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01.05.17

Links 5/1/2017: Inkscape 0.92, GNU Sed 4.3

Posted in News Roundup at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Torturing Tech Support Phone Scammers With Linux

    Darn Linux! I have Windows, too, but I obviously don’t use it nearly enough. When I tell people like Paul I run Linux, they can’t get away from me fast enough. Obviously, if I ran Windows more often, they’d want to keep talking with me and I wouldn’t be so lonely.

    I guess that’s my 2017 New Year’s resolution: to run more Windows so I can make lots of friends who are in the business of supplying bogus computer tech support.

    Or maybe I’ll just go on using Linux most of the time, and if I want to make new friends I’ll go have a drink or two at the Drift Inn, where nobody really cares what operating system I like best. One or the other, anyway.

  • Desktop

    • Snappy vs. Flatpak: Unified Linux Packaging Systems

      Getting Linux applications to run on servers is not always as easy as it should be, thanks to the myriad software packaging formats that various Linux distributions use. Over the course of 2016, two efforts really ramped up to help solve that challenge in the form of Snappy and Flatpak.

      The promise of both Snappy and Flatpak is to deliver an approach that enables software developers to build software once and then have it bundled in a package that can run on multiple distributions. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux, is a big advocate of Snappy.

    • $89 Pinebook Linux Laptop To Go On Sale Next Month

      New details about the $89 Linux ARM laptop have emerged, including a tentative shipping date and warranty details.

    • Endless is bringing its cheap, user-friendly Linux PCs to the US

      The dream of a Linux computer for normal humans is relatively dead. Sure, Google put Linux in billions of hands and homes with Android and Chrome OS, but neither OS is very much like the desktop Linux flavors well-meaning open-source developers have been crafting for decades.

    • Endless introduces Linux mini desktop PCs for American market

      For the past few years Endless Computers has been making inexpensive Linux-based computers designed for use in emerging markets. Last summer the company also started working with PC makers to load its Endless OS software on some computers.

      Now Endless is launching its first products designed specifically for the United States.

    • Endless Unveils Mission Mini and Mission One Computers as the Endless Experience Comes to America
    • Endless expands into the U.S. with $129 Mission Mini and $249 Mission One computers

      Computers have become an important part of our world, especially in the classrooms and at home, but while many can afford these devices — often costing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars — there are still those left behind. Endless Mobile was founded five years ago with the mission to make computing universally accessible, creating an operating system initially targeted toward emerging markets.

    • Closer look at the Mission line of mini PCs from Endless Computers

      The Endless Mission One and Mission Mini desktop computers will be available for pre-order in the US starting January 16th.

      They’re both small, fanless desktop computers that ship with Endless OS, a Linux-based operating system that’s designed to be easy to use, and which comes with tools to help kids (or adults) learn to write code.

    • Endless has a mission: Bring its charmingly cheap Mission One computers to the US

      You and I have a nearly limitless array of computer choices, from massive desktops to slim laptops to entire computers build into something the same size as a USB stick. But in emerging markets, the options are much more limited, both in the hardware available and even in the availability of internet access.

      That’s why I liked the Endless Mini desktop PC we reviewed last year. It was a $79 (approximately £54 or AU$110) desktop in a charming spherical red plastic case, running a custom Linux-based OS. More importantly, it included a ton of educational content pre-loaded, making it a useful tool for students, even without reliable or fast internet access.

    • 2016 The Year Of GNU/Linux On Many Desktops

      It’s not as spectacular as I would like but GNU/Linux has been growing steadily and particularly on weekends at home, I presume, all over 2016. Chrome OS GNU/Linux has really taken share globally. Yes, those are global numbers to the right.

  • Server

    • The DevOps Engineer Is An Optical Illusion

      Developers aren’t the same as operations staff. Financial analysts aren’t engineers, and salespeople aren’t accountants. Transparent communication, the ability to fail safely, and a structure that drives cross-team cooperation will bring everyone together to support the ultimate outcome: happy customers.

    • Keynote: Backstage with Kubernetes by Chen Goldberg, Google
    • How the Kubernetes Community Drives The Project’s Success

      Kubernetes is a hugely popular open source project, one that is in the top percentile on GitHub and that has spawned more than 3,000 other projects. And although the distributed application cluster technology is incredibly powerful in its own right, that’s not the sole reason for its success.

      “We think it’s not just the technology, we think that what makes it special is the community that builds the technology,” said Chen Goldberg, Director of Engineering, Container Engine and Kubernetes at Google, during her keynote at CloudNativeCon in Seattle last November.

    • Does the Container Ecosystem Need a Map?

      At last month’s KubeCon in Seattle, members of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation put forth a chart depicting the various projects, both commercial and open source, that either individually or collectively contributed to its perception of the “cloud native” ecosystem. You might call it, for lack of a more original phrase, a new stack.

    • 6 Container Themes to Track in 2017

      The container craze will turn four next year. Yes, Linux containers have been around longer than that, but the rise of Docker—first released to the public on March 20, 2013—has sparked the surge of interest we’re riding right now.

      It’s a fascinating adolescent phase, as containers not only roll into production but also get acclimated to enterprise needs and bigger-money investors. Here’s a glance at the major themes that surrounded containers in 2016 and are likely to continue into 2017.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 416: FreeDOS

      Jim has been involved in free software / open source software since 1993, when he was still an undergraduate physics student. His first experience was with GNU Emacs, and later he contributed a few patches for GNU Emacs on Apollo/DOMAIN. In 1994, Jim created the FreeDOS Project, and wrote many of the early FreeDOS utilities, extensions, and libraries – including the Cats/Kitten library that provides international language support for many FreeDOS programs. (Cats is short for the Unix Catgets library, and Kitten is an even smaller version of Cats. Get it?)

  • Kernel Space

    • Automotive Grade Linux Moves to UCB 3.0

      The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) project has released version 3.0 of its open source Unified Code Base (UCB) for automotive infotainment development. Unlike AGL’s UCB 2.0, which was released in July, UCB 3.0 is already being used to develop in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) products, some of which will ship in cars this year.

      The AGL is not saying which companies will ship products first, but notes that UCB 3.0 “has several strong supporters and contributors including Toyota, Mazda, Aisin AW, Continental, Denso, Harman, Panasonic, Qualcomm Technologies, Renesas and many others.” More than 40 new companies have joined AGL in the past year, bringing the member total to more than 80. In addition to Toyota and Mazda, AGL automotive manufacturer members include Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Subaru, and as of last month, Suzuki.

    • Daimler Advances Connected Car Technology through Open Source and Automotive Grade Linux
    • CES 2017: Automotive Grade Linux OTA Solution Ready for Renesas R-Car platform
    • Linux 4.10′s ath9k Driver Should Have Lower Latency & Less Bufferbloat

      As part of the ongoing battle with bufferbloat are some improvements to the ath9k WiFi driver with the Linux 4.10 kernel.

