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Links 23/11/2016: Fedora 25 Officially Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Mastodon is an open source, decentralized version of Twitter

    So, you want to share your thoughts on social media, but you’re tired of the way apps like Facebook and Twitter monopolize your posts and feed. It might be time to try an entirely new alternative: Mastodon.

    Mastodon bills itself as a free, open-source social media server. Like Twitter, it’s a microblogging platform. Unlike Twitter, it’s non-commercial and not centrally owned, so you don’t have to worry about what will happen to your account or your posts if it gets acquired by another company.

  • The Power of Open Source in the Foundation Framework

    CSS frameworks are among the most actively used tools in web design and development. If you’ve been involved in the industry, at some point you would have heard, seen or used a CSS framework or library before. What many developers do not realise is that these frameworks flourish thanks to the open source movement.

    Frameworks like Bootstrap and ZURB’s Foundation offer a platform for rapid prototyping, getting your site up and running by providing all of the common building blocks. Bootstrap and Foundation are just two popular examples, there are hundreds if not thousands of great frameworks out there that aim to make your job easier and speed up your development work.

  • How Your Company Can Benefit from Contributing to Open Source

    Open source is the antithesis of proprietary software. It’s the free lovin’ hippie amid a sea of corporate profiteers. Defined as software for which the source code is freely available to view, modify, and redistribute, open source software has benefited hardened coders and layman consumers alike. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean profit-driven companies can’t use open source to their advantage.

  • Free as in Puppy — Open Sourcing Your JavaScript Code

    Open Source is much more than making something available to the public. It is not only about your code, it is also about licenses, understanding participation and herding cats a.k.a. dealing with community issues. In this article we will briefly look at the benefits of open sourcing your code and the pitfalls to avoid.

  • Disney’s best releases may be its open source tools

    While most people associate Disney with Mickey Mouse, animation, and amusement parks, the company is forging a path in the open source software realm, encouraging contributions from its developers and releasing software of its own.

    Not surprising, several projects involve images, such as the OpenEXR high-dynamic-range image file format developed by Disney subsidiary Industrial Light and Magic. Others are less image-focused, including Munki, a set of tools to help MacOS X admins manage software installs and removals.

  • Tools for collecting and analyzing community metrics

    Thus far, we’ve discussed the importance of setting goals to guide the metrics process, avoiding vanity metrics, and outlined the general types of metrics that are useful for studying your community. With a solid set of goals in place, we are now ready to discuss some of the technical details of gathering and analyzing your community metrics that align with those goals.

    The tools you use and the way in which you collect metrics depend heavily on the processes you have in place for your community. Think about all of the ways in which your community members interact with each other and where collaboration happens. Where is code being committed? Where are discussions happening? More importantly than the where, what is the how? Do you have documented processes for community members to contribute? If you have a solid understanding of what your community is doing and how it is doing it, you’ll be much more successful at extracting meaningful data to support your goals.

  • Entertainment Giants Offer a Slew of Useful Open Source Tools

    Nowadays, open source efforts are going on not only at big technology companies, but at big companies that leverage technology. Two prime examples exist in the entertaintment industry: Both Netflix and Disney have robust open source programs and have contributed mighty tools to the community. Here is a peek at what they have contributed.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s Firefox Focus Browser Protects Your Tracks Online

        If you’ve used incognito browsing features, or even the Tor anonymity tool, you’re already familiar with the concept of avoiding online trackers. Now, Mozilla has launched a browser for iOS users that offers security features that block unwanted trackers.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • CMS

    • A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding and Open Content Management Solution

      In case you missed it, open source content management systems (CMS) have come of age. With free CMS tools, you can manage a blog, manage content in the cloud and much more You’re probably familiar with some of the big names in this arena, including Drupal (which Ostatic is based on) and Joomla. As we noted in this post, selecting a CMS to build around can be a complicated process, since the publishing tools provided are hardly the only issue.

