linux. The Ubuntu version of BQ’s 10.1-inch Aquaris M10 will go on sale in March at an unstated price (see below for tech details). The 64-bit, ARMv8 Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition will be the first product to ship with the long-promised “convergence” version of Ubuntu, enabling a PC-like experience with a mobile device.

          • Ubuntu Tablet to Be Available — Even in the U.S. — in March
          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-9.5 to Be Delayed for One Week, Devs Occupied with New Tablet

            We’ve been informed today, February 4, by Łukasz Zemczak of Canonical about the latest work done by the Ubuntu Touch developers in preparation for the upcoming OTA-9.5 update for Ubuntu Phone devices.

            According to Mr. Zemczak and as reported by us a few days ago, the Ubuntu Touch OTA-9.5 hotfix will be delayed for at least a week. Why? You might ask. Well, it’s because they’re still working on implementing the remaining fixes and they have their hands full with the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu tablet unveiled today.

            “Work on OTA-9.5 continues with fixes still in the works. But as predicted, we will be delayed with this release for at least a week,” said Łukasz Zemczak. “Not to mention our developers are also busy with work related to the enablement of our first fully convergeable device announced today. Good times are nearing!”

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • A Few Pointers for Companies Going Open Source in 2016

    2016 is still in the beginning stages, and many companies and developers are considering going open source to maintain relevancy. If you’re an open source novice and are thinking of making the leap, it’s important to understand the boundaries and regulations before you get in too deep. Consider the tips below your beginner’s guide to open source.

  • Open Source Initiative celebrates anniversary, history of open source

    As a result of companies releasing their code to the public, the importance of having a solid community—one that understands how developers, contributors, businesses and governments interact and communicate—increases. One group has recognized this importance since the beginning, and yesterday it celebrated its 18th anniversary, along with a history of support for open source.

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), a California-based non-profit, has been raising awareness and promoting adoption of open-source software since it was founded in 1998 as an educational, advocacy and stewardship organization.

  • The trials of certifying open source software

    Another way to say this is that well-run open source projects with neutral ownership may grow into an ecosystem that includes products, but standards tend to happen in mature markets where competing products already exist.

    [...]

    The Linux project is another good example. Linux distributions come and go. Some distributions are packaged as products and the companies that provide such products to customers for money have a myriad of ways of competing. But the Linux kernel community is where the core work still happens on what is the Linux operating system. Some companies have nuanced approaches to the variations on Linux they support. For example, Red Hat is a primary contributor to the kernel project. The Fedora distribution is a Red Hat-supported community project, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is developed from the Fedora community. The CentOS distribution is a freely released community rebuild of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code, which provides a similar execution environment.

    Linux provides an interesting further example here. Linux was never certified as a UNIX operating system, despite its obvious lineage, and despite the fact that as the enterprise adoption of Linux servers grew and replaced expensive UNIX servers, the UNIX ISV world moved to several key enterprise distributions of Linux without such certification. I believe because Linux was close enough to UNIX, the ISVs moved their applications encouraged by Linux vendor ISV programs, and never looked back.

    [...]

    We have seen that with the Linux Standards Base. The standard was an application binary standard to support ISVs trying to target multiple Linux distro products in the marketplace with their applications. But the LSB was an ABI standard on parts of Linux, and not on the Linux code base itself.

  • Support the OSI´s Work on Behalf of the Open Source Community

    The Open Source Initiative turn 18 this year, and we´re running now our membership drive for the 2nd time. To coincide with our 2016 Board elections, we´ll be recruiting new members through the end of the elections on March 14, 2016.

  • Open source Java projects: Apache Phoenix

    Apache Phoenix is a relatively new open source Java project that provides a JDBC driver and SQL access to Hadoop’s NoSQL database: HBase. It was created as an internal project at Salesforce, open sourced on GitHub, and became a top-level Apache project in May 2014. If you have strong SQL programming skills and would like to be able to use them with a powerful NoSQL database, Phoenix could be exactly what you’re looking for!

