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Links 13/3/2016: KDE at CERN, FCC Versus FOSS

Posted in News Roundup at 5:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

    • Why Is Styrofoam Still a Thing?

      It might not have the sexiest name, but expanded polystyrene is truly a wonder material. Widely—and incorrectly—known by by the trademarked name Styrofoam™, this lightweight substance is crafted from petroleum-based polystyrene beads, which are stretched out during an intricate steaming and moulding process. The resulting product is 98 percent air, extraordinarily cheap to manufacture, and has widespread applications ranging from life rafts to fast food containers.

    • Google AI goes 3-0, wins Go match against humanity’s champ Lee Se-dol

      Late on Tuesday night, Google’s DeepMind AI group began its show down against one of the world’s best human Go players, Lee Se-dol of South Korea. Now by the end of the week, the search giant’s robotic hivemind has defeated humanity 3-0 in a clean sweep.

      The matchup was best of five games in total between AlphaGo (DeepMind’s Go-playing software) and Lee, all played at the Four Seasons hotel in Seoul. The winner of the series receives a $1 million (£700,000) prize—so with DeepMind winning, it will donate the proceeds to charity. Lee, by virtue of being a champion prizefighter who has spent most of his life honing his Go skills, still received about £100,000 just for turning up.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Britain’s care homes are being turned into complex financial instruments

      Adult social care in the UK is in crisis. This much we are told by those in the sector and this much we can see in the statistics. To cite but a few of these: around 1.86 million people over the age of 50 are not getting the care they need; approximately 1.5 million people perform over 50 hours unpaid care per week; and the proportion of GDP the UK spends on social care is among the lowest in the OECD, with budgets having undergone an overall reduction of over 30 per cent since 2010.

      Reflecting on the severity of the situation, Ian Smith, chairman of the largest care home chain in the UK, Four Seasons Healthcare, recently declared himself to be ‘embarrassed to be British at the state of our health and social care.’ As with the NHS, a mood of impending catastrophe hangs heavy over social care.

      Yet whilst attention has overwhelmingly been focused on the impact of austerity in reducing levels of state support, something murkier and altogether more complicated is going on in the shadows.

      According to a groundbreaking new report by the research organisation CRESC, large care home chains – which account for around a quarter of the industry – are rife with dubious financial engineering, tax avoidance, and complex business models designed to shift risks and costs from care home owners on to staff, the state and private payers.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • OpenSSH Security Advisory: x11fwd.adv
    • [openssh-unix-announce] OpenSSH Security Advisory: xauth command injection
    • [OTR-users] Security Advisory: upgrade to libotr 4.1.1
    • Why Microsoft’s vulnerability severity ratings are obsolete

      The distinction between ‘critical’ and ‘important’ has become meaningless. It makes no sense to treat them differently. Patch Tuesday needs a patch.

    • Let’s Encrypt Free Certificates’ Success Challenges SSL/TLS Industry

      NEWS ANALYSIS: The free security certificate effort backed by the Linux Foundation achieves a major milestone with one million free certificates, but are all those free users actually secure?

    • DDoS attacks: Getting bigger and more dangerous all the time

      Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are more frequent, bigger and more damaging than ever before a new report by internet security firm Verisign has warned.

      According to statistic published in the VeriSign Distributed Denial of Service Trends Report, DDoS activity is the highest it’s ever been, with the final quarter of 2015 seeing an 85 percent rise in instances – almost double the number of attacks – when compared with the same same period in 2014. The figures for Q4 2015 also represent a 15 percent rise on the previous quarter.

      The report also suggests that cyber attackers are getting much more persistent as targets are now being hit by repeated attacks, with some reportedly being the target of DDoS attacks up to 16 times in just three months.

    • The Firejail security sandbox
    • New Name, New Home for the Let’s Encrypt Client

      Over the next few months the Let’s Encrypt client will transition to a new name (soon to be announced), and a new home at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

      The goal of Let’s Encrypt is to make turning on HTTPS as easy as possible. To accomplish that, it’s not enough to fully automate certificate issuance on the certificate authority (CA) side – we have to fully automate on the client side as well. The Let’s Encrypt client is now being used by hundreds of thousands of websites and we expect it to continue to be a popular choice for sites that are run from a single server or VPS.

