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01.11.17

Links 11/1/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.1, GitHub’s Atom 1.13

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Newest Linux Operating Systems and Who Should Try Them

    Linux operating systems (known as “distributions” or “distros”) have constant releases and updates, with some more substantial than others. Updates usually bring minor fixes and tweaks, but occasionally new distro releases or iterations can yield major changes.

    Picking the right distro depends on several factors. Whether it’s a fresh release or major update, check out these new Linux operating systems and who should try them.

  • Desktop

    • Fans of System76 Ubuntu Linux computers can win a trip to the company’s Denver headquarters

      “The last Superfan event was a resounding success, bringing together a wide range of Linux enthusiasts doing neat stuff with their System76 computers. Attendees included those working on Linux gaming content, a System76 Android app, tree-planting drones, and an open source personal assistant. During their time at the System76 headquarters the winners shared their feedback on current and future products, as well as joined the team for fun and games,” says System76.

    • Dell’s Latest Laptop is $100 Cheaper If You Buy It With Ubuntu

      Dell love Linux. That’s not a bit of marketing fluff designed to look good writ large on a conference banner, but actual, tangible fact.

      Today the company announced the immediate availability of the Dell Precision 3520 mobile workstation (that’s “professional laptop” to you and I).

      Better yet buyers can save over $100 by choosing Ubuntu 16.04 LTS pre-loaded instead of Windows 10 — now that’s what you call a deal!

    • From OSX to Ubuntu

      I didn’t debate this for days, I installed the latest available Ubuntu right away as it was the distribution I was using before moving to OSX (I even contributed to a book on it!). I was used to Debian-based systems and knew Ubuntu was still acclaimed for its ease of use and great hardware support. I wasn’t disappointed as on the X1 everything was recognized and operational right after the installation, including wifi, bluetooth and external display.

      I was greeted with the Unity desktop, which was disturbing as I was a Gnome user back in the days. Up to a point I installed the latter, though in its version 3 flavor, which was also new to me.

      I like Gnome3. It’s simple, configurable and made me feel productive fast. Though out of bad luck or skills and time to spend investigating, a few things were not working properly: fonts were huge in some apps and normal in others, external display couldn’t be configured to a different resolution and dpi ratio than my laptop’s, things like that. After a few weeks, I switched back to Unity, and I’m still happily using it today as it has nicely solved all the issues I had with Gnome (which I still like a lot though).

    • Swiss Data protection commissioner concludes Windows 10 investigation

      The FDPIC investigations revealed that data processing in connection with Windows 10 did not conform in every respect with the data protection legislation. The page layout and content on the ‘Quick access’ und ‘Customize settings’ pages failed to meet the transparency requirements in full. There was a lack of information on how long the transmitted data would be stored, on the content of browser data and on the content of feedback and diagnostic data. In addition, the users found it difficult during individual data processing operations to look up further information, e.g. from the relevant passages of the data privacy statement.

      In response, Microsoft made proposals to the FDPIC for rectifying these and other shortcomings, which the FDPIC assessed and amended. The modifications that have now been agreed will ensure that more precise information is provided on data processing. In addition, the new settings page will make it clear to users during the installation process that they must decide on and give their consent to the processing and transmission of data.

  • Server

    • SUSE Formalizes Container Strategy with a New Linux Distro, MicroOS

      Arguably, CoreOS Linux could be called the first Linux-based operating system designed for cluster computing, containers/microservices. Even if CoreOS Linux (since renamed “Container Linux“) had its roots in the traditional Linux OS, it offered a new approach towards operating systems: One of the most significant features of Container Linux is transitional upgrades that keep the system up-to-date without user intervention.

    • Container Revenue Growing to $2.7B by 2020

      The market for application containers, largely led by the open-source Docker container engine, has been a hot area in recent years, at least in terms of mindshare – but how much money is there in the container market? A new forecast from 451 Research aims to answer that question.

      According to 451 Research, the market for application container technologies in 2016 generated $762 million in revenue. Looking forward to 2020, 451 Research is forecasting that 2020 revenue will reach $2.7 billion for a 40 percent compound annual growth rate.

      The upward revenue growth trajectory for application containers is not a surprise given some of the current adoption trends. 451 Research conducted a study in April and May 2016 that found 14 percent of surveyed organizations were using Docker containers in production. Additionally nearly 31 percent of surveyed organizations indicated they were piloting or evaluating Docker containers.

    • Kubernetes Helps Comcast Re-Engineer Cable TV

      Comcast cable is undergoing a major technical shift. The company is moving away from an always-on transmission of every single channel to every single customer, with the signal converted on either end by a piece of proprietary hardware, which is how cable has worked for decades. The new system is IP-based, on-demand streaming model where channel signal is sent only when requested by the user, explained Erik St. Martin, a systems architect at Comcast, at CloudNativeCon in November.

    • Keynote: Kubernetes: As Seen On TV by Erik St. Martin, Systems Architect, Comcast
    • IHS Markit: 70% of Carriers Will Deploy CORD in the Central Office

      The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD) combines network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) to bring data center economics and cloud agility to the telco central office. CORD garnered so much attention in 2016 that its originator — On.Lab‘s Open Network Operating System (ONOS) — established CORD as a separate open source entity. And non-telcos have joined the open source group, including Google and Comcast.

    • Linux Consolidates Support For Beast IV
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.41 LTS Introduces Nouveau, Radeon, and PowerPC Improvements

      Greg Kroah-Hartman is on a roll, and he shows no signs of stopping delivering new maintenance updates for latest Linux kernels. After announcing the end of life for the Linux 4.8 kernel series, he’s now reporting on the Linux 4.4.41 LTS kernel.

