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Links 9/1/2017: Civilization VI Coming to GNU/Linux, digiKam 5.4.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Game’s changed in 6 years: open source ecosystem thrives

    Chen Bo, a 37-year-old software developer with Beijing-based Cheetah Mobile, remembers clearly how isolated and closed China’s software environment was in 2010. That was a time when the mobile internet revolution was taking hold of the world’s most populous country.

    “Every app developer saw his or her software codes as the most precious assets and would never share them with others. You could say the scene was equivalent to people securing their family jewelry in plastic wraps and locking it in burglar-resistant safes,” Chen said.

    That was also a time when even employees were allowed access to only a part of the codes they were working on, to pre-empt information leaks to competitors.

    But the scene has changed over the last six years. China has blossomed into one of the world’s most dynamic hubs for software developers.

  • Open source server simplifies HTTPS, security certificates

    For administrators seeking an easier method to turn on HTTPS for their websites, there is Caddy, an open source web server that automatically sets up security certificates and serves sites over HTTPS by default.

    Built on Go 1.7.4, Caddy is a lightweight web server that supports HTTP/2 out of the box and automatically integrates with any ACME-enabled certificate authority such as Let’s Encrypt. HTTP/2 is enabled by default when the site is served over HTTPS, and administrators using Caddy will never have to deal with expired TLS certificates for their websites, as Caddy handles the process of obtaining and deploying certificates.

  • Communities Over Code: How to Build a Successful Project by Joe Brockmeier, Red Hat
  • Communities Over Code: How to Build a Successful Software Project

    Healthy productive FOSS projects don’t just happen, but are built, and the secret ingredient is Community over code. Purpose and details are everything: If you build it will they come, and then how do you keep it going and growing? How do you set direction, attract and retain contributors, what do you do when there are conflicts, and especially conflicts with valuable contributors? Joe Brockmeier (Red Hat) shares a wealth of practical wisdom at LinuxCon North America.

  • Open technology for land rights documentation

    Technology is only one part of the solution, but at Cadasta we believe it is a key component. While many governments had modern technology systems put in place to manage land records, often these were expensive to maintain, required highly trained staff, were not transparent, and were otherwise too complicated. Many of these systems, created at great expense by donor governments, are already outdated and no longer accurately reflect existing land and property rights.

  • Web Browsers

    • Min Browser Muffles the Web’s Noise

      Min is a Web browser with a minimal design that provides speedy operation with simple features.

      When it comes to software design, “minimal” does not mean low functionality or undeveloped potential. If you like minimal distraction tools for your text editor and note-taking applications, that same comfort appeal is evident in the Min browser.

      I mostly use Google Chrome, Chromium and Firefox on my desktops and laptop computers. I am well invested in their add-on functionality, so I can access all the specialty services that get me through my long sessions in researching and working online.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s Servo Begins Firming Up 2017 Goals

        Among their proposed goals for Servo in 2017 are finishing Stylo (Servo’s CSS style system into Gecko), extending WebRender as the GPU accelerated back-end, experimenting with initial layout integration in other products, exploring Flexbox, extending and better supporting embedding APIs, and implementing other high priority DOM APIs. Among the research proposed for this year is a magic DOM and JavaScript optimizations along with software transactional memory.

      • Mozilla Calls for “Responsible IoT”

        As the Internet of Things (IoT) gains momentum, there is a need for collaboration, open and interoperable tools, and governance. In fact, all the way back in 2015, Philip DesAutels, the AllSeen Alliance’s leader, told us that: “In five years, I think all of this will be around us everywhere, in everything. The next phase is going to be the really transformational phase. “Systems around you will have a whole lot more information. They’ll be able to deliver a lot more value.”

        Now, Mozilla, which has been keeping track of the convergence of open source and the Internet of Things, is out with a new report calling for “responsible IoT.”

  • SaaS/Back End

    • What is DataOps?

      DataOps describes the creation & curation of a central data hub, repository and management zone designed to collect, collate and then onwardly distribute data such that data analytics can be more widely democratised across an entire organisation and, subsequently, more sophisticated layers of analytics can be brought to bear such as built-for-purpose analytics engines.

    • Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 5: OpenStack Releases and Use Cases

      OpenStack has come a long way since 2010 when NASA approached Rackspace for a project. With 1,600 individual contributors to OpenStack and a six-month release cycle, there are a lot of changes and progress. This amount of change and progress is not without its drawbacks. In the Juno release, there were something like 10,000 bugs. In the next release, Kilo, there were 13,000 bugs. But as OpenStack is deployed in more environments, and more people are interested in it, the community grows both in users and developers.

    • How to find your first OpenStack job

      We’ve covered the growth of OpenStack jobs and how you can become involved in the community. Maybe that even inspired you to search for OpenStack jobs and explore the professional opportunities for Stackers. You probably have questions, so we’re here to answer the frequent questions about working on OpenStack professionally.

    • OpenStack becomes ‘de facto’ private cloud

      A mixed year for OpenStack with HPE and Cisco seeming to step away from the community.

    • OpenStack under the radar
    • Angel Diaz talks about OpenStack Interop

      At the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, 16 vendors stood on stage and demonstrated interoperability. This was a major breakthrough for OpenStack. It marked a significant departure from just 18 months earlier when the OpenStack Foundation had chided vendors for creating lots of proprietary solutions. Enterprise Times sat down with Angel Diaz, IBM Vice President, Cloud Architecture and Technology to talk about this achievement.

    • How to take a leadership role in OpenStack

      On top of her job as a system architect at Nokia, Afek has taken an active role in the OpenStack community as the project team lead (PTL) of Vitrage and a voice in gender equality in the technology field with the Women of OpenStack. You may have also seen her taking center stage at the recent OpenStack Summit Barcelona, where she took part in a daredevil demo.

    • Landing a job, becoming the de facto private cloud, and more OpenStack news
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Top LibreOffice Alternatives

      More people than ever are enjoying the benefits of LibreOffice. It’s free to use and open source. But what about LibreOffice alternatives? Are there any good LibreOffice Alternative sand should you try them for yourself? This article is going to share some of the best LibreOffice alternatives and provide links where you can learn more about each of them.

    • Ubuntu Tablet – quick test LibreOffice

      Ubuntu Tablet – quick test Libre Office in desktop mode tablet Bq Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition running Unity 8 bluetooth mouse + keyboard

  • CMS

    • WordPress, Silverstripe, TYPO3 & More: Keeping Up With Open Source CMS

      December is a traditionally quiet month across most industries, but the world of open source CMS never truly rests.

      Sure, open source vendors (and their contributing communities alike) cooled their jets a little as the new year approached — but there was still plenty going on.

      If you happened to miss any of it, here are the latest open source CMS headlines.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • NetBSD 7.1_RC1 available

      Those of you who prefer to build from source can continue to follow the netbsd-7 branch or use the netbsd-7-1-RC1 tag.

    • NetBSD 7.1 RC1 Released

      The first release candidate of the upcoming NetBSD 7.1 is now available for testing.


    • GCC 7 Getting Closer To Release, But Running Behind On Regressions

      Jakub Jelinek of Red Hat has provided the latest status report concerning the state of the GNU Compiler Collection 7 code compiler.

      GCC 7 has been in “stage three” for a while now meaning only bug/general fixes landing, but they are planning to enter stage four on 19 January. When stage four begins, only wrong-code fixes, bug fixes, and documentation fixes will be accepted.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open source tool for wave and tidal arrays

        Wave and tidal energy design tool DTOcean has been launched as an open source software package. The tool’s developers say it will assist project developers to design wave and tidal energy arrays by identifying optimal layouts, components and procedures.

        An active but growing user community is emerging around DTOcean, which industry and research communities are encouraged to join.

      • CES 2017: ARM gets an assist in Renault’s open-source electric vehicle, Twizy

        The open source movement has had a profound impact on the tech sector over the last two decades, and now those notions are moving beyond software and operating systems to form the basis for flexible yet standardized complete systems – including automobiles.

      • Open Source Reaches Processor Core

        Whether for budgetary, philosophical, or other reasons, an increasing number of embedded systems are being designed using open source elements. For the most part, these elements are software based, although there are some open source board designs in use as well. Now, the microcontroller that empowers a PCB design is available as an open source design.

      • 3D Printing Market to More Than Double by 2020
  • Programming/Development

    • How to get started as an open source programmer

      Looking out at the world of technology is exciting. It has a lot of moving parts, and it seems the further you dig into it, the deeper it gets, and then it’s turtles all the way down. For that very reason, technology is also overwhelming. Where do you start if you’re keen to join in and help shape the way the modern world functions? What’s the first step? What’s the twentieth step?

    • RcppCCTZ 0.2.0

      A new version, now at 0.2.0, of RcppCCTZ is now on CRAN. And it brings a significant change: windows builds! Thanks to Dan Dillon who dug deep enough into the libc++ sources from LLVM to port the std::get_time() function that is missing from the 4.* series of g++. And with Rtools being fixed at g++-4.9.3 this was missing for us here. Now we can parse dates for use by RcppCCTZ on Windows as well. That is important not only for RcppCCTZ but also particularly for the one package (so far) depending on it: nanotime.


  • The Couple Who Saved China’s Ancient Architectural Treasures Before They Were Lost Forever

    Architectural preservation is rarely so thrilling as it was in 1930s China. As the country teetered on the edge of war and revolution, a handful of obsessive scholars were making adventurous expeditions into the country’s vast rural hinterland, searching for the forgotten treasures of ancient Chinese architecture. At the time, there were no official records of historic structures that survived in the provinces. The semi-feudal countryside had become a dangerous and unpredictable place: Travelers venturing only a few miles from major cities had to brave muddy roads, lice-infested inns, dubious food and the risk of meeting bandits, rebels and warlord armies. But although these intellectuals traveled by mule cart, rickshaw or even on foot, their rewards were great. Within the remotest valleys of China lay exquisitely carved temples staffed by shaven-headed monks much as they had been for centuries, their roofs filled with bats, their candlelit corridors lined with dust-covered masterpieces.

  • Photos: Some of the earliest color images of life around the world

    The fantastic ambitions of rich men should never be underestimated. Throw enough cash at something and even a failure can have staying power.

    When Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and philanthropist, decided he wanted to commission a photographic “archive of the planet” he wasn’t joking. And though the idea of cataloging the earth seems whimsical in scope today, the pictures he helped create between 1909 and 1931 hold our attention like few others from the era.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump Has to Rescue Obamacare or Admit He’s a Liar

      It didn’t take long. During the first week of 2017, the new Republican Congress has begun efforts to dismantle America’s health-care system. Their long-standing goal, consistent with their right-wing ideology, is to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. At the same time, in the midst of grotesque and growing income and wealth inequality, they’re preparing to allow pharmaceutical companies to increase drug prices and to hand out obscene tax breaks for the top one-tenth of 1 percent.

    • Forest Service OKs land swap for proposed PolyMet mine

      A proposed copper-nickel mine for northeastern Minnesota has passed another milestone.

      The U.S. Forest Service on Monday signed off on a proposed land swap with PolyMet Mining. The deal exchanges 6,650 acres of federal land in the Superior National Forest that PolyMet needs for about the same amount of privately owned land within the forest.

      • Now what? PolyMet applied to open its copper-nickel mine

      PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry calls it “a win for both parties,” giving Superior National Forest lands with better public access.

      But Executive Director Paul Danicic of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness says no exchange of land “can undo the damage” that PolyMet would do to the area.

    • Expensive Medicines Increase The Pressure

      When Gilead brought its new antiviral medicine – Sovaldi – for the treatment of Hepatitis C to the US market for USD 84,000, it triggered a storm of protest. Demand for this revolutionary treatment was so high that the price (despite reductions) became an enormous burden on the American healthcare system. Although the product is cheaper in Switzerland at CHF 48 307, treatment is rationed for reasons of cost.

    • Could Amgen’s Patent Victory Be Bad For Medicine?
  • Security

    • Stolen NSA Windows hacking tools now for sale

      The Shadow Brokers, the hacker or hackers who stole and are now claiming to sell NSA surveillance software, are now selling the agency’s package of Windows hacking tools.

      Like all Shadow Brokers wares, the tools are at least three years old. But codes used to pass through security that were released by the Shadow Brokers in August worked when tested at that time, sparking concerns.

    • New CloudLinux 5 Kernel Released to Patch Important Use-After-Free Vulnerability

      CloudLinux’s Mykola Naugolnyi is informing users of the CloudLinux 5 series of server-oriented operating systems based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 about the availability of a new kernel update that patches an important security vulnerability.

