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01.24.17

Links 24/1/2017: New Release of SMPlayer, Arch Dropping i686 Support Soon

Posted in News Roundup at 3:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Telecom organizations boosting support for open source

    Organizational support for open source initiatives is easing the integration of platforms into the telecom world.

    One key challenge for growing the support of open source into the telecommunications space is through various organizations that are looking to either bolster the use of open source or build platforms based on open source specifications. These efforts are seen as beneficial to operators and vendors looking to take advantage of open source platforms.

  • Google’s Draco: Another Open Source Tool That Can Boost Virtual Reality Apps

    With 2017 ramping up, there is no doubt that cloud computing and Big Data analytics would probably come to mind if you had to consider the hot technology categories that will spread out this year. However, Google is on an absolute tear as it open sources a series of 3D graphics and virtual reality toolsets. Last week, we covered the arrival of Google’s Tilt Brush apps and virtual reality toolsets.

    Now, Google has delivered a set of open source libraries that boost the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which can help deliver more detailed 3D apps. “Draco” is an open source compression library, and here are more details.

  • Unpicking the community leader

    Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day. Now, I have to admit, I don’t usually partake in the day all that much. The skeptic in me thinks doing so could be a little self-indulgent and the optimist thinks that we should appreciate great community leaders every day, not merely one day a year. Regardless, in respect of the occasion, I want to delve a little into why I think this work is so important, particularly in the way it empowers people from all walks of life.

    In 2006 I joined Canonical as the Ubuntu Community Manager. A few months into my new role I got an email from a kid based in Africa. He shared with me that he loved Ubuntu and the traditional African philosophy of Ubuntu, which translated to “humanity towards others,” and this made his interest in the nascent Linux operating system particularly meaningful.

  • Open-source oriented RISELab emerges at UC Berkeley to make apps smarter & more secure

    UC Berkeley on Monday launched a five-year research collaborative dubbed RISELab that will focus on enabling apps and machines that can interact with the environment around them securely and in real-time.

    The RISELab (Real-time Intelligence with Secure Execution) is backed by a slew of big name tech and financial firms: Amazon Web Services, Ant Financial, Capital One, Ericsson, GE Digital, Google, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and VMWare.

  • Berkeley launches RISELab, enabling computers to make intelligent real-time decisions
  • Amazon, Google, Huawei, and Microsoft sponsor UC Berkeley RISELab, AMPLab’s successor
  • Brotli: A new compression algorithm for faster Internet

    Brotli is a new open source compression algorithm designed to enable an Internet that’s faster for users.

    Modern web pages can often be made up of dozens of megabytes of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and that’s before accounting for images, videos, or other large file content, which all makes for hefty downloads. Such loads are why pages are transferred in compressed formats; they significantly reduce the time required between a website visitor requesting a web page and that page appearing fully loaded on the screen and ready for use.

    While the Brotli algorithm was announced by Google in September 2015, only recently have the majority of web browsers have adopted it. The HTTP servers Apache and nginx now offer Brotli compression as an option. Besides Google, other commercial vendors (such as Cloudflare and DreamHost) have begun to deploy support for Brotli as well.

  • New Year’s resolution: Donate to 1 free software project every month

    Free and open source software is an absolutely critical part of our world—and the future of technology and computing. One problem that consistently plagues many free software projects, though, is the challenge of funding ongoing development (and support and documentation).

    With that in mind, I have finally settled on a New Year’s resolution for 2017: to donate to one free software project (or group) every month—or the whole year. After all, these projects are saving me a boatload of money because I don’t need to buy expensive, proprietary packages to accomplish the same things.

  • Toyota and Ford Promote Open Source Smartphone Interfaces

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

    The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, which includes Mazda, PSA Group, Fuji, and Suzuki, aims to prevent Apple and Google from controlling how drivers connect smartphones to their vehicles. Suppliers Elektrobit, Harma, Luxoft, QNX, and Xevo have also joined the organization, which is named after an open source version of Ford’s AppLink connectivity interface, a system used in over 5 million vehicles globally.

  • What your code repository says about you

    “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” the old saying goes. It’s cliche, but nevertheless sound, practical advice.

    In the realm of open source, it can make the difference between a project that succeeds and a project that fails. That’s why making a positive first impression when you release a repo to the world is essential—at least if your motivations involve gaining users, building a community of contributors, and attracting valuable feedback.

  • The Open Source Way of Reaching Across Languages

    I don’t speak Spanish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn some important things from this video. The visuals alone are quite instructive. At my public library job, I mentor a number of wonderful Latino youth. One of them might ask me about open source CAD software — and I’ll direct them right to this FOSS Force article. Of course, I subscribed to the YouTube channel of the creator of this video, and also clicked on its like button. If the screencast creator comes back to look at this video in February, they’ll find that they have a number of new subscribers, a number of likes for the video and the video view count might be more than 100. All those indicators will be encouragement for them to make their next open source screencast. And so it goes. That’s how we support each other in the open source world.

  • [The founder of Linux Malta] Ramon Casha, chairman of the humanist association, passes away

    Tributes are flowing in this evening for Ramon Casha, chairman of the Malta Humanist Society, civil rights campaigner and a frequent commenter on Times of Malta, who has passed away.

