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11.30.16

Links 30/11/2016: Git 2.11, GOG Surprise Tomorrow

Posted in News Roundup at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • GNU/Linux As An Alternative To Windows For A Small Business

      In the following article, I present a real-world case scenario as an example for setting up a small business with Linux as a desktop solution. It is presented as a single illustration of a unique case, and Linux/open source deployments will of course vary based on the number of users, business need and security requirements.

      A friend recently launched her own small startup, and because she’s funding it out of her own pocket, she came to me in the early stages with questions about Windows licensing, applications, support, etc. Her primary concern was the overhead of seeding her small office with Windows and all the required application licenses needed to run a business.

      Because of the nature of her startup, I suggested Linux as the standard desktop for her office. She was unsure of this choice, and some of her questions, all justified, included “I’ve heard Linux isn’t user-friendly”, and “are there viable business applications available for Linux?”

    • 4 alternatives to the Chrome browser on Chrome OS

      Now that even more Chromebooks support Android apps, Jack Wallen takes a look at the available browsers to see how they stack up against for the default Chrome browser.

  • Server

    • Outlook.com is still not functioning properly for some Microsoft punters

      Microsoft is still working to resolve “difficulties” faced by its Outlook customers, despite months of complaints about the disappearance of sent emails and 550 Errors.

      A growing number of complaints threads have been posted to Microsoft’s questions page regarding Outlook after recent upgrades to the service. They both precede and follow last week’s outage, which Redmond’s PRs failed to explain to us.

    • OpenStack Becomes a Standard Building Block for NFV

      OpenStack is becoming the de facto standard for infrastructure orchestration for NFV deployment by leading Communications Service Providers (CSPs). CSPs are trading off the challenges of OpenStack implementations (e.g. immature technology and evolving standards) for the benefits of open source and open architectures (i.e. reduced vendor lock-in). Lack of standards for NFV management and orchestration (MANO) remains a leading impediment.

    • The Docker monitoring problem

      You have probably heard of Docker—it is a young container technology with a ton of momentum. But if you haven’t, you can think of containers as easily—configured, lightweight VMs that start up fast, often in under one second. Containers are ideal for microservice architectures and for environments that scale rapidly or release often.

      Docker is becoming such an important technology that it is likely that your organization will begin working with Docker soon, if it has not already. When we explored real usage data, we found an explosion of Docker usage in production: it has grown 5x in the last 12 months.

      Containers address several important operational problems; that is why Docker is taking the infrastructure world by storm.

      But there is a problem: containers come and go so frequently, and change so rapidly, that they can be an order of magnitude more difficult to monitor and understand than physical or virtual hosts. This article describes the Docker monitoring problem—and solution—in detail.

      We hope that reading this article will help you fall in love with monitoring containers, despite the challenges. In our experience, if you monitor your infrastructure in a way that works for containers—whether or not you use them—you will have great visibility into your infrastructure.

    • Keynote: New Requirements for Application Delivery in a Micro-services Application World
    • Kontena Introduces Production-Ready, Open Source Container and Microservices Platform
  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Intel’s Clear Linux Now Shipping X.Org Server 1.19, Kernel 4.8.11 & Mesa 13.0.1

        Clear Linux’s Eva P. Hutanu informs the community of the Linux-based operating system designed for Intel Architecture and built for various cloud use cases about the latest updates that landed for the OS.

        But first, the team is proud to announce that Clear Linux is now an auto-updating operating system, which means that users will automatically receive updates when they are pushed into the repositories. Of course, you can opt out of this feature if you don’t want these updates to be automatically installed on your computer (see the command below).

      • Zentyal announces Zentyal Server 5.0, major new Linux Small Business Server release

        Zentyal today announced Zentyal Server 5.0, a major new release of the Zentyal Linux Small Business Server. Amid the generalized push for cloud, small and medium business continue requiring on-site server solutions and with this release Zentyal responds to their needs, offering an easy to use all-in-one Linux server with native compatibility with Microsoft Active Directory®.

