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01.03.17

Links 3/1/2017: Microsoft Imposing TPM2 on Linux, ASUS Bringing Out Android Phones

Posted in News Roundup at 9:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 4 hot skills for Linux pros in 2017

    One of the problems with becoming a Linux expert is the definition is constantly changing. When I started in the Linux world, to be considered a Linux professional, you had to be able to compile your own kernel. Heck, if you wanted to use Linux on a laptop, you had to compile a custom kernel to even be a user. These days, compiling your own kernel is usually a waste of time. That’s not to say it isn’t important, but in the open source world we build on the successes of others, and Linux distributions provide us with kernels that work well. Although not always that drastic, the demands on IT professionals change every year.

  • Kernel Space

    • Ridiculously small Linux build lands with ridiculously few swears

      The latest Linux 4.10-rc2 build nearly didn’t happen because L-triptophaniac developers were Christmassing, but Linux Torvalds decided to set it free as a New Year treat.

      Explaining the build, Torvalds wrote 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”.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Ridiculously Small Second Linux 4.10 Release Candidate

      The first day of 2017 starts off for Linux users with the release of the second RC (Release Candidate) development version of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel, as announced by Linus Torvalds himself.

      As expected, Linux kernel 4.10 entered development two weeks after the release of Linux kernel 4.9, on Christmas Day (December 25, 2016), but don’t expect to see any major improvements or any other exciting things in RC2, which comes one week after the release of the first RC, because most of the developers were busy partying.

    • TPM2 and Linux

      Recently Microsoft started mandating TPM2 as a hardware requirement for all platforms running recent versions of windows. This means that eventually all shipping systems (starting with laptops first) will have a TPM2 chip. The reason this impacts Linux is that TPM2 is radically different from its predecessor TPM1.2; so different, in fact, that none of the existing TPM1.2 software on Linux (trousers, the libtpm.so plug in for openssl, even my gnome keyring enhancements) will work with TPM2. The purpose of this blog is to explore the differences and how we can make ready for the transition.

    • The definitive guide to synclient

      This post describes the synclient tool, part of the xf86-input-synaptics package. It does not describe the various options, that’s what the synclient(1) and synaptics(4) man pages are for. This post describes what synclient is, where it came from and how it works on a high level. Think of it as a anti-bus-factor post.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Kirigami UI 2.0 Beta Released: Better Android Integration, QQC2 Focus

        Kirigami is KDE’s set of UI components and philosophy / patterns announced last year for developing “intuitive and consistent apps that provide a great user experience” and do have convergence applications in mind. Now ringing in 2017, the first beta of Kirigami 2.0 is now available.

      • KDevelop 5.1 Beta 1 released

        We are happy to announce the release of KDevelop 5.1 Beta! Tons of new stuff entered KDevelop 5.1, a bigger blog post show-casing all the features in 5.1 will follow when we release the final version. Here’s a brief summary of what’s new in this version:

      • KDevelop 5.1 Beta 1 Released With LLDB Debugger Support
      • Interview with Ismail Tarchoun

        There are some features I want to see in Krita, for example: a small preview window: it’s essential to get a feeling of the painting in general, otherwise it might turn out weird. I also wish Krita could import more brushes from other programs. But nothing is really that bothersome about Krita, there are some bugs, but they are constantly being fixed by the awesome devs.

        [...]

        First, I made a rough sketch, then I started laying in some general colors using a large soft brush (deevad 4a airbrush by David Revoy) without caring about the details, only basic colors and a basic idea of how the painting is lit. Then I started going into details using a smaller sized brush (deevad 1f draw brush). I usually paint new details in a separate layer, then merge it down if I’m happy with the results, if not I, I delete the layer and paint a new one. I use the liquify tool a lot to fix the proportions or any anomaly. For the hair I used the brush (deevad 2d flat old) and the hair brush (vb3BE by Vasco Alexander Basque) which I also used for the hat. When the painting is done I use filters to adjust the colors and contrast, I then make a new layer for final and minor tweaks here and there.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 review

        OpenMandriva is a Linux distribution whose roots and traditions date back to the Mandrake/Mandriva Linux era, what it has in common with with ROSA Linux and Mageia. The latest edition of the desktop distribution – OpenMandriva Lx 3.01, was released on December 25 2016, so it was a nice Christmas present to OpenMandriva fans.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.0: a faint shadow of name

        The general feel of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 was fast and solid.

        However, that was only on the surface. As soon as you start to look just a little bit deeper, issues go out here and there. High memory usage, keyboard layout glitch, inadequate size of notification area icons, problems with updates – all of that leave a bad taste after the Live Run of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0.

        Will it ever gain the popularity its parent had just few years ago? I have a very big doubt.

      • The January 2017 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine
    • Arch Family

      • Arch-based Bluestar Linux Makes Plasma 5 Usable

        Last week I mentioned that I liked Bluestar Linux very much and was probably going to go ahead and take the leap to it and Plasma 5. I had been testing Plasma 5 on various distributions in 2016 with poor results until I tested Arch-based Bluestar 4.8.13. Preliminary tests indicated it might be possible to migrate. So, I learned a bit more about Bluestar this passed weekend and thought I’d share. I’ve also rounded up the best Linux tidbits from today’s headlines as well.

        First up, yes there is a graphical package manager. PacmanXG to be exact. I’d run into PacmanXG a few times over the years, but it appears it too has matured and seems to work rather well. The sort by groups could be better, but otherwise it’s quite capable complete with history, log, and the command-line outputs. Updates come fairly routinely in Bluestar, although most are from Arch. I’ve been applying the recommended updates without any negative side-effects as of yet.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Avoid echo chambers and make open decisions

        The Open Decision Framework (a model for applying open source principles to business decisions) is nuanced. On the one hand, it’s a set of guidelines you can use to operate in a more open manner when you’re making decisions that affect others. On the other hand, more holistically, it represents the essence of the culture described in Jim Whitehurst’s The Open Organization. Usually, making open decisions isn’t as easy as following a recipe. Every situation is unique, and given the pace of activity in a typical, busy work day, it takes a concerted effort to check your actions against a set of principles–even if you are well steeped in them.

      • Industry Spotlight: Red Hat Powers the API Economy

        APIs are the building blocks of today’s digital economy. Businesses are using them to fuel innovation between departments and to share company data and content with customers or partners at scale. They’re also using APIs to drive new revenue streams and to enable cross-enterprise agility. Although more organizations are building APIs with the goal of driving more value from their digital assets, many of those companies have trouble managing their APIs effectively, especially at scale. Red Hat brings order to API chaos so software teams can spend more time creating tangible business value.

        “You can’t just create an API and think you’re done with it,” said Sameer Parulkar, product marketing manager, Enterprise Middleware, at Red Hat, Inc. “You may create an API for a particular purpose today, but what about when requirements change tomorrow? How will you manage and secure that API? You need a scalable, enterprise-class way of doing all that.”

      • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 now available

        Red Hat, Inc. has announced the availability of Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10, the company’s massively-scalable and agile cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution.

        Based on the upstream OpenStack ‘Newton’ release, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 drives new features that increase system-wide scalability, ease infrastructure management, and improve orchestration, while also enhancing network performance and platform security.

      • Finance

    • Debian Family

      • ScreenLock on Jessie’s systemd

        Something I was used to and which came as standard on wheezy if you installed acpi-support was screen locking when you where suspending, hibernating, …

        This is something that I still haven’t found on Jessie and which somebody had point me to solve via /lib/systemd/system-sleep/whatever hacking, but that didn’t seem quite right, so I gave it a look again and this time I was able to add some config files at /etc/systemd and then a script which does what acpi-support used to do before

      • Happy New Year – My Free Software activities in December 2016
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Skips First Alpha for Opt-In Flavors, GCC 6.3.0 Hits the Repository

            You should know that we’re always monitoring the development cycle of every new Ubuntu Linux release, as well as that Ubuntu 17.04 is open for development as of October 20, 2016, when the toolchain got uploaded.

