08.03.16

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 3/8/2016: KDE Plasma 5.7.3, DragonFly 4.6 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Thoughts on iPad-only the new desktop Linux

    Martin says people who use only iPads for their computing do it because it’s a challenge. He says: “Figuring things out is part of the allure”. This, he says, is just like things were — maybe they still are — with desktop Linux.

    [...]

    So while Martin is right about iPad-only pioneers doing it for the challenge, their curiosity and exploration isn’t a waste of time. iPads and other tablets are the future of personal computing, it may take years until they are the mainstream, but the pioneers will help us get there sooner.

  • Desktop

    • The revenge of Linux

      I have been seeing Linux get space in data centers. Some adventurous sysadmins start boxes to help in everyday tasks for monitoring and managing the infrastructure, and then Linux gets more space as DNS and DHCP servers, printer management, and file servers. There used to be lots of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and criticism about Linux for the enterprise: Who is the owner of it? Who supports it? Are there applications for it?

      But nowadays it seems the revenge of Linux is everywhere! From developer’s PCs to huge enterprise servers; we can find it in smart phones, watches, and in the Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as Raspberry Pi. Even Mac OS X has a kind of prompt with commands we are used to. Microsoft is making its own distribution, runs it at Azure, and then… Windows 10 is going to get Bash on it.

    • GNU/Linux Climbing In Germany

      It’s been a while since I cranked out a nice SVG… so I looked at GNU/Linux desktop OS usage according to StatCounter and found Uruguay is doing as usual but I zeroed in on Germany which has broken out above 3% share of page-views. That’s serious.

  • Server

    • With Linux for Ladies, Rackspace Aims to Bring More Women to IT

      The tech industry is notorious for its boys’ club history, problems with misogyny, and gaps in pay equality between men and women.

      In San Antonio, cloud computing giant Rackspace is leading one effort to help turn around the persistent gender problem in tech. Three years ago, Rackspace opened a technical career school called Rackspace Open Cloud Academy, which offers a nine-week training program that is open to the public and meant to help people learn how to become computer system administrators or to work in network operations.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GUADEC schedule is up!

        If you want to blog about GUADEC and tell everyone that you’re going or speaking there, you can find the badges (and the slide templates) on the website.

  • Distributions

    • Korora vs GeckoLinux

      With all the debate going on regarding the benefits of using Ubuntu vs Linux Mint, it’s easy to forget that there are other great distributions for newer users. In this article, I’ll be comparing two distros based on Fedora and OpenSUSE. The two distros I’ll be comparing today are known as GeckoLinux (I selected the OpenSUSE Leap 42.1 version built from Suse Studio) and Korora (based on Fedora 24).

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Linux Ships with KDE 4, Plasma 5, GNOME and MATE Flavors

        On August 2, 2016, the ROSA Labs was more than happy to inform us about the availability of the ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 GNU/Linux operating system designed especially for Russian-speaking users.

        Based on the latest ROSA 2014.1 platform, the ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Linux distribution ships with no less than flavors featuring the KDE 4, KDE Plasma 5, GNOME, and MATE desktop environments, and two years of extended support, which means that you’ll receive software updates and security patches until Fall 2018.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo-Based Pentoo 2015.0 Linux Distro for Ethical Hackers Gets New RC Release

        The Pentoo Linux development team proudly announces today, August 2, 2016, the availability for download of the fifth Release Candidate (RC) build towards the Pentoo 2015.0 GNU/Linux operating system.

        We don’t write so often about the Pentoo GNU/Linux operating system because new releases are being made available to the public online when a new DEF CON event (the world’s largest annual hacker convention) is taking place. So yes, it’s now a tradition to see a new Pentoo release around a DEF CON conference.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project Enhances the Anonymity and Security of Debian Linux Users via Tor

        The Debian Project, through Peter Palfrader, announced recently that its services and repositories for the Debian GNU/Linux operating system would be accessible through the Tor network.

        To further enhance the anonymity and security of users when either accessing any of the Debian online services, such as the Debian website or Wiki, as well as when using the Debian GNU/Linux operating system, the Debian Project partnership with the Tor Project to enable Tor onion services for many of their services.

      • digest 0.6.10

        A new release, now at version number 0.6.10, of the digest package is now on CRAN. I also just prepared the Debian upload.

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source & Cloud Native: Why should Your Business Care?

    Open source software (OSS) and the pace of change that it allows a developer to innovate and optimize their capabilities more than ever before. In addition, the move to mobile first and platform independent development practices cause businesses to rethink their development frameworks. I’m convinced that this, more than anything else has lead Cloud Native architectures to the forefront. Cloud Native is defined as the software architecture framework that consist of containers, Distributed Orchestration and Management, Micro-services Architecture.

  • UK Government Recruits Chief Open Source Penguin
  • How to fix a bug in open source software

    We’re all on the same team, and all working towards the same goal of making our open source software better. Your small contributions make a big impact.

    How open source software is supported is just as important as how well it works. Given the choice between building awesome new features or carefully reading and responding to 10 bug reports, which would you choose? Which is more important? When you think of open source maintainers what do you see? I see issues. I see dozens of open bug reports that haven’t been responded to in days. I see a pile of feature requests waiting to be worked on. Now when I open those issues, I see maintainers spending most of their time trying to get the information they need. “What version are you using? Was it working before? Can you give me an example app?”

  • Using strategic design to improve user and developer experiences

    Your organization probably relies on multiple open source projects. Using strategic design to understand the big picture problems your organization faces may allow you to improve the user experience and design of your IT systems.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 48 ships, bringing Rust mainstream and multiprocess for some

        Firefox 48 shipped today with two long-awaited new features designed to improve the stability and security of the browser.

        After seven years of development, version 48 is at last enabling a multiprocess feature comparable to what Internet Explorer and Google Chrome have offered as stable features since 2009. By running their rendering engines in a separate process from the browser shell, IE and Chrome are more stable (a Web page crash does not take down the entire browser) and more secure (those separate processes can run with limited user privileges). In order to bring the same multiprocess capability to Firefox, Mozilla started the Electrolysis project in 2009. But the organization has taken substantially longer than Microsoft, Google, and Apple to ship this feature.

      • Firefox 48 Finally Available For Download, Comes With Electrolysis And Rust

        Mozilla has finally debuted the long-awaited Firefox 48 web browser.

      • Good News From Mozilla
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFly 4.6 released

      DragonFly version 4.6 brings brings more updates to accelerated video for both i915 and radeon users, home-grown support for NVMe controllers, preliminary EFI support, improvements in SMP and networking performance under heavy load, and a full range of binary packages.

    • DragonFly BSD 4.6.0 Launches with Home-Grown Support for NVMe Controllers

      Today, August 2, 2016, the development team behind the BSD kernel-based DragonFly BSD operating system proudly announced the official availability of the DragonFly BSD 4.6.0 update.

      DragonFly BSD 4.6.0 appears to be a major release that ends the development of the 4.4 series of the acclaimed BSD distribution and promises to introduce lots of goodies to users of this computer OS. Prominent features include initial UEFI support, in-house built support for NVMe SSD devices, as well as SMP and networking improvements.

    • DragonFlyBSD 4.6 Rolls Out NVMe Support, Better SMP Performance
  • Public Services/Government

    • Spain’s Valencia reuses Greek PC-lab software

      It’s a textbook example of public administration software reuse. The city of Valencia (Spain) is one of the many users of Epoptes, software for managing school PC-labs, developed as open source in Greece since 2008. The software is improved by staff members of the city’s IT department, sharing their code publicly. Meanwhile in Greece, the future development of Epoptes is in limbo.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • ArmSwinger is an Open Source VR Locomotion System Releasing This Week

        Virtual reality has many strengths. It’s immersive, powerful, engaging, and a seriously fun experience. However, as the industry continues to grow its weaknesses are also beginning to come to light as well. One of the most significant of these is the concept of locomotion mechanics, or physical navigation inside of a VR experience.