    Michael Briguglio, former chairman of Alternattiva wrote in a Facebook post: Rest in peace Ramon Casha: honest, free-thinking and non-partisan civil society campaigner within Malta Humanist Association and so many causes.

  • The best open source software 2017

    The term ‘open source’ refers to software whose source code is freely available to download, edit, use and share. There are different types of open source license, which give users different degrees of freedom, but the main aim of open source is to encourage collaboration.

    Open source software has lots of advantages over other ‘free’ options you’ll come across – even if you’re not a developer yourself. It’s usually maintained by a community and updated frequently to patch vulnerabilities or squish bugs as soon as they’re identified; there are no restrictions on commercial use, so you can happily use it for your home business; and the ability to edit the source means there’s often a wealth of user-created plugins available to download.

  • Sneak Peek: Endless Code and Endless Mission Computers

    One of my clients that I have been working with is Endless based in San Francisco. They are building a phenomenal set of computers and an Open Source platform that teaches people how to code.

  • Events

    • Code for Pakistan to host Open Source Day for Women

      Open source refers to software with its source code publicly available for people to modify and share. However, it does not simply mean to write a source code and make it publicly available, it is also about collaborative participation, transparency, rapid growth and community-oriented development.

      The Open Source Day is an opportunity for women with a background in Computer Science to get started on Open Source Projects and network with mentors in the tech industry. It provides them an opportunity to come together and hone their tech skills.

    • Open Source Software Strategies for Enterprise IT

      Enterprises using open source code in infrastructure must understand both the risks and benefits of community-developed software. Professional open source management is a discipline that focuses on minimizing risk and delivering the benefits of open source software as efficiently as possible.

      For successful open source management, enterprises must adopt clear strategies, well-defined policies, and efficient processes. Nobody gets all this right the first time, so it’s also important to review and audit your policies for continuous improvement. Additionally, successful open source initiatives for enterprise IT must provide real ROI in acquisition, integration, and management.

    • The World of 100G Networking

      Capacity and speed requirements keep increasing for networking, but going from where are now to 100G networking isn’t a trivial matter, as Christopher Lameter and Fernando Garcia discussed recently in their LinuxCon Europe talk about the world of 100G networking. It may not be easy, but with recently developed machine learning algorithms combined with new, more powerful servers, the idea of 100G networking is becoming feasible and cost effective.

    • The World of 100G Networking by Christoph Lameter

      The idea of 100G networking is becoming feasible and cost effective. This talk gives an overview about the competing technologies in terms of technological differences and capabilities and then discusses the challenges of using various kernel interfaces to communicate at these high speeds.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 51 Released With FLAC Audio Support, WebGL 2.0 By Default

        Firefox 51.0 just hit Mozilla’s FTP servers for those wanting the latest version of this open-source web-browser.

        Firefox 51 isn’t a big feature release for end-users but notably does have support for FLAC audio, at long last! Great to see the web browsers finally shipping support out-of-the-box for this open-source audio codec.

      • Firefox 51 Released with FLAC Support, Better CPU Usage

        A new month means a new release of the venerable Mozilla Firefox web browser. Firefox 51 ships with FLAC support, WebGL 2, and a whole heap more — come see!

      • Mozilla Firefox 51.0 Now Available for Download, Supports FLAC Playback, WebGL 2

        It’s not yet official, but the binary and source packages of the Firefox 51.0 web browser are now available for download on your GNU/Linux, macOS, or Microsoft Windows operating system.

        Mozilla will have the pleasure of unveiling the Firefox 51.0 release tomorrow, January 24, according to the official schedule, but you can already get your hands on the final version of the web browser by downloading the installers for your favorite OS right now from our website (links are at the end of the article).

      • Firefox Gets Better Video Gaming and Warns of Non-Secure Websites

        Today’s release of Firefox includes various features for developers and users that enable a richer and safer experience on the web.

  • Education

    • Open Source Mahara Opens Moodle Further Into Social Learning

      Designers, managers and other professionals are fond of Open Source, digital portfolio solution Mahara. Even students are incorporating their progress on specific competency frameworks, to show learning evidence. Mahara and Moodle have a long and durable relationship spanning years, ―so much so that the internet has nicknamed the super couple as “Mahoodle“―. A recent post on Moodlerooms’ E-Learn Magazine documents the fruitful partnership as it adds value to New Zealander Catalyst IT’s offerings.

    • School systems desperate for standards-aligned curricula find hope

      Open Up Resources is a nonprofit collaborative formed by 13 U.S. states that creates high-quality, standards-aligned open educational resources (OERs) that are openly licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Unlike other providers, Open Up Resources provides curriculum-scale OER options; they believe that while many people seem to know where to find supplemental materials, most curriculum directors would not know where to look if they were planning a textbook adoption next year.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • BSD Mag: Understanding Unikernels by Russell Pavlicek

      The number of tasks which lend themselves to being unikernels is larger than you might think. In 2015, Martin Lucina announced the successful creation of a “RAMP” stack. A variant of the common “LAMP” stack (Linux. Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python), the “RAMP” stack employs NGINX, MySQL, and PHP each built on Rumprun. Rumprun is an instance of a Rump kernel, which is a unikernel system based on the modular operating system functions found in the NetBSD project. So even this very common solution stack can be successfully converted into unikernels.

