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09.18.16

Links 18/9/2016: Emacs 25.1, Slackel 6.0.7

Posted in News Roundup at 10:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Closed Source Engines are a Big Risk

    The two of us have spent our whole careers writing C++ and making engines (in fact, we’d both worked at Unity building the engine), so we thought we’d take a nice vacation from memory management and C++ and pick that one first.

    [...]

    It’s the black box nature that’s most troublesome to me. With source code, it’s still a huge codebase that’s hard to parse and has plenty of problems, but at least I can hunt down my bugs.

  • Can Carriers Open Source New Biz Processes?

    One of the more telling moments of our NFV & Carrier SDN event here this week actually happened before the conference itself had formally started, at an Oracle-sponsored breakfast session Tuesday morning.

    Appearing on a panel with my Heavy Reading colleague Jim Hodges were Bill Walker, director of network architecture at CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), and Paul Boland, managing partner, solutions at Verizon Enterprise Solutions . Sitting in the front row of the session was Tom Anschutz, distinguished member of technical staff at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Services Inc., who would later deliver a keynote.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Conference 2016 – Brno, Czech Republic
    • What’s next for Apache OpenOffice

      Concerns about the viability of the Apache OpenOffice (AOO) project are not new; they had been in the air for a while by the time LWN looked at the project’s development activity in early 2015. Since then, though, the worries have grown more pronounced, especially after AOO’s recent failure to produce a release with an important security fix nearly one year after being notified of the vulnerability. The result is an internal discussion on whether the project should be “retired,” or whether it will find a way to turn its fortunes around.

      The current chair of the AOO project management committee (PMC) is Dennis Hamilton, whose term is set to end shortly. He has been concerned about the sustainability of the project for some time (see this message from one year ago, for example), a concern sharpened by the routine requirement that he report to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) board on the project’s status. The board, seemingly, had asked few questions about the status of AOO until recently, when the handling of CVE-2016-1513 (or the lack thereof) came to its attention. Now the board is apparently asking some sharp questions indeed and requiring monthly (rather than every three months as usual) reports from the project. “Retirement” of the project, it seems, has been explicitly mentioned as a possibility.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Libreboot Screwup – 18 Sept 2016

      As one of the main “contributors” to the Libreboot project, I was contracted to work on two chipsets by Minifree.

      Given the recent kerfuffle, and in spite of my vested interest in wanting to continue being paid to continue this important work, I find it necessary to spell out a couple of facts I find important about the libreboot project and the libreboot community:

      1) I have recently noticed that Leah Rowe is the only person who has git commit access to the website, libreboot.org, and also the only person who has git commit access to the codebase, which has only become a problem recently.

      2) The codebase is a deblobbed coreboot repository, with patches from libreboot contributors (but committed by Leah), and a bunch of install scripts for ease of use.

      3) We (the contributors) are not consulted about any of the views expressed on the libreboot.org website when they are hastily published by Leah.

    • Free Software Foundation statement on 2016-09-16

      This morning, an open email circulated in which the author said that the Free Software Foundation ended a relationship with one of our employees for discriminatory reasons.

      Although it is our usual policy not to comment publicly on internal personnel matters for privacy reasons, we felt it necessary to state unequivocally that the allegations made in that email are untrue.

      It is part of our job to celebrate and improve the diversity of the free software world. We have strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies to help provide a safe and supportive working environment. We uphold a safe space policy at all FSF events, and we provide scholarships to help people of different identities, and from different regions, attend. The FSF’s mission is to defend the freedom of all computer users.

    • GNU Autoconf Noteworthy changes in release 2016.09.16
  • Programming/Development

    • Layout APIs don’t have to be terrible – lessons from Bokeh
    • Change in PHP 7 that may break some of Ubuntu servers on update

      Seems harmless. Administrators will see errors on test installation and fix old configs. But here comes one nasty trait of php-fpm: it refuses to start with incorrect php-fpm.conf, but it will start with incorrect php.ini, ignoring all settings there just rolling back to default values. Error is not written to php-fpm log. It can be spotted in console, but service start script hides that messages.