        Recently, we featured some groups that have tried to bridge this gap by building systems that translate running in place into forward momentum in VR. There are also treadmills like the Virtuix Omni that provide a hardware solution to the issue. However, Electric Night Owl, LLC is working on their own solution as well.

Leftovers

  • Steven Woolfe expelled from Ukip leadership race

    “We also implore members of Ukip and the electorate to request the publication of the NEC’s communications in order to determine whether the committee is guilty of conflicts of interest or even corruption.

  • Science

    • Why Gamma Ray Bursts Are the Most Epic of All Apocalyptic Scenarios

      Asteroid impacts. Nuclear war. Unhinged climate change. These are all respectable, solid entries into the great pantheon of doomsday scenarios that could wipe out life on Earth.

      But when it comes to sheer destructive flair, gamma ray bursts (GRBs) take the apocalyptic cake. Forged in catastrophic cosmic disruptions like supernovae and neutron star mergers, GRBs are the brightest phenomena in the universe. Capable of releasing more energy in a single second than the Sun will in its entire lifetime of ten billion years, these bursts are essentially the universe’s unique riff on projectile barfing.

    • ‘Finks’ Explores the Blurred Line Between Propaganda and Literature

      Arguing that an association with secret institutions like the C.I.A. would inevitably lead to “rot,” Humes advised Plimpton that, for the integrity of the magazine, he should make Matthiessen’s ties during the magazine’s founding public. Citing Edmund Burke’s line “that it is enough for evil to triumph that good men do nothing,” Humes wrote, “I have deeply believed in the Review and all that we hoped it stood for, but until this matter is righted I feel I have no honorable choice but to resolutely resign. Even if I have to split an infinitive to do it.” He went on to suggest that Matthiessen might ”laugh the matter off in print in a manner calculated to restore our tarnished escutcheon…” Under these circumstances, he would stay. Barring that, however, “I should like my name removed from the masthead. I’m sure it will not be missed.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Depressing Reason Bottled Water Is About to Outsell Soda for the First Time

      The recent crisis in Flint, Michigan that left children and parents without safe tap water due to dangerous levels of lead from old pipes highlighted the significant lapses in basic U.S. infrastructure.

    • 6 Dark Secrets Of Being An Olympic Athlete Nobody Tells You

      It’s the Olympics: that time of year when we sit back and watch our finest, most glistening athletes run, jump, and throw their hearts out trying to convince the world that we don’t deserve to be the international shorthand for “childhood obesity.” However, while you might think that the worst thing that can happen to an Olympic athlete is having to raise the Kardashian kids, it turns out that the job comes with so much depressing baggage that Foxcatcher seems like a slapstick buddy comedy by comparison. What sort of baggage? Well …

    • How One GMO Nearly Took Down the Planet

      On Friday, President Obama signed bill S.764 into law, dealing a major blow to the movement to require GMO labeling. The new law, called the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” (DARK) Act by food safety groups, has at least three key parts in it that undermine Vermont’s popular GMO labeling bill and make it nearly impossible for you and me to know what’s in our food.

      The law claims to set a federal labeling standard by requiring food producers to include either a QR bar code that can be scanned with a phone, or a 1-800 number that consumers can call to find out whether a product contains genetically modified ingredients.

  • Security

    • Security Issue in Windows leaks Login Data [Ed: designed for back door access]

      An issue in all Windows systems might leak the user’s Windows login and password information. This is especially critical if the user is using a Microsoft account because this is linked to a number of other services the user may be using.

    • Get ready for an Internet of Things disaster, warns security guru Bruce Schneier

      Security guru Bruce Schneier, the author of multiple encryption algorithms, founder of security company Counterpane, and former chief technology officer of BT Managed Security Solutions, has warned that the ‘craze’ for connecting devices to the internet with little thought about security will result in a major disaster.

      Schneier warned that “integrity and availability threats” are much worse than “confidentiality threats” with devices connected to the internet.

      “It’s one thing if your smart door lock can be eavesdropped upon to know who is home. It’s another thing entirely if it can be hacked to allow a burglar to open the door – or prevent you from opening your door. A hacker who can deny you control of your car, or take over control, is much more dangerous than one who can eavesdrop on your conversations or track your car’s location,” Schneier wrote.

      He continued: “With the advent of the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems in general, we’ve given the internet hands and feet: the ability to directly affect the physical world. What used to be attacks against data and information have become attacks against flesh, steel, and concrete.”

    • New Presidential Directive on Incident Response

      Last week, President Obama issued a policy directive (PPD-41) on cyber-incident response coordination. The FBI is in charge, which is no surprise. Actually, there’s not much surprising in the document. I suppose it’s important to formalize this stuff, but I think it’s what happens now.

    • Kazakh dissidents and lawyers hit by cyber attacks: researchers

      Hackers believed to be working on behalf of Kazakhstan government officials tried to infect lawyers and other associates of exiled dissidents and publishers with spyware, according to a report to be presented at this week’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

      The hacking campaign was part of a complicated tale that also involved physical surveillance and threats of violence – a rare instance of cyber attacks coming alongside real-world crimes.

      It is also unusual in that the campaign involved an Indian company that was apparently hired by the hackers, and it targeted Western lawyers along with alleged opponents of the Kazakh government.

      A spokesman at the Kazakhstan embassy in Washington did not respond to emailed questions.

    • Bruce Schneier: major IoT disaster could happen at any time

      THE CRAZE for connecting anything and everything and controlling it over the internet will result in a major disaster without better built-in security, according to security expert Bruce Schneier.

      Furthermore, if secret services really are trying to influence elections by hacking the systems of political parties and releasing embarrassing emails, they will almost certainly attempt to hack into the increasing number of internet-connected voting machines for the same ends.

      Schneier is the author of multiple encryption algorithms, founder of security company Counterpane, and former chief technology officer of BT Managed Security Solutions.

      “It’s one thing if your smart door lock can be eavesdropped on to know who is home. It’s another thing entirely if it can be hacked to allow a burglar to open the door or prevent you opening your door,” Schneier wrote in an article published by Motherboard.

    • Linux botnets on the rise, says Kaspersky DDoS report [Ed: Kaspersky marketing with dramatic and misleading headlines]
    • Hackers break into Telegram, revealing 15 million users’ phone numbers

      Iranian hackers have compromised more than a dozen accounts on the Telegram instant messaging service and identified the phone numbers of 15 million Iranian users, the largest known breach of the encrypted communications system, cyber researchers told Reuters.

      The attacks, which took place this year and have not been previously reported, jeopardized the communications of activists, journalists and other people in sensitive positions in Iran, where Telegram is used by some 20 million people, said independent cyber researcher Collin Anderson and Amnesty International technologist Claudio Guarnieri, who have been studying Iranian hacking groups for three years.

      Telegram promotes itself as an ultra secure instant messaging system because all data is encrypted from start to finish, known in the industry as end-to-end encryption. A number of other messaging services, including Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp, say they have similar capabilities.

    • Best Password Manager — For Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS and Enterprise

      Security researchers have always advised online users to create long, complex and different passwords for their various online accounts. So, if one site is breached, your other accounts on other websites are secure enough from being hacked.

      Ideally, your strong password should be at least 16 characters long, should contain a combination of digits, symbols, uppercase letters and lowercase letters and most importantly the most secure password is one you don’t even know.