  • Mirantis expands executive lineup, bags more customers

    Mirantis, the pure-play OpenStack company, is expanding its executive line-up by appointing COO, CFO and other key leadership roles. The key hires include: COO, Jim Dvorkin; CFO, Rik Thorbecke; EVP/GM, Enterprise Cloud Business Unit, Chris Keene; EVP/GM, Services, Parvesh Sethi; and SVP Worldwide Sales, Marque Teegardin.

  • Events

    • Samsung Opens Registration for Samsung Developer Conference 2016 #SDC2016

      Samsung has announced the registration for the Samsung Developer Conference 2016 SDC2016 is now open. Attendees can now register for the event that will take place April 27 – 28 at Moscone West Center, San Francisco, US. The Slogan of this particular event is “Connecting the Future Everywhere You Look”, and will feature more than 60 technical sessions, interactive workshops, keynotes and hands-on device experiences across 10 different topics, including: The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), Mobile, Wearables, Business Opportunities, Enterprise, Smart TV, Games & Entertainment, Tizen and Health & Medical.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • IceCat 38.6.0 release

        GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.

        https://www.gnu.org/software/gnuzilla/

      • Mozilla officially kills Firefox OS for smartphones in favour of ‘Connected Devices’

        Firefox OS is open source, so in theory community work could continue, but without the backing of a major sponsor it is unlikely.

        The barriers to entry in the smartphone market are huge, so Mozilla’s retreat was perhaps inevitable. Nevertheless, it is a sad moment for those in search of an open smartphone platform.

        The thinking behind Firefox OS was to have a smartphone operating system based on browser technology, so that web apps would port easily and that everything would be built with open standards. Low-priced smartphones using the OS have been released by vendors including Alcatel OneTouch, LG, ZTE and Huawei.

      • Mozilla Tweaks The Firefox Release Schedule

        For the past few years Mozilla has been on a solid six week cadence for shipping new Firefox releases while for the remainder of the releases in 2016 they are tweaking that schedule slightly.

        Firefox releases will now be on a variable six-to-eight week release cycle while still delivering the same number of releases each year. This ensures that there is at least six weeks for every release and the cycles are adjusted for emerging user/market needs.

      • Mozilla Changes the Release Schedule of Firefox

        Mozilla is making some changes to the Firefox schedule, and it looks like they are going to give more time to developers between releases.

        One of the biggest changes for Firefox was the switch to a train model, which meant a lot more flexibility This happened four years ago, and the last version was 3.5 back then. Now we’re at Firefox 44, and they keep on going with this crazy schedule. The main difference is that they are no longer tied to a six-week release schedule.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • AtScale and Tableau Team on BI and Hadoop Mashup
    • Open Source or Open Architecture? Big Data Needs Both

      The act of publishing source code, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily make a platform more useful. Making that source code extensible matters at least as much, especially in the era of open application programming interfaces (APIs), where many of the most useful apps are made so by other apps. Modern enterprises need both open source software and open architectures to take full advantage of Big Data.

      This article will focus on how we reached this point, and provide a blueprint for CIOs who are evaluating open source and Big Data tools.

  • Databases

    • Do Not Pass This Way Again

      Considering MySQL? Use something else. Already on MySQL? Migrate. For every successful project built on MySQL, you could uncover a history of time wasted mitigating MySQL’s inadequacies, masked by a hard-won, but meaningless, sense of accomplishment over the effort spent making MySQL behave.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Online Takes Another Step Forward

      “The first 100% open source, enterprise-grade cloud Office Suite” is how Collabora Productivity describes the goal of its recently announced collaboration with Kolab Systems. In fact, the goal has a longer history than the description implies, although its promise of free-licensed groupware has the potential to fill one of the few remaining gaps in open office productivity.

      Unless you have been following the topic, you might miss the fact that this new collaboration is the latest in a series of partnerships in which Collabora has been developing LibreOffice Online, aka CloudSuite, its own version of LibreOffice Online. Earlier partnerships include those with IceWarp and ownCloud.