      Bufferbloat is the excess buffering of packets resulting in high latency, jitter, and lower network throughput. We’ve been looking forward to some more bufferbloat improvements with the Linux kernel and its network drivers while there were some ath9k improvements I hadn’t noticed until being pointed out this week by a Phoronix reader.

    • ‘Hackable’ hypervisor provides lightweight virtualization for Windows and Linux

      Linux kernel developer Ahmed Samy has released an open source hypervisor project that aims to be “simple and lightweight.” Thus, he presents KSM, an option for Linux and Windows developers to create everything from software sandboxing tools to more full-blown hypervisor applications.

      In a brief announcement on the Linux kernel development email list, Samy stated that KSM’s purpose “is not to run other kernels” (typically the case with hypervisors), “but more of researching (or whatever) the running kernel, some ideas would be sandboxing, debugging perhaps.”

    • KSM: A Hackable x86_64 Hypervisor For Linux/Windows

      Being announced today on the kernel mailing list is the KSM hypervisor, what’s self-described as “a hackable x86-64 hypervisor.”

      KSM is an out-of-tree x86_64 VT-x hypervisor. The developer Ahmed Samy announced of the project, “KSM’s purpose is not to run other kernels, but more of researching (or whatsoever) the running kernel, some ideas would be sandboxing, debugging perhaps.”

    • A New Proposal For Supporting DRM Linux Drivers In User-Space

      The discussion has come up before about supporting Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) drivers in user-space rather than having to be tied within the Linux kernel while that outlook was reignited today with a new patch series wiring in said support.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Lumina 1.20 Desktop Released

      Lightweight Qt-based Lumina desktop environment is kickstarting its new year in style with a brand new release. We look at what’s new and improved.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK’s Vulkan Renderer Now Working On Wayland

        The GTK toolkit’s Vulkan renderer continues making quick progress.

        Besides already being faster than their OpenGL renderer, supporting this Vulkan renderer on Windows too, and other improvements, the latest now is that GTK4 with the Vulkan back-end works on Wayland.

      • Librsvg 2.41.0 is released

        This is the first version to have Rust code in it. The public API remains unchanged. Apologies in advance to distros who will have to adjust their build systems for Rust – it’s like taking a one-time vaccine; you’ll be better off in the end for it.

      • GNOME’s SVG Rendering Library Migrating To Rust

        The librsvg library for SVG rendering is up to version 2.41.0 and with this milestone it’s their first release to port some code to Rust while maintaining the same public API.

        The GNOME project’s Librsvg 2.41.0 implements some parts of the library in the Rust programming language rather than C. The developers decided to do this partial Rust migration for better memory safety, nicer built-in abstractions, and easier for unit testing.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • SystemRescueCd 4.9.1 Rescue & Recovery Live CD Lands in 2017 with Linux 4.8.15

        SystemRescueCd creator François Dupoux is also kicking off the new year with a brand-new release of his popular live system developed for system recovery and rescue operations.

        SystemRescueCd 4.9.1 is the first point release to the 4.9 series, which was initially announced at the end of October 2016, and it ships with new kernels. While the standard one was updated to the long-term supported Linux 4.4.39 kernel for both rescue32 and rescue64 editions, the alternative kernel is now Linux 4.8.15.

      • BusyBox 1.26.1 Swiss Army Knife of Linux Hits the Streets as New Stable Series

        When the BusyBox 1.26.0 unstable release launched last month, just before the Christmas holidays, we told you that it would hit the stable channel as soon as the first point release is announced.

        And it happened! BusyBox 1.26.1 was unveiled on January 2, 2017, and it’s now the newest stable series of the Swiss army knife for embedded systems and GNU/Linux distributions. But don’t get too excited because this release is just a formality to inform OS vendors that they can finally update the BusyBox packages, and it looks like it only adds various tweaks to defconfig and addresses issues with single-applet builds.

      • Solus Devs to Focus on Linux Driver Management and Budgie 11 Desktop for Q1 2017

        Now that they’ve launched the long anticipated first ISO snapshot of the Linux-based Solus operating system, which brought many enhancements and updated technologies, the Solus devs announce the roadmap for 2017.

        After reviewing everything they’ve accomplished in 2016, which appears to have been a great year for them, the development team announces that their efforts will be invested in the development of the Linux Driver Management tool with a focus on Nvidia hybrid laptops, as well as the upcoming Budgie 11 desktop environment.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Life, the universe & openSUSE Leap 42.2

        In the wake of a handful of Linux projects pushing ever closer to consumer desktop adoption (think Ubuntu, Mint Cinnamon, Solus, Arch and Chrome OS)… members of the openSUSE Project have announced the next minor version of Leap — a professional Linux distribution for developers, system administrators… oh and yes, users too.

    • Slackware Family

      • Linux Calculated, Faint Shadow of OpenMandriva, Big Bother Absolutely

        Today in Linux news Blogger DarkDuck said that OpenMandriva has become a faint shadow of its namesake. That was despite getting it to work fairly well. Elsewhere, Techphylum offered a brief overview of Calculate Linux and Jack Germain said Absolute Linux was “the equivalent of driving a stick shift automobile with a crank-to-start mechanism.” OMG!Ubuntu! reported on that 13 foot robot, that was said to be the “soldier of the future” somewhere, is programmed using Ubuntu and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols warned Linux will become more and more a target of hackers.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • My Free Software Activities in December 2016

        My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donors (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Overcoming Ubuntu Wi-Fi Not Working

            One of the biggest issues I still see cropping up for Ubuntu (and other distributions) are challenges connecting to Wi-Fi networks. This article will provide actionable solutions to overcome common Ubuntu Wi-Fi issues.

          • Open Source Pioneer Mark Shuttleworth Says Smart “Edge’ Devices Spawn Business Models

            Ubuntu, a version of the Linux computer operating system, runs on many of the servers that power cloud computing. Ubuntu pioneer Mark Shuttleworth founded Canonical Ltd. to sell support for Ubuntu, which is open source software that anyone can use for free. Given the popular use of Ubuntu, Mr. Shuttleworth is in good position to […]

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Redesigned Bluetooth Settings Pane Coming Soon to elementary OS Linux Distro

              elementary OS founder and developer Daniel Foré reports today, January 4, 2017, on the upcoming availability of a revamped, native Bluetooth settings pane that’ll land as a drop-in replacement for GNOME Control Center’s one in the Ubuntu-based distro.

              elementary OS always innovates itself and offers its users all brand-new technologies and a beautiful graphical user interface for various tools. Lately, it would appear that the development team has been working on redesigning the Bluetooth settings pane that can be accessed through the built-in Control Panel inherited from the GNOME Stack. After more than 20 revisions, the new Bluetooth settings pane looks pretty sleek.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Toyota and Ford Create Automaker Group to Promote Open Source Smartphone Interfaces

    Ford and Toyota have formed a four-automaker consortium to speed up the deployment of open source software for connected in-car systems, according to a report by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

  • Strange Appfellows: Ford and Toyota Form Open-Source Software Consortium
  • Ford and Toyota release open source tools for in-car apps
  • Ford, Toyota back open-source platform for in-car apps
  • A consortium forms for “open source” vehicle software
  • What storytellers can teach open leaders
  • 5 Ways to Be Successful with Open-Source Software: Hadoop Creator Doug Cutting’s Advice for 2017

    Because of my long-standing association with the Apache Software Foundation, I’m often asked the question, “What’s next for open source technology?” My typical response is variations of “I don’t know” to “the possibilities are endless.”