    • Microsoft takes five months to replace broken patch

      Microsoft has issued a replacement for a buggy release of Windows Server Operating System MP, code that underpins efforts to proactively monitor Windows Server.

      The last version – 6.0.7303.0 – should have been innocuous. But users quickly noticed lots of problems, especially regarding recognition of disk clusters, leading Microsoft itself to issue a recommendation that you not install the software.

      That was back in late February 2016. On July 27th, Microsoft quietly released it’s completed version version 6.0.7316.0 and on August 2nd announced its existence to the wider world.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Sunni radicals blow up 16th century Sufi mosque in Yemen

      Sunni Islamist radicals in Yemen have blown up a 16th century mosque housing the shrine of a revered Sufi scholar in the city of Taez, a local official said on Monday.

      Gunmen led by a Salafist local chief known as Abu al-Abbas blew up the mosque of Sheikh Abdulhadi al-Sudi on Friday night, the official said, confirming media reports of the attack.

      Yemen’s commission for antiquities and museums condemned the destruction of the site that is considered the most famous in Taez.

      It said the mosque’s white dome was “one of the biggest domes in Yemen and one of the most beautiful religious sites in old Taez”.

      Images of the site before destruction showed a white square-shaped, single-storey structure topped by a large central dome circled by smaller ones.

    • Saudi Arabia yet to sway U.N. over Yemen coalition blacklisting

      Two months after the United Nations blacklisted a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for killing children in Yemen, Riyadh has not provided enough proof that it should be permanently removed from the register, U.N. diplomatic sources said on Monday.

      U.N. officials plan to travel to Riyadh to obtain more details on various issues, such as rules of engagement, one of the sources said.

      A U.N. annual report on children and armed conflict said the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 and wounding 667. The Saudi-led coalition includes United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan.

    • U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed

      The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

    • How the Saudis turned Kosovo into fertile ground for ISIS

      Every Friday, just metres from a statue of Bill Clinton with arm aloft in a cheery wave, hundreds of young bearded men make a show of kneeling to pray on the sidewalk outside an improvised mosque in a former furniture store.

      The mosque is one of scores built here with Saudi funds and blamed for spreading Wahhabism, the conservative ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia, in the 17 years since a United States-led intervention wrested Kosovo from Serbian oppression. Since then – much of that time under the watch of US officials – Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a fount of Islamic extremism.

      Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. In the past two years, police have identified 314 Kosovars – including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children – who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That is the highest number per capita in Europe. They were radicalised and recruited, investigators said, by extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab Gulf states using an obscure network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.

    • Vihara, pagodas burned down, plundered in N. Sumatra

      Hundreds of people plundered and burned down several Buddhist temples or vihara in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, on Friday evening. No fatalities or injuries occurred in the anarchic acts, which took place until early Saturday.

      It is estimated that the attacks have caused billions of rupiah in losses.

      North Sumatra Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rina Sari Ginting said the riots began when a 41-year-old of Chinese descent, only identified as Meliana, reprimanded an administrator of the Al Maksum Mosque to lower its microphone volume.

      Rina further said Meliana had previously conveyed similar warnings to the administrator, hence, the mosque’s congregation members visited her house following her complaint for the umpteenth time on Friday evening.

      The meeting between Al Maksum congregation members and Meliana heated up, forcing Tanjung Balai Police officers to safeguard Meliana and her husband at the police station. Angry mobs continued to flock to Meliana’s house, however. Some had even attempted to burn down the house but it was prevented by people living in the neighbourhood.

    • The U.S. Military Pivots to Africa and That Continent Goes Down the Drain

      Someday, someone will write a history of the U.S. national security state in the twenty-first century and, if the first decade and a half are any yardstick, it will be called something like State of Failure. After all, almost 15 years after the U.S. invaded the Taliban’s Afghanistan, launching the second American Afghan War of the past half-century, U.S. troops are still there, their “withdrawal” halted, their rules of engagement once again widened to allow American troops and air power to accompany allied Afghan forces into battle, and the Taliban on the rise, having taken more territory (and briefly one northern provincial capital) than at any time since that movement was crushed in the invasion of 2001.

      Thirteen years after George W. Bush and his top officials, dreaming of controlling the oil heartlands, launched the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (the second Iraq War of our era), Washington is now in the third iteration of the same, with 6,000 troops (and thousands of private contractors) back in that country and a vast air campaign underway to destroy the Islamic State. With modest numbers of special operations troops on the ground and another major air campaign, Washington is also now enmeshed in a complex and so far disastrous war in Syria. And if you haven’t been counting, that’s three wars gone wrong.

      Then, of course, there was the American (and NATO) intervention in Libya in 2011, which cracked that autocratic country open and made way for the rise of Islamic extremist movements there, as well as the most powerful Islamic State franchise outside Syria and Iraq. Today, plans are evidently being drawn up for yet more air strikes, special operations raids, and the like there. Toss in as well Washington’s never-ending drone war in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, its disastrous attempt to corral al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen (leading to a grim and horrifying Saudi-led, American-supported internecine conflict in that country), and the unending attempt to destroy al-Shabaab in Somalia, and you have at least seven wars and conflicts in the Greater Middle East, all about to be handed on by President Obama to the next president with no end in sight, no real successes, nothing. In these same years Islamic terror movements have only spread and grown stronger under the pressure of the American war machine.

    • Khizr Khan and The Triumph of Democratic Militarism

      Against the wishes of her New York Democratic constituents, Hillary Clinton voted with Senate Republicans to invade Iraq. (It was a pivotal vote. Without Democratic support, George W. Bush’s request for this war of aggression would have failed.)

      Humayun Khan, 27, was an army captain who got killed during that invasion.

      Eight years later, the dead soldier’s parents appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention — not to protest, but in order to endorse one of the politicians responsible for his death: Hillary Clinton.

    • “You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

      At this point most people appear to know that something is terribly, terribly wrong in the United States of America. But like the proverbial blind man describing the elephant, Americans tend to characterize the problem according to their economic status, their education and interests, and the way that the problem is impacting their peer group. So we hear that the biggest crisis facing America today is:

      Corruption
      Immigration
      Economic inequality
      Climate change
      Lack of respect for law enforcement
      Institutionalized racism
      Islamic terrorism
      The greed and recklessness of Wall Street banks
      Those damned far-right Republicans
      Those damned liberal Democrats
      Political polarization

    • Coup talk in Ukraine

      The war in the east, the rise of paramilitaries and polarised public opinion are feeding fears of a violent seizure of power in Kyiv. Could Ukraine follow in Turkey’s footsteps?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Change is Here and Now, Dire NOAA Report Warns

      Environmental records of all kinds are being shattered as climate change takes effect in real time, scientists warned on Tuesday.

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released its annual State of the Climate report with the dire warning that 2015 was the hottest year on record since at least the mid-to-late 19th century, confirming the “toppling of several symbolic milestones” in global temperature, sea level rise, and extreme weather.

      “The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist at Penn State, told the Guardian. “They are playing out before us, in real time. The 2015 numbers drive that home.”

      Last year’s record heat was fueled by a combination of the effects of global warming and one of the strongest El Niño events on record since at least 1950, NOAA said.

      “When we think about being climate resilient, both of these time scales are important to consider,” said Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “Last year’s El Niño was a clear reminder of how short-term events can amplify the relative influence and impacts stemming from longer-term global warming trends.”

    • A Single Bad Fire Season Sent Smoke Halfway Around the Planet

      For several months last fall, Indonesia choked under a blanket of smog fueled by one of the worst fire seasons in its history. But smoldering peatlands didn’t limit their pollution to the island nation: they sent smoke halfway across the world.

