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10.23.16

Links 23/10/2016: Alcatel’s New Android Smartphones, Another Honorary Doctorate for Stallman

Posted in News Roundup at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The basics of open source quality assurance

    Open source depends on a sustainable community to develop code rapidly, debug code effectively, and build out new features. Because community involvement is voluntary, people’s skills, levels of involvement, and time commitments can vary. Given the variable nature of these factors, along with the fact that open source often relies on a philosophy of “release early, release often,” quality assurance can be become challenging.

  • An Open Source, Self-Hosted Heroku

    Running our own Heroku… It shouldn’t be that hard, right?

    We have a small set of servers we use to run our internal applications. Nothing too complex, just monitoring, our ELK stack, Jenkins, and a few internal services.

    Given our rather modest requirements it may seem obvious that our first attempt at deployment automation, Chef, was a bit overkill for our needs. Not only that, we also wanted our engineers to be able to easily deploy applications to our servers without having to set up a Chef recipe — like the role Heroku plays in many of our client projects. We could have decided to run our internal applications on Heroku as well, but their pricing model wasn’t compatible with our relatively small-scale requirements.

  • The role of Free Software in a world that doesn’t care

    The Free Software movement is about personal and social liberties. Giving the owner and user of a computer control over it. But most people don’t see the problem with a small number of multinational mega-corporations having control over everyone’s computers. They think: “Apple and Microsoft know what they’re doing, and they do a good job, so why would I need Free Software?”

    Accepting that most people reject the Free Software message, what can the Free Software movement contribute to the world?

  • 5 Best Open Source Mobile Test Automation Tools

    There is a wide range of devices and platforms one needs to account for when developing a mobile app. An automation app for Mobile Testing can save development and testing time. Here are 5 top open source automated mobile testing frameworks to use, including the likes of Appium, Robotium, and Selendroid.

  • Could open-source coding ‘save the world’?

    Open Source Day is one of the most popular events at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. This year, a day-long open-source hackathon was devoted to participants developing open-source projects for humanitarian causes.

    Neetu Jain, product manager at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, and Daniela Dorneanu, solution developer and product trainer at Appway, joined Rebecca Knight (@knightrm), co-host of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, during the Grace Hopper event to discuss the mission of Open Source Day and the goal of the hackathon for humanity.

  • Yahoo open sources NSFW neural network porn detector

    Embattled former darling of the search wars Yahoo has open sourced its neural network porn detector software.

    The firm has explained that it is in fact tremendously difficult to automatically identifying that an image is not suitable/safe for work (NSFW).

  • Events

    • An introduction to color spaces

      The Kernel Recipes conference is, unsurprisingly, focused on kernel-related topics, but one of the potentially most useful talks given there was only marginally about the kernel. Applications that deal with the acquisition or display of video data must be aware of color spaces, but few developers really understand what color spaces are or how they work. Media subsystem maintainer Hans Verkuil sought to improve this situation with an overview of the color-space abstraction.

    • A tale of two conferences

      The “small” criterion can be a bit of a problem since it, naturally, limits the number of people who can participate in this kind of event. The Linux Plumbers Conference (now just a few weeks away) is always trying to find the right balance between size and quality of the event, and there, too, tickets tend to sell out quickly. The nice thing about an event like Kernel Recipes, though, is that it ought to be reproducible in other parts of the world. We have a ready supply of good speakers and interesting things to talk about in our community, and it doesn’t take that many speakers to make an event like this work.

      In the end, it was a privilege to be able to attend both events. Your editor’s only regret was being unable to stay in Berlin for the Embedded Linux Conference Europe the following week. Conferences are an opportunity to get a sense for what is happening in our community and to renew one’s enthusiasm and energy; both LinuxCon and Kernel Recipes succeeded on all of those fronts. A diverse community needs a diverse range of events; happily, that is just what was in store in Europe during these weeks.

    • All Things Open Next Week – MCing, Talks, and More

      I was really impressed with All Things Open last year and have subsequently become friends with the principle organizer, Todd Lewis. I loved how the team put together a show with the right balance of community and corporation, great content, exhibition and more.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Seafile and Collabora make LibreOffice Online available for Seafile Pro

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, and Seafile, a leading open source file sharing vendor, announce the availability of Collabora Online in the newly released Seafile pro edition 6.0.

    • Office Binary Document RC4 CryptoAPI Encryption

      In LibreOffice we’ve long supported Microsoft Office’s “Office Binary Document RC4 Encryption” for decrypting xls, doc and ppt. But somewhere along the line the Microsoft Office encryption scheme was replaced by a new one, “Office Binary Document RC4 CryptoAPI Encryption”, which we didn’t support. This is what the error dialog of…

  • CMS

    • Open Source CMS Pros and Cons – a Developer’s Perspective

      The phrase “Open Source CMS” lingers in the minds and hearts of many developers. CMSes are today’s talk of the Internet, and you won’t miss the discussion in local schools and private offices either. I don’t remember for how long I have used Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS) to manage local and international websites. However, I have implemented CMS-based solutions long enough, and I can tell you from experience these tools did become the big digital craze for many professional reasons.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Eclipse Foundation Collaboration Yields Open Source Technology for Computational Science

      The gap between the computational science and open source software communities just got smaller – thanks to a collaboration among national laboratories, universities and industry.

    • PyCon India 2016

      “This is awesome!”, this was my first reaction when I boarded my first flight to Delhi. I was having trouble in finding a proper accommodation Kushal, Sayan and Chandan helped me a lot in that part, I finally got honour of bunking with Sayan , Subho and Rtnpro which I will never forget. So, I landed and directly went to JNU convention center. I met the whole Red Hat intern gang . It was fun to meet them all. I had proposed Pagure for Dev Sprint and I pulled in Vivek to do the same.

      The dev sprint started and there was no sign of Vivek or Saptak, Saptak is FOSSASIA contributor and Vivek contributes to Pagure with me. Finally it was my turn to talk about Pagure on stage , it was beautiful the experience and the energy. We got a lot of young and new contributors and we tried to guide them and make them send at least one PR. One of them was lucky enough to actually make a PR and it got readily merged.

    • Hack This: An Overdue Python Primer

      In writing the most recent Hack This (“Scrape the Web with Beautiful Soup”) I again found myself trapped between the competing causes of blog-brevity and making sure everything is totally clear for non-programmers. It’s a tough spot! Recapping every little Python (the default language of Hack This) concept is tiring for everyone, but what’s the point in the first place if no one can follow what’s going on?

      This post is then intended then as a sort of in-between edition of Hack This, covering a handful of Python features that are going to recur in pretty much every programming tutorial that we do under the Hack This name. A nice thing about Python is that it makes many things much clearer than is possible in almost any other language.

    • Why I won’t be attending Systems We Love

      Here’s one way to put it: to me, Bryan Cantrill is the opposite of another person I admire in operating systems (whom I will leave unnamed). This person makes me feel excited and welcome and safe to talk about and explore operating systems. I’ve never seen them shame or insult or put down anyone. They enthusiastically and openly talk about learning new systems concepts, even when other people think they should already know them. By doing this, they show others that it’s safe to admit that they don’t know something, which is the first step to learning new things. They are helping create the kind of culture I want in systems programming – the kind of culture promoted by Papers We Love, which Bryan cites as the inspiration for Systems We Love.

      By contrast, when I’m talking to Bryan I feel afraid, cautious, and fearful. Over the years I worked with Bryan, I watched him shame and insult hundreds of people, in public and in private, over email and in person, in papers and talks. Bryan is no Linus Torvalds – Bryan’s insults are usually subtle, insinuating, and beautifully phrased, whereas Linus’ insults tend towards the crude and direct. Even as you are blushing in shame from what Bryan just said about you, you are also admiring his vocabulary, cadence, and command of classical allusion. When I talked to Bryan about any topic, I felt like I was engaging in combat with a much stronger foe who only wanted to win, not help me learn. I always had the nagging fear that I probably wouldn’t even know how cleverly he had insulted me until hours later. I’m sure other people had more positive experiences with Bryan, but my experience matches that of many others. In summary, Bryan is supporting the status quo of the existing culture of systems programming, which is a culture of combat, humiliation, and domination.