      Linux 4.4 is a long-term supported branch, currently used by Canonical in its Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system (sadly, it will be replaced by Linux 4.8 when Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS launches on January 19, 2017), as well as various other operating systems, including the popular Alpine Linux and Arch Linux distributions.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.2 Improves Support for AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series, Dell XPS 17

      The Linux kernel is seeing a lot of improvements lately, yes again, and the newest stable Linux 4.9 series has already received its second point release, two days after Greg Kroah-Hartman’s announcement for Linux kernel 4.9.1.

      With the availability of Linux kernel 4.9.1, users are now finally able to migrate from other kernel series to Linux 4.9, which is the most advanced version available on the market. But do not bother do attempt a compilation of Linux kernel 4.9.1 because Linux kernel 4.9.2 is already here, bringing lots of improvements.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel’s ANV Vulkan Driver Now Supports Tessellation Shaders

        In addition to Mesa’s “ANV” Intel Vulkan driver getting Float64 shader support this week, another important addition has made it into the latest Mesa Git code.

        Tessellation control and evaluation shaders are now supported within Intel’s ANV Vulkan driver. Obviously the Intel Mesa OpenGL driver had been supporting tessellation shaders for a while now, but up until now they weren’t supported by the company’s open-source Vulkan driver.

      • NVIDIA Publishes VkHLF Framework For Vulkan
      • It’s Getting Close Whether The OpenGL On-Disk Shader Cache Will Happen For Mesa 17.0

        While a lot of OpenGL improvements, Vulkan driver advancements, and performance optimizations can be found in Mesa Git for the forthcoming release as Mesa 17.0, one big feature that’s still missing as of today is the OpenGL on-disk shader cache.

      • X.Org Server 1.19.1 Released

        X.Org Server 1.19.1 was released today with a couple regression fixes.

        X.Org Server 1.19 was released last November as the first xorg-server major release in one year. Arriving today is the first point release, but it’s on the lighter side even with two months having passed.

      • [ANNOUNCE] xorg-server 1.19.1

        First stable 1.19 release, including a few regression fixes. Thanks to all who contributed!

      • Mesa 13.1.0 Branch Is No More, Mesa 17.0.0 to Land in the First Week of February

        Collabora’s Emil Velikov is officially announcing today, January 11, 2017, that the upcoming Mesa 13.1.0 branch of the widely-used 3D graphics stack will change its versioning scheme to Mesa 17.0.0.

        Those of you bleeding-edgers who are using the Mesa 3D Graphics Library from Git, a.k.a. the development (unstable) branch of the graphics stack used in numerous GNU/Linux distributions to provide various open-source drivers for Intel, AMD, and Nvidia graphics cards, should have already noticed the major change.

        Mesa 13.1.0 is now known as Mesa 17.0.0 if you pull the latest code from Git, which the Padoka and Oibaf PPA do for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) platforms. It appears that the Mesa people decided to change the versioning scheme at the beginning of a new year, so now being 2017, here comes Mesa 17.0.0.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel vs. Modesetting X.Org DDX Performance Impact

        With word of Fedora switching away from using the Intel X.Org driver in favor of the generic xf86-video-modesetting driver, following in the steps laid by Debian/Ubuntu, there is fresh discussions over features and any performance impact of xf86-video-modesetting vs. xf86-video-intel DDX drivers. As such, here are some fresh 2D and 3D benchmarks.

      • Kaby Lake On Linux Plays Much Better With CPUFreq Than P-State

        After ordering a Core i5 7600K Kaby Lake CPU last week, I’ve been spending the past few days trying it out under Ubuntu Linux. If you happened to pick up an early Kaby Lake CPU and seeing low performance, I wanted to pass along a little PSA while I am still working on additional tests.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Neon Invites Users to Test Drive the Latest Wayland ISO with KDE Plasma 5.9

        Jonathan Riddell is continuing to improve the KDE Neon Linux distribution with the latest Open Source software and GNU/Linux technologies, and he had the pleasure to announce the availability of a new development version of KDE Neon Developer Edition.

        Tomorrow, we should be able to get our hands on the Beta release of the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment, but KDE Neon users can already test drive it if they download the new KDE Neon Developer Unstable Edition operating system, which also switches to the next-generation Wayland display server.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Gaming Handheld

        Recently I got myself a GPD Win, to make it simple it’s a PC in a Nintendo 3DS XL form factor, with a keyboard and a game controller. It comes with Windows 10 and many not too demanding games work perfectly on it: it’s perfect to run indie games from Steam and for retro consoles emulation.

      • Dark title bars for apps with dark UI

        I really like the polished look of GNOME and its default theme Adwaita, but there is one thing that has been bugging me for some time. By default server side window decorations are light and if an app has a dark UI and uses a server side window decorations, you get a dark window with a light title bar. It doesn’t look every nice and when you maximize the window, it’ll get even worse because you get a nice black-and-white hamburger (black top bar, light title bar, and dark window content).

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Pi, Newest Linuxes, openSUSE on GPD Win

        There were several articles on portable Linux and devices today. Jamie Watson test drove the openSUSE, SUSE, and Tumbleweed for the Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, he didn’t have as much fun as anticipated with those tests. Speaking of openSUSE, Adrien Plazas is working on getting openSUSE installed and operative on the GPD Win gaming handheld that looks like a tiny laptop. Joey Sneddon reported today on the availability and price of the newest Dell Ubuntu mobile workstation and Scott Gilbertson reviewed the XPS 13. Finally, Brian Fagioli reported on System76′s latest Superfan contest where users can win a trip to company headquarters in Denver.