    • Summary of the preliminary LLDB support project

      Operating systems can be called monitors as they handle system calls from userland processes. A similar task is performed by debuggers as they implement monitors for traced applications and interpret various events that occurred in tracees and are messaged usually with signals to their tracers. During this month I have started a new Process Plugin within LLDB to incept NativeProcessNetBSD – copied from NativeProcessLinux – implementing basic functionality and handling all the needed events in the MonitorCallback() function. To achieve these tasks, I had to add a bunch of new ptrace(2) interfaces in the kernel to cover all that is required by LLDB monitors. The current Process Plugin for NetBSD is capable to start a process, catch all the needed events correctly and if applicable resume or step the process.

    • NetBSD Making Progress On LLDB Debugger Support

      NetBSD developers have been implementing the relevant interfaces needed for the LLVM debugger to effectively monitor and work on the operating system. As part of that they have also improved some of their own documentation, provided new ptrace interfaces, and more.

      Those interested in LLDB and/or NetBSD can learn more about this debugging work via this NetBSD.org blog post.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 7.0 Lands The BRIG Frontend For AMD’s HSA

      GCC 7 moved on to only bug/documentation fixes but an exception was granted to allow the BRIG front-end to land for AMD’s HSA support in this year’s GNU Compiler Collection update. As of this morning, the BRIG front-end has merged.

      BRIG is the binary form of the Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language (HSA IL). This BRING front-end also brings the libhsail-rt run-time into GCC. So far BRIG in GCC has just been tested on Linux x86_64.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Don’t let Microsoft exploit Bangladesh’s IT talent

      Open-source software is effectively a public good and owned by everyone who uses it.

      So there is no conflict of interest in the Bangladesh government paying programmers to fix bugs and security holes in open-source software, because the Bangladesh government would be as much an owner of the software as anyone else, and benefit from the increased use-value of the improved software as much as any other user.

    • Competition authorities first to implement DMS services

      The DRS are published as open source software using the European Union’s open source software licence EUPL, and are available on Joinup. The software provides connectors for most commonly-used document management systems, and includes scripts to create a database to implement the connecting web services.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Oh, the things Vim could teach Silicon Valley’s code slingers

      Vim text editor turned 25 late last year – the first public iteration was launched on November 2, 1991, a couple of weeks after Linus Torvalds announced Linux. To celebrate Vim’s anniversary, creator Bram Moolenaar recently dropped version 8.0.

      Ordinarily the update of a text editor wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but this is the first major Vim release in ten years. In today’s world, where web browsers drop major point updates (what they consider major, anyway) several times a year, Vim’s lack of major updates is not just refreshing, but speaks of an entirely different approach to developing software.

      Even leaving aside the absurd version system of today’s web browsers, eight releases in 25 years would be considered slow by today’s software development standards. Interestingly, though, Vim’s biggest rival, GNU Emacs, has a roughly similar development pace. GNU Emacs began life in the 1970s and is currently at version 25, which means it averages two releases to Vim’s one, but still definitely on the slow side.

    • Learn to code site Code.org loses student work due to index bug

      Learn-to-code site Code.org is apologising to its students after being caught by a database table maxing out, and dropping progress for an unknown number of participants.

      In its mea-culpa blog post, the group says it was burned by a database table with a 32-bit index.

Leftovers

  • Baltimore Ravens Owner Has Ingenious Solution For NFL Ratings Drop: Stop Annoying Fans With Too Many Ads

    For a long time, the narrative du jour in cable and broadcast circles was that sports would save cable TV from the unholy threat of cord cutting and the associated ratings drop. Live sports and sports analysis was, the argument usually went, the one true piece of bedrock in the cable and broadcast empire that could protect the industry from sagging ratings and defecting customers. But as we’ve see by the NFL’s 2016 ratings dip and ESPN’s stumbling face-plant, sports simply isn’t the panacea industry executives pretended it was. Of course, the industry likes to attack any messenger that points this out, but it doesn’t make the underlying reality any less true.

  • Museum of London move gets £180m funding boost

    The Museum of London’s plan to move to Smithfield market has moved a step closer thanks to a funding boost.

    The City of London Corporation and mayor of London have pledged a total of £180m towards the £250m project.

    The museum first announced its plan to move from its current location last year, citing a lack of space at its Barbican site.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Board Trims Candidates For Director To Five; Two More Cuts Tomorrow

      World Health Organization members took the first step toward choosing the next director general of the UN health agency today as they narrowed the candidates to five. There will be interviews held with the remaining candidates tomorrow, after which the list will be reduced to three until the May World Health Assembly.

    • WHO Board: UN Report On Medicines Too Hot; DG Candidates To Be Narrowed

      At the opening of the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting today, a call by India for an agenda item on the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines was denied. Meanwhile, WHO’s director general underlined the success of the organisation over the last year, including new financing arrangements with industry groups to finance the WHO Prequalification Programme. But all eyes are riveted to the election process for the new WHO director general, as three out of the six candidates are expected to be short-listed this week.

