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01.02.17

Links 2/1/2017: Neptune 4.5.3 Release, Netrunner Desktop 17.01 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • A Guide To Buying A Linux Laptop

    It goes without saying that if you go to a computer store downtown to buy a new laptop, you will be offered a notebook with Windows preinstalled, or a Mac. Either way, you’ll be forced to pay an extra fee – either for a Microsoft license or for the Apple logo on the back.

    On the other hand, you have the option to buy a laptop and install a distribution of your choice. However, the hardest part may be to find the right hardware that will get along nicely with the operating system.

    On top of that, we also need to consider the availability of drivers for the hardware. So what do you do? The answer is simple: buy a laptop with Linux preinstalled.

  • The Open-Source / Linux Letdowns Of 2016

    Last year I had written about the The Open-Source Linux Letdowns of 2015 and then Other Letdowns For Linux / Open-Source Users From 2015, which ended up being among the most viewed articles of 2016. So I figured I’d once again share a list of what personally was disappointing not to see happen in 2016 within the Linux/open-source space.

  • Desktop

    • Lenovo ThinkPad T460 – A Good Linux Laptop For Development

      After several years with my Dell Latitude E6400 I was searching for a new, more powerful Linux machine for my coding and performance tweaking tasks. And although the Dell XPS line sounded interesting due to the “native” Linux support, it was also expensive with 16GB RAM (>2200€) and several users reported problems with CPU whining. I didn’t want to risc this and also reviews of the Lenovo T460 suggested a more silent and longer lasting experience. So I finally bought the T460 and was just hoping to get a good Linux support. Here are my experiences after a usage for a few months. Keep in mind that everyone has different requirements so maybe the title should be “a good Linux laptop for a certain subset of development tasks”. E.g. I’ve not yet tested 3D suff / hardware acceleration.

  • Kernel Space

    • WireGuard Secure Network Tunnel Is Eyeing Mainline, Running On Android

      Back in June we reported on WireGuard as a next-generation secure network tunnel for the Linux kernel. We haven’t heard much on WireGuard in recent months, but this New Year’s morning we received a message from their lead developer with a status update.

      WireGuard creator Jason Donenfeld emailed into Phoronix an update on the WireGuard project with their accomplishments for 2016 and a look ahead to 2017.

    • A Look Back At Some Of The Best Features Added To The Linux Kernel In 2016
    • Linux 4.10-rc2 Released To Kick Off Kernel Testing For 2017

      Linus Torvalds has issued the second test release of the in-development Linux 4.10 kernel. Linux 4.10-rc2 marks the first kernel release of 2017.

    • Linux 4.10-rc2

      Hey, it’s been a really slow week between Christmas Day and New Years
      Day, and I am not complaining at all.

      It does mean that rc2 is ridiculously and unrealistically small. I
      almost decided to skip rc2 entirely, but a small little meaningless
      release every once in a while never hurt anybody. So here it is.

      The only even remotely noticeable work here is the DAX fixups that
      really arguably should have been merge window material but depended on
      stuff during this merge window and were delayed until rc2 due to that.
      Even that wasn’t big, and the rest is trivial small fixes.

      I’m expecting things to start picking up next week as people recover
      from the holidays.

      Linus

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLSL Copy Propagation Optimizations For Mesa

        A developer has published a set of 14 patches providing copy propagation optimizations for Mesa’s GLSL/Nir code.

        Thomas Helland on Sunday sent out the set of optimizations to lower the overhead of the copy propagation pass in GLSL. This code isn’t yet ready to be merged but is at a “request for comments” stage.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Iris Pro OpenGL Benchmarks On Debian 9 Testing

        Debian Testing is currently making use of the Linux 4.8 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.22.2 as the default desktop environment, xf86-video-modesetting as the DDX over xf86-video-intel, X.Org Server 1.19.0, and Mesa 13.0.1.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Elementary icons for kde

        in my last post I’ll present two new icon themes La Capitaine and Papirus icon they are really sexy and work very well with Plasma and KDE Applications. As this two icon set’s are sort of monochrome icon set’s I’d like to resent you an non monochrome icon set like oxygen.

      • Summary of 2016

        So, 2016 has been a great year to me. Interesting in many aspects, but most has turned out to be for the better. I’ve gotten to know a bunch of awesome new people, I spoken about open source, Qt and Linux in Europe and USA, I’ve helped hosting an open source conference in Gothenburg, I’ve learned so much more professionally and as a person, and I’ve really enjoyed myself the whole time.

