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10.03.16

Links 3/10/2016: Linux 4.8 Released, Steam Survey Shows GNU/Linux Growth

Posted in News Roundup at 3:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • The Bug Report

      So I get a bug report. It is on GNU/Linux, of course, because that is the only ecosystem that sends bug reports.

      So first I boot up my work box (Computer #1, Windows 10) which is the one that has the sweet monitor and try to VPN to the Server box (Computer #2, GNU/Linux Fedora Server, amd64). But, of course, at one point I’d stripped all the non-console-mode functionality off of the server, so VPN is a fail. I could have done the fix easily via ssh and emacs-nox, but, I figure it will only take a minute to get a graphical environment up and running.

      There’s a GNU Linux VM running on VirtualBox on the work box, but, I get distracted from the actual problem when I can’t figure out how to get VirtualBox to create a large screen. Totally not a problem, but, I get obsessed with this minutiae and can’t let it go. I waste time tweaking the virtual graphics card settings with no effect.

    • Doom for Windows [Ed: by the creator of DirectX, who isn't pleased with Windows Update.]

      Windows failed to make the leap to new business models and new distributed computing paradigms such that now in the year 2016 Microsoft is on the cutting edge of adopting Apple’s 2007 business model for Windows 10. Here’s why Microsoft has reached the end of its road. They lost the mobile market, they lost search, they’re struggling to compete in the cloud and all they have left is a legacy OS with an architecture from the days of personal computing when connectivity was something only nerds and IT managers worried about. Now the idea of personal computer security is collapsing. It is readily becoming apparent that NOTHING can stop malicious attackers from eventually penetrating the best most advanced security measures of any personal device. Furthermore, as the Edward Snowden scandal has made plain to us all, if malicious attackers aren’t breaking into our computers, then the worlds governments are requiring companies to make their products vulnerable to intrusion. The idea that a lowly personal computer behind a frail consumer router… made in China… stands any chance of resisting serious hacking attempts is a fast fading dream.

      Back when I was making online game publishing DRM (Digital Rights Management) Solutions we measured the time it took Chinese and Russian hackers to crack our best latest security attempts in weeks. Today it can take a matter of days or hours.

      The Windows Operating system has become vast, bloated and cumbersome to maintain. It faces constant security bombardment by the entire worlds connected hacker community and government security agencies. The volume of patches it needs to maintain even the most rudimentary pretext of stability and security requires a constant and overwhelming flood of Windows updates. The seriousness of the situation and the sheer flood of data Microsoft is constantly sending to our computers is staggering. I wanted to show a screen shot of my HUGE Windows Update history but mysteriously, after this most recent disastrous update… Microsoft has seen fit to clear my machine of that information…

    • No Free Upgrades, No New Users: Windows 10 Declines for First Time Since Launch [Ed: based on Microsoft-connected firm]

      The latest batch of market share statistics provided by Net Applications for desktop operating systems puts Windows 10 on the second position in the rankings, but it also reveals something totally unexpected that happened last month.

      Windows 10 has actually lost market share last month despite the fact that everyone expected the operating system to continue its growth, which could be a sign that Microsoft’s 1 billion devices running Windows 10 goal might take a bit longer to become reality.

  • Kernel Space

    • You can crash Linux Systemd with a single Tweet

      System administrator Andrew Ayer has discovered a potentially critical bug in systemd which can bring a vulnerable Linux server to its knees with a single command line.”After running this command, PID 1 is hung in the pause system call. You can no longer start and stop daemons.

    • How to reignite a flamewar in one tweet (and I still don’t get it)
    • Multiple Linux Distributions Affected By Crippling Bug In Systemd

      System administrator Andrew Ayer has discovered a potentially critical bug in systemd which can bring a vulnerable Linux server to its knees with one command. “After running this command, PID 1 is hung in the pause system call. You can no longer start and stop daemons. inetd-style services no longer accept connections. You cannot cleanly reboot the system.” According to the bug report, Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS are among the distros susceptible to various levels of resource exhaustion. The bug, which has existed for more than two years, does not require root access to exploit.

    • Lennart’s Look At Systemd This Year, What’s Going To Happen In 2017

      We have already covered some of the interesting talks from this year’s systemd conference including how to use it for application sandboxing, a new wireless daemon coming to replace wpa_supplicant, and BUS1 is on the way. But saving the best for last in another presentation to watch this weekend for those interested in systemd: Lennart Poettering’s state of the union address for systemd and a look ahead to 2017 features.

      Lennart’s systemd presentation covered recent improvements/features to systemd as well as a look ahead at some of the ideas baking for future releases. A lot of emphasis was placed on Portable Services for systemd and sandboxing of applications. Some other future ideas are having a Dbus daemon within systemd, more work on containers support, and a variety of new tunables coming. Some of the future options coming include ProtectKernelLogs, ProtectClock, ProtectKernelModules, ProtectMount, ProtectKeyRing, DataDirectory, CacheDirectory, and RestrictNamespaces.