    • Open source C++ execution trace framework

      At froglogic, we’re big fans of open source software. A large part of our engineering (and management!) staff contributed or contributes to open source projects, and everyone visiting our offices for a job interview certainly gets a big +1 in case she can show off some open source work! We also use a lot of open source software for our daily work, ranging from obvious projects like Git or the Linux kernel to individual libraries serving very specific purposes; the Acknowledgements Chapter of the Squish manual gives an impression of how tall the giants are upon whose shoulders we’re standing.

      Over the last couple of years we contributed back various bug fixes and improvements to different projects we’re using, but we’d like to step things up a little bit. Hence, we now open-sourced an internally developed C++ framework called ‘TraceTool’ and made it available under the LGPL v3 license on our GitHub account:

    • Stripped and ready to go: Enterprise Java MicroProfile lands

      The project for a lightweight and modular enterprise Java suited to microservices has hit general release.

      MicroProfile 1.0 has now hit general availability, just over two months after the project was unveiled by representatives of IBM, Red Hat, Tomitribe, Payara and the London Java Community on June 27.

      A formal announcement is expected at Oracle’s annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco next week.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Elon Musk Wanted a Race. Now He Has One

      Musk isn’t likely to let GM’s range victory stand unchallenged. Just as Chevy had initially described the Bolt as having a range of “a minimum of 200 miles,” only to exceed that number later by almost 20 percent, the Model 3′s range unveiled in March may similarly be a placeholder. “The range will be at least an EPA rating of 215 miles,” Musk said at the time. “I want to emphasize that these are minimum numbers—we hope to exceed them.”

    • Music theory for nerds

      I don’t know anything about music. I know there are letters but sometimes the letters have squiggles; I know an octave doubles in pitch; I know you can write a pop song with only four chords. That’s about it.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Teflon Toxin Goes to China

      Standing on a concrete bridge above the Xiaoqing River, a farmer named Wu shook his head as he gazed down at the water below. Wu, who is 61, used to be able to see all the way to the bottom. And he and others in Cuijia, a village of about 2,000 in China’s Shandong province, used to swim at this very spot. There were so many turtles he could easily stab one with his forked spear, he recalled on a steamy Saturday in July. To catch some of the many fish, he simply threw a net into the water, he said, moving his arms as he spoke in a gesture that has survived in his muscle memory long after most of the fish have disappeared.

      The Xiaoqing flows 134 miles through the major cities of Zibo, Binzhou, and Dongying in Shandong province. Tens of millions of people depend on it. In Jinan, which is close to the river’s origin, human and livestock waste and runoff from fertilizers and pesticides have caused the water to stink in recent years. But downstream from Jinan, waste from factories has compounded the river’s problems.

    • Texas Claims it ‘Zealously Protects the Physician-Patient Relationship.’ Tell That to Texas Women Trying to Access Abortion

      They filed suit in federal court challenging a federal regulation implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health care entities from discriminating based on race, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The states and health care providers that brought the case are demanding the right to be able to discriminate against transgender individuals who seek health care. The lawsuit also seeks a court order allowing them to discriminate against individuals who seek reproductive health care, including in state programs, like public hospitals.

      Texas’s position is so extreme that they want to be able to discriminate against women by turning them away from their hospitals after they’ve had an abortion and are experiencing complications from the procedure. You don’t need to reread that last sentence. That’s really the state’s position.

    • Religious Freedom Follies: Invoking Faith to Discriminate in Health Care
    • Maternal mortality rate in Texas highest in industrialized world – study

      The Lone Star state is the most dangerous place to give birth in the US. While the maternal mortality rate has been internationally decreasing, a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found the rate in Texas had doubled in two years.