      [...]

      He gaily recounts the time he gave a highly critical keynote speech at USENIX, bashfully links to a video praising him at a Papers We Love event, elegantly puts down most of the existing operating systems research community, and does it all while using the words “ancillary,” “verve,” and “quadrennial.” Once you know the underlying structure – a layer cake of vituperation and braggadocio, frosted with eloquence – you can see the same pattern in most of his writing and talks.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • Macs are 3 times cheaper to own than Windows PCs, says IBM’s IT guy

      Fletcher Previn could be one of the funniest IBM vice presidents the company employs.

      Before achieving what he jokes as his “true life-long ambition of middle management at IBM” he worked as an intern on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and did a stint for Conan O’Brian, too, he told attendees at the Jamf tech conference.

    • You guys, I got my Ono-Sendai working again!

      I’ve had this terminal sitting under my desk gathering dust for… close to two decades, I think. This is an Ann Arbor Ambassador 60, manufactured in 1982 or 1983. It is a terminal. You probably think that word means “a GUI window that runs a command line shell in it”. You think this thing must be a computer because it looks like what computers used to look like. But it is not a computer, it is a peripheral. This object consists of a keyboard, a serial port, and a CRT screen, and that’s about it. A screen, I must emphasize, that is capable of displaying only text, and that text can be in any two colors you like, as long as those colors are green and black.

      Look at the sustain on that phosphor. Just look at it! The video is a little long, but it’s moody.

      You plug the serial port on the back into the serial port of your mainframe, or into a modem, and boom, Thus We Go Forth Into Cyberspace.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Your groceries may be cheaper, but farmers and supermarkets feel the pain

      If you’re just a little irked that gasoline prices have edged up recently, maybe this will cheer you up: Groceries are a bargain.

      Average supermarket prices fell 2.2% in September from a year ago, the most since late 2009, and they’ve been down on an annual basis for 10 straight months, the longest such streak since 1959-60, Labor Department figures this week showed.

      But while that breakfast of eggs, toast and bacon may not be putting as big of a dent in your wallet, falling prices at the checkout are spreading hardship across the nation’s farm belt and hammering the earnings of grocery chains.

    • ‘If I could afford to leave, I would.’ In Flint, a water crisis with no end in sight.

      Even now, the people of Flint, Mich., cannot trust what flows from their taps.

      More than one year after government officials finally acknowledged that an entire city’s water system was contaminated by lead, many residents still rely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

      Parents still worry about their kids. Promised aid has yet to arrive. In ways large and small, the crisis continues to shape daily life.

    • EPA Bows to Industry in Delay of Glyphosate Cancer Review

      However, the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meetings were “postponed,” just four days before they were suppose to meet, after intense lobbying by the agrichemical industry, including Monsanto. The industry first fought to keep the meetings from being held at all, and argued that if they were held, several leading international experts should be excluded from participating, including “any person who has publicly expressed an opinion regarding the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.”

      As the meetings drew near, CropLife America, which represents the interests of Monsanto and other agribusinesses, specifically took issue with at least two scientists chosen for the panel, alleging the experts might be unfavorably biased against industry interests. On Oct. 12, the group sent a letter to the EPA calling for Dr. Kenneth Portier of the American Cancer Society to be more deeply scrutinized for any “pre-formed conclusions” about glyphosate. More notably, CropLife called for leading epidemiologist Dr. Peter Infante to be completely disqualified from panel participation.

      “EPA should replace Dr. Infante with an epidemiologist without such patent bias,” CropLife told the EPA. The chemical industry group said Infante was unlikely to give industry-sponsored research studies the credibility the industry believes they deserve. CropLife said Infante has testified in the past for plaintiffs in chemical exposure cases against Monsanto.

    • ‘Drug Dependence Hasn’t Been Stopped by 45 Years of the War on Drugs’

      Janine Jackson: “Police Arrest More People for Marijuana Use than for All Violent Crimes Combined” is the headline in the Washington Post. In the New York Times, it’s “Marijuana Arrests Outnumber Those for Violent Crimes, Study Finds.”

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • World’s first hack-proof Wi-Fi router with open source firmware is here

      Turris Omnia WiFi Router, the world’s first hack-proof router with open source firmware launched yesterday at the CES Unveiled Show in Prague, Czech Republic.

    • Open-source hack-proof router aims to close cyber security gap

      Routers are the gateway of every home internet network. Yet, while many computers run antivirus software, little has been done thus far to protect routers against cyber threats. A new device, described as the world’s first hack-proof router, was launched on Thursday at the CES Unveiled Show in Prague.

      The main strength of the Turris Omnia router, a spin-out of a cyber security research project by Czech Republic’s domain administrator NIC.cz, is the fact that it automatically updates and patches vulnerabilities as they become known.

    • Adding a phone number to your Google account can make it LESS secure.

      Recently, account takeovers, email hacking, and targeted phishing attacks have been all over the news. Hacks of various politicians, allegedly carried out by Russian hackers, have yielded troves of data. Despite the supposed involvement of state-sponsored agents, some hacks were not reliant on complex zero-day attacks, but involved social engineering unsuspecting victims. These kinds of attacks are increasingly likely to be used against regular people. This recently happened to a friend of mine:

      Two weeks ago, an ex-colleague (actually, my officemate at Google way back in 2002) — let’s call him Bob — had his Google account compromised while on vacation in Hawaii. With his primary email account compromised, the attacker could have:

    • “Dirty COW”, the most dangerous Linux Bug for the last 9 years

      Red Hat, the leading open source software developer firm, has revealed that Linux Kernel has been infected with a serious bug for the past 9 years. The bug has been dubbed as Dirty Cow. It is deemed dangerous because through this bug, an attacker can get write access to read-only memory.

    • Serious Dirty COW bug leaves millions of Linux users vulnerable to attack
    • Cyber attack: hackers ‘weaponised’ everyday devices with malware to mount assault

      The huge attack on global internet access, which blocked some of the world’s most popular websites, is believed to have been unleashed by hackers using common devices like webcams and digital recorders.

      Among the sites targeted on Friday were Twitter, Paypal and Spotify. All were customers of Dyn, an infrastructure company in New Hampshire in the US that acts as a switchboard for internet traffic.

      Outages were intermittent and varied by geography, but reportedly began in the eastern US before spreading to other parts of the country and Europe.

      Users complained they could not reach dozens of internet destinations, including Mashable, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yelp and some businesses hosted by Amazon.

    • Homeland Security Is ‘Investigating All Potential Causes’ of Internet Disruptions

      Cyber attacks targeting a little known internet infrastructure company, Dyn, disrupted access to dozens of websites on Friday, preventing some users from accessing PayPal, Twitter and Spotify.

      It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the outages that began in the Eastern United States, and then spread to other parts of the country and Western Europe.

      The outages were intermittent, making it difficult to identify all the victims. But technology news site Gizmodo named some five dozen sites that were affected by the attack. They included CNN, HBO Now, Mashable, the New York Times, People.com, the Wall Street Journal and Yelp.

    • Blame the Internet of Things for Destroying the Internet Today

      A massive botnet of hacked Internet of Things devices has been implicated in the cyberattack that caused a significant internet outage on Friday.

      The botnet, which is powered by the malware known as Mirai, is in part responsible for the attack that intermittently knocked some popular websites offline, according to Level 3 Communications, one of the world’s largest internet backbone providers, and security firm Flashpoint.

      “We are seeing attacks coming from a number of different locations. We’re seeing attacks coming from an Internet of Things botnet that we identified called Mirai, also involved in this attack,” Dale Drew, chief security officer at Level 3 Communications, said on a livestream on Friday afternoon.