      “I’d never seen anything quite like this before,” Robert Field of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies told Gizmodo. Field is lead author on a new analysis of Indonesia’s 2015 fire season, which used data from five Earth-observing satellites to evaluate the total pollution from a spate of peat fires that were at one point emitting more carbon each day than the entire US economy.

    • The climate crisis is already here – but no one’s telling us

      The media largely relegate the greatest challenge facing humanity to footnotes as industry and politicians hurtle us towards systemic collapse of the planet

    • New York’s “Clean” Energy Plan Props Up Dirty, Dangerous Nuclear Power

      New York state’s Clean Energy Standard (CES), approved Monday, is being hailed as a “monumental step forward” toward a renewable energy future.

      But it’s also generating controversy, as it props up the state’s faltering nuclear industry to the tune of about $500 million a year in subsidies—and potentially lays out a blueprint for other states to do the same.

    • NY OKs energy plan with nuclear bailout

      A state board unanimously approved a clean-energy plan Monday that will boost renewable energy use while rescuing upstate nuclear power plants with a multi-billion-dollar subsidy.

      The state Public Service Commission voted 4-0 Monday to adopt the Clean Energy Standard, a three-tiered plan mandating the state’s long-held goal of getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and implementing a 40-percent cut in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030.

      Ratepayers will see their bills increase to cover the cost of the 12-year plan, which will require utilities to purchase electricity at an elevated rate from three upstate nuclear facilities, including the R.E. Nuclear Power Plant in Wayne County.

    • Updated: New York PSC approves 50% clean energy standard, nuclear subsidies

      The New York Public Service Commission voted today on a 50% renewable standard that officials say will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, ensure the state’s power mix is diverse, and attract billions in clean energy investment.

    • New York’s Woeful $7.6 Billion Nuclear Bailout Package

      The New York State Public Service Commission—in the face of strong opposition—this week approved a $7.6 billion bail-out of aging nuclear power plants in upstate New York which their owners have said are uneconomic to run without government support.

      New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—who appoints the members of the PSC—has called for the continued operation of the nuclear plants in order to, he says, save jobs at them. The bail-out would be part of a “Clean Energy Standard” advanced by Cuomo. Under it, 50 percent of electricity used in New York by 2030 would come from “clean and renewable energy sources”­with nuclear power considered clean and renewable.

      “Nuclear energy is neither clean nor renewable,” testified Pauline Salotti, vice chair of the Green Party of Suffolk County, Long Island at a recent hearing on the plan.

      “Without these subsidies, nuclear plants cannot compete with renewable energy and will close. But under the guise of ‘clean energy,’ the nuclear industry is about to get its hands on our money in order to save its own profits, at the expense of public health and safety,” declared a statement by Jessica Azulay, program director of Alliance for a Green Economy, based in upstate Syracuse with a chapter in New York City. Moreover, she emphasized, “Every dollar spent on nuclear subsidies is a dollar out of the pocket of New York’s electricity consumers­residents, businesses and municipalities” that should “instead” go towards backing “energy efficiency, renewable energy and a transition to a clean energy economy.”

  • Finance

    • Amid Fierce Opposition, Obama and Big Biz Still Resolute in Pushing TPP

      While critics have begun to sound the death knell for the contentious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), U.S. President Barack Obama doubled down his support for the corporate-backed trade agreement.

      During a Tuesday press conference after meeting with the Prime Minister of Singapore—one of the 12 nations involved in the pact—Obama said that he is “reaffirming” his commitment to the TPP, declaring himself a “strong supporter” of the deal.

      Eschewing criticisms that it would “leave many people behind,” Obama said the TPP provides an “opportunity to grow our economies and write the rules for trade in the 21st century in a way that is equitable. It gives us a chance to advance American leadership, reduce economic inequality, and support good paying jobs, all while strengthening critical strategic relationships in a vital region.”

    • Obama: I’m a strong supporter of the TPP trade deal
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact is unique opportunity for US: PM Lee
    • Obama: I’m still president and I support TPP trade deal
    • Brexiteers and the story of the would-be time-traveller

      There are some Brixiteers who think Brexit is easy.

      [...]

      My view, for what it is worth, is that Brexit will not be easy.

      But if the proponents of an easy Brexit are right, then the view that Brexit is hard will be disproved soon enough.

      So there is no point arguing about it.

      Like the wise adult of the story, perhaps one should just say to the proponents of an easy Brexit: have a go, and see what happens.

    • Lawmakers to Question Executive of New Jersey’s Controversial Student Loan Agency

      The New Jersey State Senate has announced it will hold a hearing to examine the state’s student loan agency, which administers the largest state-based loan program in the country and one that employs aggressive and unforgiving collection practices.

      A ProPublica and New York Times investigation has shown that New Jersey’s loan program charges higher interest rates than similar federal programs, and that its officials, armed with the power of the state, have garnished wages, rescinded tax refunds, and even sought repayment from families whose children have died. The state’s student loans now total $1.9 billion.

      The hearing, set for Aug. 8, will be led by New Jersey state Sen. Robert Gordon, chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee, and New Jersey state Sen. Sandra Cunningham, chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee.

      “We need to be sure we are properly advising prospective borrowers and not aggressively targeting students and families that are having financial difficulties,” Gordon said in an emailed release. “The state should be supporting students and young workers in particular, not putting up additional barriers to their future success.”

    • Sovereignty? This government will sell us to the highest bidder

      What does it mean to love your country? What does it mean to defend its sovereignty? For some of the leaders of the Brexit campaign, it means reducing the United Kingdom to a franchise of corporate capital, governed from head offices overseas. They will take us out of Europe to deliver us into the arms of other powers.

      [...]

      Fox looks to me like a corporate sleeper cell implanted in government. In 2011, he resigned his post as defence secretary in disgrace after his extracurricular interests were exposed. He had set up an organisation called Atlantic Bridge, financed in large part by a hedge fund owner. It formed a partnership with a corporate lobbying group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by tobacco, pharmaceutical and oil companies. Before it was struck off by the Charity Commission, it began assembling a transatlantic conclave of people who wished to see public services privatised and corporations released from regulation.

      He allowed a lobbyist to attend his official meetings, without government clearance. He made misleading statements about these meetings, which were later disproved. It seems extraordinary to me that a man with such a past could have been brought back into government, let alone given such a crucial and sensitive role. Most newspapers have brushed his inconvenient history under the political carpet. He is, after all, their man.

    • Pope Francis: Capitalism is ‘Terrorism Against All of Humanity’

      Pope Francis surprised reporters on a flight from Krakow to the Vatican late Sunday when he blamed the “god of money” for extremist violence in Europe and the Middle East, saying that a ruthless global economy leads disenfranchised people to violence.

      “Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person,” the pope told reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. “This is fundamental terrorism, against all humanity.”

      The pope was responding to a journalist’s question about whether there is a link between Islam and terrorism, particularly focusing on the fatal attack on a priest by Muslim extremists in France last week.

      “I ask myself how many young people that we Europeans have left devoid of ideals, who do not have work. Then they turn to drugs and alcohol or enlist in [the Islamic State, or ISIS],” he said, Reuters reports.

    • Leftwing insurgencies led by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders won’t melt away

      Just one subject was on most people’s lips – the Sanders delegates and how they could be controlled. Many of the people I met were interested in Jeremy Corbyn, who they saw as Britain’s answer to Sanders.