    • October Should Be Very Exciting For Linux Enthusiasts
    • Legends of Linux Part 1: Linus Torvalds

      AS PART of our visit to LinuxCon this week we’re going to ask five key players in the Linux story the same 10 questions to get an idea of where Linux has been, where it is and where it’s going.

      And who better to start with than Linus Torvalds, the often outspoken creator of Linux itself. Torvalds isn’t actually attending the celebrations this year, but was kind enough to chat to the INQUIRER by email.

    • Linux Kernel 4.8 Released By Linus Torvalds — Here Are The 10 Best Features
    • Linux Kernel 4.8 Officially Released, Merge Window for Kernel 4.9 Now Open

      Today, October 2, 2016, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one.

      Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate (RC) testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs. That’s right, the Linux 4.8 kernel series was one of those special ones that received that eighth Release Candidate.

    • Linux 4.8 Kernel Released

      The Linux 4.8 kernel is now officially available.

      Linus Torvalds tagged Linux 4.8.0 and kept the codename as “Psychotic Stoned Sheep.”

    • The Best Features Of The Linux 4.8 Kernel

      If all goes according to plan, the Linux 4.8 kernel will be officially released this afternoon by Linus Torvalds.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa May Move To A Date-Based Versioning System

        Beginning next year, Mesa developers so far appear favorable to moving towards a date-based versioning concept.

        Per the proposal laid out yesterday by AMD’s Marek Olšák, Mesa would move to a date-based version string. He explained, “2017 would start with 17.0, then 17.1, 17.2, 17.3 for following quarters of the year, respectively. 2018 would start with 18.0, then 18.1, 18.2, 18.3. The motivation is that you can easily tell when a specific Mesa version was released with an accuracy of 3 months.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MRecover 20.0 Data Recovery Live CD Is Now in Beta, Includes TestDisk 7.0

        4MLinux developer and project leader Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia today, October 2, 2016, about the release and immediate availability for download of the Beta pre-release version of the upcoming 4MRecover 20.0 Live CD.

        As you might know already, the 4MLinux 20.0 and 4MLinux Core 20.0 GNU/Linux distributions are in the works, which means that Zbigniew Konojacki is also preparing new versions of his other projects, including 4MRecover, a Live CD that can be used for data recovery independent of a computer operating system.

        Therefore, 4MRecover 20.0 Beta is based on the Beta release of the 4MLinux 20.0 operating system, which should be officially promoted to the stable channel on the first day of November 2016, and it ships, as usual, with the powerful TestDisk 7.0 data recovery and PhotoRec 7.0 image recovery software.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Gets Linux Kernel 4.7.5, openSSL 1.0.2j, and Firefox 49.0.1

        Today, October 2, 2016, Douglas DeMaio from the openSUSE project announced that the rolling release Tumbleweed distro received five new snapshots during the last week of September, which brought many goodies to users.

        As mentioned before, these new snapshots brought several updated components and applications for the openSUSE Tumbleweed operating system, which continually received the latest software releases a few days after they’re announced upstream. The most important one being the Linux 4.7.5 kernel.

        We’ve already reported last week that openSUSE Tumbleweed was the first stable GNU/Linux distribution to include the recently released GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, and the openSUSE team now reveals the fact that KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS is coming soon as well, along with Bash 4.4, Qt 5.7, Mono 4.6, and FreeType 2.7.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • DebEX KDE Live DVD Updated with KDE 4.14.2 and Plasma 5, Linux Kernel 4.8 RC8

          GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton informs us about the release of a new stable build of his Debian-based DebEX KDE Live DVD, which ships with the latest stable Linux kernel packages and up-to-date software components.

          Based on the Debian GNU/Linux 8.6 “Jessie” operating system, DebEX KDE Live DVD Build 161001 is out as a drop-in replacement to version 160604, but it looks like Arne Exton managed to implement the latest Release Candidate (RC) version of the just announced Linux 4.8 kernel, which should be out any moment now.

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 Reached End of Life, Upgrade to Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10 Now

          As reported last month, the Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 operating system was about to reach the end of its life on September 30, 2016, so today being October 2 means that you need to upgrade your system right now.

          Dubbed Atticus, Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 was announced approximately months ago, on the 14th of February, and it was entirely based on the Debian GNU/Linux 8.5 “Jessie” operating system, which means that is shipped with the long-term supported Linux 4.1.17 kernel and thes GNOME 3.18 desktop environment with GNOME Shell 3.18.3.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • CoursePad to Become Open Source

    Cornell’s most popular course scheduling website, CoursePad.me, became an open source platform on Github last Thursday after enjoying two years of popularity among students, according to Jingsi Zhu ’16, the website’s sole developer.