  • CMS

    • More Resources for Finding the Perfect Content Management System

      Marking a true renaissance for tools that can help anyone run a top-notch website or manage content in the cloud, open source content management systems (CMS) have come of age. You’re probably familiar with some of the big names in this arena, including Drupal (which Ostatic is based on) and Joomla. As we noted in this post, selecting a CMS to build around can be a complicated process, since the publishing tools provided are hardly the only issue.

      The good news is that free, sophisticated guides for evaluating CMS systems have flourished, as well. We’ve covered many of the best guides for getting going with a good CMS system. Here, in this newly updated post, you’ll find several additional, good resources.

  • IBM Openwashing

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Ended 2015 With A Lot Of Open-Source Progress

      The FreeBSD project has issued their quarterly status report for Q4’2015 to highlight all the progress they made in ending out 2015.

    • OpenBSD on a MacBookPro8,2 with Intel GPU

      Some MacBooks have two graphics cards, the specific one this post is about is a MacBookPro8,2 (15-inch, Late2011) with an Intel HD Graphics 3000 and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M.

      If you boot any OS into legacy BIOS mode (only option supported by – at this time – most recent release version 5.8 of OpenBSD), it is always the Radeon card that gets activated (except for Windows OS, where Bootcamp/drivers should handle the automatic switching just like in Mac OS).

      You need an external USB WLAN card (or something else, if you want network access), because the internal one is not supported by OpenBSD.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • grep-2.23 released [stable]
    • guile compiler tasks

      We released Guile 2.1.2, including the unboxing work, and we fixed the slow bootstrap problem by shipping pre-built bootstraps in tarballs. A pretty OK solution in my opinion; check it out!

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Square’s guide to supporting female engineers goes open source
    • Belgium, Portugal exchange eGovernment ideas

      Fedict, Belgium’s federal IT service agency, and AMA, Portugal’s Agency for Administrative Modernisation, are exchanging views and activities on eGovernment services. On 19 January, a Fedict delegation visited the eGov Innovation Hub in the city of Guimarães in Portugal.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Why it’s essential to grow Indian-language Wikipedias

        On January 15, Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia celebrated its 15th birthday, meeting this milestone with 36 million articles in more than 290 languages (the English-language Wikipedia alone has crossed the 5-million article mark). But here I want to address some major questions that we need to ask as Indians. First, what is the state of Indian-language Wikipedia projects? What does India have to take from and give to Wikipedia?

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • ​How Uber Profits Even While Its Drivers Aren’t Earning Money

    “If I’m doing something useful for the company, I should be paid for that time,” Mark says to me as he drives me over the Brooklyn Bridge. “That’s what work is, right?”

    It seems like a simple enough principle. And yet when it comes to the nature of work in the digital platform economy, getting paid for that time is anything but a simple proposition.

  • Yahoo to slash jobs and close web properties in major turnaround plan

    Yahoo will cut 15 percent of its workforce and close some online services in a major turnaround plan announced Tuesday.

    The company plans to double down on search, Mail and Tumblr in hopes of attracting new users, and at the same time close some digital magazines as well as services like Games and Smart TV.

    After the job cuts, Yahoo will have a global workforce of about 9,000 employees—40 percent smaller than it was in 2012, it said.

  • Yahoo cutting workforce by 15% after announcing $4.4bn loss [Ed: Microsoft killed it]
  • Is this the perfect save icon?

    According to a survey taken in 2013: 1,000 children, from kindergarten through to 5th graders, were questioned about iconography. Among the findings was an interesting tidbit: Only 14 percent of the kids knew what the save icon represented.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • FBI probes Flint water scandal: Latest agency to join investigation of crisis that’s devastated city

      The FBI is the latest agency to join the Flint water crisis investigation, after weeks of public criticism over the Environmental Protection Agency’s conduct with respect to the probe.

      The statewide investigation into the Michigan city came after revelations the drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014, while under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

      Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, told the Detroit Free Press that federal prosecutors in Michigan are “working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General … and the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.”

