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12.13.16

Links 13/12/2016: CoreOS Container Linux, CentOS Linux 7

Posted in News Roundup at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 gifts under $50 for open-source geeks

    The weeks of December are flying by, and the new year is fast approaching. While it seems that sales begin earlier and earlier every year, some people (like me) put off gift buying until the last minute. Even if you’re a more responsible gift-giver, it can be hard to pinpoint what someone might like for Christmas or Hanukkah.

    If you’re shopping for an open-source geek in your life, but don’t have a ton of money to spend on hardware, there are a few stocking-stuffers and small gifts that can be had for under $50. Here are five affordable options to consider before shipping deadlines pass.

  • Google makes ‘Embedding Projector’ an open source project

    Data can be highly valuable, and no company knows that more than Google. It is constantly collecting a massive amount of it — it is pretty much how the company butters its bread. Data only has value when it can be used, however, meaning it must ultimately tell a story. In other words, collecting it is only the beginning.

    One of the best way to digest and present data is with visualizations and dashboards. Not everyone is a data scientist, so how you tell a story matters. Today, Google is making a rather nifty data visualization tool an open source project. Called “Embedding Projector”, it can show what the search giant calls “high-dimensional data”.

  • Kubernetes 1.5 comes to Windows Server 2016
  • Kubernetes 1.5 Brings Container Management to Windows

    New release of open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system adds initial support for Microsoft Windows Server and previews beta stateful application capabilities.

    The open-source Kubernetes container management system is moving forward with the release of Kubernetes 1.5 on December 15, bringing the platform to Microsoft Windows Server for the first time. The Kubernetes 1.5 milestone is the last major release of Kubernetes in 2016 and follows the 1.4 release that debuted on September 26.

  • A new way forward for power utilities: The Open Smart Grid Platform

    The Open Smart Grid Platform is an open, generic, scalable, and independent Internet of Things platform that enables municipalities and power distribution companies to easily control and monitor various public service objects with any application and with any communication infrastructure. It acts as a connecting link between web applications and smart devices, and it was built with utility requirements in mind (a strong security focus, reliability, use of international standards, etc). The platform was also built to fit with multiple use-cases from the ground up; it contains generic functions that are needed for managing and controlling a large number of devices, like authorizations, time synchronization, and configuration management.

  • Events

    • Plasma Meets Nextcloud

      At a meeting back in July in Stuttgart, KDE and Nextcloud developers discussed deeper integration between the respective communities. We’d like to share some of those ideas and, as always, invite anyone interested in participating to help make it happen!

    • Wednesday: Release Party in Berlin!

      On wednesday is our Nextcloud meetup and – Nextcloud 11 will be released, so let’s make it a release party! Bring some snacks if you like, let’s drink a beer or two, get our servers upgraded perhaps.

    • Help Move the Networking Industry Forward at Open Networking Summit 2017

      I am honored to join The Linux Foundation this month as General Manager of Open Source Networking & Orchestration. As I look at the last three decades, we (networking geeks) have always stepped up to stay ahead of major technology disruptions. Now we are at the next big revolution: open networking, fueled by open source communities.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • CMS

    • How Open Source CMS are Taking Over the World

      Content management systems are wide and varied. There are tons of them on the market, some are proprietary but a very large amount are created under an open source license. The reason for this is simple; it allows a small team of developers to become a bigger team by opening up their code to a wider community of users who may wish to contribute or provide enhancements.

      This is one of the greatest strengths that open source products have; the often large pools of available developers. Of course, like anything, there can be downsides as well but lately, we’ve seen more and more open source products become viable options for companies in search of stable, regularly updated platforms on which to run their businesses. Today, I’m going to share with you my thoughts on how open source CMS’ are taking over the world.

    • The three big CMS’: Which is right for your business?

      A platform that originally started as a home for blogging with 76.5 million blogs created since 2004, WordPress has advanced a great deal over the last decade and now powers over 25 per cent of websites across the world. There are a whole host of reasons why this platform is so popular with business owners and designers alike.

      It’s easy to set up and use for just about anyone who owns a computer. There’s no need to have much knowledge about coding as you can build a simple website from scratch using the thousands of templates and plug-ins available at your fingertips. It’s also cost-effective. It’s free to sign up and although some of the best templates and plug-ins come at cost, if you want to create a website for free you can.

      For designers, it’s an ideal CMS as bespoke websites can be built fast due to the ease of amending code. This means that they can be launched in a short period of time for clients, and any changes as the business evolves can be done quickly.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Can open source and open systems really open the door to healthier democracies?

      Many think technology can improve democracy and good governance. Open data and online platforms allow the public to participate more directly and gain greater transparency and accountability.

      This whole area of technology for improved governance could be worth $2bn over the next decade, according to Pablo Sarrias, CEO and founder of OpenSeneca.

      His company was set up by Telefónica Open Future and Barcelona-based electronic voting company Scytl, which has provided proprietory election technology for the 2016 US elections, among others.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Italy’s eInvoice system to become open for all

      Italy is opening up its FatturaPA payments services. Starting in January, the system can also be used for free by companies to send invoices to other companies and citizens, who in turn can use the system to pay them.

    • How “open source” seed producers from the U.S. to India are changing global food production

      Frank Morton has been breeding lettuce since the 1980s. His company offers 114 varieties, among them Outredgeous, which last year became the first plant that NASA astronauts grew and ate in space. For nearly 20 years, Morton’s work was limited only by his imagination and by how many different kinds of lettuce he could get his hands on. But in the early 2000s, he started noticing more and more lettuces were patented, meaning he would not be able to use them for breeding. The patents weren’t just for different types of lettuce, but specific traits such as resistance to a disease, a particular shade of red or green, or curliness of the leaf. Such patents have increased in the years since, and are encroaching on a growing range of crops, from corn to carrots — a trend that has plant breeders, environmentalists and food security experts concerned about the future of the food production.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Apple, Microsoft notable absentees from new Global Virtual Reality Association

      VR headset manufacturers including Google, HTC VIVE, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung, Acer Starbreeze and Sony Interactive Entertainment have come together to establish the Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA).

      The association is a non-profit organisation for international VR headset manufacturers to promote the growth of the VR industry.

      According to the companies, the association will help develop best practices for the industry, as well as share them and foster dialogue between several stakeholders around the world.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Insiders: America’s largest chain of psych hospitals kidnaps people seeking care, drugs and holds them until they’re out of insurance

      Universal Health Services (UHS) is the largest chain of psychiatric facilities in the USA, with 2.5x more beds than its closest competitor, and dozens of whistleblowers from inside the company told a Buzzfeed reporter that they were pressured to find pretenses to lock up people who voluntarily presented for assessments, holding them against their will until their insurance ran out, with massive bonuses for executives who increased profits (and much smaller bonuses for execs who improved health outcomes for patients).