    • How to Understand Today’s Internet Outage in 4 Words

      A massive DDoS attack against a major DNS service likely using a botnet of IoT devices resulted in Internet issues across the eastern United States Friday, making it hard for many users to access their favorite sites.

      Phew. That’s a lot of acronyms.

    • IoT Can Never Be Fixed

      This title is a bit click baity, but it’s true, not for the reason you think. Keep reading to see why.

      If you’ve ever been involved in keeping a software product updated, I mean from the development side of things, you know it’s not a simple task. It’s nearly impossible really. The biggest problem is that even after you’ve tested it to death and gone out of your way to ensure the update is as small as possible, things break. Something always breaks.

      If you’re using a typical computer, when something breaks, you sit down in front of it, type away on the keyboard, and you fix the problem. More often than not you just roll back the update and things go back to the way they used to be.

    • Hacked Cameras, DVRs Powered Today’s Massive Internet Outage

      A massive and sustained Internet attack that has caused outages and network congestion today for a large number of Web sites was launched with the help of hacked “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices, such as CCTV video cameras and digital video recorders, new data suggests.

      Earlier today cyber criminals began training their attack cannons on Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company that provides critical technology services to some of the Internet’s top destinations. The attack began creating problems for Internet users reaching an array of sites, including Twitter, Amazon, Tumblr, Reddit, Spotify and Netflix.

    • How an army of vulnerable gadgets took down the web today

      At some point this morning, one of the US’s critical internet infrastructure players was hit with a staggering distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that has taken out huge swaths of the web. Sites like Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Reddit, and many others — all clients of a domain registration service provider called Dyn — have suffered crippling interruptions and, in some cases, blanket outages.

      Details are now emerging about the nature of the attack. It appears the cause is what’s known as a Mirai-based IoT botnet, according to security journalist Brian Krebs, who cited cyber-threat intelligence firm Flashpoint. Dyn’s chief strategy officer Kyle Owen, who spoke with reporters this afternoon, later confirmed Flashpoint’s claim, revealing that traffic to its servers was clogged with malicious requests from tens of millions of IP addresses in what the company is calling a “very sophisticated and complex attack.”

    • Fixing the IoT isn’t going to be easy

      A large part of the internet became inaccessible today after a botnet made up of IP cameras and digital video recorders was used to DoS a major DNS provider. This highlighted a bunch of things including how maybe having all your DNS handled by a single provider is not the best of plans, but in the long run there’s no real amount of diversification that can fix this – malicious actors have control of a sufficiently large number of hosts that they could easily take out multiple providers simultaneously.

      To fix this properly we need to get rid of the compromised systems. The question is how. Many of these devices are sold by resellers who have no resources to handle any kind of recall. The manufacturer may not have any kind of legal presence in many of the countries where their products are sold. There’s no way anybody can compel a recall, and even if they could it probably wouldn’t help. If I’ve paid a contractor to install a security camera in my office, and if I get a notification that my camera is being used to take down Twitter, what do I do? Pay someone to come and take the camera down again, wait for a fixed one and pay to get that put up? That’s probably not going to happen. As long as the device carries on working, many users are going to ignore any voluntary request.

    • Indiscreet Logs: Persistent Diffie-Hellman Backdoors in TLS

      Software implementations of discrete logarithm based cryptosystems over finite fields typically make the assumption that any domain parameters they are presented with are trustworthy, i.e., the parameters implement cyclic groups where the discrete logarithm problem is assumed to be hard. An informal and widespread justification for this seemingly exists that says validating parameters at run time is too computationally expensive relative to the perceived risk of a server sabotaging the privacy of its own connection. In this paper we explore this trust assumption and examine situations where it may not always be justified.

      We conducted an investigation of discrete logarithm domain parameters in use across the Internet and discovered evidence of a multitude of potentially backdoored moduli of unknown order in TLS and STARTTLS spanning numerous countries, organizations, and protocols. Although our disclosures resulted in a number of organizations taking down suspicious parameters, we argue the potential for TLS backdoors is systematic and will persist until either until better parameter hygiene is taken up by the community, or finite field based cryptography is eliminated altogether.

    • Rigging the Election [Ed: too much Microsoft [1, 2]]

      When Dorothy discovers fraud in the land of Oz, she is told by the Wizard, “Don’t look behind the curtain.” But she does. In America, we demand truth and accountability in so many aspects of our daily lives, and yet somehow there’s little public outcry for transparency within voting, the sacred cornerstone of our democracy. For the most part, we sleep soundly under the blanket of assurances from government officials. FBI Director James Comey even attempted a spin of irony recently, noting that our “clunky” voting process actually makes wholesale rigging more difficult. However, Comey misses the bigger picture.

      [...]

      Hardly anyone uses the same computer from 12 years ago, yet large sections of the country currently vote on aging electronic systems which utilize proprietary software that cannot be publicly examined. Unverifiable technology remains deployed in 29 states – including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida – and other key battleground states, which may determine our next president. Races in these areas are not evidence based, and consequently, we cannot be certain ballots reflect voter intent. Bereft of such knowledge, how can we put faith in the legitimacy of our government?

    • How to Hack a Presidential Election
    • ‘Nice Internet You’ve Got There… You Wouldn’t Want Something To Happen To It…’

      Last month, we wrote about Bruce Schneier’s warning that certain unknown parties were carefully testing ways to take down the internet. They were doing carefully configured DDoS attacks, testing core internet infrastructure, focusing on key DNS servers. And, of course, we’ve also been talking about the rise of truly massive DDoS attacks, thanks to poorly secured Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and ancient, unpatched bugs.

    • Update Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Linux Kernel Without Rebooting With The Canonical Livepatch Service
    • Livepatch – Apply Critical Security Patches to Ubuntu Linux Kernel Without Rebooting
    • GitLab reinstates list of servers that have malware

      Willem de Groot published a list of web stores that contain malware. He first hosted this list on GitHub but it was deleted. Then he hosted it on GitLab where it was also deleted. The reason we gave him for the deletion was “GitLab views the exposure of the vulnerable systems as egregious and will not abide it.”. Willem wrote about his experience in a blog post.

    • Dirty COW — Critical Linux Kernel Flaw Being Exploited in the Wild
    • CVE-2016-5195 Found in Every Linux Version (for the Last 9 Years)
    • Explaining Dirty COW local root exploit – CVE-2016-5195
    • CVE Request: OpenSSH: Memory exhaustion issue found in OpenSSH
    • OpenSSL after Heartbleed

      Rich Salz and Tim Hudson started off their LinuxCon Europe 2016 talk by stating that April 3, 2014 shall forever be known as the “re-key the Internet date.” That, of course, was the day that the Heartbleed vulnerability in the OpenSSL library was disclosed. A lot has happened with OpenSSL since that day, to the point that, Salz said, this should be the last talk he gives that ever mentions that particular vulnerability. In the last two years, the project has recovered from Heartbleed and is now more vital than ever before.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Philippines not really severing ties with US, Duterte says

      Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has clarified his comments that seemed to call for a split from the United States, saying he was advocating a “separation of foreign policy” rather than “a severance of ties.”
      Addressing a press conference in Davao City after his return from a state visit to China, Duterte said:

      “It is not severance of ties. You say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that.
      “Why? It is in the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship. Why? Because there are many Filipinos in the United States. Well, Americans of Filipino ancestry.
      “Why? Because the people of my country [are] not ready to accept. I said separation — what I was really saying was separation of a foreign policy.”

    • Jilted Muslim man killed a Dalit Hindu girl by acid attack in Nadia, West Bengal.

      It’s a tragic death of 17 year old Hindu schoolgirl, Mou Rajak on Tuesday in NRS Hospital in Kolkata after her eight day’s long struggle for life since she was admitted here for a critical care being a victim of acid attack. Her lungs were almost damaged as the acid thrown by a Muslim man Imran entered into lung through trachea.

