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Links 29/3/2016: Git 2.8, Budgie 10.2.5

Posted in News Roundup at 7:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Free Tech Refresher: OSS Isn’t Always FOSS

    Without a doubt, both Microsoft and Oracle are open source companies. What they are not, and probably can never become, are FOSS companies, because that requires a commitment to the concepts behind software freedom. There’s not a bone in either companies bodies — if corporations can be said to have bodies — that is in any way sympathetic to free tech. Even while obeying the open source precept to “share and share alike,” both companies are only concerned with expanding their bases of power and ownership of tech, and in Microsoft’s case at least, much of their open source software is designed solely for that purpose.

    These are distinctions which need articulating, not only so we don’t seem like we’re never happy crybabies, but so that younger users of open source software can come to see the difference between FOSS, on the one hand, and OSS, on the other, and that while one is always the other, the other is not always the one.

  • Horizon wants to put all your games into one, open-source launcher

    I really hope non-profit developer LaunchHorizon can pull it off, because having all my games in one open-source application would be great.

  • Deeplearning4j founders on growing an AI community

    Deeplearning4j is an open source, distributed neural net library written for Java and Scala. It is also one of the most active communities on Gitter, the chat service I created. Interested in how they built a thriving open source community, I reached out to get their thoughts on the lessons they learned.

  • 5 open source home automation tools

    The Internet of Things isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a rapidly expanding reality.

    With an ever-expanding number of devices available to help you automate, protect, and monitor your home, it has never before been easier nor more tempting to try your hand at home automation. Whether you’re looking to control your HVAC system remotely, integrate a home theater, protect your home from theft, fire, or other threats, reduce your energy usage, or just control a few lights, there are countless devices available at your disposal.

  • So Your Router Is Skynet – A Layman’s Guide

    By now, most of you are aware that TP-Link has decided to ban (custom) open-source firmware for their devices. So what was TP-Link thinking when they turned their backs on flashing routers with custom firmware? Some might suggest it’s the ambiguity in the new FCC rules that put a now much disliked router vendor over the edge. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter has nothing to do with TP-Link. No, the networking device company was merely a diversion for what I’m about to share with you.

  • Router Company Lazily Blocks Open Source Router Firmware, Still Pretends To Value ‘Creativity’

    Last fall, you might recall that the hardware tinkering community (and people who just like to fully use the devices they pay for) was up in arms over an FCC plan to lock down third-party custom firmware. After tinkering enthusiasts claimed the FCC was intentionally planning to prevent them from installing third-party router options like DD-WRT and Open-WRT, we asked the FCC about the new rules and were told that because modified routers had been interfering with terrestrial doppler weather radar (TDWR) at airports, the FCC wanted to ensure that just the radio portion of the router couldn’t be modified.

  • Events

    • LibrePlanet begins with Snowden, ends with DRM protest

      LibrePlanet is a yearly gathering of free software activists, users, and contributors—and, it’s my favorite conference of the year. Here’s why.

      LibrePlanet is run by the Free Software Foundation, and has steadily evolved from a yearly members’ meeting with presentations from staff and board members, to a full blown two-day conference with speakers and attendees from all over the world. The event brings people who care about free software together to talk about the future of the movement, address current challenges, and celebrate successes.

    • Workshop de Software Livre 2016 – call for papers and tools

      The call for papers and call for tools for the WSL – Workshop de Software Livre (Workshop on Free Software), the academic conference held together with FISL – Fórum Internacional de Software Livre (International Free Software Forum) is open!

  • Healthcare

    • UCLA researchers develop sophisticated open-source program for analyzing thyroid health

      UCLA researchers have developed a software program that simulates the response of the human thyroid hormone regulation system to a variety of treatments and diseases. The open-source program, Thyrosim, can be used by clinicians, researchers and educators to accurately gauge the impacts of thyroid treatments and to develop more effective remedies for thyroid problems.

      The research appears on the cover of the peer-reviewed journal Thyroid.

      Principal investigator Joseph DiStefano III, a distinguished professor of computer science and medicine and chair of the UCLA Computational and Systems Biology Interdepartmental Program, developed the technology based on 50 years of research with his students.

  • BSD

    • Google’s Lanai Backend Merged Into LLVM

      Last month Google engineers posted patches to LLVM for “Lanai”, an in-house (apparently network/communications oriented) processor as they were looking to upstream the code.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • How one programmer broke the internet by deleting a tiny piece of code

      A man in Oakland, California, disrupted web development around the world last week by deleting 11 lines of code.

