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03.16.16

Links 16/3/2016: GNU Linux-Libre 4.5, NVIDIA Distro Rumours

Posted in News Roundup at 6:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Productivity Hacks: Multitask smarter … or not at all

    Take a quick scan of any CIO’s list of priorities for the year, and it’s easy to see that they are among the busiest executives in the C-Suite. But driving digital transformation, thwarting cybersecurity attacks, and leveraging the Internet of Things to better understand customers – just a few tasks on CIOs’ to-do lists – don’t come easily if IT leaders are inundated with back-to-back meetings and an out-of-control inbox.

  • Science

    • A Postlude on Pi Day

      It looks like I’ve missed Pi Day by some fraction of a day, but I can’t help but get a little excited when this special day rolls around — especially if pi turns into pie. And, while I can’t remember much past 3.14159 in my head, I know that calculating pi to some outrageous number of digits can be pretty exciting and that we can do that fairly easily on Unix systems.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Barring Plastic Bag Bans, another ALEC Law Takes Aim at Local Democracy

      The pay-to-play model of government advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) scored another victory this week. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Senate voted along party lines to approve a bill that would prohibit local communities from issuing their own rules on plastic bags and other containers.

      This is part of an emerging national trend.

      Preventing local governments from banning, charging a fee for, or otherwise regulating plastic bags is part of a national strategy by corporate interests and groups they fund, like ALEC to override progressive policy gains at the city and county level.

      Similar state “preemption,” or state intervention, measures have gone after popular city measures to increase the minimum wage, require paid sick leave, ban fracking, and bar discrimination.

    • Malta gives go ahead to shooting of 5,000 endangered turtle doves

      Hunters in Malta will be permitted to shoot 5,000 turtle doves this spring despite the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently adding the migratory bird to the “red list” of species at risk of being wiped out.

      The Maltese government, the only EU member to allow recreational spring hunting, said it was taking “special measures” to minimise the impact of its shoot on the bird’s plummeting population, cutting the shooters’ allowance from 11,000 birds.

  • Finance

    • Every English school to become an academy, ministers to announce

      Legislation to turn every school in England into an academy independent of local authority control will be unveiled in the budget.

      Draft leglislation, to be published possibly as early as Thursday, will begin the process of implementing a pledge made by David Cameron in his conference speech last autumn.

      The prime minister said his “vision for our schooling system” was to place education into the hands of headteachers and teachers rather than “bureaucrats”.

      The move follows criticism of the government for going into stasis during the referendum campaign. Cameron and the chancellor, George Osborne, are keen to show that they are in charge of a “reforming” government.

    • Leak shows Commission giving inside information to car lobby on new emissions tests

      As the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the dieselgate scandali begins its work in Brussels, a leaked lobbying document from the European car manufacturers’ lobby, ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association), reveals a sophisticated, multi-faceted behind-the-scenes lobbying strategy aimed at weakening new emissions tests.

      Last September’s dieselgate scandal exposed how car manufacturers were meeting legal NOx emissions limits in laboratory tests, but massively exceeding them on the road (by up to 40 times in the case of Volkswagen). While this was news to the general public, the European Commission had known manufacturers were vastly exceeding limits back in 2011 and was designing new on-the-road tests, or ‘Real Driving Emissions’ (RDE) tests, to tackle the problem in diesel cars. But as the leak shows, ACEA and its members had other plans. Their intention: to weaken and delay the new tests, scheduled to be finalised in 2015 and introduced in 2017, which could prevent thousands of premature deaths every year but would most certainly dent profits if implemented in full.

    • Former Swedish PM set to become US banker

      The man who led Sweden between 2006 and 2014 is swapping politics for banking, his new employer confirmed in a press statement on Tuesday.

      Reinfeldt, 50, who also served as president of the European Council in 2006, has been hired as a senior adviser for the bank in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

      Johan Lustig, head of Nordic Corporate and Investment Banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, called the ex-PM “one of Europe’s most highly respected politicians in recent years.”

    • Americans Think CEOs Make a Fraction of What They Actually Do

      Overall, respondents believed most CEOs made less than a tenth of what they actually do—on average, they thought CEOs earned nearly $1 million, whereas the real average is about $10 million. Still, 74 percent think those CEOs are overpaid.