    • Asia Bibi appeal adjourned — her death row ordeal drags on

      Release International urges Pakistan to take a stand against intimidation and release Asia Bibi, following the Supreme Court appeal setback. Release calls for courage to confront intolerance and repeal the blasphemy law. Pakistan’s Supreme Court has adjourned Asia Bibi’s appeal against her death sentence, following the decision of a leading judge to withdraw from the trial.

      Justice Muhammad Iqbal Hameed Ur Rehman stepped back from the case on the grounds that he had been a judge in the case of the Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer who was murdered for taking a stand against the blasphemy laws.

      “It seems strange to pull out on the day of the appeal,” says Paul Robinson, Chief Executive of Release International. “Surely any potential conflict would have been known in advance? What is clear is that it will take immense courage to withstand intimidation and release Asia Bibi — a fact underlined by the presence of so many riot police at the court.”

    • French police chief orders investigation after officers hold Paris protest

      The head of France’s national police force on Tuesday ordered an internal investigation after hundreds of police officers held an unauthorized protest in central Paris overnight.

      Angry police officers marched on the iconic Champs Elysées boulevard in the French capital after dark on Monday, complaining that they are understaffed and ill-equipped.

      The rebel police officers, who held the demonstration without permission or backing of their labour unions, accused Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve of grandstanding while failing to provide the resources they need to do their jobs.

    • Investigators find no evidence Muslim child was attacked on school bus

      The Wake County school system and the Cary Police Department say they haven’t found evidence that a 7-year-old Muslim student was assaulted by classmates on a school bus last week.

      Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani says his son Abdul Aziz was bullied and beaten by classmates at Weatherstone Elementary School in Cary while riding home on the bus last Friday because the first-grade student is Muslim.

      Usmani’s Facebook post, with the words “Welcome to the United States of America of Donald Trump” and a picture of Abdul Aziz’s left arm in a sling, has sparked worldwide social media and news media attention about Islamophobia.

      School and law enforcement officials say they’ve taken the allegations seriously and don’t tolerate bullying. But they say their investigations don’t confirm an assault even occurred.

    • Revealed: The UK is training Saudi pilots amid accusations of war crimes in Yemen

      The Saudi Air Force is being trained by the British Government amid accusations that it is carrying out atrocities in neighbouring Yemen, it has emerged.

      The Liberal Democrats – who uncovered the instruction being given, in both Saudi Arabia and the UK itself – described the revelation as “shameful”.

      Tom Brake, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, called on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to end the training immediately and for much stricter controls on arms exports to the oil-rich kingdom.

    • Thousands of California soldiers forced to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war

      Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

      Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

      Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

      Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition In A Nutshell. “Regime Change” in Russia… Putin is an Obstacle

      It has become crystal clear.

      For the record, here it is.

      She has big ambitions, which she does not spell out for fear of frightening part of the electorate, but which are perfectly understood by her closest aides and biggest donors.

      She wants to achieve regime change in Russia.

      She enjoys the support of most of the State Department and much of the Pentagon, and Congress is ready to go.

      The method: a repeat of the 1979 Brezinski ploy, which consisted of luring Moscow into Afghanistan, in order to get the Russians bogged down in their “Vietnam”. As the Russians are a much more peace-loving people, largely because of what they suffered in two World Wars, the Russian involvement in Afghanistan was very unpopular and can be seen as a cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      This led to the temporary reign of the drunken Boris Yeltsin who – as recounted in Strobe Talbott’s memoirs – was putty in the hands of Bill Clinton. Hillary would like to renew that sort of relationship. Putin is an obstacle.

    • Hillary’s War Crime

      Muammar Gaddafi was the most progressive political leader in the world. Gaddafi used Libya’s oil wealth for the benefit of the Libyan people. He lived in a tent, a nice tent, but not in a palace, and he did not have collections of European exotic cars or any of the other paraphernalia associated with the ruling families in Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates that are Washington’s Middle Eastern allies.

      In Libya, education, medical treatment, and electricity were free. Gasoline was practically free, selling for 14 US cents per litre. Women who gave birth were supported with cash grants and couples received cash grants upon marriage. Libya’s state bank provided loans without interest and provided free startup capital to farmers.

      [...]

      Washington organized mercenaries, termed them “rebels” as in Syria, and sicced them on Libya. When it became clear that Gaddafi’s forces would prevail, Washington tricked naive and gullible Russian and Chinese governments and secured a UN no-fly zone over Libya to be enforced by NATO. The express purpose of the no-fly zone was to prevent Gaddafi from attacking civilian targets, which he was not doing. The real reason was to prevent a sovereign state from using its own air space so that the Libyan Air Force could not support the troops on the ground. Once the gullible Russians and Chinese failed to veto the Security Council’s action, the US and NATO themselves violated the resolution by using Western air power to attack Gaddafi’s forces, thus throwing the conflict to the CIA-organized mercenaries. Gaddafi was captured and brutally murdered. Ever since, Libya, formerly a prosperous and successful society, has been in chaos, which is where the Obama regime wanted it.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks urges supporters to ‘stop taking down the US internet’

      The site WikiLeaks asked its “supporters” on Friday to stop taking down the internet in the U.S. following a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that disrupted a number of major sites.

      “Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing,” the site tweeted. “We ask supporters to stop taking down the US internet. You proved your point.”

    • Why Did WikiLeaks Tweet a Picture of Gavin MacFadyen?

      MacFadyen has a long history as a journalist who’s friendly to WikiLeaks. He was the director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London, an adviser to The Whistler, and focused much of his work on discussing and protecting whistleblowing activities. He even created the Julian Assange Defence Committee to raise funds to help pay for Assange’s legal expenses.

      WikiLeaks had been releasing a series of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. Just this past week, Julian Assange’s Internet connection was cut, leading to speculation as to whether Assange is even still at the embassy. These rumors and conspiracy theories, combined with other rumors about WikiLeaks’ Twitter account itself, led to a lot of questioning about why WikiLeaks tweeted MacFadyen’s photo without an explanation.

    • George W. Bush’s White House ‘lost’ 22 million emails

      For 18 months, Republican strategists, political pundits, reporters and Americans who follow them have been pursuing Hillary Clinton’s personal email habits, and no evidence of a crime has been found. But now they at least have the skills and interest to focus on a much larger and deeper email conspiracy, one involving war, lies, a private server run by the Republican Party and contempt of Congress citations—all of it still unsolved and unpunished.

    • FOI Coalition assesses state of FOI in the first 100 days of Duterte administration

      Prof. Solomon Lumba of the UP College of Law, who is working with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in conducting research on FOI, reported a brief analysis on the issue of exceptions. According to Atty. Lumba, one way to simplify the plethora of exceptions included in the initial exception inventories from the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General is to group them into conceptual categories, as was done in jurisdictions such as the US and Australia.

      Lastly, Atty. Eirene Jhone E. Aguila, co-convenor of R2KRN, delivered the Coalition’s Statement on the state of FOI in President Duterte’s first 100 days in office. The Coalition acknowledges the issuance of EO No. 2 as significant step towards guaranteeing the people’s right to know, but stresses the huge amount of work left to be done, particularly: completing the People’s FOI Manuals and implementing details of EO No. 2 for each agency, clarifying the issue of exceptions, and passing a long sought-for Freedom of Information law by the Congress.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Remember When We Thought Climate Change Would Matter This Election?

      This was supposed to be the election where climate change really mattered. Only, anyone watching the presidential debates wouldn’t have a clue that 1) 2016 has been history’s hottest year on record, and 2) our future leaders give any sort of crap about it.

      Climate change was mostly ignored during the last three debates, mentioned only in passing, and never discussed directly or at length. In fact, I’m fairly sure that Americans know more about Donald Trump’s sexual proclivities than his environmental policies (hint, hint: he doesn’t have any).