    • It’s Official: TRIPS Health Amendment In Effect, First Ever To A WTO Agreement

      More than a decade after World Trade Organization member states approved the first-ever legal amendment to a WTO agreement, the change to the international intellectual property agreement has entered into effect. Five more members ratified the amendment in recent days, bringing supporters over the minimum needed to put into effect for the amendment aimed at boosting exports of medical products made under compulsory licence.

    • Prior Censorship Of Medical Advertisement Found Unconstitutional In Korea – But Criminal Sanction For False Medical Advertising Found Constitutional

      On December 23, 2015, the Korean Constitutional Court, the final arbiter of constitutional disputes in Korea, issued a pair of companion decisions that clarify the bounds of medical advertisement regulation in Korea. In one of the two decisions, the Constitutional Court struck down as unconstitutional the statutory provisions requiring prior review and clearance for all medical advertisements and providing for criminal sanction in case of non-compliance. In the other decision, however, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the statutory provision under which criminal sanction may be imposed for false medical advertising. In both decisions, the statute at issue was the Medical Services Act.

    • Take back our water: How Trump’s appetite for privatization threatens your drinking water

      The Trump administration is pushing infrastructure privatization. But private, for-profit corporations are not good bets for managing municipal drinking water systems in the public interest.

      Cash-strapped local governments that can ill afford maintaining and managing them may see selling them off to private firms as an attractive option, and under Trump, more communities are likely to take that step. But let the seller beware. A recent New York Times investigative report found private equity firms typically make 8-18 percent profit from water privatization, while ratepayer bills skyrocket. In Bayonne, N.J., for example, rates rose almost 28 percent after a private equity firm took over.

      Often privatization brings thorny water quality and supply issues the companies have little incentive to solve. Private water management is fundamentally governed by what economists call a vertical cost curve. Rational prices get set by the intersection of supply and demand, but if you need an appendectomy, demand is absolute or “vertical,” and you’ll pay whatever it costs. Water is like that, especially when one company monopolizes your access to it. The notion that the market can optimally deliver water is wrong-headed, as many communities are discovering. Increasingly, cities and towns that have lived to regret privatization are “remunicipalizing” their water. That should give municipal governments pause about Trump’s push to privatize infrastructure.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • South Korea Joins The Club That Uses Video Game Footage To Proclaim Themselves Awesome At War

      This seems to be something of a regular occurrence now. In the recent past, several foreign countries have celebrated how stunningly real video game graphics have become by using them to pretend they are really great at war. The Egyptians did it to pretend that Russia was fighting ISIS, the Iranians did it to pretend that their forces could shoot people from a really long way away, and the North Koreans did it to pretend that they could deliver a nuclear ICBM to our soil.

      Well, perhaps there is some synergy to be found over Korea’s DMZ, because the South Koreans recently released footage detailing how super-awesome their new fighter jet program is, and that footage included several clips from both Battlefield 3 and Ace Combat.

    • Trump administration threatens response to Beijing’s South China Sea territory grab

      The standoff between China and the US looks set to reach new highs, as the Trump administration promises steps to prevent Beijing’s takeover of “international territories” in the strategic waterway in the South China Sea.

      “The US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday. Journalists asked him if he agreed with the statement delivered by Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson on January 11, that Washington will from now on take a tougher stance with Beijing over its actions in the South China Sea.

    • How Clinton Defeat Derailed Syrian War

      Hawkish think tanks had laid plans for escalating the U.S. “regime change” war in Syria after Hillary Clinton’s expected election, but a different result has forced them to repackage their scheme, says Gareth Porter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • “Wir hätten gern auch etwas über Trump veröffentlicht”
    • Julian Assange – FULL INTERVIEW
    • Assange Talks Brennan, CIA and the Future of Journalism

      Imagine being asked if the Director of the CIA has a personal vendetta against you. Few could contemplate being in that boat. Yet it’s just another day in Julian Assange’s remarkable existence.

    • FBI Seeks To Massage Lousy FOIA Response Times, Deter Requesters By Calling All Responses Over 50 Pages ‘Complex’

      The FBI has reams of documents of interest to the public. And it knows it. That’s why it plays keepaway with so much of them. Sometimes it releases tons of fully-redacted pages to requesters — a middle finger to government transparency that also serves as a “response” on the FOIA balance sheets, ensuring the agency fulfills the letter of law while spitting on its spirit.

      Other times it just drags it feet. Requesters are often moved to sue the agency, thanks to its tendency to spend a year or four responding to FOIA requests. And that’s only if it hasn’t attempted to short-circuit the FOIA process by asking requesters for a small fortune in advance of its search for documents.

      The FBI’s internal search mechanisms are deliberately broken, forcing FOIA requesters to become intimately familiar with the FBI’s multiple databases and search methods, none of which seem to overlap. And when documents are finally delivered, a vast array of exceptions are deployed to ensure the public is given only the murkiest version of transparency.

      So, it comes as no surprise that the FBI has quietly decided to make it even more difficult for requesters to get their hands on documents. Michael Best of MuckRock explains.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • So you want to be a climate campaigner? Here’s how

      The planet is getting hotter, leaving people hungry and fuelling wars around the world and you want to do something about it. But with a green movement to cater for every age, location, and type of plastic recycling, how do you turn your enthusiasm into action?

      We talked to campaigners and politicians to glean their top tips for getting started as a climate activist.