      A study from Maryland-based researchers found that Texas not only has the highest maternal mortality rate in the US, but in much of the industrial world. With an estimated 35.8 deaths per 100,000 births in 2014, Texas’ rate of mothers dying during or as a result of childbirth is comparable to Mexico (38 per 100,000), Uzbekistan (36 per 100,000) and Egypt (33 per 100,000), according to the World Bank.

      In fact, this is the highest rate in Texas since 1976, when it was 20 per 100,000, according to the Texas State Department of Health.

    • Mosaic plant sinkhole dumps 215 million gallons of reprocessed water into Floridan Aquifer (w/video)

      A massive sinkhole that opened underneath a gypsum stack at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer plant in Mulberry may have dumped at least 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the Floridan Aquifer over the past three weeks, company officials say.

      And it could be months before the hole is plugged, the officials acknowledge.

      The 45-foot-wide sinkhole opened at the New Wales plant, where phosphate rock mined elsewhere is converted into fertilizer.

      It drained millions of gallons of acidic water laced with sulfate and sodium from a pool atop a 120-foot gypsum stack. An unknown amount of gypsum, a fertilizer byproduct with low levels of radiation, also fell into the sinkhole, which is believed be at least 300 feet deep.

      The pond is now drained, but aerial video taken Friday shows polluted water is still seeping from the gypsum stack and plunging like a waterfall into the sinkhole. More contaminated water will leak with every new rainfall until the sinkhole is filled. The acidic level of the water is roughly equivalent to vinegar or lemon juice.

  • Security

    • Chrome OS gets cryptographically verified enterprise device management

      Companies will now be able to cryptographically validate the identity of Chrome OS devices connecting to their networks and verify that those devices conform to their security policies.

      On Thursday, Google announced a new feature and administration API called Verified Access. The API relies on digital certificates stored in the hardware-based Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) present in every Chrome OS device to certify that the security state of those devices has not been altered.

      Many organizations have access controls in place to ensure that only authorized users are allowed to access sensitive resources and they do so from enterprise-managed devices conforming to their security policies.

      Most of these checks are currently performed on devices using heuristic methods, but the results can be faked if the devices’ OSes are compromised. With Verified Access, Google plans to make it impossible to fake those results in Chromebooks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Jill Stein on U.S. Policy in the Mideast

      JILL STEIN: We would freeze the bank accounts of the Saudi government until they freeze the funding for terrorist groups that is coming from their country.

    • Let’s Watch U.S. Government *ss Clowns Spend Your Money on Pakistani Dancing Videos

      So the video above was made, using your tax dollars and on official government time, by the Public Diplomacy staff at the American Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. As you can see, a Pakistani traditional dancer was hired, and alongside him were placed various overweight American State Department officials to act like *ssclowns.

    • The Sad End of British Liberalism

      Tim Farron’s paean of praise for Tony Blair yesterday marks the disgraceful end of the political embodiment of a great tradition of thought. In truth there is no ideological reason why the Blairites should not join today’s Lib Dems after their imminent humiliation in the leadership election. What they do next will be entirely down to their calculation of career advantage. There is no ideological reason both Lib Dems and Blairities should not fold into the Tories. However that would destroy the chances of giving the electorate the mere illusion of free choice, when they have still not given up the idea of removing Corbyn and destroying the chance of actual meaningful choice.

      Because the Lib Dems, Blairites and Tories all subscribe to a single ideology of neo-liberalism at home and neo-conservatism abroad. Under Kinnock then Blair, the opposing ideology of organised labour was expunged from the Labour Party, and even such obviously popular and necessary objectives as re-nationalising the railways were foresworn. Under Clegg, the Lib Dems abandoned their own, even older, radical tradition and signed up to the twin gods of finance sector led economies and neo-imperialism.

    • Britain Cannot Withstand Martian Death-Ray

      The broadcast news bulletins are all leading with the claim of some old General that Britain could not resist an attack by Russia. One remarkable thing about this claim, is that all those excitably supporting it are precisely the same people who claim that the countless billions spent on Trident make an attack on the UK impossible. Plainly they have never believed their own propaganda about Trident.