    • Analysis: How TPP, TTIP and agriculture are shaping EU Japan trade talks

      The factors that shape EU trade policy are many. But among those that shape most actual and current negotiation dynamics in the EU Japan FTA negotiations, which started in 2013, a few months before the transatlantic TTIP talks, two stand out: United States free trade agreements and the EU agriculture sector, argues Iana Dreyer.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Denouncing Free College in the Name of the Poor

      Although corporate media outlets have blasted presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for “living in an economic fantasy world,” his proposed plan for free tuition in public universities is hardly radical. To be funded by a modest financial transaction tax—0.5 percent on stock transactions and 0.1 percent on bond transactions—it’s essentially an older policy being reinstated to create revenue for a social program.

      Many countries, including the UK, France, Japan, India and Taiwan, already have similar taxes and the US had one until 1966. And a number of industrialized nations, like Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and the Scandinavian countries, have instituted free college tuition without evident chaotic societal breakdown.

      And yet a flurry of media “experts” have rushed to denounce not only the financial tax as a means to fund college tuition, but the prospect of socialized higher education as a concept.

    • Cable News Covers Everyone’s Speech but Sanders–Who Made the Mistake of Discussing Policy

      Bernie Sanders, while well behind, is still a viable candidate and is very much staying in the race. One wouldn’t know this, however, from watching last night’s cable news coverage, because the three major 24-hour news networks–CNN, MSNBC and Fox News–cut away from Sanders’ speech.

      [...]

      Sanders’ major sin appears to have been choosing to discuss policy rather than dishing out the typical hoorah platitudes. His hour-long speech which, according to Talking Points Memo, wasn’t carried even in part, focused on issues like campaign finance reform and the barriers to mass political change. You can watch the whole thing here, courtesy of C-SPAN.

    • Is GCHQ Embedded in Wikipedia?

      I don’t look at my own Wikipedia page, but was told about it yesterday. I therefore googled Philip Cross and was amazed to discover that he is allegedly an alias for Oliver Kamm attacking people online. Furthermore that Kamm has employed lawyers to threaten those who claim that he is Philip Cross, and by Kamm’s own account the Metropolitan Police have even warned off Neil Clark from saying Kamm is Cross. The Kamm/Cross affair was discussed on George Galloway’s show on Saturday.

    • #OpTrump: Anonymous Declares “Total War” Against Donald Trump From April 1
    • Was This the Strangest Weekend in American Political History?

      Things started to go off the rails on Friday, when Clinton, attending the funeral of another former first lady, Nancy Reagan, offered up a startlingly inaccurate account of “how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s” until a national conversation finally began “because of both President and Mrs. Reagan — in particular Mrs. Reagan.”

    • Florida Attorney General Endorses Trump After Taking His Money and Backing Off Trump University Investigation

      Donald Trump just won a key endorsement going into Tuesday’s Florida primary: the state’s attorney general, Pam Bondi.

      But her bigger favor to Trump may have been her decision in 2013 not to pursue an investigation of Trump’s for-profit education chain after he made a big donation to her re-election campaign.

      As Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time, Bondi announced in September 2013 that her office was reviewing a series of complaints related to the Trump Institute of Boca Raton, a for-profit education company that is no longer in operation. Three days after the report that Bondi was considering joining other states’ attorneys general in taking action against Trump’s for-profit education chain, the real estate mogul dumped $25,000 into a committee organized for Bondi’s re-election.
      Bondi ended up taking no action.

    • Anonymous collective declares ‘total war’ on Donald Trump, again

      Hackers target ‘deeply disturbing’ presidential candidate and ask for support to dismantle his campaign and expose private details

    • Mo Ansar once admitted he was a liar in formal legal proceedings

      Mo Ansar is in the news again. In particular, there is an article in the current issue of Private Eye about a complaint he was seeking to make to Twitter.

      (For background to Ansar, see this dossier by Jeremy Duns, which details threats made against journalists and bloggers, including me.)

      Ansar has made a great deal of his legal experiences, and often refers to his exploits in courts. I exposed his claims as being a “lawyer” in May 2014.

      [...]

      I have asked Ansar about these passages, but have not yet had a response.

  • Censorship

    • China’s Censors Battle Mounting Defiance

      Yang Jisheng knows all about censorship. His book “Tombstone,” an epic account of Mao Zedong’s great famine, is banned in China.