    • 67 hours above freezing a record January thaw for Winnipeg

      It’s a record-breaking January in Winnipeg — and not because of the cold.

      A stretch of mild weather that significantly shrank the city’s monstrous snowbanks and turned roads and sidewalks into a sodden mess also marked the longest January period of above 0 C temperatures since 1873.

      And the only reason the record stops there is because no one knows what happened before that. Records only started being kept that year.

    • NOAA designates 29th National Estuarine Research Reserve

      He’eia National Estuarine Research Reserve—the 29th NERR in the national system and first new reserve in more than six years—includes unique and diverse upland, estuarine, and marine habitats within the He’eia estuary and a portion of Kaneohe Bay, protecting a stream, coral reefs, sand flats, and important cultural components. The cultural sites include traditional agricultural and heritage lands.

    • Trump to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines

      President Trump will sign orders Tuesday to advance construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, The Hill has confirmed.

      The orders will not grant the final permits needed for the oil pipelines, but will move both projects toward approval, a person familiar with the action said.

      The Trump administration began to inform lawmakers starting late Monday that the orders were coming.

      The orders will fulfill Trump’s campaign promises to approve both pipelines, which have staunch support from the oil industry and the GOP but are strongly opposed by Democrats and environmentalists.

      The White House said Trump plans to sign executive orders at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, but did not provide more details.

    • Resurrection of Keystone and DAPL cements America’s climate antagonism

      Contrary to all evidence, the new US president will ignore climate change science and proceed with aggressive pro-oil and gas policies

  • Finance

    • Hawaiians call Mark Zuckerberg ‘the face of neocolonialism’ over land lawsuits

      A few days after Christmas, Mark Zuckerberg shared a series of photographs of his family at their $100m, 700-acre property in Kauai. The Facebook CEO and his wife “fell in love with the community and the cloudy green mountains”, he wrote, and decided to “plant roots and join the community ourselves”.

      Two days later, Zuckerberg’s lawyers filed lawsuits against hundreds of Hawaiians who may own an interest in small parcels within the boundaries of Zuckerberg’s estate. The “quiet title” suits, first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, are used to clarify the often complicated history of land ownership in Hawaii and can result in owners being forced to sell their land at auction. In some cases, defendants are even required to pay the legal fees of the plaintiff – in this case, the world’s fifth richest man.

      Zuckerberg’s lawsuits have prompted a backlash from locals who place the billionaire within a long, painful history of western conquest and Native Hawaiian dispossession.

    • With the TPP and the TTIP gone, what threat to liberty comes next?

      Asia Nikkei has just reported that the Trump administration has formally withdrawn from the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a protectionist agreement masquerading as a free trade agreement. This also indicates certain termination of the corresponding TTIP agreement. Before the champagne pops open, though, it’s important to realize that something else will happen instead, and we don’t know what: these policies go back a full four decades.

      Since the late 1970s, the United States has projected industrial dominance across the world by tying aggressive trade negotiations to its foreign policy. This was a bold and unusually aggressive move in the 1970s which was recommended by the ACTN, the Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, a committee which was headed by Edmund Pratt Jr – the head of Pfizer – and which reported straight to President Carter.

    • Microsoft mulls cutting UK datacenter investment amid Brexit concerns

      Microsoft UK hosted an online event to discuss the impact of the UK’s likely departure from the European Union on the tech industry. The event was spotted by OnMSFT.

      The company currently has two large datacenters in the UK, and it is expanding these in response to vigorous demand for cloud services. But Brexit could throw a spanner in the works. Owen Larter, Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager, said that if import tariffs were imposed on the UK—one likely consequence of the UK leaving the EU’s single market and customs union—then the company would have to reconsider.

    • It’s Austerity, Not Globalization, That Pulls European Workers to the Right – By Dean Baker

      Both the Washington Post (1/22/17) and New York Times (1/22/17) had pieces about declining support for the left in France and the rise of a nationalist right in both Italy and France. Both pieces attributed the rise in support for the right to people losing from globalization, implying that this is some impersonal process that is causing these people to be losers.

      In fact, the losers are suffering because of the insistence of the European Union that its members pursue austerity policies. These policies have led to almost a full decade of near-zero per capita GDP growth in France and a drop of more than 10 percent in per capita GDP in Italy. There is nothing inevitable about these policies; they are conscious choices of the political leaders in Europe.

    • Donald Trump’s “Public” Inaugural Balls Divided High-Dollar, Low-Dollar Donors, Documents Show

      Donald Trump’s team billed the Liberty and Freedom inaugural balls as populist celebrations, open to the general public for as little as $50 a ticket. The balls were supposed to be “the most affordable in recent history, ensuring that they are accessible to the American people,” according to a January 17 release from the President’s Inaugural Committee.

      But internal documents obtained by The Intercept show that the Liberty Ball was a more exclusive affair for high-dollar donors. Smaller donors were diverted to the much larger Freedom Ball.

      The Liberty Ball’s 8,000 attendees were listed as “Donors over $TBD/ Foreign Diplomats/ Cabinet Officials & Appointments/ US Senators and Congressmen/ Family and Friends.”