    • 600,000 TFTP Servers Can Be Abused for Reflection DDoS Attacks

      A new study has revealed that improperly configured TFTP servers can be easily abused to carry out reflection DDoS attacks that can sometimes have an amplification factor of 60, one of the highest such values.

    • Do you trust this application?

      Much of the software you use is riddled with security vulnerabilities. Anyone who reads Matthew Garrett knows that most proprietary software is a lost cause. Some Linux advocates claim that free software is more secure than proprietary software, but it’s an open secret that tons of popular desktop Linux applications have many known, unfixed vulnerabilities. I rarely see anybody discuss this, as if it’s taboo, but it’s been obvious to me for a long time.

    • Do you trust this website?
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Negotiating a New (Sykes-Picot) Contract for the Middle East

      The old Sykes-Picot divided up most of the Arab lands that had been under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in 1916. The Agreement was enforced by the superpowers of that moment, Britain and France with buy-in from the Russians. The immediate goal was colonialism, not independent states, but the unspoken end point was a form of stability. Following the massive realignment of the balance of power that was World War I, the lines were literally drawn for the next eight decades. The lines themselves did not cause all the problems per se; the lines codified the problems on the ground.

    • If a US Drone Strike Kills 150 People, Does Anyone Care?

      Americans can sleep easier now that the US military has wiped out 150 more “terrorists.” US airstrikes over Somalia targeted al-Shabab militants, who were, according to Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis, planning “offensive operations.” Davis neglected to elaborate on what “offensive operations” were planned by the group.

      He did say that they had been monitoring the camp for a while and had a “sense” that the “operational phase was about to begin.” Unsurprisingly Davis failed to elaborate on the details of the “operational phase” or what it might have looked like. Or how they got their “sense” to begin with.

      Interestingly, Davis also said that “their removal will degrade al-Shabab’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Somalia.”

    • US Airstrikes Kill 150 People in Somalia

      U.S. airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend killed more than 150 people, U.S. officials revealed on Monday.

    • Bernie Sanders Promises “Level Playing Field” on Israel-Palestine

      Signs pointed to his taking Israel’s side. During the 2014 war in Gaza, he famously told a pro-Palestinian critic at a Vermont town hall to “shut up,” and he has mostly been seen as a strong defender of Israel in its past conflicts.

      In the context of U.S. politics, however, his comments Tuesday were fairly remarkable, bucking the bipartisan establishment consensus that the United States should be openly biased in favor of Israel in its conflict with the rest of the region.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • FBI Can’t Have Whistleblower Protection Because It Would Encourage Too Many Complaints

      The Department of Justice is undercutting Chuck Grassley’s efforts to provide FBI employees whistleblower protection. That became clear in an exchange (2:42) on Wednesday.

      The exchange disclosed two objections DOJ has raised to Grassley’s FBI Whistleblower Protect Act. First, as Attorney General Loretta Lynch revealed, DOJ is worried that permitting FBI Agents to report crimes or waste through their chain of command would risk exposing intelligence programs.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • What Indonesia Doesn’t Know About Peatlands Could Undermine its Climate Goals

      Peat forests, or wetlands, are some of the most important ecosystems for Indonesia and climate change. The country holds the largest tropical peatland in the world, which acts as a major carbon sink. At the same time, carbon emissions from peat decomposition and peat fires account for 42 percent of Indonesia’s total emissions, and spikes in peat fires in 2015 pushed the country to move from world’s sixth-largest to the fourth-largest emitter.

    • Fighting of fires must continue under blue skies — Simon Tay

      Blue skies breed amnesia. With the clear skies, many may now struggle to recall the urgency and anger over the smoke haze pollution in the region.

      Last year was one of the worst on historical record for fires and it was barely six months ago that the haze reached its peak, hitting a Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) of 2,300 in Central Kalimantan.

      It is critical that governments, corporations in the relevant industries and concerned citizens continue to work on the issue. Predictions are that 2016 may not be as dry as last year.

    • Indonesian province declares emergency as forest fires flare

      Indonesia’s western province of Riau has declared a state of emergency over forest and land fires blazing on the island of Sumatra, a government official said on Tuesday.

      The fires, which send choking smog over Southeast Asia every year, raged uncontrollably across several provinces last year, costing an estimated $16 billion, and pushed average daily greenhouse gas emissions above those of the United States.

      “The governor has declared an emergency now, to be able to prevent a repeat of the haze that occurred in 2015,” said provincial government spokesman Darusman, adding that life in the province continued to be normal.