      • KDE releases beta of Kirigami UI 2.0

        Soon after the initial release of Kirigami UI, KDE’s framework for convergent (mobile and desktop) user interfaces, its main developer Marco Martin started porting it from Qt Quick Controls 1 to Qt Quick Controls 2, the next generation of Qt’s ready-made standard controls for Qt Quick-based user interfaces. Since QQC 2 offers a much more extended range of controls than QQC 1, the port allowed the reduction of Kirigami’s own code, while improving stability and performance. Kirigami 2 is kept as close to QQC 2′s API as possible in order to extend it seamlessly.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A Look At The GTK4 Development In Early 2017

        Prolific GNOME developer Matthias Clasen has written a blog post about recent and ongoing work for GTK4 at the start of 2017.

      • GTK+ Happenings

        I said that I would post regular updates on what is happening in GTK+ 4 land. This was a while ago, so an update is overdue.

  • Distributions

    • Some of the smallest Linux distributions

      A lot of time and digital ink is dedicated to talking about features, new capabilities and ease of use. This week I want to go in another direction and talk about minimal Linux distributions, projects with low resource requirements and small (less than 100MB) installation media. Some people have limited Internet connections and/or lower-end equipment and this week I want to explore some of the distributions which are designed to require as few resources as possible.

    • New Releases

      • Neptune 4.5.3 Release

        We are proud to announce the third Neptune 4.5 service release.

        This version comes with the newest updates like Chromium 55 & Icedove 45.5 aswell as an upgraded graphicsstack based on Mesa 13.0.2. Besides that this version comes by default with the LTS Kernel 3.18.45. (Newer 4.4 based kernel releases can be found in our repository)

      • Netrunner Desktop 17.01 released

        The Netrunner Team is happy to announce the immediate availability of Netrunner Desktop 17.01 – 64bit ISO.

        Netrunner Desktop adds the usual selection of software applications like KDEnlive, Gimp, VLC, Libreoffice, Audacious, Steam, Skype, Transmission, Virtualbox, Krita, Inkscape and many more.

      • Solus Releases ISO Snapshot 2017.01.01.0

        We’re happy to be kicking off the new year with the release of our first ISO snapshot, 2017.01.01.0, across our Budgie and MATE editions.

      • OpenELEC 7.0 Linux OS Released Based On Kodi 16 Media Center

        This week a new and stable version of OpenELEC 7.0 Linux operating system has been released by its development team which is based on the Kodi 16 Media Center.

        OpenELEC 7.0 is a lightweight distro that is capable of running on older and lower specification PC systems breathing life into them once again and supports Intel, AMD, or ARM chips.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Progress Report

        After a lot of effort, I made significant progress with the Epson XP 231 in PCLinuxOS. Today, I managed to get it to work as it should. Some people are reporting my same problem with Steam on that OS, though…

        OpenMandriva Lx 3.1 pretty much does everything, except that Insync, which I believed was running, must be reinstalled every time to get it to work. You close the session and it’s gone. Bad.

        Mageia 5.1′s problem is the scanner. XSane reports that the usb port where it is found fails to open the device. I originally thought it was the file epwoka.conf at /etc/sane.d, but it does not seem to be the problem.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • !$##@%%%!!! UBUNTU!!!

        A notebook that TLW uses was the last machine in our house to run Ubuntu GNU/Linux.

        [...]

        The solution was simple. I installed Debian GNU/Linux over top of the crapware. The only real problem with that was I could not find a USB-drive anywhere. I had “loaned” them all out to various ladies who come and go here so they could do “this and that”. Finally, I remembered that the MP3 player I often used while hiking or working in my classroom up North also functioned as a USB-drive. I copied onto it as root (dd if=debian-8.6.0-amd64-netinst.iso of=/dev/sd.. bs=1024k) a “net-install” image of the Debian-installer and booted the notebook from that. I also verified the download against its SHA512SUM (sha512sum debian-8.6.0-amd64-netinst.iso and grep … SHA512SUM). Worked like a charm. Further, there was a means to extricate the backup files from the notebook via a scripted web-server built in to Debian-installer. Cute.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 tips for effectively using wikis for documentation

    Using a wiki for documentation isn’t a new idea. Countless open source projects do. If you’re looking for a way to write and publish documentation quickly, a wiki can be a viable alternative to the many technical writing tools out there.

  • What is your open source New Year’s resolution?
  • Databases

    • SQLite 3.16 Released, Uses Less CPU Cycles & Adds Experimental PRAGMA Support

      SQLite 3.16.0 was released today and it’s quite a feature-packed release for being the first update of 2017.

      SQLite 3.16.0 now uses about 9% fewer CPU cycles, adds experimental support for PRAGMA functions, enhancements to date and time functions, changes to the look-aside memory allocator, faster LIKE and GLOB when using multiple wildcards, and various other changes.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Hungary government withdrawing from OGP

      This month, the government of Hungary has sent the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) a letter announcing its immediate withdrawal from the partnership. The move was a response to an invitation by the OGP Criteria and Standards Subcommittee to discuss concerns regarding the deterioration of civil space in Hungary at the OGP Global Summit that took place earlier this month in Paris.