      The Freedom Ball’s 22,000 attendees were listed as “Campaign Staff, Volunteers, Low Dollar Donors and supporters.”

    • Observable Reality 1, Trump White House 0

      SOCIAL NETWORKS FILLED with laughter and derision on Sunday, in response to the bizarre claim by Donald Trump’s aide, Kellyanne Conway, that the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, had not lied to the nation about the size of the crowd at Friday’s inauguration, but merely presented “alternative facts.”

    • ‘What Communities Are Doing Is Making Homelessness Less Visible’ – CounterSpin interview with Megan Hustings on Food-Sharing

      When seven people were arrested recently in Florida for serving free food to homeless people in a public park, it got a smattering of news coverage. One wire report began by explaining that what many see as a charitable act is “actually a legally complicated matter that could violate laws and even send you to jail.”

      The piece contends that the Florida activists “found this out” after the event; but of course those people, members of the group Food Not Bombs, knew just what they were doing, along with the reasons that would be presented, this time, for their arrests.

    • Does Trump’s Withdrawal From TPP Signal a New Approach to Trade Agreements?

      Today, President Trump signed an executive order fulfilling his campaign promise to withdraw the signature of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Although EFF was a strong opponent of the TPP, President Trump’s reasons for withdrawal from the agreement are not EFF’s reasons for opposition to it. Whereas the President contended in his inauguration address that previous U.S. trade policies had “enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry,” he had nothing to say about EFF’s concerns such as the secrecy with which the pact was concluded, and its impacts on digital rights.

      This means that the President’s withdrawal from the TPP may not have achieved a long-lasting victory on those underlying issues. In other words, when future trade deals led by the Trump administration come up—such as a revision of NAFTA, and new bilateral agreements—they may be just as secretive, and equally harmful to Internet users’ rights, as the TPP.

    • Brexit: government will introduce article 50 bill ‘within days’ following supreme court ruling

      Davis says the UK has already passed “the point of no return” in terms of leaving the EU.

    • Canada-Europe Trade Agreement: One More Vote To Clear

      European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem who had appealed to the INTA members to vote in favour of CETA yesterday, today spoke (full speech available here) at the Bruegel Lunch Talk where she warned against using trade deals as “handy scapegoats” for job loss and inequality.

    • Will New York get a Brexit boost to cancel out feared ‘Trump slump’?

      New York and London function as two prongs of one global economy. Banks and other financial companies headquartered in New York usually have their second biggest offices in the British capital, and vice versa.

      For years, that’s made economic sense. For London-based companies, New York provides an unparalleled density of financial firms, a regulatory framework in which to do business, and access to non-European markets. London provides much of the same for New York-based companies who need access to European markets.

      Unfortunately – for London, at least – Brexit could change all of that: an isolated UK could mean financial firms would have a hard time accessing and doing business with other European markets. And while several EU rivals, from Frankfurt to Paris to Madrid to Amsterdam, are waging campaigns for London’s financial businesses, New York – with its already established financial sector and finance-friendly regulatory environment – could get the majority of Brexit’s financial runoff, according to some experts.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We’re Still Here, 1/20/17, Consumed Most of All by Our Fears

      One of my favorite quotes includes the lines “I awoke this morning to find that it was not judgment day – only morning. Morning: excellent and fair.” I think that sums up a part of my thinking, but certainly not all.

      A nuclear reckoning, war with China, or anything else quite so violently apocalyptic is imminent, or even underway, as far too many of us think. I live in one of those bubbles, the sum of which make up America now. Many of the people I talk to, in person and here online, seem to believe, truly believe, the world is coming to something of an end. These are by and large educated, once-rational people, some of whom have been voices of reason in the past. They are not that way now.

    • Should We Punch Nazis in the Head?

      No, we should not.

      Condoning, applauding or giggling over the idea of punching people in the head whose political positions, however abhorrent, we don’t agree with is so wrong I am not even sure why it is necessary to talk about it. However, given the events of this weekend, it seems we have to talk about it.

      “Is it OK to punch a Nazi for what he said?” is a question bouncing around the media and the Internet after an attack on Richard Spencer following the Trump inauguration. Spencer created the term alt-right. On video, he was explaining the meaning of Pepe the Frog, a silly cartoon figure somehow adopted as a mascot by the racist, far-right fringe movement Spencer promotes as anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-feminist.

    • The Media and Martin Luther King – A CounterSpin special featuring Gary Younge, Rick Perlstein, Jim Naureckas and Brandi Collins

      Quite a few newspapers carried conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg’s complaint that the inauguration boycott by Rep. John Lewis and others “is exactly what the Russians probably wanted from the beginning.” (Goldberg’s proof that Lewis’ stance is mere partisanship is that he also boycotted George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration.)

      Still, when Donald Trump greeted the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, if you will, with a swipe at Lewis, many in corporate media expressed ready disapproval for what Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson called Trump’s “disregard for the American narrative,” in which Lewis is an undeniable hero. (For Gerson, Lewis’s challenge to the 2000 election is merely a sign of his “disturbing habit of hyperbole.”)