      The story of how 28-year-old Azer Koçulu briefly broke the internet shows how writing software for the web has become dependent on a patchwork of code that itself relies on the benevolence of fellow programmers. When that system breaks down, as it did last week, the consequences can be vast and unpredictable.


  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • XSS Hits Zen Cart Open-Source E-commerce App

      Multiple Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities have been uncovered in the popular online open source shopping cart application, Zen Cart.

      XSS, allows the attacker to inject malicious client-side scripts into a website, which are later executed by the victims while browsing the website. There are different cross-site scripting variants, all of which can be used to craft different types of attacks. In this case, malicious XSS injections could result in hackers gaining access to cookies and sensitive information, and could allow site defacement, which can result in further attacks.

    • Popular Shopping Cart App Plugs Dozens of XSS Vulnerabilities

      Popular open source shopping cart app Zen Cart is warning its users of dozens of cross-site scripting vulnerabilities found in its software. Affected websites, security experts say, risk exposing customers to malware, theft of cookies data and site defacement.

      Researchers at the security firm Trustwave discovered the vulnerabilities in September 2015 and have worked closely with Zen Cart to update the (1.5.4) shopping cart software. On March 17, Zen Cart released a 1.5.5 update to its software along with a patch for previous versions of Zen Cart, for those customers that wanted to continue using the older platform. Public disclosure of the vulnerability was on Friday.

    • CVE-2016-0774 Linux Kernel moderate vulnerability
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Belgian X-Ray

      With large parts of the Republican establishment giving up on Kasich and embracing Cruz as the last anti-Trump hope, we can now look forward to a GOP race to the bottom in which fear itself is the only thing its leading candidates have to offer.

    • Veteran Dies After Setting Himself on Fire in Front of VA Clinic

      A 51-year-old U.S. military veteran set himself on fire in front of a New Jersey VA clinic earlier this month, reportedly dying from his burns hours later.

      Charles R. Ingram III died Saturday, March 19 at the Temple Burn Center in Philadelphia, where he was airlifted after he set himself ablaze. The self-immolation took place earlier that afternoon at the VA clinic in Northfield, which was not open at the time.

      Ingram was a seven-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. According to Daily Beast reporter Kenneth Lipp, “Ingram’s last years in the Navy were aboard the amphibious command ship the USS La Salle, one of five vessels in the Persian Gulf when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.”

    • Fidel Castro’s Letter to Obama: ‘We Don’t Need the Empire to Give Us Anything’

      “We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. president continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”

    • Obama’s Foreign-Policy Self-Enslavement

      But the disclosure of Clapper’s warning that U.S. intelligence lacked “slam dunk” evidence implicating Assad’s forces confirmed reporting at Consortiumnews and a few other independent news outlets in 2013 – and also underscored how President Obama then joined in lying to maintain the anti-Assad propaganda themes.

    • Explaining Belgium’s Vulnerabilities

      The psychological approach to terror suspects clearly sells newspapers and magazines. Of course, it can be done by journalists of greater or lesser professionalism. One highly professional essay of this kind appeared in The New Yorker magazine back in June 2015.

    • Why A Taliban Splinter Group Bombed Christians On Easter

      On Sunday evening, dozens of Christian families gathered in a neighborhood park in Lahore, Pakistan to visit with Muslim friends, play with their children, and celebrate Easter, a holiday sacred to followers of Jesus Christ the world over.

      But just minutes after the sun set, horror struck: an explosion triggered by a suicide bomber ripped through the park, spewing deadly shrapnel that killed at least 70 people and injured more than 341 others. According to one eyewitness, the carnage was overwhelming: there were “bodies everywhere,” he said, many of them children.

    • Most Israelis Say Army Medic Who Killed Wounded Suspect Is Not a Murderer

      WHILE HUMAN RIGHTS activists and defense officials in Israel were quick to condemn an army medic caught on video last week shooting a wounded Palestinian suspect in the head, the soldier was defended over the weekend, and even celebrated, by many on the far-right of the country’s political spectrum.

      Video released on Sunday by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, which provides cameras to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, showed far-right activists in the city of Hebron praised the medic’s actions just minutes after the incident.

      The new footage showed Israeli settlers, including Baruch Marzel, the former leader of a banned extremist group, shaking the hand of the medic as the body of his victim was carried away.