    Over the past year, we’ve seen open source technology make strong inroads into the mainstream of enterprise technology. Who would have thought that my work on Hadoop ten years ago would impact so many industries – from manufacturing to telecom to finance. They have all taken hold of the powers of the open source ecosystem not only to improve the customer experience, become more innovative and grow the bottom line, but also to support work toward the greater good of society through genomic research, precision medicine and programs to stop human trafficking, as just a few examples.

    Below I’ve listed five tips for folks who are curious about how to begin working with open source and what to expect from the ever-changing ecosystem.

  • 10 steps to innersource in your organization in 2017

    In recent years, an increasing number of organizations, often non-technology companies, have kept a keen eye on open source. Although they may be unable to use open source to the fullest extent in their products and services, they are interested in bringing the principles of open source within the walls of their organization. This “innersource” concept can provide a number of organizational benefits.

    As a consultant who helps build both internal and external communities in companies, I find the major challenge facing organizations is how to put an innersource program in place, deploy resources effectively, and build growth in the program.

  • The 10 Coolest Open Source Products Of 2016

    In 2016, open source products were front-and-center. A number of new offerings in containers, networking, storage and other major areas were among those that debuted during the year.

    During the Red Hat Summit in June – where the theme was “The Power of Participation” – Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst described the open source movement this way: “Our ability to harness and distill the best ideas will determine human progress for the next century … Our future depends on participation.”

    Here are the 10 coolest open-source products we’ve tracked in 2016.

  • Open Source is Helping to Drive the Artificial Intelligence Renaissance

    We’re only a few days into 2017, and it’s already clear that one of the biggest tech categories of this year will be artificial intelligence. The good news is that open source AI tools are proliferating and making it easy for organizations to leverage them. AI is also driving acquisitions. As Computerworld is reporting, in the past year, at least 20 artificial intelligence companies have been acquired, according to CB Insights, a market analysis firm.

    MIT Technology Review is out with its five big predictions for AI this year. Here is a bit on what they expect, and some of the open source AI tools that you should know about.

  • Is Blockchain the Ultimate Open Source Disruptive Technology?

    Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures has been talking a lot about the blockchain recently, so I decided to learn more about it. I read the Marketing the Blockchain e-book, watched The Grand Vision of a Crypto-Tech Economy video and the video keynote of Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne at the Bitcoin 2014 conference, and did some more research on my own. While far from an expert, I do see some interesting similarities to the adoption of open source software. Here’s what I’ve learned — please comment and tell me if I’m wrong:

  • Events

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • 9 reasons to certify your products as open source hardware

        The Open Source Hardware Association Certification was created in response to an overwhelming demand for a clearer and more transparent method of identifying and marketing open source hardware products. The purpose of this certification is to provide an easy and straightforward way for producers to indicate that their products meet a uniform and well-defined standard for open source compliance, benefiting both creators and users of these products.

  • Programming/Development

    • Hot Functions for IronFunctions
    • Google Develops Experimental Python Runtime In Golang

      Google’s open-source team today announced Grumpy, a Python runtime written in the Go programming language.

      Google makes use of Python extensively and with concurrent workloads not being a strong suit for CPython and other Python runtimes having their own shortcomings, Google decided to develop the “Grumpy” runtime.

    • Grumpy: Go running Python!

      Google runs millions of lines of Python code. The front-end server that drives youtube.com and YouTube’s APIs is primarily written in Python, and it serves millions of requests per second! YouTube’s front-end runs on CPython 2.7, so we’ve put a ton of work into improving the runtime and adapting our application to work optimally within it. These efforts have borne a lot of fruit over the years, but we always run up against the same issue: it’s very difficult to make concurrent workloads perform well on CPython.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Why Machine Learning Is Hard to Apply to Networking

      Machine learning is becoming a buzzword—arguably an overused one—among companies that deal with networking. Recent announcements have touted machine learning capabilities at Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and Nokia, for instance.

    • Expect Deeper and Cheaper Machine Learning

      Last March, Google’s computers roundly beat the world-class Go champion Lee Sedol, marking a milestone in artificial intelligence. The winning computer program, created by researchers at Google DeepMind in London, used an artificial neural network that took advantage of what’s known as deep learning, a strategy by which neural networks involving many layers of processing are configured in an automated fashion to solve the problem at hand.

      Unknown to the public at the time was that Google had an ace up its sleeve. You see, the computers Google used to defeat Sedol contained special-purpose hardware—a computer card Google calls its Tensor Processing Unit.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bluefin tuna sells for £500,000 at Japan auction amid overfishing concerns

      A bluefin tuna has fetched 74.2m yen (£517,000) at the first auction of the year at Tsukiji market in Tokyo, amid warnings that decades of overfishing by Japan and other countries is taking the species to the brink of extinction.

      The 212kg fish, caught off the coast of Oma in northern Japan, was bought by Kiyomura, the operator of the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain, after its president, Kiyoshi Kimura, outbid rivals for the sixth year in a row.

  • Security

    • 50 ways to avoid getting hacked in 2017

      “You don’t need to be coy, Roy”

    • Nextcloud 11 Cloud Server Bolsters Security

      NCC Group, a global expert in cyber security and risk mitigation, reviewed the addition of Nextcloud’s new features and noted they “enrich the security layers with minimum impact on the user” and are developed using industry standard security processes (assessed against ISO27001 clause 14 controls). You can read more and download their independent security assurance online and learn more details about the new features in Nextcloud’s blog on security in Nextcloud 11.

    • Android January Security Update Rolling Out Now
    • Android, Debian Linux and Ubuntu Linux top 2016 list of most vulnerable product charts
    • Data: More vulnerabilities found in Google Android than any other program in 2016 [Ed: what about secret patching?]
    • Report Reveals Android had the Most Security Vulnerabilities in 2016
    • Man Has To Beg LG To Uncripple His ‘Smart’ TV After Ransomware Attack

      We’ve noted repeatedly how “smart” television sets have the same security issues plaguing the rest of the internet of broken things: namely there often isn’t any security to speak of. The net result has been TVs that spy on you by recording in-home audio, and in some cases transmitting that data unencrypted around the internet. But we’ve also noted how these TVs — like the rest of the Internet of Things — can be compromised in a matter of moments by some rather rudimentary hacking, then incorporated into the historically unprecedented DDoS attacks we’re now seeing around the world.