    • Trump and the Media

      I am thankfully too clear-headed to like Trump because of the extraordinary campaign of vilification to which he has been subjected. Freedland has no shame about repeating the lie that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. I was in a position to know for sure that the “Russian hacking” elements of the extraordinary “Manchurian candidate” rubbish which the entire establishment threw at Trump was definitively untrue. I had the background and training to see that the Christopher Steele dossier was not only nonsense, but a fake, not in fact produced seriatim on the dates claimed. The involvement of the US security services in spreading lies as intelligence to undermine an incoming President will go down as a crucial moment in US history. We have not yet seen the denouement of that story.

      But none of that makes Trump a good person. He could be an appalling monster and still be subjected to dirty tricks by other very bad people. There is much about Trump to dislike. His sensible desire for better relations with Russia is matched by a stupid drive to goad China.

    • Trump’s Inauguration and the Legitimacy Fetish

      So Goldberg’s argument is that you should not question the legitimacy of a president who, through “Russian meddling,” likely “did not win fair and square”—because, otherwise, the Russians win? Got it.

      Goldberg noted as “a sign of Lewis’ partisanship that he also boycotted George W. Bush’s first inauguration because he didn’t think Bush was legitimate either.” That’s the Bush, you may recall, who lost the popular vote, but was awarded the presidency when a partisan majority of the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recount in Florida. That George W. Bush.

      (Goldberg also cited, as an example of “poisonous cynicism,” Lewis’ “insinuating that voting for Mitt Romney might lead America to ‘go back’ to the days of fire hoses, police dogs and church bombings.” Those who have followed the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline are aware that the use of water cannon and attack dogs against protesters is alive and well in 21st century America. As for church bombings, the BATF has reported at least 2,378 cases of arson at houses of worship over the past 20 years—if you’ll pardon my cynicism.)

    • Hey, NYT–the ‘Relentless Populist’ Relented Long Ago

      In the New York Times‘ lead news analysis after Donald Trump’s inauguration (1/20/17), White House correspondent Mark Landler wrote of Trump, “It remains an open question whether he will continue to be the relentless populist who was on display on Friday.”

      Really? Looking at Trump’s nominations and appointments—the clearest indication during the transition period of how a president-elect actually intends to govern—it’s hard to discern any signs of populism whatsoever…

    • Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!

      At the close of his inauguration speech, Trump stood in front of the US Capitol Building and raised his right fist in the air. In keeping with a speech that combined bombast and fury, he appeared at that moment more conquering king than elected president. Indeed all that was needed to complete the image was a giant sword in his left hand.

      As to the contents of his speech, we had classic right wing tropes of national renewal seasoned with a populist leftist tinge in the form of a pledge to prioritize the interests of American labor. “America First” was the overarching message of one of the most remarkable inauguration speeches the American people have ever been treated to, one that began with a declaration of war against the Washington establishment on behalf of ‘the people’, thus ramping up rather than tamping down the populism that had fueled his election campaign.

      For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

    • Trump’s Holy War against Islam

      There are three points worth consideration to understand Trump’s speech on radical Islamic terrorism. Each point is rooted in history and academic literature, and each point carries serious implications for the peace and security of the United States and the world.

      First, radical Islamic terrorism is presented as a threat to “the civilized world.” Historically, the phrase “civilized world” was coined in the era of colonialism to refer primarily to the European nations and by implication to the “uncivilized world” referred to Native Americans in Americas, slaves from Africa, and the colonized populations in Asia. Under contemporary standards of global discourse, the phrase “civilized world” is rarely used by diplomats, heads of states, or academic scholars. There is a new understanding that the world is blessed with numerous diverse civilizations, including the Islamic civilization that spans over centuries in all continents of the world. It is unclear whether President Trump includes fifty-six (56) Muslim countries as part of the civilized world.

    • Trump’s Bait and Switch

      Donald Trump has portrayed himself as a billionaire for the common people but his early presidency has the look of a flock of plutocrats feathering their own nests, write Michael Winship and Bill Moyers.

    • In First of Many, ACLU FOIA Request Seeks Information About the New President’s Conflicts of Interests

      The Trump transition has exposed potential conflicts of interest that could already be violating the Constitution.

      During the Trump administration, our country faces an unprecedented constellation of threats to the regular oversight processes that keep the powers that be in check. Faced with attacks on journalists critical of the president as perpetrators of “fake news,” an era of one-party rule threatening healthy competition between the branches of government, the constant subversion of democratic and ethical norms, and more, the ACLU and the citizenry will unfortunately have many opportunities to provide a public check to keep our government honest.

      Well, we just couldn’t wait: on Thursday, we filed our first Freedom of Information Act request of the Trump Era, seeking documents relating President Trump’s actual or potential conflicts of interest relating to his business and family connections.

      Since the election, it has become clear that during the Trump administration the public’s relentless focus on government transparency will be critical to documenting and pushing back against government violations of civil liberties. While Trump has, both during the election campaign and since his Electoral College victory, threatened to violate the Constitution in numerous ways, the presidential transition brought to the fore a host of potential ethical and financial conflicts of interest that undermine the Constitution in a pervasive way: by casting doubt on the longstanding American value of the impartiality in government decisionmaking.