    Zhu explained that he chose to open source his website — or make its code freely available for modification and redistribution — after he graduated last semester and realized that he would need to devote more time to his work than to CoursePad.

  • Yahoo open sources its NSFW-detecting neural network

    Yahoo has open-sourced its NSFW (not suitable/safe for work) detecting neural network, allowing developers to work towards improving the algorithm. Jay Mahadeokar and Gerry Pesavento of Yahoo explained in a blogpost that defining NSFW material on Internet is subjective and identifying such images is non-trivial. “Since images and user-generated content dominate the Internet today, filtering NSFW images becomes an essential component of Web and mobile applications,” they said.

  • Open source drives companies to change hiring and development

    “Do I want to play with this open source thing?” This was the question most people asked 20 years ago when I started reviewing PostgreSQL bug fixes and assembling like-minded database colleagues to help start the PostgreSQL Global Development Group.

    It’s mind-blowing to see how much things have changed.

    Today, not becoming a follower of some open source community almost means you’re cobaling yourself—excluding yourself from the reality of how organizations use open software today. As engineers, we always want to keep up with the latest technologies not only to satisfy our desire to create and innovate, but also to remain marketable in a business world where products and technology constantly evolve. What’s happened with the open source movement is different.

    Open source today is not just about the products and technologies that companies use, but rather a whole rainbow of adjustments that have penetrated the corporate culture beyond the engineering department.

    I heard some of the best examples of this during a discussion for data industry leaders at the forefront of open source software innovation this summer. The event was co-hosted by EnterpriseDB (EDB) and MIT Technology Review. We shared our experiences of data transformation with Postgres, NoSQL, and other solutions, and really learned a lot from each other.

  • Security analytics platform now an Apache open source project

    Infosec pros have been hoping for some time that big data and analytics can be harnessed to improve cyber security. A fledgling open source project with genes from Intel and Cloudera is another step in that direction.

  • Events

    • Indian language localization community meets in New Delhi

      Localization is one of the less glamorous aspects of computing. Despite the fact that less than 6% of the world speaks English, a majority of projects don’t feel inclined to accommodate the rest of the population. One of the primary reasons for sticking to English is the steep learning curve and the lack of standardization in various aspects of the localization process.

      The FUEL Project organized the GILT conference in New Delhi, India September 24-25 to highlight and address these issues. The annual event showcases the efforts of language technology organizations and volunteer communities, but this year’s also gave a platform for non-technical users to voice their concerns. The Indic computing developers were joined by academics, reporters, language researchers, publishers, and entrepreneurs who rely on localization tools to connect and interact with audiences in the various regional languages in India. The brainstorming between the two groups, both on and off the stage, was one of the highlights of the conference.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis and Hackers Agree : Open Hardware Rules

        They say necessity is the mother of invention and it also happens to be responsible for transforming Nicole Curtis from a waitress/real estate agent into the TV star of Rehab Addicts. Much like the dozens of high-tech makers highlighted in Thomas’s book Making Makers, Nicole’s early challenge of “I had no money” galvanized her to find ways to turn beat up old houses and trash into high-value treasures.

        Her approach has been enormously successful. Nicole routinely shows her Rehab Addict fans how to remodel their homes and save a fortune. For example, she redid a bathroom by upcycling what others discarded for a tenth of the cost of putting in a new bathroom. Her videos provide the how tos for anyone with similar problems -they represent the “source code” to rehab a house.

Leftovers

  • French man walks into Apple store and smashes all of its iPhones, shouting ‘this is happening!’

    A man has been caught on camera smashing thousands of pounds worth of new iPhones on display in an Apple shop.

    The unidentified man, who is wearing dark glasses and carrying a steel ball used for boules, methodically removes display phones from their upright holders, and smashes the ball down onto the phones’ Retina HD displays.

    Footage shows him destroying at least 12 iPhones at the shop in Dijon, before he is challenged by security.

  • EU plans to give free Interrail pass to every 18-year-old in Europe on their birthday

    Plans to give all teenagers living in the EU a free Interrail pass on their 18th birthday are to be debated at the European Parliament.

    The proposal aims to give young Europeans a “sense of belonging” to the continent and comes after the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker called for greater cooperation within the EU during his State of the Union speech in Strasbourg.

  • Revealed: How one Amazon Kindle scam made millions of dollars

    He spent a little over 10 years working as a software development engineer for various companies, including Microsoft. He went on to co-found a startup, Alteroxity, which claims to help authors publish ebooks that are already “done for you” — that includes the writing, the creation, the publishing, and even “dozens of honest positive reviews”.