      As an added bonus, your smart TV can now be infected by ransomware, too. Software engineer Darren Cauthon found this out the hard way when he awoke on Christmas Day to find that his family’s LG 50GA6400 had been infected with a version of the Cyber.Police ransomware — aka FLocker, Dogspectus, or Frantic Locker. That particular ransomware posts an image to the screen of the television pretending to originate with the FBI, and claiming that users must pay a $500 penalty to return full functionality to the television.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • MongoDB Data Being Held For Ransom

      If you’re using MongoDB, you might want to check to make sure you have it configured properly — or better yet, that you’re running the latest and greatest — to avoid finding it wiped and your data being held for ransom.

      A hacker who goes by the name Harak1r1 is attacking unprotected MongoDB installations, wiping their content and installing a ransom note in place of the the stolen data. The cost to get the data returned is 0.2 bitcoin, which comes to about $203. If that sounds cheap, it isn’t. Not if you’re deploying multiple Mongo databases and they all get hit — which has been happening.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • In Syria, Western Media Cheer Al Qaeda

      The Syrian government—a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing dissidents—is easy to vilify. And over the last five years of Syria’s civil war, it has committed its share of atrocities. But there is more than one side to every story, and US media coverage has mainly reflected one side—that of the rebels—without regard for accuracy or basic context.

      As the Syrian government recaptured East Aleppo from rebels in recent weeks, media outlets from across the political spectrum became rebel mouthpieces, unquestioningly relaying rebel claims while omitting crucial details about who the rebels were.

      Almost always overlooked in the US (and UK) media narrative is the fact that the rebels in East Aleppo were a patchwork of Western- and Gulf-backed jihadist groups dominated by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra)—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—along with its ally, Ahrar al-Sham (Daily Beast, 8/8/16; Foreign Policy, 9/1/16). These groups are explicitly anti-democratic and have been implicated in human rights violations, from mass execution and child beheadings to using caged religious minorities as human shields.

    • Danger in Democrats Demonizing Putin

      With the Clintons’ corporate money machine floundering after a devastating election defeat, Democrats are desperate to find someone to blame and have dangerously settled on Vladimir Putin, writes Norman Solomon.

    • Requiem for a UN ‘Yes Man’

      Even as much of the world bridled at the U.S. pretensions of “unipolar” power, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toed Washington’s line and further undercut the U.N.’s supposed evenhandedness, writes Joe Lauria.

    • Netanyahu Wants Pardon for IDF Soldier Who Shot Defenseless, Wounded Palestinian in the Head

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called for the pardon of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier who had just been convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian man last year in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

      “Sgt Elor Azaria, 20, shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying immobile on a road,” as BBC News writes. Al-Sharif was allegedly involved in a knife attack against another Israeli soldier and had already been shot, though he remained alive.

    • Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence

      From his first days, President Obama showed a lack of guts when confronted by powerful insiders. He backed down even when that meant squandering U.S. soldiers in the futile Afghan War “surges,” says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • The U.S. Government Thinks Thousands of Russian Hackers May Be Reading My Blog. They Aren’t.

      After the U.S. government published a report on Russia’s cyber attacks against the U.S. election system, and included a list of computers that were allegedly used by Russian hackers, I became curious if any of these hackers had visited my personal blog. The U.S. report, which boasted of including “technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services,” came with a list of 876 suspicious IP addresses used by the hackers, and these addresses were the clues I needed to, in the end, understand a gaping weakness in the report.

      An IP address is a set of numbers that identifies a computer, or a network of computers, on the internet. Each time someone loads my website, it logs their IP address. So I searched my web server logs for the suspicious IP addresses, and I was shocked to discover over 80,000 web requests from IPs used by the Russian hackers in the last 14 months! Digging further, I found that some of these Russian hackers had even posted comments (mostly innocuous technical questions)! Even today, several days after publication of the report (which used a codename for the Russian attack, Grizzly Steppe), I’m still finding these suspicious IP addresses in my logs — although I would expect the Russians to stop using them after the U.S. government exposed them.

    • Senators Threaten to Cut Worldwide Embassy Security If U.S. Doesn’t Move Its Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem

      A trio of GOP senators have introduced legislation that would cut security, construction, and maintenance funds for U.S. embassies around the world in half until the president moves the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

      In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all campaigned on relocating the embassy and executing this law. But once in office, every one of them invoked a waiver in the law that allows them to hold off on the move if they deem it necessary to the national security interests of the United States to do so.

      Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be seen as a green light to some Israeli government officials, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who seek to make Jerusalem the undivided capital of the state of Israel. That, in turn, would preclude the Palestinians from establishing a state that includes East Jerusalem. Most international observers believe that this would render the two-state solution impossible and thus be damaging to peace.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • SEE IT: CNN apologizes to Julian Assange after commentator calls him ‘a pedophile’

      CNN issued an apology after one of its paid commentators called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “a pedophile” during a live broadcast Wednesday morning.

      Phil Mudd, a counterterrorism analyst for the network, slipped out the incorrect accusation while discussing Assange’s controversial anti-secrecy site on the network’s “New Day” show.

      “I think there’s an effort to protect WikiLeaks (and) a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — this guy is not credible,” Mudd said, referring to Assange.

    • Ex-CIA spokesman: Trump believes Julian Assange over the CIA

      A former Pentagon and CIA spokesman on Wednesday slammed Donald Trump for giving credit to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange and warned that America will be less safe when the President-elect takes office later this month.
      “Let’s stare this reality square in the face: PEOTUS is pro-Putin and believes Julian Assange over the @CIA. On Jan. 20 we will be less safe,” tweeted George Little, who served under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

    • Sarah Palin Apologizes to Julian Assange for Comparing Him to Terrorists

      Late Tuesday night, former Alaska Governor turned 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin made a rare apology on her Facebook page, the intended audience of which was Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Over six years ago in December 2010, Palin took to her Facebook page to castigate Assange for publishing her emails, which were obtained illegally by hackers, even going so far as to compare him to terrorists. Having changed her tune in light of the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, Palin did an about-face, going back to Facebook to issue an olive branch to the controversial Wikileaks founder.

    • In a U-turn, some Republicans now see WikiLeaks’ Assange in positive light

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, once considered a traitor by conservatives, is suddenly finding some love in important corners of the Republican Party.

      Assange, who sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 and has remained there since, gave a high-profile interview Tuesday night to Sean Hannity, the conservative Fox News commentator. The accolades then started pouring in.

      Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, took back her previous suggestions that the U.S. military should hunt down and kill Assange, whose group published tens of thousands of secret U.S. war and diplomatic documents in 2010.

    • The FBI Never Asked For Access To Hacked Computer Servers

      The FBI did not examine the servers of the Democratic National Committee before issuing a report attributing the sweeping cyberintrusion to Russia-backed hackers, BuzzFeed News has learned.

      Six months after the FBI first said it was investigating the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, the bureau has still not requested access to the hacked servers, a DNC spokesman said. No US government entity has run an independent forensic analysis on the system, one US intelligence official told BuzzFeed News.

      “The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers,” Eric Walker, the DNC’s deputy communications director, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

    • Trump and Julian Assange, an Unlikely Pair, Unite to Sow Hacking Doubts

      Just a year ago, they might have seemed the oddest of couples. But now President-elect Donald J. Trump and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, have formed a united front against the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence used hacked emails to interfere in the presidential election.