    • Open Data

      • Survey: open data already a reality for scientific researchers

        Open data is already a reality for scientific researchers, especially for those in Social Sciences. Researchers are making data openly available and — in turn — are re-using open data from others in their research. For a lot of researchers, a data citation has a much value as an article citation. These are some of the conclusions of a survey of over 2,000 researchers about their attitude and experiences in working with data, sharing it and making it open. The results were published this fall in the Figshare Digital Science Report ‘The State of Open Data’.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RooBee One, an open-source SLA/DLP 3D printer

        [Aldric Negrier] is no stranger to the 3D printing world. Having built a few already, he designed and built an SLA/DLP 3D printer, named RooBee One, sharing the plans on Instructables. He also published tons of other stuff, like a 3D Printed Syringe Pump Rack and a 3D Scanning Rig And DIY Turntable. It’s really worth while going through his whole Instructables repository.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Languages still a major barrier to global science, new research finds

      English is now considered the common language, or ‘lingua franca’, of global science. All major scientific journals seemingly publish in English, despite the fact that their pages contain research from across the globe.

      However, a new study suggests that over a third of new scientific reports are published in languages other than English, which can result in these findings being overlooked – contributing to biases in our understanding.

    • Open sourcing Lucy, the world’s most famous fossil

      Forty years after she was discovered, Lucy, the world’s most famous fossil australopithecine, just might have a cause of death. In August of this year, a team of paleoanthropologists led by John Kappelman argued in Nature that Lucy died 3.2 million years ago by falling out of a tree. Their conclusion has been met with skepticism among fellow researchers, and Lucy’s death-by-tree-fall hypothesis has generated no shortage of debate within the scientific community of paleoanthropology.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Quietly, Trump and Republicans Are Gunning to Destroy Medicaid

      Medicaid, the nation’s healthcare program for the poor and disabled, is on the chopping block under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress—and it will take “intense focus by progressives” to ensure it doesn’t meet a dire fate.

      In fact, former National Economic Council director Gene B. Sperling wrote Sunday in a New York Times op-ed, “if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid—one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families, and people with disabilities.”

      As Democrats prepare for battles over the two programs, “the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain,” Sperling warned—a prediction echoed this week by multiple news outlets.

    • The Sled Dogs that Stopped an Outbreak

      On a dawnless morning in the winter of 1925, a sled dog named Balto became an American hero. Nome, an Alaskan mining town past its heyday, teetered on the brink of a diphtheria outbreak. Children had begun to succumb to the disease, a bacterial infection that coats the esophagus in a suffocating layer of necrotic tissue. The city’s meager supply of antitoxin serum had passed its expiration date. Desperate, the only doctor in town placed sick children into quarantine and radioed for help.

    • France introduces opt-out policy on organ donation

      France has reversed its policy on organ donations so that all people could become donors on their death unless they join an official register to opt out.

      The new law presumes consent for organs to be removed, even if it goes against the wishes of the family.

  • Security

    • Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert

      Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100m installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure”, a security expert has said.

      The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra.

      “Reclaim your home,” Rubin told a conference of hackers and security experts, “or someone else will.”

      If a hacker took control of a smart meter they would be able to know “exactly when and how much electricity you’re using”, Rubin told the 33rd Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. An attacker could also see whether a home had any expensive electronics.

    • London Ambulance Service hit by ‘computer system crash’ on New Year’s Eve

      Officials confirmed there was a systems fault in the early hours, though staff are trained for such situations, and they continued to prioritise responses as normal.

      Calls were reportedly logged manually between 12.30am GMT and 5:15am.

    • 33c3 notes

      Some notes and highlights from #33c3. In particular, some talks I found worth watching. I intentionally don’t mention any of the much interesting self-organized sessions and workshops I participated since these are not recorded. I’m just listing some interesting projects at the bottom. I wrote these notes quickly, so I’m certainly missing some stuff.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Five Dead After ‘Terror Attack,’ Explosion in China’s Xinjiang

      Chinese police have shot dead three suspects who they said killed two people in a “terrorist” attack on a branch office of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang, official media reported on Thursday.

      The “rioters” detonated an explosive device during the attack on Wednesday afternoon, as well as launching a knife attack, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

      “At around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday … rioters entered the yard of Moyu County Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in a vehicle, attacked workers with knives and detonated an explosive device,” it cited the ministry of public security as saying.

      The attack killed an official and a security worker and injured three others, the report said, adding that three people were shot dead at the scene and that the case is now under investigation.