      But should we really feign surprise? Surely even the most hopeful of us didn’t expect global warming to compete with jobs, the border, or national security on the campaign trail. After all, this has been an election based on political identity, and when Americans can’t even agree on whether climate change is real, what’s incentivizing our candidates to fight for it?

      Just one question, posed during a town-hall by Ken Bone, a coal industry worker, shed any sort of light on the climate agendas of our two vastly different candidates. (And even then, Bone was criticized for not asking anything of real substance, as if energy policy, which lies at the heart of our climate change catastrophe, matters less than whether a candidate is a fan or not of science.)

    • 6 Sinking Cities to Visit Before It’s Too Late

      With the growing threats due to climate change – rising sea levels, devastating storms and tidal flooding – it’s no mystery why some of the world’s most iconic cities and natural wonders are at risk. And while there’s no clear-cut answer on the rate at which many cherished places the world over will be underwater, with the impending long-term effects of climate change – including the melting polar ice cap – we have a very narrow window before there will be dramatic repercussions, says Costas Christ, Chairman of the National Geographic World Legacy Awards and sustainable travel expert. “We have a window of 10 or 20 years at most before we set in motion the temperatures that we can’t turn back,” he says.

      Happily, the outlook isn’t all bleak. Our travel choices and actions make a difference, Christ says. “What can we do as travelers? We can choose those companies that are practicing and embracing sustainability,” he explains. By rewarding companies that are substituting plastics, generating less waste, offsetting their carbon footprint, using renewable energy and supporting national parks and fragile ecosystems, among other sustainable practices, we can advance conservation efforts, travel responsibly and have a positive long-term impact. With that in mind, here are six cities starting to submerge, and expert-endorsed tips for limiting your carbon footprint and aiding conservation efforts on your next trip.

  • Finance

    • Shop steward: Yle lay-offs “just the start”

      The Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) announced on Thursday that it plans to cut more than a third of current staff in its production unit. That will free up resources to spend more on outside acquisitions, which is a key goal of a parliamentary report published earlier this year. Employee representatives say that these lay-offs are only the beginning of an extended period of change for the company.

    • Ceta talks: EU hopes to unblock Canada trade deal

      The European Parliament president says he is optimistic that a free-trade deal between the EU and Canada can be signed soon despite last-minute obstacles.

      Objections by a Belgian region, which opposes the deal, “are for us Europeans to solve”, Martin Schulz said.

      He was speaking after meetings in Brussels with Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and the head of Belgium’s Wallonia region.

      Ms Freeland said: “It’s time for Europe to finish doing its job.”

      After seven years of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), talks broke down on Friday.

    • Left Alliance pushes to criminalize underpayment of wages

      The Left Alliance political party has proposed that employers found guilty of paying a wage below the lowest acceptable level agreed upon in Finland’s collective wage agreements should be subject to criminal charges.

    • Ari Berman on Rigging Elections, Dean Baker on the Debt Bogeyman

      Also on the show: Explosive entitlement spending! Runaway national debt! These are familiar bogeymen for elite media, but how much there is there? Dean Baker will join us to unpack the oft-heard media phrase “debt and entitlements,” and explain what it really means to call for cutting them. He’s co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and writes the blog Beat the Press.

    • CETA: A way out of European self-dwarfism

      Anti-CETA campaigns and mass protests have put the EU-Canada deal under constant pressure. Daniel Caspary MEP asks: What are we going to do if the European Union buries its common trade policy?

      Daniel Caspary is a German MEP and is the EPP group’s coordinator on the Committee on International Trade (INTA) in the European Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary (Chief-Whip) of the German CDU/CSU Delegation.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • WikiLeaks: Clinton-Kaine Even Lied About Timing of Veep Pick

      A conversation between Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and political consultant Erick Mullen leaked by WikiLeaks suggests that Tim Kaine — and Hillary Clinton — lied to the American people about the Virginia senator’s selection as Clinton’s running mate.

      In the email, Mullen complains to Podesta that attorney Bob Glennon “won’t stop assuring Sens Brown and Heitkamp (at dinner now) that HRC has personally told Tim Kaine he’s the veep.” The email was sent on July 15, 2015 — over one full year before the campaign’s official announcement.

      Clinton announced Kaine’s selection on July 22, 2016. The Clinton campaign behaved as if it were still sifting through possible VP picks until practically that very day. “Just got off the phone with Hillary. I’m honored to be her running mate. Can’t wait to hit the trail tomorrow in Miami!” Kaine tweeted.

    • No comment: Clinton has ‘nothing to say’ about Wikileaks email revealing $12M quid-pro-quo with Morocco’s king that an aide said was a ‘mess’ of her own making

      A stone-faced Hillary Clinton refused to comment tonight on an email a top aide sent calling a Clinton Foundation quid pro qou a ‘mess’ of the former secretary of state’s own making.

      ‘I have nothing to say about Wikileaks, other than I think we should all be concerned about what the Russians are trying to do to our election and using Wikileaks very blatantly to try to influence the outcome of the election,’ Clinton said.

      The Democratic nominee was responding to a question posed by DailyMail.com during a question and answer session with reporters riding on her campaign plane.

    • Megyn Kelly hits Donna Brazile on feeding Clinton debate question

      Interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile accused Megyn Kelly of “persecution” Wednesday evening when the Fox News anchor asked Brazile about an email, published by WikiLeaks, that indicated Brazile provided Hillary Clinton’s campaign with a question in advance of a CNN town hall.

      “As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted because your information is totally false,” Brazile said during an interview conducted shortly after the third presidential debate.

      “Since I play straight up and I’ll play straight up with you, I did not receive any questions from CNN,” she said. “First of all, what information are you providing to me that will allow me to see what you’re talking about?”

      Kelly cited an email made public by WikiLeaks last week that indicated Brazile had informed high-level Clinton campaign aides that she sometimes received “questions in advance” before relaying a question about the death penalty that closely matched a question later asked during the CNN town hall. Roland Martin, a TV One host who partnered with CNN for the event, sent CNN a question containing the same language the day after Brazile sent it to the Clinton campaign.

    • Blanket Corporate Media Corruption

      It is disconcerting to be praised by a website whose next article warns of a “plague of sodomites”. Sometimes truth-telling is a difficult act because truth is a simple matter of fact; who might seek to exploit that truth is a different question. I almost certainly have little in common with the anti-gay people who chose to commend me.

      It is however incumbent on those who know truth to reveal it to the best of their ability, particularly if it contradicts an untruth being put about widely. The lie that WikiLeaks is acting as an agent of the Russian state is one that needs to be countered. Wikileaks is much more important than a mere state propaganda organisation, and needs to be protected.

      Political lying is a sad fact of modern life, but some lies are more dangerous than others. Hillary Clinton’s lies that the Podesta and Democratic National Congress email leaks are hacks by the Russian state, should be countered because they are untrue, and because their intention is to distract attention from her own corrupt abuse of power and money. But even more so because they recklessly feed in to a Russophobia which is starting to exceed Cold War levels in terms of open public abuse.

      Clinton has made no secret of her view that Obama has not been forceful enough in his dealings in Syria, and within her immediate circle she has frequently referred to the Cuban missile crisis as the precedent for how she believes Russia must be faced down. It is her intention to restore US international prestige by such a confrontation with Putin in Syria early in her Presidency, and perhaps more to the point to restore the prestige of the office of POTUS and thus enhance her chances of getting her way with a probable Republican controlled senate and congress.

      [...]

      It is worth noting that Hillary’s claim that 17 US Intelligence Agencies agree that Russia was the source of the leaks is plainly untrue. All they have said is that the leaks “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed attacks.” Under extreme White House pressure to state that the Russians did it, that extremely weak statement was the only thing that the US Intelligence chiefs could cobble together. It is very plainly an admission there is no evidence that Russia did it, but the appalling corporate media have reported it as though it “proves” Hillary’s accusation of Russia is true.