            Daily build images were published a few days later after that date and were initially based on the Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) repository, but as Canonical’s engineers never rest, they manage to bring all the latest Open Source software applications and GNU/Linux technologies to Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus).

            These include Linux kernel 4.9.0, Mesa 13.0.2 3D Graphics Library, systemd 232, GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 6.3.0, support for IPP Everywhere Apple AirPrint compatible printers a.k.a. driverless printing, various improvements to the Unity 8 interface, which is still available as a preview, and some packages from the GNOME 3.22 Stack.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Distro Review Of The Week – Ubuntu MATE 16.10

              Ubuntu has been the focus of Linux world for a long time. But, it received a lot of criticism when it shifted to Unity interface. The interface came kind of a shock to many devoted users of the old Ubuntu. This caused many users either to shift to other distributions or flavors of Ubuntu itself. Now, there is a similar story which many new users don’t know about.

            • What Are The Differences Between Ubuntu Official Flavors?

              For most new users, the fact that there are more than 8 official “editions” of one Ubuntu operating system is hard to understand. It’s particularly similar with Microsoft having some editions for Windows XP, and the users would ask “what are the differences?”. This article mentions the differences of nine Ubuntu official “editions” (called flavors) based on the desktop interface, specific purpose, and LTS duration. This article also provides more information such as Wikipedia entries and other important resources to make it simpler to understand. I write this article in January 2017 and the number of flavors can be increased or decreased later.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tiny COM runs Android Nougat on a Snapdragon 820

      Intrinsyc’s 50 x 25mm “Open-Q 820 µSOM” expands upon the Snapdragon 820 with Android 7.0, 3GB LPDDR4, 32GB UFS storage, WiFi, BT, and extended temps.

      Intrinsyc has launched the smallest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 based computer-on-module to date for $239, as well as an Open-Q µ820 Development Kit selling for $579. The Open-Q 820 µSOM module measures 50 x 25mm compared to Intrinsyc’s year-old, 82 x 42mm Open-Q 820 module. It also edges out other contenders we’ve seen in the Snapdragon 820 COM market, at least as far as size is concerned. These include the 53 x 25mm eInfochips Eragon 820 SOM and 50 x 28mm Inforce 6601 Micro SOM.

    • Ringing in 2017 with 90 hacker-friendly single board computers

      Our New Year’s guide to hacker-friendly single board computers turned up 90 boards, ranging from powerful media playing rigs to power-sipping IoT platforms.

      Community backed, open spec single board computers running Linux and Android sit at the intersection between the commercial embedded market and the open source maker community. Hacker boards also play a key role in developing the Internet of Things devices that will increasingly dominate our technology economy in the coming years, from home automation devices to industrial equipment to drones.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tapitoo OpenCart: An open source e-commerce mobile app

    Tapitoo OpenCart is an open source online store app designed to help online stores increase their visibility and make a greater impact in their most competitive markets. We decided to develop and app that can make the integration with the biggest e-commerce backend solutions, as well as with custom stores, as seamless as possible.

    CyberMonday and CyberWeek aside, millions rely on the mobile purchasing channel, a preference that has revolutionized online commerce. Currently, mobile accounts for 40% of all e-commerce revenue and industry experts expect it to grow to 70% in just a few years. Today mobile apps are not just recommended for any e-commerce effort, but they are required for a retailer’s survival. According to Google, “Not having a mobile optimized site is like closing your store one day each week.”

  • Open Source Enterprise Trends for 2017

    Nothing ever goes completely according to plan. That being said, it’s both tempting and necessary at the beginning of the year to look ahead to where things are going. Here’s a short list of things to consider as we look at the road ahead for Linux, open source and the enterprise.

  • Events

    • Circo loco 2017

      Due to popular demand I’m sharing my plans for the upcoming conference season. Here is a list of events I plan to visit and speak at (hopefully). The list will be updated throughout the year so please subscribe to the comments section to receive a notification when that happens! I’m open to meeting new people so ping me for a beer if you are attending some of these events!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox’s “Delete Node” eliminates pesky content-hiding banners

        It’s trendy among web designers today — the kind who care more about showing ads than about the people reading their pages — to use fixed banner elements that hide part of the page. In other words, you have a header, some content, and maybe a footer; and when you scroll the content to get to the next page, the header and footer stay in place, meaning that you can only read the few lines sandwiched in between them. But at least you can see the name of the site no matter how far you scroll down in the article! Wouldn’t want to forget the site name!

        Worse, many of these sites don’t scroll properly. If you Page Down, the content moves a full page up, which means that the top of the new page is now hidden under that fixed banner and you have to scroll back up a few lines to continue reading where you left off. David Pogue wrote about that problem recently and it got a lot of play when Slashdot picked it up: These 18 big websites fail the space-bar scrolling test.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • What does cross stitch have to do with programming? More than you think

      Arts and crafts. Creativity and diligence. Taking the mundane and adding that touch of genius and individuality. A needleworker spends hours creating artwork with simple threads of many colors, and programming is the same—words and numbers woven over hours to create something with a purpose.

      Recently, I’ve started learning JavaScript, and around the same time I also started teaching myself cross stitching. As I’ve learned both I’ve experienced the parallels between learning a traditional craft like cross stitching and a modern craft like programming. Learning traditional crafts can teach us new ways for learning coding efficiently as the techniques and skills acquired when learning traditional crafts are easily transferable to modern crafts like programming.

    • Dawn-CC: Automatically Adding OpenACC/OpenMP Directives To Programs

      The DawnCC project is out of the UFMG University and aims to provide automatic parallelization of code for mobile devices and other supported software/hardware of OpenACC and OpenMP.

      DawnCC attempts to automatically add OpenACC and OpenMP directives to C and C++ code-bases. The Dawn compiler makes use of LLVM IR to analyze memory chunks, dependencies within loops, etc, in order to be able to automatically produce code that makes use of OpenMP and OpenACC where relevant.

Leftovers

  • One Pig Of A Year

    The latest ugly online tantrum by our sociopathic toddler-elect – Best concise response: “You’re an awful human being” – marks the perfect end to a perfect shitstorm of a year, from Aleppo to electoral carnage to Bowie/Cohen/Fisher/et al to Istanbul. Alas, given what might be coming, any mindful welcome to a new year has to encompass some dread with hope. So we have both, as do many others. Among some brilliant, brutal, occasionally sanguine videos summarizing the year is Friend Dog Studio’s “trailer” for the horror movie of the year, “2016: The Movie,” and Tom and Hubert’s portrait of an oblivious guy who slept through it. Somehow it all brought to mind Michael Jackson’s extraordinary gathering of artists for “We Are The World.” A middling song but a buoyant spirit, which is needed now. And those faces! Peace to all. May we stand together.

  • 2016 What Have You Wrought?

    Holy shit, what a year, huh? A friend keeps reminding me she knew it was going to be a bad one when David Bowie died in the first few days. Even if one wasn’t a fan, the impact of his death was felt across the planet, especially in the imperial zones. It’s hard to argue that things improved from that news. Musically and politically, there was plenty more bad news to come. The death of Fidel Castro, one of the world’s oldest revolutionaries, saddened the hearts of millions while providing his ideological enemies a moment of delight. The future of one of the world’s most successful revolutions is now uncertain. Capitalists are salivating at the opportunity to make a buck while various fascist and other right-wing elements look forward to exacting some kind of revenge. Their sanguinary lust is barely concealed. Fidel’s social conscience and fearlessness will be missed. His revolutionary determination must be replicated a billion fold.