  • Finance

    • Russian Bitcoin issuers will risk seven-year prison sentence

      The Russian Ministry of Finance is planning an amendment to the criminal code to establish severe penalties for those who issue the Bitcoin cryptocurrency or other ‘money substitutes’.

    • Providers’ Newsletter Service Has Broken Down, Awaiting A Fix By The Provider

      As I have previously reported, in January 2004, 12 years ago, I stated in a nationally televised TV economic debate about jobs offshoring that the United States would be a Third World country in 20 years. I over-estimated the time it would take. We are already there. We have 23% unemployment, no jobs for university graduates, deteriorating and collapsing infrastructure, large percentages of the population drowning in debt and its service, the decay of cities that were once the sites of our industrial and manufacturing power, such as Detroit, Michigan, largely in ruins, and Flint, Michigan, where the water is undrinkable.

    • Why Your Boss Hates Your Commute More Than You Do

      Companies are starting to include emissions from employee commuting into calculations of their carbon footprint. Now, there’s an app for that.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Sanders, Redbaiting and the ‘Denouncing’ Double Standard

      Clinton’s sudden—and hypocritical—support for “human rights” notwithstanding, the moment was predictable as it was routine. It’s been 25 years since the end of the Cold War, so younger voters may not be used to these types of loyalty rituals. But whenever the issue of socialism—or communism, its more fear-inducing cousin—comes up, the press must attempt to compel those who have previously expressed support or sympathy for red politics to “denounce” their prior statements. Sanders’ refusal to do so caused noticeable agitation among the moderators.


      A handful of Clinton partisans jumped at the chance to paint Sanders as a far-left loony who likes to cozy up to “dictators.” Salon’s Amanda Marcotte, one of the media’s most reliable Clinton boosters, jumped right in, linking to a recent Daily Beast piece by Michael Moynihan, former senior editor of libertarian Reason magazine and current Vice/Bank of America talkshow host, who did a rundown of Sanders’ dreaded leftist past. Suddenly, a topic Marcotte had never once tweeted about, or expressed any public concern for, was of utmost importance and needed to be brought to the forefront of public discourse.

    • Ben Bagdikian, Visionary

      Before almost anyone else, Ben warned about the impact of the modern wave of media mergers that accelerated during the Reagan years (and accelerated further during the Clinton administration). In the first years of FAIR, I heard from various sympathetic journalists in mainstream media who said they were thrilled that, finally, a pro–working journalist media watch group had formed . . . but that we were off-base to emphasize the impact of corporate owners—that the problem was in the newsroom far more than the boardroom. A few years and a few mergers later, these same journalists told us that we’d been right, almost prophetic—that boardrooms were undermining journalism, often quite nakedly.

    • How Activists Mobilized To Shut Down Trump In Chicago

      On Friday night, so many protesters descended upon a Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago that the Republican presidential front-runner canceled his appearance, citing security concerns. Violence broke out inside and outside the rally, with Trump quickly criticizing the “thugs who shut down our First Amendment rights.” Conservative commentators avidly defended Trump, saying that it was a shame that protesters — also making use of their First Amendment right — had shut him down.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Snowden hits out after Obama sides with FBI against Apple

      Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden has come out swinging against US President Barack Obama after the latter, referring to the ongoing spat between Apple and the FBI, urged Americans not to adopt absolutist positions on privacy and security.

      Snowden was speaking from Moscow to the Logan Symposium in Berlin organised by the London-based Centre for Investigative Journalism on Friday and Saturday. Obama was participating in a keynote conversation at the 2016 South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, the first sitting president to grace the stage of an SXSW event.

      Obama, responding to a question from Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, said he could not talk directly about the Apple-FBI matter, where the FBI is demanding that Apple produce a modified version of its iOS mobile operating system so that the agency can access information from an iPhone that was used by Syed Rizwan Farook, an employee of the San Bernardino county health department and one of two responsible for the deaths of 14 people in December last year.

    • VPN Provider’s No-Logging Claims Tested in FBI Case

      While many VPN providers say they do not log their users’ activities in order to protect anonymity, it’s not often their claims get tested in the wild. However, a criminal complaint filed by the FBI this week notes that a subpoena sent to Private Internet Access resulted in no useful data being revealed about a suspected hoaxer.

    • Obama Wants Nonexistent Middle Ground on Encryption, Warns Against “Fetishizing Our Phones”

      President Barack Obama says he wants strong encryption, but not so strong that the government can’t get in.