      Bill Binney is like myself a former recipient of the Sam Adams Award – the World’s foremost whistleblowing award. Bill was the senior NSA Director who actually oversaw the design of their current mass surveillance software, and Bill has been telling anybody who will listen exactly what I have been telling – that this material was not hacked from Russia. Bill believes – and nobody has better contacts or understanding of capability than Bill – that the material was leaked from within the US intelligence services.

    • Media’s Debate Agenda: Push Russia, ISIS, Taxes; Downplay Climate, Poverty, Campaign Finance

      Russia, ISIS and taxes overwhelmed all other topics during the four presidential and vice-presidential debates, totaling 429 mentions from both candidates and questioners.

      Russia (and Putin) alone came up in the four debates 178 times, more than national debt/entitlements, Social Security, the Supreme Court, race/racism, education, abortion, drugs, poverty, LGBTQ people, climate change, campaign finance/Citizens United and the environment combined, with the latter topics totaling 164 mentions.

      Clinton’s emails were mentioned less than half as often as Trump’s tax returns (30 vs. 80 mentions), but still more than topics such as Social Security, the Supreme Court and education.

      Domestic issues that were mentioned somewhat frequently were immigration, police brutality/race, and Obamacare. Immigration is obviously a hot button issue given Trump’s calls to forcefully cleanse 11 million largely Latino immigrants from the United States.

    • Most Americans want Hillary indicted for email scandal – poll

      Over half of American voters surveyed in a recent poll disagree with the FBI’s decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her emails scandal.

      A survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted on October 18 and 19 by the polling company Rasmussen Reports. Voters were asked whether they agreed with the FBI’s decision not to file criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, despite acknowledging that she had been reckless and potentially exposed classified information to hostile countries. The results were released on Friday.

    • Rigged Elections Are An American Tradition

      It is an obvious fact that the oligarchic One Percent have anointed Hillary, despite her myriad problems to be President of the US. There are reports that her staff are already moving into their White House offices. This much confidence before the vote does suggest that the skids have been greased.

      The current cause celebre against Trump is his conditional statement that he might not accept the election results if they appear to have been rigged. The presstitutes immediately jumped on him for “discrediting American democracy” and for “breaking American tradition of accepting the people’s will.”

      What nonsense! Stolen elections are the American tradition. Elections are stolen at every level—state, local, and federal. Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley’s theft of the Chicago and, thereby, Illinois vote for John F. Kennedy is legendary. The Republican US Supreme Court’s theft of the 2000 presidential election from Al Gore by preventing the Florida vote recount is another legendary example. The discrepancies between exit polls and the vote count of the secretly programmed electronic voting machines that have no paper trails are also legendary.

      So what’s the big deal about Trump’s suspicion of election rigging?

    • October 2016: The Month Political Journalism Died

      On Wednesday evening during the final presidential debate of the campaign, Hell did not freeze over. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, where climate denial plays nothing but home games, passed on the final opportunity to ask Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton about climate change.

      This presidential campaign has been a catastrophe for American democracy and for American political journalism.

      Amid the relentlessly tawdry campaign news, most Americans haven’t even noticed the absence of virtually any high-level campaign discussion of environmental issues, let alone what many have called the biggest challenge of the 21st century.

      For now.

      But I invite you to think ahead to that “oh crap” moment that awaits us all, five, ten or 25 years from now, when America looks back to reckon with our self-imposed climate silence in the debates.

      Journalism—and the memes of our day—have failed us.

      I don’t mean to condemn all journalists, or even all political journalists. This campaign has seen Pulitzer-worthy investigative work, notably by old-media giants like the New York Times and Washington Post, on both major party candidates and their respective problems with veracity and transparency. But the horse-race coverage, driven by Twitter, bluster and clickbait, has predictably left important issues in the lurch.

    • Get Ready to Ignore Donald Trump Starting on November 9, or He’ll Never Go Away

      Donald Trump’s true gift is his uncanny ability to capture the attention of the news media.

      His declaration during Wednesday night’s third and final presidential debate that he may not accept defeat in three weeks captured global headlines, once again making him the lead story in the world, even as his chances of winning are essentially vanishing.

      But this is nothing new. There are countless other examples of successful attention-getting in Trump’s past, including his crusade against the Central Park Five in 2005, and the six weeks in 2011 where he monopolized TV news with his quest to find Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

      In fact, one way to look at Trump’s run for the presidency is as an attention-getting, brand-building exercise from start to finish. And in that context, this latest twist makes even more sense: It turns his otherwise sputtering campaign into a sort of dystopian season of “The Apprentice” where viewers watch for the cliffhanger: Will Trump bow out gracefully, or will he rally his supporters to declare his loss the result of a grand conspiracy?

      Not coincidentally, a half hour before the start of Wednesday’s debate, his campaign launched #TrumpTV, a livestream on his Facebook featuring Trump surrogates — leading to speculation that this served as a sort of a beta test for a rumored Trump-helmed television network. With that network, Trump could seek to monetize a panicked support base.

      On November 9, when Trump likely loses the presidential election in a big way, the news media will face a moment of truth: Will they continue to obsessively cover him and his post-election antics? Or will they ignore him?

      They should ignore him.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NLG and ACLU Submit FOIA and Open Records Requests to Investigate Unconstitutional Surveillance of Water Protectors at Standing Rock

      Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), in conjunction with the ACLU of North Dakota, sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and North Dakota Open Records Act requests to multiple state and federal agencies in response to the surveillance and arrests of the Native-led Water Protectors attempting to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). In an affront to First Amendment rights, Water Protectors and allies have been continuously surveilled by low-flying planes, helicopters, and drones, and have had local cell phone communications jammed and possibly recorded. Dozens of local and out-of-state law enforcement have been called in, maintaining a heavily militarized presence at the site in an effort to intimidate activists and chill dissent.

    • How Could NSA Contractor Harold Martin Have Been Taking Home Classified Info For 20 Years Without NSA Noticing?

      A few weeks back, we wrote about the arrest of Harold Martin, an NSA contractor working at Booz Allen, for apparently taking “highly classified information” from the NSA and storing it electronically and physically in his home. There were a lot of questions about whether or not Martin was connected to the Shadow Brokers release of NSA hacking tools, though as more info comes out, it sounds like perhaps Martin was just found because of an investigation into Shadow Brokers, but not because he was connected to them. Soon after the arrest was made public (after being kept sealed for a little over a month), reports came out suggesting that Martin was basically a digital hoarder, but not a leaker (or a whistleblower).

    • Geofeedia, In Damage Control Mode, Issues Bogus DMCA Over Brochure Posted By Reporter

      And it’s time for yet another story of copyright being used for out and out censorship. Remember Geofeedia? That’s the creepy company that was selling its services to law enforcement agencies and school districts promising to spy on social media feeds to let law enforcement/schools know when people are planning bad stuff. After a big ACLU investigative report, basically all the major social media companies cut ties with Geofeedia, claiming that it was violating their terms of service. I’d imagine that the various law enforcement agencies and school districts who paid tens of thousands of dollars for this data may be asking for their money back.

      So what does Geofeedia do? Well, for starters, it abuses the DMCA to try to take down information. The Daily Dot’s Dell Cameron had actually written about how the Denver police spent $30k on Geofeedia back in September, a few weeks before the ACLU report dropped (nice scoop and great timing). Cameron then followed up with a detailed story following the ACLU report as well, noting that there were still plenty of other Geofeedia competitors on the market. At the end of that post, Cameron included a brochure that Geofeedia had apparently sent to a police department last year. But you can’t see it now, because (yup) Geofeedia issued a DMCA takedown to Scribd, the company that was hosting it.