    • MongoDB Apocalypse Is Here as Ransom Attacks Hit 10,000 Servers [Ed: due to misconfiguration, not a flaw]
    • MongoDB Ransomware Impacts Over 10,000 Databases
    • How to secure MongoDB on Linux or Unix production server

      MongoDB is a free and open-source NoSQL document database server. It is used by web application for storing data on a public facing server. Securing MongoDB is critical. Crackers and hackers are accessing insecure MongoDB for stealing data and deleting data from unpatched or badly-configured databases. In this tutorial you will learn about how to secure a MongoDB instance or server running cloud server.

    • MongoDB Ransomware Attacks Grow in Number

      Last week when the news started hitting the net about ransomware attacks focusing on unprotected instances of MongoDB, it seemed to me to be a story that would have a short life. After all, the attacks weren’t leveraging some unpatched vulnerabilities in the database, but databases that were misconfigured in a way that left them reachable via the Internet, and with no controls — like a password other than the default — over who had privileges. All that was necessary to get this attack vector under control was for admins to be aware of the situation and to be ready and able to reconfigure and password protect.

    • FTC will pay you to build an IoT security checker

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants the public to take a crack at developing tools to improve security around Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

      Specifically, the FTC is hosting a competition challenging the public to create a technical solution that would, at a minimum, help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software. Contestants have the option of adding features, such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default or easy-to-guess passwords.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Security Advice: Bad, Terrible, or Awful

      As an industry, we suck at giving advice. I don’t mean this in some negative hateful way, it’s just the way it is. It’s human nature really. As a species most of us aren’t very good at giving or receiving advice. There’s always that vision of the wise old person dropping wisdom on the youth like it’s candy. But in reality they don’t like the young people much more than the young people like them. Ever notice the contempt the young and old have for each other? It’s just sort of how things work. If you find someone older and wiser than you who is willing to hand out good advice, stick close to that person. You won’t find many more like that.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • When Fear Comes

      When I returned to the newsroom at The New York Times after being booed off a commencement stage in 2003 for denouncing the invasion of Iraq, reporters and editors lowered their heads or turned away when I was nearby. They did not want to be touched by the same career-killing contagion. They wanted to protect their status at the institution. Retreat into rabbit holes is the most common attempt at self-protection.


      This kind of valor, he knew as a combat veteran, requires a moral courage that is more difficult than the physical courage encountered on the battlefield.

      “This unanimous quiet defiance of a power which never forgave, this obstinate, painfully protracted insubordination, was somehow more frightening than running and yelling as the bullets fly,” he says.

      The coming arrests mean that a wide range of Americans will experience the violations that poor people of color have long endured. Self-interest alone should have generated sweeping protest, should have made the nation as a whole more conscious. We should have understood: Once rights become privileges that the state can revoke, they will eventually be taken away from everyone. Now those who had been spared will get a taste of what complicity in oppression means.

    • As Families In Charleston Share Stories and Pain, Dylann Roof Shows No Remorse

      Mrs. Pinckney was the first in a long line of witnesses called by federal prosecutors in the sentencing trial of Dylann Roof last week. The avowed white supremacist was convicted in December for gunning down Reverend Pinckney and eight parishioners during a Bible study at the historic Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015. The crime shook the country. President Obama gave a stirring eulogy at Rev. Pinckney’s televised memorial service, singing Amazing Grace. The next day, in a brazen act of civil disobedience, activist Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole at the state capitol to take down the Confederate flag; soon after, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation to remove the flag from the statehouse, in dedication to the Emanuel Nine. Across the country, Americans marveled at the expressions of forgiveness shown by grieving relatives who spoke at a bond hearing for Roof within days of the crime. But in Charleston, others remained torn, overwhelmed by grief and anger. A year and a half later, many struggle to define what justice would mean.

    • Politicizing Victimhood: Human Rights as a Propaganda Weapon in Aleppo and Mosul

      Despite continued clashes between the government and rebel forces, the ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia appears to have significantly reduced the violence in Syria. Following the fall of Aleppo to Assad’s forces, we should be reflecting upon what lessons can be drawn from Syria. I would offer a few. First, in wars that involve officially designated enemies of state, such as Syria and Russia, there is little reason to think that one will be exposed to reasoned, sensible discourse in the U.S. media. Similarly, on “the other side” – Russia in this case – one sees a similar effort to exonerate the government from responsibility for human rights violations. A second, broader lesson from Syria is that “human rights” inevitably serve as a rhetorical weapon, used on “both sides” by powerful societal actors, including officialdom and the press, to advance their own strategic interests.

    • On Whitewashing Russia: Power-worshippers Only See Black-and-White

      The trouble with this latest fairy tale is that the media has swallowed the state-sponsored story without demanding a scintilla of evidence, and has turned the entire factitious endeavor into a witch hunt aimed at alternative media. The binary constructs of the Bush era are being reanimated for another Halloween of imbecilic fearmongering. So those that apply the withering lens of the scientific method to this latest mythmaking program are quickly labeled as pro-Russian, anti-Democratic, or worse, traitors.

    • Those Diplomatic Expulsions

      There is a fascinating precedent for Putin’s refusal to retaliate for the expulsion of 32 Russian diplomats by Obama, an easy diplomatic win on the international stage. In 1985, my first year in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Margaret Thatcher expelled 25 Soviet diplomats identified as spies by a defector (from memory Gordievsky), and later a further six.

    • The Russians, Trump and the Deep State (Rising)

      People talk of the Deep State, a kind of shorthand to refer to the entrenched parts of the government, particularly inside the military, intelligence, and security communities, who don’t come and go with election cycles. The information they hold, and their longevity, allows them to significantly influence, perhaps control, the big picture decisions that change the way America works on a global scale. Who the enemies are, where the power needs to be applied, which wars will start and what governments should fall.

      One of the features of the Deep State is that it prefers to work behind the scenes, in the shadows if you like. The big name politicians are out front, smiling for the cameras, and the lesser pols have to tend to the day-to-day stuff of government. The Deep State doesn’t trouble itself with regulating agriculture or deciding which infrastructure bill to fund. That is in large part why there will never be a full-on coup; why would the Deep State want to take on responsibility for the Department of Transportation?

      When the Deep State does accidentally expose itself, it is often by accident, such as in the panic right after 9/11 when the president was sitting around reading a children’s book while Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld were calling the shots. Same for in the 1980s when a set of cock-ups exposed U.S. arms sales to Iran to pay for U.S. proxy forces in Central America while with U.S. support the Saudis paid for jihadists to fight in Afghanistan, laying the early groundwork for what would become the War on Terror.

    • Meryl Streep calls out Trump: Having Bully-in-Chief Coarsens whole Culture

      Michael Moore denounced the Iraq War.

      So we now have another such moment, as Meryl Streep tearfully addressed the stars assembled at the Golden Globes about her anxieties and distress at the advent of the Trump era in the United States.

    • Donald Trump calls Meryl Streep ‘overrated’ after Golden Globes speech

      US President-elect Donald Trump has hit back at Meryl Streep’s criticism of him as she received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.

      He tweeted: “Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes.

      “She is a Hillary flunky who lost big,” Mr Trump added of the three-time Oscar-winning actress.

      She said: “When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

    • Hollywood Gets a Clue About Inclusion, Meryl Streep Gets Political at 2017 Golden Globes (Video)

      Remember last year’s hashtag-fueled protest—#OscarsSoWhite – decrying the lack of diversity at Hollywood’s most hyped awards event?

      On Sunday night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association showed up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by rewarding a wider range of talent at the 2017 Golden Globes. Stories by and about African-Americans were recognized at the HFPA’s annual awards-fest, and the night’s biggest honor, the best drama statue, went to a coming-of-age film about a young gay black man growing up in Miami.

    • The Age of Great Expectations and the Great Void

      The third theme was all about rethinking the concept of personal freedom as commonly understood and pursued by most Americans. During the protracted emergency of the Cold War, reaching an accommodation between freedom and the putative imperatives of national security had not come easily. Cold War-style patriotism seemingly prioritized the interests of the state at the expense of the individual. Yet even as thrillingly expressed by John F. Kennedy — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” — this was never an easy sell, especially if it meant wading through rice paddies and getting shot at.

      Once the Cold War ended, however, the tension between individual freedom and national security momentarily dissipated. Reigning conceptions of what freedom could or should entail underwent a radical transformation. Emphasizing the removal of restraints and inhibitions, the shift made itself felt everywhere, from patterns of consumption and modes of cultural expression to sexuality and the definition of the family. Norms that had prevailed for decades if not generations — marriage as a union between a man and a woman, gender identity as fixed at birth — became passé. The concept of a transcendent common good, which during the Cold War had taken a backseat to national security, now took a backseat to maximizing individual choice and autonomy.

    • Trump must slay the ‘sacred cow’ of the budget: Defense spending

      The Pentagon is filled to the gills with cronies and crony capitalism. And Republicans have encouraged this “waste and abuse” – this is the kind way of saying it, and it is on a massive scale – for too long. Do the right thing for once Congress. CUT SPENDING especially on the military civilian bureaucracy which is a taxpayer funded gravy train if there ever was one.

    • The Real Purpose of the U.S. Government’s Report on Alleged Hacking by Russia

      The primary purpose of the declassified report, which offers no evidence to support its assertions that Russia hacked the U.S. presidential election campaign, is to discredit Donald Trump. I am not saying there was no Russian hack of John Podesta’s emails. I am saying we have yet to see any tangible proof to back up the accusation. This charge—Sen. John McCain has likened the alleged effort by Russia to an act of war—is the first salvo in what will be a relentless campaign by the Republican and Democratic establishment, along with its corporatist allies and the mass media, to destroy the credibility of the president-elect and prepare the way for impeachment.

      The allegations in the report, amplified in breathtaking pronouncements by a compliant corporate media that operates in a non-fact-based universe every bit as pernicious as that inhabited by Trump, are designed to make Trump look like Vladimir Putin’s useful idiot. An orchestrated and sustained campaign of innuendo and character assassination will be directed against Trump. When impeachment is finally proposed, Trump will have little public support and few allies and will have become a figure of open ridicule in the corporate media.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • China raises its low carbon ambitions in new 2020 targets

      China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan on Energy Development (Energy 13FYP) might be one of the most anticipated energy blueprints in the world for its far-reaching implications for the carbon trajectory of the planet’s largest emitter.

      On Jan 5, 2017, the National Energy Administration finally unveiled the plan to reporters, with a set of 2020 targets covering everything from total energy consumption to installed wind energy capacity. Before we delve into details of the plan, one thing is worth noting: with the Energy 13FYP, China might have once again raised ambitions for its low-carbon future, highlighting the urgency that this smog-ridden country attaches to moving away from fossil fuels.

    • A Sushi Boss Bought a Single Tuna for $632,000

      A single bluefin tuna sold for $632,000 on Thursday, the second highest amount ever paid for such a fish, according to a report.

      The sale of the 470-pound fish, reported by the Associated Press, was made to sushi chain owner Kiyoshi Kimura.

    • Of Grizzly Bears and Bureaucrats: The Quest for Survival

      The last known grizzly in So Cal was shot in 1916 by Cornelius Birket Johnson, an industrious farmer living at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in north Los Angeles. The hungry bear trampled the man’s newly planted vineyard, chomping on his young grapes for three straight nights. Ol’ Johnson wasn’t about to let the pesky bear get away with such thievery and destruction, so one night he lured the grizzly with a slab of beef and snagged him in a trap, but like all feisty grizzlies, this young guy wouldn’t go down easy. Johnson later shot the bear dead after finding it gravely injured, exhausted, bloodied and suffering, having dragged the metal trap far from where it was originally set. Thus, at the hands of Johnson, the extinction of the So Cal grizzly was complete.

    • Radioactive Waste is Good for You, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rick Perry as Energy Secretary

      But Perry had a similar relationship with another Texas billionaire, Harold Simmons, owner of WCS. And in return, under Gov. Perry, WCS’s lucrative radioactive waste dumping activities underwent major expansion.

    • California floods, America burns, irony explodes

      The bloated orange president-elect is in love with dumb-thug Russians, tweets about himself in the third person and is readying his murder of conspiracy-minded billionaire-idiots to lead the nation into the darkest, most shamelessly corrupt period in our short history, all undertaken with a sexual predator’s shrug and an engraved gold pinky ring that spells out #-l-o-s-e-r.

      Meanwhile, the 7th-largest economy in the world just underwent truly biblical flooding – and not necessarily the helpful kind – following a half-decade of being parched to the bone, thanks to weather extremes wrought, unstoppably, of climate change.