      The good news is that free, sophisticated guides for evaluating CMS systems have flourished, as well. We’ve covered many of the best guides for getting going with a good CMS system. Here, in this newly updated post, you’ll find several additional, good resources.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Microsoft’s Embrace of Linux Draws Ire

      “I am really disappointed that The Linux Foundation accepted Microsoft as a member in the Linux ecosystem, especially considering its own mission to promote, protect and advance Linux,” added another. Rather than expanding its membership to include established commercial vendors, the contributor said the group should be focused on “standardization, stable programming API’s, more use of inherent safe programming languages and less fragmentation of developer effort.”

    • Microsoft’s Warning — “Don’t Change Linux Files In Windows”

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Russia kicks out IBM, Microsoft and Oracle

      The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s Federal Assembly, is working on a law to reduce government dependence on IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. According to Bloomberg, Russian government agencies will be restricted in buying proprietary software, and will have to prefer open source software instead.

      This step further pushes proprietary vendors out of Russia. Russian companies are increasingly buying software from domestic providers like Diasoft and New Cloud technologies, or deploying open source packages like PostgreSQL and Linux, instead of purchasing licensed packages from companies like Oracle, Autodesk and Siemens.

    • Russia Makes The Right Moves For The Wrong Reasons

      Whatever the motivations, the end result will be the same, a ramping up of utilization of FLOSS in Russia, a good thing. It’s too bad Russia did not make these moves a decade or longer ago which would have caused the move to be completed by now. Too bad Putin isn’t as reasonable in his other dealings with the West.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • 4 tips for creating a Wikipedia article

        It is human nature to want to share the enthusiasm you have for a subject or project with others. Wikipedia is a great place for that, where you can record your expertise and create a fact-based touchpoint for your interest. The site’s mission is altruistic, and it has been my experience that Wikipedia administrators zealously guard against content that has an obvious agenda, is not relevant to today’s Zeitgeist, or does not provide the references and citations needed to prove accuracy.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-V, The First Open Source RISC-V Microcontroller

        Open Source software has been around for decades. Over these decades, Open Source software has been the driving force behind most of the Internet, and all of the top-500 supercomputers. The product of the Open Source software movement is perhaps more important than Gutenberg’s press. But hardware has not yet fully embraced this super-charging effect of openness. Being able to simply buy an open source CPU, free of all proprietary bits and NDAs is impossible.

      • Open-source hardware makers unite to start certifying products

        Four years ago, Alicia Gibb was trying to unite a fragmented open-source hardware community to join together to create innovative products.

        So was born the Open Source Hardware Association, which Gibb hoped would foster a community of hardware “hackers” sharing, tweaking, and updating hardware designs. It shared the ethics and ethos of open-source software and encouraged the release of hardware designs — be it for it processors, machines, or devices — for public reuse.

        Since then, OSHWA has gained strength, with Intel, Raspberry Pi, and Sparkfun endorsing the organization. Its growth has coincided with the skyrocketing popularity of Arduino and Raspberry Pi-like developer boards — many of them open source — to create gadgets and IoT devices.

      • 3D printed QuadBot Kickstarter combines open source robotics and STEM education
      • Crowdfunding Watch: QuadBot, making robotics fun
      • Manchester Graduates Hoping to Inspire With Their DIY Walking Robot
  • Programming/Development

    • Pyston 0.6 released

      We are excited to announce the v0.6 release of Pyston, our high performance Python JIT.

      In this release our main goal was to reduce the overall memory footprint. It also contains a lot of additional smaller changes for improving compatibility and fixing bugs.

    • Pyston 0.6 Drops Memory Usage, Better NumPy Performance

      For those interested in greater Python performance, the Dropbox team responsible for the Pyston project that’s interpreting Python using JIT techniques with LLVM, has announced a new release.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • UN Secretary-General Urges Action On High-Level Panel Report On Medicines Access

      United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today issued a message praising the “milestone” report of a High-Level Panel on access to medicines he set up a year ago to address the continuing problem of medicines prices being too high for many in the world to afford, and the lack of access to quality medicines for many. In his message, he called on governments to review the report and its recommendations, and to chart a way forward to address the problem of lack of access to medicines and health technologies.