      UHS hospitals are incredibly profitable, running at 30-50% margins, and whistleblowers say these margins are attained by dropping staffing to unsafe levels and preferentially hiring underqualified and inexperienced people; while simultaneously packing in patients by bedding them in closets, in isolation cells, and on mattresses on the floors of day-rooms.

      Meanwhile, the whistleblowers say that patients in desperate need of care are refused admission, or are kicked out early, if they don’t have insurance. A large plurality of UHS’s patents are covered by tax-funded Medicare, and 10% of the company’s hospitals are currently under investigation for Medicare fraud. Patients say that their confinement has eaten into the days of mental health care they are entitled to under Medicare, meaning that if they end up in distress later that they will not be able to get care.

    • The People Who Sell You Legal Weed Don’t Know Enough About It

      When I first received my medical marijuana card, my visits to the local dispensary were generally long, drawn out affairs. The bud tenders on staff would meticulously walk me through each strain on display, describing in detail their psychoactive and somatic effects. As someone prone to cannabis-induced anxiety I eventually learned that strains with low THC and high CBD counts were what I needed, but it took a lot of trial and error to find the right strain of medicine. Although the bud tenders spoke with authority about the effects of their medicine, I would often find that the effects of the bud recommended for me didn’t at all match what the bud tender had told me.

  • Security

    • The sad tale of CVE-2015-1336

      Today I released man-db 2.7.6 (announcement, NEWS, git log), and uploaded it to Debian unstable. The major change in this release was a set of fixes for two security vulnerabilities, one of which affected all man-db installations since 2.3.12 (or 2.3.10-66 in Debian), and the other of which was specific to Debian and its derivatives.

      It’s probably obvious from the dates here that this has not been my finest hour in terms of responding to security issues in a timely fashion, and I apologise for that. Some of this is just the usual life reasons, which I shan’t bore you by reciting, but some of it has been that fixing this properly in man-db was genuinely rather complicated and delicate. Since I’ve previously advocated man-db over some of its competitors on the basis of a better security posture, I think it behooves me to write up a longer description.

    • Dear democracy, you need more hackers

      This is my write up from Nesta’s recent digital democracy day — I wasn’t planning to blog but it inspired me, so here you go.

      The day included two sessions; one focussed on local government and one in parliament focussed on, well, parliament. At the heart of each session were four fantastic presentations showcasing digital democracy projects from Iceland (Citizen’s Foundation —Gunnar Grímsson), Taiwan (Digital Minister — Audrey Tang), France (Cap Collectif — Nicolas Patte) and Brazil (Chamber of Deputies Hacker Lab — Cristiano Falia). Big thanks to Theo and the rest of the gang at Nesta for arranging :)

      My main thought following the day (there was so much — it’s been hard to boil it down…) is that there needs to be more capacity in our democracy to hack. Government can no longer rely on off the shelf solutions to meet democratic challenges but needs to experiment and adapt – something brilliantly illustrated by each of the four projects.

      [...]

      The tools are not much use if the institutions of democracy are unwilling or unable to respond to them. Nicholas Patte explained how it took a long time to convince the elected representatives in France about their crowd sourced legislation project but, with perseverance, they got there in the end.

      I loved that Taiwan has a ‘Minister of Hacking’ who can get things done at the highest level of government — her sage advice is that politicians can be asked to accept ‘those things they can live with’; compromise clearly plays a role.

    • Users Told Disconnect Certain Netgear Routers

      About this time I’m wondering if I’d even purchase a Netgear router.

      You’d think that with all of the fuss recently about the insecure Internet of things, especially when it comes to routers, that any router maker would be on top of it and patching vulnerabilities as soon as they’re discovered.

      Evidently not, as far as Netgear is concerned.

    • Busted Windows 8, 10 update blamed for breaking Brits’ DHCP

      Folks using Windows 10 and 8 on BT and Plusnet networks in the UK are being kicked offline by a mysterious software bug.

      Computers running the Microsoft operating systems are losing network connectivity due to what appears to be a problem with DHCP. Specifically, it seems some Windows 10 and 8 boxes can no longer reliably obtain LAN-side IP addresses and DNS server settings from their BT and Plusnet broadband routers, preventing them from reaching the internet and other devices on their networks.

      (The link between BT and Plusnet is that, while the latter bills itself as a friendly independent ISP, it’s really a subsidiary of the former.)

      BT and Plusnet told The Register Microsoft is investigating the blunder. Redmond also confirmed on Thursday in its support forum that it’s looking into the problem.

    • Containers in Production – Is Security a Barrier? A Dataset from Anchore

      Over the last week we have had the opportunity to work with an interesting set of data collected by Anchore (full disclosure: Anchore is a RedMonk client). Anchore collected this data by means of a user survey ran in conjunction with DevOps.com. While the number of respondents is relatively small, at 338, there are some interesting questions asked, and a number of data points which support wider trends we are seeing around container usage. With any data set of this nature, it is important to state that survey results strictly reflect the members of the DevOps.com community.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • security things in Linux v4.9
    • Black Hats Leveraging PowerShell

      Those with long memories might remember that in 1996, Microsoft added support in the Internet Explorer browser for ActiveX controls. While this greatly expanded the functionality of the Internet, it also made the web a much less safe place, especially for the average user. The trouble was, ActiveX made it simple to download and install software with little or no input from users. Even those not old enough to remember have probably already figured out that this didn’t work out well.

    • A security lifetime every five years

      A long time ago, it wouldn’t be uncommon to have the same job at the same company for ten or twenty years. People loved their seniority, they loved their company, they loved everything staying the same. Stability was the name of the game. Why learn something new when you can retire in a few years?

      Well, a long time ago, was a long time ago. Things are quite a bit different now. If you’ve been doing the same thing at the same company for more than five years, there’s probably something wrong. Of course there are always exceptions to every rule, but I bet more than 80% of the people in their jobs for more than five years aren’t exceptions. It’s easy to get too comfortable, it’s also dangerous.

    • Hack of Saudi Arabia Exposes Middle East Cybersecurity Flaw

      More than a year after a drowned Syrian toddler washed up on a beach in Turkey, the tiny refugee’s body, captured in a photograph that shocked the world, reappeared on computer screens across Saudi Arabia — this time as a prelude to a cyberattack.

      The strike last month disabled thousands of computers across multiple government ministries in Saudi Arabia, a rare use of offensive cyberweapons aimed at destroying computers and erasing data. The attackers, who haven’t claimed responsibility, used the same malware that was employed in a 2012 assault against Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, and which destroyed 35,000 computers within hours.