  • Science

    • 80% of data in Chinese clinical trials have been fabricated

      A Chinese government investigation has revealed that more than 80 percent of the data used in clinical trials of new pharmaceutical drugs have been “fabricated”.

      The report uncovered fraudulent behaviour at almost every level, and showed that some pharmaceutical companies had hidden or deleted records of potentially adverse side effects, and tampered with data that didn’t meet their desired outcomes.

      In light of the findings, 80 percent of current drug applications, which were awaiting approval for mass production, have now been cancelled.

      The investigation, led by the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), looked at data from 1,622 clinical trials for new pharmaceutical drugs currently awaiting approval. The applications in question were all for Western medicine, not traditional Chinese medicine.

    • Vint Cerf: Modern Media Are Made for Forgetting

      Vint Cerf, the living legend largely responsible for the development of the Internet protocol suite, has some concerns about history. In his current column for the Communications of the ACM, Cerf worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document—to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from. Magnetic films do not quite have the staying power as clay tablets.

      It’s more than a then-vs-now thing. It’s a progression through history. Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs.

      At stake, according to Cerf, is “the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content. The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won’t we need to do the same for our modern content?”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • This Is The Scariest Thing About Health Care In America Today

      I got an email from my husband’s nephrologist the other day that said: “I honestly do not think he will recover.” Before you gasp in horror and go to your dark place, just know that he and I have made our peace with this information. Kidney dialysis is a game-changer, not a game-ender.

      No, it actually wasn’t that particular sentence at all that made my heart sink. The Titanic that overcame me was when his doctor referred him to a vascular surgeon who is not within our insurance company’s network.

      The horrifying reality of my husband’s month-long hospitalization early this summer is that many of the doctors who paraded through his room and stayed for all of about 90 seconds were also out-of-network. And I have the bills to prove it.

      “Well gee, she probably has a cheap-o plan or should be blaming Obamacare,” you may be thinking. You’d be wrong. I work for a large company and we are covered by my large company’s group plan. We bought the best ― and most expensive ― plan offered, one that allowed us to go see any out-of-network doctor if we really wanted to. But somehow, during a hospitalization, the “if we really wanted to” part leaves your control.

    • In Year Since Water Crisis Began, Flint Struggles In Pipe Replacement Efforts

      It’s been one year since health officials in Michigan warned people in the city of Flint to stop drinking the tap water after a research team from Virginia Tech discovered elevated lead levels.

    • In Major Settlement, States Gang Up to Strike Deal with Soldier-Suing Company

      A coalition of attorneys general representing 49 states and the District of Columbia announced a settlement today with USA Discounters, requiring it to pay $40 million in penalties and wipe out more than $95 million in debt for its past customers.

      When ProPublica published its investigation of USA Discounters in 2014, the company was operating two dozen stores, most of them right outside the country’s largest military installations.

      To buy the marked-up furniture, appliances, and electronics the company offered in its showrooms, service members took out loans laden with high interest rates and extra fees. Soldiers who couldn’t pay were then subject to the company’s collection machine, which filed tens of thousands of collection suits in a local Virginia court regardless of wherever in the world the soldier might be.

      Late in 2014, the company underwent a rebranding, dubbing itself “USA Living.” Then, last year, it began to close its stores and later filed for bankruptcy.

  • Security

    • Your next DDoS attack, brought to you courtesy of the IoT

      The internet is reeling under the onslaught of unprecedented denial-of-service attacks, the sort we normally associate with powerful adversaries like international criminal syndicates and major governments, but these attacks are commanded by penny-ante crooks who are able to harness millions of low-powered, insecure Internet of Things devices like smart lightbulbs to do their bidding.

      Symantec reports on the rising trend in IoT malware, which attack systems that “may not include any advanced security features” and are “designed to be plugged in and forgotten” without “any firmware updates” so that “infection of such devices may go unnoticed by the owner.”

      The USA and China are the two countries where people own most of these things, so they’re also where most of the malicious traffic originates. Symantec ran a honeypot that recorded attempts to login and compromise a system that presented as a vulnerable IoT device, and found that the most common login attempts used the default passwords of “root” and “admin,” suggesting that malware authors have discovered that IoT owners rarely change these defaults. Other common logins include “123456,” “test” and “oracle.”

    • Meet Linux.Mirai Trojan, a DDoS nightmare
    • Linux.Mirai Trojan Carries Out DDoS Attacks
    • Fears of a hacked election may keep 1 out of every 5 voters home, says report

      Recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and election databases have increased fears that cybercriminals will try to interfere with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

      Concerns leading up to election day on November 8 could have a real impact on voter turnout, according to a study from cybersecurity firm Carbon Black. More than one in five registered U.S. voters may stay home on election day because of fears about cybersecurity and vote tampering, the study — an online survey of 700 registered voters aged 18-54 — found.