      • Mesa, Kernel, Wireshark update in Tumbleweed Snapshots

        There were plenty of Tumbleweed snapshots leading up to the holiday season and openSUSE’s rolling release is gliding into 2017 with several new packages on the horizon.

        The last snapshot of 2016, 20161226, updated the Linux Kernel to 4.9, which was a good way to end the year. Several packages were updated in the snapshot including Python3-setuptools to version 31.0.0, gnome-online-accounts 3.22.3, NetworkManager 1.4.4 and yast2-network 3.2.17.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • ExLight Lets You Create Your Own Ubuntu with Enlightenment 0.20 and Linux 4.9

          Arne Exton informs us about a new release of his Ubuntu/Debian-based ExLight 64-bit Live Linux operating system, bringing us some of the latest technologies and open-source software projects.

          Based on Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) and borrowing various components from both the Debian Stable and Testing repositories, ExLight Build 170105 is now the most advanced version of the GNU/Linux distribution, shipping with a custom Linux 4.9 kernel injected with support for all the modern hardware and the Enlightenment 0.20.99.0 desktop.

          These days, almost all of Arne Exton’s GNU/Linux distributions come pre-installed with the Refracta tools, an open-source utility that lets users create their own live system with few mouse clicks, and ExLight Build 170105 is no different. It allows you to build your own Ubuntu live system in minutes.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why Open Source is Rising Up the Networking Stack in 2017

    With 2016 behind us, we can reflect on a landmark year where open source migrated up the stack. As a result a new breed of open service orchestration projects were announced, including ECOMP, OSM, OpenBaton, and The Linux Foundation project OPEN-O, among them. While the scope varies between orchestrating Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) in a Cloud Data Center, and more comprehensive end-to-end service delivery platforms, the new open service orchestration initiatives enable carriers and cable operators to automate end-to-end service delivery, ultimately minimizing the software development required for new services.

  • Events

    • January 2017 PyLadies Pune meetup

      Like many of the previous PyLadies Pune meetups, I took a session in this month’s meetup too. System programming basics was the topic for my session. We did the session for around an hour, but as this month’s session also had a guest session over hangout, we could not go longer. We will do a full day workshop on the same topic in future.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Missing from the Trump Cabinet Nominee Hearings: Cybersecurity for Everyday Internet Users

        Protecting users’ privacy and security online is a crucial issue for all of us. Security protects elections, economies and our private online and offline lives. And many recent events (cyber attacks, hacks and threats by foreign governments) show that a secure Internet is currently under threat.

        I recently wrote about how cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Governments, technology companies and users need to work together to strengthen cybersecurity. Mozilla knows that even one weak link — be it technical or legislative — can break the chain of security and put Internet users at risk. The chain only remains strong if technology companies, governments and users work together to keep the Internet as secure as it can be.

        You can help Mozilla stand up for a more secure Internet. We’re asking readers to pen a Letter to the Editor to their local newspaper in response to this week’s Senate hearings, and support personal security and privacy online. Get started here.

  • CMS

    • Open Web Development and Content Creation Tools Proliferate

      If you’re involved with DevOps and web development, you’re probably very aware of many of the tools from the open standards and open source arenas that can make your work easier. Still, these are always spreading out at a fast clip and there are some applications and tools that are rarely discussed. Here at OStatic, we try to regularly update our collections focused on them. In this post, you’ll find numerous and updated free resources for web development that range from complete online courses available for free to unsung applications.

  • Non-software

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSFE Annual Report 2016

      It has been a busy year for the FSFE. Upholding the principles of Free Software and protecting citizens’ from being exploited are ongoing challenges we tackled from a variety of angles. We (and by “we”, we mean the staff and volunteers at the FSFE) pored over hundreds of pages of policies and legislations, looking for loopholes through which Free Software could be attacked.

      We travelled to events all over Europe, often carrying with us dozens of heavy boxes of merchandising, to explain what Free Software is all about as speakers and attendees. We have organised our own events too including our first international summit.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • 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.

        A little over a month ago, startup SiFive announced a milestone product in the development of the RISC-V (pronounced risk-five) open source microprocessor instruction set architecture (ISA). Originally developed for research and education, the architecture began moving toward industry implementation with the creation of the RISC-V Foundation in 2015. SiFive advanced that movement by developing a microcontroller design implementing the RISC-V ISA. The company has now proven that design in silicon and donated the RTL code for the design to the open source community.

      • A $12,000 open-source hardware platform to develop electric vehicles

        The automotive industry has always been capital-intensive and therefore, it has often been difficult for startups to carve themselves a space in it. But the electric vehicle revolution is disrupting the industry enough that it is opening up opportunities for startups to accelerate the pace of innovation.

        OSVehicle, a company based in Italia, is trying to help them to just that with their new platform.

        They released the second generation of the TABBY EVO, an open-source hardware platform to develop electric vehicles and electric vehicle parts. The platform enables companies or individuals wishing to develop parts for electric vehicles, or even full EVs, to leapfrog some of the development and test the parts in an open platform.

      • Renault will release its Twizy EV hardware system as an opensource platform

        The Renault POM represents the first foray by a big automaker into truly open-sourcing its vehicle platform.

      • Renault announces partners for open-source electric-vehicle platform
  • Programming/Development

    • How to choose your first programming language

      The reasons for learning to program are as a varied as the people who want to learn. You might have a program you want to make, or maybe you just want to jump in. So, before choosing your first programming language, ask yourself: Where do you want that program to run? What do you want that program to do?

    • Go 1.8 Baking Garbage Collector Improvements, Lower Cgo Overhead

      The first release candidate of Google’s Go 1.8 programming language is now available ahead of the official launch expected next month.