      “The question we now have to ask technologically is if it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there is no door at all?” he asked, speaking at the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin on Friday.

      “Then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to do even simple things like tax enforcement? If in fact you can’t crack that all, if the government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket. There has to be some concession to the need to be able to get into that information somehow.”

    • NSA: House Of Cards Plot Is “Illegal And Unbelievable”

      Unlikely. First of all, Section 702 is designed for foreign surveillance, and would be much more likely to be used in cases of international communications. Instead, the government would be much more likely to lean on another legal authority. It might still be a longshot, but Section 214 of the Patriot Act would be a smarter bet. Section 214 was the NSA’s go-to authority when it conducted its program, discontinued in 2011, of tracking Americans’ internet and email metadata. That means it would track, for instance, the “to” and “from” fields of a given email, but not what’s written in the body, as well as which websites people visited—similar to the kinds of voter profiles developed in the show.

    • NSA to share more data with domestic law enforcement
    • FBI channels Kafka with new rules on slurping Americans’ private data
    • NSA Privacy Concerns Assert Serious Federal Sidestep
    • Federal Judge Inadvertently Confirms Existence of NSA Spying Program
    • Encryption Makes Us Safe, Says Sen. Mark Warner at SXSW
    • Trackers

      A couple of weeks ago I went to the local shopping centre looking for a thermometer. After entering one store upon leaving without buying anything a tracker was assigned to me. I didn’t think much of it at first, but he followed me dutifully around the shopping centre, took careful note of how I walked. Whenever I visited a store he made a note in his little black book (he kept calling it my profile, and he didn’t want to show me what was in it so I assume it was actually his, rather than mine). Each of those stores of course assigned trackers to me as well and soon enough I was followed by my own personal veritable posse of non-descript guys with little black books making notes.

    • Why Are We Fighting the Crypto Wars Again?

      Last week I arrived in San Francisco to hear good news: Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman had won the ACM A.M. Turing Award. This is the Nobel Prize of computer science, with a million-dollar check and priceless prestige. The choice of these 2016 honorees is both long overdue and appropriately timely. Overdue because their contribution to the field (and to the world) was public key cryptography, which they created in 1976. And timely because the consequences of their invention — which would lead to the development of online privacy tools, whether the government liked it or not — are once again a flash point of Constitutional proportions.

    • Obama attempts to heal rift between tech world and government at SXSW

      The president did not directly comment on the battle between Apple and the FBI but said that ‘fetishishing our phones above every other value is incorrect’

    • New Documents Solve a Few Mysteries in the Apple-FBI Saga
    • Obama weighs in on Apple v. FBI: “You can’t take an absolutist view”
    • Government Can’t Let Smartphones Be `Black Boxes,’ Obama Says

      President Barack Obama said Friday that smartphones — like the iPhone the FBI is trying to force Apple Inc. to help it hack — can’t be allowed to be “black boxes,” inaccessible to the government. The technology industry, he said, should work with the government instead of leaving the issue to Congress.

      “You cannot take an absolutist view on this,” Obama said at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. “If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it’s fetishizing our phones above every other value.”

      Obama’s appearance on Friday at the event known as SXSW, the first by a sitting president, comes as the FBI tries to force Apple Inc. to help investigators access an iPhone used by one of the assailants in December’s deadly San Bernardino, California, terror attack. Apple has appealed a magistrate court order that it assist the government, saying to do so would undermine its encryption technology.

    • Why Isn’t DOJ Complaining about Apple’s Cooperation with Police States Like South Korea … or the US?

      There was lots that was nasty in yesterday’s DOJ brief in the Apple vs FBI case. But I want to look at this claim, from DOJ’s effort to insinuate Apple is resisting doing something for the US government it has already done for China.

    • FBI Has New Plan to Spy on High School Students

      The FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies as potential future terrorists, warning that such “extremists” are in the same category as ISIS.

    • Alvaro Bedoya on Facial Recognition and the Color of Surveillance

      But in 2016 America, the conversation can suffer from not being grounded in an understanding of how surveillance technology is actually being used right now. Whether we are being watched by private companies or by law enforcement and the state, our guest says, not everyone is watched equally.

    • To prevent whistleblowing, U.S. intelligence agencies are instructing staff to spy on their colleagues.

