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01.01.17

Links 1/1/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9 Coming, PelicanHPC 4.1

Posted in News Roundup at 8:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • Germany’s 1&1 Still Working On MARS For The Linux Kernel, Still Hoping For Upstream

      At the end of last year was an update on MARS Replication System Still Being Worked On For Upstream Linux Kernel and like clock work, the German web hosting provider has issued another update on the in-development MARS replication system and is still hoping to mainline it, maybe next year.

      MARS’ tag-line at the 1&1 web hosting company is “replicating petabytes over long distances” and “has replaced DRBD as the backbone of the 1&1 geo-redundancy feature as publicly advertised for 1&1 Shared Hosting Linux (ShaHoLin). MARS is also running on several other 1&1 clusters. Some other people over the world have also seemingly started to use it.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Skylake Iris Pro Graphics: Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Antergos, Clear Linux Benchmarks

        For those craving some more end-of-year Linux distribution benchmarks, this morning I finished carrying out a fresh Linux distro comparison focusing upon the Intel OpenGL performance when making use of “Skylake” Iris Pro hardware. For this New Year’s Eve benchmarking fun was Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Antergos, and Clear Linux.

      • Mesa Saw More Than 10,000 Commits This Year From Record Number Of Contributors

        Unless Marek delivers another one of his big patch-sets to provide some new feature/improvement to RadeonSI, the OpenGL shader cache magically lands, or some other big surprise to end out the year, here are some final statistics about Mesa’s impressive developments in 2017.

      • AVC VDENC Video Encoding Enabled For Intel Broxton & Kabylake

        For those that don’t recall, VDENC is a low-power, high-performance video encode engine added originally to Intel Skylake hardware. That aforelinked article covers the big benefits of using VDENC and the patches published earlier this year for enabling this Intel video encode engine on Linux.

      • Multiseat systems and the NVIDIA binary driver (update)

        Last month I wrote about using the NVIDIA binary driver with multiseat systems. There were a number of crazy tweaks that we had to use to make it work, but with some recent updates, the most egregious are no longer necessary. Hans de Goede posted about an Xorg update that removes the requirement for a separate Xorg configuration folder for the NVIDIA card, and I’ve created a pull request for negativo17.org’s NVIDIA driver that uses the updated Xorg configs in a way that’s friendly to multiseat systems.

    • Benchmarks

      • Early Benchmarks Of Linux 4.10 Show Some Improvements & Regressions For Core i7-6800K

        This New Year’s Eve I finished up some benchmarks of the Linux 4.5 through Linux 4.10 Git kernels on a powerful Core i7 6800K “Broadwell-E” system. I found some improvements with 4.10 Git, but there are also some evident regressions.

        I’ll have more benchmark results in the New Year as time allows and the 4.10 development settling down, but from the tests I did so far on the Core i7 6800K system there is some concern over what appears to be some definite and noticeable regressions.

  • Applications

    • FLAC 1.3.2 (01-Jan-2017)
    • StreamTuner2 v2.2 Released For Internet Radio/Video Browser

      It’s been a long time since I last heard of StreamTuner2 as an open-source Internet radio station and video browser, but a major update was released today.

    • Avidemux Open-Source Video Editor Updated To End Out 2016

      If the recent releases of Kdenlive, OpenShot, Pitivi, and others haven’t satisfied your needs, perhaps you may want to try out the latest build of Avidemux.

      For those in need of a basic cross-platform, open-source video editor, Avidemux 2.6.16 is now available. Avidemux 2.6.16 is coming just one month after the previous release and together provide a modestly-sized bundle of updates. Avidemux 2.6.16 updates its FFmpeg library, adds a resizer to VA-API, improvements to its Qt user-interface, fixed sub-titling on macOS, re-emabled NVENC video encoding support, and build system improvements.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Happy New Year from GamingOnLinux

        GOL itself is now seven and a half years old, and hopefully we will be around for another seven at least!

      • Godot Continues Major Work On Its 3D Renderer For Release In 2017

        Open-source game engine Godot has been working on a multi-month project to vastly improve (and largely rewrite) its 3D renderer to make it as great as its 2D renderer. This work is being done for the Godot 3.0 engine and so far this 3D renderer is seeing a lot of movement.

        Godot 3.0 is aiming for a modern, clustered renderer that supports graphics features similar to other modern game engines like a physically based renderer, global illumination, shadow mapping, and more.

      • Intel’s Clear Linux Is Working On Steam Support

        For those planning to do Linux gaming with Intel graphics hardware, you might soon have a new choice with the performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution out of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center.

        Clear Linux developers are currently working on bringing up support for Steam in Clear Linux, something that isn’t trivial to do as the operating system tends to be 64-bit focused while Steam still depends upon a mess of 32-bit packages, among other challenges. But Intel developer Arjan van de Ven has shared a photo on Twitter showing the basics of Steam appearing to work on Clear Linux.

      • Former Valve Developer: Steam Linux Project Was The Hardest

        Getting games on Linux and improving OpenGL drivers was the hardest challenge one veteran game developer has come across.

        Rich Geldreich who had worked at Valve for five years shared the most difficult work he’s done: Steam for Linux. That’s on top of his time at Valve he worked at Microsoft, served as an adjunct professor, was a head researcher for a company since acquired by Google, was CTO for a mobile games company, formerly a principal software engineer at Unity, now an independent consultant / software engineer, and an expert on data compression.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Being Released In One Month With Many New Features

        One month from today, KDE Plasma 5.9 will officially meet the world.

        Among the work on the menu for Plasma 5.9 are many Wayland improvements, possibly the return of the global menu, and a lot of bug fixes. The Wayland improvements are the main area I am looking forward to with Plasma 5.9 with seeing it become a more usable alternative to X11 and closer to GNOME’s Wayland session support.

      • Discover more in 2017

        With 2017 starting, we’re getting ready for the next Plasma 5.9 release and with it a new Discover release.

        This will be a special release for two main reasons: further add-ons integration and Kirigami.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • PelicanHPC v4.1

        December 30, 2016: PelicanHPC v4.1 is released with two desktop (xfce and gnome), it is based on Debian 8.6 (Jessie) and live-build 4.x. The default login information are (user= user, password= PelicanHPC). For security purpose, please change your password after login.

    • Gentoo Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Another openSUSE Board candidate ;-)

        I use openSUSE since years (actually it was still „SuSE Linux“ with lowercase „u“ back then), started annoying people in bugzilla, err, started betatesting in the 9.2 beta phase. Since then, I reported more than 1200 bugs. Later, OBS ruined my bugzilla statistics by introducing the option to send a SR ;-)

        More recently, I helped in fighting the wiki spam, which also means I‘m admin on the english wiki since then, and had some fun[tm] with the current server admin. I‘m one of the founding members of the Heroes team (thanks to Sarah for getting the right people together at oSC16!) Currently, I work on the base server setup (using salt) for our new infrastructure and updating the wiki to an up-to-date MediaWiki version.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 8: The Clean Install

        Procrastination can only take you so far. After putting it off last year, I finally had to upgrade my wife’s operating system. She had been using reliable but elderly Linux Mint 14, and she was encountering more web sites that needed an updated browser…which means either a lot of painful manual installation, or an updated Linux with an up-to-date repository.

        She liked the MATE desktop, and I like the Debian ability to upgrade to a new version without reinstalling, so now that Debian officially supports MATE, I decided to install Debian rather than Mint on her computer. The downside is that I’ll have to install much of the non-free compatibility stuff (like Flash player) the hard way. The upside is that, after I upgrade my computer, we’ll be running the same distro.

        So, off to debian.org to grab the latest official version, 8.6.0. There does not seem to be a CD image for MATE, so I downloaded what I knew to be a lightweight desktop: LXDE. (Specifically, CD image debian-8.6.0-i386-lxde-CD-1.) I knew I could install MATE from the repository.

      • So I’m gonna start doing arduino-things

        My plan is to start exploring Arduino-related projects. It has been years since I touched hardware, with the exception of building a new PC for myself every 12-48 months.

        There are a few “starter kits” you can buy, consisting of a board, and some discrete components such as a bunch of buttons, an LCD-output screen, some sensors (pressure, water, tilt), etc.

      • My free software activities, November and December 2016

        Those were 8th and 9th months working on Debian LTS started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian. I had trouble resuming work in November as I had taken a long break during the month and started looking at issues only during the last week of November.

      • Free software activities in December 2016

        Whilst anyone can inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, most software is distributed pre-compiled to end users.

        The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to permit verification that no flaws have been introduced — either maliciously or accidentally — during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Tor at the Heart: Firefox

        If you’ve used Tor, you’ve probably used Tor Browser, and if you’ve used Tor Browser you’ve used Firefox. By lines of code, Tor Browser is mostly Firefox — there are some modifications and some additions, but around 95% of the code in Tor Browser comes from Firefox. The Firefox and Tor Browser teams have collaborated for a long time, but in 2016, we started to take it to the next level, bringing Firefox and Tor Browser closer together than ever before. With closer collaboration, we’re enabling the Tor Browser team to do their jobs more easily, adding more privacy options for Firefox users, and making both browsers more secure.