      Mr. Assange, long reviled by many Republicans as an anarchist lawbreaker out to damage the United States, has won new respect from conservatives who appreciated his site’s release of Democratic emails widely perceived to have hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And Mr. Trump has been eager to undercut the conclusion of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other agencies that those emails were provided to WikiLeaks courtesy of Russian government hackers.

    • New Analysis of Swedish Police Report Confirms Julian Assange’s Version in Sweden’s case

      Author and investigative reporter Celia Farber has prepared for publication in The Indicter, an updated analysis of the Swedish Assange case. The in-depth analysis concludes that the police reports confirm Julian Assange’s testimony, as given to the prosecutor in her questioning conducted at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. It has also been established that the crucial allegations against Mr Julian Assange, as have appeared in the Swedish and international media, in fact were constructed by the police and were not what the complainants really said or wished to achieve.

      It has been discovered that it was the police, or the prosecutor’s office, which unlawfully and/or unethically leaked the “allegations” to the evening paper “Expressen”, which is clearly known for its declared NATO sympathies. Regrettably, but also predictably, this was an opportunity for Western mainstream media to create a scandal around the founder of WikiLeaks. Likewise, it was an occasion used by the MSM to insidiously attack the organization that had partly exposed the corruption of the governments they represent, and partly surpassed them in journalistic efficacy and objectivity.

      But it was more than purely vendetta-time; it was a well-articulated campaign which started that day in August 2010 when –according to the Snowden documents– the US government asked the countries participating in the military occupation of Afghanistan under US command to prosecute Julian Assange. Sweden obeyed; others cooperated.

      Nevertheless, the Afghan Logs and the Iraq Logs exposed by WikiLeaks remained published. The WikiLeaks founder did not surrender. The Assange case, already politically in its origins, turned into a spiral of increasing geopolitical dimensions.

      Our position has always been that the above-described political aspect has always been present in the ‘Assange case’ and we could hardly be –in principle– interested in furthering a discussion on details pertaining the intimacy of Mr Assange or of other people around the constructed ‘legal case’.

      However, we regard this analysis of Ms Celia Farber –A Swedish-born and America-based journalist familiar with the intricacies of the Swedish culture and language– as important material, which we hope will help to end the overblown discussion on the ‘suspicions’ or ‘allegations’ against Mr Assange. These allegations have constituted the essence of the artificial debate that the Swedish prosecutors periodically orchestrate, through press releases or erratic press conferences of the type “we have nothing new to communicate”.

      We have also published – in the same spirit of clarification– the statement of Mr Julian Assange given to the Swedish prosecutor during the interview in London. In the context of this new analysis by Celia Farber, we also recommend the reading of “The answer given by Julian Assange to the Swedish prosecutor in the London questioning of 14-15 November 2016.”

    • Donald Trump backs Julian Assange over Russia hacking claim
    • US obtained evidence that Russia leaked emails, say officials

      The officials declined to describe the intelligence obtained about the involvement of a third-party in passing on leaked material to WikiLeaks, saying they did not want to reveal how the US government had obtained the information.

      In an interview with Fox News, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he did not receive emails stolen from the DNC and top Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta from “a state party.” Assange did not rule out the possibility that he got the material from a third party.

      Trump on Wednesday sided with Assange and again questioned the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to help his candidacy and hurt Clinton’s.

    • CIA Director Brennan Casts Doubt on Assange’s Credibility

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange insists that Russia was not his source for hacked election-related emails, but CIA Director John Brennan isn’t so sure.

      During a PBS NewsHour interview, Brennan said that those who doubt the connection between Russia and the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts should withhold judgment until they read the forthcoming intelligence report.

      He also said that Assange is “not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.”

    • Assange Is Vastly More Reliable Than The Elite U.S. Media

      In January 2011, the people of Tunisia effectuated an uprising which led to the ouster of Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years. Many Tunisians were well aware that the regime was autocratic and corrupt, but they were provided additional gory details about its decadent opulence by none other than WikiLeaks, the organization whose founder and editor is currently being slimed by self-important U.S. liberals. In the aftermath of the revolution, WikiLeaks was widely hailed for its role in supplying previously-concealed information to Tunisian dissidents, and with that Assange cemented for himself a place in the pantheon of great journalistic trailblazers.

    • Sarah Palin Now Thinks Julian Assange Is A Really Nifty Guy

      While many support the idea of Wikileaks, many now worry that the organization’s supposed goal of total transparency often plays second fiddle to Julian Assange’s ego and the group’s often inconsistent behavior. But whatever you think of Assange as a human being, it’s important to remember that the group wouldn’t be necessary if the established media actually did its job. Groups like Wikileaks are just symptoms of a broader disease: the larger media’s shift to banal infotainment, and the failure of these giant media conglomerates to hold companies and governments accountable to the truth.

      That said, it’s becoming downright comedic to watch Assange, Wikileaks and whistleblowers become increasingly vilified or deified — depending entirely on what’s being said, who it’s being said about, or what color-coded partisan jumpsuit you’re wearing.

      For example, Assange was a hero to Democrats after exposing government misdeeds during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but was demonized incessantly in the wake of the DNC hack (to the point where the actual data revealed was thoroughly ignored). Similarly, Assange was derided by Republicans as the very worst sort of scoundrel for the better part of the last decade, a position that has, well, softened in the wake of the Clinton campaign-crippling DNC hack. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, for now, right?

      In fact Assange has bizarrely become a temporary folk hero to many of the same folks that wanted his head on a pike just a few months ago. Sarah Palin, for example, in 2010 got very close to advocating that Assange be hunted down and killed, likening him to an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands.” That position was forged, in part, after Wikileaks leaked Palin’s Yahoo e-mails back in 2008 after a hacker gained access to the Alaskan government documents Palin had been storing on a private server.

      [...]

      And while this positional flip flop on a certain front is incredibly entertaining in a David Lynch sort of way, transparency and truth don’t work that way. While leaking organizations and whistleblowers themselves are certainly fallible, the truths they reveal are non-negotiable, and don’t care about partisan patty cake. In other words, these same folks suddenly lavishing praise on whistleblowers now because it’s tactically convenient, will be back arguing for assassination by drone strike the moment the next whistleblower reveals truths they’d prefer remain hidden.

    • Julian Assange’s claim that there was no Russian involvement in WikiLeaks emails
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Record-breaking extreme weather in Australia in 2016 devastates ecosystems

      Australia’s weather was extreme in 2016, driven by humankind’s burning of fossil fuels as well as a strong El Niño, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement.

      That extreme weather led to devastated ecosystems both on land and in the sea, with unprecedented bushfires in regions that don’t usually burn, the worst coral bleaching on record, and has been attributed as the cause of damage to vast tracts of crucial kelp forests, oyster farms and salmon stocks across southern Australia.

    • Rick Perry’s Texas Giveaways

      The soon-to-be U.S. energy secretary doled out billions in grants and tax incentives for corporations while governor of Texas. One $30 million grant went to an energy group that turned out to be a phantom.