    • London councils are reliant on unsupported Microsoft server software [Ed: Well, even if supported, still back doors in it. Abandon.]

      ALMOST 70 PER CENT of London councils are running unsupported server software, leaving them vulnerable to exploits for which there are no patches available.

      That’s according to backup firm Databarracks, which through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that 69 per cent of London councils are running out-of-date server software.

      The firm contacted all 32 London boroughs as well as the City of London and received responses from all.

      The data revealed that 63 per cent of London councils are still running Windows Server 2003, 51 per cent run SQL Server 2005 and 10 per cent still use Windows Server 2000 – none of which are still supported by Microsoft.

    • PwC sends ‘cease and desist’ letters to researchers who found critical flaw

      A security research firm has released details of a “critical” flaw in a security tool, despite being threatened with legal threats.

      Munich-based ESNC published a security advisory last week detailing how a remotely exploitable bug in a security tool, developed by auditing and tax giant PwC, could allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to an affected SAP system.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Houston man pleads guilty in mosque fire on Christmas Day

      A Houston man was sentenced Friday to four years in prison after pleading guilty to starting a fire at a mosque on Christmas Day.

      Gary Nathaniel Moore, 38 of Houston, was arrested last year in connection with a fire at 2 p.m. on Dec. 25 at a storefront mosque in the 1200 block of Wilcrest.

      Moore told investigators at the scene that he had attended the mosque for five years, coming five times per day to pray seven days per week, according to court records.

    • Man who posted pro-ISIS material and attacked ‘moderate Muslims’, labelling them ‘pure sell-outs and traitors’ is jailed

      An extremist has been jailed for two years for posting an Islamic State propaganda video on Facebook, despite claims he would find prison “a living nightmare”.

      Abdul Hamid, 31, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, admitted posting the unedited four-minute video entitled No Respite, glorifying the terror group and its fighters.

      The Old Bailey heard that he had seen a short clip of the video in an online news report and believed it was not illegal to share it on social media at the time.

      But he later accepted that he had been “reckless” when he posted it in its entirety on Facebook, leading to it being viewed 465 times, “liked” 20 times and “shared” 34 times.

    • Donald Trump says ‘I don’t want China dictating to me’ signalling President-elect could abandon decades-old foreign policy

      Donald Trump has questioned whether the US should continue its support for the “One China” policy unless Beijing makes concessions on trade and other issues.

      “I don’t want China dictating to me”, he said while defending his recent phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

      In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, he said: “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘One China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

      The President-elect was responding to a question about his phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which represented a break with decades of US diplomatic tradition that recognises Beijing as the sole representative of China.

    • Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Need Daily Intelligence Briefings Because He’s a ‘Smart Person’

      The president-elect was interviewed on Fox News Sunday

      Donald Trump said he doesn’t need daily intelligence briefings because he’s a “smart person.”

      Trump, who currently receives the presidential daily brief just once a week, said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that he only requires the information if something has changed.

    • Syrian refugees mark one year anniversary of being welcomed to Canada

      Noura Alissa says she’s very grateful for the warm welcome she’s received in Canada, but admits the year since she arrived in Montreal from Syria has been more difficult than she expected.

      “Trying to find a job while learning French has been difficult, but I am trying,” the 25-year-old Syrian refugee said in English in an interview Sunday. She said the warm welcome she’s received from Canadians has helped ease the transition.

      It has been a year since Canada welcomed the first group of Syrians that the government flew out of refugee camps, and both political leaders and refugees marked the occasion over the weekend with a mixture of pride and an acknowledgment of the challenges that remain.

      Immigration Minister John McCallum said he would never forget joining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other cabinet ministers at Toronto’s Pearson airport on Dec. 10, 2015 to greet the first plane load of refugees.

    • Lockheed Martin shares suffer after Trump F-35 tweet

      Shares in Lockheed Martin have fallen after President-elect Donald Trump said he would cut the cost of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter after taking office.

      He tweeted: “F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20.”

      The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons programme, costing about $400bn (£316bn).

      Lockheed shares were down 4.2% at $248.51 in morning trading.

    • Transition Adviser Peter Thiel Could Directly Profit From Mass Deportations

      Palantir Technologies, the data mining company co-founded by billionaire and Trump transition advisor Peter Thiel, will likely assist the Trump Administration in its efforts to track and collect intelligence on immigrants, according to a review of public records by The Intercept. Since 2011, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has paid Palantir tens of millions of dollars to help construct and operate a complex intelligence system called FALCON, which allows ICE to store, search, and analyze troves of data that include family relationships, employment information, immigration history, criminal records, and home and work addresses.

      In a separate multi-million-dollar contract signed in 2014, Thiel’s $20 billion company is building a complex case management system for ICE’s HSI, which processes tens of thousands of civil and criminal cases each year.

    • Saudi arms money is running out

      Saudi Arabia is certainly fighting proxy wars in the Middle East (Allies rally to Johnson over Saudi gaffe, 9 December), as well as promoting its form of Islam in many countries around the world. But it is not just for their oil and for their lucrative custom, for as long as they can pay, that we court Saudi Arabia. We were friendly with the Shah of Persia and selling him aircraft only weeks before he fled his country. The west found itself needing the stability the Saudi regime provides in the region.

      But it can now be predicted that all of this will end – perhaps soon – and that things will become catastrophically worse in the region. Saudi Arabia is running out of money and, despite protestations and efforts to prevent it, the momentum towards bankruptcy seems unstoppable. Saudi’s cash flow is depleted by low oil prices and by steadily decreasing demand for oil from that area. If the House of Saud suddenly falls, as did the Shah, religious revolutionaries of many shades will clash for power and seize the country’s massive stock of armaments. Client states will be left penniless and exposed.

    • Escaped Isis sex-slave Nadia Murad urges EU to recognise Yazidi genocide

      Escaped Isis sex slave Nadia Murad has called on the EU to recognise the Jihadi group’s ongoing genocide against the Yazidi people.

      Ms Murad said the EU must work to prosecute members of Isis and establish a safe zone to protect vulnerable minorities.

      She has been awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought along with Lamya Haji Bashar, another Yazidi woman who was also captured by Isis when the group launched a major assault across northern Iraq in 2014.

      They escaped after several months of enslavement and now campaign for Yazidi women.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Methane surge needs ‘urgent attention’

      Scientists say they are concerned at the rate at which methane in the atmosphere is now rising.

      After a period of relative stagnation in the 2000s, the concentration of the gas has surged.

