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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

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DecorWhat Else is New

  1. Links 01/02/2023: Stables Kernels and Upcoming COSMIC From System76

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  2. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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  3. Links 31/01/2023: Catchup Again, Wayland in Xfce 4.20

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  4. Links 31/01/2023: elementary OS 7

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  5. Intimidation Against Nitrux Development Team Upsets the Community and Makes the Media Less Trustworthy

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  6. Links 31/01/2023: GNOME 44 Wallpapers and Alpha

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  7. Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) and KU Leuven Boosting Americans and Cancellers of the Father of Free Software

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  8. Techrights in the Next 5 or 10 Years

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  9. 60 Days of Articles About Sirius 'Open Source' and the Long Road Ahead

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  10. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 30, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, January 30, 2023

  11. Taking Techrights to the Next Level in 2023

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  12. The ISO Delusion: When the Employer Doesn’t Realise That Outsourcing Clients' Passwords to LassPass After Security Breaches Is a Terrible Idea

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  13. Links 30/01/2023: Plasma Mobile 23.01 and GNU Taler 0.9.1

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  14. EPO Management Isn't Listening to Staff, It's Just Trying to Divide and Demoralise the Staff Instead

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  15. Links 30/01/2023: Coreboot 4.19 and Budgie 10.7

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  16. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 29, 2023

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  17. [Meme] With Superheroes Like These...

    Ever since the new managers arrived the talent has fled the company that falsely credits itself with "Open Source"

  18. Not Tolerating Proprietary 'Bossware' in the Workplace (or at Home in Case of Work-From-Home)

    The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.

  19. The ISO Delusion: A Stack of Proprietary Junk (Slack) Failing Miserably

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  20. Debian 11 on My Main Rig: So Far Mostly OK, But Missing Some Software From Debian 10

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  21. Stigmatising GNU/Linux for Not Withstanding Hardware Failures

    Nowadays "the news" is polluted with a lot of GNU/Linux-hostile nonsense; like with patents, the signal-to-noise ratio is appalling and here we deal with a poor 'report' about "Linux servers" failing to work

  22. Microsofters Inside Sirius 'Open Source'

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been employing incompetent managers for years — a sentiment shared among colleagues by the way; today we examine some glaring examples with redacted communications to prove it

  23. Links 29/01/2023: GNOME 43.3 Fixes and Lots About Games

    Links for the day

  24. The Hey Hype Machine

    "Hey Hype" or "Hey Hi" (AI) has been dominating the press lately and a lot of that seems to boil down to paid-for marketing; we need to understand what's truly going on and not be distracted by the substance-less hype

  25. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 28, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 28, 2023

  26. Unmasking AI

    A guest article by Andy Farnell

  27. The ISO Delusion/Sirius Corporation: A 'Tech' Company Run by Non-Technical People

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ was hiring people who brought to the company a culture of redundant tasks and unwanted, even hostile technology; today we continue to tell the story of a company run by the CEO whose friends and acquaintances did severe damage

  28. Links 28/01/2023: Lots of Catching Up (Had Hardware Crash)

    Links for the day

  29. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 27, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, January 27, 2023

  30. Microsoft DuckDuckGo Falls to Lowest Share in 2 Years After Being Widely Exposed as Microsoft Proxy, Fake 'Privacy'

    DuckDuckGo, according to this latest data from Statcounter, fell from about 0.71% to just 0.58%; all the gains have been lost amid scandals, such as widespread realisation that DuckDuckGo is a Microsoft informant, curated by Microsoft and hosted by Microsoft (Bing is meanwhile laying off many people, but the media isn’t covering that or barely bothers)

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