    • WHO Director Candidates Nabarro, Szócska Speak On Medicines Prices And IP

      Candidates from around the world vying to be the next director general of the World Health Organization in recent weeks have presented their views to member states on a range of public health issues. Two of the six candidates answered a question put to them by Intellectual Property Watch relating to medicines prices, innovation and intellectual property. Here are their answers.

      The question by IP-Watch to candidates was: For a long time, WHO has worked without success on addressing alternative models of financing for R&D and more affordability/accessibility of medicines for poor populations. Recently, the issue has become a mainstream concern with high prices in developed countries too, while questions of incentivizing innovation come into play. What would be your vision of how to address this problem?

    • Eduardo Pisani To Step Down From IFPMA’s Helm In January

      The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations today announced that its Director General is stepping down, but will stay at the helm of the organisation until the end of January.

  • Security

    • Elegant 0-day unicorn underscores “serious concerns” about Linux security [Ed: Molehill becomes mountain in the hands of Dan Goodin]

      Recently released exploit code makes people running fully patched versions of Fedora and other Linux distributions vulnerable to drive-by attacks that can install keyloggers, backdoors, and other types of malware, a security researcher says.

    • Researcher writes codeless exploit that bypasses Linux security measures

      If you’re a Linux administrator, then you’re likely aware that even being fully up to date on all of the patches for your Linux distribution of choice is no guarantee that you’re free from vulnerabilities. Linux is made up of numerous components, any of which can open up an installation to one exploit or another.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation

      Over the past two days, President-elect Donald Trump has put together a national security team that will move US foreign policy far to the right. The most shocking appointment, announced Thursday, was retired Army General Michael Flynn, a fanatical opponent of radical Islam, as his national security adviser. On Friday, Trump named Kansas GOP Representative Mike Pompeo to run the CIA. Pompeo is a member of the House Intelligence Committee who strongly opposed the Iran nuclear deal as well as the post-Snowden “reforms” of US intelligence.

      But so far, little attention has been paid to a retired Army lieutenant general, Joseph “Keith” Kellogg, one of Trump’s closest military and foreign-policy advisers. Kellogg is a former contracting executive who is considered a front-runner for a senior position at the Pentagon. He has been among the small group of advisers seen entering and leaving Trump Tower this week.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks does good work. It’s not Assange who’s gone off the deep end, it’s us

      So, you think Assange is a prick? Well tough shit. History-making rebels aren’t meant to be sweethearts.

      What, the world’s most ardent defenders of freedom want to know, has happened to Julian Assange? Just a few years ago, he was such an earnest fellow, who spoke all truth to power. Well-known liberals gave him airtime, centrist trade organisations gave him membership and middle-brow humourists gave him plaudits and harbour. Now, all that the honourable can offer him is their disgust. He’s a Russian collaborator, a spiteful traitor, a pussy-grabbing narcissist whose leaks on Clinton place him in precisely the same deplorable basket that emits the stink of Trump.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • An astounding 102 million trees are now dead in California

      Forest managers have never seen anything like it. Across California, an astounding 102 million trees have died over the past six years from drought and disease — including 62 million trees in 2016 alone, the US Forest Service estimates. Once-mighty oaks and pines have faded into ghastly hues of brown and gray.

      The biggest worry is that these dead, dry forests will become highly combustible when California’s annual fire season rolls around next summer. The south and central Sierra Nevada regions, where most of the dead trees are located, are at particular risk of severe wildfires…

  • Finance

    • Support for the EU on the rise since Brexit vote … even in the UK

      Support for the EU has risen across Europe, including in the UK, since the British people voted to leave.