      Cars are going driverless, homes are going Big Brother, women are being slammed back to 1950, immigrants are in mourning, Democrats are going underground and stunned Millennials are moving back in with their wary parents as the planet records yet another year as the hottest on human record, shuddering and sighing and girding for much – and with Trump, we do mean much – worse to come.

  • Finance

    • Pound hit by Brexit fears as FTSE 100 touches fresh record high – business live

      Brexit uncertainty hasn’t hit the UK housing market, according to new figures from the Halifax today.

      Halifax reports that house prices jumped by 1.7% in December, surprising economists who only forecast a 0.2% rise. On a annual basis, prices were 6.5% higher.

    • Trump’s Cabinet, the Church of Neoliberal Evangelicals

      Professor Henry Giroux says Trump’s appointments signal a future of more war, violent military interventions, and an embrace of Islamophobia

    • Ohio communities, counties have nearly $1.2B less in aid for 2017 because of state cuts

      Cuts in local government funds and tax changes made at the state level will cost Ohio counties and communities nearly $1.2 billion in 2017, as compared to 2010, a new report shows.

      Chief among those cuts were elimination of the state’s estate tax, the halving of local government funds and accelerated phase-outs of local business taxes, a report from the liberal leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio found.

      But the report drew criticism from Gov. John Kasich’s administration, which argues that focusing solely on cuts tells only part of the story. Growth in income and sales tax revenues as Ohio’s economy recovers from the recession have helped offset the cuts, a spokeswoman said, citing alternative research.

    • Assuring EU citizens of right to stay ‘would lose UK negotiating capital’

      The UK would lose “negotiating capital” in Europe if it unilaterally granted EU citizens the right to remain after Brexit, the government has said.

      In a letter to a group of EU citizens from the office of the home secretary, Amber Rudd, the government said it “recognises that EU nationals make an invaluable contribution to our economy and society”.

      However, in an apparent hardening of the official position, the letter warned that the government cannot do anything to address their position after Brexit until it has assurances that British citizens in Europe will receive reciprocal protection in the country where they have settled.

      “Agreeing a unilateral position in advance of these negotiations would lose negotiating capital with respect to British citizens in EU member states and place the UK at an immediate disadvantage,” said the letter signed by Peter Grant, an official in the free movement policy team of the immigration and border policy directorate of the Home Office.

    • Politico Is Mistaken, It Would Be Fun and Easy for Donald Trump to Divest

      Politico badly misled readers this morning in an article that said Trump “can’t simply divest from his businesses.” The article cited a number of experts who explained how difficult and complicated it would be for Trump to sell off his various businesses, many of which have complex ownership arrangements, along with debts and other legal obligations.

      While selling Trump’s business enterprises in short order would be complicated, as I explained shortly after the election, this is not what is necessary for Donald Trump to avoid conflicts of interest. The key to the process I outline in that piece is that Trump arrange to get independent teams of auditors to provide assessments of the property. I suggested he go with the middle assessment provided by three teams of auditors. This would limit the likelihood of a major error in the assessment.

      Trump would then buy an insurance policy that would guarantee him the estimate from this middle audit. The enterprises would then be turned over to an executor who would run and offload the businesses with the goal of maximizing the value. When the businesses are sold off the proceeds would be placed in a blind trust. If the cumulative value from the sales exceeds the estimate, then the proceeds go to a charity of Trump’s choosing, but not under his control. If the proceeds from the sales are less than the value of the estimate he collects on the insurance policy.

    • A horrifying prospect for public schools

      Betsy DeVos has never gone to public schools. Her children have never attended public schools. She has never taught or served as an administrator in public schools. She has made a career out of funding schemes to cripple or destroy public schools. And now Donald Trump has a new way to put Betsy DeVos and public schools in the same sentence: Let Betsy DeVos help shape the future of public schools as head of the Education Department.

      Is it any wonder why a public school teacher like me — someone who knows the value of this institution both as educator and as student — finds this idea nothing short of horrifying?

    • Americans can’t afford to lose Richard Cordray or the CFPB

      At the height of the financial crisis in 2008, an estimated one out of every 54 homeowners lost their homes. Workers and seniors lost lifetimes’ worth of savings or retirement accounts, small businesses went under, and vulnerable consumers fell victim to toxic and manipulative financial products offered by Wall Street and the big banks.


      At the helm of the bureau is Director Richard Cordray, who has proven to be a tireless and effective leader. Under his watch, the CFPB has cracked down on the tricks and traps of payday lenders, credit cards companies, debt collectors and bad actors in the industry from taking advantage of unsuspecting Americans.

      In its five years as an agency, the CFPB has recovered more than $11 billion for 27 million consumers harmed by illegal practices of financial institutions. The bureau has secured relief in more than 100 cases, directly putting money back in the pockets of American consumers who have been victimized by companies that refuse to follow the law.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Assange Criticizes U.S. Effort To Conflate WikiLeaks Publications With Russian Hacking

      Editor-in-chief Julian Assange called the report “embarrassing to the reputation” of U.S. intelligence services because it more resembled a “press release” than an actual intelligence report. “It is clearly designed for political effect,” which has happened in the past with the Gulf of Tonkin and the Vietnam War as well as intelligence reports claiming falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

      “Critical question here is whether the allegation is that Russian intelligence services themselves or people under their direction hacked the Democratic National Party and [Clinton campaign chairman] John Podesta with the intent of favoring Donald Trump,” Assange suggested.

      “Even if you accept that the Russian intelligence services hacked Democratic Party institutions, as it is normal for the major intelligence services to hack each others’ major political parties on a constant basis to obtain intelligence,” you have to ask, “what was the intent of those Russian hacks? And do they connect to our publications? Or is it simply incidental?”

      Assange accused U.S. intelligence agencies of deliberately obscuring the timeline. He said they do not know when the DNC was hacked.

    • The ‘Post-Truth’ Mainstream Media

      Once East Aleppo fell to government forces, it turned out that there were less than 90,000 people there, about what the Syrian government estimated but only a fraction of the much higher numbers confidently repeated ad nauseam by Western officials and media.

      Part of the reason for this misreporting was that Syrian rebels had publicly killed Western and independent journalists to secure a monopoly on information coming out of rebel-controlled areas. Given the West’s disdain for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and sympathy for his opponents, the mainstream Western media then became reliant on anti-government rebels and allied activists for what was going on in those parts of Syria.

    • Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama

      Eight years ago the world was on the brink of a grand celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and charismatic black president of the United States of America. Today we are on the edge of an abyss: the installation of a mendacious and cathartic white president who will replace him.

      This is a depressing decline in the highest office of the most powerful empire in the history of the world. It could easily produce a pervasive cynicism and poisonous nihilism. Is there really any hope for truth and justice in this decadent time? Does America even have the capacity to be honest about itself and come to terms with its self-destructive addiction to money-worship and cowardly xenophobia?

      Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville – the two great public intellectuals of 19th-century America – wrestled with similar questions and reached the same conclusion as Heraclitus: character is destiny (“sow a character and you reap a destiny”).

    • Why Has Israeli Spy Shai Masot Not Been Expelled?

      There is no starker proof of the golden chains in which Israel has entangled the British political class, than the incredible fact that “diplomat” Shai Masot has not been expelled for secretly conspiring to influence British politics by attacking Britain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, suggesting that he might be brought down by “a little scandal”. It is incredible by any normal standards of diplomatic behaviour that immediate action was not taken against Masot for actions which when revealed any professional diplomat would normally expect to result in being “PNG’d” – declared persona non grata.

      Obama has just expelled 35 Russian diplomats for precisely the same offence, with the exception that in the Russian case there is absolutely zero hard evidence, whereas in the Masot case there is irrefutable evidence on which to act.


      The two stories – Russian interference in US politics, Israeli interference in UK politics – also link because the New York Times claims that it was the British that first suggested to the Obama administration that Russian cyber activity was targeting Clinton. Director of Cyber Security and Information Assurance in the British Cabinet Office is Matthew Gould, the UK’s former openly and strongly pro-Zionist Ambassador to Israel and friend of the current Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev. While Private Secretary to David Miliband and William Hague, and then while Ambassador to Israel, Regev held eight secret meetings with Adam Werritty, on at least one occasion with Mossad present and on most occasions also with now minister Liam Fox. My Freedom of Information requests for minutes of these meetings brought the reply that they were not minuted, and my Freedom of Information request for the diary entries for these meetings brought me three pages each containing only the date, with everything else redacted.

    • Registered Voters Who Stayed Home Probably Cost Clinton The Election

      Registered voters who didn’t vote on Election Day in November were more Democratic-leaning than the registered voters who turned out, according to a post-election poll from SurveyMonkey, shared with FiveThirtyEight. In fact, Donald Trump probably would have lost to Hillary Clinton had Republican- and Democratic-leaning registered voters cast ballots at equal rates.

      Election-year polls understandably focus on likely voters. Then, after the election, the attention turns to actual voters, mainly using exit polls. But getting good data on Americans who didn’t vote is more difficult. That’s why the SurveyMonkey poll, which interviewed about 100,000 registered voters just after Election Day, including more than 3,600 registered voters who didn’t vote, is so useful.1 It’s still just one poll, and so its findings aren’t gospel, but with such a big sample we can drill down to subgroups and measure the demographic makeup of nonvoters to an extent we couldn’t with a smaller dataset.

    • The Left’s Challenge in Age of Trump

      Left activists plan to take on President Donald Trump from Day One, with tens of thousands of protesters promising to show up in Washington to protest his inauguration on Jan. 20 and a major women’s march scheduled the next day.

      But the challenge for the Left goes deeper than protesting Trump and some of his policies. The difficulty also involves how to build a progressive agenda that is not compromised by corporate Democrats at election time. I discussed these questions with Norman Solomon, media activist, author, former delegate for Bernie Sanders Delegate and Rootsaction co-founder.

      Dennis Bernstein: Norman Solomon, welcome back. […] Say a little bit about your background. I want people to know where you’re coming from and, if I’ve got it right, you sort of came in the activists door.

    • Thinking About Fascism

      The 2016 presidential election made me think about 1933 and Hitler’s rise to power. I’ve known that he came to power through constitutional means and then used that power from the inside to destroy a constitutional system of government. This seemed like a good time to better understand the way that someone who was a megalomaniac, not taken seriously by elites, brought to power by pandering to people’s fears, could take control of the levers of power.

      I just read Robert O. Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism. For me it helped clarify the tasks before us. In discussing Hitler’s and Mussolini’s rise to power Paxton says it is important to look at the means through which these fascists translated an ability to mobilize popular discontent into an almost unlimited ability to control the machineries of governmental power.

      His core claim is that both Hitler and Mussolini gained support by being emotionally satisfying nationalist alternatives to the left. Mainstream conservatives were willing to go along with their programs, distasteful as many found them, because working together in coalition, they were the only viable way to keep from making concessions to economic policies that would favor the working class over the elites. The mainstream conservatives and business elites made a pact with the devil in order to gain power.

    • Democrats Who Oppose Betsy DeVos Have Nothing To Lose

      In “an unprecedented break” from tradition, Democrats in the US Senate are expected to challenge as many as eight of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, including Betsy DeVos for US Secretary of Education, according to a report by the Washington Post.

      The opposition to DeVos, Politico reports, comes from “more than a dozen Democratic senators from all wings of the party” who “will portray DeVos’ views as being outside the education mainstream.”

    • Trump, the Banks and the Bomb

      When pro-nuclear disarmament organisations last October cheered the United Nations decision to start in 2017 negotiations on a global treaty banning these weapons, they probably did not expect that shortly after the US would elect Republican businessman Donald Trump as their 45th president. Much less that he would rush to advocate for increasing the US nuclear power.

      The United Nations on Oct. 27, 2016 adopted a resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, putting an end to two decades of paralysis in world nuclear disarmament efforts.


      The global ani-nuke movment, however, soon saw its joy being frustrated by the US president-elect Donald Trump, who in a tweet on Dec. 22, 2016, wrote:

      Donald J. Trump Verified account ‏@realDonaldTrump : “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

      Trump’s announcement, if materialised, would imply one of the most insourmountable hardles facing the world anti-nuclear movement.

    • GOP Tries to ‘Jam’ Through Nominees Not Yet Vetted, Ethics Office Warns

      The head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) sent a letter to Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Chuck Schumer (NY) on Saturday expressing “great concern” over the fact that the hearings are set to begin on Tuesday and his office had not yet received financial disclosure reports for some of the scheduled nominees.