    • The Lauded Russian Hacker Whose Company Landed on the U.S. Blacklist

      The blacklist includes two people suspected of cybercrimes, and four others who are military intelligence officers. All are the kinds of figures one might expect to be on a list of people targeted by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russia’s malfeasance, including efforts to influence the 2016 election.

      Then there is the one who calls herself “mishacker,” a globe-trotter with a rebellious online persona who is perhaps the most intriguing of the newly revealed Russian spies.

      On what appears to be her personal website, called “Hello, stranger,” that person, Alisa Shevchenko, introduces herself and expounds on some of her digital accomplishments, including setting up a work space for hackers in Moscow.

    • Make Russia great again? Aleppo and a plea from another world

      During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey to try and find a definitive solution to the Syrian civil war. If Putin wants to “make Russia great again,” he should endeavor to honor that tradition. By doing so at least Russia will more probably err on the side of hypocrisy rather than on that of cynicism, and people who suffer the consequences of war would still have a chance to find solace behind the aegis of international law.

    • Trump and Israel’s Anti-Semitic Zionists

      Zioinism was supposed to liberate Israel from these old Jewish complexes. We were supposed to become a normal nation, Israelis instead of “exile” Jews, admired by other nations. Seems we have not quite succeeded.

      But there is a great hope. Actually, a giant hope. It has a name: Donald Trump.

      He has already tweeted that after he assumes power, everything regarding the UN will change.

      But will it? Does anyone – including himself – really know what he has in mind? Can Netanyahu be quite sure?

      True, he is sending a rabid Jewish-American ultra-right Zionist as his ambassador to Tel Aviv (or to Jerusalem, we shall see.) A person so right-wing that he makes Netanyahu himself almost look like a leftist.

      [...]

      Some time after the war, in Israeli captivity, Eichmann wrote down his memories. He stated that he believed that the Zionists were the “biologically positive” element of the Jewish race.

      Mahmood Abbas, by the way, as a student at Moscow University, wrote his doctoral thesis on Nazi-Zionist cooperation.

      Can Trump’s assistants now include rabid Zionists and rabid anti-Semites at the same time?

      Of course they can.

    • Thanks to Congress, Trump Will Have Nearly Unlimited Power to Wage War

      The failure of U.S. Congress to pass a formal authorization for the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) means incoming President Donald Trump—whose brash and impulsive approach to foreign policy has raised alarms—will have effectively unlimited war powers, Politico reported Thursday.

      In the absence of such a resolution, President Barack Obama has relied on the existing Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as justification for military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Attempts to replace or rein in the AUMF have failed.

    • Putin’s Real Long Game

      A little over a year ago, on a pleasant late fall evening, I was sitting on my front porch with a friend best described as a Ukrainian freedom fighter. He was smoking a cigarette while we watched Southeast DC hipsters bustle by and talked about ‘the war’ — the big war, being waged by Russia against all of us, which from this porch felt very far away. I can’t remember what prompted it — some discussion of whether the government in Kyiv was doing something that would piss off the EU — but he took a long drag off his cigarette and said, offhand: “Russia. The EU. It’s all just more Molotov-Ribbentrop shit.”

      His casual reference to the Hitler-Stalin pact dividing Eastern Europe before WWII was meant as a reminder that Ukraine must decide its future for itself, rather than let it be negotiated between great powers. But it haunted me, this idea that modern revolutionaries no longer felt some special affinity with the West. Was it the belief in collective defense that was weakening, or the underlying certitude that Western values would prevail?

    • We Are Still Alive (Non-Hacked Russian Stooge and Terrorism Edition)

      This is a version of last year’s January 1 article, updated to reflect the new fears of the World’s Most Frightened Nation.

      I survived. America, and the world, and you, survived. We awoke the first day of 2017 to find that once again, using the extraordinary power of fear, we again held off the terrorists. And Putin. And Trump, nationalists, racists, hackers, alt-Right fascists, CNN, persons of all colors, genders, shapes, sizes, and goddamn religions.

    • What is the Obama Regime Up To?

      Obama has announced new sanctions on Russia based on unsubstantiated charges by the CIA that the Russian government influenced the outcome of the US presidential election with “malicious cyber-enabled activities.”

      The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a report “related to the declaration of 35 Russian officials persona non grata for malicious cyber activity and harassment.”

      The report is a description of “tools and infrastructure used by Russian intelligence services to compromise and exploit networks and infrastructure associated with the recent U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities.”

      The report does not provide any evidence that the tools and infrastructure were used to influence the outcome of the US presidential election. The report is simply a description of what is said to be Russian capabilities.

    • Istanbul new year Reina nightclub attack ‘leaves 39 dead’

      At least 39 people, including at least 15 foreigners, have been killed in an attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey’s interior minister says.