    • Endangered Species Under GOP? Climate Change Information on the Web

      James Rowen, a longtime Wisconsin journalist and environmental blogger, recently discovered a stark remaking of a state Department of Natural Resources web page on climate change and the Great Lakes.

      Until December, the page, dating from the Democratic administration of former Gov. James Doyle, had this headline — “Climate Change and Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” — and a clear description of the state of the science, including this line reflecting the latest federal and international research assessments: “Earth’s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat-trapping (“green house”) gases are the main cause.”

      The page described a variety of possible impacts on the lakes and concluded, “The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects.” Nine hyperlinks led readers to other resources.

    • James Delingpole article calling ocean acidification ‘alarmism’ cleared by press watchdog

      A magazine article claiming “marine life has nothing whatsoever to fear from ocean acidification” has been deemed neither misleading nor inaccurate by the UK’s press regulator.

      The feature, written by journalist and climate-change sceptic James Delingpole, appeared in the Spectator under the headline “Ocean acidification: yet another wobbly pillar of climate alarmism”.

      Seawater is becoming more acidic as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, where rising concentrations are the cause of global warming. Many scientists are concerned about the impact of acidification on marine life.

  • Finance

    • Margrethe Vestager’s top 10 cases in 2017

      Standing too long under the spotlights can get uncomfortable and this year Margrethe Vestager may begin to feel the heat.

      The European commissioner for competition shot to international fame in 2015 with back-to-back charges against Google and Gazprom. In 2016 she cemented her reputation as the world’s foremost corporate policewoman with the stunning order that Apple reimburse some €13 billion of alleged illegal state aid to Ireland’s taxman.

    • CETA Costs Jobs, Worsens Inequality, Social Tensions: EU Committee

      The trade deal that Canada and the EU signed in October will cause a loss of jobs and threaten to increase already high social tensions in Europe, a European Parliament committee has concluded.

      The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs voted against CETA in December, meaning it is recommending that the European Parliament vote down the deal. It’s one of many committees that have to vote on a recommendation to parliament.

      The full EU parliament is slated to vote on CETA in early February.

    • Great: Now Wall Street Is Funding Speculative Corporate Sovereignty Claims For A Share Of The Spoils

      Techdirt first wrote about corporate sovereignty four years ago — although we only came up with that name about a year later. Since then, a hitherto obscure aspect of trade deals has become one of the most contentious issues in international relations. Indeed, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) measures in both TPP and TTIP played an important part in galvanizing resistance to these so-called “trade” deals, and thus in their defeat, at least for the moment (never say “never”.)

      [...]

      This is a crucially-important point about corporate sovereignty: governments never win ISDS cases; at best, they just don’t lose them. All the upside is with the corporates that bring the claim, and all the downside with nations that are defending their actions and regulations. The new wave of third-party funding will accentuate that skewed nature, and make corporate sovereignty even more of a scourge than it is today, regardless of whether it is ever included again in any new deal.

    • Venezuela on the Brink

      The crisis engulfing Venezuela appears to have reached the point of no return. Inflation is heading for 1000% while shortages of food and other essentials are now widespread. It has prompted many to speculate that it is just a matter of time before President Maduro is forced from office and Chavism is consigned to the dustbin of history.

    • Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of “Widespread Misconduct” in Leaked Memo

      OneWest Bank, which Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office.

      The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions.

      In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties.

    • For Head of SEC, Trump Taps Another Fox to Guard Wall Street Henhouse

      Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton, who defended big banks against regulators during the financial crisis, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the federal agency charged with policing Wall Street.

      Clayton, a partner with the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, is Trump’s nominee for chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In that role, the Washington Post reports, Clayton “would play a key role in Trump’s efforts to usher in a period of deregulation, including undoing parts of 2010′s financial reform legislation, known as the Dodd-Frank Act.”

    • UK’s lack of negotiating experience may lead to ‘very hard Brexit’

      Britain’s four-decade membership of the EU has left it lacking experience in international negotiations, which will hamper it in trade talks and may lead to “a very hard Brexit”, Norway’s prime minister has said.

      “We do feel that sometimes when we are discussing with Britain, that their speed is limited by the fact that it is such a long time since they have negotiated” on their own, Erna Solberg told Reuters at a meeting of Bavaria’s centre-right CSU party in Germany.

      Solberg said she hoped the UK would be able to negotiate an agreement that kept it close to the EU, but it would not be easy. “I fear a very hard Brexit, but I hope we will find a better solution.”

      The remarks reinforce those made by Sir Ivan Rogers, who resigned as Britain’s EU ambassador this week.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump’s Neo-Fascism will be built on Neo-Fascism of Obama and Democrat Party

      Late on the evening of December 23, when the attention of the public was fixed on the consumerist excesses of the holiday season, President Obama signed into law the Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Like the other NDAAs that President Obama signed into law during his administration, this one further strengthened the repressive capacities of the state.

      Buried deep in the provisions of the NDAA was language from a bill introduced by Sen. Rob Portman ostensibly to protect the public from the effects of “foreign propaganda.” As previously reported by Black Agenda Report, the bill, originally introduced last March, was passed by the Senate on December 8 as the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” and then inserted into the NDAA.

    • The Dark Side of Obama’s Legacy

      The administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama tilted too far in the direction of the military, which already plays far too large a role in the policy process and the intelligence cycle. Strategic intelligence has suffered from the Pentagon’s domination of a process that is now geared primarily to support the warfighter in an era of permanent war. The strategic intelligence failures during the Obama administration include the absence of warning regarding events in Crimea and the Ukraine; the “Arab Spring;” the emergence of the Islamic State; and Russian recklessness in Syria.

    • Donald Trump’s Debt to Willie Horton

      A precursor of Donald Trump’s race-messaging campaign can be found in George H.W. Bush’s exploitation of the Willie Horton case in 1988, an ugly reminder of America’s racist heritage, writes JP Sottile.

    • Risks of Trump’s ‘Winning’ Obsession

      Donald Trump’s more pragmatic approach to foreign policy may be an improvement over the recent ideological obsessions but his own obsession with “winning” could cause trouble, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • Never Trust a Man without a Waistcoat

      Contrary to the usual mainstream media inaccuracy, Sir Ivan Rogers has not resigned from the FCO as he was a Treasury civil servant. The clue is in the phrase “resigned on principle”. FCO people are not big on principles.

    • NAACP Sit-In at Sen. Sessions’ Office Puts AG Pick’s Worrisome History in Crosshairs

      Since his nomination in November, Sessions has been criticized by advocacy groups as “one more way the Trump administration shows its racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and misogynist colors,” and his nomination described as “a direct attack against” the nation’s minorities. Democratic lawmakers are also gearing up to show their opposition to Sessions’ leading the Justice Department.

      Outlining its opposition to Sessions, the NAACP in an earlier statement pointed to the senator’s “record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse; a failing record on other civil rights; a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior; and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.”

      Speaking to CNN from Sessions’ office on Tuesday, Brooks said the senator should withdraw his name from the nomination or be prepared to arrest the group.