        Zentyal Server 5.0 is based on Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and comes with the latest versions of all the integrated software. The single most important improvement Zentyal Server 5.0 introduces is the integration of the latest Samba version (Samba 4.5.1) directly from upstream. Due to the fast development of the Samba project, from this version onwards Zentyal will integrate the latest stable Samba packages available upstream. This allows quicker introduction of new Samba features, fixes and updates to Zentyal.

      • Zentyal Server 5.0 Out Now Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Adds New HTTP Proxy Module

        On November 29, 2016, the Zentyal development team proudly announced the release and immediate availability for download of the Zentyal Server 5.0 Linux-based server-oriented operating system with Active Directory interoperability.

        Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Zentyal Server 5.0 comes with the latest Open Source software and GNU/Linux technologies, including an untouched Samba 4.5.1 implementation from upstream, which puts a layer of performance to the AD (Active Directory) interoperability of the small business server.

      • Peppermint 7 Respin Released

        Team Peppermint are pleased to announce the release of the Peppermint 7 Respin, in both 32bit and 64bit editions.

      • Peppermint 7 Linux Respin ISO Image Released with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Goodies, More

        Peppermint OS developer Mark Greaves announced today, November 29, 2016, the release and immediate availability of the first ISO respin image of the Peppermint 7 Linux operating system.

        Sporting all the latest updates from the upstream repositories of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, the Peppermint-7-20161129 image is now powered by the 4.4.0-47 kernel with all the recent security patches. The new ISO also includes the HPLIP (HP Linux Imaging and Printing) software for out-of-the-box support for HP printers and scanners.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE project presentation at school, Nov 24th, 2016

        On November 16th there was the release of openSUSE Leap 42.2. On November 24th, I had the opportunity to present openSUSE Project at school.

        I was asked to make an introduction to FLOSS in general and more specific about openSUSE Project. The school was for middle aged people, for persons who quited school to work and conftibute financially to their families. There were 3 classes that they taught something computer related. It was a great opportunity for them to learn what FLOSS is and what makes openSUSE great Linux distro.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • systemd free Linux distro Devuan releases second beta

          The self-proclaimed “Veteran Unix Admins” forking Debian in the name of init freedom have released Beta 2 of their “Devuan” Linux distribution.

          Devuan came about after some users felt it had become too desktop-friendly. The change the greybeards objected to most was the decision to replace sysvinit init with systemd, a move felt to betray core Unix principles of user choice and keeping bloat to a bare minimum.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux-friendly modules adopt hexa- and octa-core Rockchip SoCs

      Theobroma unveiled a Qseven module built around a hexa-core, Cortex-A72/-A53 Rockchip RK3399 SoC, plus a µQseven version based on an octa-core -A53 RK3368.

      Austrian Qseven specialists Theobroma Systems announced two computer-on-modules that build on Rockchip SoCs with Linux and Android support. The Qseven-based “RK3399-Q7” features the new Rockchip RK3399, with dual Cortex-A72 cores at up to 2.0GHz and a quad-core bank of Cortex-A53 cores at up to 1.42GHz. It’s billed as the first Qseven module with a Cortex-A72. This appears to be true, although several COMs, such as the eInfochips Eragon 820, have tapped Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, which has four “Kyro” cores that roughly mimic the Cortex-A72.

    • IoT gateway runs Linux on i.MX6UL, offers Thread and ZigBee

      NXP’s Volansys-built, highly secure “Modular IoT Gateway” reference design runs Linux on an i.MX6 UL SoC, and offers Thread, ZigBee, WiFi, and NFC.

      NXP has released a Modular IoT Gateway reference design for large-node, 250+ wireless IoT networks. The gateway provides pre-integrated, tested, and RF-certified 802.15.4 mesh networking modules connected via MikroBus connectors, including Thread and ZigBee modules, and soon Bluetooth LE. Other options include an NFC chip for one-tap, no-power commissioning of IoT leaf nodes. The system also offers multiple layers of security.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • 7 tech advent calendars for the holiday season

    Technical advent calendars work in a similar way: Each day a new treat is revealed; sometimes it’s an article explaining a new tip or technique, whereas other times the treat is an exercise to help you hone your skills. Tech advent calendars, although secular, run at the same time in the holiday season. This means they’ll be kicking off on December first, giving the opportunity to learn all month long.