      Methane (CH4) is a smaller component than carbon dioxide (CO2) but drives a more potent greenhouse effect.

      Researchers warn that efforts to tackle climate change will be undermined unless CH4 is also brought under tighter control.

      “CO2 is still the dominant target for mitigation, for good reason. But we run the risk if we lose sight of methane of offsetting the gains we might make in bringing down levels of carbon dioxide,” said Robert Jackson from Stanford University, US.

      Prof Jackson was speaking ahead of this week’s American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco where methane trends will be a major point of discussion.

    • Jill Stein says Standing Rock decision buys time but more work needs to be done

      In an interview with Jorge Ramos, Dr. Jill Stein weighed in on the recent Standing Rock decision, Trump voters, and her recount efforts.

    • Trump says ‘nobody really knows’ if climate change is real

      President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday that “nobody really knows” whether climate change is real and that he is “studying” whether the United States should withdraw from the global warming agreement struck in Paris a year ago.

      In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, Trump said he’s “very open-minded” on whether climate change is underway but has serious concerns about how President Obama’s efforts to cut carbon emissions have undercut America’s global competitiveness.

      “I’m still open-minded. Nobody really knows,” Trump said. “Look, I’m somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast. I do know this: Other countries are eating our lunch.”

    • Inside Exxon’s Great Climate Cover-Up: From Early Climate Change Researcher to Epic Climate Denier

      With President-elect Donald Trump expected to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, we look back at the investigative series by the Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization InsideClimate News, which revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming as early as the 1970s but hid that information from the public. We speak to Neela Banerjee of InsideClimate News and former Exxon scientist Ed Garvey.

    • Pipeline spills 176,000 gallons of crude into creek about 150 miles from Dakota Access protest camp

      A pipeline leak has spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek roughly two and a half hours from Cannon Ball, where protesters are camped out in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.

      Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes, as well as environmentalists from around the country, have fought the pipeline project on the grounds that it crosses beneath a lake that provides drinking water to native Americans. They say the route beneath Lake Oahe puts the water source in jeopardy and would destroy sacred land.

    • Trump’s transition: sceptics guide every agency dealing with climate change

      The heads of Donald Trump’s transition teams for Nasa, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy, as well as his nominees to lead the EPA and the Department of the Interior, all question the science of human-caused climate change, in a signal of the president-elect’s determination to embark upon an aggressively pro-fossil fuels agenda.

      Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine senior members deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity. These include the transition heads of all the key agencies responsible for either monitoring or dealing with climate change. None of these transition heads have any background in climate science.

    • Donald Trump ‘will violate US Constitution on first day of presidency’ due to business interests

      Donald Trump is on course to violate the US Constitution on day one of his presidency after insisting he will not relinquish ownership of his businesses while in office.

      The US President-elect confirmed during a Fox News Sunday interview that he will hand the management of his companies to his children but will not give up ownership of the businesses.

      Mr Trump said: “When I ran, everybody knew that I was a very big owner of real estate all over the world.”

    • Trump’s pick for interior secretary could open up federal land to oil and gas drilling

      President-elect Donald Trump is expected to pick Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to lead the Interior Department, according to The New York Times. If confirmed by the Senate, she’s expected to open up federal land and waters to oil, gas, and coal extraction, as well as undo environmental policies approved under the Obama administration.

      Rodgers is the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House of Representatives. She was also appointed to serve as vice chair of Trump’s transition team. Since she was first elected to Congress in 2004, Rodgers supported legislation to open up the Atlantic Ocean to oil and natural-gas drilling and to prevent the Department of the Interior from regulating fracking, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the state of Washington, Rodgers has promoted the use of hydropower, a renewable energy source.

  • Finance

    • Venezuela pulls 100-bolivar note from circulation to ‘beat mafia’

      The Venezuelan government is to withdraw its largest banknote from circulation in its latest attempt to tackle the world’s worst inflation crisis.

      President Nicolás Maduro said on Sunday that the 100-bolivar note, which is currently worth only two US cents (1.6p) on the black market, will be withdrawn on Wednesday. Venezuelans will then have 10 days to exchange the notes at the central bank.

    • Amazon accused of ‘intolerable conditions’ at Scottish warehouse

      Amazon has been accused of creating “intolerable working conditions” after allegations that workers have been penalised for sick days and that some are camping near one of its warehouses to save money commuting to work.

      Willie Rennie, the Liberal Democrat leader in Scotland, said Amazon should be “ashamed” that workers at its warehouse in Dunfermline have chosen to camp outside in the winter.

      He made the comments after the the Courier newspaper published photographs of tents near the site that it said were being lived in by Amazon workers. It said at least three tents were pitched close to the warehouse by the M90 in Dunfermline and that a man living in one of them had said he was an employee who usually lives in Perth.

      A Sunday Times investigation found that temporary workers at the warehouse were being penalised for taking time off sick and put under pressure to hit targets for picking orders. It also claimed that although workers could walk up to 10 miles a day doing their jobs, water dispensers were regularly empty.

    • The war on cash being justified as “necessary against organized crime” is the worst excuse ever

      There is a “war on cash” going on from the central banks, trying to reduce the usage (and personal storage) of cash. This is something that makes sense as a power move against the common people in a time of forced negative interest rates, but it is a shocking reduction of liberty and privacy (of finance), not to mention that the official justifications don’t hold a shred of water. What’s really behind this trend?

      Would you like your government to have more insight into your personal finances than you have yourself? That’s where we’re heading with the ongoing “war on cash” – into a world where every transaction is not just loggable by the government (or a government-coerced agent), but where you can also be held responsible for anything and everything you buy and sell.

      There’s both a carrot and a stick in this scheme of making everything traceable and trackable. The stick consists of outright bans on cash transactions – several European countries have banned cash transactions exceeding 1,000 euros. Uruguay has banned cash transactions over $5,000. Even Switzerland has proposed banning cash transactions over 100,000 Swiss francs (admittedly a high number, but once a government declares a right to ban cash transactions, the number is a matter of degree and not principle).

    • Yik Yak fires 30 of 50 employees, still has no business model

      In a move that seemed all-too predictable, Yik Yak has fired more than half of its staff. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the local startup laid off 30 of its 50 employees on Thursday.

      Since it began in 2013, the company behind the purportedly anonymous messaging app has never had, and still doesn’t have, any obvious source of meaningful revenue. Yet somehow, Yik Yak was valued by venture capitalists at $400 million in December 2014 after Sequoia Capital invested $62 million.

    • Japan ratifies TPP trade pact to fly the flag for free trade

      Japan on Friday ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade pact aimed at linking a dozen Pacific Rim nations, hoping it will one day take effect despite President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge that the United States will withdraw from it.