      Balaya confirmed the FBI was investigating wrongdoing late Monday, after being questioned whether there were ethical considerations in the EPA’s involvement, especially as its regional director resigned over the Flint scandal.

    • 5 Reasons Texas Should Decriminalize Marijuana, and One Reason It Shouldn’t

      If there’s one thing wrong with the decriminalization movement, it’s that it doesn’t go far enough.

      Last year, 11 separate marijuana-related bills were introduced in the Texas legislature, and next year we can probably expect 11 more. Candidates for local offices in Austin and Houston are running on marijuana decriminalization platforms, and the Dallas City Council is poised to implement a “cite and release” pilot program for low-level possession offenders. It’s beginning to feel like a movement, and forgive us for saying so, but it’s high time.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Australians stuck abroad and alleged sex crimes

      One is Julian Assange, holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in London. He is back in the news again today thanks to a UN panel finding that the UK is effectively detaining him, unlawfully, in the Ecuadorian embassy. The effort made to discredit and pursue Assange and other disruptive technologists, such as Aaron Swartz, has an eerie resemblance to the way the Inquisition hunted witches in the middle ages and beyond.

    • UN set to announce decision on Assange’s release on Friday – WikiLeaks

      Assange submitted a complaint against Sweden and the United Kingdom to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in September 2014.

      The WikiLeaks founder has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over three years, after being granted asylum by the South American country.

    • Julian Assange: UN panel on detention ‘rules in fugitive Wikileaks founder’s favour’

      Fugitive Wikileaks founder had said he was prepared to leave Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been hiding for more than three years, if experts ruled against him

    • Julian Assange ‘will surrender’ if UN rules against him

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said he will turn himself over to UK police on Friday if a UN panel rules he has not been unlawfully detained.

      He took refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims.

      In 2014 he complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained” as he could not leave without being arrested.

    • Julian Assange is in arbitrary detention, UN panel finds

      A United Nations panel has decided that Julian Assange’s three-and-a-half years in the Ecuadorian embassy amount to “arbitrary detention”, leading his lawyers to call for the Swedish extradition request to be dropped immediately.

      A Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed that the UN panel, due to publish its findings on Friday, had concluded that Assange was “arbitrarily detained”.

    • Clinton’s Security Clearance Is Under Scrutiny

      Now that several e-mails on Hillary Clinton’s private server have been classified, there is a more immediate question than the outcome of the investigation: Should the former secretary of state retain her security clearance during the inquiry? Congressional Republicans and Democrats offer predictably different answers.

      The State Department announced Friday that it would not release 22 e-mails from Clinton’s private server after a review found they contained information designated as top secret. U.S. officials who reviewed the e-mails tell us they contain the names of U.S. intelligence officers overseas, but not the identities of undercover spies; summaries of sensitive meetings with foreign officials; and information on classified programs like drone strikes and intelligence-collection efforts in North Korea.

    • Julian Assange decision by UN panel ridiculous, says Hammond
    • UN Victory in Assange Case

      In a major legal victory for international human rights law, the UN acknowledged the risk of extradition to the United States faced by journalist Julian Assange. This decision marks a significant development in the law of detention, and has enormous consequences not only in Mr. Assange’s case, but also for the protection of whistleblowers and refugees worldwide.

      The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), the UN’s final authority on detention, issued a decision that Sweden and the United Kingdom are arbitrarily detaining Mr. Assange and must “ensure his safety.” That conclusion was reached after a 16-month independent investigation which took into account all evidence submitted by Sweden and the UK.

    • Olly Olly Oxen Free?

      A UN human rights panel decided on Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been detained in violation of international law. But how soon will he be able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London?

    • Assange sex case sinks in international quagmire

      Now the case has mutated into a complicated international drama involving Britain, Sweden, the United States, Ecuador, a host of human rights lawyers and the United Nations.

      But when the dust settles from an unexpected U.N. working group’s finding Friday that Assange has been unlawfully detained, the painful stalemate is expected to continue, and Assange — though claiming full vindication — will most likely remain cooped up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

      The panel said his stay at the embassy — which he entered voluntarily in 2012 — constitutes arbitrary detention and that he should be set free and compensated for lost time.