      Explaining the motivations for the action, Brooks said that “in the midst of rampant voter suppression, this nominee has failed to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while pretending to believe in the myth of voter fraud, and we need at the helm of the Department of Justice somebody who acknowledges the reality of voter suppression, someone who is going to stand at the side of people who need the defense of the attorney general, and a Justice Department that works for everyone.”

    • WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

      In the past six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

    • Civil rights activists arrested protesting Trump’s Attorney General pick

      Police in Alabama arrested six civil rights activists staging a sit-in at Senator Jeff Sessions’ office on Tuesday to protest his nomination for U.S. Attorney General, criticizing his record on voting rights and race relations.

      Sessions, 70, has a history of controversial positions on race, immigration and criminal justice reform.

      Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had vowed to occupy Sessions’ Mobile, Alabama office until the conservative Republican lawmaker either withdrew as a candidate or they were arrested.

      In the end, Cornell Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and Stephen Green, national director of the youth division of the NAACP, were among those arrested, according to a post on the Twitter page of the civil rights organization.

    • Year of the cock

      It’s not the first time that PEOTUS Trump has been compared to a fowl in China. Back in mid-November, he literally became the pheasant-elect as photos of him juxtaposed to a golden pheasant (Wikipedia article in Chinese) went viral on the Chinese internet.

    • End of the World, Progressive Article Edition

      For those who would like to become a progressive columnist in the world of Trump, here’s a guide for your first and every subsequent article…

      [...]

      First of all, points for the “bang and whimper” cliche, followed by the happy bullsh*t about how wonderful America was last month as described by phony Hamilton the musical lyrics. I bet the show’s cast could make values, morals, compassion, tolerance, decency, common purpose, and identity rhyme.

      Dude, we are a helluva people! Exceptional!

      Because prior to the election results we weren’t a nation founded on a slave economy, which 250 years later still has its cops imprison and murder Blacks, who doesn’t have the highest incarceration rate in the world, mostly for small amounts of weed that has been long legalized in other western nations. Our compassion is set to full, except if you are different than me in your race, religion, or views on guns, gays or abortions. Of course we don’t really do much for women, and unlike say India, Israel, the UK, Burma, and a whole mess of other places, have never had a female chief executive.

      Yeah, whatever, all that.

      And lovely, that bit about American becoming an international pariah. Could happen. Luckily the world has overlooked so far that we are the only nation to have used atomic weapons (twice, on civilians), stayed at war, spied and overthrown governments in their countries pretty steadily for 70 years, set the Middle Easton on fire over fake WMDs, drone kill wherever we like, torture people, and run an offshore penal colony right out of Les Miserables. Man, Trump, amiright?

    • WaPo Spreading Own Falsehoods Shows Real Power of Fake News

      The putative scourge of “fake news” has been one of the most pervasive post-election media narratives. The general thrust goes like this: A torrent of fake news swept the internet, damaging Hillary Clinton and possibly leading to a Donald Trump victory.

      A primary problem with this convenient-to-some narrative is that “fake news” has yet to be clearly defined by anyone. Vaguely conceptualized as misleading or outright fabricated stories, it can mean anything—as FAIR has noted previously (12/1/16)—from outlets that align with “Russian viewpoints” to foreign spam.

      [...]

      After FAIR and others pointed out the error, Rampell’s article was changed, but this episode shows how quickly an entirely bogus premise—that Russia had hacked, or even attempted to hack, an American public utility—can spread without an ounce of skepticism. At the time her column was published, the only “evidence” of an “attempted” Russian hack was some malware code that could have been used by anybody. Rampell, likely influenced by the initial erroneous reporting by her colleagues, made an assumption that this was evidence of an “attempted hack,” a false assumption debunked by the Post itself (1/2/16) two hours after she published. In all cases, everything is rounded up to the most sensational, most Cold War–panic inducing conclusion. “Mistakes” rarely, if ever, happen in favor of less hysteria.

    • Beyond Anti-Trump

      Let’s be careful about the phrase “anti-Trump coalition.” The phrase leaves the door open for everything being about the Big Bad Donald and for progressives to get sucked/suckered once again into the ruling class politics of the Democrats. We need to take on the unelected deep state dictatorships of money, class, race, empire, militarism, sexism, and ecocide – the reigning oppression structures that have ruled under Barack Obama as under previous presidents. As the activist-artist Brian Carlson recently wrote me from Buenos Aires, Donald Trump is the latest “bobble head doll on the dashboard of real [U.S.] power.” The thin-skinned tyrant Trump is the most terrifying and noxious such doll yet, perhaps, but the point stands.

      And dreary corporate-Democratic presidents like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Obama are no small part of the explanation for the ever more right-wing Republican presidencies of the long neoliberal era. Their serial populism-manipulating betrayals of the working-class majority in service to the wealthy Few open the door for Republicans to sweep in and take over for a term or two (2001-2009) or three (1981-1993). (Please see my forthcoming Truthdig essay “Obama’s Neoliberal Legacy”) for a discussion of how Obama begat Trump.)

    • Anti-Trump Coalition Shows Cracks

      Somewhat surprisingly, a genuine grassroots, broad-based movement has emerged to oppose the incoming Trump administration, but perhaps less surprisingly – given the American left’s self-marginalizing tendencies – the nascent efforts may already be descending into sectarianism, finger-pointing and divisive identity-based politics.

    • Battlelines Drawn as GOP Readies ‘To Make America Sick Again’

      Republicans, “beside themselves” with excitement over their new power in Congress and, in less than three weeks, the White House, announced on Wednesday their plans for a swift attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.

      Repealing the ACA, said Vice President-elect Mike Pence after meeting with House Republicans, will be the incoming administration’s “first order of business,” with a goal of getting legislation to President-elect Donald Trump by Feb. 20. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also spoke at the news conference, and said that the program, which allowed over 20 million Americans to gain health insurance coverage, “is a story of broken promise after broken promise after broken promise.”

      The Senate on Wednesday also voted “to take the first official step toward repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law,” as CNN reports. The chamber “voted 51-48 Wednesday to begin debating a budget that, once approved, will prevent Democrats from using a filibuster to block future Republican legislation to scuttle the healthcare law,” the Associated Press adds.

    • New McCarthyism Targets Trump

      Official Washington’s New McCarthyism is painting President-elect Trump as almost a “traitor” for seeking détente with Russia, a moment when peace-oriented Americans face a complex choice, says John V. Walsh.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Activist who aided Amos Yee’s bid for political asylum in USA being reported to Department of Homeland Security

      Melissa Chen, a US-based Singaporean civil activist involved in Amos Yee’s asylum bid said in her Facebook that she has been reported to the United States’ (US) Department of Homeland Security for the ‘crime’ of abetting the teen blogger seeking refuge in that country. They are hoping the activist would be deported.

      [...]

      In the exchange between them they discussed making arrangements for Amos’ bid for political asylum in the United States of America. Amos was therefore compelled to tell the truth. Amos is unlikely to be released from detention until a hearing is convened.