  • Events

    • #LinuXatUNI

      This last Saturday 26th was celebrated the #LinuXatUNI event at National University of Engineering. There were more than 250 people registered, but we have only 84 attended, though. I was surprised about this! It might be the upcoming final exams at universities in Lima or the early time on weekend.

    • Keynote: Breaking Barriers: Creatively and Courageously
  • CMS

    • HP5: A CMS plugin for creating HTML5 interactive content

      Many educators want to create interactive content for their classroom or online course. If you’re not a HTML5 programmer like most of us, but you have heard HTML5 can simplify your work and provide a great, standard web experience for your students, here’s how to get started.

      H5P is a free and open source tool that helps you create HTML5 content in the browser of your choice and share it across all operating systems and browsers. To explain more about the tool, I talked to Svein-Tore Griff With, the lead developer at Joubel.com, who together with his team, created H5P.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

      The government was warned of the risks surrounding its controversial smart meter programme four years ago, according to a leaked internal report seen by The Register, but appears to have largely ignored those concerns.

      A review of the programme from March 2012 highlights the vulnerability of smart meters to cyber-attacks, and flagged estimates that the scheme could leave the taxpayer out of pocket by £4.5bn rather than save consumers cash.

      Some 53 million smart meters are due to be installed in residences and small businesses by the end of 2020 at an estimated cost of £11bn.

      So far 3.5 million have been installed. The government has said it expects the scheme will save £17bn. However, a recent delayed report found that benefits to the consumer could be much smaller than originally thought.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and NodeSource Join Forces on Node.js API; Node.js Build System will Start Producing Nightly node-chakracore Builds

      Part of Node.js Foundation’s mission is growing Node.js everywhere. The Node.js platform is already available on a variety of VMs, like Samsung’s JerryScript, a lightweight JavaScript engine for the Internet of Things. While many steps are needed to allow Node.js to work in VM environments outside of V8, the work the Node.js API working group and ChakraCore are doing are important steps to offer greater choice.

    • Open source dependency management is a balancing act

      When we started development of the Open Chemistry project we looked quite seriously at requiring C++11, and I was dissuaded at the time by several in our community. We ended up using some small parts of C++11 that could be made optional and falling back to Boost implementations/empty macro definitions. At the time I think it was perhaps a little too aggressive, but if I could go back I would have told my former self to go for it. The project was new, had few existing users, and was mainly targeting the desktop. Add to that the fact that adoption often takes a few years and there is the cost of supporting older compilers.

      [...]

      Hopefully we can maintain a good middle ground that best serves our users, and be cognizant of the cost of being too conservative or too aggressive. Most developers are eager to use the latest features, and it can be extremely frustrating to know there is a better way that cannot be employed. I think there is a significant cost to being too conservative, but I have seen other projects that update and change too aggressively lose mind share.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Sleep deprivation ‘costs UK £40bn a year’

      Sleep-deprived workers are costing the UK economy £40bn a year and face a higher risk of death, says a new study.

      The calculation is based on tired employees being less productive or absent from work altogether.

      Research firm Rand Europe, which used data from 62,000 people, said the loss equated to 1.86% of economic growth.

  • Security

    • Emergency Bulletin: Firefox 0 day in the wild. What to do.

      We’re publishing this as an emergency bulletin for our customers and the larger web community. A few hours ago a zero day vulnerability emerged in the Tor browser bundle and the Firefox web browser. Currently it exploits Windows systems with a high success rate and affects Firefox versions 41 to 50 and the current version of the Tor Browser Bundle which contains Firefox 45 ESR.

      If you use Firefox, we recommend you temporarily switch browsers to Chrome, Safari or a non-firefox based browser that is secure until the Firefox dev team can release an update. The vulnerability allows an attacker to execute code on your Windows workstation. The exploit is in the wild, meaning it’s now public and every hacker on the planet has access to it. There is no fix at the time of this writing.