      • Rust-Based Redox OS Had A Busy Year With Rewriting Its Kernel, Writing A File-System

        Redox OS started development mid-way through last year while this year things really took off for this Rust-written operating system from scratch. The project has provided a recap of all of their OS accomplishments for 2016.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • President to Help Dem Lawmakers Strategize on Saving Obamacare

      Aiming to stave off Republican efforts to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) upon returning to Capitol Hill next week, President Barack Obama will meet with congressional Democrats on Wednesday morning for an urgent strategy session.

      The January 4 meeting in the Congressional Visitors Center auditorium was called in a notice sent to lawmakers on Friday; it will reportedly last for “at least one hour.”

      A White House official said Obama will use the meeting to “share his perspective about the dangers posed by Congressional Republicans’ stated strategy to repeal the ACA before proposing any replacement, creating chaos in the health system in the short run—and holding hostage Americans’ health care—while Republicans develop their plan.”

    • 19 States Passed 60 New Abortion Restrictions in 2016

      More than 60 new restrictions on access to abortion were passed by 19 states in 2016, according a year-end report from the Center for Reproductive Rights. The regulations run the gamut from attempts to ban abortion altogether, to excessive paperwork requirements for providers and measures that would restrict the donation of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

      In sum, 2016 was a just another normal year for advocates who have battled to protect women’s reproductive autonomy. Notably, however, state or federal courts ultimately blocked many of the onerous provisions, a circumstance that underscores how important the judiciary is in protecting women’s rights.

    • Drug test manufacturer repackages old, error-prone chemical formula as cutting-edge product

      Heroin overdoses killed thousands nationwide last year — some 75 over just three days in Chicago. The central culprit in many of the fatalities was fentanyl, a lethally powerful compound often added to drugs sold on the street. As a result, health officials have called fentanyl a new public menace, and police forces across the U.S. are searching their neighborhoods for the dangerous painkiller.

      Sirchie, a leading law enforcement equipment supplier, has found its own way to respond to the crisis. The company now markets an addition to its popular line of drug field tests, NARK II. Police officers use the inexpensive chemical kits to make drug arrests by the thousands every year. The new kits, Sirchie claims, are “designed” so that police can quickly identify fentanyl, and lock up those selling or buying it, potentially rescuing heroin and pain pill users from overdose.

  • Security

    • Ex-student charged with cyberattack on school’s internet

      A Connecticut juvenile has been charged with launching cyberattacks against a school’s internet service in connection with outages that happened in 2015 and earlier this year.

      Shelton police say the former Shelton High School student, whose name and age haven’t been released, was arrested Thursday on a charge of computer crimes in the third-degree. He’s due in juvenile court on Friday.

    • 5 signs we’re finally getting our act together on security

      The high-water line in information security gets higher each year. Just as we think we’ve finally figured out how to defend against attacks, then attackers come up with something new and we are right back to trying to figure out what to do next.

    • You have one second extra tonight!

      Official clocks will hit 23:59:59 as usual, but then they’ll say 23:59:60, before rolling over into 2017. This is known as a ‘leap second’ and timekeepers slip them in periodically to keep our clocks in sync with the Earth’s rotation. The laboratory with responsibility for maintaining the equipment to measure time interval (or frequency) in Ireland is the NSAI’s National Metrology Laboratory.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid

      The first sentence of the article directly linked this cyber-attack to alleged Russian hacking of the email accounts of the DNC and John Podesta – what is now routinely referred to as “Russian hacking of our election” – by referencing the code name revealed on Wednesday by the Obama administration when it announced sanctions on Russian officials: “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.”

    • France ramps up security and deploys 90,000 police and soldiers for New Year’s Eve

      There will be a staggering 52,600 police officers and 36,000 members of the regional gendarmes around the country this New Year’s Eve to keep people safe from any possible terror atacks.

      Police chiefs will be particularly concentrating on those areas where large crowds will be drawn.

      Police are on hight alert after a truck ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 people and injuring a further 49.

    • Israel’s Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam

      PM Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and his cabinet ministers are trying to punch above their weight. He wants to punish the UN, and apparently even the United States. Netanyahu has forbidden Israeli officials to travel to 12 of the countries on the UN Security Council who voted last Friday to condemn Israeli squatter settlements in the Palestinian West Bank (including in East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally has tried to annex).

    • What Israel Fears

      The tone of Israel’s rejection came when Ambassador Danny Danon said that Tel Aviv has the right to build “homes in the Jewish people’s historic homeland”. The settlements, for the Israeli government, are essential for their own project. They see nothing short of — as Ambassador Danon put it — “a Jewish State proudly reclaiming the land of our forefathers”. Ambassador Danon is fully in agreement with Washington’s incoming Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who believes in a Greater Israel and denies the existence of Palestine. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to undo the resolution and threatened to end U.S. funding to the UN.

      António Guterres, the UN’s new Secretary-General has indicated that he will send a UN Support Mission to push for a two-state solution. Mr. Guterres and Ms. Bensouda will have to thread the needle between the consensus of the international community (a two-state solution) and Israel’s own illegal territorial ambitions. Optimism for progress would be unwarranted.

    • NYT on Iraq and Russia: Newspaper of Record or Journalistic Home to Intelligence Sources and Warmakers

      On May 17 of this year, PBS Frontline broadcast a program titled, “The Secret History of Isis,” which it described as “the inside story of the radicals who became the leaders of ISIS.”

      As a companion piece, Frontline also posted an interview with former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell about his speech on February 5, 2003, to the United Nations, where he presented the Bush administration’s most authoritative case that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

      [...]

      The Times editorial team chose not only to accept Powell’s assertions, but it trumpeted them with dramatic flair, with disastrous consequences, featuring the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the formation of ISIS.

      Nearly fourteen years later, as if no calamitous partnership between opaque intelligence reports and journalistic subservience had ever occurred, the ritual was repeated yesterday. This time, by the Obama administration, with its publicly issued report on Russian hacking titled, “Grizzly Steppe – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity,” and by the New York Times, which accepted the unconfirmable claims from the report at face value.

      Thus, on December 29, under the headlines “Obama Punishes Russia for Hacking” and “Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking,” the Times’ David Sanger, a lead reporter at the Times on Iraqi WMD and the lead writer today on Russian hacking, wrote: “President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.”

    • Summing Up Russia’s Real Nuclear Fears

      If a new Trump administration wants to peacefully reset relations with Russia, there’s no better way to start than by canceling the deployment of costly new ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. One such system went live in Romania this May; another is slated to go live in Poland in 2018. Few U.S. actions have riled President Putin as much as this threat to erode Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

      Only last month, at a meeting in Sochi with Russian military leaders to discuss advanced new weapons technology, Putin vowed, “We will continue to do all we need to ensure the strategic balance of forces. We view any attempts to change or dismantle it, as extremely dangerous. Our task is to effectively neutralize any military threats to Russia’s security, including those posed by the newly-deployed strategic missile defense systems.”

    • US Heads for Political Showdown with UN

      And a new report released recently by the Office of the New York city Mayor points out that the UN generates $3.69 billion in total economic output to New York city’s economy.

      The 15,890 individuals directly employed by the UN Community took home household earnings of approximately $1.64 billion. These household earnings and the operating expenses of the UN Community helped create and sustain 7,940 jobs for New Yorkers.

      [...]

      He said evidence is also now emerging of the blatant US manipulation of the global media, including with manufactured news, with the objective of influencing diplomatic outcomes.

      The current Secretary-General, whose interventions, have generally been on the side of the US, also tends to be influenced by the US and the New York media.

      His home being in New York is a factor in this outcome. Perhaps the Secretary-General should rotate his residence around the capitals of the P-5, including in the UK, France, China and Russia.

    • Vladimir Putin Won’t Expel U.S. Diplomats as Russian Foreign Minister Urged
    • UN Security Council approves Russian-drafted resolution on Syria ceasefire

      Security Council members welcomed the agreements reached through the mediation of Russia and Turkey, and stressed the importance of its “full and immediate implementation.”

      The Security Council also expressed its support for the “efforts taken by Russia and Turkey and aimed at stopping violence in Syria and launching a political process.” Council members stressed that they see the Astana meeting as an important step in the process toward the reconciliation of the Syrian conflict.

    • Syria conflict: UN welcomes Russia-Turkey truce efforts

      The UN Security Council has voted to back efforts by Russia and Turkey to end fighting in Syria and plans for fresh peace talks next month.

      The resolution, drafted by Russia, also calls for rapid access for humanitarian aid to be delivered across the country.

      Turkey and Russia led a ceasefire deal that has mostly held since Thursday.

    • U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars

      Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

      In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

      “In Africa, we are not the kinetic solution,” Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, told African Defense, a U.S. trade publication, early this fall. “We are not at war in Africa — but our African partners certainly are.”