      Elham Khorasani was sitting in her car at a stoplight in Northern Virginia when she got the call. It was April 16, 2013. “I’m with the FBI,” a man on the line said, “and we’re at your home executing a search warrant.”

      Khorasani was flummoxed. (A pseudonym is being used to protect her privacy.) The Iran native, a U.S. citizen since the 1990s, had worked as a Farsi and Dari language analyst at the National Security Agency (NSA) going on eight years. She had recently been selected for a second tour at Menwith Hill station, the NSA’s mammoth listening post in northern England. Minutes before the FBI called, she’d left a meeting at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

    • President Obama Is Wrong On Encryption; Claims The Realist View Is ‘Absolutist’

      This is not all that surprising, but President Obama, during his SXSW keynote interview, appears to have joined the crew of politicians making misleading statements pretending to be “balanced” on the question of encryption. The interview (the link above should start at the very beginning) talks about a variety of issues related to tech and government, but eventually the President zeroes in on the encryption issue. The embed below should start at that point (if not, it’s at the 1 hour, 16 minute mark in the video). Unfortunately, the interviewer, Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune, falsely frames the issue as one of “security v. privacy” rather than what it actually is — which is “security v. security.”

    • A Judge Just Admitted The Existence Of The NSA’s PRISM Program

      A U.S. judge has just admitted the existence of the NSA’s infamous PRISM program by name, apparently the first time any federal judge has done so.

      PRISM has been an open secret since June 2013, when documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were first made public. An ominous NSA PowerPoint training slide claimed that PRISM allowed “collection [of user data] directly from the servers” of major American tech companies like Yahoo, Google and Apple, though those tech companies immediately and fiercely protested that no, to their knowledge, they didn’t give the NSA such access. It’s since been generally accepted that the NSA wasn’t physically accessing those companies’ servers with PRISM, but instead creating a streamlined legal process to compel those companies, via orders processed in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to turn over users’ data.

    • Scheer Intelligence: William Binney and Blowing the Whistle On the NSA

      Binney also discusses the ThinThread data collection system that he helped create while at the NSA, which ended prematurely, and why he believes the agency chose instead to implement the more expensive and bulky Trailblazer, later widely considered to be a failure.

    • Obama Urges Techies to Compromise on Encryption

      President Barack Obama stopped by South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas today to talk about, among other things, encryption. The crux of his argument: techies shouldn’t be “absolutists” on the issue, because information in your phone shouldn’t be treated differently than information in your home.

      “This notion that somehow our data is different, and can be walled off from those other tradeoffs we make, I believe is incorrect,” said Obama, while also claiming he is “way on the civil liberties side of this thing.”

    • Skype co-founder launches ultra-private messaging, with video

      A group of former Skype technologists, backed by the co-founder of the messaging platform, has introduced a new version of its own messaging service that promises end-to-end encryption for all conversations, including by video.

      Wire, a 50-person start-up mostly made up of engineers, is stepping into a global political debate over encryption that pits privacy against security advocates, epitomized by the standoff between the U.S. government and Apple.

  • Civil Rights

    • Feds Ask For 5 Years In Jail For Matthew Keys Giving Up Tribune Account Password; Still Don’t Care About Actual Hacker

      We’ve written a few times now about the somewhat bizarre Matthew Keys case. While he still denies having done anything, he has been found guilty under the CFAA for sharing the login information to the Tribune Company’s computer systems, which apparently resulted in someone hacking a story on the LA Times website. The hack was nonsensical and lasted for all of about 40 minutes. There’s no indication that this bit of vandalism did any actual harm — or even that very many people saw it. And yet… the Feds had to work overtime to figure out how to turn this minor bit of vandalism (which everyone agrees Keys did not actually do directly) into nearly $1 million in damages (thanks to emails that the Tribune Company says were worth $200+ each, and random claims about “ratings declines” due to a separate incident involving Keys and the Tribune-owned TV station Keys used to work for).

    • Why Immigration Concern Is Racist

      Since 1979 UK governments have deliberately and systematically pursued policies which prioritised the speculative financial industries of London and damaged large scale manufacturing. The apotheosis of this policy was the massive transfer of money from everybody in the land to the bankers in 2008 by Gordon Brown.

      There are two major results of this forty year policy. The first is that the deliberately engineered manufacturing decline has caused social and economic devastation in the UK outside South East England. The second has been an astonishing accumulation of wealth in a tiny number of hands as income inequality levels have risen to the highest disparity in all of human history, wealth centred in South East England.