      The TPP, which aims to cut trade barriers in some of Asia’s fastest-growing economies but does not include China, can not take effect without the United States.

      The deal, which has been five years in the making, requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.

      Given the sheer size of the American economy, the deal cannot go ahead without U.S. participation.

    • Committee Report: Provisions in TPP expose Australia to unnecessary risk

      I am glad to have this opportunity to make some remarks about Report 165: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreementof the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. I am a member of that committee and I am a new member of this place. I begin by observing that the committee process was both instructive and constructive.

      I thank the Chair, the member for Fadden, for the way he guided us through the process and, of course, my fellow Labor members of the committee for the way they approached the evidence and the submissions that we received in hearings.

      The report enables ratification of the TPP to occur, and that report was tabled yesterday. The timing is little bit strange, considering the circumstances that confront us. Since 8 November and the success of President-elect Trump, it has become clear that the United States has no present intention of ratifying the TPP, and without the United States in the TPP it will not come into force. On that basis, Labor members of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties thought it would be prudent to move the reporting date to the new year so that those developments in the United States could unfold. They were also mindful that there is an inquiry afoot in the other place that does not report until the first week of the new parliamentary year. That was not the mood of the majority of the committee. Obviously the report has been tabled and presumably ratification will ensue.

    • Four EU states among world’s worst tax havens

      Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands are listed among the top 15 global corporate tax havens, according to a new report from aid agency Oxfam.

      The report out on Monday (12 December) claims that the member states contribute to helping big businesses dodge tax on a massive scale, despite EU and other efforts to crack down on the practice.

      Bermuda tops the list of the 15 followed by the Cayman Islands and the Netherlands. Ireland ranks 6, followed by Luxembourg (7) and Cyprus (10). The British Virgin islands, Jersey and the Bahamas are also listed.

    • Trump’s Labor Pick, Fast-Food CEO Andrew Puzder, Opposes Minimum Wage Increase & Paid Sick Leave

      President-elect Donald Trump has picked fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder to become the next secretary of labor. Puzder is a longtime Republican donor who has been a vocal critic of raising the minimum wage, the Fight for 15 movement, expansion of overtime pay, paid sick leave and the Affordable Care Act. Puzder is also an anti-choice activist who has been accused of domestic violence. We get response from labor leader Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents over 2 million workers.

    • Trump taps Goldman Sachs president for top economic adviser

      President-elect Donald Trump has selected Gary Cohn, the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, to serve as assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the national economic council.

      “As my top economic advisor, Gary Cohn is going to put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people,” Trump said in a statement. “He will help craft economic policies that will grow wages for our workers, stop the exodus of jobs overseas and create many great new opportunities for Americans who have been struggling. He fully understands the economy and will use all of his vast knowledge and experience to make sure the American people start winning again.”

    • The Internet Governance Forum Wakes Up to Trade

      The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder community that discusses a broad range of Internet issues, and seeks to identify possible shared solutions to current challenges. This year was the first year in which the spotlight fell on the use of trade agreements to make rules for the Internet behind closed doors, and a broad consensus emerged that this needs to change.

      In an unprecedented focus on this issue, there were three separate workshops held on the topic—an EFF-organized workshop on the disconnect between trade agreements and the Internet’s multi-stakeholder governance model, two more specific workshops on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and finally a high-profile plenary session that was translated into the six United Nations languages and included on its panel two former trade negotiators, a Member of the European Parliament, and two private sector representatives, as well as speakers from EFF and Public Citizen.

    • Apple CEO Tim Cook Cook invited to event regarding the European Commission tax ruling

      Apple CEO Tim Cook may have a busy travel schedule over the next several weeks. He’s apparently attending a “tech summit” at Trump Tower this week. And an Oireachtas committee has expressed confidence that Cook will accept an invitation to respond to the European Commission tax ruling which has cost his company €13 billion, according to the Irish Times.

    • Apple CEO invited to attend tax ruling hearing in Dublin

      An Oireachtas committee has expressed confidence that Apple’s Tim Cook will accept an invitation to respond to the European Commission tax ruling which has cost his company €13 billion.

      John McGuinness, chairman of the Oireachtas all-party Finance Committee has written to the global technology company’s chief executive in California inviting him to attend a hearing next month, along with other senior executives.

    • Irish legislature invites Tim Cook, other Apple execs to hearing on $14.5B EU tax ruling

      An Irish legislative committee is reportedly optimistic that Apple CEO Tim Cook will accept an invitation to attend a late January hearing, which will examine the European Commission’s ruling that Ireland must collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from the iPhone maker.

    • Apple’s Tim Cook among tech executives meeting with Donald Trump on Wednesday – report
    • Traders scheme to cash in on Trump tweets

      President-elect Donald Trump issued a single tweet blasting defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. By lunchtime, he had wiped $4 billion off the company’s market value.

      Wall Street traders began dumping the company’s stock after Trump criticized its fighter jet program: “The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” he tweeted. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”

    • ECB’s quantitative easing programme investing billions in fossil fuels

      The European Central Bank’s (ECB) quantitative easing programme is systematically investing billions of euros in the oil, gas and auto industries, according to a new analysis.

      The ECB has already purchased €46bn (£39bn) of corporate bonds since last June in a bid to boost flagging eurozone growth rates, a figure that some analysts expect to rise to €125bn by next September. On Thursday the bank said it would extend the scheme until 2018.

      But an EU pledge to cut its carbon emissions by at least 80% by mid-century could be undermined by the asset purchasing scheme, according to investments revealed in an analysis of the bank’s international security identification numbers (ISINs) by campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Craven Power Politics of Mitch McConnell

      He blocked a bipartisan statement on Russian hacking before the election, but now belatedly joins senators asking for a probe.

    • Did the Russians “hack” the election? A look at the established facts [Ed: CrowdStrike are like a Microsoft proxy [1, 2]. Largely responsible for dangerous Russia blaming]

      “CrowdStrike’s Falcon endpoint technology did catch the adversaries in the act,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of Crowdstrike. “When the DNC brought us in to conduct an investigation in May 2016, we deployed this technology on every system within DNC’s corporate network and were able to watch everything that the adversaries were doing while we were working on a full remediation plan to remove them from the network.”

    • Alphabet’s Page, Schmidt Said to Attend Trump Tech Meeting

      Page, chief executive officer of the Google parent company, and Schmidt, the chairman, plan to be at the meeting, a person familiar with the decision said late Friday. The person asked not to be identified because the decisions were not public. An Alphabet spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

    • Trump says CIA report that Russia helped his electoral win is “ridiculous”

      On Friday evening, The Washington Post reported that the CIA has “concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the US electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.”