  • The Land of Smiling Children

    “Kom ins Land der lachelenden Kinder,” “Come to the land of smiling children,” intones a voiceover to the tune of Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” at the beginning of a popular German YouTube video. The video is a montage of some of the most grotesque elements of American culture: a smiling JonBenét Ramsey in full beauty queen regalia, children using firearms, police beatings and shootings of unarmed citizens, celebrations of conspicuous consumption and contempt for the environment juxtaposed with videos of street people combing trash cans, an execution chamber, a row of Klansmen, and, finally, a man accidentally shooting himself in the leg.

    “Alles spitz in Amerika!” “Everything’s great in America,” the refrain announces over and over again as one horrific scene after another assaults the viewer. The video, “Ein Leid für die USA,” or “A Song for the USA” begins and ends with someone accidentally shooting himself. One could argue that it’s heavy handed, but it makes a devastating point: We are destroying ourselves.

    We have arguably always lacked the veneer of civility that typically characterizes older cultures, and yet it seems that public discourse has recently taken a particularly savage turn. The left is as responsible for that as the right. Trump didn’t become “evil” until he ran for office. Before that, he was merely a buffoon. Now, suddenly, he’s “Hitler” and his supporters are uniformly denounced as “racists” and “fascists.” Don’t get me wrong, Trump was not my candidate. He’s not who I want to see in the White House, but he’s not Hitler. Obama said himself that Trump’s a pragmatist, not an ideologue. Democrats dismissed well-reasoned arguments against Clinton’s candidacy, or her positions on various issues, not with similarly well-reasoned counter arguments, but with charges of “mansplaining.” Nothing shuts down dialogue so quickly as hurling invectives at your opponents. British comedian Tom Walker makes this point brilliantly in the viral video of his alter ego U.K. newsman Jonathan Pie’s commentary on the election.

  • Netanyahu Questioned by Police Over Gifts; AG: Evidence Has Mounted Over Last Month

    Police found enough evidence to support the questioning of Netanyahu under caution, attorney general says. ‘Don’t celebrate yet,’ Netanyahu said earlier.

  • Science

    • Virginia Politicians and the Slow Strangulation of Its Famous State University

      After 3 weeks of inconclusive toing and froing on Sullivan’s resignation, the then Republican governor Bob McDonnell, with his own corruption scandal looming on the horizon, said he would use his gubernatorial prerogative and replace the entire board if the matter was not resolved forthwith.

      Sullivan was reinstated. Dragas remained on the Board and was appointed by McDonnell for a second term, this fiasco notwithstanding. Her reprieve was attributed to her high-level political connections.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • All Women Deserve Access to Tampons, Period

      In the supposedly enlightened United States, millions of women lack proper access to menstrual supplies.

    • Canada-China FTA talks to begin in February 2017 could have massive implications on water use

      CBC reports, “International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada is tentatively booked to begin talks with China in February as the two countries explore a free trade agreement.”

      While the Harper government expressed support for a free trade agreement with China in 2007, there is a new momentum behind these talks. In December 2015, China’s ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui, stated, “At the policy level, we need to start the negotiation and conclusion of a free trade agreement sooner rather than later.” In June 2016, The Globe and Mail reported, “[Trudeau] has made re-engagement with China a key foreign policy initiative as his government presses for a free-trade deal with the world’s second-largest economy.” And in August 2016, the Canadian Press reported, “After meeting with Trudeau, [Chinese premier Li Keqiang stated] that Canada and China will launch a feasibility study on an eventual free-trade deal.”

    • For our food system’s sake, let’s say “no” to corporate consolidation

      The food system is one of the largest forces impacting our planet’s environment and people’s health. The choices about what crops are grown, where and how they are produced, who gets access to that food and who makes those decisions all have global consequences.

      One of the challenges to achieving a more sustainable and fair food system is cor­porate consolidation in the food sector. Consider the latest proposed merger be­tween global giants Bayer and Monsanto pending antitrust approval. And remem­ber, DuPont-Dow, Syngenta–Chem China and Monsanto-Bayer (if the mergers go through) aren’t agriculture companies first — they’re chemical companies.

    • How Trump can help working-class Americans: Keep funding Planned Parenthood

      Can Congress stop harassing Planned Parenthood? That would be my wish for the new year. Unfortunately, the harassment may increase in a Trump administration. But it doesn’t have to. It is within President-elect Donald Trump’s power to put a stop to it.

      Past congressional attempts to defund Planned Parenthood have failed because President Obama has vetoed them. This is all part of a congressional effort to punish the healthcare provider for also providing legal abortions. Of course, no federal funds that Planned Parenthood receives go to abortion, anyway. By law, no federal money can be spent on abortion. (Which is unfair — but that’s another story.)

    • The Cory Booker Dilemma for Progressive Animal Activists

      During the 2016 Democratic primary, I was very much a Bernie Sanders partisan. The candidate was so much on my mind, that when I was writing my biography of Ronnie Lee, founder of the Animal Liberation Front, my subject emailed me on more than one occasion to say I’d accidentally substituted his name with that of the Vermont senator’s in the manuscript draft!

      Now, there was a period during the primary in which it seemed that the animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere was only protesting at Sanders’ rallies. This made me very angry! It made me even more angry when the group was challenged on this and essentially said — a pox on both the Clinton and Sanders; vote for Cory Booker in 2020. While the New Jersey senator is vegan, he’s very much aligned with the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. As Frederik deBoer pointed out, Booker has “criticized unions, pushed for lower corporate taxes and undermined public schools.”

    • Jeremy Hunt accused of compromising weekday hospital care

      The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been accused of compromising the care patients receive during the week by not taking forward his pledge to hire more junior doctors to help deliver a seven-day NHS.

      The Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb, said that with juniors now having to work more at weekends, already under-staffed hospitals had fewer medics on duty on weekdays.

      He said Hunt had done little to make good on the hiring pledge he made in parliament during the year-long dispute over junior doctors’ contracts.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking Parrot Security OS 3.4.1 Includes GNUnet

      The ParrotSec project kicked off 2017 with the release of Parrot Security OS 3.4 on the first day of the year, followed the next day by a point release that brought improvements to the installer.

      Launched on January 1, 2016, Parrot Security OS 3.4 shipped with various updated packages and new features, among which we can mention the addition of the GNUNet open-source framework for secure peer-to-peer (P2P) networking, an early preview of the Freenet installer, as well as brand-new mirror servers for the netboot images.

    • Future Proof Security

      Are there times we should never make a tradeoff between “right” and “now”? Yes, yes there are. The single most important is verify data correctness. Especially if you think it’s trusted input. Today’s trusted input is tomorrow’s SQL injection. Let’s use a few examples (these are actual examples I saw in the past with the names of the innocent changed).

    • Linux Journal January 2017

      There have been epic battles over whether “insecure” or “unsecure” should be used when referring to computer security. Granted, those epic battles usually take place in really nerdy forums, but still, one sounds funny and the other seems to personify computers. Whichever grammatical construct you choose, the need for security is greater now than ever. As Linux users, we need to make sure we’re not overconfident in the inherent security of our systems. Remember, they all have a weak link: us.