      Pro-EU sentiment has grown in five of the six largest member states, according to a survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation. These were the UK, France, Germany, Poland and Italy. The only large state to see a fall in support for the EU was Spain.

      “The looming Brexit seems to have been the best advertisement for the EU,” said Aart De Geus, of the Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany’s largest NGO.

      In the UK referendum on 23 June, the country narrowly voted to leave the EU, with 52% voting leave while 48% supported remain.

      But the Bertelsmann survey, completed in August against a backdrop of confusion about the British government’s Brexit strategy, showed that 56% of British citizens wanted to stay in the EU, compared with 49% when a similar survey was conducted in March.

    • Loud calls in Parliament for ending EU membership talks with Turkey

      With relations between the EU and Turkey already deeply strained, a broad coalition of members of the European Parliament Tuesday called for ending EU membership talks with Ankara as punishment for a trampling of democratic freedoms and human rights by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following a failed coup attempt last July.

      The fraying of ties comes at a particularly sensitive time for Brussels, with the EU relying on Turkey to keep up its end of an agreement on the return of migrants who have sought refuge in Europe.

      While an unraveling of that deal could create acute political problems in capitals across the Continent, many members of Parliament called for ending the arrangement, saying Erdoğan was using it as a tool of “blackmail.” Leaders of the biggest factions in the Parliament also called for ending the discussions with Turkey about EU membership.

    • Swedish company Ericsson denounced of payed bribes to a Costa Rica’s President

      I have recently reported in The Indicter and Global Research on the payment done by the Swedish giant corporation Ericsson to the Clinton foundation, and also on the intervention of the company in Haiti – which resulted in disastrous consequences for the Haiti economy, as reported in a cable from the US Embassy in Port Au Prince to the State Department.

      New exposures referring unethical transactions of the Swedish company, indicates that Ericsson would have even bribed the then Costa Rica’s President Miguel Angel Rodriguez while competing for a major telecom contract.

      The exposures are partly based on a testimony by a former employee at the company, Liss Olof Nenzell, which was in charge of “sensitive payments”. The report adds that also ministers in the government as well as executives of the Telecom companies have received the Ericsson’s payments. Reports regarding the exact sum allegedly sent by Ericsson to Miguel Angel Rodriguez vaies in the Swedish media. While the graphic in Swedish Radio names $750,000, The Local (Carl Bildt’s megaphone) reduced it to $271,245.

      Former Costa Rica’s president Rodriguez was staunch supporter of the UN invasion in Haiti. Later, Ericsson obtained extended credits in Haiti, which according to a document declassified by the US State Department would have caused a deterioration in the economy of Haiti.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump won’t pursue charges against Clinton

      President-elect Donald Trump won’t subject Hillary Clinton to a criminal inquiry — instead, he’ll help her heal, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

      “I think when the president-elect who’s also the head of your party … tells you before he’s even inaugurated he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content, to the members,” Kellyanne Conway told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” who first reported that the president-elect would not pursue his campaign pledge to “lock up” Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

      “Look, I think, he’s thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the president of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign are not among them,” Conway, who is now on the Trump transition team, said in her interview.

    • Donald Trump Seems to Retreat on Some Promises

      President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday tempered some of his most extreme campaign promises, dropping his vow to jail Hillary Clinton, expressing doubt about the value of torturing terrorism suspects and pledging to have an open mind about climate change.

      But in a wide-ranging, hourlong interview with reporters and editors at The New York Times — which was scheduled, canceled and then reinstated after a dispute over the ground rules — Mr. Trump was fiercely unapologetic about repeatedly flouting the traditional ethical and political conventions that have long shaped the American presidency.

    • Jill Stein’s Post-Election Interview – Green Party Candidate Shares Why She Thinks Hillary Clinton Lost the Election

      This is a powerful moment in U.S. history. Disappointment in Donald Trump’s victory has brought thousands of people onto the streets, chanting “Not my president!” Trump and Clinton were not the only people who ran for president; the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein and 27 other people were also on the ballot. Johnson won 3.3% of the vote, while Stein took 1% (1.3 million votes). Neither Johnson nor Stein made as great an impact as the polls suggested or as they had hoped. If they had attained the 5% threshold, their parties would qualify for public campaign funding.