      A gunman opened fire in Reina nightclub at about 01:30 local time (22:30 GMT), as revellers marked the new year.

      Suleyman Soylu said efforts were continuing to find the attacker, who was believed to have acted alone.

      At least 69 people were being treated in hospital, the minister added. Four were said to be in a serious condition.

    • Reliving Agent Orange: What if casualties don’t end on the battlefield, but extend to future generations?

      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.

    • ISIS Will Lose the Battle of Mosul, But Not Much Will Remain

      Winners and losers are beginning to emerge in the wars that have engulfed the wider Middle East since the US and UK invaded Iraq in 2003. The most striking signs of this are the sieges of east Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, which have much in common though they were given vastly different coverage by the Western media. In both cities, Salafi-jihadi Sunni Arab insurgents were defending their last big urban strongholds against the Iraqi Army, in the case of Mosul, and the Syrian Army, in the case of east Aleppo.

      The capture of east Aleppo means that President Bashar al-Assad has essentially won the war and will stay in power. The Syrian security forces advanced and the armed resistance collapsed more swiftly than had been expected. Some 8,000 to 10,000 rebel fighters, pounded by artillery and air strikes and divided among themselves, were unable to stage a last stand in the ruins of the enclave, as happened in Homs three years ago, and is happening in Mosul now.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Online calculator cuts farms’ emissions

      It’s called the Cool Farm Tool (CFT) – an easy-to-use online calculator that helps farmers monitor their emissions of greenhouse gases.

      Agriculture accounts for about 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, though when fertiliser manufacture and use and the overall food processing sector are included in calculations, that figure is considerably higher.

      The land can also act as a vital carbon sink, soaking up or sequestering vast amounts of carbon: when soils are disturbed the carbon is released, adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

    • Thin Green Line: 20 Groups Standing Between You and Doom

      Finally, Sanders snapped back: “You know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”

      These groups responded with mock outrage, clustering before the cameras of MSDNC to denounce Bernie. How could Sanders possibly call us part of the “Establishment”! It’s ridiculous! He should be ashamed of himself!! He must apologize!!!

      But Sanders was absolutely right, of course. The Beltway network of liberal NGOS–from the Sierra Club to NOW–have become little more than dutiful subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. Many of them have enabled and abetted the party’s wholesale lurch toward neoliberalism without so much as a bleat, while howling against almost every minor infraction made by a Republican politician.

    • Top climate stories to watch in 2017

      2016 was something of a mixed bag for the global climate. On the one hand, renewable energy use has never been higher — but on the other hand, 2016 brought with it news of record fossil fuel consumption, as well.

      Meanwhile, the Paris Climate Agreement went into force on November 4, far sooner than anyone ever expected, signaling a new era of international climate action — but just a few days later, the U.S., the second-largest emitter in the world, elected a new president who has called global warming a hoax and pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as possible.

    • Record 3.5 tons of pangolin scales seized in China

      Pangolin scales, like rhinoceros horns, are just made of keratin, but that doesn’t stop traditional medicine practitioners from claiming they cure cancer and what-not. It’s why pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world. China stopped a shipment worth around $2 million that required killing around 7,500 of the cure little anteaters.

    • The Fires of Standing Rock: How a New Resistance Movement was Ignited

      On Sunday, November 6, in Redwood Valley, California several hundred people gathered to listen to activists report back from Standing Rock where they had stood in solidarity with Native American Tribes, known as Water Protectors, opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      One such speaker was Jassen Rodriguez, a Mishewal Wappo tribal member whose ancestral landbase includes much of Sonoma, Napa, and southern Lake counties. He had just returned from a three-week sojourn to North Dakota, where had had stayed at Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, an encampment named for the seven bands of the Sioux people where a ceremonial fire has remained burning for many months.

  • Finance

    • Jean-Claude Juncker blocked EU curbs on tax avoidance, cables show

      The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spent years in his previous role as Luxembourg’s prime minister secretly blocking EU efforts to tackle tax avoidance by multinational corporations, leaked documents reveal.

      Years’ worth of confidential German diplomatic cables provide a candid account of Luxembourg’s obstructive manoeuvres inside one of Brussels’ most secretive committees.

      The code of conduct group on business taxation was set up almost 19 years ago to prevent member states from being played off against one another by increasingly powerful multinational businesses, eager to shift profits across borders and avoid tax.

    • Reducing Inequality in the Trump Era

      With Washington looking hopeless, it’s up to local communities to close the gap between the richest and the rest.

      [...]

      So if we can’t expect the Trump administration to work to stem rising inequality, how will we move forward?

      The victories of 2016, which involved organizing at the state and local levels to lift up workers and expand opportunities for all, show the type of innovative campaigns we’ll need. There are no illusions that change will come from Washington — the new team in town has made clear they’re not interested.