    • Lockpicking in the IoT

      “Smart” devices using BTLE, a mobile phone and the Internet are becoming more and more popular. We will be using mechanical and electronic hardware attacks, TLS MitM, BTLE sniffing and App decompilation to show why those devices and their manufacturers aren’t always that smart after all. And that even AES128 on top of the BTLE layer doesn’t have to mean “unbreakable”. Our main target will be electronic locks, but the methods shown apply to many other smart devices as well…

    • Photocopier Security

      A modern photocopier is basically a computer with a scanner and printer attached. This computer has a hard drive, and scans of images are regularly stored on that drive. This means that when a photocopier is thrown away, that hard drive is filled with pages that the machine copied over its lifetime. As you might expect, some of those pages will contain sensitive information.

    • OpenPGP really works

      After a day of analysis, PGP is used and significantly at various layers of my day-to-day activities. I can clearly said “PGP works”. Indeed, it’s not perfect (that’s the reality of a lot of cryptosystems) but PGP needs some love at the IETF, for the implementations or even some financial support.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russian Hacking Report: All Hat, No Cattle

      How long can we expect to wait for the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to admit that its report, “GRIZZLY STEPPE — Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” — pre- hyped as providing “evidence” of Russian government interference in the 2016 US presidential election — is a reprise of Powell’s UN speech?

    • Dylann Roof Himself Rejects Best Defense Against Execution

      Twenty-two pages into the hand-scribbled journal found in Dylann S. Roof’s car — after the assertions of black inferiority, the lamentations over white powerlessness, the longing for a race war — comes an incongruous declaration.

      “I want state that I am morally opposed to psychology,” wrote the young white supremacist who would murder nine black worshipers at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015. “It is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they dont.”

      Mr. Roof, who plans to represent himself when the penalty phase of his federal capital trial begins on Tuesday, apparently is devoted enough to that proposition (or delusion, as some maintain) to stake his life on it. Although a defense based on his psychological capacity might be his best opportunity to avoid execution, he seems steadfastly committed to preventing any public examination of his mental state or background.

    • Fantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump

      The same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces.

      To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama’s bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

      Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. Here’s a “progressive” Democrat:

    • Michigan Bans Banning Plastic Bags Because Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad For Business

      As communities across the country explore new ways to curb single-use plastics, including all-out bans on plastic shopping bags, Michigan has taken a step that ensures it continues to add to plastic pollution.

      This week, with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder out of town, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed into law a prohibition on local governments banning plastic bags and other food and retail containers. That’s right, a ban on bans.

      Introduced by state Sen. Jim Stamas, a Republican, the measure preempts local ordinances from “regulating the use, disposition, or sale of, prohibiting or restricting, or imposing any fee, charge, or tax on certain containers,” including those made of plastics. It effectively kills a measure passed in Washtenaw County, in southeastern Michigan, that would have imposed a 10-cent tax on both plastic and paper grocery bags beginning in April 2017.

    • The Global Assassination Grid

      Cian has spent a great deal of time thinking about the issues of responsibility in, and how communications technology has been used to distance people from the act of killing. Rising superpowers around the world are working day and night to build the next stealth drone that can penetrate air defense systems. The automation of target selection processes, navigation and control are incentivized by the vulnerability posed by the signals drones rely upon to operate.

    • [Video] The Global Assassination Grid
    • Arms Trade Treaty Falling Down in Yemen

      Two years after the UN Arms Trade Treaty entered into force many of the governments which championed the treaty are failing to uphold it, especially when it comes to the conflict in Yemen.

      “In terms of implementation, the big disappointment is Yemen,” Anna Macdonald, Director of Control Arms, a civil society organisation dedicated to the treaty, told IPS.

      “The big disappointment is the countries that were in the forefront of calling for the treaty – and indeed who still champion it as a great achievement in international disarmament and security – are now prepared to violate it by persisting in their arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” she added.

      The Saudi-led international coalition has been responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen, and Saudi Arabia is known to have violated humanitarian law by bombing civilian targets, including hospitals.

    • If you thought 2016 was bad in the Middle East – brace yourself for 2017

      It is difficult to be optimistic about the Middle East in 2017.

      With the bloodshed in Aleppo, Mosul, Yemen and elsewhere in the region, the anger, hatred and sectarian divides have only grown deeper.

      Indeed, while some point to Tehran celebrating its victory in Aleppo, success on the battlefield is coupled with even deeper divisions between Iran and some of its Arab or Sunni neighbours, paving a path towards greater conflict rather than reconciliation.

    • Crosses Marking Chicago Death Toll

      Gang violence has fueled a staggering death toll in Chicago, much as military violence has spread death and chaos over large swaths of the world, reminding Kathy Kelly of the need for an “eternal hostility” toward killing.

    • Israel’s Above-the-Law Behavior

      Despite stern warnings from the U.N. and even the U.S., Israel continues its steady march toward becoming an apartheid state that relies on anti-Arab racism to justify its behavior, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

    • Kerry’s Belated Israel Truth-telling
    • A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
    • ACLU & CAIR Use Gold Star Father to Claim War on Iraq Was for Bill of Rights

      Are you old enough to remember when liberal groups openly admitted that the war on Iraq was illegal and fraudulent, based on oil and profit and sadism?

      Well, can you recall when the proponents of the war claimed it was a defense against nonexistent ties to terrorists and nonexistent weapons?

      Even if you’ve wiped those memories, let me assure you, NOBODY ever claimed that attacking and destroying Iraq was necessary to protect civil liberties in the United States (which have been seriously eroded during the course of the war).

      Yet, in recent months the generic defense of murdering large numbers of people far away has taken over as the explanation for the war on Iraq.

      The ACLU on Friday used the voice of my fellow Charlottesvillian Khizr Khan to claim that attacking Iraq was done “in defense of our country’s ideals.”

      Also on Friday, CAIR — which I can recall supporting Dennis Kucinich for president because he opposed the war — claimed (also through the voice of Khan) that Iraq was destroyed “to continue to have the freedoms guaranteed in the pages of our Constitution.” CAIR even suggests that participating in such activities as attacking Iraq — killing over a million people — is a duty of American Muslims.

    • America’s Major Challenges in Middle East Policy, 2017

      The incoming Trump administration is riven by a profound division between those determined to avoid deep entanglements in the Middle East, such as Donald J. Trump himself, and the hawks he is putting in key positions, who desperately want to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. This division is made more difficult to interpret by Trump’s own erratic pronouncements, such that he sometimes speaks of, e.g., putting 30,000 US troops into the fight against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). It is impossible to know whether Trump will disengage even more than President Obama did, or whether the hawks will win out and intervene with covert operations or perhaps more explicitly against Iran. Yet another complication is that Moscow now views Iran as a Russian client in the region, and would really mind if the US did interfere in Iran. Trump is obviously close to President Vladimir Putin, but his cabinet is full of saber-rattlers against the Russian Federation.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Video: The Guardian faces claims it distorted Assange interview
    • Consigned to the memory hole: the content of the DNC leaks

      Amidst the blame Russia hysteria, the actual content of the the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacks has been consigned to the memory hole. In a veritable tidal wave of false narratives, the mainstream media has succeeded in drowning the legacy of the leaks in (not terribly convincing) accusations of Russian culpability. Erased from this narrative is the fact that the highest levels of the Democratic Party—supposedly neutral arbiters of the candidate selection process—sabotaged the Bernie Sanders campaign, and detest vast swaths of the Democratic Party constituency.