      Go 1.8 now has 32-bit MIPS LE/BE Linux support, this will be the last release with Linux ARMv5E/ARMv6 support (Go 1.9 will likely still support though the ARMv6K for the RPi1), the Assembler supports more instructions, the new 64-bit x86 back-end is now much more mature, and there are a variety of library changes.

    • The difference between development and deployment

      One possibility is that tools like version control systems were not designed to be used in production environments. For example, giving someone permission to push to the testing branch but not the production branch is not possible. The most common objection to this scheme is that if a vulnerability were discovered, you would want to mark certain commits as inaccessible. This would be another case of finer grained permissions; developers would have read access to all commits, but external users would not. We might need some additional engineering for existing tools to support this paradigm, but the features are easily understood and have been engineered into other software artifacts. For example, Linux (or PostgreSQL) implements the idea of fine grained permissions for different users.

    • Fedora 26 Likely To Receive GCC 7, Other Changes Still Being Devised

      Fedora 26 will likely be using GCC 7 as its default compiler.

      This shouldn’t come as a big surprise since Fedora usually always ships with the latest stable GNU Compiler Collection release. GCC 7.1, the first stable GCC 7 version, should be out in late March or early April while it’s just about in the final state of development and could allow GCC 7 being added to F26/Rawhide very soon.

    • A Look At The New Features Coming To GNU C Library 2.25

      Three weeks from today should mark a new release of the GNU C Library, glibc 2.25, and it’s coming with many feature additions.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Self-driving trucks will soon haul cargo between shipping terminals in Singapore

      Singapore’s shipping ports are already among the busiest and most efficient in the world. Now the city-state is exploring a new way to make them run even better: convoys of driverless trucks operating between terminals. The idea is that a lead truck will be driven by a human, with the follower vehicles being automated.

      This week, authorities signed agreements (pdf) with two truck makers with strong track records in self-driving technology— Sweden’s Scania and Japan’s Toyota Tsusho—to work on the project. In the first phase, lasting about a year and starting this month, each company will design, develop, and test a truck platooning system in their respective countries. In the second, one company will be chosen for local trials on a 10 km (6.2 miles) stretch of Singapore’s West Coast Highway, hauling cargo between the Brani and Pasir Panjang terminals.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • NHS conditions worst ever, say leading nurses

      Nurses say conditions in the NHS are the worst they have experienced, the Royal College of Nursing has said.

      In a separate move, 50 leading doctors have warned the prime minster in a letter that lives are being put at risk due to mounting pressures on the NHS.

      Charities working with elderly people said long-term solutions were needed, with a similar call from a group of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs.

      Health officials said they were investing more in care.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Indonesian military commander sacked for training Islamic hardliners with soldiers

      The photos posted on the website of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) show the group’s members participating in a boot camp with members of the Indonesian Armed Forces.

      The FPI is a hardline group that wants the imposition of Sharia law across Indonesia, and has been campaigning against Indonesian minority groups, like Chinese Christians.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange Just Read Out a Bitcoin Block Hash to Prove He Was Alive

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange used data from the blockchain as a “proof of life” during a Reddit ask-me-anything session today.

      For months, some of Assange’s ardent Internet fans have been theorizing that he had died. However, Assange responded in a livestreamed talk, calling the theories “silly” and confirming that the video wasn’t prerecorded by reading off the most recent block hash (a string of letters and numbers, unique to block 447506 on the bitcoin blockchain).

    • Bitcoin’s Blockchain is Public and Immutable

      There had been some speculation that Mr. Assange was dead or lost control of his online identity. Instead of holding up today’s newspaper, as might have happened historically, the Australia-native used the blockchain technology to prove he is alive, contained at the Ecuadorian embassy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Explanation of the Figures in Grim Reaping

      This explains how the rough estimates of the area occupied by sheep in the UK were derived.

      By George Monbiot, published on monbiot.com, 11th January 2017.

      The total average consumption of lamb and mutton in the UK, both in and out of the home, is, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, 5.0kg per person per year.

      100g of lamb contains approximately 294kcal.

      So approximate annual average calorie intake from lamb is 14,700kcal. Annual average total calorie intake per person in the UK is approximately 1,250,000 kcal. Therefore lamb provides roughly 1.18% of our calories.

      Imports and exports are almost exactly balanced.

      The UK’s total cropped area is easy to come by. It is given by the government as 4,722,000 hectares. But there are no comparable figures for sheep grazing.

    • ExxonMobil and Iran did business under secretary of State nominee Tillerson

      ExxonMobil did business with Iran, Syria and Sudan through a European subsidiary while President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State was a top executive of the oil giant and those countries were under U.S. sanctions as state sponsors of terrorism, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show.

      That business connection is likely to surface Wednesday at a confirmation hearing for ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

      The sales were conducted in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by Infineum, in which ExxonMobil owned a 50% share, according to SEC documents unearthed by American Bridge, a Democratic research group.

    • Selling off the bank I founded could be the final nail for green Conservatism

      One of the enduring achievements of the coalition government – an achievement that had and has strong all-party support – is the green investment bank. Since its creation in 2012 it has built a reputation for financially sound investments in green projects, and is recognised, inside and outside government, to be a success story that’s being copied elsewhere. Yet it is at risk of being broken up and destroyed, with its green purpose lost.