    • Bernie Sanders as Commander-in-Chief

      Sen. Bernie Sanders’s landslide victories in Washington State, Alaska and Hawaii on Saturday coincided with a long-awaited signal that he may finally be ready to challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the “Commander-in-Chief” question, which has been regarded as one of her key strengths.

      In what may be the most striking campaign commercial of the presidential race, the Sanders campaign released an ad, entitled “The Cost of War” and featuring Hawaii’s Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who endorsed Sanders not just as her preference for President but as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military.

    • How Narratives Killed The Syrian People

      On March 23, 2011, at the very start of what we now call the ‘Syrian conflict,’ two young men – Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub – were gunned down in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.

      Merhej and Dayoub were neither civilians, nor were they in opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were two regular soldiers in the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

      Shot by unknown gunmen, Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict– in Daraa, Latakia, Douma, Banyas, Homs, Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, Suweida, Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.

    • A European PATRIOT Act Will Not Keep People Safe

      It was not long after last week’s horrifying bombings in Brussels that the so-called security experts were out warning that Europeans must give up more of their liberty so government can keep them secure from terrorism. I guess people are not supposed to notice that every terrorist attack represents a major government failure and that rewarding failure with more of the same policies only invites more failure.

      I am sure a frightened population will find government promises of perfect security attractive and may be willing to allow more surveillance of their personal lives. They should pause a little beforehand and consider what their governments have done so far to keep them “safe.”

    • Terrorism: Then & Now

      Did the invasion of Afghanistan muzzle terrorism? A decade and a half later, we are still at war in that poor benighted country, and the terrorism that we experienced on 9/11 has spread to Madrid, Paris, Beirut, Ankara, Cairo, Brussels, Damascus, Baghdad, and other cities. We sowed the wind in Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Did we expect to reap less than a whirlwind?

    • The Inconvenient Truth About Refugees And Terrorism

      Last week’s attack in Brussels has reinvigorated criticisms of President Barack Obama’s position on receiving and resettling Syrian refugees.

      “You would almost say it’s disgraceful,” Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump told Fox News about Obama’s continued call for refugee resettlement. “You can’t even imagine that a man could make those statements, especially a president of this country.”

    • Muslims Are Standing Up To Extremism

      Following every Islamist terror attack on a Western soft target, like the recent one in Brussels, we hear the same refrain from certain corners: “Why won’t Muslims stand up to Islamic extremism?” The rhetorical question is meant to imply its own answer: that Islam is unavoidably a religion of violence which impels its adherents to at least sanction terrorism, if not partake in it.

      But the argument contains a false premise. Plenty of Muslims are standing up to Islamic extremism, both in word and deed. In fact, it is Muslims who are doing all the heavy lifting in this regard, while the chief contribution of the self-righteous Western powers has been to add to their burden.

    • In the Wake Of The Latest Terrorist Attacks, Here’s A Rational Approach To Saving Lives

      The knee-jerk response of politicians to terrorist attacks — calling for more surveillance, more crackdowns, more displays of purposeless force — is by now so routine that we don’t even remark on it. We tend to go along with their plans because we are very poor at estimating risks, and thus often end up making bad decisions about trade-offs — specifically, trading off liberty in the (misguided) hope that it will deliver security. That’s not a new insight — Bruce Schneier wrote two fascinating posts on what he called “The Psychology of Security” as far back as 2008. But maybe it’s time to start challenging a strategy that hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and will never work. Maybe we should start pushing for an alternative response to terrorist attacks — one based on logic and the facts, not rhetoric and fear. That’s exactly what Björn Brembs, Professor of Neurogenetics at Regensburg University in Germany, has done in a short blog post about a more rational approach that avoids bad trade-offs.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Renewable energy demands the undoable

      The world is increasingly investing in renewable energy. Last year, according to UN figures, global investment in solar power, wind turbines and other renewable forms of energy was $266 billion.

      This was more than double the investment of $130bn in coal and gas power stations in 2015. It sets a new investment record and brings spending on renewable energy since 2004 to a total, adjusted for inflation, of $2.3 trillion.

    • Donald Trump May Sound Like A Clown, But He Is A Rhetoric Pro Like Cicero

      We actually found out when Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called him out on this exact statement during a debate with Hillary Clinton, saying the New York billionaire should be unelectable because he “thinks that climate change is a hoax, invented by the Chinese.”