      The first leaks appeared on July 22nd, when WikiLeaks released a collection of emails from the accounts of seven top DNC officials. The initial leaks confirmed what Sanders supporters had alleged for months, which was that the DNC was conspiring to sabotage the Sanders campaign. Emails implicated top officials such as DNC CFO Brad Marshall, who discussed planting a media story about Sanders’ religious beliefs in an effort to undermine his campaign.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dieselgate – A year later

      At 32C3 we gave an overview on the organizational and technical aspects of Dieselgate that had just broken public three months before. In the last year we have learned a lot and spoken to hundreds of people. Daniel gives an update on what is known and what is still to be revealed.

    • How much would it cost to geoengineer thicker Arctic sea ice?

      There are a couple different ways to come at the problem of climate change—you can focus on eliminating the cause, or on mitigating the symptoms. The latter approach includes obvious things like preventing flooding from rising sea levels. But it also ranges into “geoengineering” schemes as radical as injecting sunlight-reflecting aerosol droplets into the stratosphere. Such schemes are band-aids rather than cures, but band-aids have their uses.

      One worrying change driven by the climate is the loss of Arctic sea ice. The late-summer Arctic Ocean is on track to become ice-free around the 2030s. The rapid warming of the Arctic has serious implications for local ecosystems, but it also influences climate elsewhere in ways we’re still working to fully understand. One frequently mentioned effect is the increased absorption of sunlight in the Arctic as reflective snow and ice disappears—a positive feedback that amplifies warming.

      What if we could slap a sea ice band-aid on the Arctic? In a recent paper, a group of Arizona State researchers led by astrophysicist Steven Desch sketch out one hypothetical band-aid—a geoengineering scheme to freeze more ice during the Arctic winter.

    • Dakota Access Opponents Stage Dramatic Protest Against U.S. Bank

      Continuing a strategy to target the project’s financial backers, a small team of Dakota Access Pipeline opponents on Sunday pulled off a dramatic banner-drop from the rafters of the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as the Minnesota Vikings played the Chicago Bears.

      Above the crowded stadium, which can hold nearly 70,000 attendees at capacity, the two individuals—later identified as Karl Zimmerman, 32, and Sen Holiday, 26—rappelled from large steel girders during the second quarter of the game alongside an expansive banner reading, “US Bank, DIVEST, #NoDAPL.”

    • PHOTOS: Louisiana’s Oil and Gas Industry Continues Growing Along the Coast It’s Helping Shrink

      The Louisiana coast loses a football field’s worth of land every 38 minutes. This staggering rate of land loss has been brought on by climate change and coastal erosion accelerated by human activities, including water diversion projects and damage done by the oil and gas industry.

      It is also a problem that is best seen from the sky. Thanks to the nonprofit conservation organization SouthWings, I was able to photograph the state’s troubled coast for DeSmog during a flight on November 15, 2016.

      “Flying out along the Louisiana coast and seeing the tattered wetlands from above with your own eyes make the scale of the threat posed by coastal land loss feel strikingly real and immediate,” Meredith Dowling, SouthWings associate executive director, told me while discussing the group’s work.

    • “Green” Governor Jerry Brown Appoints Oil Industry Loyalist to Public Utilities Commission

      While many mainstream media outlets have fawningly depicted Governor Jerry Brown as “the Resistance” to incoming President Donald Trump, an appointment of a Big Oil-friendly regulator to the California Public Utilities Commission today appears to further taint the Governor’s already controversial environmental legacy.

      Governor Jerry Brown today appointed two Brown administration staffers, Clifford Rechtschaffen and Martha Guzman Aceves, to the scandal-ridden California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). They will replace Catherine Sandoval and Michael Florio, whose six-year terms expire on January 1, 2017.

    • Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough

      A breakthrough in the race to make useful products out of planet-heating CO2 emissions has been made in southern India.

      A plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin is capturing CO2 from its own coal-powered boiler and using it to make soda ash – aka baking powder.

      Crucially, the technology is running without subsidy, which is a major advance for carbon capture technology as for decades it has languished under high costs and lukewarm government support.

    • Standing Rock protesters unfurl banner over field at Minneapolis NFL game

      In Minneapolis on Sunday protesters unfurled a banner protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline, high above the field during an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.

    • World’s Fastest Land Animal is Now Racing Extinction

      Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth, but conservationists are raising serious concerns about a threat they can’t outrun: extinction.

      While the plight of big cats around the world has gained growing awareness, it’s been mostly focused on lions and tigers. Now cheetahs are taking the spotlight, but it’s unfortunately over concerns that these amazingly fast animals are going to disappear forever unless urgent action is taken.

      According to a new study just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which was led by a team from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Panthera and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), there are only an estimated 7,100 cheetahs left in existence in the wild globally – and they’re all in trouble.

  • Finance

    • Let’s Make a Deal: Donald Trump and the Monte Hall Problem

      How should compassionate and rational people respond to the fact that a narcissistic, racist, misogynist, sociopathic, mindless, scapegoating demagogue will soon have his finger on the button of a nuclear arsenal that could put an end to the struggle of every one of our selfish genes to pass copies of themselves on to succeeding generations?

      No Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

      In the film the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, played by 16-year-old Judy Garland and her dog, Toto, are picked up by a tornado and dropped in a land ruled by a wicked witch. Then with the help of the Munchkins she sets out along a yellow brick road in search of a Wizard who can show her the way home. Along the way she meets a scarecrow (Ray Bolger) that complains he hasn’t got a brain.

      “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?” Dorothy asks him.

      “I don’t know,” the scarecrow replies, “but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.” And we might add today, twittering. Ergo Donald Trump.

      Well until recently we westerners were on our own yellow brick road in search of a wizard who could show us the way home to a world based on the enlightenment values we cherish: a world of democratically ruled social welfare states governed by international laws. But unfortunately Donald Trump together with his demagogic clones in Europe has knocked us way off course.

    • UK ambassador to EU quits amid Brexit row

      Britain’s ambassador to the EU is reported to have quit his post less than a month after it was revealed that he said a post-Brexit trade deal with the bloc could take up to a decade to achieve.

      Government sources confirmed that Sir Ivan Rogers, one of the UK’s most experienced EU diplomats, told staff on Tuesday that he was stepping down early from his role, just a few months before Britain begins its formal exit negotiations with the EU. His resignation, first reported by the Financial Times, came almost a year before his scheduled departure in November.

    • False Unities: Brexit in the New Year

      As for broader sentiments of unity, very little of that liquor is available for consumption, especially with May behind the bar. ‘This is the year’, suggested William Keegan rather grumpily in The Guardian, ‘when our politicians and the so-called “people” – all 28 percent of the population who voted to leave the European Union – will reap what they have sown.’

      So, as the booze inflicted headaches wear off this morning, Britain remains fractured and disillusioned, marked by a government of enormous confusion and inconsistencies. As this continues, the biggest barker in favour Brexit, Nigel Farage, continues to draw an EU salary. A most compromised political attack dog, if ever there was one.

    • China Gets Strict on Forex Transactions to Stop Money Exiting Abroad

      At risk of capital flight, China marked the new year with extra requirements for citizens converting yuan into foreign currencies.

      The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the currency regulator, said in a statement Dec. 31 that it wanted to close loopholes exploited for purposes such as money laundering and illegally channeling money into overseas property.

      While the regulator left unchanged quotas of $50,000 of foreign currency per person a year, citizens faced extra disclosure requirements from Jan. 1.

      The annual limits for individuals’ currency conversions reset at the start of each year, potentially aggravating outflow pressures that intensified in 2016 as the yuan suffered its steepest annual slump in more than two decades. An estimated $762 billion flowed out of the country in the first 11 months of last year, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence gauge, pumping up residential property markets from Vancouver to Sydney. Some money also spilled across the border into Hong Kong insurance products.