    • Mystery as NATO Auditor General is found shot dead in suspicious circumstances

      And more bizarrely it has been reported locally that the gun which killed him was found in the glovebox of the vehicle.

      Local news reports say Mr Chandelon’s family are concerned about the circumstances of the case.

      They say initial suggestions that it was a possible suicide are incorrect.

    • Istanbul nightclub attack: police hunt gunman who killed 39 on New Year’s Eve – live

      At least 15 foreign nationals confirmed dead as Turkish interior minister says gunman is still on loose despite earlier reports attacker had been killed

    • Security Risks of TSA PreCheck

      These solutions completely ignore the data from the real-world experiment PreCheck has been. Hawley writes that PreCheck tells us that “terrorists pick clean operatives.” That’s exactly wrong. PreCheck tells us that, basically, there are no terrorists. If 1) it’s an easier way through airport security that terrorists will invariably use, and 2) there have been no instances of terrorists using it in the 10+ years it and its predecessors have been in operation, then the inescapable conclusion is that the threat is minimal. Instead of screening PreCheck passengers more, we should screen everybody else less.

    • Rethinking The Cost of War

      There are many ways to measure the cost of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War: In bombs (7 million tons), in dollars ($760 billion in today’s dollars) and in bodies (58,220).

      Then there’s the price of caring for those who survived: Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs spends more than $23 billion compensating Vietnam-era veterans for disabilities linked to their military service — a repayment of a debt that’s supported by most Americans.

      But what if the casualties don’t end there?

      The question has been at the heart of reporting by The Virginian-Pilot and ProPublica over the past 18 months as we’ve sought to reexamine the lingering consequences of Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide sprayed by the millions of gallons over Vietnam.

      We’ve written about ailing Navy veterans fighting to prove they were exposed to the chemicals off Vietnam’s coast. About widows left to battle the VA for benefits after their husbands died of brain cancer. About scores of children who struggle with strange, debilitating health problems and wonder if the herbicide that sickened their fathers has also affected them.

    • The Agent Orange Widows Club

      Pegi Scarlett had just returned from her husband’s grave this past Memorial Day — the first since his death — when, on a whim, she decided to search online whether other Vietnam vets had died of the same aggressive brain cancer.

      With a few keystrokes, she found a Facebook group with a couple hundred widows like herself, whose veteran husbands had died of glioblastoma. She also found an intriguing article: A widow in Missouri had fought for almost eight years before convincing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that she was entitled to benefits for her husband’s fatal brain cancer because of his exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

      “Shocked is probably the word,” Scarlett said, describing her reaction to what she found. “Story after story after story.”

    • Long List of Agent Orange Decisions Awaits VA in 2017

      With 2016 drawing to a close and a new presidential administration poised to take over, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs faces an array of decisions related to the herbicide Agent Orange, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin and was used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.

    • Top Eight Mideast Stories of 2016 that Shaped our World

      In 2016, the Middle East continued to be a major focus of the US public, and it often came up in the primary and presidential debates. Alas, the Middle East referenced by US politicians and many pundits does not actually exist, and the American fixation on this region has a creepy stalker-like quality to it. If we set aside the glib talking points, what were the big Middle East stories this year that actually did or likely will deeply affect the American public?

    • Clashes break out in Syria hours after ceasefire implemented

      Clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces took place less than two hours after a ceasefire took effect on Friday, a monitoring group and a rebel official said, in the first violations of a deal backed by Russia and Turkey.

      The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said rebels had violated the truce deal and taken over a position in Hama province.

      Mohammed Rasheed, a spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr rebel group, said government forces had violated the truce, shelling areas in Atshan and Skeik villages in Idlib province, which borders Hama.

      The ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey went into effect in war-ravaged Syria at midnight local time, a potential breakthrough in the six years of fighting that have left more than a quarter-million people dead and triggered a refugee crisis across Europe.

    • Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed in 2015

      The U.S. sold more weapons than any other country in 2015 despite a drop in the global arms trade, according to a new congressional report.

      At $40 billion, the U.S. signed more than half of all arms agreements last year, and more than double the next-highest seller, which was France at $15 billion. American weapons sales included bombs, missiles, armored tanks, Apache attack helicopters, F-15 fighter jets, and other items.

    • Escalating the Risky Fight with Russia

      The neocons and their liberal-interventionist chums never seem to think through one of their “regime change” schemes. It’s enough that they wrote the plan down in some op-ed article or reached a consensus at a think-tank conference. After that, all there is to do is to generate the requisite propaganda, often accompanied by intelligence “leaks” and maybe some heartbreaking photos of children, to rile up the American people so they can be easily herded into the next slaughterhouse.

    • How Israel Misuses the Bible

      So in this hallucinatory theology, just as God gave Paris to France the Zionist deity gave Palestine to Jews including the right to build whatever they want wherever they want it. If the Zionist god posted a “Jews only” sign on Palestine, the presence of non-Jews is a sacrilege and their land claims are specious. If nothing is intelligible outside its history, as the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin put it, Ambassador Danon’s French allusion can only be understood against this theological backdrop.

    • On Loving Another Country

      “I love Israel.” So declared Donald Trump while campaigning for the presidency. A candidate professing to love Poland or Canada might meet with raised eyebrows. Yet especially during presidential election years, over-the-top expressions of regard for Israel have become de rigueur. Like promising to take care of vets and protect social security, it’s what you do to raise money, reassure key constituencies, and ultimately win votes.

    • Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery

      Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

      Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative.

      The 37th president has been enjoying a bit of a revival recently, as his achievements in foreign policy and the landmark domestic legislation he signed into law draw favorable comparisons to the presidents (and president-elect) that followed. A new, $15 million face-lift at the Nixon presidential library, while not burying the Watergate scandals, spotlights his considerable record of accomplishments.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chipping Away at National Security Letters: 2016 in Review

      When Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015 as part of the country’s reckoning with the post-9/11 surveillance state, comparably little attention was paid to amendments the law made to national security letters (NSLs). At the time, EFF said that these changes stopped far short of the NSL reform we’d hoped for, and we predicted only superficial improvements in how the FBI issues NSLs. In 2016, we saw how these changes played out in real cases—some involving EFF clients—and it looks as if our assessment was appropriately measured. Overall, the revised law has allowed for the FBI to engage in selective transparency about NSLs on a modest scale, all the while seeking to expand the scope of NSLs and stand in the way of independent oversight. In 2016, EFF notched a few victories on behalf of our clients, but we’re still looking to achieve total victory and have the NSL statute declared unconstitutional.

    • Congress Gives FOIA a Modest but Important Update For Its 50th Birthday: 2016 in Review

      Year after year, federal agencies worked behind the scenes to thwart any attempt to reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In 2016, Congress finally came through and successfully amended the 50-year-old transparency statute with the goal of improving our ability to oversee our government.

      For FOIA’s golden anniversary, EFF and other transparency advocates were hoping for a comprehensive set of reforms (our wishlist is here). Although what Congress ultimately passed wasn’t half as robust, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 represents some of the most pronounced changes to the law in roughly a decade.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 2017: Trump Peddles Climate Doubt in a World Sold on Action

      President-elect Donald Trump may dismiss the Paris Agreement and pack his cabinet with climate deniers, but once he takes office, he will face a world that takes the climate crisis as seriously as he does not.

      He will enter a complex web of diplomatic relations, where issues like trade, finance, migration, security, poverty, food aid and disaster relief are all intertwined and all have important links to the climate agenda. It’s a world already dealing with significant climate impacts and sold on climate action.

      “I am struck by the shift over the last few years in how the global community puts climate change on its agenda,” Jonathan Pershing, President Obama’s special envoy on climate, told InsideClimate News. “It is now virtually everywhere.”

    • Setting Stage for Major Climate Battle, Dem AGs Put Trump on Alert
    • sHumanity may self-destruct, but the universe can cope perfectly without us

      In a Scandinavian hotel a few years ago, I came across a documentary I didn’t expect to watch for more than a minute or two, but at least it was in English. It was past time to go to bed, but I ended up watching the whole thing. Aftermath: Population Zero imagines that overnight humanity vanishes from the planet.
      The 13 impossible crises that humanity now faces | George Monbiot
      Read more

      You may have seen it. The immediate effects of human departure are sentimentally saddening: pets die, no longer competent to fend for themselves. Some livestock fares poorly, though other domesticated animals romp happily into the wild. Water cooling fuel rods of nuclear power plants evaporate, and you’d think that would be the end of everything – but it isn’t.

      Radioactivity subsides. Mankind’s monuments to itself decay, until every last skyscraper has rusted and returned to dirt. Animals proliferate, flora thrive, forests rise. Bounty, abundance and beauty abound. Antelopes leap from wafting golden grasses. It was all very exhilarating, really. I went to sleep that night with a lightened heart.