      “As OGE’s director, the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me,” wrote Walter Shaub, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013. wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

      The current confirmation schedule, which has six nominees scheduled for the same days as well as a Trump press conference and a Senate ‘vote-o-rama,’ he wrote, “has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews.”

    • What The US Intelligence ‘Russia Hacked Our Election’ Report Could Have Said… But Didn’t

      By now it’s quite clear that many in the US intelligence community believe strongly that Russia tried to influence the US election, and part of that included hacks into the DNC’s computer systems, a spearphishing attack on Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails and some exploratory surveillance hacking into the computer systems of state election systems (but not into the voting machines themselves). The US intelligence services said it back in October. And they said it again last month. And, they said it again on Friday with the release of an unclassified “incident attribution” report.

      Because the debate over this issue has gotten quite silly in some places — and ridiculously political as well — let’s start with a few basic points: It is absolutely entirely possible that the Russians hacked into all these systems and that it was trying (and perhaps succeeding?) to influence the election. Nothing in what I’m saying here is suggesting that’s not true. What I am concerned about is the evidence that’s presented to support that claim — mainly because I think we should all be terrified when we escalate situations based on secret info where the government just tells us to “trust us, we know.” And, yes, governments (including the US) have done this going back throughout history. That doesn’t make it right.

    • Allegations Against Russia Less Credible Every Day

      The U.S. government has now generated numerous news stories and released multiple “reports” aimed at persuading us that Vladimir Putin is to blame for Donald Trump becoming president. U.S. media has dutifully informed us that the case has been made. What has been made is the case for writing your own news coverage. The “reports” from the “intelligence community” are no lengthier than the New York Times and Washington Post articles about them. Why not just read the reports and cut out the middle-person?

      The New York Times calls the latest report “damning and surprisingly detailed” before later admitting in the same “news” article that the report “contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions.” A quick glance at the report itself would have made clear to you that it did not pretend to present a shred of evidence that Russia hacked emails or served as a source for WikiLeaks. Yet Congresswoman Barbara Lee declared the evidence in this evidence-free report “overwhelming.” What should progressives believe, the best Congresswoman we’ve got or our own lying eyes?

    • Europe’s Mixed Feelings About Trump

      European governments are nervous about a Trump presidency, but – for economic and other reasons – many on the Continent would welcome a friendlier approach toward Russia, reports Andrew Spannaus.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Congressman Appoints Himself Censor, Removes Painting Critical Of Cops From Congressional Halls

      Can’t get legislators off their asses to pass a budget in a timely manner or, I don’t know, step up to do anything about the DOJ’s Rule 41 changes, but you can count on them to apply long-dormant self-motivation to personal agendas.

      Rep. Hunter, offended on behalf of an entire nation unions offended on behalf of their members, saw to it that painting, which the police unions bitched at length about, was removed from the public eye. Not that there was any outrage shown by a majority of constituents, who most likely first heard about this painting after it was removed. Here’s the most offending part of the painting, as captured by the Independent Journal Review.

    • Freedom of expression and censorship

      “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” These are the dramatic opening lines of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s immensely powerful treatise “The Social Contract.” Freedom is the most fundamental pillar of democracy: in its absence democracy turns into autocracy.

      The French Revolution of 1789 made Liberty, Equality and Fraternity the most sacrosanct values of humanity. Any ruler or government that ensnared man away to a life of bondage has always met with perdition eventually. Their lives and reigns have been written in blood in the annals of history for posterity to remember them with derision and disdain.

    • Milo Yiannopoulos peddles hate. It’s not censorship to refuse to publish it

      A coalition of free speech organisations rallied together last week to defend Simon & Schuster’s choice to publish professional irritant Milo Yiannopoulos’s autobiography, Dangerous, saying that boycotting the book, as so many people have called for, would have “a chilling effect” on free speech.

      I’m sure that having his book (which hit the No 1 spot on Amazon’s pre-sale charts the day after it was announced) pulled from shelves or dropped from S&S would catapult it to even greater success at another publisher, but never mind. It’s clear that this coalition of organisations are standing up for what they believe in, and feel it is important to defend Yiannopoulos’ well-rehearsed right to speak his mind.

      Defending free speech often means finding yourself in the difficult position of having to defend people who say disgusting things. People who make jokes about rape; Holocaust deniers; straight-up racists. Though we might not like what these people say, it’s important that they’re allowed to say it. You can’t go around censoring people just because you don’t agree with them. If we can’t all express what we think, then we can’t talk to each other about our ideas. We can’t have a discussion; we can’t improve; we can’t function as a society.

    • From graphic live-streams to breast bans: A look back at Facebook’s problematic relationship with censorship

      As calls come for Facebook to crackdown on how it moderates Live posts, The Drum looks back at some of the challenges the social network has faced over the past year when it comes to self-censorship.

      At the end of last week Facebook faced mounting pressure to impose stricter measures on its Live video feature after allowing a disturbing video depicting torture to resurface on the site.

      Just days after being removed for violating the platform’s community standards, the video showing the attack of a young man with disabilities in Chicago resurfaced again within Facebook’s walls having been repackaged and re-uploaded by right wing news site the Daily Caller, attracting millions of new viewers.

    • Censorship in America: NYC Removes Birth Index Books from the Public Library

      New York City. The Statue of Liberty glistens in its harbor. The ultimate symbol of what this country stands for. Ellis Island is just a stone’s throw away – the gateway to America. The Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building, the hustle and bustle of busy, free New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. It’s the last place you would expect censorship. But that’s just what we got this past year when the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) decided to pull its Birth Index Books that were on loan to the New York Public Library (NYPL) in order to keep the public from viewing their contents.

      Genealogists lost a valuable resource that day. Adoptees who were born in New York City lost even more. The Birth Index Books contain information that may be key to their identities, something that most people take for granted, but what many adoptees yearn for and live painfully without. When I found my given name listed in the 1971 book a few years ago, I felt a sense of joy. There it was – a record of my truth. Something most people take for granted.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Russia gets LinkedIn banned on Android and iOS

      THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT is continuing to make it difficult for locals to use LinkedIn and has now ensured that the application is not available through either the Apple or the Google app stores.

      This is bad news for anyone in the country that hasn’t decided that they do not want to sign up to LinkedIn yet, but must be reassuring to a government that likes to stop people from communicating at times, and is really not keen on the business social network with more leaks than a colander.

    • FBI Releases A Stack Of Redactions In Response To FOIA Request For Info On Its Purchased iPhone Hack

      As the result of an FOIA lawsuit brought by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Vice, the FBI has finally released documents about the one-time iPhone exploit/hack it purchased from an unknown foreign vendor. Well, more accurately, the FBI released a bunch of paper with nearly nothing left unredacted, as USA Today’s Brad Heath pointed out multiple times on Twitter.

    • Why the UK is unlikely to get an adequacy determination post Brexit

      This article adds two reasons to why I think a post-Brexit UK is very unlikely to offer an adequate level of protection in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

      One reason relates to recent comments made by Prime Minister Theresa May about human rights. The other relates to the non-compliance of the national security agencies with their existing data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Riyadh, strike against non-payment of salaries: immigrants arrested and flogged

      A Saudi court has sentenced dozens of migrant workers to imprisonment and flogging, employees of the construction giant Binladin Group, for having gone on strike against non-payment of back wages.

      The Saudi press has not yet specified the nationality of the workers who were on strike over arrears in monthly salaries; the protests eventually escalated into street violence, which led to the arrests.

      The first to report the incident was Arab newspaper Al-Watan et Arab News, which, however, it did not clarify the nationality of migrant workers. Some diplomats contacted by AFP were unable (or unwilling) to clarify the affair, claiming to not know the details.

    • Work: it’s time for a new year’s revolution

      Feeling burned out in your work for peace and social justice? A new book provides essential guidance.

    • Young Black Men Still Predominant Victims of Police Violence

      Despite the protests, media scrutiny, and all around heightened national attention, young black men in 2016 continued to be the predominant victims of police violence in the United States.

      According to year-end figures published Sunday by the Guardian database The Counted, “[b]lack males aged 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers last year,” and were “killed at four times the rate of young white men.”

      Overall, the number police killings fell slightly—1,091 last year, according to the Guardian tally, from 1,146 in 2015—but the pattern of brutality has remained consistent.

    • Future Crimes

      There was a jaw dropping but not unexpected article at The Guardian this week. It was actually part of a series of pieces at that paper that have sought to manufacture a legacy for Obama, the outgoing president, since his actual legacy is one of imperialist foreign policy, CIA support of jihadists, right wing coups, and most acutely, perhaps, a massive subverting of free speech and civil liberties. What Robert Parry has called a ‘war on dissent’. The Guardian piece took the form of asking novelists, public intellectuals {sic} and TV hacks what they perceived to be Obama’s legacy — and even the use of that word, *legacy* is a loaded indicator of the direction this piece was headed. What struck me most was not the predictable support for Obama policy (more on that later) but the utter banality of the writing. There were writers in this group who I have admired (Richard Ford for one, Marilynne Robinson, as well) but the sentiments were so stupefyingly superficial, so fatuous and fawning that it was hard not to see this as a kind of mini referendum on the state of Western culture.

    • Obama Pardons: How Many Has Obama Made In 2016 And Since Taking Office? Will Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning Be Next?

      With less than two weeks remaining in his eight-year administration, President Barack Obama will be under heavy pressure from public advocacy groups to grant high-profile pardon decisions. But Obama has not been shy about granting pardons and commuting prison sentences, particularly as a lame duck president.

      Obama pardoned 78 people and commuted the sentences of 153 others Dec. 19, further cementing his legacy as the most generous grantor of clemency in modern presidential history.

      The Department of Justice official website says Obama has granted 148 presidential pardons in his time in office, a number that exceeds the combined total of the last six presidents. In 2016, he pardoned 82 federal inmates, more than his seven previous years combined. Most of the pardons have been for drug offenders.

    • The FBI Is Apparently Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Around In Computers For Evidence Of Criminal Activity

      Law enforcement has a number of informants working for it and the companies that already pay their paychecks, like UPS, for example. It also has a number of government employees working for the TSA, keeping their eyes peeled for “suspicious” amounts of cash it can swoop in and seize.

      Unsurprisingly, the FBI also has a number of paid informants. Some of these informants apparently work at Best Buy — Geek Squad by day, government informants by… well, also by day.

    • National Police Union President Says Asset Forfeiture Abuse Is A ‘Fake Issue’ Generated By The Media

      Chuck Canterbury, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, has been given an editorial megaphone over at the Daily Caller. Canterbury’s using this platform to defend the pretty much indefensible: civil asset forfeiture.

      Colloquially known as “cops going shopping for things they want,” asset forfeiture supposedly is used to take funds and property away from criminal organizations. In reality, it’s become an easy way for law enforcement to take the property of others without having to put much effort into justifying the seizures. In most states, convictions are not required, meaning supposed criminal suspects are free to go… but their property isn’t.

    • Prosecutors Looking Into $2 Field Drug Tests After Investigation, Figure Defense Attorneys Should Do All The Work

      The fallout from cheap field drug tests continues. The lab that does actual testing of seized substances for the Las Vegas PD had previously expressed its doubts about the field tests’ reliability, but nothing changed. Officers continued to use the tests and defendants continued to enter into plea bargains based on questionable evidence.

      The Las Vegas PD knew the tests were highly fallible. After all, the department had signed off on a report saying as much and handed it into the DOJ in exchange for federal grant money. But cops still used them and prosecutors still relied on them when pursuing convictions.

    • Parliamentary report: immigrants ‘should be made to learn English’ before arriving in the UK

      Following last month’s controversial report by Dame Louise Casey warning of “worrying” levels of segregation in the UK, an interim report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration has gone further to say that all immigrants should have either learnt English before coming to the UK, or be required to sign up to classes when they arrive.

      The All Party group described speaking English as a “prerequisite for meaningful engagement with most British people”. Labour MP, and chair of the group, Chuka Umunna has defended the report arguing that integration is a “two-way” street. He said that whilst there is a role for migrants there is also an obligation on Britain to fund English language classes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net Neutrality Hating, SOPA-Loving Marsha Blackburn Pegged To Chair Key Technology & Telecom Subcommittee

      If you were to sit down and consciously select a politician that best represents the stranglehold giant telecom companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have over the legislative process, you probably couldn’t find a better candidate than Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn. From her endless assault on net neutrality, to her defense of awful state protectionist laws written by ISP lobbyists, there has never been a moment when Ms. Blackburn hasn’t prioritized the rights of giant incumbent duopolists over the public she professes to serve.