    • [Older] E-Voting Machines Need Paper Audits to be Trustworthy

      Election security experts concerned about voting machines are calling for an audit of ballots in the three states where the presidential election was very close: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We agree. This is an important election safety measure and should happen in all elections, not just those that have a razor-thin margin.

      Voting machines, especially those that have digital components, are intrinsically susceptible to being hacked. The main protection against hacking is for voting machines to provide an auditable paper trail.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Think Trump’s scary now? Obama is leaving him with broad war powers

      In all the outrage about the unhinged things Donald Trump keeps tweeting and saying, there’s been almost zero criticism at the fact that Obama will be partly responsible for the extraordinary scope of powers Trump inherits. The Obama administration has not only done nothing to curtail the slew of extreme national security and war powers that Trump is about to acquire since the election – the White House is actively expanding them.

  • Finance

    • Brexit is not a game of poker

      There are still those who nod-along with the “not showing your cards” defence of the government’s secrecy about what, if any, negotiating strategy it has for achieving Brexit.

      They tweet things to those calling for transparency with comments such as “you should not play poker” or similar.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Swamp of War

      Sometimes it’s tough to pull lessons of any sort from our confusing world, but let me mention one obvious (if little noted) case where that couldn’t be less true: the American military and its wars. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has been in a state of more or less permanent war in the Greater Middle East and northern Africa. In those years, it’s been involved in a kaleidoscopic range of activities, including full-scale invasions and occupations, large-scale as well as pinpoint bombing campaigns, drone strikes, special ops raids, advisory missions, training programs, and counterinsurgency operations. The U.S. military has fought regular armies, insurgencies, and terror groups of all sorts, Shiites as well as Sunnis. The first war of this era, in Afghanistan — a country Washington declared “liberated” in 2002 — is still underway 16 years later (and not going well). The second war, in Iraq, is still ongoing 13 years later. From Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Somalia, the U.S. military effort in these years, sometimes involving “nation building” and enormous “reconstruction” programs, has left in its wake a series of weakened or collapsed states and spreading terror outfits. In short, no matter how the U.S. military has been used, nothing it’s done has truly worked out.

    • Donald Trump’s most obvious conflict of interest problem is right down the street from the White House

      The new Trump International Hotel in Washington DC is a ticking time bomb for Donald Trump, and not just because foreign countries seeking to win his favor are already planning events there to line the US president-elect’s pockets.

      Steven Schooner and Daniel Gordon, lawyers specializing in federal procurement rules, write in Government Executive that Trump’s inauguration will immediately place him in violation of the law because the hotel is in the Old Post Office Pavilion, a building just blocks from the White House that was leased to a Trump-led consortium by the federal government.

      The lease, signed by Trump’s organization in 2013, includes a clause that says “no … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”

    • Conflict of interest fears over Georgieva’s World Bank dealings

      Six months before European Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva announced that she would be returning to the World Bank, her office negotiated changes in the way the European Union funds her former and future employer, according to EU officials and documents obtained by POLITICO.

      The new arrangement with the Bank is raising alarm bells at the Commission and the European Parliament about a potential conflict of interest. The concern comes as the Commission is trying to tighten so-called revolving door rules on what jobs senior officials can take once they leave EU institutions.

    • Juncker’s Parliamentary headache

      Martin Schulz’s decision to quit the European Parliament and take his talents to Berlin last week provoked breathless speculation about his political future in Germany and that of his Socialist group without him in Brussels.

      There is, however, one real world impact of Schulz’s departure in January: It is going to make the Parliament a huge pain where it hurts for the European Commission and its president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

      Though on paper a conservative who belongs to the European People’s Party, Juncker has made no secret of the importance of his bromance with the departing parliamentary chieftain from the other side of the aisle.

    • Sweden’s unsent letter to a President-elect Hillary Clinton: ‘It is a milestone for the world’

      Ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven drafted two letters. One was addressed to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee who enjoyed broad approval among Swedes. The other was to Republican Donald Trump, the upstart candidate who was viewed negatively by many in Sweden.

      The letters were intended to congratulate the winner of the election.

      Only one was ever sent.

      Lofven’s office released parts of the letter sent to Trump last week, though considerable sections of it were censored under Sweden’s official secrets act. On Monday, the Expressen newspaper released what it said was a copy of the letter in its entirety.