    • What Trump said about Apple, Alphabet and Facebook — the tech companies he’s meeting next week

      In case you missed it: President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is convening a tech summit at Trump Tower next week, and top execs from Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and more are attending.

      As one person familiar with the summit plans told my boss, Recode’s Kara Swisher, “Look, this is obviously a circus.” So, let’s do some social media-searching acrobatics and see what Trump has said about these companies.

    • All TV Will Be Trump TV

      Remember the good old days when the media were certain that after Donald Trump lost the election he’d launch his own television channel? Son-in-law Jared Kushner met with media dealmakers to lay the groundwork, and a small alt-shop called Right Side Broadcasting Network earned the nickname “Trump TV” by producing post-debate analysis on Donald’s Facebook page. There was even excited speculation that Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity would bail on Fox News to join their old boss Roger Ailes at an all-Trump-all-the-time, sexual-harassment-friendly workplace.

      This new, Breitbart-flavored media empire would, many of us feared, make Trump’s birther campaign to delegitimize President Obama look like a dress rehearsal and Fox look like a poodle. Trump TV would not only hound President Hillary Clinton 24/7, with pitchfork demands for her head, it would operate as a government in exile, in your living room and on your handheld device—menacing, unaccountable, and, most frighteningly, more entertaining than anything the official administration could muster.

    • Recounts should be the norm, not the exception

      Jill Stein, her supporters and a group of experts struggled mightily to get proper recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They were accused of paranoia and of simply wasting time.

      Why is it so difficult, and so controversial, to get the results of a U.S. presidential election inspected and verified? Audits should be mandatory in all states; in fact, they’re part of the foundation of a healthy democracy.

      Recounts not only are important for finding proof that voting machines were misconfigured or hacked. In a meaningful recount, evidence representing the voter’s intent is compared against the published vote totals. Even if a recount proves that everything went as intended, it’s a way to reassure the public — especially the losing side — that the announced winner of the election is legitimate.

    • Electoral college members demand information on Russian election interference before Donald Trump vote

      Ten members of the electoral college have requested more information from intelligence officials on the relationship between President-elect Donald Trump and Russia.

      The electoral college addressed an open letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper prior to their 19 December vote that would finalise the election results.

    • Wisconsin recount confirms Trump’s win

      The results of the Wisconsin recount were finalized Monday, reaffirming Donald Trump’s victory in the traditionally blue state.

      The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that Trump actually picked up 162 additional votes, keeping his margin of victory around 22,000 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

      The final results, certified by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, changed by fewer than 1,800 votes.

    • Donald Trump Certified as Winner in Wisconsin, Following Recount

      President-elect Donald Trump was certified the winner of the Wisconsin presidential race on Monday after a statewide recount failed to produce evidence of widespread irregularities or miscounted ballots.

    • Trump promises ‘no new deals’ while president, Ivanka won’t manage company

      Donald Trump is promising to refrain from launching any new business deals during his time in the White House, and the president-elect also said late Monday night he plans to hand over operations of his sprawling company to his two adult sons but not his oldest daughter, Ivanka.

      The businessman offered details on the future of his financial empire via Twitter through a series of late night posts. The tweets came just hours after his aides confirmed a delay to his planned Thursday “major news conference” that was being billed as a chance for Trump to explain how he’d disentangle himself from his business arrangements.

    • Critics of Trump’s nasty Twitter attacks miss the point

      When a local union chief pointed out the errors in Donald Trump’s claims about saving jobs at the Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana, it didn’t take long for the President-elect to attack him on Twitter, where he has 17 million followers.

      “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” Next Jones received a flood of angry anonymous calls, including death threats.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Terror Scanning Database For Social Media Raises More Questions than Answers

      On Monday, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube announced a new partnership to create a “shared industry database” that identifies “content that promotes terrorism.” Each company will use the database to find “violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images” on their platforms, and remove the content according to their own policies.

      The exact technology involved isn’t new. The newly announced partnership is likely modeled after what companies already do with child pornography. But the application of this technology to “terrorist content” raises many questions. Who is going to decide whether something promotes terrorism or not? Is a technology that fights child porn appropriate for addressing this particular problem? And most troubling of all—is there even a problem to be solved? Four tech companies may have just signed onto developing a more robust censorship and surveillance system based on a narrative of online radicalization that isn’t well-supported by empirical evidence.

    • Another Viewpoint: Slippery slope of censorship

      Pressured by governments around the world, four companies operating some of the world’s most popular internet sites and services — Facebook, Twitter, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft — announced last week a joint effort to censor “violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images.”

    • 2016: the year Facebook became the bad guy

      Mark Zuckerberg started 2016 with a cookie cutter message of hope. “As the world faces new challenges and opportunities, may we all find the courage to keep making progress and making all our days count,” he wrote on his Facebook wall on 1 January. He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, had just had their daughter, Max, and had been sharing warm and fuzzy photos of gingerbread houses and their dreadlocked dog Beast over the holiday season.

      Then 2016 happened. As the year unfurled, Facebook had to deal with a string of controversies and blunders, not limited to: being accused of imperialism in India, censorship of historical photos, and livestreaming footage of human rights violations. Not to mention misreported advertising metrics and the increasingly desperate cloning of rival Snapchat’s core features. Things came to a head in November, when the social network was accused of influencing the US presidential election through politically polarized filter bubbles and a failure to tackle the spread of misinformation. The icing on the already unpalatable cake was Pope Francis last week declaring that fake news is a sin.

    • Facebook Is Looking to Hire a 20-Year Media Veteran to Help it Rethink News

      The company faced sharp criticism for its role in spreading fake news stories during the U.S. presidential election

      Facebook wants to develop closer ties with the media industry.

      A recently posted “Head of News Partnerships” job listing seeks someone with more than 20 years of experience in news to be the “public-facing voice of Facebook and its role in the news ecosystem.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • German Government Knew About NSA Espionage on Its Soil Since 2001

      New secret dossiers of the German government published by WikiLeaks last week revealed that the Federal Government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was informed – “very early and in detail” – about espionage operations of the US and Great Britain on German soil.

    • What Is Carly Fiorina’s Stance On The NSA? She & The Agency Go Way Back

      President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering his former campaign rival Carly Fiorina to serve as director of national intelligence, according to the New York Times. Like Trump, Fiorina’s career has primarily been in business, but she also spent two years as chair of the Central Intelligence Agency’s External Advisory Board. During her presidential bid, Fiorina revealed her close relationship with the NSA and CIA while she was still CEO of Hewlett-Packard. If Trump does indeed hire Fiorina for his cabinet, we can expect her to continue aiding the NSA’s spying activities.