    • Companies take steps to reduce forest fires in Indonesia

      Some Singaporeans have noticed a burning smell lingering in the air over the weekend.

      But the Pollutant Standards Index values (PSI) remained in the moderate levels, according to the National Environment Agency.

      Those in Indonesia, however, are not so lucky. Early this month, the western province of Riau declared a state of emergency over forest and land fires blazing on the island of Sumatra.

    • Climate Change Is Killing Off a 5,000-Year-Old Iraqi Culture

      As our species finds itself staring down the barrel at widespread environmental collapse due to climate change, some of us have more to worry about than others. In particular, the Middle East and surrounding regions have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to climate change effects, especially those having to do with water: Within the last seven years the region has lost enough water to fill the Dead Sea and by 2040, 14 of the 33 most water stressed countries on Earth will be in the Middle East. Although Middle Eastern countries will be some of the hardest hit by climate change, there is a marginalized community within their borders which will be affected by climate change still more than others: Women.

  • Finance

    • Ted Cruz’s Tax Plan For ‘Hard-Working Americans’ Is Really A Gift To The Wealthy

      In a new ad, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) promotes his tax plan, which he paints as a way to boost working-class Americans. Yet every analysis finds his proposals would give the rich the biggest benefits with little left over for everyone else.

      “As Washington pads Wall Street’s pockets, hard-working Americans get left behind,” he says at the beginning of the ad. “My tax plan will change that.”

    • Campbell Brown: The New Leader of the Propaganda Arm of School Privatization

      Perhaps guided by the old adage that you have to spend money to make money, the champions of education “reform” have poured billions into the effort to privatize and profit from America’s schools. Those funds are used on multiple fronts: launching charter schools, underwriting the political campaigns of politicians, and of course, investing in media to propagate the free-market privatization vision. Among the most visible properties in this effort is the Seventy Four, the well-funded, power broker-backed education news website run by former journalist-turned-school privatization activist Campbell Brown. Launched last year, the site’s reported $4 million annual budget comes from a collective of school privatization’s big hitters: The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Jonathan Sackler (of OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma) and the Walton Family Foundation.


      The billionaires and hedge fund millionaires heavily investing in the charter industry, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Eli Broad and beyond, are engaged in a multi-pronged strategy to take over public schools while building an editorial army of proselytizers to spread the gospel of privatization. Like her partners in the site, Brown has spent years challenging tenure rules, attacking teachers unions and pushing for market-driven education. Unlike her partners, who quietly funnel money into corporate education reform from the shadows, Brown has been both vocal and visible in her advocacy. Though she’s not the only one, she has become the primary media mouthpiece for the school privatization agenda.

    • Department of Education Cooperates with ALEC and Others to Privatize Public Education

      According to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), although many charter schools have failed and closed in the last twenty years, the DoE continues to provide significant funding to promote them. An October 2015 CMD investigation, “Charter School Black Hole,” uncovered how much the federal government has invested in charter schools, as well as the DoE’s ties to ALEC. As Beilke reports, a slide from the December 2015 DoE overview of its charter school program acknowledged that it had spent $3.3 billion to “to “fund the start-up, replication and expansion of public charter schools.” However, Bielke reports, “CMD was unable to extract this number from DOE despite inquiries and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests since 2014.” The actual figure may be higher, because the list of charter schools receiving DoE funding appears to have been incomplete, Beilke reports.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Who really rules the airwaves in Moldova?

      With public trust at all time low, we need to examine how murky media ownership threatens pluralism and freedom of speech in Moldova.

    • Easter Rebellion: Three States Give Bernie Sanders Landslide Victories

      Sanders was backed by 82 percent of voters in Alaska where his wife Jane stumped for days, 73 percent in Washington State and 71 percent in Hawaii. He now has 1000 pledged delegates to Clinton’s 1200 pledged delegates, though Clinton currently has a lead among Super Delegates.

    • No, CNN, the States Sanders Won This Weekend Weren’t ‘Largely White and Rural’

      In fact, Hawaii is only 25 percent white, making it the least white state in the country, and the only state without a white majority. Alaska, at 67 percent white, is less white than 44 other states. (Vets for Bernie noted that CNN not long ago ran a story about Alaska’s ethnic diversity, which “may surprise folks from the Lower 48 who picture Alaska as a largely homogenous and snowy American extremity. But Alaskans are quite proud of their distinctive demographics.”) Washington state is 77 percent white, a little whiter than the US average of 72 percent, but still less white than 26 other states.