    • For $1 million and up, inaugural donors will get ‘candlelight dinner’ with Trump and other access

      The committee raising money for President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural festivities is offering exclusive access to the new president, Cabinet nominees and congressional leaders in exchange for donations of $1 million and more.

      For seven-figure contributions, Trump’s richest supporters will get a slew of special perks during the inauguration weekend, including eight tickets to a “candlelight dinner” that will feature “special appearances” by Trump, his wife, Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, according to a sheet detailing “underwriter package benefits” obtained by The Washington Post. The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed the authenticity of the donor brochure, which was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why Facebook’s China adventure will need more than censorship to succeed

      Facebook needs to invest in more than just censorship tools if it hopes to lift a seven-year ban in China, experts say, amid a tightening space for foreign technology companies in the world’s most populous nation.

      Last week it emerged Facebook is working on software designed to suppress content – widely seen as a prerequisite to ending the ban, put in place in the wake of deadly ethnic riots in 2009 in attempt to quell the sharing of information about the violence.

      Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have embarked on a high-profile and often controversial campaign to lift the China block in recent years.

      “Censorship is the biggest requirement,” said Adam Segal, director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, “and then they should start to invest in the ecosystem around them, in Chinese startups and funds, to show that they are friends of China.”

    • Censorship in Social Media Leaves Users in Frustration

      User reports of censorship of social media posts show a deep frustration with companies’ content moderation policies, according to an analysis by Onlinecensorship.org, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Visualizing Impact.

      In “Censorship in Context: Insights from Crowdsourced Data on Social Media Censorship,” researchers analyzed reports of content takedowns received from users of Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube from April to November of 2016. At a time when many are asking for more content moderation—like calls for Facebook to crack down on “fake news”—election-related censorship complaints focused on the desire of users to speak their minds and share information about a tight election without worrying that their posts will disappear.

    • Russia Draws On Chinese Expertise And Technology To Clamp Down On Internet Users Even More

      The Russians apparently see no other option than to invite Chinese heavyweights into the heart of its IT strategy. “China remains our only serious ‘ally’, including in the IT sector,” said a source in the Russian information technology industry, adding that despite hopes that Russian manufacturers would fill the void created by sanctions “we are in fact actively switching to Chinese”.

      That Russian source is clearly trying to suggest that this new partnership is all the fault of the West for imposing those silly economic sanctions, and that this could have been avoided if everybody had stayed friends. But the coziness between Russia and China has been coming for a while, as their geopolitical ambitions align increasingly, so the collaboration over surveillance and censorship technologies would probably have happened anyway. The interesting question is how the new alliance might blossom if the future Trump administration starts to reduce its engagement with the international scene to concentrate on domestic matters. The new Sino-Russian digital partnership could be just the start of something much bigger, but probably not more beautiful.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • [Older] Who Has Your Back in Colombia? A New Report Shows Telecom Privacy Slowly Improving

      Fundacion Karisma—the leading Colombian digital rights organization—has published the 2016 ¿Dónde están mis datos? report, which evaluates how well Colombian telecommunications companies protect their customers’ privacy.

      Karisma’s second annual report examines publicly-available policies on government surveillance transparency, data protection, privacy, and free expression from five of the biggest telecommunications companies: Claro, Tigo-UNE, Telefónica-Movistar, ETB (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá), and DirecTV.

    • Something Happened to Activist Email Provider Riseup, but It Hasn’t Been Compromised

      Over the last week, rumors have been spreading across the digital activist community that the technology collective riseup, which provides email, chat, VPN, and other services to activists, may be compromised after receiving a secret government subpoena accompanied by a gag order. The collective provides email service to roughly 150,000 users, hosts activism-related mailing lists with 6.8 million subscribers, and delivers more than 1 million emails per day. According to a representative of the riseup collective, the rumors are outsized. But it is clear that something happened, and that riseup is unable to speak about it publicly. “Riseup will shut down rather than endanger activists,” the spokesperson said. “We aren’t going to shut down, because there is no danger to activists.”