      There are many similarities between Corbyn and Sanders. Both, having ploughed their own furrow in progressive politics for over 30 years, have suddenly found themselves at the centre of events. Sanders came within touching distance of getting his party’s nomination and defeating the mighty Clinton machine. Corbyn actually leads his party. But he is embroiled in open warfare with the Westminster elites – political, journalistic and those in the rarefied world of thinktanks.

      Both are happy to call themselves socialist. Under New Labour that was the kiss of death for a political career. In the US, it is more dangerous still: in living memory, being accused of being a socialist was enough to get you witch-hunted out of public life.

      Both have similar political programmes. Defending or arguing for a health service free at the point of use is vital for both – although Sanders can only dream of a US version of the NHS. Both believe in social justice. They campaign ferociously for the 99% versus the 1%. They battle the power of the big banks and financial institutions. Both believe in a higher minimum wage and investment in infrastructure. Both were early advocates of action on climate change. And it is also worth pointing out that both seem most comfortable when not wearing a tie.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • There Are No Democratic or Green Saviors: Get in the Streets!

      Regardless of the outcome of November’s U.S. elections, what will count most is what happens in the streets. As Frederick Douglass put it plainly a century and a half ago, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.”

      All the advances of the 20th century (most of which are being steadily eroded in these early years of the 21st century) came about through organized movements, forcing elected officials to react.

    • DNC Achieved Unity Through Forced Conformity And Manufactured Consent

      After returning home from the Democratic convention, I was shocked to learn that friends and family who followed the extravaganza had no idea that there were protests on the inside.

      How was this possible? I was there. I witnessed the tension. Each day of the convention was marred by protests, with hundreds of Sanders delegates chanting, booing, walking out, and waving signs in defiance of Hillary Clinton’s coronation.

      I reviewed the media coverage I missed while I was in the convention bubble.

      After “a bruising primary season,” the Clinton and Sanders camps “pulled together and orchestrated a week relatively free of public controversy,” reported the Washington Post.

      “It looks like a mess, but the Democratic Party is more unified than it seems,” blared Vox.

      “[W]hat had been a raging boil on Monday was by Thursday morning just a simmer,” observed Politico, marveling at the DNC for “creating opportunities to publicly make peace between the party’s rival factions.”

    • Wasserman Schultz Faces FEC Complaint from Progressive Challenger

      With less than a month before the Florida congressional primary on August 30, incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz is facing a potential Federal Elections Committee (FEC) complaint from progressive challenger and law professor Tim Canova.

      Canova alleges that evidence in WikiLeaks’ release of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) show Wasserman Schultz using DNC resources to strategize against his congressional campaign. Wasserman Shultz resigned as party chair last month after the emails showed the DNC favoring Hillary Clinton’s campaign over Bernie Sanders’. The congresswoman now works for Clinton’s campaign.

      “It’s very clear that Wasserman Schultz was using the DNC resources to monitor my campaign and to strategize on how to crush the campaign,” Canova said on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily” Monday.

      “That’s a violation of federal law,” Canova added. He said he plans to file the FEC complaint soon.

    • Wasserman Schultz’s primary challenger to file FEC complaint

      Outgoing Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s primary challenger is planning to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging that she used DNC resources to target his campaign.

      Tim Canova, a law professor, said his campaign’s lawyers have found evidence of this as they sift through the tens of thousands of stolen DNC emails that were published by Wikileaks, which showed top aides undercutting Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign in the Democratic presidential primary.

    • DNC CEO resigns in wake of email controversy

      The CEO of the Democratic National Committee and two other high-level staffers left the organization on Tuesday in the wake of the committee’s hacked email controversy.

      Amy Dacey is the highest-ranking official at the DNC to step aside due to the matter, a senior Democratic official said. The DNC also announced the departure of CFO Brad Marshall and and Communications Director Luis Miranda in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

      Dacey is well-respected by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC circle, a source familiar with the resignation said. But the committee is looking to clean house in the wake of leaked emails that appeared to show the committee favoring Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the primary.

    • Top DNC staffers out following email scandal

      Amy Dacey, the chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee, and two other top officials are leaving their positions, the party announced Tuesday. Their departures follow the uproar over hacked party emails that came to light ahead of last week’s Democratic convention

      Luis Miranda, the party’s communications director, and Brad Marshall, chief financial officer, are also exiting the DNC.

      The statement announcing the staff changes praises the outgoing aides and makes no mention of the email issue.

    • Three More DNC Officials Out Amid Email Scandal

      Three top Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials have stepped down in the wake of the email scandal that has already forced the ouster of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

      CEO Amy Dacey, communications director Luis Miranda, and chief financial officer (CFO) Brad Marshall all resigned on Tuesday after facing scrutiny for emails that critics say showed favoritism toward Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the presidential primaries. Marshall was particularly criticized for suggesting questioning Sanders’ religion to sow dislike of him among the public.

      Interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile apologized on Tuesday for what she called “insensitive and inappropriate emails.”

    • Heads roll at the DNC

      With just three months until Election Day and the Democrats’ official party apparatus struggling to right itself from months of dysfunction and the scandal caused by the WikiLeaks email hack, interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile cleaned house Tuesday with the ouster of three top officials.

      CEO Amy Dacey, communications director Luis Miranda and chief financial officer Brad Marshall are all leaving the organization, the DNC announced Tuesday afternoon, shortly after staffers were informed of the changes in a meeting. The announcement praised all three outgoing officials, but people familiar say the departures were heavily encouraged.

    • Meet the Press Grills WikiLeaks on Source, Ignores Substance of DNC Emails

      On Sunday morning, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd (7/31/16) had on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to discuss his recent leaking of 20,000 emails from within the Democratic National Committee showing an institutional preference in favor of Hillary Clinton. Todd asked Assange a total of eight questions, all of which were about alleged foreign hacking of the DNC, never asking about the substance of the leaks.

      Here are the questions in order:

      “Are you concerned that if foreign government uses your entity that you have now seen WikiLeaks get weaponized?”
      “The easiest way to clear this up, Mr. Assange, would you be able to say categorically that a foreign government did not hand you this material?”
      “But it is helpful to know if a foreign government is involved, isn’t that crucial information to civilians?”
      “Mr. Assange, you say you can’t go around speculating. Do you not know [if Russia leaked the documents to you]?”
      “Let me ask you this. Do you, without revealing your source on this, do you accept information and leaked documents from foreign governments?”
      “But isn’t the right of the public to know the motive also, to know the motive of the maker?”
      “Does that not trouble you at all, if a foreign government is trying to meddle in the affairs of another foreign government?”
      “That doesn’t bother you [foreign governments meddling in US elections]? That is not part of the WikiLeaks credo?”

      [...]

      Although it was clear Assange wouldn’t answer Todd’s question about WikiLeaks’ source—”We don’t give any material away as to who our sources are,” he repeatedly pointed out—Todd persisted again and again. Which would have been fine if he had followed up with the questions about the DNC leak itself and what other leaks Assange might have in store—but instead it was 100 percent Russia, 100 percent Cold War plot, 100 percent anything other than the substance of the leaks themselves.

    • Who Leaked the Damning DNC Emails? What Difference Does It Make?

      The Democratic National Committee under Debbie Wasserman Schultz in fact served as the Hillary Clinton Coronation Organizing Committee, operating, step by step, to ensure that the front-runner would become the party’s nominee.

      [...]

      Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who finally—after months of protests against her due to her (obvious) partiality while she insisted (looking guilty) that she was “neutral”—resigned as DNC chair in the wake of the email scandal, rewarded immediately (as though to deliberately further enrage the Sanderistas) with a post in her campaign, could perhaps now be tasked with building the case that Donald Trump is a Russian agent.