      Blackburn has been fairly awful on technology policy in general, from her breathless support of SOPA to her claim that fair use is just a “buzzword” obscuring our desperate need for tougher copyright laws. As such, there should be little surprise that Blackburn has been selected to head the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The subcommittee tackles most of the pressing internet-related issues, with Blackburn replacing Oregon Representative Greg Walden.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Links 9/1/2017: Dell’s Latest XPS 13, GPD Pocket With GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Mac’s share falls to five-year low

    Net Applications pegged Linux’s user share at 2.2% in December, slightly off the 2.3% peak of November.

  • A 2016 retrospective

    In 2012, your editor predicted that LibreOffice would leave OpenOffice (which had been recently dumped into the Apache Software Foundation) in the dust. That prediction was accounted as a failure at the end of the year. Four years later, though, it has become clear that that is exactly what has happened. Your editor happily takes credit for having been a bit ahead of his time, while pointing to something shiny to distract you all from the fact that he didn’t see the issue coming to a head in 2016.

  • Desktop

    • Dell’s latest XPS 13 DE still delivers Linux in a svelte package

      Over the course of its four-year lifespan, Dell’s extremely popular XPS 13 Developer Edition line has become known for one thing—bringing a “just works” Linux experience to the company’s Ultrabooks.

      Of course, today Dell is just one of many manufacturers producing great Linux machines. System76 makes the Oryx Pro (still my top pick for anyone who needs massive power), and companies like Purism and ZaReason produce solid offerings that also work with Linux out of the box. Even hardware not explicitly made for Linux tends to work out of the box these days. I recently installed Fedora on a Sony Vaio and was shocked that the only problem I encountered was that the default trackpad configuration was terribly slow.

    • Meet the GPD Pocket, a 7-inch Ubuntu Laptop

      The GPD Pocket is a 7-inch laptop that’s small enough to fit in to a pocket — and it will apparently be available with Ubuntu!

      As reported on Liliputing, GPD (the company) is currently only showing off a few fancy renders right now, but as they have form for releasing other (similar) devices, like the GPD Win, and Android gaming portables, this is unlikely to be outright vapourware.

  • Kernel Space

    • SipHash Is Being Worked On For Further Security In The Linux Kernel

      Jason Donenfeld who has been working on the WireGuard secure network tunnel for Linux has also been working on another security enhancement: adding the SipHash PRF to the Linux kernel.

      Donenfeld is now up to his third version of patches for integrating the SipHash pseudorandom functions into the Linux kernel. For those wanting some background about SipHash, there is an explanation via Wikipedia while a lot more technical information can be found via this SipHash page.

    • Linux 4.10-rc3

      So after that very small rc2 due to the xmas break, we seem to be back
      to fairly normal. After a quiet period like that, I tend to expect a
      bigger chunk just because of pent up work, but I guess the short break
      there really was vacation for everybody, and so instead we’re just
      seeing normal rc behavior. It still feels a bit smaller than a usual
      rc3, but for the first real rc after the merge window (ie I’d compare
      it to a regular rc2), it’s fairly normal.

      The stats look textbook for the kernel: just under 2/3rds drivers,
      with almost half of the rest arch updates, and the rest being “misc”
      (mainly filesystems and networking).

      So nothing in particular stands out. You can get a flavor of the
      details from the appended shortlog, but even more importantly – you
      can go out and test.



    • Linux 4.10-rc3 Kernel Released

      Linux 4.10-rc3 is now available as the latest weekly update to the Linux 4.10 kernel.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces a Fairly Normal Third Linux 4.10 Release Candidate

      A few moments ago, Linus Torvalds made his Sunday evening announcement to inform us about the general availability of the third RC (Release Candidate) snapshot of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel.

      According to Linus Torvalds, things appear to be back to their normal state, and it looks like Linux kernel 4.10 RC3 is a fairly normal development release that consists of two-thirds updated drivers, and half of the remaining patch are improvements to various hardware architectures. There are also some minor networking and filesystems fixes.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9 Gets Its First Point Released, Updates Drivers and Filesystems

      We’ve been waiting for it, and it’s finally here! The first point release of the Linux 4.9 kernel was announced by Greg Kroah-Hartman this past weekend, which means that most modern GNU/Linux distribution can finally start migrating to the series.

      Yes, we’re talking about Linux kernel 4.9.1, the first of many maintenance updates to the Linux 4.9 kernel branch, which is now officially declared stable and ready for production. It’s also a major release that changes a total of 103 files, with 813 insertions and 400 deletions, according to the appended shortlog.

    • Benchmarks

      • Open-Source Nouveau Linux 4.10 + NvBoost vs. NVIDIA Proprietary Linux Driver Performance

        Earlier this week I posted some benchmarks showing the open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver performance on Linux 4.10 with the new NvBoost capability for finally being able to hit the “boost” clock frequencies with Kepler graphics cards when using this reverse-engineered driver. While the manual re-clocking and enabling NvBoost is able to increase the Nouveau driver’s performance, how do these results compare to using the closed-source NVIDIA Linux driver? These benchmarks answer that question.

      • 26-Way Intel/AMD CPU System Comparison With Ubuntu 16.10 + Linux 4.10 Kernel

        In preparation for Intel Kaby Lake socketed CPU benchmark results soon on Phoronix, the past number of days I have been re-tested many of the systems in our benchmark server room for comparing to the performance of the new Kaby Lake hardware. For those wanting to see how existing Intel and AMD systems compare when using Ubuntu 16.10 x86_64 and the latest Linux 4.10 Git kernel, here are those benchmarks ahead of our Kaby Lake Linux CPU reviews.

      • Xeon HD Graphics P530 With OpenGL & Vulkan On Mesa 13.1-dev + Linux 4.10

        It’s been quite a number of months since last trying out the HD Graphics P530 and thus while having a Xeon E3-1245 v5 running Ubuntu 16.10 + Linux 4.10 for some fresh benchmarks after changing out the motherboard, I figured I would see how the graphics performance for this Xeon CPU compares to the Core IVB / HSW / BDW / SKL results from yesterday.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Latest Cinnamon Release Lands in Antergos, but Read This Before Updating Python
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita 3.1.x Best Alternative To Photoshop for Ubuntu/Linux Mint

        Krita is a KDE program for sketching and painting, although it has image processing capabilities, offering an end–to–end solution for creating digital painting files from scratch by masters. Fields of painting that Krita explicitly supports are concept art, creation of comics and textures for rendering. Modelled on existing real-world painting materials and workflows, Krita supports creative working by getting out of the way and with a snappy response.

        Krita is the full-featured free digital painting studio for artists who want to create professional work from start to end. Krita is used by comic book artists, illustrators, concept artists, matte and texture painters and in the digital VFX industry. Krita is free software, licensed under the GNU Public License, version 2 or later.

      • KDE neon Now Available on Docker

        Our mission statement above is what we try to do and having continuous integration of KDE development and continuous deployment of packages is great, if you have KDE neon installed. You can test our code while it’s in development and get hold of it as soon as it’s out. But wait, what if you want to do both? You would need to install it twice on a virtual machine or dual boot, quite slow and cumbersome. Maybe you don’t want to use neon but you still want to test if that bug fix really worked.

        So today I’m announcing a beta of KDE neon on Docker. Docker containers are a lightweight way to create a virtual system running on top of your normal Linux install but with its own filesystem and other rules to stop it getting in the way of your OS. They are insanely popular now for server deployment but I think they work just as well for checking out desktop and other UI setups.

      • KDE Neon Goes Docker, Lets People Test Drive the Latest KDE Software Releases

        Ex-Kubuntu maintainer and renowned KDE developer Jonathan Riddell was proud to announce the availability of the KDE Neon operating system on Docker, the open-source application container engine.

        KDE Neon is currently the only GNU/Linux distribution allowing users to enjoy the newest KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment, as well as KDE Frameworks and Applications software suite as soon as they’re out. If you’re a bleeding-edge user and love KDE, then KDE Neon is the distro you need to use in 2017.

      • More focused Planet KDE posts

        My blog has been syndicated on Planet KDE and Planet Ubuntu for a long time, but sometimes topics I want to write about are not really relevant to these aggregators, so I either refrain from writing, or write anyway and end up feeling a bit guilty for spamming.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME, Wayland, and environment variables

        Your editor, who is normally not overly worried about operating-system upgrades, approached the Fedora 25 transition on his laptop with a fair amount of trepidation. This is the release that switches to using Wayland by default, pushing aside the X.org server we have been using for decades. Such a transition is bound to bring surprises, but the biggest surprise this time around was just how little breakage there is. There is one exception, though, that brings back some old questions about how GNOME is developed.

        The problematic change is simple enough to understand. While X sessions are started by way of a login shell in Fedora (even though the user never sees that shell directly), Wayland sessions do not involve a shell at all. As a result, the user’s .bash_profile and .bashrc files (or whichever initialization files their shell uses) are not read. The place where this omission is most readily noticed is in the definition of environment variables. Many applications will change their behavior based on configuration stored in the environment; all of that configuration vanishes under Wayland. It also seems that some users (xterm holdouts, for example) still run applications that use the old X resources configuration mechanism. Resources are normally set by running xrdb at login time; once again, that doesn’t happen if no login shell is run.

  • Distributions

    • What’s the best Linux distro for you?

      When it comes to desktop operating systems, there are three main camps into which people fall: Windows, Mac and Linux. In the case of the latter camp things can be confusing because there are endless distros to choose from — but which is best?

      The beauty of Linux is that it can be tweaked and tailored in so many ways. This means that while the plethora of choice can seem overwhelming, it is also possible to find the perfect distro for just about any scenario. To help you make the right choice, here’s a helpful list of the best distros to look out for in 2017.

    • What’s New in BlankOn X Tambora

      BlankOn X operating system finally launched at January 1st 2017 as the 10th release codenamed “Tambora”. BlankOn is a GNU/Linux distribution from Indonesia, a low-resource operating system with ultimate aim for desktop end-users. In this Tambora release, BlankOn brings the latest Manokwari desktop with improvements, along with its own BlankOn system installer, and some other stuffs. This Tambora release is a continuation of the BlankOn 9 release in 2014 named Suroboyo. This article sums up what’s new for BlankOn in this Tambora version.

    • This Year In Solus (2016 Edition)

      2016 was an incredible year for Solus. We went from having our first release in December of 2015, to completely switching to a rolling release model. We had multiple Solus releases, multiple Budgie releases, several rewrites of different components of Solus, ranging from the Installer to the Software Center. We introduced our native Steam runtime and improved both our state of statelessness as well as optimizations.

      When I first started talking about Solus at the beginning of 2016, I used the analogy that what we were building was the engine for our vehicle, one to deliver us to our goals for Solus. While we’re still building that engine, we’re in a drastically better shape than we were in 2016, and we’re more confident, and bolder, than ever.

    • Reviews

      • Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang – Aloha!

        Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang is a surprisingly and yet expectedly good Plasma system, using some of that Mint-like approach to home computing. It’s what Kubuntu should have been or should be, and it delivers a practical, out-of-the-box experience with a fine blend of software, fun and stability. That’s a very sensible approach.

        Not everything was perfect. Plasma has its bugs, the printer and the web cam issues need to be looked into, and on the aesthetics side, a few things can be polished and improved. The installer can benefit from having some extra safety mechanisms. But I guess that is the sum of my complaints. On the happy side, you get all the goodies from the start, the application collection is rich, the distro did not crash, and the performance is really decent for a Plasma beastling. A fine formula, and probably the best one we’ve seen in the last eighteen months or so. Good news if you like KDE. And indeed, this is definitely one of the distros you should try. 9/10. I’m quite pleased. Have a maui day.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro Linux receives update for new year.

        Manajro Linux recently released a new version of operating system but they also keep their package updated. So some time ago Manjaro team updated some packages and introduced new features to main distribution. According to official announcement new feature called Brisk-menu is introduced in MATE edition of Manajro which is actually developed by Solus team. Thunderbird received some security update, linux48 will soon upgrade to linux49. Broadcom-wl, calamares, fightgear and few Ruby packages are updated.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat releases latest version of CloudForms 4.2

        According to the vendor, the new Red Hat CloudForms will enable IT teams to increase service delivery while focusing on critical, business-impacting issues. The Red Hat CloudForms, based on the open source ManageIQ project, provides an advanced open source management platform for physical, virtual and cloud IT environments, including Linux containers. CloudForms helps IT organisations offer composable services through a self-service portal, managing the service lifecycle from provisioning to retirement. It can also define and enforce advanced compliance policies for new and existing IT environments, better enabling operators to optimise the costs of a given environment and system.