      But there is something still more problematic in the General’s argument. The truth is that there is zero chance of Russia attacking the UK. Nothing Putin has ever said or done has evinced the slightest desire to attack the UK. Now I am, as you know, no fan of Putin and I believe he does hanker after annexing to Russia those parts of the former Soviet Union outside Russia which are Russian speaking. But he probably does not see even that limited aim as completely achievable, and indeed in ten years he has reintegrated just Crimea and Ossetia. The UK, being neither Russian speaking nor part of the former Soviet Union, is in no danger of being attacked by Russia at all.

      Nor has the UK ever been in danger of attack by Russia. Yet extraordinarily, as discussed in my new book Sikunder Burnes, Russophobia and an explicit fear of Russian attack has been an important part of British politics, actually driving policy, for 200 years. In that period Britain has invaded Russia during the Crimean War, and as early as 1834 David Urquhart, First Secretary at the British Embassy in Constantinople, was organising a committee of “mujahideen” – as he called them – and running guns to Chechnya and Dagestan for the jihadists to fight Russia. In 1917 British troops again invaded Russia, landing at Archangel and Murmansk.

    • Russia Has No Partners In The West

      The Russian government is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Russian government keeps making agreements with Washington, and Washington keeps breaking them.

      This latest exercise in what Einstein defined as insanity is the latest Syrian cease fire agreement. Washington broke the agreement by sending the US Air Force to bomb Syrian troop positions, killing 62 Syrian soldiers and wounding 100, thus clearing the way for ISIS to renew the attack.

    • Russian Hardliners Gain from US Putin-Bashing

      The harsh U.S. rhetoric denouncing Russian President Putin is having the adverse effect in Russia of strengthening hard-line “populists” in upcoming elections who think Putin’s ruling party is too soft on the U.S., reports Gilbert Doctorow.

    • Russian Alt-Right Candidate Hopes to Get Elected by Loving Trump and Hating Clinton

      Ahead of this weekend’s elections in Russia to choose deputies for the Duma, the lower house of parliament, one young candidate for an ultra-nationalist party is going all out to associate herself with three politicians revered by the Russian version of the alt-right: Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen, and Donald Trump.

      Maria Katasonova, 21, who is running to represent the nationalist party Rodina, or Motherland, made her name as a leader of the National Liberation Movement, a far-right group that supports Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and attacks anti-Putin dissidents for lacking in patriotism.

      This week, she shared an image of herself on social networks, wearing camouflage and saluting alongside painted images of Putin, Le Pen, and Trump in their younger days. The poster was captioned “Nobody but us!,” which is the motto of the Russian Airborne Troop.

    • “Everything That We Have Done Since 9/11 Is Wrong”

      “Everything that we have done since 9/11 is wrong,” says retired Army JAG Major Todd Pierce, whose personal journey to that conclusion helps explain why so many ex-military people are growing disillusioned with U.S. foreign policy.

      Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss was curious how Todd Pierce, a military man from Minnesota, became a critic of what looks increasingly like America’s permanent warfare, so Weiss interviewed Pierce in a two-part in-depth interview, which we received permission to republish at Consortiumnews.com. (This is Part One)

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • DAPL Protest Gains Allies Despite Censorship

      The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continues to be a fixture in the news cycle and in everyone’s social media feed even after the work was ordered to a temporary halt September 9 by multiple federal agencies in a prescribed area. An article in the progressive community from Common Dreams began circulating that very same day and they did a decent job of explaining the DAPL and the protest process against it.

    • Alabama Oil Spill Foretells Dakota Pipeline Future

      Alabama Governor Robert Bentley declared the state of emergency following a pipeline break from last week in Shelby County near the state’s biggest city, Birmingham. The Environmental Protection Agency believes that the spillage is contained within the original leak area and says that local residents are not at risk.

      The spill site is close to the Cahaba River, where a number of endangered species live. The EPA said that it was unlikely that the spill would reach the river. Local residents however were concerned that the spill would affect their water supplies.