    • As Sanders Sweeps 3 States, Meet the Young Immigrant Activist Helping Him Mobilize Latinos
    • Bernie Does Madison

      They more than loved Bernie. He represented everything they hoped to see change in American society, domestic and foreign policy and the planet. There were home-made anti-Trump signs, but even those seemed minor by comparison to the buttons, badges, signs, T-shorts and assorted Merch (the vendors were having a good day) on all sides.

      The coeds (as our generation used to call them) more than hated Hillary, which is also illuminating, and if anything, more surprising. A small flock of young women wore buttons or t-shirts with this two-word slogan, “FUCK HER!” with the “H” unmistakable at intended meaning.

    • Hillary’s Latest Bow to AIPAC

      It is well known to Washington political observers that politicians invited to speak at the annual, giant AIPAC convention ask for suggested talking points from this powerful pro-Israeli government lobby. Hillary Clinton’s pandering speech must have registered close to 100% on AIPAC’s checklist.

    • Paul Krugman: a Prizefighter for Hillary Clinton

      Never confuse prestigious intellectual awards and positions awarded by the United States and Western establishment with real intelligence. And never assume that an intellectual is a real progressive just because they say they so.

    • Sanders: Superdelegates may now be eyeing switch from Clinton

      After three big wins out west, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said he thinks many of the party’s superdelegates who have pledged to rival Hillary Clinton will switch to his side.

      “I think the momentum is with us,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday. “A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton.”

      The Vermont senator swept Saturday’s Democratic contests in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, easily winning the majority of the 142 pledged delegates in those states. The biggest prize of the day was in Washington, which offered 101 delegates to be split up on a proportional basis.

      The latest delegate counts still put Sanders behind Clinton, however, with 975 pledged delegates to her 1,243.

    • 10 Ways the Media and Political Establishment Have Tried to Orchestrate the Democratic Primary

      It’s not over. Far from it. The economic and political establishment, which includes the Democratic National Committee (DNC), its Wall Street and corporate backers, and the major media, most of it now owned by a half dozen big corporations, have worked feverishly to turn the Democratic primary process into a coronation for Hillary Clinton.

      Bottom line, they wanted to declare it over before actual voters could vote, but their carefully crafted strategy began to #FeelTheBern.

    • This Is How Bernie Sanders Will Win the Nomination

      Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver made that statement on a conference call with reporters on Monday, during which top aides argued that Sanders can still overcome Clinton’s delegate lead in the Democratic primary contest. That can happen, they said, both by winning more pledged delegates and by gaining the support of more superdelegates, the 712 party leaders who are free to support the candidate of their choosing at the party’s nominating convention.

    • Clinton Campaign: No More Debates Until Sanders Starts Being Nicer

      The Sanders and Clinton campaign have tussled since the start of campaign season over the number of debates. But it seemed like those silly tiffs were finally settled back in January, when the two campaigns agreed to meet for debates once a month through May.

    • Washingtonians Hound Superdelegate Who Supports Clinton After Constituents Favored Sanders

      Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in Washington’s caucuses Saturday, yet state Rep. Rick Larsen, a superdelegate, is ready to vote for her anyway. Sanders backers flooded Larsen’s Facebook account, demanding that he honor the will of his constituents.

      “Superdelegates,” explained The Guardian’s Trevor Timm in February, are roughly 700 members of Congress, governors, mayors and other party elites “who aren’t elected by anyone during the primary process and are free to vote any way they want at the [nominating] convention.”

      Washington voters overwhelmingly favored Sanders over Clinton, 72 percent to 27 percent, in Saturday’s Democratic caucus. The Vermont senator carried every county in the state—and voters in Whatcom County, where Larsen keeps an office, chose Sanders by 81 percent.

    • As Sanders Surges, Cable News Runs Prison Reality Show, Jesus Documentary

      Over the past week, Bernie Sanders racked up six wins out of seven primary contests, winning 92 delegates more than his rival Hillary Clinton to chip into her pledged delegate lead. While not an existential shift in the race, the momentum has changed in Sanders’ favor, especially since he won the last three primaries—Hawaii, Washington state and Alaska—with between 70 and 82 percent of the vote.

      You, however, would hardly have noticed had you been watching cable news the night of the Saturday primaries. Both MSNBC and CNN forwent live election coverage on arguably Sanders’ biggest night of the year, instead deciding to air a normally scheduled prison reality show and a “documentary” on Jesus.