      As the results of the election began to sink in, I spoke to Jill Stein about the election and about what might come from a Trump presidency.

    • Emails: CIA Official Reviewed Parts of Times Reporter’s Book Before Publication

      New York Times reporter David Sanger worked extensively with former deputy CIA director Michael Morell during the reporting of his book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power—even arranging to provide Morell with access to an entire unpublished chapter for his review—according to documents obtained by Gizmodo.

    • Richard Rorty’s 1998 Book Suggested Election 2016 Was Coming

      Three days after the presidential election, an astute law professor tweeted a picture of three paragraphs, very slightly condensed, from Richard Rorty’s “Achieving Our Country,” published in 1998. It was retweeted thousands of times, generating a run on the book — its ranking soared on Amazon and by day’s end it was no longer available. (Harvard University Press is reprinting the book for the first time since 2010, a spokeswoman for the publisher said.)

    • Study: 80 percent of students can’t tell the difference between an ad and a news story

      Young doesn’t necessarily equal web savvy, at least according to a recent Stanford study. More than 80 percent of students were unable to tell an advertisement — labeled as sponsored content — from a news story.

      The study attempted to judge news literacy among students and examine how they might respond and evaluate to stories gathered from Facebook and Twitter feeds, photographs, reader comments on news sites, and blog posts. All told, researchers collected some 7,804 responses from students in 12 US states.

    • Why Did Donald Trump Take Money From This Sketchy Ukrainian Oligarch?

      Almost $600,000 per hour.

      That’s the fee Donald Trump’s charity got for recording a video on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch.

      It’s a payment that could be in violation of tax laws, legal experts told The Daily Beast. When Hillary Clinton’s foundation received money from the very same billionaire, Donald Trump blasted her as “crooked.”

      Ukrainian steel magnate Victor Pinchuk’s foundation was the single largest outside donor to Donald Trump’s private charity in 2015, according to new IRS filings filed by the organization. The $150,000 gift amounted to 20 percent of the foundation’s total donations during that time, the documents showed. The filings also affirmed Trump violated tax laws by using his private foundation to self-deal, or enrich himself and his businesses instead of fulfilling a charitable mission.

      Pinchuk’s gift was given in conjunction with a short video Trump made for the Yalta European Strategy annual meeting, held in Kiev in September of 2015, according to The Washington Post.

    • Trump Foundation Took Donations from Controversial Ukrainian Clinton Donor

      A Ukrainian steel magnate who was one of the largest donors to the Clinton Foundation has surfaced on newly filed tax records for Donald Trump’s charitable foundation, raising alarms from some of the Clinton’s most vocal critics.

      “I think is troubling,” said Peter Schweizer, author of the book Clinton Cash, which documented the blending of the Clinton’s charitable and political interests. “He’s somebody that donated to the Clinton Foundation, and this is a problem…I think there’s no other way to read it other than they are hoping to get some favor in return.”

      Pinchuk’s $150,000 donation, first reported by The Washington Post, was to the Trumps’ family-run charity, far smaller and more intimate than the vast Clinton Foundation. In total, the Trump non profit took in $780,000 in contributions last year.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Donald Trump Personally Blasts the Press

      The fantasy of the normalization of Donald Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.

      First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?

      For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.

      This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.

      The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign.”

    • ‘Christians feel they are being censored’: Index on Censorship CEO

      Christians in Ireland feel unable to express their opinions on same-sex marriage, the CEO of free speech group Index on Censorship has said.

      Jodie Ginsberg, speaking in a debate on religious freedom, emphasised the need for tolerance of those with non-mainstream views, and their freedom to express those views.