      • ​Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9 beta out now

        Yes, Red Hat’s forthcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.9 will come with stability and security improvements. That’s not the real news. The big story is it supports the next generation of cloud-native applications through an updated Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 base image.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Kernel 4.8.7 & Realtek Wireless – Fedora report

          A handful of weeks and hundreds of GB down the road, my Lenovo G50 machine is in a much better shape when spinning the kernel 4.8.7 than anything else before, but there are still situations where the network might drop down. This means I will need to reserve my previous observation, from the original report. Good but not perfect. Part of that Nirvana has gone back to Valhalla. Fedora 25 is the salvation you seek, though.

          Under ordinary circumstances, most people will probably not hit the issue, unless they have hundreds of idle HTTP connections that are slowly being closed, causing the driver to get a little confused. This could happen if you download like mad from the Web and then go calm. That’s why I said ordinary users, then again, Fedora and Manjaro folks aren’t really the Riders of the Gaussian. Still, something to look forward to being fixed eventually. Now that we have this 99% fix, the rest should be easy. More to come.

        • Fedora/EPEL Mirrormanager problems in Asia Pacific countries.

          We have been getting a lot of reports of people unable to get updates for EPEL or Fedora at various times. What people are seeing is that they will do a ‘yum update’ and it will give a long list of failures and quit. At this moment we seem to have pinpointed that most of the people having this problem are in various Asia Pacific nations (primarily Australia and Japan). The problem for both of these seems to be a lack of cross connects between networks.

          In the US, if you are on Comcast in say New Mexico and going to a server on Time Warner in North Carolina, your route is usually pretty direct. You will go from one network to various third party providers who will then send the packets the quickest path to the eventual server. If you use a visual grapher of locations, you even find that the path usually follows a linear path. [You might end up going to say California or Seattle first but that is only when Texas and Colorado cross connects are full.] Similarly in most European countries you also see a similar routing algorithm.

    • Debian Family

      • My Debian Activities in December 2016

        This month I marked 367 packages for accept and rejected 45 packages. This time I only sent 10 emails to maintainers asking questions.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The move to snap
          • TedPage: Snapping Unity8

            For the last little while we’ve been working to snap up Unity8. This is all part of the conversion from a system image based device to one that is entirely based on snaps. For the Ubuntu Phones we basically had a package layout with a system image and then Click packages on top of it.

          • We Never Said Ubuntu Phone Is Dead. Here’s What We Actually Wrote Line-by-Line

            I didn’t want to write this post but a lot of people are raging at us for writing an article we didn’t. So, join me as I go through we actually wrote, line-by-line.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Cinnamon 3.2.8 Desktop Out Now for Linux Mint 18.1 with Menu Applet Improvements

              Clement Lefebvre has published a new update of the beautiful, modern and responsive Cinnamon desktop environment, for the latest 3.2 stable series, of course, versioned 3.2.8.

              It’s been a little over two weeks since the Cinnamon 3.2 desktop environment received an update, and Cinnamon 3.2.8 is here to add many improvements to the Menu applet, which have all been contributed by Michael Webster. Among these, we can notice that the Menu applet is now capable of constructing only one context menu for recent files.

              Of course, this context menu can be re-used for other files as required, and we can’t help but notice that the Menu applet will no longer reconstruct recent files, just re-order, remove, or add them, if necessary. When refreshing the installed applications, the Menu applet won’t be very destructive.

            • Redesigning Bluetooth Settings

              At elementary, redesigns don’t necessarily happen purely as sketches or mockups and they may not even happen all at one time. Many times, we design iteratively in code, solving a single problem at a time. Recently we built out a new, native bluetooth settings pane to replace the one we inherited from GNOME. We took this time to review some of the problems we had with the design of this pane and see how we could do better. Pictured below is the bluetooth settings pane as available today in elementary OS Loki…

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Transpile And Run Python Code Into Go Program With Google’s Open Source ‘Grumpy’
  • Yelp Open-Sources Latest in Data Pipeline Project, Data Pipeline Client Library

    Services consume from the pipeline via the client library, and at Yelp feed into targets like Salesforce, RedShift and Marketo. The library reportedly handles Kafka topic names, encryption, and consumer partitioning. Centralizing service communications through a message broker while enforcing immutable schema versioning helps protect downstream consumers and is also a primary motivation behind the broader data pipeline initiative.

  • The importance of the press kit

    I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned about creating a press kit. This helped us spread the word about our recent FreeDOS 1.2 release, and it can help your open source software project to get more attention.

  • Events

    • Vault CFP deadline approaching

      The Vault Storage and Filesystems conference will be held March 22 and 23 in Cambridge, MA, USA, immediately after the Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. The call for presentations expires on January 14, and the conference organizers would really like to get a few more proposals in before then. Developers interested in speaking at a technical Linux event are encourage to sign up.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox “Reader Mode” and NoScript

        A couple of days ago I blogged about using Firefox’s “Delete Node” to make web pages more readable. In a subsequent Twitter discussion someone pointed out that if the goal is to make a web page’s content clearer, Firefox’s relatively new “Reader Mode” might be a better way.

  • BSD

    • Get your name in the relayd book

      There’s a long tradition amongst science fiction writers of selling bit parts in books in exchange for charity donations. It’s called tuckerization.

      I see no reason why science fiction writers should have all the fun.

      I need a sample user for the forthcoming book on OpenBSD’s httpd and relayd. This user gets referred to in the user authentication sections as well as on having users manage web sites. They will also get randomly called out whenever it makes sense to me.

      That sample user could be you.

      All it would cost is a donation to the OpenBSD Foundation.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Rcpp now used by 900 CRAN packages

      Today, Rcpp passed another milestone as 900 packages on CRAN now depend on it (as measured by Depends, Imports and LinkingTo declarations). The graph is on the left depicts the growth of Rcpp usage over time.


  • This Wand Remote makes couch surfing magical again

    I’ve seen the Kymera Magic Wand selling for as low as $60.00 on ebay and as much as $100.00 Amazon and I have to say it’s a treat every time I can avoid picking up my old remotes.

  • Science

    • The Death Of Expertise

      I am (or at least think I am) an expert. Not on everything, but in a particular area of human knowledge, specifically social science and public policy. When I say something on those subjects, I expect that my opinion holds more weight than that of most other people.

      I never thought those were particularly controversial statements. As it turns out, they’re plenty controversial. Today, any assertion of expertise produces an explosion of anger from certain quarters of the American public, who immediately complain that such claims are nothing more than fallacious “appeals to authority,” sure signs of dreadful “elitism,” and an obvious effort to use credentials to stifle the dialogue required by a “real” democracy.


      Universities, without doubt, have to own some of this mess. The idea of telling students that professors run the show and know better than they do strikes many students as something like uppity lip from the help, and so many profs don’t do it. (One of the greatest teachers I ever had, James Schall, once wrote many years ago that “students have obligations to teachers,” including “trust, docility, effort, and thinking,” an assertion that would produce howls of outrage from the entitled generations roaming campuses today.) As a result, many academic departments are boutiques, in which the professors are expected to be something like intellectual valets. This produces nothing but a delusion of intellectual adequacy in children who should be instructed, not catered to.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Almost No One Likes the GOP’s ‘Repeal and Delay’ Plan for Obamacare

      Since June 2009—before the Affordable Care Act even became law—congressional Republicans have promised to be weeks away from proposing their own blueprint for health-care reform. More than seven years later, House Speaker Paul Ryan still seems confused about whether his party does or does not have a plan ready to replace the ACA. “We already know what we’re replacing with. We’ve been extremely clear with what replace looks like,” Ryan insisted in an interview on Wednesday. The following day found him pleading with a reporter for more time. “We’re just beginning to put this together,” Ryan admitted.

      Regardless, Republicans are moving quickly to gut the ACA. Repeal will be the “first order of business” for the new administration, vice president–elect Mike Pence said on Wednesday after speaking to GOP lawmakers on the hill. That same day Senate Republicans began laying the groundwork for a budget maneuver that would allow them to roll back parts of the law with a simple 51-vote majority, thus skirting a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Despite the fast pace, the plan is remarkably shaky—not just in detail but also for the lack of political support behind it. Almost no one outside Congress thinks the GOP’s current strategy is a good idea, and even a few Republican lawmakers are getting skittish.

    • The Three Big Reasons Republicans Can’t Replace Obamacare

      Republicans are preparing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have promised to replace it with something that doesn’t leave more than 20 million Americans stranded without health insurance.

      But they still haven’t come up with a replacement. “We haven’t coalesced around a solution for six years,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton admitted last week. “Kicking the can down the road for a year or two years isn’t going to make it any easier to solve.“

      They won’t solve it. They can’t and won’t replace Obamacare, for three big reasons.

    • True British Values and the #NHScrisis

      The total amount thrown at the banks by the taxpayer to enable their casino banking scams and cocaine fuelled lifestyles to continue, was £1.16 trillion, courtesy of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. By one of life’s more meaningful coincidences, that is precisely ten times the annual budget of the NHS for the whole UK. Equally neatly, the latest contingency for quantitative easing announced by Mark Carney – money given directly to financial institutions by the central bank in exchange for junk – is £250 billion, which is precisely ten times the total hamstringing debts of the NHS.

    • A learning experience

      openDemocracy is a political discussion site so how could I end this contribution without some discussion of politics. Very shortly after I returned home I became involved in an interchange of emails with some American friends about the election of Trump and what has become known as Obama Care. Here is my response:

      When I discuss American politics and get to Obama care I often end up kind of dumbfounded like someone who has just been told that the moon is actually made of green cheese. I get the same feeling when watching Fox news on the same topic. Where do obviously intelligent people get such crazy ideas? And what do you say to them in reply? Well this is my reply now.

    • As more Southerners benefit from it, Medicaid expansion faces congressional death threats

      Date on which North Carolina’s newly sworn-in Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced he’d take executive action to expand Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor, under the Affordable Care Act: 1/4/2017

      Year in which North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law barring the executive branch from expanding Medicaid under ACA, complicating Cooper’s efforts: 2013

      Number of North Carolinians who could benefit from expansion of Medicaid, which in that state is currently available only to children, people with small children, or those who are pregnant, disabled, or in a nursing home: up to 600,000

      Amount of investment Medicaid expansion would bring to North Carolina: $2 billion to $4 billion

    • NY Nuke Plant to be Shuttered, But Will Cuomo Turn to Dirty Gas Instead?

      New York’s “dangerously decrepit” Indian Point nuclear power plant will officially shut down by April 2021, according to an agreement reached this week between the state and Entergy utility company.

      A source “with direct knowledge of the deal” told the New York Times that one reactor will “cease operations by April 2020, while the other must be closed by April 2021,” the paper reported on Friday.

      In recent years, radioactive tritium-contaminated water had been leaking from the aging Westchester County facility, which sits on the bank of the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of New York City, spurring calls for its closure from activists and concerned residents.

      Recognizing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s history of supporting New York’s upstate nuclear facilities, including a $7.6 billion bailout this August for four other plants, anti-nuclear campaigners reacted to the news with caution.

  • Security

    • 6 ways to secure air-gapped computers from data breaches

      How do you avoid this? Depending upon the nature of the data contained within the air-gapped system, you should only allow certain staff members access to the machine. This might require the machine to be locked away in your data center or in a secured room on the premises. If you don’t have a data center or a dedicated room that can be locked, house the computer in the office of a high-ranking employee.

    • Possibly Smart, Possibly Stupid, Idea Regarding Tor & Linux Distributions

      I will admit that I have not fully thought this through yet, so I am
      writing this in the hope that other folk will follow up, share their
      experiences and thoughts.

      So: I have installed a bunch of Tor systems in the past few months -
      CentOS, Ubuntu, Raspbian, Debian, OSX-via-Homebrew – and my abiding
      impression of the process is one of “friction”.

      Before getting down to details, I hate to have to cite this but I have been
      a coder and paid Unix sysadmin on/off since 1988, and I have worked on
      machines with “five nines” SLAs, and occasionally on boxes with uptimes of
      more than three years; have also built datacentres for Telcos, ISPs and
      built/setup dynamic provisioning solutions for huge cluster computing. The
      reason I mention this is not to brag, but to forestall

    • [Older] Introducing rkt’s ability to automatically detect privilege escalation attacks on containers

      Intel’s Clear Containers technology allows admins to benefit from the ease of container-based deployment without giving up the security of virtualization. For more than a year, rkt’s KVM stage1 has supported VM-based container isolation, but we can build more advanced security features atop it. Using introspection technology, we can automatically detect a wide range of privilege escalation attacks on containers and provide appropriate remediation, making it significantly more difficult for attackers to make a single compromised container the beachhead for an infrastructure-wide assault.