    • Trump and Clinton: Censoring the Unpalatable

      This is drivel, of course; Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country. To say so, however, is becoming intolerable in the land of free speech.

      The 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama should have alerted even the most dewy-eyed. Obama based his “hope” campaign almost entirely on the fact of an African-American aspiring to lead the land of slavery. He was also “antiwar”.

    • Should Progressives Back Sanders?

      Sanders is not just a “lesser evil.” His proposals and policies are good on some key issues such as economic inequality, health-care, education, and the judicial/criminal system. His ideas on foreign policy suggest a substantial shift away from interventionism and militarism.

      In addition, Sanders seeks to change the current electoral process based on money coming from corporations, political action committees and wealthy individuals. Changing this system is the first step toward breaking the strangle-hold of the military-industrial complex, Wall Street and reactionary lobbies such as AIPAC and the NRA.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • CIA photographed detainees naked before sending them to be tortured

      Classified pictures showing CIA captives bruised, blindfolded and bound raise new questions about US’s willingness to use ‘sexual humiliation’ on suspects

    • Trump’s and ISIL’s Gray Zones: Radicals’ Terrorism sign of Syria, Iraq Defeat

      It is no accident that Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) is using Donald Trump in its new recruitment video. Although Trump hasn’t killed anyone to our knowledge and can’t be compared to Daesh in most ways, his political strategy actually mirrors that of the phony caliphate in some ways.

    • Tomgram: Engelhardt, Don’t Blame It All on Donald Trump

      But what if that’s not true? In some ways, the most frightening, least acceptable thing to say about our American world right now — even if Donald Trump’s overwhelming presence all but begs us to say it — is that we’ve entered uncharted territory and, under the circumstances, comparisons might actually impair our ability to come to grips with our new reality. My own suspicion: Donald Trump is only the most obvious instance of this, the example no one can miss.

    • There Are More Officers Than Counselors In The Largest Public School Districts

      The 74, a news outlet dedicated to education coverage, reports that four out the the 10 largest public school districts in U.S. have more officers than counselors. New York City, the largest public school system, has roughly six security officers and three counselors for every 1,000 students. In Chicago, the third largest school district, there are about four officers and two counselors for every 1,000 students. Miami-Dade County, the fifth largest district, has approximately three times more security staff than counselors. And in Houston, the seventh largest district, there are .78 counselors per 1,000 students compared to 1.16 officers.

    • Arrested for What?! The Assault on Our Civil Liberties Rages On

      Earlier this month, New York police arrested a postal service worker for shouting at police for nearly hitting his truck with their police cruiser. In Louisiana, Chris Nakamoto went to a government building looking for records on the mayor’s sudden pay raise and wanted access to audio recordings of the city council meeting. The police asked him to leave. When he refused, he was arrested.

    • Why Is Ted Cruz Seeking Policy Advice from Frank Gaffney, a Leading Islamophobe?

      The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Frank Gaffney as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.” Gaffney has become one of Cruz’s top advisers. We speak to Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole of The Intercept about Gaffney’s record and his role advising Cruz.

    • Trump Aide Makes Truly Bizarre Argument Against Allowing Immigrants To Come To America

      Perhaps hoping to pivot from accusations of his boss’ sexism, a senior aide for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that Americans should be concerned about immigration because it will lead to a rise in female genital mutilation (FGM).

      After host Jake Tapper asked why Trump chose to tweet out a photo suggesting that his wife was “hotter” than other presidential candidate’s wives, Miller pivoted to immigration.

    • Murdered Muslim shopkeeper’s family fear for their lives from hardline Islamic factions

      The family of a popular Muslim shopkeeper who was murdered after posting an online Easter message to “my beloved Christian nation” has disclosed they fear for their lives following the brutal attack.

      Asad Shah’s wife and siblings said they had been left “heartbroken” by the killing and they had been overwhelmed by the messages of support they had received from the local community in the Shawlands area of Glasgow.

      But they only spoke on the condition their names were not published for fear of retribution and disclosed they have been advised by the police to be careful what they say in order to protect their security.

    • The Roots Of The Drug War: Going After Black People And The Anti-War Movement

      For more on this subject, science journalist Maia Szalavitz has an excellent book about to be published, The Unbroken Brain, arguing that addictions are learning disorders. It’s smart and it’s very moving — she chronicles her own struggle with addiction.