    • The Emoluments Clause: Its text, meaning, and application to Donald J. Trump

      Foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our nation and the framers of our Constitution. The United States was a new government, and one that was vulnerable to manipulation by the great and wealthy world powers (which then, as now, included Russia). One common tactic that foreign sovereigns, and their agents, used to influence our officials was to give them gifts, money, and other things of value. In response to this practice, and the self-evident threat it represents, the framers included in the Constitution the Emoluments Clause of Article I, Section 9. It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Only explicit congressional consent validates such exchanges.

    • Trump and the Climate: His Hot Air on Warming Is Far From the Greatest Threat

      Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, has frightened many with his embrace of fossil fuels. What’s truly scary, scientists and others say, is how much larger the problem is than one American president.

      [...]

      “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop,” Trump tweeted a year ago.

      In recent weeks, Trump doubled down, nominating champions of fossil fuels to several cabinet positions and peppering his transition team with longtime opponents of environmental regulations.

      Both the rhetoric and the actions have provoked despair among many who fear a Trump presidency will tip the planet toward an overheated future, upending recent national and international efforts to stem emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas.

      [...]

      The real risk for climate change in a Trump presidency, according to close to a dozen experts interviewed for this story, lies less in impacts on specific policies like Obama’s Clean Power Plan and more in the realm of shifts in America’s position in international affairs.

      Even if he doesn’t formally pull out of the climate treaty process, Trump could, for example, cancel payments pledged by the United States to a Green Climate Fund set up in 2010 to help the poorest developing countries build resilience to climate hazards and develop clean-energy systems.

    • Perth Zoo losing breeding recommendations, in favour of open range zoos

      Perth Zoo is no longer getting breeding recommendations for a number of animal species because of its limited size.

      The zoo’s chief executive Susan Hunt said this was preventing WA from making a real difference to wildlife conservation, but this would change once an open range zoo planned for Lower Chittering was operating.

      The State Government announced plans for the open range zoo in November, and Premier Colin Barnett said on Sunday an initial environmental assessment of the 700-hectare site in Perth’s north-east was very positive.

      Ms Hunt said the existing Perth Zoo was still suitable for some breeding programs.

    • Paris warming limit will increase fish catches

      Swiss and Canadian scientists have worked out a simple way to save more fish for the supper table: sticking to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above the historic average should be enough to increase fish catches by six million tonnes a year.

      But if the world’s nations go on as they have done – burning fossil fuels, releasing greenhouse gases, and inexorably changing the climate – then global average temperatures will rise by 3.5°C and global fish catches will fall dramatically.

      A new study in Science journal calculates that for every degree Celsius that the Earth does not warm, fish catches could increase by 3 million tonnes. So holding warming to two degrees below the rise predicted under a business-as-usual scenario would net the additional six million tonnes.

    • We Have Released a Monster: Previously Frozen Soil Is “Breathing Out” Greenhouse Gases

      A study published in the journal Nature has revealed an alarming new climate feedback loop: As Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), soils are respirating carbon — that is, carbon is being literally baked out of the soils.

      Microorganisms in soil generally consume carbon, then release CO2 as a byproduct. Large areas of the planet — such as Alaska, northern Canada, Northern Europe and large swaths of Siberia in Russia — have previously been too cold for this process to occur. However, they are now warming up, and soil respiration is happening there. As a result, these places are contributing far, far more CO2 and methane to the atmosphere than they ever have.

      This phenomenon is already evidenced by a recently released study led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which Truthout reported on recently.

    • ‘The Greatest Single Step’ to Help Elephants Was Just Taken

      In a development widely described as game changing for the ecosystem engineers, China has announced it will enact a total ban on its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.

      The news on Friday, as Agence France-Press reports, “follows Beijing’s announcement in March to widen a ban on imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975, after pressure to restrict a trade that sees thousands of elephants slaughtered every year.”

      Reuters adds: “The State Council said in a notice a complete ban would be enforced by Dec. 31, 2017. A first batch of factories and shops will need to close and hand in their licenses by March 31, 2017.”

      It is indeed a significant step, as “China is currently the biggest buyer and seller of ivory in the world,” as BBC News notes, and the thirst for ivory is driving the slaughter of elephants.

    • How Standing Rock solved my 2016, First World problems

      2016 was a rough year. After Nov. 8, it became almost unlivable. In my case, a sustained state of anxiety and depression erupted occasionally into nausea and panic. Behaviors buried since the Bush era made their reappearance, and I even did some brand-new things, like physically threaten someone who called me a faggot. It was as if something — myself, I guess — was trying to figure out how to exist in this new reality.

      Before the election, I hadn’t always been at peace, but I’d settled into a homeostasis in which I felt at least possibly useful, based on the idea that action at the bottom could affect things at the top — like Obama with the Keystone XL pipeline, for example. But now what? Under power that would clearly never give a flying fuck about any progressive pressure unless it actually stopped the whole system, my psychic bedrock seemed to be crumbling.

      First World problems, of course. Most people in the world have recently known, or currently know, exactly what it’s like to live under power that’s indifferent to their lives and desires. Even many Americans know this — for example, the Lakota Sioux of Standing Rock, who are seeing the last shreds of their world threatened by the “Black Snake,” as they call the oil industry trying to build a pipeline right through their watersheds. For them and other First Nations, our coming autocracy is just a new flavor of authoritarian disregard.

    • [Older] How Many Law Enforcement Agencies Does It Take to Subdue a Peaceful Protest?

      Earlier this month, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department briefed the public via Facebook on the scope of law enforcement presence that was helping confront protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.

      [...]

      The ACLU assembled the names of law enforcement agencies below from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and from media accounts. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the cities and counties in North Dakota that sent officers as well as the 10 states that contributed, and where there was a news story about a particular force, we included a hyperlink. Where there was mention of the number of officers deployed, we noted that as a minimum — though more may have been deployed later.

    • Crony Capitalism Made Rick Perry Our Energy Secretary

      Rick Perry has taken quite a tumble since being governor of Texas. He was a twice-failed GOP presidential wannabe and then ended up being a rejected contestant on Dancing with the Stars, the television show for has-been celebrities.

      But now, having kissed the ring of Donald Trump, Perry is being lifted from the lowly role of twinkle-toed TV hoofer to — get this — taking charge of our government’s nuclear arsenal.

      That’s a position that usually requires some scientific knowledge and experience. But as we’re learning from Trump’s other cabinet picks, the key qualification that Trump wants his public servants to have is a commitment to serve the private interests of corporate power.

      That’s why Perry — a devoted practitioner of crony capitalism and a champion of oligarchy — has been rewarded with this position.

  • Finance

    • New York City and State Step Up Enforcement of Wage Rules For Luxury Building Workers

      New York City and state regulators have joined forces on a previously undisclosed effort to enforce wage rules for service workers at luxury apartment buildings whose owners receive taxpayer subsidies under the city’s massive 421-a tax break.

      The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the City Comptroller and the New York Attorney General’s Office sent out joint letters to landlords receiving the tax break. They asked for certified statements and evidence that they had paid their workers the legally required wages or an explanation of why they were not required to do so.

      The letters went out in August to “hundreds” of properties, according to details of the enforcement effort disclosed in response to a public records request by ProPublica. Additionally, the comptroller is investigating several cases of owners not paying workers proper wages, which are set by New York City.

    • Goldman Sachs ordered to pay $120 million penalty for rate manipulation: CFTC

      Goldman Sachs has been ordered to pay a $120 million civil penalty to settle charges that it often tried to manipulate a global dollar benchmark for interest rate products over a five-year period, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Wednesday.

    • Old lady denied exchanging life savings in old banknotes for new issue; could not prove innocence of money; dies

      Ethel Hülst had saved for some old-age luxury all her life, cash-in-mattress style, and wanted to exchange her old-issue-note savings for new-issue banknotes. Faced with demands of proving where her cash came from, she could not produce receipts that would have been older than a decade. The Central Bank denied her an exchange of issue, having her life savings expire into invalidity.

      The Swedish Central Bank is in the middle of an exchange of issue, changing old-issue banknotes and coins for new issue. This is something that happens regularly in most or all monetary systems – an upgrading of the banknotes and coins in circulation, supposedly done via a fair and controlled process.

      But when Ethel Hülst, 91, tried to exchange her life savings in cash of 108,450 Swedish krona ($12,000; €11,300), she was denied the new issue in exchange for her old notes. The justification was that she was unable to prove that the money had been earned in an honest way, as defined by the government, with the burden of proof on old Ethel.

    • Factory Near Carrier Sends Jobs to Mexico, But Trump Just Tweets

      Just a few miles away from the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where President-elect Donald Trump celebrated his role in stopping 730 jobs from moving to Mexico earlier this month, another corporation is shutting its factory and moving it to Mexico.

    • Why Developers of Manhattan Luxury Towers Give Millions to Upstate Candidates

      A first-of-its-kind analysis shows just how tactical the real-estate industry is about bankrolling state legislators who will protect its $1.4 billion tax break and weaken rent laws.

    • Cuomo Said He’d Return 50,000 Apartments to Rent Regulation. He Didn’t Come Close.