      And the content of the emails? The suggestion that Sanders’ lack of religious belief could be used by the DNC to help Hillary? What difference does it make? Isn’t it obvious that the bigger question is Putin, and Russian expansionism, and the need to elect a woman strong enough to risk World War III?

      The howls of indignation at Russian hacking of U.S. citizens” communications! Have whistle-blowers not made it known to us that the NSA maintains records on the phone calls and internet activity of virtually everybody, everywhere? That they have capacities unknown to the bad old KGB and Stasi? That they routinely monitor the communications of Angela Merkel, the pope, the UN Secretary General etc. without any sense of shame?

      The rational person’s response has to be: What difference does it make who hacked those emails and made them public? What’s true is true. The whole U.S. political process is rigged. We need to grasp that.

      The youth who drove the Sanders campaign have every reason to reject the rigged system itself. Millennials were just reaching adulthood when, in 2000, George W. Bush became president with a minority of the popular vote, when the Supreme Court intervened to prevent a vote recount in Florida. The unelected president went on to invade two countries and left office deeply unpopular, exposed as a liar and mass-murderer. Youth helped bring Obama into power as the progressive, peace candidate. But he turned out to be the Drone President, the president who incomprehensibly made the incomparably hawkish Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State.

    • For Corporate Media, Bloomberg Is the Better Billionaire

      On the third night of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the stage to tout his non-partisanship and call for a “sane, competent person” for president. It was a celebration of conservative centrism, and so was the establishment media’s reaction—to a politician who is also one of the nation’s most powerful media moguls.

    • Donald Trump and Islamic State Agree: No Room for People Like Khizr Khan

      When Khizr Khan stood up to speak at the Democratic National Convention last Thursday, his family story was not widely known. Neither he nor his wife was a figure of public prominence, nor had he spoken at any major political events in the past. But, waving a copy of the United States constitution, Khan addressed Trump in evocative terms that resonated across the country, asking the GOP candidate if he had “ever even read the U.S. constitution” and telling Trump that he had “sacrificed nothing, and no one.”

      The sacrifice that Khan was referring to was that of his son, Humayun Khan, an Army captain who was killed while stationed in Iraq in 2004. In the days since the DNC ended, Khan’s speech has dominated public discussion about the election campaign. He has promised to continue speaking out until the Republican Party leadership repudiates Trump for his proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States.

    • Weekend of our Discontent: Trump, Clinton Spar Over Dueling Controversies

      On the campaign trail Donald Trump insulted the family of a dead US soldier and Hillary Clinton repeated claims that were debunked weeks ago by none other than the Director of the FBI.

      The events capped off a weekend in an election characterized by sweeping discontent with the nominees of both major parties. Recent polls show growing numbers of Americans considering third party options.

      First it was Trump’s turn to horrify the nation, with numerous attacks, in press interviews and tweets, against the parents of Humayan Khan, a US soldier and Muslim who died fighting in Iraq in 2004, and was posthumously decorated for valor.

      Khan’s parents Khizr and Ghazala, were featured during last week’s Democratic National Convention. Khizr criticized Trump for not having made any sacrifices to the country, and questioned whether or not the GOP nominee had ever read the Constitution.

      Trump responded by insinuating that Ghazala Khan, who stood by her husband as he addressed the convention, was prohibited from speaking.

    • The un-Democratic National Committee

      WIKILEAKS’ RELEASE of nearly 20,000 e-mails and more than 8,000 attachments from seven officials on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) just before the party’s convention meant a quick end for Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s position as DNC chair, after the e-mails revealed favoritism toward the Clinton campaign and organized hostility to rival Bernie Sanders.

      But if the e-mails–and the convention itself–show anything, it’s the undemocratic nature of the whole Democratic Party, and firing one official won’t come close to fixing that.

      The e-mails paint a picture of a party infrastructure that was not only rigged for the establishment choice in the presidential nomination race, but that trades lucrative donations for access on a daily basis.

    • What Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Convention

      A report of how Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign gave wealthy donors privileged seating and other special access at the Democratic National Convention can’t be dismissed by retorting that men have always done such things, too.

      Of course, they have. When President Obama campaigned to become the nation’s first black president in 2008, many of us silently excused his decision to forgo public campaign financing and rely on wealthy donors. After all, white male presidential candidates had always done that, too.

      Sure enough, upon being elected, Obama chose financial and economic advisors, such as Laurence Summers and Timothy Geithner, who helped him to rescue the wealthy more than to change the financial and economic system that favors them beyond all reason or justice.

    • Isn’t It Ironic?: Koch-Backed Group Rails Against Corrupting Influence of Money in Politics

      After spending countless millions fighting to protect unlimited secret money in elections, the Koch political network has adopted a surprising new approach: railing against the corrupting influence of money in politics.

      New ads from the Koch-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund attack Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in Nevada and Virginia for allegedly supporting policies that benefited their campaign supporters, even as the Koch network fights to keep campaign spending secret.

      “After taking $70,000 from taxi companies, [U.S. Senate candidate] Catherine Cortez Masto drove Uber out of Nevada,” says one ad, which reportedly cost $1.2 million to air. It comes on the heels of another $1.2 million ad buy in the race making similar claims and asserting that Cortez Masto “put campaign donors ahead of Nevadans and protected special interests instead of us.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Exclusive: Survivors of Islamic Sexual Abuse Support Group Founder Banned From Facebook For ‘Islamophobia’

      The founder of a support group for victims of Islamic sexual grooming gangs has been banned from Facebook for 30 days after she posted a video calling out the media for focusing on Islamophobia in the wake of a wave of Islamic terrorist attacks.

      Toni Bugle, founder of Mothers Against Radical Islam and Sharia (MARIAS) has spent the last few years supporting the victims of Islamic persecution including gay apostates, women fleeing Islamic marriages, and girls dealing with years of abuse by sexual exploitation gangs.

      Many of those she talks to have been turned away by social services and local authorities who don’t want to deal with the fall-out from Islamic persecution.

      But after she posted a twenty-minute live video to her personal Facebook page last Wednesday she was banned from Facebook for 30 days, she believes following an accusation of Islamophobia.

    • Houston Law Firm Sues Student With Severe Back Injuries For $200k After She Posts Negative Reviews To Yelp, Facebook

      A Houston law firm has decided to make its mark on the world much in the same way a rogue house pet makes its mark on an expensive Oriental rug. The Tuan A. Khuu law firm has decided it has “no choice” but to sue a 20-year-old student suffering from two broken bones in her back following a collision with two vehicles — one of them being the drunk driver who started the chain reaction.

      [...]

      In addition to the inevitable Streisanding, the Khuu law firm has also jabbed a stick into a hornet’s nest of lawyers with low tolerance for bullying bullshit. So far, the law office’s decision to sue a student for $200,000 has already attracted offers of assistance from Popehat’s Ken White, First Amendment Badass (Texas Div.) Mark W. Bennett, and Scott Greenfield, whose undying curmudgeonliness (and undying AOL email address) are perfectly complemented by the number of fucks he gives about jabbing back at stupid attorneys. If this is just the initial response to the Khuu office legal threats, it’s time to invest heavily in popcorn futures.

      The immediate good news is that Lan Cai is now represented, pro bono, by Houston attorney Michael Fleming. Fleming hopes to flip this bogus lawsuit back on the Khuu law firm by using Texas’ anti-SLAPP law — the Texas Citizens Participation Act — and extract $50,000 from the firm for the trouble it’s caused. He also points out that the firm’s reputation was pretty much an open sewage line well before Cai expressed her opinion, so it’s unlikely the office can prove yet another negative review caused any actual damage to the firm itself.