    • Hostile Web Sites

      I was asked whether it would be safe to open a link in a spam message with wget. So here are some thoughts about wget security and web browser security in general.

    • Bug Bounty Hunters Can Earn $1.5 Million For A Successful Jailbreak Of iOS 10
    • How To Ensure Trustworthy, Open Source Elections [Ed: This reminds us Microsoft must be kicked out of election process [1, 2]

      A strong democracy hinges not only on the right to vote but also on trustworthy elections and voting systems. Reports that Russia or others may seek to impact the upcoming U.S. presidential election—most recently, FBI evidence that foreign hackers targeted voter databases in Arizona and Illinois—has brought simmering concerns over the legitimacy of election results to a boil.

    • Source Code for IoT Botnet ‘Mirai’ Released

      The source code that powers the “Internet of Things” (IoT) botnet responsible for launching the historically large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against KrebsOnSecurity last month has been publicly released, virtually guaranteeing that the Internet will soon be flooded with attacks from many new botnets powered by insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders and other easily hackable devices.

      The leak of the source code was announced Friday on the English-language hacking community Hackforums. The malware, dubbed “Mirai,” spreads to vulnerable devices by continuously scanning the Internet for IoT systems protected by factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Pentagon Paid for Fake ‘Al Qaeda’ Videos

      The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

      Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.

      The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking U.S. military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside.

      Bell Pottinger’s former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which has worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy documents.”

      Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.

    • As Brazil’s New Ruler Admits Lie Behind Impeachment, US Press Closes Eyes

      The Intercept‘s Inacio Vieira notes that the economic plan that Rousseff refused to implement called for widespread cuts to social programs and privatization, a radically different agenda from the one approved by the 54.5 million Brazilian voters who gave Rousseff’s Workers’ Party its fourth electoral victory in 2014.

      But Temer’s remarkable confession was not seen as newsworthy by virtually anyone in US corporate media—though the New York Times (9/19/16) did report on the speech by Temer to the United Nations a few days earlier in which he insisted in reference to the impeachment, “Everything happened with absolute respect for the constitutional order.”

    • When Is Direct Military Intervention Not Direct Military Intervention?

      “President Obama has long refused to approve direct military intervention in Syria,” the New York Times asserted in an editorial (9/29/16) about “Vladimir Putin’s Outlaw State.”

      That’s a peculiar thing to say, given that the Times regularly covers the United States’ ongoing direct military intervention in Syria. Since 2014, according to official Pentagon figures, the US has carried out 5,337 airstrikes in Syria. According to the monitoring group Airwars, these airstrikes (along with a few hundred strikes by US allies) have likely killed between 818 and 1,229 Syrian civilians.

      Nor is direct US military intervention in Syria limited to aerial attacks. In May 2015, the New York Times (5/16/15) reported on a combat raid by US Delta Force commandos in eastern Syria. Later that year, the Times (10/30/15) observed that President Barack Obama had announced he was sending (in the paper’s words) “several dozen” special forces troops on an “open-ended mission” inside Syria.

    • It’s Personal Now: Apologizing to My Daughter for the Last 15 Years of War

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      I recently sent my last kid off for her senior year of college. There are rituals to these things, and because dad-confessions are not among them, I just carried the boxes and kept quiet.

      But what I really wanted to say to her — rather than see you later, call this weekend, do you need money? — was: I’m sorry.

      Like all parents in these situations, I was thinking about her future. And like all of America, in that future she won’t be able to escape what is now encompassed by the word “terrorism.”

    • Bring Back The Cold War

      Pundits have declared a “New Cold War.” If only!

    • Colombia’s Santos, FARC scramble to revive peace after shock vote

      Colombia’s government and Marxist FARC guerrillas will scramble on Monday to revive a plan to end their 52-year war after voters rejected the hard-negotiated deal as too lenient on the rebels in a shock result that plunged the nation into uncertainty.

      Putting on a brave face after a major political defeat, President Juan Manuel Santos offered hope to those who backed his four-year peace negotiation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Cuba.

      Latin America’s longest conflict has killed 220,000 people.

      “I will not give up, I will keep seeking peace until the last minute of my term,” he said moments after losing Sunday’s plebiscite to those who want a re-negotiation of the deal or an obliteration of the FARC on the battlefield.

    • Colombia’s Brexit moment as politicians misjudge popular anger at Farc amnesty

      Colombia’s rejection of a peace deal with Farc rebels to end 52 years of war does not mean an automatic return to hostilities, but it makes the possibility of peace, which had looked close enough to touch, once again a faraway prospect.