      That’s no reason to sit back and wait for another election. Progress can come from working within our own communities to push forward smart ideas that don’t need a sign-off from Congress or Trump.

      That work should start now. It remains, after all, the defining challenge of our time.

    • Trump Takes Credit for New Sprint Jobs He Had Nothing To Do With

      President-elect Donald Trump wasted no time taking credit for the thousands of new and returning American jobs announced by Sprint on Wednesday—opportunities which, as many are pointing out, the real estate mogul had very little to do with.

      Speaking to reporters from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said Wednesday: “Because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they’re going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States.”

      “Also,” he continued, “OneWeb, a new company is going to be hiring 3,000 people so that is very exciting.”

      Later, he doubled down on that claim saying: “Because of me they’re doing 5,000 jobs in this country.”

    • What U.S. Tech Giants Face in Europe in 2017

      For American tech behemoths like Google and Facebook, Europe can be both a blessing and a curse.

      The region and its 500 million consumers are one of the companies’ most important overseas markets. And in cities from Lisbon to Ljubljana, people often can’t get enough YouTube videos, Amazon purchases and Twitter messages.

      Yet policy makers in the 28-member European Union have also become some of the most ardent critics of how Silicon Valley companies dominate much of the digital world. The criticisms include the companies’ perceived failure to pay local taxes and their collection of reams of personal information.

    • Defying Donald Trump’s Kleptocracy

      The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We Do Not Live in “Post Truth” World, We Live in a World of Lies and We Always Have

      We do not live in a “post-truth” world, neither in the Middle East nor in the West – nor in Russia, for that matter. We live in a world of lies. And we always have lived in a world of lies.

      Just take a look at the wreckage of the Middle East with its history of people’s popular republics and its hateful dictators. They feast on dishonesty, although they all – bar the late Muammar al-Gaddafi – demand regular elections to make-believe their way back to power.

      Now, I suppose, it is we who have regular elections based on lies. So maybe Trump and the Arab autocrats will get on rather well. Trump already likes Field Marshal/President al-Sissi of Egypt, and he’s already got a golf course in Dubai. That he deals in lies, that he manufactures facts, should make him quite at home in the Middle East. Misogyny, bullying, threats to political opponents, authoritarianism, tyranny, torture, sneers at minorities: it’s part and parcel of the Arab world.

      And look at Israel. The new US ambassador-to-be – who might as well be the Israeli ambassador to the US – can’t wait to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He seems to feel more antagonism towards the Jewish left in America than the Palestinians who claim East Jerusalem as a capital and whose state he has no interest in. Will Trump enrage the Arabs? Or will he get away with a little domestic rearrangement of the Israel embassy on the grounds that the Gulf Arabs, at least, know that Israel’s anti-Shiism – against Syria, Iran and Hezbollah – fits in rather well with the Sunni potentates who’ve been funding Isis and Jabhat al-Nusrah and all the other jolly jihadis?

    • Trump’s Tweets Take a Turn for the Worse

      That Donald Trump is erratic, emotionally immature, and stunningly ignorant is hardly news. Neither is his fondness for communicating with the world via Twitter. What could be more fitting? One hundred forty characters are all that he can string together, and all his thoughts deserve.

      Lately, though, there is news about the Donald — not just because everything a President-elect does is newsworthy, but also because his tweets have taken a turn for the worse: from merely worrisome to downright alarming.

      Even the fools who voted for the Donald “to make America great again” must be noticing.

      All they ever wanted was the level of social and economic security of the years before the neoliberal (Clintonite) turn. They wanted to live in a world in which a man (always a man) could earn a family wage and in which “the American dream,” whatever that means (it seems to have something to do with upward social and economic mobility) is within every good (white) American’s reach; and in which troops, marching under the banner of Old Glory, always win the wars they fight. USA, Number One!

      Sore losers say Hillary lost because Trump voters were xenophobic and racist. Many of them were concerned about immigration — for dubious, but not entirely “deplorable,” reasons. Only a few were overtly racist, however. They weren’t even all white.

    • A Sour Holiday Season for Neocons

      Regarding Clinton’s defeat, her embrace of the neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” obsessions siphoned off enthusiasm among the peace faction of the Democratic Party, a significant and activist part of the progressive movement.

      Clinton’s alignment with the neocon/liberal hawks may have helped her with the mainstream media, but the MSM has lost much of its credibility by making itself a handmaiden in leading the nation to wars and more wars.

      Average Americans also could feel the contempt that these elites had for the rest of us. The neocons and liberal hawks had come to believe in the CIA’s concept of “perception management,” feeling that the American people were items to be controlled, not the nation’s sovereigns to be informed and respected. Instead of “We the People,” Official Washington’s elites treated us like “Us the Sheep.”