    • Julian Assange: Before-And-After Pictures Show Profound Impact Of Exile Inside Ecuadorean Embassy
    • It’s Official: Julian Assange Should Be Set Free And Compensated, Says UN Panel

      The United Nations has ruled that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is held arbitrarily in the embassy of Equador in London.

    • Assange – A Fundamental Vindication

      Julian Assange has never been charged with any offence. His detention has been unlawful since his very first arrest in the United Kingdom in 2010. There has never been any genuine attempt by the Swedish authorities to investigate the allegations against him. Those are the findings of the United Nations.

      The UK and Swedish governments both participated fully, and at great expense to their taxpayers, in this UN process which is a mechanism that both recognise. States including Iran, Burma and Russia have released prisoners following determination by this UN panel, which consists not of politicians or diplomats but of some of the world’s most respected lawyers, who are not representing their national governments.

    • Freeing Julian Assange: the last chapter

      One of the epic miscarriages of justice of our time is unravelling. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – the international tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations – has ruled that Julian Assange has been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden.

      After five years of fighting to clear his name – having been smeared relentlessly yet charged with no crime – Assange is closer to justice and vindication, and perhaps freedom, than at any time since he was arrested and held in London under a European Extradition Warrant, itself now discredited by Parliament.

      The UN Working Group bases its judgements on the European Convention on Human Rights and three other treaties that are binding on all its signatories. Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. It would fly contemptuously in the face of international law if they did not comply with the judgement and allow Assange to leave the refuge granted him by the Ecuadorean government in its London embassy.

    • UN panel rules Julian Assange arbitrarily detained, entitled to liberty & compensation

      A UN panel has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been ‘arbitrarily detained’ in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, calling upon the UK and Sweden to end Assange’s deprivation of liberty.

    • UN Rules Julian Assange is “Arbitrarily Detained”

      The illegal actions of the Swedish and UK governments were on the orders of Washington, the corrupt government of which is determined to get Assange for publishing leaked documents revealing the criminality and mendacity of the US government.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Smoke from 1997 Indonesian forest fires killed more than 100,000

      Global analysis of deaths from landscape fires has revealed in excess of 100,000 deaths can be attributed to the Indonesian forest fires of 1997. The fires of 2015 were bigger. As Fay Johnston explains, smoke and haze is a problem similar to the release of greenhouse gases. Those who produce the gases don’t necessarily suffer the consequences. Despite the existence of international agreements on smoke haze which drifts across borders, Fay Johnston says the management of smoke and haze remains a great challenge.

    • We’re drowning in cheap oil – yet still taxpayers prop up this toxic industry

      Those of us who predicted, during the first years of this century, an imminent peak in global oil supplies could not have been more wrong. People like the energy consultant Daniel Yergin, with whom I disputed the topic, appear to have been right: growth, he said, would continue for many years, unless governments intervened.

    • Climate Change This Week: The New Coal, Hot Water, Clean Energy Justice, and More!

      OO Global Deforestation Is Speeding Up – over 60% between 1990-2010, according to a new analysis of satellite imagery, countering a previous global UN FAO study, which looked at land use changes, not tree cover loss.

  • Finance

    • We’re ignoring an American apocalypse: While everyone obsesses about Trump, the middle class is still rapidly dying

      From 2009 through 2015, 2.2 million households signed up for a trial modification, the first step to getting a permanent reset, but close to 786,000 canceled. Of the remaining 1.4 million granted HAMP modifications through Treasury, some 467,000 ultimately redefaulted.

      These redefaults cost taxpayers $1.8 billion in TARP funds that were paid as incentives to the banks and mortgage servicers to participate in the program.