    • Chinese investment in the US skyrocketed last year

      Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US rocketed to $45.6 billion in 2016, triple that of 2015, although that surge and future investment faces a “major downside risk” under a Donald Trump presidency, a new report by the research firm Rhodium Group predicts.

    • ‘This is the biggest issue in Australia’: Centrelink debacle gets worse

      THE Centrelink debacle is getting worse, with more Australians each day revealing they have been slugged with demands to pay back tens of thousands of dollars they don’t owe.

      Furious Aussies, many of whom were on the dole for only a brief period years ago, are demanding action from the Government, which is denying a problem exists.

      Michael Griffin, a filmmaker from Brisbane, told news.com.au he would go so far as to call what is happening “extortion”.

    • Reports round-up: Bullying Royal Mail boss gets the boot after walkouts in Accrington

      Striking postal workers in Accrington, Lancashire, forced Royal Mail bosses onto the back foot in the run-up to Christmas.

      Members of the CWU union at the Accrington delivery office struck against bosses’ refusal to remove a bullying manager.

      A change of manager had been recommended in August, but nothing had been done.

      Martin Berry, branch secretary of the CWU’s East Lancs Amal branch told Socialist Worker, “There’s a manager who’s been bullying the staff for some time. Now they’ve had enough.

      “The manager was using foul and abusive language, and there’s also instances of non-payment of overtime.”

    • Royal Mail workers stop strike action after ‘bullying and harassment’ claims

      WORKERS at the Accrington Royal Mail delivery office have agreed to call off strikes over ‘bullying and harassment’ claims.

      Members of the Communications Workers Union have returned to work after Royal Mail confirmed that the ‘management situation’ will be resolved in the New Year.

      Staff had previously taken industrial action at the Infant Street office on Saturday, December 10, and Saturday, December 17.

    • Royal Mail predicts ‘Take-Back Tuesday’ will see biggest jump in returns

      Royal Mail has predicted that today, coined ‘Take-back Tuesday’, will be the busiest day for online shopping returns through the post, as shoppers rush to send back unwanted Christmas gifts.

      Today (Tuesday 3rd January), returns of online purchases are predicted to jump by more than 50 per cent in a single day, versus the average number of return parcels per day in December. The prediction is based on the number of returns parcels handled by Royal Mail through its Tracked Returns service, which is used by more than 1000 e-retailers for the return of unwanted online purchases. Last year, the month of January saw the highest returns volumes of the financial year.

    • Bitcoin breaks $1,000 level, highest in more than 3 years

      The price of bitcoin has breached the $1,000 mark, hitting a more than three-year high on Monday.

      The cryptocurrency was trading at $1,021 at the time of publication, according to CoinDesk data, at level not seen since November 2013, with its market capitalization exceeding $16 billion.

      Bitcoin has been on a steady march higher for the past few months, driven by a number of factors such as the devaluation of the yuan, geopolitical uncertainty and an increase in professional investors taking an interest in the asset class.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The right is emboldened, yes. But it’s not in the ascendancy

      Britain did back Brexit – no sugarcoating that. But voters didn’t reject the case for the EU because it was never really made. Nor was it a rejection of the case for immigration, because that was never made either. I don’t know whether remain would have prevailed if those cases had been made. Probably not. But since they weren’t made they could hardly have been defeated. Instead people were fed a diet of fear of the unknown from a political class that has failed them and gagged.

    • My New Year’s Wish for Donald Trump

      Donald Trump issued the following tweet on the last day of 2016: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”

      The man who is about to become President of the United States continues to exhibit a mean-spirited, thin-skinned, narcissistic and vindictive character.

      Trump sees the world in terms of personal wins or losses, enemies or friends, supporters or critics.

    • Resistance Mobilizes as GOP Licks Chops Over Regressive Agenda

      From slowing President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet confirmations to hampering GOP attempts to repeal Obamacare or defund Planned Parenthood, Democrats and allied progressive forces stand ready to resist the looming Republican agenda.

      Ahead of Congress reconvening on Tuesday, news publications outlined what’s in store—and at stake.

    • Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House

      It is 2017, and shortly the White House will be inhabited by an unscrupulous, corrupt narcissist who has shamelessly mobilized the Neo-Nazi fringe of the Republican Party to get into power.

      Despite all the cries of ‘no’ to normalization on the left, Trump will be normalized by the same corporate media that virtually boycotted Bernie Sanders. He will be respectfully called “the president” and his wishes and goals will be praised on cable news, and not just on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Fake News. He’ll flash a smile and be friendly and anchors will treat him like a buddy (despite his having threatened their colleagues with bodily harm at his rallies and despite his having pledged to weaken the first amendment and sue reporters for libel). Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is already pledging never to call Trump out when he is obviously lying. Since Trump is, like Dick Nixon, a pathological liar, this is like pledging not to cover his presidency.

    • Noam Chomsky: With Trump Election, We Are Now Facing Threats to the Survival of the Human Species

      On December 5, over 2,300 people packed into the historic Riverside Church here in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! Speakers included Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns,” Chomsky said. “They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on November 8th, for the reasons you know and that I mentioned. They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.”

    • Henry A. Giroux on Trump’s Cabinet, the Church of Neoliberal Evangelicals

      In this interview with The Real News Network, I argue that while it may seem hard to believe that Trump has appointed to high government positions a number of religious fundamentalists, conspiracy-theory advocates, billionaires, misogynists, climate-change deniers and retrograde anti-communists, this should come as no surprise given the anti-democratic conditions that produced Trump in the first place. Not only do these individuals uniformly lack the experience to take on the jobs for which they were nominated, they are unapologetic about destroying the government agencies in which they have been put in charge.

    • What Does Trump’s Proposed Cabinet Tell Us About The Next Four Years?

      Donald Trump will not be sworn in as President until January 20, 2017 (although you wouldn’t know it from his tweets). But his choice of staff and cabinet members gives us insight into the shape of his policies for the next four years.

    • How Do Republicans Get Away With Voter Suppression?

      From busted voting machines intentionally placed in precincts where people of color vote to fraudulent interstate purging of likely non-Republican voters through a process called “caging,” Greg Palast has been sleuthing down the details of GOP voter suppression for more than 15 years. He’s an investigative reporter who is not easily deterred, because it’s often a lonely beat — given that the mainstream corporate media is more interested in the final vote count, not who was intentionally not allowed to vote due to discrimination. Truthout recently interviewed Palast about this expanding scam that often has more impact on electoral outcomes than the actual vote tabulation margin of victory.

    • Cyber security takes on new urgency for groups targeted by Trump

      With under a month to go until Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, activists from the grassroots to large organizations like the ACLU are working to fortify their digital platforms against potential government intrusions. Many fear that a Trump presidency will usher in an age of greater government surveillance and the suppression of civil rights.

      “We can’t trust Trump with the NSA,” argued John Napier Tye, who served in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2011 to 2014. “There are simply not enough safeguards in place to protect Americans from our own National Security Agency.”

    • Don’t Blame Jon Stewart for Donald Trump: Comedy Central Didn’t Make America Fall For ‘Fake News’ And ‘Post-Truth’

      Well before the results of the presidential election were clear, the blame game was in full gear. If Hillary Clinton didn’t win, it was the Bernie supporters and the misogynists who were at fault. Or it was the narcissistic and clueless millennials and the stupid and desperate white working class. Then and now the Russians were at the top of the list. After the election, there were the pollsters. And, of course, who couldn’t resist blaming the fake news? But in the latest twist on the blame game, we now have a new set of culprits: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

    • Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump’s “Rigged Cabinet”

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week.

      “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post.