    • Obama’s Support for International Law Draws Bipartisan Ire

      Here’s one way to look at it: The United States was the only country in the fifteen-member U.N. Security Council that did not support a resolution passed last week criticizing Israel for continuing to expand illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

      On the other hand, the Obama administration refused to veto the resolution—for which it is now drawing fire from both Republicans and Democrats. This opposition has come despite the resolution also calling on both the Israeli and Palestinian governments to prevent violence against civilians, condemn and combat terrorism, refrain from incitement, and comply with their obligations under international law.

    • Donald Trump victory sparks global women’s rights marches

      After a year of seismic shocks comes the protest and fightback. At least that is what activists plan with the first major demonstration of the year – the women’s march – planned for 30 cities around the world on 21 January, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the US.

      The women’s march on Washington has been given permission by state authorities to go ahead. Tens of thousands of women (and men, who are also welcome to join it) have already pledged to take part and plans for a sister rally in London are gaining support from writers, musicians and politicians.

      Organisers say the US election proved a “catalyst for a grassroots movement of women to assert the positive values that the politics of fear denies”.

    • Could It Have Been Different?

      Trump’s grandest promise — to “Make America Great Again” — is a resurrection of Ronald Reagan’s original 1980 campaign slogan and, remarkably, it worked yet again nearly four decades later. Little acknowledged, Reagan – along with the millions who voted for him – knew back then that the U.S. was no longer “great.” In the years separating the Reagan and Trump campaigns, the nine intervening administrations – Reagan (2 terms), Bush I (1 term), Clinton (2 terms), Bush II (2 terms) and Obama (2 terms) – failed to address the reasons for the nation’s loss of “greatness.” More troubling, each contributed to ending this alleged greatness.

      Trump won the election promising to break with the old – and failed – domestic and international policies of the inside-the-Beltway establishment symbolized by Hillary Clinton. His Cabinet picks suggest he plans to take the nation — and its people — in a new direction, one based on shortsightedness and self-serving opportunism. The nation faces enormous and radical challenges; Trump can be expected to significantly falter after an initial period of spectacular misdirection.

    • The War Against Alternative Information

      The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.

    • Days of Moderate Democratic Party ‘Are Over,’ Analyst Declares

      According to political commentator Van Jones, it’s a moment when the progressive wing of the party is going to rise.

      Speaking on Sunday to CNN, Jones told host Jake Tapper that the future stars of the party may be surprising, and pointed to Senator-elect for California Kamala Harris as an example.

      Harris, Jones, said, “is unreal.”

      “She’s going to be out there defending those DREAMer kids because they’re a big part of her constituency, but she’s got African-American roots. She’s got Asian roots. She’s female. She’s tough. She’s smart. She’s going to become a big deal,” he said.

      Indeed, The Hill described Harris, currently the state’s attorney general, as among the “10 incoming lawmakers to watch.”

    • As a Trump Administration Fast Approaches, Cities and Towns Gear Up for Political Resistance

      Back in March, when Donald Trump was facing off with two now-forgotten candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, the small town of Barnstead, New Hampshire, was quietly protecting its citizens. At their annual town hall, residents voted unanimously for a city ordinance establishing the right to freedom from forced religious identification.

    • Fascism can’t be stopped by fact-checking

      Arendt, a German-born Jewish philosopher, wrote these words trying to make sense of Hitler’s Germany. The ways in which they resonate in today’s U.S. context is chilling. Arendt’s analysis here reminds me why fascism—including nascent neo-fascist forms—can’t be fact-checked.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Community Voices: On art and censorship, Junauda Petrus’ open letter to the city of Minneapolis

      I give thanks to the sacred, indigenous ancestors to this land and the ways they are influencing spirits in these times as we continue the journey to light and justice. I gives thanks to the ancestors of my blood, who guide my heart and have paved the way for my life as a healer through the realm of art. May I honor their memory by living into my truth.

    • 2016’s Assault On The Internet Was Brutal. Will 2017 Be Worse?

      Nothing may have had as bad of a year as the Internet.

      The Internet has been hit with an onslaught of criticism and suffered several setbacks in 2016: from relinquishment of American control over web address management, introduced surveillance measures in the United Kingdom, social media backlash for users’ hate speech and terrorist affiliations, to censorship and fake news.

      [...]

      The U.K. passed a surveillance bill in November that significantly expands the government’s spying powers, namely over the Internet. The Investigatory Powers Bill is considered so expansive, it’s informally called the “snoopers’ charter.” The European Union’s top court ruled the measure was illegal because it calls for the “general and indiscriminate” retention of people’s online web traffic, but it remains to be seen if the ruling will ultimately matter.