    • Chinese website publishes, then pulls, explosive letter calling for President Xi’s resignation

      Two weeks after China’s President toured state media offices and called for absolute loyalty from the press, a website with links to the government published an explosive letter asking him to resign “for the future of the country and the people.”

      The letter was reportedly posted in the early hours of March 4 by a website called Wujie News, which is jointly owned by SEEC Media Group, Alibaba and the government of Xinjiang, in China’s far northwest. The Washington Post found a cached version of the document that shows the post live on the site.

    • What’s Driving the Current Storm of Chinese Censorship?

      Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a screen above delegates during the second plenary session of the National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9, 2016.

    • How China Censors Mass Media in Your World

      The recent censorship crackdown inside China is typically met with a shrug, but now the Chinese are censoring content worldwide. Here’s how.
      The famous Great Firewall of China has been in effect for decades. But in recent months, China’s current authoritarian leader, President Xi Jinping, has been taking domestic censorship to a new level.

      Under Xi’s leadership, Internet police officers have been embedded inside Chinese tech firms, depictions of extramarital affairs and homosexuality have been banned from TV and even news articles that complain about censorship are being censored.

    • Chinese government adviser attacks rise in censorship

      Jiang Hong, whose interview in a Chinese magazine was taken down last week, says ‘mistakes can be made’ if a society listens to only one voice

    • Chinese parliamentary delegate’s rare act of dissent

      Chinese parliamentary delegate Jiang Hong has spoken to the BBC about censorship and the “obstacles” Chinese people still face in being able to speak out.

      Mr Jiang was interviewed on the fringes of the National People’s Congress. Previous interviews to online media outlets have been deleted by the authorities.

      He told the BBC’s John Sudworth, “If a society only listens to one voice, mistakes can be made”.

    • Rare act of dissent at China’s annual parliament

      After 11 days of interminable speeches, followed by ritualistic voting to approve everything put before it, China’s annual parliamentary gathering will, once again, leave little worthy of note in its wake.

      That is precisely the intention of course because it is not meant to hold power to account.

      That is kept tightly in the hands of the ruling Communist Party, and the key policies have long been decided in advance.

    • Missouri House Passes Limits on Student Reporter Censorship

      Lawmakers voted 131-12 Tuesday to limit the power of public schools to censor student media, including publications financed by the school. Administrators would still be able to block content that is slanderous, libelous or otherwise breaks laws.

    • Pressure grows on politicians to relax strict Senate photography censorship

      A campaign to relax strict photography rules in the Senate has now been backed by Communications Minister and Manager of the Government Business in the Senate Mitch Fifield.

    • Mike Gold: Defying Censorship
  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Appeals Court Says Backpage.com Is Not Liable For Sex Trafficking Done Via Its Site

      Backpage.com has been pretty busy in court. The site, which basically took over the market for “adult” classified ads after Craigslist shut down its ads (after being misleadingly attacked) has been sued a bunch of times, almost always by people misunderstanding Section 230 of the CDA which, as we’ve discussed hundreds of times, says that sites are not liable for the actions of their users. Last year, however, Backpage won a big case in Massachusetts in May, but then lost one in Washington in September. (Separately, it won a different case going after Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart for meddling and getting credit card companies to stop supporting Backpage.com — the company just asked the lower court to dismiss what’s left of that case). The September ruling was surprising, as it’s one of a very, very, very small number of cases that basically says that Section 230 doesn’t apply.

    • “Tyranny will fall”: Son of executed Saudi dissident al-Nimr shares his incredible story

      “I don’t like the name ‘Saudi Arabia,’” Mohammed Nimr al-Nimr said with a smile. “It’s actually called the Arabian Peninsula, not Saudi,” he laughed, noting the country is named after its ruling dynasty.

      The impeccably dressed and amiable 29-year-old Saudi activist and engineer was in Washington, D.C. for the 2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia, the first international conference to call into question the close U.S. relationship with the theocratic absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia.

    • India Denies Visa Request From U.S. Govt Religious Freedom Monitoring Group

      India has denied visas to a team from the United States government responsible for monitoring religious freedom.

      The organization, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, had planned a trip to India to assess religious liberty in the country. But India has not issued visas to members of the commission.