      The idea for the bank was conceived in the wake of the financial crisis, and sought to address the lack of long-term finance for projects that have both commercial and environmental value. David Cameron was at that time passing through a green phase and his ministers were supportive. My Liberal Democrat colleagues were enthusiastic and I was charged with establishing the bank in the Department of Business. The only controversy was the scale of ambition. Some of us wanted the bank to have borrowing powers, but this ran into implacable Treasury opposition, and so the bank was launched with £2bn of government equity capital, aiming to attract private investment alongside this. Despite some opposition from the London banking community, I made the decision to locate the bank in Edinburgh.

    • MPs tell Theresa May to halt sale of Green Investment Bank

      Theresa May has been urged to stop the Green Investment Bank being “killed off” by a sale to private firm Macquarie, amid fears the assets will be stripped and its environmental purpose abandoned.

      MPs from across the parties raised concerns about the proposed sale in the House of Commons, after Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green party, called a debate arguing the whole process should be stopped.

  • Finance

    • The politically unstable past of Africa’s fastest-growing economy is threatening its future

      From the fancy French-style cafes to the fancy malls of capital city Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire has been a picture of economic stability and rapid growth in recent years. But the political instability that returned to the West African country this month could easily see it lose its position as Africa’s fastest growing economy.

      Investors would have been unnerved by a 48-hour mutiny within the fragmented Ivorian army that threatens the economic prosperity the country has built since the 2011 post-election conflict.

    • Please Write to MEPs on the ENVI Committee About CETA *Today*

      There’s an important vote by MEPs on the ENVI committee tomorrow about CETA, the trade deal between the EU and Canada. Background on why CETA is so bad for the environment is available, as is a list of all MEPs on the ENVI committee. If one of them is your MEP, please write to them *today* – the vote is tomorrow.

    • Tell us about that $1m horse, Mr Samsung: Bribery probe slips deep into South Korean giant

      The heir-apparent of Samsung has been pulled into the bribery scandal that sparked the impeachment of South Korea’s president.

      Lee Jae-yong has been ordered by special prosecutors to answer questions about the enormous donations made by Samsung to a number of foundations run by a close associate of President Park Geun-hye, Choi Soon-sil.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI

      Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

      The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were “unverified and potentially unverifiable”.

    • Michael Cohen: ‘It Is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump’

      Donald Trump and his lawyer on Tuesday night denied allegations in an explosive, unverified dossier that describes a purported Russian operation to compromise Trump.

      Trump tweeted that the document, which was referred to in a CNN report and later published in full on BuzzFeed News, was “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

      Trump was reacting to allegations in a memo originating from research reportedly compiled by a former British intelligence officer that purports to show that the Russian government has compromising information on Trump.

    • US Government Tries and Fails to Play Media Critic on RT

      The much-anticipated Office of the Director of Intelligence (DNI) Report—the combined assessment of the CIA, FBI, DHS and others—on alleged attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 election was released on Friday to a combination of uncritical boosting and underwhelmed perplexity. To many, it was further proof of Russia’s involvement in the DNC and Podesta hacks; to others–even to typically bullish Daily Beast–it was remarkably thin on details and evidence.

    • CIA, FBI and NSA produce joint report, jointly prove nothing

      The recent hysteria surrounding Russia’s alleged interference with the November presidential elections saw another episode after an intelligence report, jointly elaborated by the CIA, FBI and NSA, was released on Friday, January 6th.

      After weeks of bombshell headlines based on statements from anonymous intelligence officials, western media finally had an official intelligence report to support their bombshell headlines. Unsurprisingly, all headlines look very similar, with the Guardian even changing the title of their main story after realising it was not menacing enough.

    • Hacking accusations turn intelligence into propaganda

      The outgoing Obama administration apparently isn’t quite finished politicizing intelligence for the purpose of propaganda.

      With his final term coming to an end, U.S. President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to address a “national emergency with respect to significant malicious cyber-enabled activities.” The order sanctions Russia’s military and foreign intelligence agencies and their senior officials, three Russian technology companies, and two alleged hackers of Russian and Latvian citizenship. The order also calls for the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, who were given 72 hours to leave the U.S. The take-home message, dutifully conveyed in the press and now widely accepted as gospel, is that Russia hacked the American election.

    • News debate on Russian “hacking” allegations

      On 9 January RT hosted a live streamed debate on its news show about the US intelligence report that attempted to prove that Russia had “hacked” the US election.

      Also in the debate were former CIA Director, James Woolsey, and former CIA intelligence officer, Larry Johnson.

    • In stark farewell, Obama warns of threat to U. S. democracy

      President Obama used his farewell speech here on Tuesday to outline the gathering threats to American democracy and press a more optimistic vision for a country that seems more politically divided than ever.

      Obama said goodbye to the nation against the backdrop of one of the most corrosive elections in U.S. history and a deep sense that the poisonous political environment has pitted Americans against each other.

    • Jeremy Corbyn should tell voters the truth about freedom of movement

      It’s hard to put a finger on what the main message coming from the Labour party was on Tuesday. Overnight they released lines from a speech which suggested they were stepping back from their commitment to free movement. Then, when given a chance to clarify his position on free movement and membership of the single market, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shifted focus to his thoughts on a maximum wage for top earners. By lunchtime Labour seemed to be back in favour of free movement. When the speech was finally made in the afternoon Corbyn said that “Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out”. Well that, as they say, is about as clear as mud.

      Is Corbyn toying with following the likes of MPs such as Stephen Kinnock and Emma Reynolds in backing away from a previous commitment to free movement within Europe? If so, that isn’t just profoundly disappointing to those of us who respect his track record of standing up for people no matter where they come from. It is also a gift to the Tories’ march towards a hard Brexit.

    • Trump refuses to bend to the office of president

      The presidency is not going to change Donald Trump. Donald Trump is going to change the presidency.