    • Press freedom organisation condemns tough censorship in Venezuela

      The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has expressed regret that the old year ended with the toughest censorship and restriction of the Venezuelan press following the announcement by the South American country’s oldest newspaper, El Impulso, that in 2017 it will no longer circulate in its print edition.

      The paper, founded in January 1904, announced in an editorial on its website that it would be circulating only until December 31 due to the lack of newsprint. It blamed the state-owned Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Corporation, which has a monopoly in the distribution of newsprint.

      The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, condemned “the insolence with which the Venezuelan government is applying censorship in a manner that is as subtle as it is gross.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Pirates: You Can Click But You Can Hide

      In a big publicity campaign targeting all types of media and even paying cinema-goers, in 2004 the MPAA warned torrent users that being anonymous online wasn’t possible. You Can Click But You Can’t Hide, their famous slogan read. Now, coming up for an unlucky 13 years later, nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Corporate surveillance, digital tracking, big data & privacy
    • lecture: Corporate surveillance, digital tracking, big data & privacy

      Today virtually everything we do is monitored in some way. The collection, analysis and utilization of digital information about our clicks, swipes, likes, purchases, movements, behaviors and interests have become part of everyday life. While individuals become increasingly transparent, companies take control of the recorded data.

    • Privacy showdown: divorce lawyers could see your web history

      Australia’s new mandatory data retention scheme is headed for a big confrontation, as the Turnbull government moves to allow civil litigation lawyers access to the web, phone and email sessions of every private user.

      Since October 13, 2015, all telephony and internet service providers have been required by law to retain for two years all their clients’ metadata, including voice, text and email communications, time, date and device locations and internet sessions.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Not Working for Us

      The benefits extended to the personal as well. Jake invited me to sex parties, and I enthusiastically attended, and made friendships there that persist to this day. Some of those parties didn’t have any problems (that I noticed). But sometimes I saw interactions that made me uncomfortable. Sometimes I participated in questionable activities. Everybody in the room said “yes” in the moment — sometimes after discussion, sometimes with their body language screaming “no”. Jake and I never talked about those situations.

      Benefits accrued to organizations as well. It became routine for CCC to be mentioned above the fold in the NYT each Congress season. Noisebridge (co-founded by Jake) attained a certain fame, then a notoriety. It was exciting, but we saw the problems. We even called them out occasionally, but for years I said to myself, “he’s problematic but he does good work and his negative behavior is part and parcel of the special gift that makes him so effective.” Many others excused what they saw with a similar calculus.

      Being friends with Jake had worked for me. But “Works For Me” isn’t good enough. I’d privately warned women not to date him, but I wasn’t confronting the problems. I was covering them, hiding from them.

    • Rare Track Record: NYPD’s History Chronicling Hate Crimes

      As of Dec. 18, 2016, there had been 373 hate crimes reported to the New York Police Department. Crimes against Muslims were up 50 percent from the same time last year, rising to 33 from 22. Crimes involving sexual orientation were also up — to 101 from last year’s 74. Whites have been victims, too, the source of 16 reported crimes.

      The numbers reflect a distinctive effort by a law enforcement agency to track crimes driven by intolerance, for hate crimes are notoriously poorly reported across the country. Since 1980, however, the New York Police Department has operated a hate crime task force, and since 1994 it has diligently sent off its data on such crimes to the FBI.

    • Why ‘White Genocide’ is Key to the Earth’s Survival: White Genocide From Baldwin to Ciccariello-Maher

      White genocide would not only be good, it is necessary and even unavoidable; that is, if we are interested in the survival of the planet, humanity, and all life forms – though to be clear the phrase ‘white genocide’ is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps most accurate would be the concept of collective mass “white” ontological suicide or more simply put: the end of white supremacy. To clarify, a 140-character tweet cannot do justice to a necessary and timely analysis, so my intent is to do so here…. “White genocide” has little to do with violence or the physical death of actual living “white” people – or as renowned poet James Baldwin preferred to call them since 1979: “people who think they’re white” – but rather with the collective disinvestment amongst “people who think they’re white” from all forms of racial thinking and their own holding on to the benefits accrued directly and indirectly through a persistent global structure of white supremacy over the last 500 years.

      In the 1984 essay, “On Being White,” James Baldwin also stated (as others before and after him have as well) that “no one was white before he/she came to America. It took generations, and a vast amount of coercion, before this became a white country.” That coercion was twofold: wreaked upon the bodies of indigenous inhabitants of these lands and the souls kidnapped, transported and enslaved through the Atlantic slave trade, on the one hand; but also through the legal and extralegal sanctioning and expectation that eastern and southern Europeans and Jews who were not initially

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