      “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken.”

    • Majority of Americans Unconvinced Trump Can Handle Nation’s Top Job

      With his inauguration now less than three weeks away, a new survey shows a majority of the American people are far from confident that Donald Trump, a former reality television star who won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, is up to the major tasks entrusted to the President of the United States.

      According to results released by Gallup on Monday, “less than half of Americans are confident in [Trump's] ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%).”

    • Trump ‘knows things’ others don’t about Russian hacking

      If Russian hackers are fiddling around with America’s electricity grid, then that would be extremely alarming. It is also what was reported by the Washington Post on the heels of the Obama Administration announcing sanctions against Russia for interfering in a US election.

      The original headline read, “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The Washington Post reported, “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.”

    • U.S. Attributes Election Hacks to Russian Threat Groups

      While some industry experts applauded the GRIZZLY STEPPE indicators provided by the U.S. Government, some experts urged caution for those quickly integrating them into their cyber defense measures.

      “Be careful using the DHS/FBI GRIZZLY STEPPE indicators. Many are VPS, TOR relays, proxies, etc. which will generate lots of false positives,” Robert M. Lee, founder and CEO of Dragos Security and a former member of the intelligence community, Tweeted.

      Via a series of tweets, FireEye’s Chris Sanders also cautioned those eager to quickly implement the list of IPs into network security defenses. “If you try to make an IDS rule out of all those IP’s you’re gonna generate a TON of alerts and have a bad time,” he tweeted. “Don’t build IDS rules from lists of IPs w/o context. This is # of matches for a group of avg size networks over ~30 days for DHS report IPs. “That said, if you want to practice some hunting, go wild. This is a good opportunity to practice your mass triage/search workflow,” he added in a separate tweet.

    • Fake news of Russians hacking our election

      The mainstream media narrative regarding “fake news” is awash with duplicity, and frankly, they seem to be the main purveyors of it. Case in point, fully half of Hillary Clinton voters have been deceptively convinced by the media, that Russia “tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President,” according to a poll conducted by YouGov and The Economist last week.

    • Proof that Russia didn’t hack DNC ignored by Obama

      “For one, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – whose hacktivist organization released the thousands of emails that shed damaging light on Hillary Clinton and her allies – denied the Russians were the source,” WND reported. “In addition, the Obama administration has developed a reputation for manipulating intelligence for political purposes.”

    • WPost’s New ‘Fake News’ on Russian ‘Hack’

      The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has been hacked – cue a national American trauma, allegations of dirty tricks, fears that democracy has been subverted, all leading to what the next U.S. president would call “our long national nightmare.”

    • Oliver Stone Accuses Mainstream Media Of Reporting Fake News About Russia

      Oliver Stone claims that “disgraceful” mainstream media Cold War-style “groupthink” is behind news reports that Russia hacked the U.S. presidential election and the “hysteria” could lead to war between our two countries.

      Stone urged his readers to “stay calm” and consult the alternative news sources that he provided on his social media page.

      President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats last week as part of sanctions for alleged interference in the election. President-elect Trump has expressed some degree of skepticism that the Russians played a role in Hilary Clinton’s loss on November 8, an outcome that came as a complete shock to poll-driven news outlets and political pundits.

    • So, did Russia help Obama win in 2012?

      Obama’s hissy fits are as petulant and selective as they are pathetic. His latest charade of a “leader” came when he announced sanctions against Russia for supposedly influencing the 2016 presidential election. The translation is that Russia worked to rig the election so that Donald Trump would win.

      He used an executive order to carry out his schizophrenic temper tantrum, which also included declaring 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata, giving them 72 hours to leave the country with their families. This in addition to shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.

    • ‘Tis the season for whining

      They should really stop whining about Russia allegedly hacking the emails that proved Hillary was colluding with the Democratic National Committee to defeat Bernie Sanders, her team colluded with major media to, ironically, promote Trump as the Republican candidate, and her foundation colluded with colossal colluders internationally to enrich herself.

    • Politics on the Cheap: The Russians Hijacked the Election Part I
    • Politics on the Cheap: The Russians Hijacked the Election II
    • Another attack on U.S. freedoms

      Russia waged a major attack against the United States in the past year. The attack came as a cyber attack, the newest weapon in the war chests, with the explicit purpose of interfering with our elections and our democratic process. The attack was direct hit, with Russia gaining and then releasing information meant to confuse, embarrass and discredit one candidate over another.

    • Rebecca Ferguson Invited To Play Trump’s Inauguration

      Rebecca Ferguson has turned down the chance to play Donald Trump’s Presidential inauguration.

    • House Republicans vote to rein in independent ethics office

      Defying the wishes of their top leaders, House Republicans voted behind closed doors Monday night to rein in the independent ethics office created eight years ago in the wake of a series of embarrassing congressional scandals.

      The 119-to-74 vote during a GOP conference meeting means that the House rules package expected to be adopted Tuesday, the first day of the 115th Congress, would rename the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

      Under the proposed new rules, the office could not employ a spokesperson, investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the express consent of the Ethics Committee, which would gain the power to summarily end any OCE probe.

    • With No Warning, House Republicans Vote to Gut Independent Ethics Office

      House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

      The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.

    • NPR’s Michele Norris: ‘Make a America Great Again’ Is Deeply Encoded ‘Promise of White Prosperity’

      NPR host Michele Norris pointed out over the weekend that President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is a “deeply encoded” message that troubles minorities while promising prosperity to white Americans.

      During a Face the Nation panel discussion on resisting Trump’s agenda, conservative columnist David Frum offered a sobering assessment about how the new president would impact the country.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The State of Crypto Law: 2016 in Review

      This year was one of the busiest in recent memory when it comes to cryptography law in the United States and around the world. But for all the Sturm und Drang, surprisingly little actually changed in the U.S. In this post, we’ll run down the list of things that happened, how they could have gone wrong (but didn’t), how they could yet go wrong (especially in the U.K.), and what we might see in 2017.

    • Surveillance in Latin America: 2016 in Review

      Throughout 2016, EFF and our civil society partners have been closely following digital rights developments throughout Latin America. You can see some of the results in Unblinking Eyes, our exhaustive survey of surveillance law and practice across the Americas, as well as multiple countries’ localized versions of Who Has Your Back (Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil), our guide to how companies respond to government data requests. Both projects were led by an increasingly strong network of local digital rights groups in Latin America, who, together with some investigative work by the region’s incredibly brave journalists, have been keeping up the fight against mass surveillance.

    • In science fiction, robot witnesses to crime are seen as normal. Nobody considered the privacy implications for present day.

      The Police wants the cooperation of a robotic witness to a murder case, requesting Amazon’s help in recalling what the domestic robot “Echo” heard in the room. Robotic witnesses have been a theme in science fiction for a long time — and yet, we forgot to ask the most obvious and the most important questions. Maybe we just haven’t realized that we’re in science fiction territory, as far as robotic agents go, and explored the consequences of it: what robot has agency and who can be coerced?

      People were outraged that the Police would consider asking a robot – the Amazon Echo – what happened in the recent murder case, effectively activating retroactive surveillance. Evenmoreso, people were outraged that the Police tried to coerce the robot’s manufacturer to provide the data, coercing a third party to command the robot it manufactured, and denying agency to the people searched.

      In Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun, a human detective is sent off to faraway Solaris to investigate a murder, and has to interview a whole range of robot servants, each with their own perspective, to gradually piece together how the murder took place. A cooking robot knows about the last dinner of the victim, and can provide details only of that, and so on. Still, each and every robot have a perfect recollection of their particular perspective.