      The president-elect’s chaotic first news conference, two months after his victory shocked the world, unfolded much as his campaign did: defiant, with attacks on his opponents, memorable one-liners (“I’m also very much of a germophobe, by the way”), a deluge of news (he announced a cabinet secretary) and some of the toughest questions elided or ignored, including on his potential ethical and financial conflicts and on new reports of alleged contact between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

    • Poll: 62 percent of Republicans want Trump’s tax returns

      A majority of Republican voters likely to cast ballots in November want to see Donald Trump’s tax returns, according to the results of the latest national Quinnipiac University survey, out Thursday.

      Among all likely voters surveyed, 74 percent said the businessman should release his tax returns, while 21 percent said they do not think he should. More than six in 10 Republican voters, 62 percent to 31 percent, said they would like to see their party’s nominee do so. The share of Republicans calling on Trump to release his returns is actually the lowest among all demographic and ideological groups, with at least two in three of all other groups expressing a desire to see them.

    • Donald Trump Wasn’t Told About Unverified Russia Dossier, Official Says

      President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week’s intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.

      A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said. During Trump’s press conference Wednesday morning, the president-elect said he was made aware of the information “outside that meeting.”

    • Donald Trump Won’t Give Up His Brand to Be President

      At his Wednesday morning press conference — his first since winning the election more than two months ago — Donald Trump, the president-elect, stood beside a pile of paperwork and attempted to explain how he would separate himself from Donald Trump, the brand. Rather than putting his assets into a blind trust, as many have recommended for America’s first billionaire president, Trump said he would turn day-to-day control of his business over to two his children and a longtime Trump Organization executive. He also reneged on a promise that there would be “no new deals” done during his time in office.

      Trump’s proposal, arriving nine days before he assumes the presidency, comes after weeks of delays and public feuding with the Office of Government Ethics, the federal office that is supposed to oversee potential conflicts of interests.

      On November 30, Trump said he would discuss his potential business conflicts at a “major news conference,” which he subsequently cancelled. On December 12, he broadened the conference’s agenda and put it off until “the near future.” Trump tweeted that same day that “no new deals will be done during my term(s) in office.”

    • Is the USA Facing a Coup d’Etat?

      I fear that soon the curtain will finally be brought down on the puppet show that passes for democracy in America, and those who for decades have been pulling the strings will come raging into the light, red in tooth and claw. The illusion that the people really have a choice of president every four years will be irreparably shattered.

      The old British truism that “it does not matter whom you vote for, the government always gets in” can also be applied to the US presidency – usually all candidates are approved and massively funded by the modern incarnation of Eisenhower’s infamous “military-industrial complex” and then assiduously supported by cheerleaders in the old corporate media, leaving the electorate with damn little meaningful choice.

      This has been true from Reagan to Bush the First, from Clinton the First to Bush the Second and then on to Obama (the First?). It was supposed to have been true in the most recent election, where the elite’s choice pointed towards a contest between Bush the Third or Clinton the Second, either one of whom would have worked to the interests of Wall Street and continued the increasingly dangerous, interventionist, and hawkish global US foreign policy.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • See No Evil: Italy’s Leaders to Use Internet Censorship as ‘Trojan Horse’

      The Italian government recently called for the introduction of Internet censorship in their country as political elites struggle to accept last year’s historic events, including Brexit and the failure of the Italian referendum, according to independent political commentator Marco Fontana.

    • Techdirt’s First Amendment Fight For Its Life

      As you may have heard, last week we were sued for $15 million by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email. We have written, at great length, about his claims and our opinion — backed up by detailed and thorough evidence — that email existed long before Ayyadurai created any software. We believe the legal claims in the lawsuit are meritless, and we intend to fight them and to win.

      There is a larger point here. Defamation claims like this can force independent media companies to capitulate and shut down due to mounting legal costs. Ayyadurai’s attorney, Charles Harder, has already shown that this model can lead to exactly that result. His efforts helped put a much larger and much more well-resourced company than Techdirt completely out of business.

      So, in our view, this is not a fight about who invented email. This is a fight about whether or not our legal system will silence independent publications for publishing opinions that public figures do not like.

      And here’s the thing: this fight could very well be the end of Techdirt, even if we are completely on the right side of the law.

    • Fark.com’s censorship story is a striking insight into Google’s unchecked power

      When Microsoft launched its new search engine Bing in 2009, it wasted no time in trying to get the word out. By striking a deal with the producers of the American teen drama Gossip Girl, it made a range of beautiful characters utter the words “Bing it!” in a way that fell clumsily on the audience’s ears. By the early Noughties, “search it” had already been universally replaced by the words “Google it”, a phrase that had become so ubiquitous that anything else sounded odd.

    • ‘Google farked us over’: Fark accuses Google of failing to reimburse ad revenue after algorithm glitch
    • 12 Ways Google’s World Domination is Downright Creepy
    • Germany has a strange history of video game censorship
    • Donald Trump Learns Why It’s Important Not To ‘Open Up’ Libel Laws, As Suit Against Him Is Tossed

      And that, right there, is why we have strong defamation laws. Even if you dislike Trump and what he stands for (and if you dislike his petty squabbles on Twitter), you should celebrate this ruling for a variety of reasons: it upholds the First Amendment and supports free expression online and it helps demonstrate to Trump himself how important the protections built into our defamation laws today can be.

    • ‘For The Children’ Cyberbullying Law Running Into Opposition From Groups Actually Concerned About Children

      A Texas cyberbullying law is running into unexpected opposition. The law [PDF], which would criminalize any “electronic harassment or bullying” of anyone under the age of 18, is intended to give schools more resources to deal with cyberbullying. Of course, the law would also extend schools’ reach beyond the confines of the campus, allowing them to take control of off-campus behavior.