      All the pieces were in place to begin implementation of a deal that was four years in the making after talks between government and Farc negotiators in Havana. The Farc had ratified the accord at a national conference, President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timochenko had signed it in a public ceremony and UN monitors were ready to oversee the bringing together and disarmament of the Farc’s 5,800 fighters. The Nobel committee was reportedly considering a peace prize for Colombia.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bees added to US endangered species list for the first time

      Seven types of bees once found in abundance in Hawaii have become the first bees to be added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

      The listing decision, published on Friday in the Federal Register, classifies seven varieties of yellow-faced or masked bees as endangered, due to such factors as habitat loss, wildfires and the invasion of non-native plants and insects.

      The bees, so named for yellow-to-white facial markings, once crowded Hawaii and Maui but recent surveys found their populations have plunged in the same fashion as other types of wild bees – and some commercial ones – elsewhere in the United States, federal wildlife managers said.

  • Finance

    • How Donald Trump could have – legally – paid no taxes

      Trump claimed a $916 million loss in 1995, according to a few pages from his state tax returns obtained by the New York Times.

      Because of how Trump structured his businesses and because of the vast array of tax breaks available to real estate developers, it’s a loss that he could have used to reduce the income tax he might otherwise owe.

      CNN has not independently verified the authenticity of the documents published by the New York Times.

    • ‘The Gender Pay Gap Follows Women Into All Areas’

      Janine Jackson: Every now and again, media will release a list of “best places to work if you’re a woman,” citing companies that treat women, well, fairly. Surely meant to be a spotlight on good guys, these features give the dispiriting impression that fair treatment for women at work is a matter of noblesse oblige, and the onus is on women to shop around till they find a job where they won’t be discriminated against.

      A fundamental reflection of that discrimination is, of course, the gender pay gap. The census data used to figure out the pay gap was released recently, and the American Association of University Women has put together their report analyzing it. Here to talk about where we’re at is Kevin Miller, senior researcher at AAUW and author of the new report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Kevin Miller.

    • Post-Debate, NYT Scores Points on Trade–Not So Much on Accuracy

      While China has recently been trying to keep up the value of its currency by selling reserves, it still holds more than $4 trillion in foreign reserves, counting its sovereign wealth fund. This is more than four times the holdings that would typically be expected of a country its size. These holdings have the effect of keeping down the value of China’s currency.

      If this seems difficult to understand, the Federal Reserve now holds more than $3 trillion in assets as a result of its quantitative easing programs of the last seven years. It raised its short-term interest rate by a quarter point last December; nonetheless, almost all economists would agree the net effect of the Fed’s actions is to keep interest rates lower than they would otherwise be. The same is true of China and its foreign reserve position.

      The piece goes on to say that NAFTA has “for more than two decades has been widely counted as a main achievement of her husband,” Bill Clinton. It doesn’t say who holds this view. The deal did not lead to a rise in the US trade surplus with Mexico, which was a claim by its proponents before its passage. It also has not led to more rapid growth in Mexico, which has actually fallen further behind the United States in the two decades since NAFTA.

    • Alice O’Connor on the Politics of Poverty

      This week on CounterSpin: New data showing a drop in the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line is being rightly celebrated. But if eliminating poverty is really our goal, wouldn’t there be keener interest in asking exactly why the number went down—or what it means that it didn’t go down for everyone? For that matter, is monitoring the ups and downs in the poverty rate really the most useful way to think about the problem of persistent social inequity and hardship—or the best measure of the adequacy of the responses we’ve developed?

      We talk about the limits of how we talk about poverty with Alice O’Connor. She’s a professor of history at the University of California/Santa Barbara and author of Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in 20th Century US History.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Facts Don’t Matter to Donald Trump or the 2016 Electorate

      Between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM Friday morning, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm in which he was, you know, just saying that maybe Hillary Clinton helped former Miss Universe (and a target of Trump’s misogyny) Alicia Machado become a US citizen “so she could use her in the debate.”

      Is that true? Almost certainly not—but in this election season, truth and facts hardly seem to matter. Trump’s attacks on Machado are just the latest data point in an election cycle that has seen wild speculation, rampant exaggeration, and outright lies become accepted as fact by huge swaths of the electorate on both sides of the aisle.

    • Challenge Donald Trump: The media needs to stop acting like the Republican nominee is reality TV

      According to the most recent polls — Donald Trump is now leading Hillary Clinton in the critical swing states of Ohio and Florida.

      And if their behavior in the primaries is any indication — the U.S. media is about to deliver this nation into the hands of Donald J. Trump, and there’s probably very little any of us can do about it.

      The “how” of this has played out in front of us for a year: While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were debating issues on the Democratic side — and being largely ignored — Trump was getting wall-to-wall coverage as he bullied his Republican opponents in the primary.

      So the “how” was grounded in editorial and business decisions about who to cover and how.