      The operating company Colonial shut down the major line which carries gasoline from refineries in Houston to the east coast, terminating in new York. The pipeline carries around 1.3 million barrels per day.

      The company has not yet given an explanation for the leak and Colonial Pipeline spokesman did not say how much gasoline was usually provided to Alabama service stations because it was confidential company information.

    • ICC: Environmental destruction is a crime against humanity

      The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced this week that it would start considering cases involving environmental destruction, misuse of land, and land grabs as crimes against humanity.

      The move reflects a broadening perspective on what constitutes a war crime, as seen in recent prosecutions for cultural devastation and coral reef destruction.

      “They aren’t changing the definitions of crimes or expanding the law or creating new crimes or anything like that,” Alex Whiting, a professor at Harvard Law School, told the Washington Post. “They are paying particular attention to crimes that are committed by use of environmental impact or have consequences of environmental impact.”

    • California’s drought could continue for centuries

      If you were hoping for a respite from California’s drought (on its fifth year), you may be disappointed. That’s because, according to a new study out of UCLA, published in the journal Nature, California’s drought could continue for centuries.

      “The conditions we’ve had for the past five years – very very high temperatures and relatively low precipitation – that could well be the way that we’ll see out the 21st century,” said Glen MacDonald, who authored the study. “Our research suggests that in the past when we’ve had prolonged periods of warm temperatures, like we’re experiencing in the 21st century. They tend to coincide in California with long periods of aridity.”

      In the past, those long periods of warming and drying were associated with natural phenomenon including changes in the Earth’s orbit, in volcanic activity and in the output of the sun. But there’s a new factor influencing temperature levels around the planet: greenhouse gases.

      MacDonald said that according to current models, the increase in greenhouse gasses is contributing 15 to 25 percent to the severity of the current drought in California.

  • Finance

    • Mass Protests Against TTIP, CETA In Germany

      In Berlin, Hamburg and five other cities in Germany, some 320,000 citizens today protested against the adoption of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    • Hundreds of thousands take to streets in Germany against Obama-backed trade deal

      Hundreds of thousands of Germans took to the streets Saturday, in protest of pending trade deals with the United States and Canada.

      The deals in question are the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and the European Union and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) for the Canadian-EU relationship. Neither free trade agreement has been ratified yet, but popular outcry has been growing for the last few years.

      The demonstrations took place in seven cities throughout Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart. Organizers told CNBC that the official estimate is 320,000 demonstrators across Germany.

      In Berlin, where discussions of trade policy are frequently overheard in cafes and most available surfaces are plastered in posters and stickers against the deals, the largest demonstration of the day took place with about 70,000 attendees, according to the organizers.

    • PayPal wants to become your daily money habit

      PayPal has been annoying some of its customers for years.

      Instead of making it easy for folks to pay online using their credit cards, the digital payments company directs them to buy stuff with their PayPal balances and checking accounts. The end result has been both profitable for PayPal (because it avoids credit card networks’ higher fees) and a pain for shoppers looking to rack up points or frequent flyer miles.

      PayPal is finally changing that, thanks to new deals with Visa and Mastercard it signed earlier this year. On Thursday, PayPal took the chance to tout those agreements, saying its US customers will be able set a default way to pay — whether credit card, debit card or bank account — starting this month. The change will be implemented globally beginning early next year.

    • Warren: Next Administration Should Probe, Maybe Jail Wall Street Bankers

      Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is marking the eighth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy with a new push to investigate—and potentially jail—more than two dozen individuals and corporations who were referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a government-appointed group that investigated the roots of the 2008 financial crisis. None was ever prosecuted. The names of the referrals—including former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, who held a top job at Citigroup, and Citigroup’s former CEO, Charles Prince—became public earlier this year when the National Archives released new documents.

      In a letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general, Warren calls the lack of prosecutions “outrageous and baffling” and asks the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to investigate why no charges were brought. “[T]he DOJ record of action on these individuals, nearly six years after DOJ received the referrals, is abysmal,” she writes.