      It’s one thing if this was limited to disciplinary action by the school. It still would be an extension of government power, but at least the damage done would be limited to in-school punishments. (That’s still a significant amount of damage, considering school disciplinary actions cover things like extended suspensions and expelling students — neither of which do much to alter troubled students’ futures in any positive way.)

      Turning this into a criminal act means schools will become even more instrumental in routing students into juvenile detention centers and local jails. This is what has advocates for the health and safety of children concerned.

    • Apple removes app that let you find your AirPods
    • Apple Banned This App for AirPods as ‘Not Appropriate’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge won’t dismiss lawsuit over alleged NSA Olympics spying

      A judge refused Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit claiming the National Security Agency conducted a mass warrantless surveillance program during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

    • NSA fail to get alleged surveillance at 2002 Winter Olympics case thrown out of court

      A bid to dismiss a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) over claims they conducted a surveillance programme during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City without warrants has been rejected in the United States.

    • Federal judge rules NSA Olympic surveillance lawsuit may continue

      A judge for the US District Court for the District of Utah [official site] on Tuesday refused [opinion, PDF] to dismiss a complaint against the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] over allegations of warrantless surveillance during the 2002 winter Olympic games. The case [materials] includes individuals who allege their communication devices were searched and seized by the NSA during the games. The plaintiffs further allege the NSA is currently storing a massive amount of data collected from them and the majority of individuals in the Salt Lake area. The NSA filed the motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ assertions are implausible and without factual support.

    • Facebook, Google face strict EU privacy rules that could hit ad revenues

      Online messaging services such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Gmail face a crackdown on a “void of protection” that allows them to routinely track the data of EU citizens without regulatory scrutiny—and it could be bad news for ad sales.

      On Tuesday, officials in Brussels proposed new measures to curb Silicon Valley players who—up until now—have been largely immune from the ePrivacy Directive, which requires telecoms operators to adhere to the rules on the confidentiality of communications and the protection of personal data.

    • New EU privacy rules will hit Gmail, Facebook and WhatsApp

      Tough new rules on tracking users by messaging services, laid out by the European Commission in a revision of its ePrivacy Directive, will affect WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Gmail among others.

      The measures proposed will update existing privacy rules that only apply to telecommunications providers at the moment, according to an EC statement.

      “Privacy rules will now also cover new providers of electronic communications services, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Gmail, iMessage, or Viber,” the EC said.

    • Twitter Kills Another Social Media Monitoring Service’s Connection To Its Every-Tweet-Ever Feed

      Twitter has cut off another social media “surveillance” company from using its API. To date, the platform has forced third-party Dataminr to cut off connections to the CIA, DHS/law enforcement “fusion centers,” and Geofeedia. All of these denials of service were the result of the company’s policy against use of its API for surveillance.

      Very little of what was being done could truly be considered “surveillance,” since Dataminr’s access to basically every tweet produced did nothing but cull data from public accounts. What Twitter seemed to have more of a problem with was the marketing tactics of companies like Geofeedia, which insinuated their products were perfectly suited for keeping tabs on First Amendment-protected activity, like protests.

      As for the CIA and DHS, Twitter apparently felt these government agencies were far more involved in surveillance than the FBI, which just signed a contract with Dataminr for access to its every-tweet-ever API.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pakistani child maid ‘tortured in judge’s house’

      A girl aged 10 who worked as a maid for a Pakistani judge shows signs of having been tortured, a medical board says.

      The girl suffered injuries including burns to her hands and feet, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has said.

      Police told the BBC the girl had worked for Islamabad judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan for the past two years. He has not yet commented.

      The case has caused a furore in Pakistan.

    • Man killed in mosque over lost sleep

      Mumbai: A 55-year-old man’s plan to sleep at night in the quiet confines of a mosque in Airoli on Wednesday went horribly wrong when he was beaten to death for unknown reasons. Police said Istiak Ahmad Roshan Ali Shaikh, originally a resident of Uttar Pradesh, was killed around 1.20 a.m. on Thursday, allegedly by Nabi Abdul Shaikh, 40, who had also come to the mosque to sleep.

      Primary investigation by the police revealed that the accused had disturbed the victim, leading to an altercation. In a fit of rage, Nabi hit Istiak on the head with an iron microphone stand, and fled. “We took the victim to hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. We have sent the body for post mortem and are awaiting reports. The motive is still not clear; prima facie it seems like the murder happened in a fit of rage,” Senior PI Pradeep Tidar, Rabale police station, said.

    • Lauri Love wouldn’t get justice in the US. UK courts must try his hacking case

      While Donald Trump and the United States intelligence services argue over who hacked whom, it has been almost forgotten that, for a young British citizen, hacking accusations pack a much heavier punch than political point-scoring. Lauri Love, who has Asperger syndrome, is facing extradition to the US and is now awaiting a date for the appeal hearing that will determine the course of the rest of his life.

    • Women sue over forced cavity searches for visitors to Rikers Island

      Procedure at New York’s Rikers Island prison is for visitors to be subjected to a pat-down search, but women who visit their loved ones are suing the New York Department of Corrections because guards there subject them to illegal, violent, humiliating strip and cavity searches, sometimes holding them down while forcibly penetrating them with their fingers.

      Visitors are routinely forced to show their vulvas to guards and remove their tampons to “prove they are menstruating” and one woman had a guard forcefully shove her tampon so far into her body that she couldn’t remove it.