      Riseup, which began in Seattle in 1999, is one of the most privacy-friendly and anti-surveillance service providers online today. “We believe it is vital that essential communication infrastructure be controlled by movement organizations and not corporations or the government,” the collective’s website states. “Riseup does not log IP addresses and has not done so since the early ’00s,” the collective member told me in an encrypted email. “We work hard to minimize the amount of data (and metadata) stored as [much as] possible. The only way to protect the information of activists around the world is by not having the information in the first place.” Riseup’s privacy policy promises that the service will log as little as possible and never share user data with any third party.

    • GCHQ Virtually A Branch Office Of NSA – Parliament Unable To Hold It To Account

      By OpenRightsGroup – The NSA and GCHQ are virtually joined at the hip. GCHQ shares nearly all the data it collects, and relies on US technology for its key operations.

      Donald Trump“If there were a crisis in the relationship between the UK and the US, what risks would our shared intelligence arrangements pose?”

      We asked this question in our 2015 report about the Snowden leaks. We might be about to find out the answer.

      Chapter 5 of our report details the technological and data sharing integration. The Snowden documents show that Britain’s GCHQ and America’s NSA work very closely together. They are integrated in a way that means it is difficult for our Parliament to hold GCHQ to account. We rely so much on US technology and data that it poses questions for our sovereignty.

    • Florida Cops Have a New Device For Tracking Your Cell Phone

      For years and in almost complete secrecy, cops and feds in the United States — and elsewhere — have been using powerful devices called “Stingrays,” “cell site simulators,” or “IMSI catchers” to track and spy on cell phones.

      Over the last few years, and only after long legal fights and several public documents requests, we’ve learned a little bit more about IMSI catchers, including some of the agencies that use them.

      Yet we’ve rarely seen them. Some official pictures have been published online, mostly mined from patent applications, but we’ve practically never seen them in the wild … until now.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The War on the First Amendment Didn’t Start Last Week

      For those who woke a week ago to realize the First Amendment is under attack, I lost my job at the State Department in 2012 for writing We Meant Well, a book the government did not like, and needed the help of lawyer Jesselyn Radack and the ACLU to push back the threat of jail.

      My book was critical of actions in Iraq under both the Obama and Bush administrations. One helped protect the other.

      Braver people than me, like Thomas Drake, Morris Davis, and Robert MacLean, risked imprisonment and lost their government jobs for talking to the press about government crimes and malfeasance. John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, and Jeff Sterling went to jail for speaking to/informing the press. The Obama administration tried to prosecute reporters from Fox and the New York Times for stories on government wrongdoing.

      Ray Maxwell at the State Department went public with information about Hillary Clinton’s email malfeasance before you had even heard of her private server. The media that covered the story at all called him a liar, an opportunist, and a political hack, and he was pressed into retirement.

    • The West’s Shift Toward Repression

      Forgive my “infamously fluent French” but the phrase “pour encourager les autres” – a reference to executing one powerful person to send a message to others – seems to have lost its famously ironic quality. It seems that the U.S. government is globally paying big bucks to people to encourage them to expose the crimes of their employers, but only if they’re working for banks and other financial institutions – as opposed to say working for the government and its intelligence agencies.

      I have been aware for a few years that the U.S. government instituted a law in 2010 called the Dodd-Frank Act that is designed to encourage people employed in the international finance community to report malfeasance to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in return for a substantial percentage of any monies recouped.

      [...]

      But, from all recent examples, it would appear that you get damn few thanks for such patriotic actions. Take the case of Thomas Drake, a former senior National Security Agency executive who in 2007 went public about waste and wanton expenditure within the agency, as I wrote way back in 2011. Before doing so, Drake had gone through all the prescribed routes for such disclosures, up to and including a congressional committee.

      Despite all this, Drake was abruptly snatched by the FBI in a violent dawn raid and threatened with 35 years in prison. He (under the terrifying American plea bargain system) accepted a misdemeanor conviction to escape the horrors of federal charges, the resulting loss of all his civic rights and a potential 35 years in prison. He still, of course, lost his job, his impeccable professional reputation, and his whole way of life.