    • Diving back into coreboot development

      Let me first introduce myself: I’m Youness Alaoui, mostly known as KaKaRoTo, and I’m a Free/Libre Software enthusiast and developer. I’ve been hired by Purism to work on porting coreboot to the Librem laptops, as well as to try and tackle the Intel ME issue afterwards.

      I know many of you are very excited about the prospect of having coreboot running on your Librem and finally dropping the proprietary AMI BIOS that came with it. That’s why I’ll be posting reports here about progress I’m making—what I’ve done so far, and what is left to be done.

    • Web databases hit in ransom attacks

      Gigabytes of medical, payroll and other data held in MongoDB databases have been taken by attackers, say security researchers.

    • Why HTTPS for Everything?

      HTTPS enables privacy and integrity by default. It is going to be next big thing. The internet’s standards bodies, web browsers, major tech companies, and the internet community of practice have all come to understand that HTTPS should be the baseline for all web traffic. Ultimately, the goal of the internet community is to establish encryption as the norm, and to phase out unencrypted connections. Investing in HTTPS makes it faster, cheaper, and easier for everyone.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Those Times the NSA Hacked America’s Allies

      The hysteria about Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee servers and the phishing scam run on Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, is short on evidence and high in self-righteousness. Much of the report issued Friday was old boilerplate about the Russia Today cable channel, which proves nothing.

      My complaint is that American television news reports all this as if it is The First Time in History Anyone has Acted like This. But the head of the Republican Party in the early 1970s hired burglars to do the same thing– break into the Watergate building and get access to DNC documents in hopes of throwing an election. Dick Nixon even ordered a second break-in. And it took a long time for Republican members of Congress to come around to the idea that a crime had been committed; if it hadn’t been for the Supreme Court, Nixon might have served out his term.

    • Former CIA & NSA Officials Team Up To Debunk “Russian Hacking” Conspiracy Theory

      Two former high-ranking intelligence officers teamed in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun that ripped apart the Obama administration’s unproven claim that The Russians interfered with the U.S. election by way of hacking systems of the Democratic establishment to lock in Donald Trump’s win.

    • ‘US intel community lost professional discipline’: Ex-NSA tech director on ‘Russia hacking’ report

      The undisguised and clearly politically motivated report on the alleged 2016 US “election hack” displays a severe lack of “professional discipline” in the intelligence community, former NSA technical director and whistleblower William Edward Binney told RT.

    • The Same Officials Who Pushed the Iraq War Are Now Stirring Up Anti-Russia Hysteria

      The main U.S. intelligence official pushing claims that Russia hacked the Democratic party is James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence.

    • Senate Hearing on Russian Election Mischief Again Fails to Prove Anything

      The Russian hacking hysteria in the US media, and among parts of the public — especially liberal Democrats — is becoming increasingly embarrassing.

      Over and over we have been told that the government, whether in the form of the departing President Obama or unidentified “intelligence sources” cited in news reports, or statements by private security contractors with their vested interest in trying to show how vulnerable America’s (and the Democratic Party’s!) servers are, that they have solid evidence that the Russians hacked DNC emails and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, only for it to turn out to be more of the same innuendos, circumstantial “evidence,” suspicions, and inevitably ridiculous and embarrassing errors (like the Washington Post’s breathless and false story that the Russians had hacked the Vermont power grid and could shut off the heat during a cold snap).

    • Truck ramming kills 4 in Jerusalem

      A truck rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers who were disembarking from a bus in Jerusalem Sunday, killing four people and wounding 15 others, Israeli police and rescue services said.

      Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the truck veered off course and rammed into the group. She said the attacker was shot dead.

      The attack comes amid a more than yearlong wave of Palestinian shooting, stabbing and vehicular attacks against Israelis that has slowed of late. Sunday’s incident marks the first Israeli casualties in three months.

    • The Declassified Report on Russia’s Election Hacking Says Nothing New

      If you were on the edge of your seat, waiting for the US government to drop its much-anticipated report on Russian hacking operations against American targets and particularly targeting the 2016 presidential election, I’m really sorry to say, you’ll be truly disappointed.

    • It’s official: US election systems designated as critical

      The designation came the same day that US intelligence officials published an unclassified version of a report concluding that Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin directly ordered intelligence agencies to collect data from the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and other organizations. The agencies then oversaw an effort to discredit Clinton, the Democratic party, and the US democratic political process through “information operations,” according to the report, which was jointly written by the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the FBI.

    • Fear and Misunderstanding of Russia

      Much of America’s recent demonization of Russia relates to deep cultural and even religious differences between the two countries, requiring a deeper understanding of the other’s strengths and weaknesses, writes Paul Grenier.

    • Pushing for a Lucrative New Cold War

      The New Cold War promises untold riches for the Military-Industrial Complex, causing hawks inside the Obama administration to push for more hostilities with Russia, as in a Syrian case study dissected by Gareth Porter for Truthdig.


      When Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, spoke to reporters at a press briefing outside a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on the U.S. attack on Syrian troops, he asked rhetorically, “Who is in charge in Washington? The White House or the Pentagon?”

    • Hillary Clinton and the Installation of Authoritarian Right-Wing Regimes in the Americas

      Seven years after the Hillary-backed Honduran coup, Mrs. Clinton and the capitalist-imperial U.S. Deep State she has long served helped place the thin-skinned megalomaniac and right-wing quasi-fascist Donald Trump atop the executive branch of the world’s most powerful state.


      But what pre-existing “democracy” is Trump “taki[ng] control” of, exactly? It is well known and established that the United States’ political order is an abject corporate and financial plutocracy – an oligarchy of and for Wealthy Few. You don’t have to be a supposedly wild-eyed leftist radical to know this. Just ask the establishment liberal political scientists Martin Gilens (Princeton) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern). Over the past three plus decades, these leading academic researchers have determined, the U.S. political system has functioned as “an oligarchy,” where wealthy elites and their corporations “rule.” Examining data from more than 1,800 different policy initiatives in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Gilens and Page found that wealthy and well-connected elites consistently steer the direction of the country, regardless of and against the will of the U.S. majority and irrespective of which major party holds the White House and/or Congress. “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” Gilens and Page write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” As Gilens explained to the liberal online journal Talking Points Memo two years ago, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.” Such is the harsh reality of “really existing capitalist democracy” in the U.S., what Noam Chomsky has called “RECD, pronounced as ‘wrecked.’”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • UK at risk of Brexit ‘catastrophe’ warns Canadian trade expert

      Britain risks a “catastrophic” Brexit because the government is so dismissive of the concerns of trade experts, according to one of the figures behind the EU-Canada trade deal which took a decade to negotiate.

    • Koch Astroturf Army Cheers Union Busting in Kentucky

      On the first day that the Kentucky legislature got underway with a newly elected Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican governor, the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity group blew the whistle and legislators jumped to do their bidding.

      This week, the Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover rammed through the legislature three bills to break the back of unions and lower wages for highly-skilled construction workers.

      It was bare-knuckled partisan politics. “We can pretty much do whatever we want now!” crowed GOP Kentucky Rep. Jim DeCesare behind closed doors.

      You have only to look at Trump’s narrow victory in Rust Belt states to understand why the GOP is desperate to get rid of the Democratic Party’s boots on the ground.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • WikiLeaks, D.N.C. Hacks and Julian Assange’s Years-Old Vision

      At first blush, there’s a baffling, inside-out quality to Julian Assange’s latest star turn in our shambolic national story.

      He belongs in jail for “waging his war” against the United States by exposing its secrets, the conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity has said of him. An “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” Sarah Palin once called him.

      Yet last week brought the sight of Mr. Hannity speaking with Mr. Assange in glowing terms about “what drives him to expose government and media corruption” through Clinton campaign hacks that American intelligence has attributed to Russia. And Ms. Palin hailed him as a great truth teller, even apologizing for previous unpleasantries. (Cue sound of needle sliding across record album.)

    • Federal Judge Doesn’t Let Debate Commission Off Easy

      The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. heard oral arguments today in the lawsuit filed by Level the Playing Field (LPF) challenging the nonprofit status of the Commission on Presidential Debates, just under two weeks before President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office.

      LPF’s lead attorney, Alexandra Shapiro, provided extensive evidence, analysis, and historical background to support the plaintiffs’ claim that the Commission on Presidential Debates uses unfair criteria to keep competitive voices outside the two major parties out of presidential debates.

      Specifically, LPF takes issue with the 15% rule that requires candidates outside the Republican and Democratic Parties to poll at 15% in 5 national polls selected by the debate commission to gain entry into the debates.

      “The two parties have rigged the system… CPD board members are big funders to candidates and campaigns… and the 15% is an impossible threshold,” Shapiro said.

    • Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in last month of election, now claims it didn’t impact one voter

      President-elect Trump says that information published by Wikileaks, which the U.S. intelligence community says was hacked by Russia, had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign.

      ThinkProgress calculated the number by reviewing transcripts of Trump’s speeches, media appearances and debates over the last 30 days of the campaign.

      Trump talked extensively about Wikileaks in the final days of a campaign that was ultimately decided by just 100,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania combined.

    • How RT became the star of CIA, FBI & NSA’s anticlimactic ‘big reveal’

      The eagerly awaited Director Of National Intelligence’s (DNI) report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” didn’t need such a long winded title. They could have just called it: “We Really Don’t Like RT.”

      Almost every major western news outlet splashed this story. But it was probably the New York Times’ report which was the most amusing. America’s “paper of record” hailed the DNI’s homework as “damning and surprisingly detailed.” Then a few paragraphs later admitted the analysis contained no actual evidence.

    • CIA and NSA Veterans on Russia, Trump and Obama

      ABC reports: “Showdown at Trump Tower as President-Elect Set to Receive Intel Briefing.” Politico reports: “Pompeo’s confirmation hearing for CIA director set for Jan. 11.”


      Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years; he briefed the president’s daily brief one-on-one to President Reagan’s most senior national security officials from 1981-85.

    • Algorithm and Blues: Why Hillary’s Moneyball Strategy Failed

      When I wrote on election night that the Clinton campaign had forsaken class politics for “politics by algorithm,” I had no idea that they really had such an “app” or that they had named it after Lord Byron’s daughter, the brilliant Ada Lovelace, the real brains behind the first computer. (Ada would have run a better campaign.) Apparently, Clinton campaign gameboy Robbie Mook ran 500,000 simulations of the election on his Xbox. How many of them had 90,000 Michigan voters leaving their choice for president blank? How many results showed her losing the white women vote by 10 percent? How many showed the vote in union households split nearly 50-50?

      As we know from the Wikileaks dumps, Clintonian paranoia extended far beyond her decision to set up a private email server and began to infect the campaign itself. Nargiza Gafurova was an analytics specialist for one of the database companies doing contract work for the Clinton campaign. “Our company worked with her campaign on their data needs – they’ve been extremely secretive about the data and algorithms they use,” Gafurova told me. “Secrecy was so deep that we couldn’t help them effectively as they didn’t even tell us who they want to target.”

    • Barack Obama’s Neoliberal Legacy: Rightward Drift and Donald Trump

      In a parting shot near the end of his depressing, center-right presidency, Barack Obama wants the world to know that he would have defeated Donald Trump if the U.S. Constitution didn’t prevent him from running for a third term. It was a stab at Hillary Clinton as well as the president-elect.

      I suspect Obama is right. Like Bill Clinton, Obama is a much better fake-progressive, populism-manipulating campaigner than Hillary. Also like Bill, he has more outward charm, wit, charisma, and common touch than Mrs. Clinton. Plus, he’s a male in a still-sexist nation, and he would have had some very sharp election strategists on his side.

    • Resisting the Congressional Watchdog

      Not that political corruption doesn’t happen with divided government, but with Republicans controlling all three branches, the prospects for more Abramoff-type scandals rise, warn Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

    • The Dubious Case on Russian ‘Hacking’

      Mr. Trump’s skepticism is warranted not only by technical realities, but also by human ones, including the dramatis personae involved. Mr. Clapper has admitted giving Congress on March 12, 2013, false testimony regarding the extent of the National Security Agency’s collection of data on Americans. Four months later, after the Edward Snowden revelations, Mr. Clapper apologized to the Senate for testimony he admitted was “clearly erroneous.” That he is a survivor was already apparent by the way he landed on his feet after the intelligence debacle on Iraq.