    • Trump Tax Records Obtained by The Times Reveal He Could Have Avoided Paying Taxes for Nearly Two Decades

      Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

      The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

      Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • There’s exactly one way to prevent misuse of surveillance data: to never collect it in the first place

      A key conclusion in my latest column deserves elaboration: why all available empiric data tells us that the only way to prevent misuse of surveillance data is to never collect it in the first place. This is a very unpopular fact with surveillance hawks, but it’s nevertheless the truth: all collected surveillance data will be abused and turned against the citizen, and that with a mathematical level of certainty.

      While it can’t be logically proven that all surveillance data has been misused and that the surveillance power has been abused, there comes a point in time in any activity where all available empiric data gives the same indication of failure forcefully enough to make people stop and ask “hey, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea”. We’re there with the so-called War on Drugs, we’re there with a number of activities, but the establishment is still fighting forcefully for more surveillance – even though all the data against it is there, and has been for decades.

      Let’s take one example of a super-benign data collection. Around 125 years ago, the Netherlands wanted to serve their citizens better in city planning to make sure everybody had a place of worship nearby, so they started collecting data on people’s faith and where they lived, in order to make sure everybody had a short distance to walk to places of worship.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this on the surface, right? Making sure people have access to services? And yet, this is squarely in the “what could possibly go wrong” category.

    • Shadow Brokers rant about people wanting stolen NSA-linked hacking tools for free

      The hacking group trying to auction off NSA-linked Equation Group hacking tools is unhappy because no one has coughed up the big bucks yet to buy the exploits.

      On Saturday, the Shadow Brokers took to Medium to release the group’s third message. The hackers sound hurt that people don’t trust them and – if cursing is any indication – the hackers are angry that the Equation Group cyber weapons auction has flopped so far.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • This U.S. chess champion is missing the world contest in Iran to protest country’s hijab policy

      One female chess player is protesting Iran’s hijab laws by missing the world tournament.

      Nazi Paikidze-Barnes is the reigning U.S. women’s chess champion. But she won’t be going to the Women’s World Championship being held there in February.

      She explained her decision on Friday in a Facebook post in which she called the World Chess Federation’s decision to have the contest in Tehran “unacceptable.”

      SEE ALSO: Models in hijabs make history at New York Fashion Week

      “I think it’s unacceptable to host a WOMEN’S World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens,” she wrote on the site.

    • O.C. Woman Says Airline Made Her Move Because 2 Pakistani Monks Can’t Sit Next To Female

      An Orange County woman said she is the victim of discrimination.

      Mary Campos says her pre-booked ticket was given away by United Airlines. The reason? She’s a woman, and two men didn’t want to sit next to a female.

      It’s a story that is Only On 2. Stacey Butler spoke to Campos.

      A a million-mile flier, Campos — a mom who lives in Coto de Caza — said she thought she’d seen it all.

      Until a gate agent handed her a new boarding pass just before she got on a flight to Houston last Monday.

      “He said this is your new seat,” Campos said, “And I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this’”

      She said she continued by saying, “Yes?”

      [...]

      The letter said, in part, “What if I were handicapped, or transgender?” she wrote. “What if your entire crew were female? Any belief that prevents individuals from interacting with females should not travel on commercial aircraft.”

      She got a reply that said United would look into it. She said she didn’t hear from them again.

      But Butler did. A company spokesperson wrote, in part:

      “We regret that Ms. Campos was unhappy with the handling of the seat assignments on her flight. United holds its employees to the highest standards of professionalism and has zero tolerance for discrimination.”

    • Egyptian MP calls for women to undergo virginity tests before being admitted to university

      An Egyptian MP has called for women to be forced to undergo virginity tests before being admitted to university, it has been reported.

      Parliamentary member Elhamy Agina called on the Minister of Higher Education to issue a mandate requiring him or his officials to enforce the virginity tests, Egyptian Streets reports. He has suggested that university cards could only been issued to female students on completition of a virginity test.

      In an interview with local media, he said: “Any girl who enters university, we have to check her medical examination to prove that she is a Miss. Therefore, each girl must present an official document upon being admitted to university stating she’s a Miss.”

      The term “Miss” in Egyptian culture is often used to refer euphemistically as to whether a woman is a virgin.

    • Operators of baby factory risk 10 years imprisonment

      Henceforth, operators of baby factories, racketeering with human pregnancy and those involved in sale of new born baby across the country on conviction by Court of any competent jurisdiction will be subjected to 10 years imprisonment.

      The punitive measure was contained in the bill for an Act to amend “trafficking in persons (Prohibition) law enforcement and administration Act No. 28 of 2005 to prohibit racketeering with human pregnancy or operation of baby prosecution factory, harbouring or pregnancy persons under the age of 18 and above or selling or attempting to sell new born baby and for related matters, 2016.”