    • NightSide – Censorship On Campus

      The University of Houston Student Vice President is facing sanctions over a Facebook post in the immediate aftermath of the Dallas attack that read in part, “all lives matter”. As a result of this “controversy” she was temporarily suspended and must attend cultural sensitivity training. Harvey Silverglate, an expert on free speech issues, joins NightSide to give his take.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Global Surveillance Industry Database Helps Track Big Brother Worldwide

      Offering a groundbreaking glimpse of the global surveillance industry—the tools it employs, the extent of its reach, and the accountability it largely evades—human rights watchdog organization Privacy International on Tuesday released a searchable database and accompanying report that track Big Brother worldwide.

      The initiative “provides much needed information about a secretive industry which has grown to meet government demand for more surveillance power,” said Edin Omanovic, research officer at the U.K.-based Privacy International. “State surveillance is one of the most important and polarizing issues of our time, yet the secrecy around it means it’s a debate lacking reliable facts.”

      The Surveillance Industry Index (SII), based on data collected by journalists, activists, and researchers across the world and co-developed with the pro-transparency software group Transparency Toolkit, aims to change that.

    • Surveillance of Everyone: Europe’s “Smart Borders” Would Automatically Monitor Individuals

      Walls and wire fences are not all that’s being built at Europe’s borders. The European Commission and Security Companies dream of “smart borders”: a multitude of automated and interconnected files and control apparatuses able to follow each individual. The program’s objective? Counter-terrorism and keeping migrants out. But these structures — the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated — risk straining public finances, while threatening civil liberties and private life, should some states decide to pass from border control of each person to surveillance of everybody.

      With respect to security policy, the least one may say is that the European Union and its member states do not lack for ideas. The European Union’s borders are governed by a plethora of measures and apparatuses with an equal number of obscure acronyms: SIS, the Schengen Information System, assembles data on wanted or disappeared persons; VIS is the information system concerning visa applications; EURODAC is a fingerprint database for the administrative management of asylum applications.

    • O2 customer data sold on dark net

      The data was almost certainly obtained by using usernames and passwords first stolen from gaming website XSplit three years ago to log onto O2 accounts.

      When the login details matched, the hackers could access O2 customer data in a process known as “credential stuffing”.

      O2 says it has reported the case to police, and is helping the inquiry.

      It is highly likely that this technique will have been used to log onto other companies’ accounts too.

    • FBI Official Compares Encryption Guru Moxie Marlinspike To The KKK, Refuses To Discuss Him

      By now, hopefully, you already know about Moxie Marlinspike, the security researcher/encryption guru/creator of the important open source encrypted messaging protocol Signal. However, it’s still worth reading Andy Greenberg’s big profile on Moxie over at Wired (and, no, he still will not reveal his original name or much more about his history). The whole thing is a good read, but there’s one crazy part, where Greenberg asks an FBI official for their thoughts on the guy who is making encryption that he deliberately says he hopes will be used to keep the FBI from spying on certain conversations. The FBI, not surprisingly, is not a fan. But, still, it seems like quite a leap to then make an analogy with the KKK…

    • Documents Show FISA Court Refusing To Grant FBI’s Requests To Scoop Up Communications Along With Phone Metadata

      A handful of FOIA documents [PDF] obtained by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) are shedding some new light on the FISA court and its relationship with the FBI. The good news is that the court is not quite the rubber stamp it’s often been portrayed as. Even though a vast majority of requests are improved, there appears to be a significant amount of modification happening behind the scenes.

    • Tor 0.2.8.6 is released

      Hi, all! After months of work, a new Tor release series is finally stable.

    • Tor browser a bit too unique?

      Ok, this is scary: tor browser on https://browserprint.info/test — “Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 8,440 tested so far. Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys 13.04 bits of identifying information.”

    • Your battery status is being used to track you online

      A little-known web standard that lets site owners tell how much battery life a mobile device has left has been found to enable tracking online, a year after privacy researchers warned that it had the potential to do just that.

      The battery status API was introduced in HTML5, the fifth version of the code used to lay out the majority of the web, and had already shipped in Firefox, Opera and Chrome by August 2015. It allows site owners to see the percentage of battery life left in a device, as well as the time it will take to discharge or the time it will take to charge, if connected to a power source.

    • This Popular Ad Blocker Now Works With Microsoft’s Edge Browser
    • FBI Director Lauds Whistleblowers’ Role in Culture of ‘Humility’

      Asked about resistance to whistleblowers, Horowitz said, “A lot of the perception is that you keep your dirty laundry within the organization, which is why being a whistleblower takes courage.”

    • New online tool reveals how the global surveillance industry is watching you

      Repressive regimes are now routinely acquiring powerful surveillance technology from private firms in democratic nations. In the United States, police bypass the security of private citizens’ cellphones using a handheld device produced more than 5,000 miles away in Israel.

      It’s a tangled web—one that few truly have the bandwidth to explore.

      That’s why this week, Privacy International (PI), alongside Transparency Toolkit, launched the Surveillance Industry Index (SII), a searchable database containing records on over 520 surveillance companies. Relying on various technical, governmental, and investigative reports, the database reportedly includes “over 600 reported individual exports of specific surveillance technologies.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Clerk printed lottery tickets she didn’t pay for but didn’t break hacking law

      The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that while a convenience store clerk was guilty of stealing lottery tickets through the store’s computer system, she did not violate the state’s anti-hacking law while doing so.

      In the case, known as State v. Nascimento, Oregon’s highest court ruled late last month that a hacking conviction against the defendant should be overturned, and the court sent the case back down to the lower court for reconsideration. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which appeared on Caryn Nascimento’s behalf during the case as an amicus curae (friend of the court), announced the narrow victory on Tuesday.

      According to the Supreme Court’s decision, the case dates back to 2007, when Nascimento began working at Tiger Mart, a small convenience store in Madras, Oregon, about 120 miles southeast of Portland. In late 2008 and early 2009, a company vice president began investigating what appeared to be cash shortages at that store, sometimes about $1,000 per day. After reviewing video recordings that correlated with Nascimento’s work schedule, this executive began to suspect that she was buying lottery tickets but not paying for them.

      Eventually, Nascimento was charged not only with aggravated first-degree theft but also of violating the state’s computer crime law, which includes language that “any person who knowingly and without authorization uses, accesses or attempts to access any computer, computer system, computer network, or any computer software, program, documentation or data contained in such computer, computer system or computer network, commits computer crime.”

    • State-funded Muslim school which ‘segregates’ genders in legal bid to block Ofsted report

      An Ofsted inspection judged the unnamed school to be “inadequate” – the lowest rank available – and criticised it for segregating boys and girls.

      Referred to as ‘school X’, inspectors from the Government body found the school stocked books containing negative views about women.

      A judge revealed the school library had literature which “contained derogatory views about, and incited violence towards, women”.

      The education establishment has now taken its battle to the High Court to stop the report being published.

    • Turkey, the EU and the death penalty: a chequered history

      The abolition of the death penalty has been arguably the most symbolic result of Turkey’s EU accession process. To see it revoked would be a sad, backwards step for Turkey and for the EU.

    • Delaware Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional

      In a landmark decision (pdf), the Delaware Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state’s death penalty law is unconstitutional.

      The majority found that the state’s death penalty violated the Sixth Amendment, as it allowed a judge to override a jury’s recommendation of a life sentence and impose a death sentence instead.

      The ruling followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January that overturned portions of Florida’s death penalty statute for the same reason. That decision, Hurst v. Florida, found that “[t]he Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death.”

      In Tuesday’s ruling, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. wrote: “I am unable to discern in the Sixth Amendment any dividing line between the decision that someone is eligible for death and the decision that he should in fact die.”