    • UK to censor online videos of ‘non-conventional’ sex acts

      Web users in the UK will be banned from accessing websites portraying a range of non-conventional sexual acts, under a little discussed clause to a government bill currently going through parliament.

      The proposal, part of the digital economy bill, would force internet service providers to block sites hosting content that would not be certified for commercial DVD sale by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

      It is contained within provisions of the bill designed to enforce strict age verification checks to stop children accessing adult websites. After pressure from MPs, the culture secretary, Caroline Bradley, announced on Saturday that the government would amend the bill to include powers to block non-compliant websites.

      In order to comply with the censorship rules, many mainstream adult websites would have to render whole sections inaccessible to UK audiences. That is despite the acts shown being legal for consenting over-16s to perform and for adults in almost all other liberal countries to film, distribute and watch.

    • Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China

      Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has cultivated relationships with China’s leaders, including President Xi Jinping. He has paid multiple visits to the country to meet its top internet executives. He has made an effort to learn Mandarin.

      Inside Facebook, the work to enter China runs far deeper.

      The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • President Obama Will Soon Turn Over the Keys to the Surveillance State to President-Elect Trump

      On January 20, President Obama will hand Donald Trump the keys to the surveillance state. Not only will Trump have the NSA’s incredibly powerful technological tools at his disposal, but he’ll also have the benefit of the overbroad and unconstitutional surveillance authorities embraced by the Obama administration — authorities that give tremendous discretion to executive branch officials.

      These spying powers have long been cause for concern because they violate our core rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. But when wielded by a man who invited Russia to hack his political opponent, who reportedly eavesdropped on his own hotel guests, and who has called for expanded surveillance of Americans and especially American Muslims, they are all the more frightening. Fortunately, there are several ways to fight back against the surveillance state, including concrete steps you can take to protect yourself and your communications.

    • The UK is about to wield unprecedented surveillance powers — here’s what it means

      The legislation in question is called the Investigatory Powers Bill. It’s been cleared by politicians and awaits only the formality of royal assent before it becomes law. The bill will legalize the UK’s global surveillance program, which scoops up communications data from around the world, but it will also introduce new domestic powers, including a government database that stores the web history of every citizen in the country. UK spies will be empowered to hack individuals, internet infrastructure, and even whole towns — if the government deems it necessary.

    • Senior defence officials called for NSA director’s removal

      The Washington Post reported on 19 November that Defence Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper Jr made the recommendations to President Obama, now serving out the final days of his term.

      Clapper and Carter, Rogers’ two bosses, reportedly have problems with Rogers’ performance in the role. There have have apparently been “persistent complaints from NSA personnel that Rogers is aloof, frequently absent and does not listen to staff input”. His tenure as NSA director has been marked by several significant security breaches. The most recent example was the arrest of NSA contractor Harold T. Martin III, whose garage was found filled with terabytes of classified data on removable storage devices.

    • Britain’s Snoopers charter threatens your privacy

      There is a global siege on privacy. Governments all over the world have introduced legislation (sometimes secret) which forces email, internet or data storage providers to track what you do and make that data available to their governments. This, of course, also means third parties who gain access to the storage systems can see and abuse it. And because so many of us have put so much of our data at just a few providers, we’re at great risk as events like last week’s shutdown of hundreds of Google accounts did show.

      While Google, Dropbox and others lure customers in with ‘free’ data storage and great online services, governments benefit from centralized data storages as it makes it easy for them to hack in or demand data from these companies.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Albuquerque police illegally deleted, altered videos of police shootings: report

      The Albuquerque Police Department is coming under fire after former records supervisor, Reynaldo Chavez, gave a sworn affidavit claiming officers altered and deleted body camera videos.

      According to New Mexico In Depth, after at least two police shootings, videos were deleted or edited so they didn’t show the incident.

      In the case of 19-year-old suspected car thief Mary Hawkes in April 2014, the videos were partially deleted in spots or altered. In a separate incident, surveillance camera video from a nearby salon showed APD officers shooting law enforcement informant, Jeremy Robertson. That video too was altered. Chavez explained the June 2014 video had “the tell-tale signs that it has been altered and images that had been captured are now deleted. One of the deleted images captured the officers shooting Jeremy Robertson.”