      This has naturally led to rising discontent among many people in many areas, despite the concentrated use of mass communication media under elite control to spread narratives to contain or divert discontent. But as unrest has continued to threaten control, a particular diversionary narrative has become dominant.


      Concern about immigration is racism. A racism deliberately whipped up to divert people from their real enemies.

    • Outrageous to Criticise Pharisees, Says Archbishop
    • Drugs, Dams, and Power: The Murder of Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres

      Last year, the group Global Witness named Honduras as the world’s deadliest country for environmental activists. “There is a straight line between environmentalist activism and assassination in Honduras,” said Dr. David Wrathall, a United Nations University geographer who studies Honduras. Over the last decade, Central America has become awash in drug money, Wrathall says, which frequently ends up entangled in large-scale agriculture and development projects such as dams.

    • No Bern Notice: the Imperial Myopia of Candidate Sanders

      Does Bernie Sanders know what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did to Honduras? Does he care? Last week saw yet another savage murder of a Honduran activist for democracy — one of hundreds such atrocities since Clinton and Obama blessed a brutal oligarchical coup there in 2009. But Sanders said nothing — says nothing — about this damning legacy of his opponent. It’s an extraordinary omission by someone presenting himself as an alternative to the failed elitist policies of the past.

    • Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange

      The government security agent, Martin Fredriksson, was mainly active during the years that former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was dictating Sweden’s foreign policy, when the “Assange Affair” was widely publicized on the home page of Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to statements Fredriksson posted on Twitter, his “work” at SÄPO covered different periods between 2004 and 2010, the year Sweden opened its ‘investigation’ against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    • Blowing the Biggest Political Story of the Last Fifty Years

      The shocking story isn’t the rise of Donald Trump but how the GOP slowly morphed into a party of hate and obstruction.

    • Trump Concerned His Rallies Are Not Violent Enough

      For months now, Donald Trump has been complaining about the level of violence inflicted on protesters at his campaign rallies. Complaining, that is, about protesters — who have been tackled and kicked, pushed, spat on, and sucker-punched — not being subjected to nearly enough violence.

      In the latest instance, at a rally in St. Louis on Friday, Trump complained about the overly gentle treatment of protesters being dragged from a theater and things got ugly outside, as his supporters faced off with protesters.

    • European Parliament to Vote on Torture Resolution Over Italian’s Death in Egypt

      THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a resolution that strongly condemns “the torture and assassination” of Italian student Giulio Regeni in what the resolution describes as a pattern of “torture, death in custody, and enforced disappearances across Egypt.”

      Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian researcher, disappeared in Cairo on January 25, the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. Regeni’s body was found last month on a highway on the outskirts of Cairo bearing signs of torture. Italy’s interior minister said Regeni had suffered “inhuman, animal-like” violence. Egypt’s security forces, notorious for arbitrary arrests and abuse of detainees, are widely suspected of being involved in his death, though the government has denied any involvement.

    • The Most Wanted Man in China

      Fang Lizhi, the astrophysicist who inspired Chinese pro-democracy student protesters in the late 1980s, gives a fascinating and insightful account of his life in a memoir now published nearly four years after his death in exile. In “The Most Wanted Man in China,” Fang takes us from the 1940s, when he joined an underground Communist Party youth organization, through the years when he was expelled from the party and sent to the countryside to dig wells, labor in a coal mine and work on a railroad construction site.

    • On Being Far Left

      Yet in 1976 I was a Liberal, and politically centre or only slightly left of centre. My views were absolutely mainstream and were voiced in mainstream media every day.

      While standing still, I now find myself far left as the mainstream political spectrum rushed rightwards past me.

      Is this because the Thatcherite revolution, carried on so enthusiastically by Blair and New Labour, proved wildly successful? Is it because deregulation and privatisation has brought prosperity, harmony and an inarguably better society?

      No, not at all. The new right wing consensus has been a disaster. It led directly to the great crash of 2008 and the resulting austerity, which will dog us for another two decades at this rate. It led to massive, astonishing inequality of wealth and a society in which it is considered normal for top executives of an organisation to be paid 100 times more than the lowest employee. It led to hedge fund managers owning our politicians, and to Russian mafia owning our football clubs. It led to a world where Save the Children can pay its chief executive £375,000 a year of donation money yet nobody pukes. It led to collapse in manufacturing and to vast areas of blight and hopelessness, to a generation who will never afford a house while buy to let multi millionaires abound, to QE transferring yet more money straight to financial institutions.