      A push by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to return 50,000 apartments to the city’s stock of rent-regulated housing has fallen far short of its goal as hundreds of landlords appear to have ignored the state’s plea to comply voluntarily with laws limiting rent increases.

      The Cuomo administration’s effort stemmed from a 2009 court decision which said landlords cannot charge market-rate rent increases while collecting a popular tax break known as J-51. Instead, the state’s highest court ruled that apartments must be subject to rent stabilization — state laws limiting rent increases — as long as owners receive the benefit.

      As we reported in July, the state had ignored requests from tenant groups to enforce this landmark ruling, known as Roberts vs. Tishman Speyer. That was supposed to change in January, when Gov. Cuomo unveiled his effort to make owners comply with the Roberts ruling.

    • Trump’s Treasury Pick Excelled at Kicking Elderly People Out of Their Homes

      In 2015, OneWest Bank moved to foreclose on John Yang, an 80-year-old Korean immigrant living in Orange Park, Florida, a small suburb of Jacksonville. The bank believed he wasn’t living in his home, violating the terms of its loan. It dispatched an agent to give him legal notification of the foreclosure.

      Where did the bank find him? At the same single-story home the bank had said in court papers he did not occupy.

      Still OneWest pressed on, forcing Yang, a former Christian missionary, to seek help from legal aid attorneys. This year, during a deposition, an employee of OneWest’s servicing division was asked the obvious question: Why would the bank pursue a foreclosure that seemed so clearly unjustified by the facts?

    • The costs of ignoring China

      Dussel Peters speaks about the costs of not understanding the nexus of public sector relations within China, its environmental footprint in Mexico, and why it is fast becoming the FC Barcelona of international trade.

    • Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland

      Scotland looks set to be the first part of the UK to pilot a basic income for every citizen, as councils in Fife and Glasgow investigate trial schemes in 2017.

      The councillor Matt Kerr has been championing the idea through the ornate halls of Glasgow City Chambers, and is frank about the challenges it poses.

    • I’ve been BANNED from giving out food to the homeless

      A homeless campaigner has been BANNED by the council from handing out food to the needy who congregate near the outdoor markets.

      Rik James has been told that he might create a mess if he helps the needy – as he has been doing for the last seven years.

      53-year-old Mr James set up Birmingham Homeless Outreach in 2010, and with a band of almost 300 volunteers, patrols the city centre every night handing out hot pies and pasties as well as clothing, to those most in need.

      Former homeless person Mr James told the Birmingham Mail: “Where’s the harm in feeding them?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Tories ‘masking true scale’ of political cronyism with quiet rule change

      The Conservatives have been accused of an attempt to hide party cronyism after quietly switching the way that the political affiliations of people given top public-sector roles are recorded.

      Ministers have admitted it will make it impossible to compare figures released in the future with those from the final year of David Cameron’s administration, which has already been marred by a damaging cronyism row.

      Critics claimed the switch in the way affiliations are recorded will mean Tories could “hand top jobs to their mates”, just months after officials blocked part of Mr Cameron’s resignation honours list in which aides and friends were handed baubles including a peerage and knighthoods.

    • The horrors of 2016 could have been stopped – with better defenses

      There’s always a narrative. This year, it’s that 2016 saw a massive surge for the reactionary far-right. The world, we are told, has suddenly become very suspicious of itself: millions gnaw their way down into the soil to blot out everything around them.

      Reaction and nativism are on the rise everywhere. There was Brexit, there was Trump. Kalashnikov-brandishing Salafists left bodies and wreckage across the Mediterranean from Syria to the Côte d’Azur. There were the petty micro-tyrannies of French mayors ordering Muslim women to strip off at the beach. Then there were the vaster, more sprawling macro-tyrannies, as nominally democratic systems from Turkey to the Philippines started to crumble under the stomping weight of strong men.

      All this is true, but it’s not the complete picture. This is not, entirely, a surge for the right wing. What we saw in 2016 were the consequences of a political order that’s done everything it can to exclude the left.

    • Donald Trump: America’s Berlusconi (or Thaksin, or Hariri, or…)

      Tycoons offer politics-as-business as an alternative to politics-as-usual.

      Tycoons run as insurgents against faltering political systems and old economic oligarchies. The implosion of Italy’s ruling Christian Democrat party in the early 1990s “Clean Hands” anti-corruption campaign opened the gates for Berlusconi. Lebanon’s civil war cleared the way for Hariri. Thaksin entered politics in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis played a similar role for Trump. He channelled the discontent of America’s white middle class outside the major coastal metropolitan areas by mixing economic nationalism with xenophobia, racism, sexism, and Islamophobia.

      Tycoons offer politics-as-business as an alternative to politics-as-usual. They run family businesses where top-down decisions are taken in a tight-knit circle of advisors. Berlusconi put a school friend at the head of his media holding company while Hariri made a school friend head of one of his banks and later finance minister. They both relied on former employees or associates to fill positions of state. Trump is also filling key government posts with people who stayed loyal even when his campaign foundered, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner appears set to be a key advisor. Yet tycoons’ background in business does not equip them to deal either with the bureaucratic Leviathan that is the modern state, nor with the give-and-take of democratic politics.

    • Trump and Revenge of the ‘Realists’

      The question of Henry Kissinger’s possible designation as a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump and specifically as intermediary between Trump and Vladimir Putin for normalization of relations arose after the 93-year-old Kissinger gave a series of interviews to the German newspaper Bild and other media in the days before Christmas.

      In the less serious media outlets, we heard about Kissinger’s special rapport with Putin with whom, we are told, he has met often. These same gossips tell us that in Moscow Kissinger’s expertise and experience are held in high regard. All of these glib statements are deeply flawed, however. They are more appropriate to society pages or People magazine than to serious discussion of where former Secretary of State Kissinger can and should fit into the evolving foreign policy team that President-elect Trump is assembling, and to what that foreign policy should reasonably resemble.

      The superficial comments also ignore the record of Henry Kissinger’s policy recommendations on Russia in the decades since the end of the Cold War, which place him squarely among those responsible for getting us into the confrontation with Russia that reached its climax under Barack Obama.

    • Fascism, SB 1070 and the Arizonafication of the US

      By signing Kris Kobach to his transition team, President-elect Donald Trump sent a message to the US. An architect of the notorious “papers please” bill, Arizona’s SB 1070, Kobach stands to prepare the way for Trump’s promise to deport 3 million migrants in his first year in office. While SB 1070-like bills were passed in other states around the US, it would likely have to be universalized through congressional legislation for such an increase of deportations to occur.

      SB 1070 effectively required police to inquire into legal residency when noticing possible indicators of foreign citizenship, such as Mexican flags, skin color and foreign accents. It was known as the “papers please” bill because its hard line on immigration seemed comparable to many a fascist policy. This comparison was not exactly off target.

      Kobach himself is tied to the white nationalist Tanton network, which runs a whole system of groups that fund and lobby in favor of anti-immigration and population control efforts. It was through his work with this network and the “model legislation” group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that SB 1070 was produced. Then-president of the Arizona State Senate Russell Pearce sat on ALEC’s board, and sponsored SB 1070 through the Arizona legislature in 2010.

    • A Resolution for 2017: Keep Reminding Trump That He Has No Mandate

      When Paul Ryan and top congressional Republicans gathered on the evening of January 20, 2009, to plot a strategy of absolute and unrelenting opposition to Barack Obama presidency, and to the House and Senate Democrats who had received a mandate from the American people to work with the enormously popular president-elect, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy told the group: “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority. We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

      That determination to resist the Obama agenda offended Democrats and thrilled Republicans. But, at the most fundamental level, it was nothing more than Politics 101. An opposition party exists to oppose the party in power. Ryan and his fellow partisans understood this in 2009.

      Yet, now, Ryan and the Republicans are whining about the failure of Democrats to play the role of a “loyal opposition” that willingly compromises and cooperates with President-elect Donald Trump and the wrecking crew the incoming administration has assembled to destroy essential programs – beginning with Medicaid – while redistributing wealth to the billionaire class that is its core constituency.

    • Media Fell for Nazi-Manufactured ‘White Genocide’ Scandal

      “Twitter controversy” broke out on Christmas Day after leftist Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher tweeted out, “All I Want for Christmas Is White Genocide” to his 11,000 followers. The tweet–since deleted–was a play on the white supremacist myth of a “White Genocide,” a canard that whites are under threat from interracial dating and diversity.

      Online Nazis (sometimes euphemistically referred to by their prefered marketing descriptor, the “alt-right”) quickly pounced. The faux Twitter outrage was further stoked by the far-right online tabloid Breitbart (12/25/16), which ran the story without any of the essential context (though it took the opportunity to denounce Venezuela’s “communist government,” for some reason). Before one could catch up to the substance of the “controversy,” it was asserted to be a controversy as such.

    • Breitbart Is Leading a Smear Campaign Against a Scholar for Mocking White Supremacy, and His University Isn’t Defending Him

      Breitbart Media initiated a smear campaign against a radical scholar of international politics and decolonization for a satirical tweet he published December 24 mocking white supremacists.