    • Trump eyes Carly ‘fact-free’ Fiorina as potential NSA chief

      Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina share a penchant for a loose association with the truth that just might make Fiorina the perfect person to head the National Security Agency under Trump. The two met Monday to discuss the matter and decided that China is a huge threat to the U.S. Russia, not so much.

    • Exclusive: Face-to-face with Edward Snowden in Moscow on Trump, Putin and dwindling hopes of a presidential pardon

      In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric in Russia, Edward Snowden, the fugitive former NSA contractor who leaked information about U.S. surveillance activities, talks about Putin, life in Russia with his longtime girlfriend and the possibility of returning to the U.S. to face justice in a Trump administration.

    • Tor Project Releases Sandboxed Tor Browser 0.0.2

      The non-profit organization behind TOR – the largest online anonymity network that allows people to hide their real identity online – has launched an early alpha version of Sandboxed Tor Browser 0.0.2.

      Yes, the Tor Project is working on a sandboxed version of the Tor Browser that would isolate the Tor Browser from other processes of the operating system and limit its ability to interact or query low-level APIs that can lead to the exposure of real IP addresses, MAC addresses, computer name, and more.

    • Finnish police want to use surveillance camera face recognition tech

      Finnish law enforcement officials say they want police to be able to acquire and use facial recognition technologies which would help them identify people more easily from the vast amount of images that its network of surveillance cameras provide. A working group at Finland’s National Police Board is examining the constitutionality of implementing facial recognition tech – as well as what setting up such a system would cost.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • “Each of us is a treasure”: Edward Snowden writes a letter to a girl living with albinism in Malawi

      Edward Snowden wrote a letter to Annie Alfred, a 10-year-old child living with albinism in Malawi.

      Alfred is one of 7,000-10,000 people in Malawi who have albinism, an inherited skin condition that leads to the absence of pigment in the skin and color. In Malawi, and in some other countries in Africa, albinos live in fear of being targeted for their body parts because of a belief they contain magical powers that bring wealth, good luck and cure HIV.

    • Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden

      A group of Montreal lawyers is urging the Canadian government to help impoverished asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who say they have faced harassment for having housed whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.

      The lawyers have launched a Canadian organization named For the Refugees to raise money for the families and to lobby Ottawa to give them sanctuary as they come under pressure in Hong Kong – a jurisdiction known for being tough on asylum-seekers.

      Since the refugees’ involvement with Mr. Snowden rose to global prominence this fall – including in scenes in a recent Oliver Stone film on the fugitive – they say they’ve been questioned on Mr. Snowden by welfare authorities, seen welfare benefits cut and had visits from police.

    • ‘Non-Muslims meddling in Islamic laws a threat to Muslims’

      Non-Muslims interfering with state Islamic laws are a threat to the Muslims who make up the majority of the country’s population, says PAS leader Khairuddin Aman Razali.

    • Syrian teen kicked off Berlin tram for food, not headscarf

      On Wednesday a Syrian teenager reported she had been kicked off Berlin public transport for wearing a headscarf. It now appears that was a misunderstanding.

      The 14-year-old had told authorities that the bus driver had refused to leave the tram stop, instead announcing over the loudspeaker that he would not drive anyone wearing a headscarf.

      She added that she left the tram confused after receiving no support from other passengers.

    • RSF urges Boris Johnson to raise case of jailed blogger Raif Badawi during Saudi Arabia visit

      I am writing on behalf of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regarding your visit to Saudi Arabia. We have serious concerns about the press freedom situation in the country, in particular the case of jailed blogger Raif Badawi. We ask that you take the opportunity to raise Badawi’s case, the cases of other jailed journalists and citizen journalists, and the broader dire press freedom climate in the country, at the highest possible levels during your visit.

      Saudi Arabia is currently ranked of 165th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, and has consistently ranked among the world’s worst regimes for press freedom since the Index was established in 2002. The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdelaziz Al Saud, has been on RSF’s list of ‘predators of press freedom’ since he succeeded his brother Abdullah as king in 2015. Salman has embodied the heritage of a dynasty that has always been hostile to media freedom

    • Saudi police arrest young woman for removing abaya

      Saudi police detained a young woman for violating modesty rules after she removed her abaya, the loose-fitting, full-length robes women are required to wear, on a main street in the capital Riyadh, local media reported on Monday.

      The conservative Muslim country enforces a strict dress code for women in public, bans them from driving and prohibits the mixing of sexes.

      The Arabic-language al-Sharq newspaper reported that the woman was detained after a complaint was filed by the religious police.

    • Moment documentary maker ‘is punched, kicked and choked by five migrants’ after entering ‘no-go’ zone in Swedish city

      This is the moment a documentary maker says he was punched, kicked and choked by five migrants after entering a ‘no-go’ zone in Stockholm.

      US producer Ami Horowitz travelled to the Swedish capital to examine the effects of immigration in the country.

      But after entering the Husby area of the city, he claims he was immediately set upon by a gang of men who took objection to him filming.

      A sound recording captures the moment he says he was set upon in an ‘unprovoked attack’ before being dragged off to a nearby building.

    • Charity warns of FGM ‘parties’ taking place in England

      Girls are being taken to female genital mutilation (FGM) “parties” in cities across England, a charity has warned.

      The Black Health Initiative in Leeds says midwives from Africa are being flown into the country to carry out the illegal practice.

      West Yorkshire Police said they were aware girls were being subjected to FGM locally.

      Latest NHS figures show more than 8,000 women across England have recently been identified as being victims of FGM.

    • More than 4,000,000 attempts to read US law have failed since a court ordered Public Resource to take it down

      Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, “In keeping with best practices for major Internet providers to issue periodic transparency reports, Public Resource would like to issue two reports.

      “First, our National Security Letter canary is still alive. If we receive such a letter in the future, we will kill the canary and you will not see this report next year.

      “Second, due to ongoing litigation in the case of American Society for Testing and Materials et al v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc. currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, we have issued 4,063,455 HTTP 451 error messages for attempting to access standards from ASTM, NFPA, and ASHRAE. These documents are all incorporated into federal and state law and include such vital public safety documents as the National Electrical Code, which is the law in all 50 states. The HTTP 451 error message is issued when a document is Unavailable For Legal Reasons.