      In a separate letter, to FBI Director James Comey, Warren asks for the immediate release of “any and all materials related to the FBI’s investigations and prosecutorial decisions regarding these referrals.” This disclosure is warranted, she writes, by Comey’s decision in July to release a lengthy and critical statement that included previously undisclosed information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server—even though Comey decided not to recommend that charges be brought against Clinton. “Your recent actions with regard to the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” Warren writes, “provide a clear precedent for releasing additional information about the investigation of the parties responsible for the financial crisis.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Intelligence agencies access private Telegram messages of most notorious Isil recruiter, prompting arrest of 10 teenagers in one month

      Firstly, the emphasis on using “remote control.” The fundamental problem for ISIS these days is that they can’t infiltrate Europe easily. If they recruit someone who then travels to Syria and attempts to return to Europe, that person will be captured.

    • RAF base used to talk to Assad over Syria truce [Ed: British media paints GCHQ as a peace maker]
    • GCHQ/NCSC Plans To Build ‘Great Firewall Of Britain’

      National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) / GCHQ proposal to introduce an automated threat detection system – (the ‘Great Firewall of Britain’?) to protect our critical networks and government organisations from low-risk, high-volume attack, Piers Wilson, Advanced Threat Detection Specialist at Huntsman Security commented below. Piers says this initiative is a welcome step in the right direction given the recent surge in breaches being reported, but it will do very little to solve the more serious cyber-problems.

    • ‘Snowden’ is a simplistic, but important, reminder of NSA spying
    • A Former NSA Deputy Director Weighs In On ‘Snowden’

      Chris Inglis allows that Snowden the movie will shape public perceptions about Snowden the man. It could shift public opinion on who’s the hero and who’s the villain, in the ongoing debate over the top-secret files Snowden leaked — and what damage they may have caused.

    • In ‘Snowden,’ the national security whistleblower gets the Oliver Stone treatment

      At first glance, viewers may think they know what they’re going to get with “Snowden,” a movie about national security whistleblower Edward Snowden directed by Oliver Stone. One of America’s most polarizing filmmakers turning his sights on one of America’s most polarizing figures? Let the bomb-throwing begin.

      Not so fast. “Snowden,” which Stone and co-writer Kieran Fitzgerald adapted from two books about the real-life figure, turns out to be a relatively straightforward, sober-minded, even somewhat restrained film, a far more classical and conventional piece of filmmaking than the kaleidoscopic, conspiracy-minded “JFK” or the Shakespearean gloom of “Nixon.” That stylistic choice subtracts nothing by way of urgency or timeliness: “Snowden” is a superbly crafted, engrossing film that, while making no bones about admiring the central character’s actions and motivations, doesn’t go to visual or psychological extremes to make its case.

      That case, in brief, is that Snowden is an idealist and a patriot, a reluctant activist whose disillusionment with the government he worked for finally overtook his reflexive loyalty. “Snowden” is unlikely to sway those who already consider Edward Snowden a traitor, an opportunist or a useful pawn in a new, Putin-era Cold War. (He still lives in Russia after having his U.S. passport revoked at the Moscow airport in 2013.) But the film reminds viewers of the issues at stake — having to do with security, civil liberties and democratic consent — which feel more urgently necessary than wild-eyed or alarmist, especially as we face a crucial political transition. American citizens may feel that trading their privacy for safety is worth it right now, but in the wrong hands, the capabilities of our modern-day security state might be paving the way for what one character describes as “turnkey tyranny.”

    • The World Needs More Edward Snowden’s

      Edward Snowden has changed the world. From Kenya to Pakistan to Mexico, human rights defenders are more empowered than ever before to fight back against governments that use surveillance technology to control and often crush dissent.