    • Is Donald Trump a Fascist? Part 2 of Interview with Robert Paxton, Father of Fascism Studies

      Part 2 of our conversation on Donald Trump with the father of fascism studies, Robert Paxton, professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University and author of several books, including “The Anatomy of Fascism.”

    • Donald Trump Warns of Riots at Convention if He Is Denied Nomination

      Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that his supporters could riot at the Republican convention in Cleveland if he is not “automatically” made the party’s nominee if he arrives with the most votes but fails to secure a majority of convention delegates.

    • Watch: Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

      President Obama has nominated federal judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left open by the death of Antonin Scalia. Widely seen as a moderate, Garland is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    • The Department of Justice Throws Its Weight Behind Ending the Jailing of the Poor for Unpaid Fines

      Yesterday the department called upon state court leaders to ensure that court rules and procedures on fine and fee collection afford due process and equal protection of the law and align with sound public policy. The timing could not have been better because today the ACLU reached a settlement in our lawsuit against Biloxi, Mississippi, which challenged the jailing of poor people if they could not pay the entire amount of their outstanding court fines and fees up front, in full, and in cash. The agreement provides a critically important model on how to implement the Justice Department’s recommendations and do even more to treat the rich and poor equally and fairly when they step into court.

    • Stop eroding faith in gov’t: DOJ warns courts about fining & jailing poor people

      The US Justice Department cautioned local courts that it is unconstitutional to jail someone for not paying fines without determining whether they are able to pay, and warned against using court fees to generate revenue for cities.

      The warnings came as part of an effort to reform court practices that “perpetuate poverty and result in unnecessary deprivations of liberty,” the Justice Department said.

      “The consequences of the criminalization of poverty are not only harmful – they are far-reaching,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement. “They not only affect an individual’s ability to support their family, but also contribute to an erosion of our faith in government.”

    • Is it Okay to Kick People Out of Campaign Rallies? That Depends.

      While there may not be a single policy issue this year’s presidential candidates can agree on, there does seem to be a bipartisan consensus on one thing: Protest will not be tolerated at campaign rallies.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Join Internet Startups In Telling The EU Not To Mess Up The Internet

      We mentioned this a few weeks ago, but wanted to remind folks to help us tell the EU not to wreck the internet with a series of bad regulations. There you can see the letter that we put together, which has already been signed by a wide variety of internet companies, including Reddit, DuckDuckGo, Medium, Automattic, Patreon, Shapeways and more. The issue is a big deal right now. European bureaucrats (who couldn’t even program a web survey to operate properly) are in the midst of putting together plans to regulate internet companies. This is under the umbrella of what they’re referring to as the “Digital Single Market,” but which some Commissioners are using as part of a plan to saddle the internet with a variety of new regulations, which have the potential to wipe out important safe harbors that made the internet what it is today.

    • Closed silo challenges to an open web

      The growing trend of closed content silos—publishing platforms that require a login in order to view the content—is a step away from a more open web. As this trend continues, owners of closed silos will have even more control over published content and traffic that content drives. This is why content producers should also consider ways to publish content openly, and for their users to have the option to access content through their web browsers rather than being driven into closed ecosystems.

    • Moroccan Telcos Block Free VoIP Calls To Protect Their Bottom Lines

      American telcos don’t have a monopoly on monopolies. Foreign telcos can be just as inappropriately (and pehaps illegally) protective of their turf profits.

    • Despite Gigabit Hype, U.S. Broadband’s Actually Getting Less Competitive Than Ever

      Despite government programs, national broadband plans, billions in subsidies and a lot of recent hype paid to gigabit services like Google Fiber, U.S. broadband is actually getting less competitive than ever before across a huge swath of the country. Companies like AT&T and Verizon have been backing away from unwanted DSL networks they simply don’t want to upgrade. In some cases this involves selling these assets to smaller telcos (who take on so much debt they can’t upgrade them either), but in many markets this involves actively trying to drive customers away via either rate hikes or outright neglect.

  • DRM

    • Tell Us Your DRM Horror Stories about Ebooks, Games, Music, Movies and the Internet of Things!

      Have you ever bought music, movies, games, ebooks, or gadgets, only to discover later that the product had been deliberately limited with Digital Rights Management? We want to hear from you!