      Instead of coming to the aid of George Ciccariello-Maher, who has received death threats, Drexel University issued a statement on Christmas condemning the scholar’s tweet. The official reaction spurred concerns that the post-election climate has opened political space for far-right attacks on leftist and anti-racist academics.

      On December 24, Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor at Philadelphia-based Drexel, published a tweet stating, “all I want for Christmas is white genocide.” He then tweeted, “To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” Ciccariello-Maher later deleted the first tweet and has since secured his account by making it private.

      In a public statement, Ciccariello-Maher explained the meaning of the tweets. “On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide,’” he said. “For those who haven’t bothered to do their research, ‘white genocide’ is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies (and most recently, against a tweet by State Farm Insurance). It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I’m glad to have mocked it.”

    • My Wishes for Obama’s Parting Shots

      President-elect Donald Trump is accusing President Obama of putting up “roadblocks” to a smooth transition.

      In reality, I think President Obama has been too cooperative with Trump.

    • Militant Hope in the Age of the Politics of the Disconnect

      The United States stands at the endpoint of a long series of attacks on democracy, and the choices faced by the American public today point to the divide between those who are committed to democracy and those who are not. Debates over whether Donald Trump was a fascist or Hillary Clinton was a right-wing warmonger and tool of Wall Street were a tactical diversion. The real questions that should have been debated include: What measures could have been taken to prevent the United States from sliding further into a distinctive form of authoritarianism? And what could have been done to imagine a mode of civic courage and militant hope needed to enable the promise of a radical democracy? Such questions take on a significant urgency in light of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.

      [...]

      Large segments of the American public, especially minorities of class and color, have been written out of politics over what they view as a failed state and the inability of the basic machinery of government to serve their interests. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to health care centers– there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This grim reality has been called a “failed sociality”– a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy. As the consolidation of power by the corporate and financial elite empties politics of any substance, the political realm merges elements of Monty Python, Kafka, and Aldus Huxley. With the election of Donald Trump, the savagery of neoliberalism has been intensified with the emergence at the highest levels of power of a toxic mix of anti-intellectualism, religious fundamentalism, nativism, and a renewed notion of American exceptionalism. Mainstream politics is now dominated by hard-right extremists who have brought to the center of politics a shameful white supremacist ideology, poisonous xenophobic ideas, and the blunt, malicious tenets and practices of Islamophobia.

    • Elegy for a Year of Death in America

      I don’t want to dwell too much on the perhaps-terminal decline of American democracy, which this publication and everyone else in the media has been worrying over for the last year and a half, like a dog with an old mutton bone. It’s not as if people who supported the incoming president are incapable of grief and sorrow (although I suspect they are underrepresented in the Bowie and Prince fanbases). But for many of us the inexplicable political events of 2016, which remain difficult to believe, even now that they have happened, are at once the atmosphere, the subtext and the inner meaning of all this death. I was not an especially avid supporter of Hillary Clinton, but for many American women (and men) the perverse tale of how she was denied the presidency yet again in her final campaign is another of this year’s great losses.

    • 6 Compelling Executive Actions Obama Has Taken That Are Targeted by Trump

      For years, progressives have wrung their hands over President Obama’s reluctance to more aggressively use executive authority to overcome congressional gridlock—even as Republicans sued and blocked his actions on immigration and climate change. But as the incoming Trump administration threatens to reverse nearly everything Obama has done, it’s worth recalling his priorities.

      President Obama, notably, is not going quietly into the night. Even as Trump called this week for vetoing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements, the White House abstained on that vote on Friday—implicitly criticizing Israel. A day earlier, the Obama administration announced it was dismantling a federal registry of Muslims visiting from “high-risk” countries that was created after the 9/11 attacks; a registry Trump would have to reinstate. Days before that, the White House banned new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and mid-Atlantic, citing a 1953 law the administration said could not be undone by Trump.

    • Will Trump Make 1984 Look Like a Nursery Tale?

      Can you doubt that we’re in a dystopian age, even if we’re still four weeks from Donald Trump entering the Oval Office? Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such vivid previews of what unfettered capitalism is likely to mean in an ever more unequal country, now that its version of 1% politics has elevated to the pinnacle of power a bizarre billionaire and his “basket of deplorables.” I’m referring, of course, not to his followers but to his picks for the highest posts in the land. These include a series of generals ready to lead us into a new set of crusades and a crew of billionaires and multimillionaires prepared to make America theirs again.

      It’s already a stunningly depressing moment — and it hasn’t even begun. At the very least, it calls upon the rest of us to rise to the occasion. That means mustering a dystopian imagination that matches the era to come.

      I have no doubt that you’re as capable as I am of creating bleak scenarios for the future of this country (not to speak of the planet). But just to get the ball rolling on the eve of the holidays, let me offer you a couple of my own dystopian fantasies, focused on the potential actions of President Donald Trump.

    • Mike Pence’s Neighbors Show Their Disgust with Hostile Lawn Signs

      Gearing up to become VP, Mike Pence rented a house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C. Little did he know, he would be moving into enemy territory, as less than 10 percent of the precinct voted for him and the one we don’t speak of to run the country, according to the DCist. To make it extremely clear how unwanted he is, Pence’s new neighbors put up “this neighborhood trusts women” signs everywhere. Welcome to the hood, Mikey!

      The signs came from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which vehemently opposes the VP-elect obsessed with defunding Planned Parenthood. In an Instagram post showing off the signs, the group wrote, “We canvassed Mike Pence’s new neighborhood in NW DC—and wouldn’t you know it, most of his neighbors #TrustWomen!”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Secure Messaging Takes Some Steps Forward, Some Steps Back: 2016 In Review

      This year has been full of developments in messaging platforms that employ encryption to protect users. 2016 saw an increase in the level of security for some major messaging services, bringing end-to-end encryption to over a billion people. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen major platforms making poor decisions for users and potentially undermining the strong cryptography built into their apps.

    • Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

      Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump.

      But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.

      Since September, ProPublica has been encouraging Facebook users to share the categories of interest that the site has assigned to them. Users showed us everything from “Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations” to “Breastfeeding in Public.” In total, we collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

    • Does What Happened to This Journalist at the US-Canada Border Herald a Darker Trend?

      The recent abusive border search of a Canadian photojournalist should serve as a warning to everyone concerned about press freedom these days.

      Ed Ou is a renowned photographer and TED senior fellow who has traveled to the United States many times to do work for The New York Times, Time magazine, and other media outlets. Last month, Ed was traveling from Canada to the U.S. to report on the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota, when he was taken aside for additional inspection.

    • Watch out! Spies at GCHQ can now spy on your phone as the Snooper’s Charter comes into force today

      Official bodies including GCHQ will now be able to access your phones and check your browsing history after the Snoopers’ Charter came into force at midnight.

      While critics have cited it as an attack on privacy, the Government believes the charter is essential for combating terrorism and organised crime.

    • Understanding the Snooper’s Charter

      Roughly a year ago then home secretary Theresa May presented the ‚Investigative Powers Bill‘ or the so-called Snooper’s Charter. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will enjoy new powers like bulk hacking while having reinforced their existing rights of mass surveillance. At the same time, a proper form of oversight is all but missing. Other countries such as China have even defended their own terrorism bills pointing at this very piece of legislation.

    • Understanding the Snooper’s Charter

      The ‚Investigative Powers Bill‘ is about to become law in the UK. Its provisions, from looking up Internet connection records without a warrant to forcing communication service providers to assist with interception and decryption of data, have caused an outcry in the Western world. But how and why did British politics get here? And, most importantly of all: How could we fight back?

    • lecture: Talking Behind Your Back

      This ecosystem remained almost unknown to the general public until recently, when a newly-founded company faced the nemesis of the security community and the regulators (e.g., the Federal Trade Commission) for its controversial tracking techniques. However, there are many more “traditional players” using ultrasound tracking techniques for various purposes, raising a number of levels of security and privacy issues with different security and privacy models.

    • Talking Behind Your Back

      In the last two years, the marketing industry started to show a fast increasing interest in technologies for user cross-device tracking, proximity tracking, and their derivative monetization schemes. To meet these demands, a new ultrasound-based technology has recently emerged and is already utilized in a number of different real-world applications. Ultrasound tracking comes with a number of desirable features (e.g., easy to deploy, inaudible to humans), but alarmingly until now no comprehensive security analysis of the technology has been conducted. In this talk, we will publish the results of our security analysis of the ultrasound tracking ecosystem, and demonstrate the practical security and privacy risks that arise with its adoption. Subsequently, we will introduce some immediately deployable defense mechanisms for practitioners, researchers, and everyday users. Finally, we will initiate the discussion for the standardization of ultrasound beacons, and outline our proposed OS-level API that enables both secure and effortless deployment for ultrasound-enabled applications.

    • Investigatory Powers Act goes into force, putting UK citizens under intense new spying regime

      The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act is now in effect, placing Britain under some of the widest-ranging spying powers ever seen.