      Thanks to Edward Snowden’s act of courage, we know more than ever before about how and why unchecked surveillance is a threat to human rights. Digital security has become a basic practice for journalists and human rights defenders who need to carry out their sensitive work without exposing themselves to unlawful government surveillance. Activists are challenging dangerous new surveillance laws in countries around the world.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Nationwide Prison Strike Mostly Ignored by National Media
    • Noelle Hanrahan on National Prison Strike, William Black on Wells Fargo Fraud

      This week on CounterSpin: You wouldn’t know it from corporate press, but what may have been the largest prison labor strike in the country’s history happened September 9, after months of organizing.

    • Unseemly Competition for Israel’s Blessing

      President Obama’s record $38 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel shows neither U.S. major party wants to be “out-Israeled.” The Trump campaign endorses an Israeli claim that Palestinians want to ethnically cleanse Jews, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

    • Benjamin Netanyahu Added 100,000 Settlers. Now the U.S. Rewards Him With Largest Aid Package Ever.

      The Obama administration on Wednesday signed a formal memorandum of understanding that would increase the annual military aid package to Israel, rewarding it with a record $38 billion over 10 years.

      This increase in aid comes as the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government, which took office in 2008, has vastly expanded the network of illegal settlements deep into the Palestinian territories in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

      Shortly before Netanyahu took office, 474,000 Israeli settlers were living in these territories. By the end of 2014, the last time the Israeli government released comprehensive statistics on the matter, that number had grown to around 570,000.

    • Elizabeth Warren Asks Newly Chatty FBI Director to Explain Why DOJ Didn’t Prosecute Banksters

      Like a lot of other Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to know why the Department of Justice hasn’t criminally prosecuted any of the major players responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.

      On Thursday, Warren released two highly provocative letters demanding some explanations. One is to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting a review of how federal law enforcement managed to whiff on all 11 substantive criminal referrals submitted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown.

      The other is to FBI Director James Comey, asking him to release all FBI investigations and deliberations related to those referrals. The FBI typically doesn’t release investigative details about cases that the DOJ chooses not to pursue, but Warren pointed out that in releasing information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in July, Comey had pretty much shattered that precedent and set a new one.

    • Colleagues Mostly Fail to Rally for Amy Goodman, Threatened With Jail for Journalism

      When Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman (9/4/16) asked security guards at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction project why they were using pepper spray and dogs to attack Native American protesters, the guards soon backed off, taking their mace and attack dogs with them. It was a dramatic lesson in how journalism can defend the rights of citizens.

      The state of North Dakota had a response to this kind of journalism: It issued a warrant for Goodman’s arrest, charging her with criminal trespassing. This is an extraordinary action; Jack McDonald, a lawyer for the North Dakota Newspaper Association and for the Bismarck Tribune, told the Tribune that in 40 years of doing media law in the state he’s never heard of a reporter being charged with trespassing (9/15/16).

    • Sing in Unison, David Brooks Tells Black Athletes

      Brooks’ main gripe is that we’ve become too unpatriotic, noting that the percentage of Americans who feel “extremely proud” of their country has fallen since 2003—around the time the US was invading Iraq. He pins this (as he always does) on some ineffable cultural failure rather than material reality.

      The revelation that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were a lie, two never-ending wars, an economy that crashed and bailed out the richest while leaving the poor to fend for themselves, Katrina, the rise of the incarceration state, police shootings: These aren’t what caused a dip in national pride. No, it must be a moral failing on the part of ungrateful Americans, namely, in this case, uppity blacks who have decided of late to not sit idly by while they’re gunned down with impunity.

      Brooks, with a straight face, puts more blame on Ta-Nehisi Coates for a lack of black patriotism than the reality of rising inequality and pervasive racism. One could easily call it a cynical attempt at gaslighting, if one thought for a second the actual audience were the young African-Americans the piece is ostensibly for, and not the centrist elites whose white guilt Brooks ameliorates for a living.

    • Mr Murray Goes to Washington

      After a 16,000 person petition to the State Department and letter writing and lobbying including by Jeremy Corbyn, Roger Waters and Daniel Ellsberg, I have been granted a 10 year US visa. Following my initial refusal of ESTA clearance and the offer then withdrawal of help from the US Embassy in London, it is only fair to say that the staff of the US Consulate in Belfast could not have been more pleasant and helpful, and my “interview” lasted thirty seconds. It is however a disgrace and an insult that the US issues visas in Belfast but not Edinburgh.