      “During the term of the ongoing litigation over our right to post public safety standards that are part of the law, the Court has asked us to remove these documents from public view, so any attempts to access these documents will throw an HTTP 451 error and you are redirected to our access denied page. For example, if you try to read ASTM D3559: Standard Test Methods for Lead in Water — which is mandated by the authorities in the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 136) and is applicable to the testing of water in communities such as Flint, Michigan—we will not allow you to view this document, neither as a scan of the original paper document, nor as an HTML document with SVG graphics which is accessible to people with visual impairements.

    • Backpage executives beat pimping charges, case dismissed

      Last month, a California judge tentatively ruled that he would dismiss charges lodged by California’s attorney general against Backpage.com’s chief executive and two of its former owners. The tables seemed to turn after a November 16 hearing in which Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman decided against following his tentative ruling. But on Friday, the judge issued a final order that virtually mirrored the earlier one: charges dismissed.

    • Columbia’s Graduate Student Union Is a Nationwide First

      While labor faces a shaky ground under the Trump administration, a landmark union win has widened the horizons for worker organizing on college campuses nationwide. The graduate student workers at Columbia have voted to unionize. The 1,602-623-margin victory means that the 3,500-strong union became the first private-university graduate-student union established through a formal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election, following a breakthrough ruling by the board recognizing their employee rights. As the official Graduate Workers of Columbia–United Auto Workers Union, teaching and research assistants can push forward a nationwide wave of unionization efforts at both public and private higher-education institutions.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Internet Governance Forum: Embarking On Post-IANA Transition And Taking On Trade

      The first edition of the renewed Internet Governance Forum (IGF) last week tried its all not to become just another internet governance conference, with new formats and the taking on of one big topic that so far had evaded the “multi-stakeholder” approach: trade negotiations. But it also angered some by making its big dinner an invitation-only event, for governments and friends.

    • Council of Ministers approve WiFi4EU

      On 5 December, Europe’s telecom ministers approved the European Commission’s plans to offer WiFi in towns, cities and villages across Europe. The EC proposed the WiFi4EU project in September.

      Wifi4EU was announced by President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, saying: “Everyone benefiting from connectivity means that it should not matter where you live or how much you earn. So we propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.”

    • Malta adds 80 public Wifi hotspots

      Malta’s Information Technology Agency (MITA) has opened 80 public wireless Internet access points at government buildings. On 5 December, the Wifi hotspots were officially unveiled in a ceremony at the Education Department. The Wifi hotspots are one of the components of Malta’s National Digital Strategy – Digital Malta.

      Users that want to access the Internet at these government buildings simply connect to the Wifi hotpots, MITA announced last week, and accept the public access service’s terms and conditions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A Look At The UNAIDS Board Debate On IP And Medicines; Outcome Fell Short For Some

      The discussion on intellectual property-related barriers to access to medicines was one of the most contentious points of the 39th meeting of the UNAIDS governing board last week. After hours of negotiations, the board agreed that the organisation will keep working on the issue. But developing countries and civil society would have preferred a stronger mandate, according to representatives.

    • Copyrights

      • Commercial sites must check all their links for piracy, rules Hamburg court

        In the latest case, a Hamburg court ruled that the operator of a website violated on copyright by publishing a link to material that was infringing, even though the site operator was unaware of this fact. As Ars reported in September, an earlier judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that posting hyperlinks to pirated copies of material isn’t illegal provided it is done without knowledge that they are unauthorised versions, and it is not carried out for financial gain.

        The CJEU had said that “when the posting of hyperlinks is carried out for profit, it can be expected that the person who posted such a link carries out the necessary checks to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published on the website to which those hyperlinks lead.” But it did not specify what constituted “carried out for profit.”

        Reda explained to Ars how, in her view, the German ruling had gone beyond the CJEU, and why it’s a problem: “The Hamburg court took a very drastic interpretation of this already problematic ruling and decided that even if a link does not serve a commercial purpose in itself, but is posted on a commercial website, the linking party is liable for a copyright infringement on the website it links to.”

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  19. Links 22/3/2017: GNOME 3.24, Wine-Staging 2.4 Released

    Links for the day



  20. The Battistelli Regime, With Its Endless Scandals, Threatens to Crash the Unitary Patent (UPC), Stakeholders Concerned

    The disdain and the growing impatience have become a huge liability not just to Battistelli but to the European Patent Office (EPO) as a whole



  21. The Photos the EPO Absolutely Doesn't Want the Public to See: Battistelli is Building a Palace Using Stakeholders' Money

    The Office is scrambling to hide evidence of its out-of-control spendings, which will leave the EPO out of money when the backlog is eliminated by many erroneous grants (or rejections)



  22. In the US Patent System, Evolved Tricks for Bypassing Invalidations of Software Patents and Getting Them Granted by the USPTO

    A roundup of news about patents in the US and how the patent microcosm attempts to patent software in spite of Alice (high-impact SCOTUS decision from 2014)



  23. “Then They Came For Me—And There Was No One Left To Speak For Me.”

    The decreasing number of people who cover EPO scandals (partly due to fear, or Battistelli's notorious "reign of terror") and a cause for hope, as well as a call for help



  24. As Expected, the Patent Microcosm is Already Interfering, Lobbying and Influencing Supreme Court Justices

    The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is preparing to deliver some important decisions on cases with broad ramifications, e.g. for patent scope, and those who make money from patent feuds are attempting to alter the outcome (which would likely restrict patent scope even further, based on these Justices' track record)



  25. Intellectual Ventures -- Like Microsoft (Which It Came From) -- Spreads Patents to Manifest a Lot of Lawsuits

    That worrisome strategy which is passage of patents to active (legally-aggressive) trolls seems to be a commonality, seen across both Microsoft and its biggest ally among trolls, which Microsoft and Bill Gates helped create and still fund



  26. What the Patent Microcosm is Saying About the EPO and the UPC

    Response to 3 law firms and today's output from them, which serves to inform or misinform the European public at times of Big Lies and fog of (patent) war, revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric patent warfare and lobbying



  27. Tough Day for the EPO's Media/Press/PR Team, Trying 'Damage Control' After Important Techrights Publications

    In an effort to save face and regain a sense of legitimacy the EPO publishes various things belatedly, and only after Techrights made these things publicly known and widely discussed



  28. Links 21/3/2017: PyPy Releases, Radeon RX Vega, Eileen Evans at Linux Foundation

    Links for the day



  29. In IAM, Asian Courts That Deliver Justice Are “Unfriendly” and Asian Patent Trolls Are Desirable

    Rebuttal or response to the latest pieces from IAM, which keeps promoting a culture of litigation rather than sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and open innovation



  30. At EPO “I Have the Feeling That Lowering Quality is Part of a Concerted Plan.”

    Growing concern about patent quality at the EPO -- a subject which causes managers to get rather nervous -- is now an issue at the forefront


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