    • 31 authors urge Obama to pardon Edward Snowden

      Thirty-one authors have signed an open letter to President Obama, urging him to pardon Edward Snowden, the former U.S. government contractor charged with violating the Espionage Act for leaking National Security Agency documents to journalists.

      Writers who signed the letter include Michael Chabon, Ursula K. LeGuin, Cheryl Strayed, Neil Gaiman, Teju Cole and Joyce Carol Oates.

      “Throughout American history, the pardonable offense and the pardon privilege itself have functioned together as a uniquely direct system of check-and-balance between the individual citizen and the executive branch,” the letter reads. “Both can be understood as extreme actions undertaken to mitigate the harm caused by judicial and legislative insufficiency; by courts that would rule unfairly, and by laws — like the Espionage Act — whose vagaries and datedness would make their application too severe or too broad.”

    • When Doctors First Do Harm

      President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday expressed reservations about the use of torture. But he did not disavow the practice, or his promise to bring it back. And if he does, C.I.A. doctors may be America’s last defense against a return to savagery. But they’ll need to break sharply with what they did the last time around.

      Buried in a trove of documents released last summer is the revelation that C.I.A. physicians played a central role in designing the agency’s post-Sept. 11 torture program. The documents, declassified in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, show in chilling detail how C.I.A. medicine lost its moral moorings. It’s long been known that doctors attended torture as monitors. What’s new is their role as its engineers.

      The documents include previously redacted language from a directive by the C.I.A.’s Office of Medical Services telling physicians at clandestine interrogation sites to flout medical ethics by lying to detainees and collaborating in abuse. This language also reveals that doctors helped to design a waterboarding method more brutal than what even lawyers for the George W. Bush administration allowed.

    • Oakland Activist Cat Brooks on President Trump: ‘My Revolutionary Prayer’
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump Formally Picks Two Net Neutrality Opponents To Head FCC Transition

      Trump this week formally selected two staunch opponents of net neutrality to oversee the incoming President’s FCC transition team. Economist Jeff Eisenach and former Sprint Corp lobbyist Mark Jamison both have deep-rooted ties to the broadband sector, and both played major roles in helping the industry fight passage of the U.S.’s net neutrality rules last year. We had already noted that incumbent ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have been getting excited by the possibility of a hamstrung FCC and the roll back of numerous consumer-friendly policies made under the tenure of outgoing FCC boss Tom Wheeler.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Convicted Felon Ask Google To Delist Multiple Government Websites Because His Name Is Protected By ‘Common Law Trademark’

        You don’t often see the FBI’s website targeted by a DMCA takedown notice, but when you do, you can be sure there’s someone with a criminal record behind it. The last time we saw this happening, it was convicted fraudster Sean Gjerde, who thought he could perform his own reputation management by copy-pasting the FBI’s press release onto his own website as part of a “book” he was “writing,” and then begin issuing bogus takedown notices targeting content he didn’t create. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if not for all the reasons he was NEVER GOING TO GET AWAY WITH IT.

        Enter Anthony Lewis Jerdine, someone with a bit of reputation to clean up. Over the past decade, Jerdine has been imprisoned for bank fraud, made the US Marshals fugitive list, been sanctioned for unauthorized practice of law, been called a vexatious litigant by the Ohio court system, and, lest we forget, formed a trust in his own name.

    • Copyrights

      • Resale Royalty Right: A Way To Redress Imbalance In Copyright Revenue, WIPO Told

        When visual artists sell their work, they usually perceive a price for that work. If it is resold at a much higher price, some countries provide for a resale right, providing artists with resale royalties. In other countries, such a right does not exist, putting visual artists in a disadvantageous situation, particularly indigenous artists, whose work can become very valuable on the international art markets.

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