      I’ve read it and will have her on my podcast (just as soon as I dig out from finishing a particularly hard chapter for my next book and editing a researcher’s book on rush — probably in mid-April).

    • A woman’s place? The British House of Commons

      In 2014, the UK Parliament fell to 65th in the world in terms of women’s representation. At the recent Women of the World Festival (WOW) at London’s Southbank Centre, the 50:50 Parliament campaign for equal representation for women had a noticeable presence, visible in their suffragette-invoking white, green and violet-logoed T-shirts.

    • Human Trafficking of Refugees in Turkey a “Deal between Devils”

      Describing an agreement between Turkey and the European Union to keep millions of refugees from entering Europe as “a deal between devils,” Glen Ford reports that Turkey has “cashed in on the people it has helped make homeless.” As Al Jazeera reported, Turkey accepted $3.3 billion from the European Union (EU) “in return for checking the flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea.” Turkey reportedly asked for double that amount to cover the costs of dealing with the refugees.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Zero-Rating Harms Poor People, Public Interest Groups Tell FCC

      The nation’s largest internet service providers are undermining US open internet rules, threatening free speech, and disproportionately harming poor people by using a controversial industry practice called “zero-rating,” a coalition of public interest groups wrote in a letter to federal regulators on Monday.

      Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T use zero-rating, which refers to a variety of practices that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, to undercut “the spirit and the text” of federal rules designed to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible, the groups wrote.

    • Why the Web is broken

      The year is 1995. The location is the Kansas State University. The setting is a computer lab filled with Sun Sparc Workstations running Solaris. As an exchange student I have taken the “exchange” idea to the very limit and ended up travelling half way around the world to study my third year. To a university where the curriculum shared virtually nothing with my home university. At KSU, I needed to learn how to programme, which involved using a computer (!). Until then, I generally tried to stay as far away from computers as possible.

      Along the way however, as I was learning C and UNIX, a new thing was being discussed. The Internet. The World Wide Web. In those very labs everyone was emailing and soon so was I, using elm from my new email account. We could wander the nascent Web using the Mosaic browser, and then get very excited when Netscape was released and was so much faster. I could use UNIX talk to chat in real-time to with my friend back in Glasgow. It was so obvious even then that things were changing. The internet was going to be big and yet everyone back at home barely knew it existed. That would soon change. They internet would bring us globalisation, instant communication and no-one would ever fall behind again.

      It was really exciting. I can only compare it to New World pioneers stepping onto dry land into a society that was unmade, ungoverned, not owned and with endless possibilities. Everyone knew it could be anything we wanted, but how would it turn out? Maybe somewhere fairer, less commercial and more collaborative. Back in 1995 this was how the World Wide Web seemed.

  • DRM

    • Security Researchers: Tell the W3C To Protect Researchers Who Investigate Browsers

      The World Wide Web Consortium has taken the extraordinary, controversial step of standardizing DRM in the form of something called Encrypted Media Extensions, which will be part of HTML5. Because of laws like the DMCA and its international equivalents, security researchers who reveal flaws in HTML5-compliant browsers will face punishing legal jeopardy. We’re worried that this means that critical bugs in the browsers billions of people rely upon will take longer to come to light and are more likely to be exploited in the wild.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • House Of Cards Sued Over Trademark Regarding Themed Slot Machines

        Another day, another trademark dispute with one side weaponizing a trademark for a commonly used phrase and stretching the definition of common marketplaces. The latest foray into making my head hurt with this sort of thing is between MRC, producers of the Netflix drama House of Cards, and D2 Holdings, which claims to have trademarked the phrase and licenses for a radio program that covers gambling. At issue is a soon-to-be-released series of House of Cards themed slot machines in casinos across the nation.

    • Copyrights

      • Will PETA Now Sue To Control The Copyright In These Cat Selfies?

        As noted recently, PETA isn’t giving up in its quixotic quest to argue that it can represent the interests of an Indonesian selfie-taking monkey, and further that the photos in question have a copyright and that copyright belongs to the monkey (and, by extension, PETA). UK IP professor Andrés Guadamuz recently wrote an interesting paper arguing that there is a copyright in the photograph and it belongs to the guy who owned the camera, David Slater, based on UK copyright law. It’s an interesting read, though others have convincingly argued the opposite, noting that UK law requires a “person” to have created the work.

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DecorWhat Else is New

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