      Amos has said that the he has no intention of returning to Singapore as he does not want to do National Service.

    • New Chinese Law on Cybersecurity Will Increase Censorship & Data Surveillance

      The Chinese government passed a new set of regulations that will tighten existing policies on censorship and data surveillance. From June 1 and onward, outflow of any kind of personal and important data will be restricted and censored by key information infrastructure operators (KILO).

      Network operators and internet service providers also fall under the newly proposed regulatory regime, and as a result are obligated to impose new security and data protection systems.

    • Confirmed Horrible Person James Woods Continues Being Horrible In ‘Winning’ Awful Lawsuit To Unmask Deceased Online Critic

      So… Hollywood actor James Woods continues to make it clear that he’s a complete and total asshole. As you may or may not recall, last year, Woods sued an anonymous Twitter user who went by the name Abe List, for mocking Woods on twitter. Specifically, List called Woods “clownboy” and later tweeted: “cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.” Woods sued Abe List claiming that the “cocaine addict” statement was defamatory, and (the important part) demanding the name and identity of Abe List. The fact that Woods, himself, has a long (long, long, long) history of spouting off similarly incendiary claims to people on Twitter apparently wasn’t important.

    • Google Apparently No Longer Humoring Court Orders To Delist Defamatory Content

      That timing seems to coincide with Paul Alan Levy/Public Citizen’s intervention in a case where an order to delist traced back to a dentist unhappy with an online review. The eventual delisting by Google came as the result of a bogus lawsuit — filed with or without the knowledge of the dentist Mitul Patel — against a bogus defendant. The fake “Matthew Chan” signed a document agreeing to remove his review and the court ordered Google to take it down.

    • Putin’s Adviser Says Russia Must Be Ready To Disconnect Itself From The Global Internet

      Klimenko’s comments were made before the US announced its response to claims of Russian interference in the presidential election process. His analysis of “tectonic shifts” in US-Russia relations now looks rather prescient, although US threats to hack back made it a relatively easy prediction. And even though his call for Russia to ensure its critical infrastructure cannot be “turned off” by anyone — in particular by the US — may be grandstanding to a certain extent, it is not infeasible.

      The Chinese have consciously made their own segment of the Internet quite independent, with strict controls on how data enters or leaves the country. Techdirt reported earlier that Russia was increasingly looking to China for both inspiration and technological assistance; maybe Klimenko’s comments are another sign of an alignment between the two countries in the digital realm.

    • Facebook Censors Art Historian’s Photo Of Neptune’s Statue-Penis
    • Facebook under fire after it censors ‘explicitly sexual’ statue of Neptune
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA’s top cyber-defender leaves after reorganization

      Curtis Dukes, the NSA official who headed up its cyber-defenders, the famed Information Assurance Directorate, has left the agency — a few months after IAD was merged with the offensive, eavesdropping side of the house, the Signals Intelligence Directorate.

    • NSA Director to Head Up CIS Controls Group
    • Someone bid $9,000 worth of bitcoin for supposed NSA exploits

      In August, a group of supposed hackers calling themselves the Shadow Brokers leaked a trove of outdated NSA-linked cyber-weapons and encouraged observers to bid on software exploits they had stolen. On Wednesday, someone paid the group $9,000 worth of bitcoin, based on publicly visible transaction records. The mysterious payment represents the single largest deposit made to a bitcoin wallet previously listed by the Shadow Brokers.

      While the aforementioned bitcoin wallet had seen past activity in the form of small deposits ranging from just a few cents to several hundreds of dollars, Wednesday’s payment is by far the largest contribution. Bitcoin is an anonymous digital currency that is sold, traded, accepted and tracked online.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Even Leonard Peltier’s Prosecutor Calls for Clemency

      The former prosecutor of Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier joins thousands calling for clemency saying it is “in the best interests of justice.”

      The former Iowa United States attorney in charge of the widely-condemned prosecution and conviction of Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier wrote to President Obama saying granting clemency to the 72-year-old, considered by many the longest-held political prisoner in the U.S., would be “in the best interests of justice.”

    • Defense Department Oversight Finds More Evidence Of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

      More evidence has surfaced showing the US government really doesn’t care for whistleblowers. A Defense Department Inspector General’s report [PDF] obtained by MuckRock contains details of Air Force supervisors turning against a civilian employee who reported time card abuse.

    • Inside the Scorpion: a Journalist’s Ordeal in Egypt’s Most Notorious Prison

      To interview a jihadi is one thing, to live among jihadis quite another. To share their prison cells and their jail trucks on the way to a dictatorship’s trials is both a journalist’s dream and a journalist’s nightmare. Which makes Mohamed Fahmy a unique figure: in a prison bus, he hears his fellow inmates rejoicing at the beheading of a captured journalist in Syria. “They won’t let us out,” a voice shouts at Fahmy in Egypt’s ghastly Tora prison complex. “We haven’t seen the sun for weeks.” And he hears the rhythmic voices of prisoners reciting the Koran.

      Fahmy, who is an Egyptian with Canadian citizenship, is the Al Jazeera English TV reporter who spent almost two years in his native country’s ferocious prison system, as a guest of President al-Sisi, locked up with two colleagues for being a pro-Muslim Brotherhood “terrorist”, fabricating news and endangering the “security” of the state.

    • Planes and ships hampering road transport’s climate efforts

      The extent to which transport is falling behind in reducing its CO2 emissions is highlighted in a new report by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft. It shows that emission reductions from land-based transport are still significantly behind what they need to be, and nearly half of the forecast reductions are set to be wiped out by the growth in emissions from aviation and shipping.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Chicago Field Museum Decides To Embrace Cross-Promotion Instead Of Trademark Protectionism With Brewery

        When it comes to trademark issues, we tend to keep our pages filled with stories about disputes, bullying, and over-protectionism. While we try to highlight good-actors on matters of trademark, those stories are too few and far between for our tastes. With that in mind, why not start off the new year with one such example?

        Toppling Goliath is a brewery in Iowa with a number of regular and seasonal beers. One of those is PseudoSue, an ale with a label that features a roaring Tyrannosaurus rex. Anyone from the Chicago area is likely already thinking of our beloved Field Museum and the enormous T. rex fossil skeleton of Sue, who the museum tends to dress up like some kind of prehistoric barbie doll whenever one of our local sports teams has themselves a particularly good season. The museum has a trademark registration for Sue that covers all kinds of mechandise and initially reacted as readers of this site will have come to expect.

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Still Pushing Its Bogus Message Of A ‘Value Gap’ And ‘Fair Compensation’

        The “value gap” is a completely made up concept by the RIAA and friends, arguing that internet platforms aren’t paying the record labels (not the artists) enough. It’s based on a series of out and out lies, including the simply false claim that artists make more from vinyl record sales than from online streaming.

        The “value gap” is the RIAA cherry picking misleading numbers to argue that internet platforms aren’t paying them enough. Note that they don’t make any effort to improve what they’re doing — they’re just demanding more money from platforms… just because.

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