      Mr. Clapper was a key player in facilitating the fraudulent intelligence. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put Mr. Clapper in charge of the analysis of satellite imagery, the best source for pinpointing the location of weapons of mass destruction — if any.


      Hack: When someone in a remote location electronically penetrates operating systems, firewalls or other cyber-protection systems and then extracts data. Our own considerable experience, plus the rich detail revealed by Edward Snowden, persuades us that, with NSA’s formidable trace capability, it can identify both sender and recipient of any and all data crossing the network.

      Leak: When someone physically takes data out of an organization — on a thumb drive, for example — and gives it to someone else, as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did. Leaking is the only way such data can be copied and removed with no electronic trace.

      Because NSA can trace exactly where and how any “hacked” emails from the Democratic National Committee or other servers were routed through the network, it is puzzling why NSA cannot produce hard evidence implicating the Russian government and WikiLeaks. Unless we are dealing with a leak from an insider, not a hack, as other reporting suggests. From a technical perspective alone, we are convinced that this is what happened.

      Lastly, the CIA is almost totally dependent on NSA for ground truth in this electronic arena. Given Mr. Clapper’s checkered record for accuracy in describing NSA activities, it is to be hoped that the director of NSA will join him for the briefing with Mr. Trump.

    • US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia ‘Hack’

      Repeating an accusation over and over again is not evidence that the accused is guilty, no matter how much “confidence” the accuser asserts about the conclusion. Nor is it evidence just to suggest that someone has a motive for doing something. Many conspiracy theories are built on the notion of “cui bono” – who benefits – without following up the supposed motive with facts.

    • The Trump Bubble

      Donald Trump has a plan for dealing with the stock market bubble. Make it bigger.

      Before the election candidate Trump blasted Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen for keeping interest rates too low for too long to keep the economy humming along while Obama was still in office. The president elect accused Yellen of being politically motivated suggesting that the Fed’s policies had put the country at risk of another stock market Crash like 2008.

      “If rates go up, you’re going to see something that’s not pretty,” Trump told Fox News in an interview in September. “It’s all a big bubble.”

      Yellen of course denied Trump’s claims saying, “We do not discuss politics at our meetings, and we do not take politics into account in our decisions.”

      As we shall see later in this article, Yellen was lying about the political role the Fed plays in setting policy, in fact, last week’s FOMC statement clearly establishes the Fed as basically a political institution that implements an agenda that serves a very small group of powerful constituents, the 1 percent. If serving the interests of one group over all of the others is not politics, than what is it?


      First of all, slashing taxes for the wealthy does not boost growth. We know that. It doesn’t work. Period.


      Trump’s tax plan will increase inequality by making the rich richer. He wants to reduce the top tax rate from 39.6% to 33% which means that people “making $3.7 million or more in a year, would receive $1 million in annual tax savings.” (USA Today) The plan is bad for the economy, bad for the deficits and bad for working people who will see more aggressive attacks on Social Security to make up for the losses in revenue.

    • Beyond ‘post-truth’: confronting the new reality

      We are told we are living in a “post truth” world in which fake news proliferates and the established news media, once a bastion of civil society and a pillar of democracy, has lost its influence. As we should expect, alarmist statements such as these, have one foot in fact and the other resting on a shifting foundation of clicks, likes and shares. Alarming headlines work better on social media but they also reduce complex ideas to a series of half understood slogans.

      Much is changing in the way in which we find and share news stories but these changes are a product of many factors. Some rest in national media systems, others are a product of technical changes and all are influenced by, or have an influence upon, the shifting geopolitical situation. Fake news is not responsible for the rise of right wing populism in Europe and America but it has certainly fed the fire.

      The decline of trust in the mainstream media is genuine but it is not global. In the Northern European countries, where commercialisation has been tempered by firm statutory intervention and clear professional conventions, trust is still relatively high. In the rampantly commercial systems of the UK and the USA trust has plummeted. The UK press has the lowest level of public trust of any European country (with higher levels for TV) while the US media has low levels of trust for both TV news and the press (Aarts, Fladmoe, & Strömbäck 2012).

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Snowden: “Right and Wrong is a very different standard from Legal and Illegal”

      There are times when you have tons of historical research lined up for a column about legal structures making bad assumptions based on facts that are no longer true, and then something just comes along that makes you wipe your desk and say “no. scrap all of this work. This. I need to post this, and I need to post this now.”

      Right now is such a time. The topic of cost structures of publishing in the 1800s will wait for another day (it’s already waited for over 200 years, after all).

      In this interview (cut courtesy of Fight for the Future), Edward Snowden does one of the things he excels at – he summarizes very complex topics in such an accessible way that he practically turns long legal debates into one soundbite.

    • Interview 1240 – Rick Falkvinge on Rule 41 and the New Online Order

      Rick Falkvinge, founder of the original pirate party and head of privacy at PrivateInternetAccess.com, joins us to discuss his recent article, “Today, the FBI becomes the enemy of every computer user and every IT security professional worldwide.” We dissect the new “Rule 41” that gives American law enforcement unprecedented leeway to break into any computer in the world, the implications this has for a world in which privacy is increasingly a thing of the past, and what people can do to protect themselves from the New Online Order of global FBI operations.

    • FBI Releases Documents Related to San Bernardino iPhone

      The FBI on Friday released 100 pages of heavily censored documents related to its agreement with an unidentified vendor to hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters, but it did not identify whom it paid to perform the work or how much it cost.

      The records were provided in response to a federal lawsuit filed against the FBI by The Associated Press, Vice Media and Gannett, the parent company of USA Today.

      The media organizations sued in September to learn how much the FBI paid and who it hired to break into the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people at a holiday gathering of county workers in December 2015. The FBI for weeks had maintained that only Apple Inc. could access the information on its phone, which was protected by encryption, but ultimately broke or bypassed Apple’s digital locks with the help of an unnamed third party.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Alleged Crackas With Attitude associate Justin Liverman signs plea deal

      Computer science student Justin Liverman, who was arrested by the FBI in September on suspicion of involvement with Crackas with Attitude (CWA), has signed a plea agreement. CWA claimed to have accessed emails from the AOL account of CIA Director John Brennan in late 2015, which were later published by WikiLeaks as the Brennan emails.

    • Malek Fahd: Islamic Council refuses to hand over land to school

      Australia’s peak administrative Islamic body is refusing to relinquish land being used by one of the state’s largest schools despite the potential for it to save the school from being shut down.

      The Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld the federal Department of Education’s decision to strip funding from the 2400 student school on Thursday after it found the school was operating for a profit through millions of dollars in inflated rent payments and loans made to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

    • Indigenous children at risk of forced religious conversion

      There is an alarming presence of forced religious conversion of indigenous children at the hands of radicals in Bandarban.

      Muslim fanatics seduce underprivileged families with scopes of a better education and lifestyle for their children, and forcefully convert the children in madrasas in Dhaka without their parents’ knowledge.

      Over the past seven years, police have rescued 72 children from this crime ring.

    • Trump and Sessions: Great for the Private Prison Industry, Terrible for Civil Rights

      Donald Trump’s victory has been nothing but good news for the private prison industry.

      The day after the election, shares of the two biggest private prison corporations — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — jumped 43 and 21 percent, respectively.

    • In Statehouses Won By Republicans, the First Move Is to Consolidate Power By Weakening Unions

      Republicans stormed to power in state elections across the country in November on a promise to take on the establishment and return government to the average citizen.

      But in state capitals where they gained control, they moved quickly to do something else entirely: They’ve consolidated their newfound power — and rewarded their corporate donors — by delivering death blows to a longtime enemy: organized labor.

      In Kentucky, Missouri, and New Hampshire, three states that flipped to unified Republican control, legislators have prioritized passing Right to Work, a law that quickly diminishes union power by allowing workers in unionized workplaces to withhold fees used to organize and advocate on their behalf.

      That might seem odd to voters who heard promises to “drain the swamp,” but its what Republican partisans and business lobbyists have been demanding for years.

    • Donald Trump’s Pick for Spy Chief Took Hard Line on Snowden, Guantanamo, and Torture

      In 2013, just one week after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden came forward as the source of documents revealing the global extent of the NSA’s mammoth surveillance regime, Coats penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal lambasting the disclosures and the ensuing media coverage.

      “Unfortunately, the Obama administration — especially of late — has fueled people’s distrust of government, which has made the reaction to Mr. Snowden’s leak far worse,” he wrote, pleading with his colleagues in Congress to stop “mischaracterizing” the surveillance programs Snowden exposed.

      Coats said the NSA’s programs, including its bulk collection of American telephone records, were “legal, constitutional and used under the strict oversight of all three branches of government” — though courts later disagreed, and Congress amended the law to end the American records collection program, as Snowden pointed out on Twitter on Thursday.

    • Pain and torture: state violence in Egypt

      After the coup of 2013, the practice of torture in Egypt has taken a qualitative shift to the worse.

      The use of torture and violence by the police is nothing new to Egypt; to the contrary, Mubarak was regularly condemned by various international human rights organizations for the use of torture and violence against political opponents and regular citizens who were unlucky enough to be arrested for petty crimes.

      However, after the coup of 2013 and the inauguration of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, this practice has taken new forms. There has been a proliferation of sexual violence against detainees including children, as well as an alarming increase in forced disappearances and torture.

      Some of the kidnapped reappear after a few months, others meet an unknown fate. The most prominent, and international example was the murder of Giulio Regeni, the Cambridge PhD student who was tortured to death and subjected to “animal like” violence for conducting research on the Egyptian labor movement. It is believed that the Egyptian security services were behind this heinous crime.

    • Alabama NAACP Not Backing Down After Jeff Sessions’ Office Lashes Out

      “We are trying to stop Jeff Sessions from becoming the Attorney General of the United States,” Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, told AlterNet over the phone. “We are not backing down at all.”

      Just days ago, Simelton was one of dozens who staged a sit-in at Sessions’ Mobile, Alabama office, an action timed to coincide with the onset of the 115th Congress. Media attention and support from across the country poured in.


      Sessions was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1986 as a federal judge, but rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee—some of them Republicans—on the grounds that he was too racist to serve.

    • Some initial thoughts before a Trump presidency

      The youth in the United States don’t support Trump; people of color in in the US don’t support Trump; the majority of women don’t support Trump. Those, like Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof, who now hail Trump as “their” President whom they do not want to see fail, are normalizing a stolen election. They are abdicating their responsibility as stewards of representative democracy.

    • Faux Real: What’s in Your Worldview?

      We had to know this was coming. It was always here, but now it can be seen more clearly through the unvarnished lens of protofascism. Retrenchment and revanchism arrive with a new pitchman, selling rollbacks disguised as opportunities and promising to reclaim that which has been lost after decades of social progress and cultural liberalization. This isn’t a “new normal” but rather an old one reemerging, and the only sort of normality it represents is that which is perversely defined by a type of mass insanity.

      Things have been heading in this direction for a long time now, but the pace obviously has accelerated in the digital age. The lamentations about the demise of truth and the advent of bogus “news” are legion, as are the observations about the omnipresence of technology and the implications thereof. But all this hasn’t happened to us — it has veritably been demanded. Obscured by the handwringing and finger-pointing is the deeper reality of a culture obsessed with on-demand indulgences, no matter the cost.

      This is a manifestation of convenient compartmentalization, as if what happens in one realm has no bearing on another. Mass consumption of artificial foods, infotainment tidbits, contrived “reality” fare, and “brain candy” is seen as innocuous or just a guilty pleasure if it’s even thought about at all. Yet when politics are shown to be dominated by artifice, and when sensationalism trumps responsible journalism, suddenly there are waves of consternation and disbelief. How could this happen? Well, how could it not.

    • Obama’s Propaganda Gift to Trump

      On December 23, 2016 Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a federal law that is passed every year. NDAA authorizes defense appropriations but it is also used as a Trojan horse to hide attacks on civil liberties. In 2011 the NDAA authorized indefinite detention of anyone deemed a terrorism suspect. Tucked inside this year’s NDAA was the passage of the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act which establishes the little known or discussed Global Engagement Center.

      The title seems benign enough until one reads its mission. “The purpose of the Center shall be to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

      In plain English, this act establishes an official propaganda arm of the United States government. Of course there has always been governmental coordination used to spread lies about American foreign policy. The government doesn’t even have to work very hard because the corporate media usually march in lock step and repeat their every claim uncritically. But these are dangerous times for the American hegemon. Its ability to continue exercising imperial control has been damaged by foreign governments successfully resisting its efforts and by the election of Donald Trump.

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