    • Snowden document suggests NSA could have proof of Russian hack

      The FBI, CIA and President Barack Obama all agree that Russia hacked the DNC and asserted its will on the US presidential election — but the winner of that contest isn’t so sure. “It could be somebody else.” Donald Trump told reporters over New Years. “Hacking is a hard thing to prove.” Except, as it turns out, US intelligence has a pretty good track record of tracing security breaches back to the Kremlin. According to a new document leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA has successfully traced a hack back to Russian intelligence at least once before.

    • GOP Congressman’s Tweet Suggests Election Hacks Were Actually ‘Insider Leaks’

      The eight-term Iowa congressman seemed to suggest in his tweet that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) “leaked” information about the involvement of Russian hackers in the 2016 election. The tweet included a link to a story headlined “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims” from an obscure website called consortiumnews.com. Founded in 1995 by journalist Robert Parry, the website claims to be an independent online investigative journalism magazine “meant to be a home for important, well-reported stories and a challenge to the inept but dominant mainstream news media of the day.”

    • GOP rep suggests CIA, NSA leaked info on Russian hacking

      Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) suggested Monday that the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) leaked information about Russia interfering in the U.S. election.

      “Russian hackers controlling our election? We ‘know’ this because the CIA & NSA leaked it, right?” King wrote on Twitter, including a link to a website called Consortiumnews.com.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Mexico’s war on crime: A decade of (militarized) failure

      On December 11, 2006, days after being sworn in, Mexico’s then-President Felipe Calderón announced that his administration was deploying thousands of federal troops to combat organized crime in his home state of Michoacán.

      Interior Minister Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña said at the time that “the battle against organized crime is only just beginning, and it will be a fight that will take time.”

      Ten years later, Michoacán remains one of Mexico’s most violent states.

      Vigilante groups — which have long posed a dilemma for local authorities — continue to operate in the area. Several such groups are suspected of participating in criminal activities, rather than combating them.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reveals U.S. Torture Horrors

      We know a lot about the torture policies of the US government during the Iraq War, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know. Luckily, a new book by a former NSA expert shines an even brighter spotlight on just how bad the torture was during those years. The issue of torture has also been covered extensively by The Intercept, and Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins talks to Cora Currier from The Intercept about it.

    • Mohammad Kaif faces fire on Twitter for doing Surya Namaskar

      However, this attracted a barrage of tweets from some who said that the yoga pose was “not Islamic”.

      However, Kaif’s response to the tweets would have stumped even the staunchest of critics.

      Kaif said: “In all 4pics,I had Allah in my heart. Cant understand what doing any exercise, Surya Namaskar or Gym has to do with religion.It benefits ALL. (sic)”

    • British woman jailed in Iran released from solitary confinement

      A British-Iranian woman being held in an Iranian prison has been released from solitary confinement, her husband has said.

      Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was sentenced in September to five years in prison on secret charges related to a “soft overthrow” of the country’s government that were not revealed in open court.

      She had been restricted from any contact with fellow inmates at Tehran’s Evin prison until a week ago, when she was moved to a general ward, Richard Ratcliffe, her husband, told the BBC.

      However, Ratcliffe also criticised the lack of action from the British government, which has never publicly called for his wife to be released. Insisting his wife is innocent, he accused officials of allowing his family to be “caught up as a bargaining chip in international politics”.

    • French workers win ‘right to disconnect’

      French companies will be required to guarantee a “right to disconnect” to their employees from Sunday as the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

      From January 1, a new employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

      Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

    • Orange Crush: The Rise of Tactical Teams in Prison

      Since Ferguson, there has been a public outcry over militarized police who shoot down African Americans on the streets of our cities, but less is known beyond prison walls about guards who regularly brutalize those incarcerated. In Illinois, there is a notorious band of guards called the “Orange Crush” who don orange jumpsuits, body armor and riot helmets to conceal their identity. They carry large clubs and canisters of pepper spray, which they use liberally. A recent lawsuit names a list of horrific abuses that includes strip searches, beatings and mass shakedowns of cells.

      In the decades since the 1971 prison rebellion at Attica in New York, there has been a gradual build-up of these “tactical teams,” also known as “tac teams” or Special Operations Response Teams (SORTs). Today, they are routinely used for anything from fights to reports of contraband. Only within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) have they earned the infamous name of “Orange Crush.” Anyone who has been incarcerated in the men’s state prison system has a story about these abusive guards.

    • “I Don’t Think We’re Free in America” – An Interview with Bryan Stevenson

      Although the United States has just elected a new president whose promise to make America great “again” evoked an unspecified, presumably more glorious past, Americans’ appreciation of their own history, and particularly its most damning chapters, is limited at best.

      The country’s long history of racial violence can hardly be denied, but that history is regularly erased from public commemoration. Some civil rights victories are celebrated, but the violence that preceded them is seldom acknowledged.

      Aiming to confront and reclaim that history, the Equal Justice Initiative, led by civil rights attorney and author Bryan Stevenson, launched its “Lynching in America” initiative, a years-long effort to compile the most comprehensive record of racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950. The project includes a detailed report of more than 4,000 lynchings in 12 states in the South, including 800 that were previously unreported, as well as plans for a museum in Montgomery, and an effort to erect markers in the places where lynchings took place.

    • Welcome to another year of transformation

      On a winter’s night in 1955, a young preacher named Martin Luther King climbed into the pulpit of the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Once there, he delivered a speech that would eventually lead to his own assassination, while breathing new life into the struggle to transform the world in the image of love and social justice.

      If his words are remembered at all these days it’s because of what they helped to launch—the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which heralded a decisive turn in the movement for civil rights. What King said has largely been forgotten, yet the content of his speech was revolutionary in ways that stretch far beyond the context in which it was delivered.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality

      2015 was the year the Federal Communications Commission grew a spine. And 2017 could be the year that spine gets ripped out.

      Over the past two years, the FCC has passed new regulations to protect net neutrality by banning so-called “slow lanes” on the internet, created new rules to protect internet subscriber privacy, and levied record fines against companies like AT&T and Comcast. But this more aggressive FCC has never sat well with Republican lawmakers.

      Soon, these lawmakers may not only repeal the FCC’s recent decisions, but effectively neuter the agency as well. And even if the FCC does survive with its authority intact, experts warn, it could end up serving a darker purpose under President-elect Donald Trump.

  • DRM

    • The Year We Went on Offense Against DRM: 2016 in Review

      A decade ago, DRM seemed like it was on the ropes: it had disappeared from music, most video was being served DRM-free by YouTube and its competitors, and gamers were united in their hatred of the technology. But by 2016, DRM had come roaring back, finding its way into voting machines, insulin pumps, and car engines.

      Like all invasive species, DRM is hardy, and in the years since the mid-2000s, it has gone on to colonize nearly every category of software-enabled device, from thermostats to voting machines to cars and tractors to insulin pumps. Companies have worked out that since section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides penalties for breaking DRM, they can simply design their products so that using them in ways that the manufacturer dislikes requires breaking DRM first, and then they can claim that using your property in ways that displease the company that made it is a literal felony.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • RightsAlliance Forces Ten-Year-Old Site to Delete All Torrents

        A private tracker that has been plagued with all kinds of legal trouble over a decade has finally succumbed to copyright holder pressure. The Internationals weathered the storm of its owner being arrested four years ago but has just been forced to delete all of its torrents.

      • North American Box Office Hits Record $11.4 Billion

        The North American box office closed out the year with $11.4 billion in ticket sales, ComScore said Sunday. That marks a new record for the industry, bypassing the previous high-water mark of $11.1 billion that was established in 2015.

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