      We’re preparing a petition to a government agency on fair labelling practices for DRM-restricted devices, products and services. DRM used to be limited to entertainment products, but it’s spread with the Internet of Things, and it’s turning up in the most unlikely of places. As the Copyright Office heard during last summer’s hearings, DRM is now to be found in cars and tractors, in insulin pumps and pacemakers, even in voting machines. What’s more, the manufacturers using DRM believe that they have the right to invoke the “anti-circumvention” rules in 1998′s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to prevent competitors from removing DRM in order to give you more choice about the products you own.

    • DRM Non-Aggression on the Table at W3C

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) will consider adopting a DRM non-aggression covenant at its Advisory Committee meeting in Boston next week. EFF has attended several of these meetings before as a W3C member, always with the intent to persuade the W3C that supporting DRM is a bad idea for the Web, bad for interoperability, and bad for the organization. By even considering Web standards connected with DRM, the W3C has entered an unusually controversial space. Next week’s membership meeting will be accompanied by demonstrations organized in Boston by the Free Software Foundation, and other cities where the W3C has a presence.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • If college students made the next Angry Birds, who would own the IP?

      Flanagan tries to get the ownership of her game’s IP early documented by the dean or other heads of the school, and also keeps her work separate from the school by creating games under her own company. There’s a balance, as she puts it, asking for permission sometimes, and taking risks the other. And she warns that not only can overthinking IP can halt creativity, but it can set false expectations with universities, who will think video games are often worth millions.

    • SIPO Seeks Comment On Patent Infringement Guidelines
    • Ukraine To Amend Customs Code, Ratify Amendments To TRIPS

      The Ukrainian Parliament is currently drafting an amended Customs Code to introduce a number of changes to the country’s intellectual property legislation. Moreover, in mid-March, local lawmakers authorised Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to ratify the protocol amending the TRIPS agreement which enables increased exports of pharmaceuticals produced under compulsory licences to countries which are not capable of manufacturing them locally.

    • US Officials Under Pressure To Include Industry In IP Talks With India

      The United States government has increasingly engaged India on intellectual property rights and other trade issues in recent years, and US negotiators are under still more pressure to include industry in this engagement and deliver more results, a recent letter from 14 members of the US Congress shows.

      The congressional letter comes at a time when recent submissions by US industry to the annual US government process for assessing the IP protection of trading partners caused a reaction in India by indicating commitments have been made by India’s government not to use compulsory licensing and other measures to dodge IP rights.

    • Asia On The Heels Of US And Europe In Patent Applications At WIPO; Developing Countries Lagging

      China, Japan and South Korea are among the top five countries filing international patent applications at the World Intellectual Property Organization, while the United States continues to lead in patent and trademark applications. Far behind, developing countries seem to be having a hard time catching up.

    • Copyrights

      • Free Wi-Fi providers not liable for user’s piracy, says top EU court lawyer

        Businesses that provide free and open Wi-Fi to customers are not liable for copyright infringements committed by users of that network, a top legal adviser to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has decided.

        Advocate General Maciej Szpunar’s opinion (PDF) is not binding on the final ruling of the CJEU, but is generally a good guide to what the court will decide when it hands down the definitive judgment.

        However, the Advocate General ruled that national courts may issue injunctions against the provider of free Wi-Fi services in the case of copyright infringement provided they are “particular, effective, proportionate and dissuasive”; and “that they are aimed at bringing a specific infringement to an end, and do not entail a general obligation to monitor.” Moreover, courts must strike a fair balance between “freedom of expression and information and the freedom to conduct business, as well as the right to the protection of intellectual property.”

      • BREAKING: AG Spuznar says that provider of free Wi-Fi is NOT liable for users’ infringements but an injunction can be sought against him

        Can the provider of a password-free free Wi-Fi be liable for infringements – specifically: of copyright – of those who use his/her service?

        This question is not an abstract one, but rather the core of a case currently pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): McFadden C-484/14.

        As readers may imagine, should the answer be ‘yes’, this would change quite a few things …

      • Police Arrest Cinema Goers Over “Pirate” Audio Recording

        Two men have been arrested at a cinema in the UK after being found in possession of an audio recording of the movie The Divergent Series: Allegiant. The men, aged 19 and 44, have been released on police bail pending further inquiries and are now banned from all cinemas in England and Wales.

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