      He was part of a NSA group that also included William Binney, the NSA’s former Technical Director, and his fellow whistleblowers Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loumis and Diane Roark. These brave people had developed an electronic mass-surveillance program called Thin Thread that could zero in on those people who were genuinely of security interest and worth targeting, a program which would have been relatively cheap, costing only $1.4 million and would have been consistent with the terms of the Constitution. According to Binney, it could potentially have stopped 9/11 and all the attendant horrors..

    • Sumi Cho and Alicia Garza on Election and Intersection, James Loewen on Misreporting History

      That’s not, naturally, how social justice advocates are responding. They’re getting together to share strategies for protecting vulnerable communities and resisting the predations on our civil rights. One such gathering of activists and academics was a recent webinar hosted by the African American Policy Forum. It featured a range of voices. I’ll bring just two: Sumi Cho, professor at DePaul University School of Law, and Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

    • ‘Race Is at the Bottom of His Immigration Policy’

      Few if any groups received more venom from the Trump campaign than immigrants. Slurring millions of people as rapists, terrorists and freeloaders, Donald Trump promised, along with the infamous wall on the southern border and a ban of Muslims, tens of thousands of deportations and the seizure of money that people in the US send to families in Mexico. Distressing as all of this is in itself, it’s coming after years that have already seen many, many family-severing deportations and a struggle to enact reforms.

    • ‘People Can Protect the Rights of Everyone in Their Community’

      From promises of mass surveillance, stepped-up stop and frisk, to religion-based bans on entry to the country, a Trump White House looks to be a nightmare for civil rights and liberties. Here to talk about how folks are planning to get through it is Sue Udry. She’s executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, joined now with the Defending Dissent Foundation. She joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Sue Udry.

    • Where Are Sting and Bill Clinton When You Need Them?

      Is Gulnara Karimova dead? The source of today’s reports is Galima Burkabaeva, who is a first class journalist. She personally spoke with the Uzbek security service (SNB) source who told her Gulnara was killed by poisoning on 5 November. Galima does not vouch for the story’s truth, but she believes the source had credibility, and she is well placed to make that call.

      Gulnara was once the wealthiest female oligarch in Moscow society. She had amazing friends. Unfortunately she failed to notice that the kind of friends who do not care if you made your money out of child forced labour in the cotton fields, are the same kind of friends who will not care if you are chained to an iron bedstead in an ex-Soviet mental institution being pumped full of lobotomising chemicals with only a tin potty for company.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Just Showed Us What The Death Of Net Neutrality Is Going To Look Like

      For some time now we’ve warned how the FCC’s decision to not ban zero rating (exempting some content from usage caps) was going to come back and bite net neutrality on the posterior. Unlike India, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Chile, and other countries, the FCC crafted net neutrality rules that completely avoided tackling the issue of usage caps and zero rating. Then, despite ongoing promises that the agency was looking into the issue, the FCC did nothing as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast all began exempting their own content from usage caps while still penalizing competitors.

      Fast forward to this week, and AT&T has delivered what may very well be the killing blow to net neutrality thanks predominantly to the FCC’s failure to see the writing on the wall.

      AT&T this week is launching its new “DirecTV Now” streaming video service. According to the full AT&T announcement, the service offers various packages of streamed TV content ranging from $35 to $70 per month. Thanks to AT&T’s looming $100 billion acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T’s even throwing in HBO for an additional $5 per month, the lowest price point in the industry. Though a bit hamstrung to upsell you to traditional DirecTV (two stream limit, no 4K content, no NFL Sunday Ticket, no DVR functionality), all told it’s a fairly compelling package for cord cutters.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Dominica Accepts TRIPS Health Amendment; Two More To Go?

      The government of Dominica has deposited its instrument of acceptance of the 2005 so-called “paragraph 6” amendment to international intellectual property trade rules aimed at making it easier for countries to export affordable medical products to developing countries. Dominica’s signing brings the number of signers to 65 percent of WTO members, according to the WTO. Two-thirds of WTO members must accept it for the amendment to go into effect, but it is unclear exactly how many members that represents. It appears that two or three more members will tip the scale.

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