      I will be going to Washington in a week to have the great honour to chair the presentation of the Sam Adams Award to John Kiriakou – the CIA agent who blew the whistle on waterboarding, and was jailed for it as part of the disgraceful Obama/Clinton War on Whistleblowers.

      I shall also be speaking at the World Beyond War conference at American University, on the subject of peaceful conflict resolution. There are many really interesting speakers I am very much looking forward to hearing. I am sorry to say that the conference is completely sold out so it is now too late to register. But much of it will be livestreamed by the Real News.

    • Retiring NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Claims Police Will Reform From Within. Why Haven’t They?

      On his last day at the helm of the largest police force in the country, Commissioner William Bratton ended his 46 years as a police officer with a parting thought: Police reform will happen from within.

      His words, coming at a time when the public’s confidence in the police officers sworn to protect them is at a historic low and advocates in New York and across the country are demanding faster, more radical transformations to police departments, couldn’t have sounded more tone-deaf and reactionary.

    • US Media Ignores CIA Cover-up on Torture

      A group of U.S. intelligence veterans chastises the mainstream U.S. media for virtually ignoring a British newspaper’s account of the gripping inside story on how the CIA tried to block the U.S. Senate’s torture investigation.

    • The FBI’s Own Watchdog Signs Off on Agents Impersonating Journalists

      A new report from the Justice Department’s inspector general concludes that FBI agents can go undercover and impersonate journalists, as long as they sufficiently consult FBI headquarters.

      The inspector general’s office investigated a case from 2007 where undercover FBI agents impersonated a journalist from the Associated Press. FBI regulations at the time “did not prohibit agents from impersonating journalists or from posing as a member of a news organization,” the report concluded.

      And such tactics would still be permissible today under new guidelines issued in 2016, the report said, as long as agents sought various high-level approvals.

    • Jay Z Slams America’s Failed ‘War on Drugs,’ Racist Mass Incarceration Racket

      The issue of mass incarceration is making its way up the list of the nation’s most pressing sociopolitical crises, thanks to the efforts of activists from both outside and, as demonstrated en masse with the Sept. 9 prison strike, inside America’s jails.

      Meanwhile, it’s been 45 years since Richard Nixon launched the so-called “war on drugs,” and, as writer and narrator Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay Z, points out in this animated clip published by The New York Times, rates of drug use haven’t improved in the U.S., and black and brown Americans continue to be disproportionately penalized by drug laws. It’s all interconnected.

    • NYPD: We Don’t Know How Much Cash We Seize, And Our Computers Would Crash If We Tried To Find Out

      NYPD brass testified before the New York City Council Thursday that it has no idea how much money it seizes from citizens each year using civil asset forfeiture, and an attempt to collect the data would crash its computer systems, The Village Voice reported.

  • DRM

    • The World Wide Web Consortium is being followed by protests

      Next week, demonstrators will gather at a meeting of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in Lisbon, Portugal. They will make the same demand that we made at the last major W3C meeting in March: stop streaming companies from inserting Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the HTML standard on which the Web is based.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Torrent Site Founder Faces Outrageous Damages Claim, Lawyer Says

        A lawyer who represents Julian Assange and took part in The Pirate Bay trial says a file-sharing case he’s currently involved in has the most unreasonable claims for damages he’s ever seen. Per E. Samuelson says the case against the founder of torrent site SwePiracy contains a claim for more than $3m in damages, for a single movie.

      • Elsevier Wants CloudFlare to Expose Pirate Sites

        In the ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit against alleged pirate sites Sci-Hub, Libgen and Bookfi, academic publisher Elsevier wants help from Cloudflare. The publisher informs the court that a subpoena against Cloudflare is needed to expose the personal details of the sites’ owners.

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