    • Jeff Wood Didn’t Kill Anyone, but Texas Is About to Execute Him Anyway

      Texas is among five states that approve “actively” pursuing the death penalty for an accomplice who lacked intent to kill; the vast majority require intent as a prerequisite to seeking the death penalty against a party to a crime.

      Put simply, Texas’s law is unjust, Been told supporters outside the governor’s mansion, because it “punishes affiliations” and not actions. “How does it get more unfair than that?” he asked the crowd, tearing up as he spoke. “My uncle is a victim of the Texas system. He is sentenced to be executed for a crime he did not — did not — commit.”

    • Victory! Oregon Supreme Court Agrees that Violating a Company Rule is Not a Computer Crime

      Can you imagine being prosecuted for checking personal email while at work because your employer says you can only use your computer for “company business”? Of course not. Violating a company rule is not—and should not be—a computer crime. Prosecutors have tried to use the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and parallel state criminal laws to target violations of company rules, but courts are increasingly calling foul on the misuse of statutes intended to criminalize computer break-ins.

      The Oregon Supreme Court is one of them, saying “no” to prosecutors who tried to hold Caryn Nascimento liable under Oregon’s computer crime law for a violation of her employer’s computer use policy. EFF filed an amicus brief in the case, State v. Nascimento, and the court specifically cited our argument that “the state’s reading of the statute—which arguably criminalizes any computer use in violation of an employer’s personnel or computer use policies—is unworkably broad because it gives private entities the power to decide what conduct in the workplace is criminal and what is not.”

      Nascimento worked as a cashier at the deli counter of a convenience store. As part of her job, she was authorized to access a lottery terminal in the store to sell and validate lottery tickets for paying customers. Store policy prohibited employees from purchasing lottery tickets for themselves or validating their own lottery tickets while on duty. A store manager noticed a discrepancy in the receipts from the lottery terminal and discovered that Nascimento had printed lottery tickets for herself without paying for them. She was charged and convicted with not only first-degree theft, but also computer crime on the ground that she accessed the lottery terminal “without authorization.”

    • “Stop the Cops & Fund Black Futures”: Voices from First Day of New York City Hall Park Occupation

      On Monday, hundreds of activists gathered at New York City Hall demanding the defunding of the New York Police Department, the firing of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and reparations for victims of police brutality. Democracy Now!’s Charina Nadura and Andre Lewis were at the park speaking to protesters.

    • Movement for Black Lives Calls for Reparations & “End to War Against Black People”

      While all eyes have been on the Republican and Democratic platforms decided at the national conventions earlier this month, a broad coalition associated with the Black Lives Matter movement has released a platform of its own, demanding reparations and an “end to the wars against Black people.” The list of demands from the Movement for Black Lives platform also includes the abolition of the death penalty, legislation to recognize the impacts of slavery, as well as investments in education initiatives, mental health services and employment programs. The publication comes just a week before the second anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked months of protests and catalyzed a national conversation about police killings of unarmed African-American men. For more, we speak with Ash-Lee Henderson, regional organizer for Project South and a member of the policy table leadership team of the Movement for Black Lives.

    • Dozens of Syrians forced into sexual slavery in derelict Lebanese house

      Rama said she learned from the other women at the shelter that that was how many of them were brought to the house, some living there for four years. Their torture often consisted of being tied to a table that was set up like a crucifix, and beaten with a cable. If they fainted, they were shocked into consciousness with an electric prod.

      The women, 29 of whom lived in Chez Maurice with the others in a nearby house, were forced to have sex as many as 10 times a day on weekdays. Rama said the number of customers often doubled on weekends.

      She said women who had not yet lost their virginity when they arrived at the shelter had their hymens broken with a bottle.

      Those who said no to customer requests, including for unprotected sex, had marks registered under their names by the female guards in the house, and would be punished with beatings. They had to collect at least $50 in tips from customers a day, and that money – as well as the hourly rate the brothel charged—was all confiscated from the women.

      Rama said the women told each other in hushed tones the story of two other women who died in the house, and were buried in unmarked graves before she arrived. When [Imad al-] Rihawi, the network’s alleged enforcer [and a former interrogator in Syria’s feared air force intelligence service], heard them discussing the tale, he beat one of the women 95 times on her legs with a cable, she said.

      She said the women who got pregnant after having unprotected sex with customers were taken to have abortions, which are illegal in Lebanon, often months into the actual pregnancy. Police officials have arrested the doctor responsible, who operated a clinic in the northern Beirut suburb of Dekwaneh, where investigators say he performed as many as 200 abortions on women enslaved in the network.

      The women worked in two shifts between 9am and 6am the following day. Many had lost family members in war, or otherwise had nobody to look after them, Rama said. Some of the girls were as young as 18 and the oldest were in their mid-30s.

    • Yes, You Read That Correctly: China Says It’s OK For Members Of The Public To Record The Police

      Although this move might be seen as the Chinese authorities giving new powers to the people against the police, it’s probably better thought of as using the people to root out the bad apples of the kind mentioned in the SCMP piece. As such it’s of a piece with President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corrupt officials who abuse their power, seen most recently in the sentence of the top Chinese general Guo Boxiong, who was jailed for life for taking bribes.

      In other words, while citizens use this new permission to aid Xi in his purge of unwanted elements in the system, they will be welcome to record the police as much as they like. However, if they start making life awkward for the authorities by passing around the “wrong” kind of recordings, we can probably expect this newfound power to be rescinded quite quickly.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Washington State Sues Comcast For Routinely Ripping Off Its Customers

      Washington State has sued Comcast for, well, being Comcast. A new lawsuit filed by the state this week (pdf) accuses the cable giant of 1.8 million violations of Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA), including misrepresenting the scope of the company’s “Service Protection Plan,” charging customers improper service call fees and improper credit screening practices. More specifically, the lawsuit states that Comcast misled more than 500,000 Washington State customers by charging them $5 per month for this protection plan, then intentionally hitting them with fees for services the monthly fee should have covered.

  • DRM

    • EFF at the Eleventh Hope

      Last weekend EFF took part in the Eleventh Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York City and got to meet so many of our wonderful supporters. We’ve collected the HOPE talks given by EFF staff below, with the official program abstract, video, and where applicable, the original slides. Once you’re done watching those, you can also try your hand at our Capture The Flag competition—the challenges are still up at https://eff-ctf.org, even though the contest is over.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • USPTO Rejects Whole Foods ‘World’s Healthiest Grocery Store’ Trademark Because Naaaaaah

        We’ve talked surprisingly little about Whole Foods here at Techdirt. I suppose that the hipster’s grocery paradise has somehow evaded most of the trappings of intellectual property concerns. Good on them for that. Less good is the company’s recent simultaneous attempts to expand internationally while also applying for a trademark with the USPTO for “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store.” Neither are going very well, it seems, and it turns out they’re interrelated.

    • Copyrights

      • Court Rules Whole Site Blocking Justifiable in Piracy Fight

        Forcing ISPs to block entire websites to tackle Internet piracy is justifiable, a court in India has ruled. The decision by the Delhi High Court means that copyright holders will not have to target specific URLs when attempting to stop infringement on sites that are involved in widespread piracy.

      • How copyright is irreparably, fundamentally incompatible with privacy

        Copyright and privacy cannot coexist. Society is at a crossroads where only one of these will exist in the future, and the copyright industry has been working hard to erode privacy to protect its obsolete business. It’s time to acknowledge the conflict and accept that copyright enforcement need to be actively prevented in order to safeguard fundamental rights.

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DecorWhat Else is New


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