    • Victory for the Exegetes Amateurs! French Surveillance Censured by Constitutional Council

      The French Constitutional Council has censored this morning the article of the 2015 French Surveillance Law on radio wave surveillance. Following a Priority Preliminary ruling on the issue of constitutionality (QPC) tabled by the Exegetes Amateurs (FDN Federation, FDN and La Quadrature du Net and the Igwan.net NGO), this is a clear victory for advocates of privacy against disproportionate surveillance promoted by Manuel Valls’ government. La Quadrature du Net is glad with this decision which effects are to be applied immediately (although regretting the extended time given to the legislator to conform to this decision in the long term) and calls on all citizens concerned with civil rights to support the tireless judicial and technical work accomplished with our friends of FDN and the FDN Federation.

    • Google’s Allo Sends The Wrong Message About Encryption

      When Google announced its new Allo messaging app, we were initially pleased to see the company responding to long-standing consumer demand for user-friendly, secure messaging. Unfortunately, it now seems that Google’s response may cause more harm than good. While Allo does expose more users to end-to-end encrypted messaging, this potential benefit is outweighed by the cost of Allo’s mixed signals about what secure messaging is and how it works. This has significance for secure messaging app developers and users beyond Google or Allo: if we want to protect all users, we must make encryption our automatic, straightforward, easy-to-use status quo.

      The new messaging app from Google offers two modes: a default mode, and an end-to-end encrypted “incognito” mode. The default mode features two new enhancements: Google Assistant, an AI virtual assistant that responds to queries and searches (like “What restaurants are nearby?”), and Smart Reply, which analyzes how a user texts and generates likely responses to the messages they receive. The machine learning that drives these features resides on Google’s servers and needs access to chat content to “learn” over time and personalize services. So, while this less secure mode is encrypted in transit, it is not encrypted end-to-end, giving Google access to the content of messages as they pass unencrypted through Google servers.

      Allo’s separate “incognito” mode provides end-to-end encryption, using a darker background to distinguish it from the default mode. Messages sent in this mode are not readable on Google’s servers, and can be set to auto-delete from your phone after a certain period of time. The Assistant and Smart Reply features, which depend on Google having access to message content, don’t work in “incognito” mode.

    • Half of All American Adults Have Pictures in Police Facial Recognition Systems

      If you’re already worried about the growth of the surveillance state, a new study may give you pause. Researchers from Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology have found that half of Americans have photos in facial recognition networks used by law enforcement around the country—and many are likely unaware of it. The resulting report notes that the study is “the most comprehensive survey to date of law enforcement face recognition and the risks that it poses to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights.”

      Study authors Alvaro Bedoya, Jonathan Frankle and Clare Garvie queried more than 100 police departments across the nation over the course of a year to come to their conclusions. They found that more than 117 million adults—overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens of these United States—have pictures in these systems. Amassing such a large number of photos of American adults is a result of interagency collaboration. In addition to mugshot photos taken following arrests, “26 states (and potentially as many as 30) allow law enforcement to run or request searches against their databases of driver’s license and ID photos.” They also write that big-city police departments—Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles among them—are looking into real-time recognition on live street surveillance cameras, which allow “police [to] continuously scan the faces of pedestrians walking by a street surveillance camera.”

    • Using search warrants to get into fingerprint-locked phones

      A peculiar legal workaround might give federal authorities the right to access an individual’s phone data.

      Investigators in Lancaster, Calif., were granted a search warrant last May with a scope that allowed them to force anyone inside the premises at the time of search to open up their phones via fingerprint recognition, Forbes reported Sunday.

      The government argued that this did not violate the citizens’ Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination because no actual passcode was handed over to authorities. Forbes was able to confirm with the residents of the building that the warrant was served, but the residents did not give any more details about whether their phones were successfully accessed by the investigators.

      “I was frankly a bit shocked,” said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), when he learned about the scope of search warrant. “As far as I know, this warrant application was unprecedented.”

    • Virtual lineup: Your face is already on file

      If local police showed up at your door requesting fingerprints and DNA samples, would you passively and unquestioningly comply? Or would you ask what crime you’re suspected of committing and demand probable cause for making the request or proof of a search warrant?

      The fact is, there’s a 50 percent chance your photo is already part of a biometric database. And law enforcement agencies across the country are using facial recognition software to regularly search this “virtual lineup” with little to no regulation or limits, according to an eye-opening 150-page report, “The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America,” published this week by the Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology.

    • Supreme Court rules that IP address allocation is personal data, but to what use?

      The European Supreme Court rules that the subscriber identity behind an IP address is personal data, making such data protected by privacy laws. However, the court rules in a very narrow context of a web site operator, and says that the protection of personal data takes second place to a so-called “legitimate objective”. This may be an important verdict for future case law, but right now, it looks rather narrow.

      The European Court of Justice, the highest court in the EU, has ruled that the information about who was allocated a certain IP address at a certain time is personal data. This is a very important key word in European legislation, which means the data’s availability and use is protected by a mountain and a half of regulations and laws.

      The case was brought to the European Court of Justice by Patrick Breyer, a Pirate Party MP in the German State Parliament of Schleswig-Holstein, who is also a lawyer. Mr. Breyer was suing the Federal Government of Germany to prevent them from storing and recording his every visit to federal authorities’ websites.

    • Google is now tracking your private, personally identifiable information from all sources possible (ie; Gmail, Chrome, DoubleClick) by default

      Since this summer, new users are now being tracked to Google’s fullest potential unless they opt-out. Google has bought many tech companies over the last few decades. One such purpose, in 2007, of DoubleClick, prompted many concerns. Google, which had the promising slogan “Do no evil,” back then, promised that they would not combine Google’s already monolithic stack of user internet browsing history data with new acquisitions such as DoubleClick. DoubleClick is an extensive ad network that is used on half of the Internet’s top 1 million most popular sites. Now, Now that DoubleClick’s data is available to Google, Google can easily build a complete profile of you, the customer. This profile could include name, search history, and keywords used in email, all of which will expressly be used to target you for advertising or handed over to the government at the drop of a rubber stamp.

    • Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking

      After we published this story, Google reached out to say that it doesn’t currently use Gmail keywords to target web ads. We’ve updated the story to reflect that.

      When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

      And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.

      But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

    • Argentine Soccer Club Wanted to Implant Microchips in Fans, Until They Revolted

      How do you solve a problem like blood-thirsty football hooligans? According to one Buenos Aires-based football club, just stick microchips in spectators’ arms and scan the bad apples away.

      Back in April, first division club CA Tigre proposed surgically implanting microchips—or “passion tickets,” as they called them—into fans’ bodies to expedite their access to the stadium and curb violence during games. The initiative was rejected after a brief trial period, CA Tigre informed Motherboard, and though the club wouldn’t say why, we expect public outrage had something to do with it.

      “Passion ticket allows fans to enter the stadium without anything else, just their passion for their team, and allows the club to maintain a trustworthy level of control over fans,” CA Tigre tweeted at the time to explain the initiative.

    • Internet Privacy: “You’re Only Anonymous On The Internet Because Nobody’s Tried Very Hard To Figure Out Who You Are”
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Imprisoned Saudi blogger faces more lashes: supporters

      Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whose public flogging in the kingdom last year generated a global outcry, now risks a new round of lashes, a co-founder of a Canadian foundation advocating his release said on Tuesday.

      Evelyne Abitbol, who founded the Raif Badawi Foundation with Badawi’s wife, said a “reliable source” in Saudi Arabia claims he faces a new flogging after being sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes in 2014 for breaking the kingdom’s technology laws and insulting Islam.

      Saudi embassy officials in Ottawa and Saudi government officials in Riyadh were not immediately available for comment.

    • Raif Badawi: Atheist Saudi blogger faces further round of lashes, supporters say

      Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is facing a new round of lashes, according to his supporters.

      A Canadian foundation campaigning for his release said a “reliable source” in Saudi Arabia told them he faces a renewed threat of flogging.

      The 32-year-old was handed 1,000 lashes and a ten-year jail term in 2014 for insulting Islam online.