      As of September 2015 the U.S. Treasury set aside $9.6 billion for the HAMP program that funded 761,500 homeowner mortgage modifications. $7.7 billion of that was reserved to be paid to investors, banks and mortgage servicers as incentives to participate in the program.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • A Note to Readers

      An investigation into Thompson’s reporting turned up three instances in which quotes were attributed to people who said they had not been interviewed. In other instances, quotes were attributed to individuals we could not reach, who could not remember speaking with him, or whose identities could not be confirmed. In his reporting Thompson also used quotes that we cannot verify from unnamed people whom he claimed to have encountered at public events. Thompson went to great lengths to deceive his editors, creating an email account to impersonate a source and lying about his reporting methods.

    • Voter Fraud and ‘Missing’ Precincts: How Clinton Stole Iowa

      The media is reporting a virtual tie between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Caucus. (The latest numbers give Clinton a miniscule edge, 49.8% Clinton, 49.6% Sanders).

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Italy’s municipalities to test new eID smartcard

      The new smartcard will contain users’ fingerprints, social security number and birth certificate details. Tampering and counterfeiting is prevented by security precautions such as holograms and microscopic inscriptions.

    • New Snowden Docs Reveal GCHQ’s Metadata Collection Details

      Speaking to Ars Technica, a GCHQ spokesperson said that, “We have no comment to make on the story. It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.” The spokesperson took the time, however, to observe that all GCHQ activity is conducted within a strict legal framework.

      After exposing the extent of the spying apparatus used by the United States and United Kingdom in 2013, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia. He currently resides in Moscow.

    • Snowden leak reveals UK spies’ big data surveillance

      The open source Hadoop distributed data processing package is also used by the GCHQ.

      Hadoop is suggested for use “whenever you want to batch process a large amount of static data” such as the multi-terabyte datasets the GHCQ intercepts.

      Supervised and semi-supervised machine learning to churn through captured information “often produce functions with high accuracies on real-world data sets”, the document notes.

    • Uber’s new “Trip Experiences” – convenience at a cost?

      Uber has launched a new feature it hopes will bring entertainment to customer’s journeys. But will it have a cost to their privacy?

      The feature, known as “Trip Experiences”, will allow app companies to integrate with Uber, inviting users to click onto their app whilst on a journey. Uber has provided examples of how it may work, including apps offering users a music playlist to listen to and adverts of various promotions available at the destination. The examples given make use of the journey time and where the users end destination is, but app developers will have scope to come up with even more ideas.

    • Congress Might Actually Be Moving Forward On Fixing Outdated Email Privacy Law!

      We’ve been talking about and asking for ECPA reform for many, many years, and it might finally be moving forward. ECPA is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which details how the government can get access to your electronic communications. The law was written in the early 1980s, and as you’ve probably noticed, we live in a very different world these days as it pertains to electronic communications. One key example: the law says that messages left on a server for more than 180 days are considered abandoned and can be searched without a warrant. That may have made some sense (though, not really) in a client-server era, where everyone downloaded their messages leading to them being deleted from a server, but it makes no sense at all in an era of cloud computing.

    • How Tiny RFID Tagging Chips Will Change Our Lives

      The RFID technology has a long journey to cover, to be an integral part of the human body. People still feel more comfortable with their plastic cards. It is not much far when the RFID technology will replace the conventional payment methods and will be used to find missing persons, detecting explosives, or used by the government to chase whistleblowers like Edward Snowden or founders like Peter Sunde. For now, people don’t feel comfortable to have a glass capsule living in their body – of which they know nothing about – just to open doors and pay for coffee.

    • Where will the NSA place its hacking priorities?

      The choice is stark. Is the NSA of the future going to concern itself with offense or defense? Working as it currently does with hackers and companies, the NSA risks straining relationships and threatening its own internal operations no matter which route it goes down.

    • Rebuilding the NSA [Ed: hogwash]

      Most intelligence committee leaders on Capitol Hill are on board with the NSA’s forthcoming reorganization, part of what Adm. Mike Rogers dubs the most sweeping changes to the spy agency in nearly two decades. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and top Democrat Dianne Feinstein both told MC on Thursday that they don’t object to what they’ve seen so far. The overhaul will reportedly merge the agency’s Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence directorates while mixing intelligence and cybersecurity funding. Details, however, are scarce, and apparently still in flux.