    • California Governor Signs Major Civil Forfeiture Reform – Institute for Justice

      Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 443, a major overhaul of the state’s civil forfeiture laws. The bill marks one of the nation’s most significant reforms of its kind.

      “Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on due process and private property rights in America today,” said Institute for Justice Legislative Counsel Lee McGrath. “By generally requiring a criminal conviction, SB 443 would go far in curbing this abuse of power.”

    • Don’t Abandon Due Process, Not Even For Terrorism

      The clash in American history between liberty and safety is as old as the republic itself. As far back as 1798, notwithstanding the lofty goals and individualistic values of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the same generation — in some cases the same human beings — that wrote in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech” enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which punished speech critical of the government.

      Similarly, the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process has been ignored by those in government charged with enforcing it when they deal with a criminal defendant whom they perceive the public hates or fears. So it should come as no surprise that no sooner had the suspect in the recent New Jersey and New York City bombings been arrested than public calls came to strip him of his rights, send him to Gitmo and extract information from him. This is more Vladimir Putin than James Madison.

    • Big Papers Want Foreign Companies, Not War Crime Victims, to Sue US

      Notice that the possibility of other countries suing the US for war crimes its government commits is automatically assumed to be undesirable. The Washington Post puts “terrorism” in irony quotes because, of course, the US could never actually commit terrorism; claims to this effect could only be invoked “when convenient” by greedy non-Americans.

      The New York Times uses its trademark euphemisms to describe how the US is “engaged in the world” with “drone operations.” A nice way of saying the US uses drones to bomb people in a half-dozen countries with—so far—legal impunity. Changing this state of affairs is simply glossed over as a nonstarter.

      USA Today frames any attempt at legal recourse over American terrorism overseas as “retaliation”—presumably for some righteous kill executed by the United States in the service of freedom.

      The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today are saying that exposing American military and intelligence personnel to foreign liability is per se bad—a nativism so casual and matter-of-fact one might hardly notice it until circumstances force them to explicitly state it. No account is taken of the 7 billion non-Americans or their rights. No explanation is given as to why victims of US terror–of which there are many–shouldn’t register in our moral calculus. They just don’t.

      The irony is that none of these publications were overly concerned with exposing the US to foreign lawsuits when they offered support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a corporate trade deal that includes a provision for Investor-State Dispute Settlement—meaning it permits corporations to sue governments, including the US, in the event that a regulation undermines corporate profits. So increased exposure to liability to the US government when it gives more power to corporations is permissible, even desirable, but when it might provide recourse for victims of US war crimes? Not so much.

    • Death threats force Muslim woman into hiding

      Liberal Party politician Mostafa Geha was one of several speakers at the demo, arranged by the local Liberal Party and GAPH, an organisation against “honour violence.” It came in response to a sustained campaign of intimidation and violence on 21-year-old Walaa, who lives in Hedemora.

      In an interview with local radio station P4 Dalarna, she claimed that she has been harassed by both men and women in the town for “not living in the right way”. Tension heightened during a confrontation when she was hit in the face by a young man who had been harassing her over a long period.

      Walaa reported the incident to the police but in the following days the row spread over social media and the story was picked up by local Liberal Party leaders.

      “I decided we should organise a demonstration because that is the way we solve conflict in Sweden. We do it by trying to hold a discussion and say “this is not right”, Anna Eling, chairperson for the Liberals in Hedemora told TT.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • US government no longer manages internet’s technical functions

      The US government has ceded control of the technical management of the internet, in what has been called the “most significant change in the internet’s functioning for a generation”.

      Following a long legal battle, the California-based NGO Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will gain control over the organisation of unique online identifiers.

      The change will not affect ordinary internet users but is a reflection of the rapidly shifting online landscape and attitudes to it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • “If KickassTorrents is a Criminal Operation, Google Should Start Worrying”

        Polish authorities have extended the arrest of Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. His defense team is currently preparing to fight the U.S. extradition request, which will start next month. According to Artem’s U.S. lawyer, operating a torrent site is not a criminal offense. “If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying,” he says.

      • Watching Pirate Streams Isn’t Illegal, EU Commission Argues

        This week the European Court of Justice heard a crucial case that will give more clarity on the infringing nature of unauthorized streaming. Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and the Spanish authorities argued that offering or watching pirate streams is a violation of the EU Copyright Directive. However, the European Commission believes that consumers who watch unauthorized streams are not breaking the law. […]

        Based on the hearing the Advocate General will issue a recommendation later this year, which will be followed by a final verdict from the EU Court of Justice somewhere early 2017.

      • Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy

        An Australian record label may have picked a fight with the wrong guy. The label sent a standard takedown notice threatening to sue after YouTube computers spotted its music in a video.

        It turns out that video was posted by one of the most famous copyright attorneys in the world, and Lawrence Lessig is suing back.

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