    • ‘He didn’t know the boy didn’t want to be raped’ court throws out migrant child sex charge

      When the youngster went to the showers, Amir A. allegedly followed him, pushed him into a toilet cubicle, and violently sexually assaulted him.

      Following the attack, the accused rapist returned to the pool and was practising on the diving board when police arrived, after the 10-year-old raised the alarm with the lifeguard.

      The child suffered severe anal injuries which had to be treated at a local children’s hospital, and is still plagued by serious post-traumatic stress disorder.

      In a police interview, Amir A. confessed to the crime; telling officers the incident had been “a sexual emergency”, as his wife had remained in Iraq and he “had not had sex in four months”.

    • Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

      I have just finished giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament on torture and extraordinary rendition. I am dashing off now and will give a fuller account later of what I said only. But I will just say that I was very happily surprised by how genuine the committee were, by the acuity of their questioning and by what was revealed of the general trend of their thinking. I perceived no hostility at all. I rather hope, and believe I have grounds to hope, that their eventual report will contain more of both truth and wisdom than is generally expected.

    • Homeland Security Must Stop Using Private Prisons for Immigration Detention. Here’s How to Do It.

      ACLU policy paper explains why detaining fewer immigrants must be part of the plan to stop using private prisons.

      This August, the Justice Department made history when it announced that the Bureau of Prisons would curtail — and eventually end — its use of private prisons. As the Justice Department noted, this change was made possible by criminal justice reforms that reduced its prison population. Now the ACLU is releasing a policy paper that calls on the Department of Homeland Security to follow suit by reducing its detention population and then ending its own use of private prisons.

      The paper, “Shutting Down the Profiteers: Why and How the Department of Homeland Security Should Stop Using Private Prisons,” provides a concrete plan for how ICE can and should phase out its reliance on private prisons. The number of immigrants in detention has skyrocketed in the past two decades, and without these unnecessary detentions, there would be no need for private prison beds. The paper describes the human toll of over-detention and privatization and lays out ICE’s dangerously close relationship with the private prison industry.

    • Police Want to 3D Print a Dead Man’s Fingers to Unlock His Phone

      I’ll unpack the Constitutional issues in a bit, but first, the technology. Michigan State University professor who holds six U.S. patents for fingerprint recognition technology was asked by police to help catch a murderer. The cops scans of the victim’s fingerprints and thought that unlocking his phone might provide clues as to who killed him.

    • Police arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes — combined

      On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 people sit behind bars on simple drug-possession charges, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.

      Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. The report says that most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They’re sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court, an appearance that may be months or even years off, because they can’t afford to post bail.

      “It’s been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared, and it hasn’t been a success,” lead author Tess Borden of Human Rights Watch said in an interview. “Rates of drug use are not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds, we’re arresting someone for drug use.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Harris Faulkner Suit Against Hasbro Over A Toy Hamster Ends In Settlement, Hasbro To Discontinue The Toy

      While we cover a lot of silly intellectual property disputes here, none has the potential to upend our society into a circus of hilarious litigious stupidity as much as publicity rights do. This barely-arrived form of intellectual property has been the star of all kinds of legal insanity, with one needing only to note its use by such upstanding denizens of our reality as Lindsay Lohan and the brother of Pablo Escobar. But I have to admit I had reserved a special place in my humor-heart for Harris Faulkner, the Fox News anchor that sued toy-maker Hasbro for making a a hamster figurine that shared her name. Because the sharing of a name isn’t sufficient to arise to a publicity rights violation, the IRL-non-hamster-Faulkner had to claim that the ficticious-hamster-Faulkner also borrowed from her physical likeness, an argument which her legal team actually made. As a reminder, here are images of both.

    • Trademarks

      • No One Owns Invisible Disabilities

        The purpose of registered trademarks is to protect people. When you buy a bottle of Club-Mate, the trademark affords you some certainty that what you’re buying is the product you already know and love and not that of a sneaky impostor. But when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues overly broad or generic trademarks, those trademarks do just the opposite: they can expose us to the risk of legal bullying. One recent round of bullying over a trademark on “invisible disabilities” has shown how a bad trademark can even be used to threaten people’s right to assemble and express themselves online.

        It started in late 2015 when a group called Invisible Disability Project (IDP) applied for a trademark on its name. A lawyer representing the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) sent IDP a letter threatening to sue it over the use of the term “invisible disability.” (IDA had received a trademark on the term in 2013). In July 2016, IDA used Facebook’s trademark report form to have IDP’s Facebook page—the main place where IDP’s members and supporters congregate—taken down. IDA even registered the domain names invisibledisabilityproject.com and .net and directed visitors to those sites to its own website.

    • Copyrights

      • Anti-Piracy Outfits Agree to Strengthen International Cooperation

        Government officials and representatives from anti-piracy outfits from the United States, Europe and Russia met up in Brussels this week. The roundtable, “Combating Internet Piracy: International Practice”, focused on the need for international cooperation and the strengthening of copyright legislation.

        With the Internet and therefore online piracy having developed into a truly global phenomenon, anti-piracy groups everywhere are expanding their reach.

        What was once a semi-isolated affair has become a multi-agency, cross-continent operation, with governments and rights holders alike striving to share information and pool resources.

      • The Bernie Sanders of Iceland is a Pirate, a poet and possibly the country’s next leader

        Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a poet, a Web developer and a former WikiLeaks activist. She’s also founder and leader of Iceland’s Pirate Party, which has been at or near the top of polls ahead of national elections Oct. 29.

        Washington Post London Bureau Chief Griff Witte sat down with Jónsdóttir for an interview at her office in Reykjavik on Oct. 19. The following are excerpts from their conversation.

      • Cisco Develops System To Automatically Cut-Off Pirate Video Streams

        Cisco says it has developed a system to disable live pirate streams . The network equipment company says its Streaming Piracy Prevention platform utilizes third-party forensic watermarking to shut down pirate streams in real-time, without any need to send takedown notices to hosts or receive cooperation from third parties.

      • Team Prenda Loses Big Again: Told To Pay Over $650k For Bogus Defamation Lawsuit

        Welp, it looks like another bad day for Team Prenda. The law firm that went around uploading its own porn films and then shaking down people on the internet has had a bad few years in terms of courts blasting them for abusing the court system and ordering them to pay up for all sorts of awful things. Every few weeks it seems like we read about another loss for John Steele and Paul Hansmeier (the third “partner” in this mess, Paul Duffy, passed away). The latest is not only a pretty big hit, it’s also a complete “own goal” by Team Prenda. This one wasn’t in one of their crappy shakedown lawsuits where a defendant hit back. No, this was in the case where Prenda tried to sue all of its critics for defamation in both Illinois and Florida. The Florida case, filed by John Steele, was quickly dismissed once Steele realized it broke all kinds of rules. But the Illinois cases moved forward. There was some bouncing around between state and federal court, before the case was dismissed and some sanctions were added.

      • Prenda lawyers’ careers are up in smoke, but sanctions keep coming

        After a few years suing Internet users over piracy claims, the lawyers behind the Prenda law copyright-trolling operation had made millions. But beginning in 2013, they were hit with repeated sanctions from federal judges. Now, their careers are in shambles—Paul Hansmeier had his law license suspended, John Steele is facing a bar complaint, and both may be facing an FBI investigation. (A third lawyer who was involved, Paul Duffy, passed away last year.)

        Even as their scheme collapses, they continue to be hit with sanctions. This week, Hansmeier and Steele got hit with a big one. US District Judge John Darrah oversaw litigation related to one of Prenda’s most audacious moves—their defamation lawsuit against their critics. They sued Steele’s former housekeeper, Alan Cooper, and his lawyer, Paul Godfread, for accusing Steele of identity theft. For good measure, they also sued anonymous blog commenters who called Prenda attorneys “brain-dead” and “assclowns.”

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