    • Former CIA/NSA director Hayden supports strong encryption

      Former CIA and NSA director General Michael Hayden came out in favor of strong encryption but representatives in Congress and the Senate are continuing to pursue encryption backdoor legislation.

    • NSA Plans Controversial Restructure

      The United States National Security Agency is about to undergo considerable reshuffling.

    • Amazon’s bookstore trap: Come for the casual browsing, leave all your data in their hands

      Amazon is apparently slated to open hundreds of new stores around the country. “After dipping its toes into brick-and-mortar retailing last year with its first physical bookstore, online giant Amazon.com Inc. is poised to dive into the deep end,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The company may open as many as 400 new stores, inspired by its first bookshop, in Seattle. (More here.)

    • Dark web browser Tor is overwhelmingly used for crime, says study [Ed: King’s College London manufactures propaganda for government agencies that want to kill anonymity]
    • Safe Harbour 2.0: EU and US agree on Privacy Shield data-sharing framework

      EU AND US OFFICIALS have finally agreed on a new mechanism for transferring data across the Atlantic which will be known as the EU-US Privacy Shield.

      The deal was announced by Andrus Ansip, vice president of the European Commission, on Tuesday, and replaces the 15-year-old Safe Harbour agreement which was canned last year after concerns that it helped US intelligence agencies gain access to citizens’ personal data.

    • More Details on the NSA Switching to Quantum-Resistant Cryptography

      The NSA is publicly moving away from cryptographic algorithms vulnerable to cryptanalysis using a quantum computer.

    • New Technologies Give Government Ample Means to Track Suspects, Study Finds

      For more than two years the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies have warned that encrypted communications are creating a “going dark” crisis that will keep them from tracking terrorists and kidnappers.

      Now, a study in which current and former intelligence officials participated concludes that the warning is wildly overblown, and that a raft of new technologies — like television sets with microphones and web-connected cars — are creating ample opportunities for the government to track suspects, many of them worrying.

      “ ‘Going dark’ does not aptly describe the long-term landscape for government surveillance,” concludes the study, to be published Monday by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

    • Going dark debunked: Boundless surveillance opportunities via the Internet of Things
  • Civil Rights

    • Solitary Confinement Is A Form Of Torture At Sharp Odds With Our Evolved Psychology

      We are people who evolved in small bands, living cooperatively with others, meaning our minds are adapted for social living — being amongst others.

      Evolutionary psychologist and psychiatrist Randy Nesse (though I can’t find the exact reference on deadline day morning) contends that we, in fact, seem to have a deep psychological need to be around others. In fact, it seems to be essential to our psychological health, which is why solitary confinement is a horrible punishment that we need to stop using.

    • Secret US flight flew over Scottish airspace to capture Snowden
    • The EU no longer serves the people – democracy demands a new beginning

      The aversion that many in Britain now feel towards the EU springs from the right instinct but leads to the wrong answer. Undoubtedly, Brussels disdains democracy and luxuriates in unaccountability. David Cameron’s hollow compromise will do precisely nothing to address this. Yet at the same time, a vote for “Brexit” in the forthcoming referendum is not the answer either.

      The European Community was, in its early incarnation, a magnificent undertaking. Its construction allowed for the revitalisation of national cultures in the spirit of European cosmopolitanism, disappearing borders, common institutions and shared prosperity. Despite different languages and diverse cultures, Europe began to pull together, in peace and ostensible harmony. Alas, the serpent’s egg was hatching inside the foundations of the emergent union.

    • Another Cop Treats Sexting Teens Like Child Pornographers

      As Reason’s Robby Soave points out, Detective Mohney is a walking contradiction. Apparently, it’s never occurred to him that bringing child porn charges against these young teens might result in bullying and suicide. Nothing makes the future look dim and hopeless like a long stint on the sex offender registry. Nothing destroys someone’s reputation faster than being listed alongside criminals who manufactured actual child porn, rather than just took a photo of their own adolescent body.