      The law – passed last month but going into effect on 30 December – is intended as an update to Britain’s often unwieldy surveillance legislation. But it also includes a large set of new powers – including the ability to collect the browsing records of everyone in the country and have them read by authorities as diverse as the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions.

      Most of the central parts of the act are now in force. That includes new powers to gather and retain data on citizens, and new ways to force technology companies and others to hand over the data that they have about people to intelligence agencies.

    • FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report: A Fatally Flawed Effort

      The FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report (JAR) “Grizzly Steppe” was released yesterday as part of the White House’s response to alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election process. It adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacking the DNC, the DCCC, the email accounts of Democratic party officials, or for delivering the content of those hacks to Wikileaks.

      It merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.

    • Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Attribution Problem?

      After months of news about Russian meddling in this year’s US presidential election you’re probably sick of speculation and ready for answers: What exactly did Russia do and why? It sounds simple enough, but a fundamental concept in cybersecurity and digital forensics is the fact that it is sometimes extremely difficult after a cyberattack to definitively name a perpetrator. Hackers have a lot of technical tools at their disposal to cover their tracks. And even when analysts figure out which computer a hacker used, going from there to who used it is very difficult. This is known as the attribution problem.

      [...]

      When the Obama administration placed blame for the 2014 Sony Pictures hack on North Korea, for example, much of the security community agreed with the consensus, but there was also some prominent skepticism. Part of this was because Obama did not disclose that the US had the direct ability to spy on North Korean internet activity before and during the attack on Sony. These details were later reported by the New York Times. But inconsistent access to full evidence can make it difficult for individuals and civilian security firms to vet government attributions.

    • No real proof in ‘Russian hacking’ report, as it lacks crucial details – ex-NSA tech director to RT

      The FBI report supposedly bursting with evidence that Russian hackers breached US servers contains no real proof, computer experts say – among them former NSA technical director and whistleblower William Edward Binney.

      The report was meant to provide the American public with much-delayed proof that Russia had hacked the DNC to influence the US election. While it failed to do this, it did serve as the Obama administration’s justification for expelling 35 Russian diplomats and their families from the United States.

    • No, Russia didn’t hack Vermont’s power grid

      Here’s what really happened: in the aftermath of the US government’s statements about Russian state-implicated hacking of the US election, government departments across the country audited their systems, looking for instances of the malware that was implicated in the DNC hack. One laptop at the Vermont utility — not connected to the grid — was found to have been infected by this malware, which is available for purchase by anyone through the criminal, underground marketplaces for hacking tools.

    • Details Still Lacking on Russian ‘Hack’

      Amid more promises of real evidence to come, the Obama administration released a report that again failed to demonstrate that there is any proof behind U.S. allegations that Russia both hacked into Democratic emails and distributed them via WikiLeaks to the American people.

      The New York Times, which has been busy flogging the latest reasons to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, asserted, “The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security released a report on Thursday detailing the ways that Russia acted to influence the American election through cyberespionage.”

    • Experts Aren’t Convinced by FBI and Homeland Security Report on Alleged Russian Hacking

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a summary of their inquiry into the alleged hacking of Democratic Party servers during the 2016 elections by groups working at the behest of the Russian government.

      Veteran intelligence analyst and NSA whistleblower William Binney, who has criticized as inadequate the CIA’s public case arguing Russian responsibility for the hacking, does not find the new report convincing.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Year’s Message: No One Said It Would Be Easy…

      Since 2008, my final post of the year tends to be a post where I take a step back and reflect on how the year went. It started, back in 2008, as a response to multiple people asking me why I always seemed so optimistic about the future, despite writing all sorts of articles highlighting all sorts of bad behavior and threats to innovation, free speech and civil liberties. And my argument, in short, has always been that I strongly believe in the forward march of progress and innovation — and that any anger you see coming through in my writing comes from being annoyed and frustrated at people and events that slow it down. That is, my anger is at the pace of change, but my optimism is at the inevitability of change.

    • “Code of Silence” Revisited: An Update on the Watts Investigation

      On October 6, The Intercept published “Code of Silence,” a four-part investigation of a far-reaching criminal enterprise within the Chicago Police Department. For more than a decade, a team of gang tactical officers led by Sgt. Ronald Watts were major players in the drug trade radiating out from public housing developments on Chicago’s South Side. In exchange for a “tax,” Watts and his gang protected drug dealers from interference by law enforcement, targeted their competition, and fed the drugs they seized to dealers aligned with them. In pursuit of their criminal ends, they routinely framed those who did not cooperate by planting drugs on them and are rumored to have had a hand in the murders of two drug dealers who defied them.

      Over the course of Watts’s career, he and his team were investigated by multiple agencies — CPD’s Internal Affairs, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the States Attorney’s Office. For several years, two Chicago police officers, Shannon Spalding and Danny Echeverria, participated in a joint FBI-Internal Affairs investigation, which they claim was ultimately derailed by senior CPD officials. Among other things, they allege that deputy superintendent Ernest Brown, long rumored to be an ally and protector of Watts, made it known within the department that they were engaged in an internal investigation, prompting other CPD brass to order officers under their commands to retaliate against them as “Internal Affairs rats.”

    • Trump’s Homeland Security Pick Falsely Claimed “Narcoterrorism” Has Killed 500,000 Americans

      For many parts of the world, it is hard to predict which Donald Trump will enter the White House on January 20. Will it be the Donald Trump who promised to decimate ISIS in 100 days, or the Donald Trump who promised to avoid an Iraq-like quagmire? Will it be the Donald Trump who campaigned on building up a decrepit U.S. military, or the Donald Trump who said he would slash military spending to balance the budget? Will it be a Donald Trump who is eager to strong-arm China at the negotiating table, or the Donald Trump who promised to discard the Trans-Pacific trade deal designed to increase American leverage over the region?

      While Trump continues to regularly contradict his own supposed views on U.S. foreign policy, his approach to the U.S. southern border is clear. He talked a lot about building a wall while running for president. Since winning, he’s repeatedly emphasized the seriousness of his promise.

    • Bias in Criminal Risk Scores Is Mathematically Inevitable, Researchers Say

      The racial bias that ProPublica found in a formula used by courts and parole boards to forecast future criminal behavior arises inevitably from the test’s design, according to new research.

      The findings were described in scholarly papers published or circulated over the past several months. Taken together, they represent the most far-reaching critique to date of the fairness of algorithms that seek to provide an objective measure of the likelihood a defendant will commit further crimes.

      Increasingly, criminal justice officials are using similar risk prediction equations to inform their decisions about bail, sentencing and early release.

      The researchers found that the formula, and others like it, have been written in a way that guarantees black defendants will be inaccurately identified as future criminals more often than their white counterparts.

    • [Older] The incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War II does not provide a legal cover for a Muslim registry

      Carl Higbie, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump, said recently that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a “precedent” for the president-elect’s plans to create a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. He said the plan would be legal, that it would “hold constitutional muster.”

      That claim betrays a misreading of history. It rests on a wartime Supreme Court decision that was based on falsehoods and suppressed evidence, a decision that is regarded as a stain on American jurisprudence.

    • North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy

      In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth – Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan and Yemen, among others – my Danish colleague, Jorgen Elklit, and I designed the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world. Our system measured 50 moving parts of an election process and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting of ballots.

      In 2012 Elklit and I worked with Pippa Norris of Harvard University, who used the system as the cornerstone of the Electoral Integrity Project. Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place.

    • Our Fight to Rein In the CFAA: 2016 in Review

      Laws enacted out of fear, not facts, are a recipe for disaster. That’s what happened with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the federal statute that makes it illegal to break into computer systems to access or alter information. The law’s notoriously vague language has confused courts, chilled security research, and given overzealous prosecutors broad discretion to bring criminal charges for behavior that in no way qualifies as breaking into a computer. And it’s out of touch with how we use computers today. We were hard at work in 2016 pushing courts to limit the CFAA to what Congress intended and advocating for reform that would rein the law back in. We’ve seen some minor victories as well as a few setbacks, but we anticipate a big fight next year against efforts to expand the law without correcting its many problems. We stand ready.

      The CFAA was passed back in 1986—in the very early years of the Internet, long before the vast majority of people were even using email—after a House of Representatives report cited WarGames, a 1983 techno thriller staring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, as a “realistic representation of the automatic dialing and access capabilities of the personal computer.” And because Congress was trying to solve a problem it didn’t fully understand, it gave us a law with incredibly vague language. The CFAA makes it illegal to intentionally access a “protected computer”—which includes any computer connected to the Internet—“without authorization” or in excess of authorization. But it doesn’t tell us what “without authorization” means. This language is so vague that, if not applied narrowly, it could criminalize routine online behavior like checking the weather while at work or using a family member’s Netflix password.

    • NC Republicans’ “Power Grab” Hits Last-Minute Roadblock

      A North Carolina judge on Friday put a temporary block on a Republican-backed law that would have limited the power of Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper.