      The New York Department of Corrections has previously settled multiple lawsuits for improper strip-searches of arrestees, paying $50M in one case and $33M in another. The lawyers representing the Rikers visitors say that the humiliating searches they are subjected to are so consistent and routine that they represent a kind of shadow-policy that guards must be trained in, in violation of official DoC policy.

    • Army Leaker Chelsea Manning on Obama’s ‘Short List’ for Commutation

      President Obama has put Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified material, on his short list for a possible commutation, a Justice Department source told NBC News.

      A decision could come as soon as Wednesday for Manning, who has tried to commit suicide twice this year and went on a hunger strike in a bid for gender reassignment surgery.

      “I have more hope right now than I have the entire time since she was sentenced,” Manning’s aunt, Deborah Manning, told NBC News.

    • U.S. sanctions Kim Jong Un’s sister for censorship activities
    • Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Report on Human Rights Abuses or Censorship in North Korea
    • U.S. blacklists North Korean officials over rights abuses
    • (2nd LD) US imposes sanctions on N.K. leader’s sister over human rights violations
    • US sanctions N. Korean officials for rights abuses
    • Treasury sanctions top North Korean officials
    • Sheriff’s Office Raids Home, Seizes All The Furniture, Ultimately Returns Everything But The Couch

      The joke about asset forfeiture is that it’s actually not a joke. Advisors to law enforcement have actually said it’s a great way for cops to go shopping for things they want. It’s not just cash being taken, although it’s primarily that. It’s vehicles, too. And when that just doesn’t seem to be enough, it’s houses. And everything in them.

      So, the “going shopping” joke is one very dark punchline. Here’s another one: “take everything that isn’t nailed down.” Except that this actually happens. And it includes things that are nailed down. Reason’s C.J. Ciaramella has more details.

    • Inside Mississippi’s Asset Forfeiture Extortion Racket

      It was the first time in Mississippi defense attorney Richard Rehfeldt’s long career that he can remember where police seized a client’s furniture.

      In 2012, Rehfeldt says the Hind County Sheriff’s Office raided his client’s apartment on suspicion her boyfriend was a drug dealer. Anything purchased with drug proceeds is fair game to be seized by police under civil asset forfeiture laws, and they determined the boyfriend had furnished the apartment, so off went her TV, her table and chairs, her couch, her lamps, and even the pictures on the wall.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon Insists Higher Phone Upgrades Are Being Used To Enhance The Network Instead Of Make Up Revenue Decline

      Within Karl Bode’s post about Verizon’s insistence that all of the people who continue to use grandfathered unlimited data plans don’t actually exist was a brief note about the company’s decision to increase the cost to upgrade the phones themselves. As mentioned in the post, Verizon claimed that the reason to push upgrade costs from $20 to $30 was due to increasing costs. Fleshing that out a tiny bit, a Verizon spokesman commented for Ars Technica.

    • AT&T Intends To Dodge FCC Review Of Time Warner Mega-Merger, But Trump Remains A Wild Card

      AT&T continues to try and sell regulators on the company’s $100 billion acquisition of Time Warner, making all kinds of promises (few actually being true). Consumer advocates are highly wary of the deal, arguing that a more powerful AT&T (with its rich history of anti-competitive behavior and outright fraud) would be in a perfect position to hinder streaming competitors from licensing the content they need to compete. That’s of course when AT&T isn’t busy giving its own DirecTV Now service an unfair market advantage via zero rating and usage caps.

      But AT&T’s path to merger completion just got a bit easier. Outlets had been noting for some time that an FCC review would only be triggered if AT&T attempted a transfer of the two dozen or so Time Warner satellite licenses or the station license for WPCH-TV in Atlanta. Avoid those, and you avoid even a possibility that the FCC could block the deal or saddle it with conditions. And that’s precisely what AT&T appears intent on doing according to a new regulatory filing with the SEC…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights/Pirate Party

      • Iceland Forms A New Government… Without The Pirate Party

        Last month, we recognized that while it was still a long shot, it was interesting that the Iceland Pirate Party actually had a chance to form the new government there. A few previous efforts had failed and the job had fallen to the Pirate Party. However, it didn’t take long for reports to leak out that the Pirate Party was having trouble building a coalition that would form the new government.

      • Iceland’s center-right parties agree to form government; EU vote eyed

        Iceland’s center-right Independence, Reform and Bright Future parties have agreed to form a coalition government and will give parliament a vote on whether to hold a referendum on joining the European Union.

        Together, the coalition will hold 32 of the 63 seats in parliament. The Independence Party will have 21 seats, making it the largest party in the coalition. However, it opposes EU membership while the other two parties both favor it.

        The Independence and Reform parties accepted the agreement on Monday, Icelandic media reported. Bright Future said it had backed the deal in a vote overnight. The agreement ends a political impasse since a general election in October.

      • Iceland’s New Right-Wing Government To Be Announced Tomorrow

        RÚV reports that the joint platform and ministerial positions will be announced tomorrow, but sources say the Independence Party will likely get five ministerial seats, as well as the Parliamentary President position, while the Reform Party will have three ministerial posts and Bright Future will get two.

        The President had originally given the mandate to form a coalition to the Independence Party. Coalition talks between the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future broke down last November, as they could not reach an agreement on a common platform; most notably, regarding the management of fisheries and the question of a public referendum on accession to the European Union.

      • Panama Papers come back to haunt Iceland politics

        The Panama Papers came back to haunt Iceland’s right-wing parties Monday as they prepare to form a new government, after the candidate for prime minister admitted hiding a report on offshore accounts.

        Iceland was rocked in April when the Panama Papers revealed a global tax evasion scandal that ensnared several senior politicians and triggered the resignation of former prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, with snap elections held on October 29.

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