      For that matter, the preliminary charges make this teen’s decision to photograph his own body and send it to another teen a far worse crime than if he’d simply showed up at the girl’s house, stripped off his clothes and proceeded to engage in sexual activity with her.

    • Proposed Hungarian Law Would Allow Government To Suspend Key Human Rights Whenever There Is A ‘Terror Threat Situation’

      Amnesty notes that the proposed legislation would almost certainly fail the test of necessity and proportionality required to comply with Hungary’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. But something tells me that a government awarding itself near-totalitarian powers probably wouldn’t be too worried by a slap on the wrist from a bunch of human rights judges in some distant court.

    • Hungary: Proposed “sixth amendment” to the Constitution would be a frontal attack on human rights

      A draft proposal to combat terrorism, apparently authored by the Hungarian government and leaked in mid-January, recommends amendments to the Constitution and to several laws to streamline the process to call a state of emergency in the country. If adopted in its current form, the proposal would have profoundly negative consequences for human rights in Hungary, including the freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and movement, and the rights to privacy and security of person. The current proposal, referred to as the “sixth amendment”, devolves near absolute power on the executive in a so-called “terror threat situation,” the result of which would be a full frontal assault on human rights and the rule of law.

    • New Terrorism Blacklist Wields Power Over Millions of Lives

      Vice News revealed the details of a confidential database that banks, employers and others use to blacklist customers. The World-Check database also includes major charities, activists, and mainstream religious institutions under its category of “terrorism.”

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Vision, Urgency Of UN High-Level Panel On Access To Medicines Begins To Take Shape

      It came as a surprise to some when the United Nations Secretary General’s office announced in November the setting up of a high-level panel to urgently address access to medicines and other health technologies. After all, UN agencies in Geneva, most notably the World Health Organization, have been working on these issues for years.

      Yesterday at the UN in New York, an event was held to explain some of the vision and urgency behind the setting up of the panel, which includes an expert committee of representatives of some 10 international organisations and others. It also includes an open online call for contributed ideas until 18 February, and two public hearings.

    • Copyrights

      • David Bowie’s Legacy On Copyright And The Future Of Music

        Amid the steady stream of “hot takes” the past few weeks on the legacy of the late great David Bowie, The Washington Post’s Robert Gebelhoff dug up some of the rock legend’s contrarian views on copyright, if only to rebuke them thoroughly.

        Gebelhoff’s piece cited a 2002 interview Bowie gave to The New York Times in which he prophesied: “I’m fully confident that copyright…will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing…It’s terribly exciting.”

      • NBC, Filthy Pirates, Sued Over Use Of Photographer’s Work Without Permission

        NBC has made its views on piracy quite well-known over the years. For instance, we all know that it thinks that piracy is the most horrible damned thing that exists on this planet, so much so that it would please like ISPs to act as its personal police force. Oh, and because NBC also just cares so much — could we all just have our kids take a break from learning about stuff to listen to how awesome copyright is for a while? Also, however, piracy is pretty sweet when it’s convenient for NBC, or when it doesn’t want to bother coming up with its own images for its websites.

      • Europe’s top court mulls legality of hyperlinks to copyrighted content

        Europe’s highest court is considering whether every hyperlink in a Web page should be checked for potentially linking to material that infringes copyright, before it can be used. Such a legal requirement would place an unreasonable burden on anyone who uses hyperlinks, thereby destroying the Web we know and love.

        The current GS Media case examining hyperlinks builds on an earlier ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice (CJEU) in 2014. In that case, known as Svensson, the court decided that netizens didn’t need a licence from the copyright holder to link to an article that had already been posted on the Internet, where previous permission had been granted by the copyright owner.

      • MPAA Takes Over Popcorn Time Domain

        The MPAA is now the owner of Popcorntime.io, the domain name which was the home of the most used Popcorn Time fork up until last November. The change of ownership suggests that the Hollywood group reached a settlement with one of the key developers, but has yet to comment on the recent developments.

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