      I am not without hope. There is no doubt that the Sanders/SNP/Corbyn phenomenon represents a reaction to the dreadful inequality of society and all the evils which I have described. But I would also argue that this reaction has only been practical because of the new maturity of social media, weakening the grip of corporate media on the popular field of debate and the popular imagination.

    • We Are Witnessing the Decline of Saudi Arabia as a Major Power

      Five years ago, when the Arab Spring seemed at its most hopeful point, a Saudi diplomat told me, scornfully, that it would come to nothing. I had met him in the halls of the United Nations, where I had been asking diplomats about their views on Libya. The Saudis were eager to have the UN validate armed action to remove Muammar Qaddafi. A Saudi news outlet, al-Arabiya, had suggested that the Libyan military was killing its citizens with abandon. Fog surrounded Libya. The U.S. State Department seemed clueless. It did not have any reliable intelligence. Hillary Clinton, who pushed for war, relied upon the French and the Saudis for their assessment of Libya. These were unreliable narrators. Saudi Arabia, at least, wanted the Arab Spring shut down. It threatened its own undemocratic regime. The diplomat’s scorn grew out of this anxiety.

      Like an angry dragon, Saudi Arabia lashed around the region, throwing money and arms, encouraging chaos in this and that country. One underestimates the biliousness of monarchs: at a 2009 Arab League meeting, Qaddafi had cavalierly dismissed the King of Saudi Arabia as a creation of the British and a protectorate of the Americans. It was evident that the monarchs would not tolerate his existence for much longer. Two years later, they—with Western help—dismissed him.

    • Saudi Arabia due to ‘complete’ January mass executions with four more deaths

      Four more prisoners are reportedly to be killed by Saudi Arabia as the country moves to “complete” a wave of mass executions that started in January.

      The kingdom put 47 people to death on a single day that month, including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and at least one teenager, sparking global protests.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Netflix Can’t Stream House of Cards Globally, Blames Licensing Deals

      Netflix’s release of the fourth season of House of Cards has turned into a bitter disappointment for fans in dozens of countries. Due to “legacy” licensing agreements, Netflix is not allowed to show its own original programming in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong, causing many people to turn to pirate sources.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • CIPIL Spring Conference: what is the scope of IPR protection (and what should it be)?

      This year’s conference, chaired by Mr Justice Richard Arnold and – as usual – attended by practitioners and academics alike, is devoted to exploring the scope of IPR protection.

    • Trademarks

      • Twitter Won’t Stop Fighting To Trademark ‘Dronie’

        You know the word “selfie” by now (whether you like the concept or not), but what about “dronie”? It seems that, back in 2014, Twitter, of all companies, decided to try to make “dronie” a thing, combining drones with selfies (i.e., photos of yourself, taken from drones). It even set up a twitter feed for @dronie and tried to highlight examples of such things — focusing on a campaign around the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The concept did drum up some fairly lame press coverage (because of course it did), with some puff pieces on “dronies,” pretending that it was the next new thing — even though it was just a Twitter marketing campaign. Never mind the fact that others apparently had been using the term before Twitter started in.

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Wants to Keep Its Anti-Piracy Secrets From Google

        Hoping to find out more about the collaboration between the MPAA and Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, Google recently requested a deposition of MPAA lead counsel Steve Fabrizio. This week the Hollywood group told the court that the request goes too far, claiming that Google is using the legal process to uncover its anti-piracy strategies.

      • Music Licensing Shop Harry Fox Agency Appears To Be Scrambling To Fix Its Failure To Properly License Songs

        A couple of months ago, I wrote a long post trying to dig into the details of David Lowery’s class action lawsuit against Spotify. In the end, while there was some question over whether or not streaming music services really need to get compulsory mechanical licenses for producing reproductions of songs, it seemed like the fact that such licenses are compulsory and can be obtained easily via having the Harry Fox Agency issue a “Notice of Intention” under Section 115, it seemed crazy to think that the various music services had not done that. In fact, we noted that the only way the lawsuits made any sense was if the various music services and HFA ignored this and didn’t send out such NOIs. At the time, I noted that this would be a surprise, and it could mean the services were in deep trouble.

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