      Cooper, set to take his oath just minutes into the new year, filed suit on Friday to block the law, which was passed two weeks ago as part of “unprecedented power grabs” by Republican lawmakers.

      It was set to take effect Sunday, and “amounts to a sweeping redesign of the panel that administers and regulates elections in a state that has been steeping in political conflict,” the New York Times writes.

    • Report: After Legislative Coup, North Carolina Can No Longer Be Considered a Democracy

      In North Carolina, a new report finds the state’s democratic institutions are so flawed, the state should no longer be considered a functioning democracy. The report by the Electoral Integrity Project, or EIP, points to extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression of communities of color and the recent stripping of power of incoming Democratic Governor Roy Cooper by Republicans. EIP gave North Carolina an electoral integrity score of 58 out of 100 points—similar to the scores of Cuba, Sierra Leone and Indonesia. We speak to Andrew Reynolds, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is one of the founders of the Electoral Integrity Project.

    • Digital rights in 2016

      The Digital Economy Bill, which is currently going through parliament, will compel porn sites to verify that their users are over 18. The proposals, which don’t include privacy protections, are largely unworkable because foreign porn sites could refuse to comply. Undeterred, the Government has now proposed to force ISPs to block sites that don’t apply age verification – potentially blocking thousands of legal websites in the UK. And just last week, they confirmed that Twitter accounts that link to blocked websites could also be blocked.

      ORG is working to get the Government to amend the Digital Economy Bill so that privacy rights are protected. Over 18,000 people have already signed our petition against web blocking and this is going to be one of our big fights in 2017.

    • IBM Employees Launch Petition Protesting Cooperation with Donald Trump

      IBM employees are taking a public stand following a personal pitch to Donald Trump from CEO Ginni Rometty and the company’s initial refusal to rule out participating in the creation of a national Muslim registry.

      In November, Rometty wrote Trump directly, congratulating him on his electoral victory and detailing various services the company could sell his administration. The letter was published on an internal IBM blog along with a personal note from Rometty to her enormous global staff. “As IBMers, we believe that innovation improves the human condition. … We support, tolerance, diversity, the development of expertise, and the open exchange of ideas,” she wrote in the context of lending material support to a man who won the election by rejecting all of those values. Employee comments were a mix of support and horror. Now, some of those who were horrified are going public, denouncing Rometty’s letter and asserting “our right to refuse participation in any U.S. government contracts that violate constitutionally protected civil liberties.”

    • Las Vegas prosecutors want help in identifying convictions won with faulty drug tests

      The Clark County district attorney’s office established a conviction review unit in October. In what appears to be one of its first efforts, the unit has been seeking information about problematic convictions resulting from one of the office’s routine practices: accepting guilty pleas in drug cases that rely largely on the results of field tests done by police that can be unreliable.

      Daniel Silverstein, head of the newly formed unit, in November asked a statewide organization of defense lawyers for any information they had on cases that might have involved inaccurate field tests, and thus resulted in potentially wrongful convictions.

      Police place suspicious material into a pouch of chemicals that are supposed to change color to indicate the possible presence of illegal drugs. The $2 tests are used by police departments nationwide, and over nearly 30 years in Clark County they have helped produce tens of thousands of drug convictions for the possession or sale of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. In the vast majority of those cases, the field test results are never confirmed in a formal crime lab.

    • António Guterres: The Ninth Man

      How will UN Secretary-General António Guterres demonstrate the UN’s intention to resist the rising tide of misogyny in the US and the global wave of misogynistic nationalism?

    • Ringing in the New Year with Resistance: 2016 in Review

      Since the Electronic Frontier Alliance launched this spring, dozens of grassroots groups across the country have found common cause. United by digital rights principles including freedom of expression, access to knowledge, and privacy, they independently pursue a vast array of activities from public education and policy advocacy to hackathons and projects creating digital infrastructure.

      In 17 states plus the District of Columbia, dozens of local groups are bringing together grassroots digital rights activists to raise awareness, spread information, share skills, and push their universities, cities, and states to reconsider their policies on issues from domestic surveillance to patent reform.

      Wherever local activists have joined the Alliance, they have successfully brought together neighbors to learn from each other and begin the long and difficult process of shifting policy, law, and culture. In the following half dozen locations, they have gone even further by making palpable progress towards those goals.

    • Campaign to free Arash Sadeghi

      Iranian civil society activists Arash Sadeghi and Golrokh Ebrahimi-Iraee are victims of the regime’s emboldened judiciary.

    • Theresa May Seeks to Pull UK from European Convention on Human Rights

      British Prime Minister Theresa May will campaign to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 2020, according to new reports.

      May is expected to make the withdrawal a central mandate of her campaign to be formally voted into office in 2020. She became the unelected leader of the U.K. after former Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down in July following the Brexit referendum.

      The new conservative government is also separately seeking to replace its current Human Rights Act—the U.K.’s implementation of the ECHR—with a new set of rules which critics say actually cracks down on free speech and peaceful protest.

    • Noam Chomsky’s Bold Request Before President Obama Leaves Office (Video)

      Donald Trump has promised to immediately deport 2-3 million undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile the White House has shut down House Democrats’ request for Obama to pardon DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients through his executive power.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • p2p dreams

      In one of the good parts of the very mixed bag that is “Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World”, Werner Herzog asks his interviewees what the Internet might dream of, if it could dream.

      The best answer he gets is along the lines of: The Internet of before dreamed a dream of the World Wide Web. It dreamed some nodes were servers, and some were clients. And that dream became current reality, because that’s the essence of the Internet.

      Three years ago, it seemed like perhaps another dream was developing post-Snowden, of dissolving the distinction between clients and servers, connecting peer-to-peer using addresses that are also cryptographic public keys, so authentication and encryption and authorization are built in.

      Telehash is one hopeful attempt at this, others include snow, cjdns, i2p, etc. So far, none of them seem to have developed into a widely used network, although any of them still might get there. There are a lot of technical challenges due to the current Internet dream/nightmare, where the peers on the edges have multiple barriers to connecting to other peers

    • Shining a Spotlight on Shadow Regulation of the Internet: 2016 in Review

      Over the past few years, Internet users have found their voice in the halls of power. Through legal challenges, speaking to legislators, and effective online organizing, we’ve beat back many attempts to create mechanisms of censorship and strip speakers of their privacy. We defeated the SOPA/PIPA Internet blacklist bills, and the ACTA and TPP agreements, and stood up for net neutrality as a free speech principle. But these victories had a side effect: corporate and government interests who seek to edit the Internet and regulate others’ speech have turned to private agreements. These agreements can create restrictions that are as effective as any law, but without the need for approval by a court or parliament. Sometimes they are even initiated by government officials, who offer companies the Hobson’s choice of coming up with a “voluntary” solution or submitting to government regulation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Jaguar Land Rover DEFEND[ER]s its trade mark

        Bombardier argued that Jaguar Land Rover had no intention to use the term DEFENDER in relation to any other land vehicle, motor vehicle etc than the iconic Defender series which they characterised as a single car product whose essential features have remained the same since 1948 and consequently the EU application was made in bad faith. This led the court to an interesting consideration of whether an EU trade mark is liable to be declared invalid for bad faith where an applicant had no intention of using it for the full specification at the time of registration.

    • Copyrights

      • Happy Public Domain Day!

        In many jurisdictions, copyright works (with some exceptions) expire after 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the creator died. This means that from 1 January 2017 many works will enter the public domain. This blog celebrates these creators. It is by no means comprehensive so please do add any omissions to the comments section.

      • Pirate Bay Will Continue to ‘Stick it to The Man’ in 2017

        The Pirate Bay, widely considered as the bastion of piracy, plans to keep growing in 2017. TorrentFreak spoke with one of its crew members who says the site will continue to help unselfish file-sharers stick it to the man while protesting copyright exploitation.

      • Fighting for Fair Use and Safer Harbors: 2016 in Review

        After 9 years of battling it out in the lower courts, Stephanie Lenz, represented by EFF, has taken her fight for Internet fair use to the United States Supreme Court. In August, Lenz filed a petition asking the Court to overturn a part of the 2015 ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that undermines the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safeguards for users.

        In 2007, Lenz first filed the “Dancing Baby” lawsuit after her YouTube video was taken down as the result of a bogus copyright infringement notice from Universal Music. Lenz’s video was a 29 second recording of her toddler dancing in her kitchen while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” played, barely audible, in the background. Lenz argued that Universal’s takedown notice was precisely the kind of abuse that the DMCA’s safeguards are designed to prevent.

        In 2015, the Ninth Circuit issued an important decision holding that copyright holders must consider whether alleged infringement is a fair use before sending a takedown notice. But the court also applied an entirely subjective standard that, we fear, will be read to allow rights holders to target content “based on nothing more than an unreasonable hunch, or subjective criteria they simply made up[.]” We don’t think this is what Congress intended, and Lenz has asked the Supreme Court to protect users’ fair use rights and overrule this part of the decision.

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