    • Trump’s “Culture of Fear” Descends on Washington

      A chill of sorts is sweeping through Washington, D.C., and it’s not just the executive order President Donald Trump is expected to sign this week freezing most federal hiring. For the more than 2 million employees of the federal government, the Trump administration represents a threat unlike anything since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Sources close to his transition team tell Politico that the White House is finalizing plans to downsize agencies focused on domestic policy. Trump’s Republican allies recently introduced legislation that would allow them to cut the size of any federal employee’s salary to as low as $1, triggering fears of a bureaucratic purge. And, of course, Trump has nominated a cast of Cabinet members who seem dead set on eviscerating the very agencies they will likely soon lead.

      “What I am hearing from federal employees is a degree of apprehension that I have not heard since the Reagan transition,” Jeffrey Neal, the former H.R. director for the Department of Homeland Security, told Politico. Though federal employees have learned over the decades to adjust to incoming administrations and political shifts—and yes, even budget cuts from Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan—the Trump administration’s open antipathy toward their work, combined with Congress’s new proposal to target their livelihoods via spending legislation, is “basically creating an environment of fear within the government,” said a current federal employee. “In creating that culture of fear, it’s probably going to suppress some of the people from standing up to the administration.”

    • Sources say Trump’s CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

      An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

      Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

      An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

    • CIA Starts Recruiting Its Newest Asset: Donald Trump

      After a brutal start, the CIA is set to mend fences and win over “Customer Number One,” President Donald Trump, putting aside his awkward address to the agency on Saturday and doing what they do best: recruit him to their way of thinking.

      “Congratulations, he’s already recruited. Where is first place he showed up? His main intelligence agency,” said one former senior CIA official whose job used to be cultivating foreign sources.

      The CIA’s main job overseas is to get into the mind of foreign leaders, and to recruit foreign intelligence assets to help them do that, wooing and winning them into becoming useful to the CIA and the United States. Intelligence officials current and former say that’s what they’re now doing with Donald Trump, though slightly in reverse: studying what’s important to him to learn how best to get through to him, and how the intelligence agency can be a useful tool to his presidency.

    • Meet the people leaving Trump’s America

      When people first started talking about Donald Trump running for president, Sarah thought it was a joke and not something she had to take seriously. But then on 8 November, she says the “unthinkable” happened; Trump won the election.

      Sarah, who asked that we only use her first name out of concern for her safety, immediately called her husband, who was out of the country on business, and told him, “That’s it. I want to go, and I’m not kidding.” His response, she says: “I know. We can go.”

      So, next month, Sarah, 43, her husband, 45, and their two school-aged daughters will uproot themselves from the small Midwest town where they have lived for the past three-and-a-half years, and leave the US for a country thousands of miles away. They have no plans to come back.

    • Leaving Trump’s “America”

      It happens too often that some leader arises to power in a country to lead it into the abyss. Trump may be the guy to do that to USA. He has no moral compass, no respect for history nor forethought, and can’t do maths. He’s just charging ahead figuring that he will make it up as he goes along and fix things. If the first few days of his presidency are any indication the burden of responsibility has broken like a dropped teacup. His nominees for positions of power are getting through the filters of Congress. They are almost all old white men who want to make USA great again while enriching themselves and their friends. He’s attacked the free press in a cynical and disgusting manner. He’s demanded attention in places of memorial to true patriots and unashamedly lied to the public. He’s asserted that reproductive choice should not be available to women all over the world and he’s threatened a trade war with the world. He’s asserted that his vision is USA bullying every country worth trading with to gain advantage while calling the process “free trade”.

    • Here Is the ACLU’s 7-Point Plan of Action to Take on the Trump Administration

      After it became clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president, the ACLU got to work digging into his policy statements. In July, we released “The Trump Memos,” which was the first comprehensive constitutional analysis of his public statements and policy proposals regarding immigration enforcement, Muslim rights, torture, and freedom of the press. Our conclusions were alarming. According to our analysis, then-candidate Trump articulated policies that would flagrantly violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    • In Trump’s America, the Future of Police Reform Will Be Forged at the City and County Level

      One of the hardest things I’ve done in my career is to sit with the family of a man whose life has been taken by the police. In those meetings, as both a civil rights attorney and as and elected official, I have listened to a mother cry for the loss of her beloved son. Stories of a compassionate son, who made some mistakes in life, but did not deserve to prematurely die permeate the room.

    • Selectivity in Trashing Trump

      For instance, in his Inaugural Address, President Trump made clear that he would break with the orthodoxy of neoconservatism and liberal interventionism that has led to endless wars in the Middle East and a dangerous New Cold War with Russia.

      Trump declared: “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.

    • Trump reinstates ban on US funds promoting abortion overseas

      President Trump on Monday reignited the war over abortion by signing an executive order blocking foreign aid or federal funding for international nongovernmental organizations that provide or “promote” abortions.

      The so-called Mexico City policy, established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, blocks federal funding for international family planning charities that provide abortions or “promote” the procedure by providing patients with information about it, including by offering referrals to abortion providers.

    • Trump’s New York real estate buddies descend on DC

      When Donald Trump raises his right hand and puts his other on the the Lincoln Bible, his real estate friends from New York City will be standing nearby.

      [...]

      Inaugural attendees from the real estate world were major financial backers during Trump’s campaign as well. Roth and LeFrak each individually donated $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, and Lorber and Witkoff each gave $200,000, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission. Catsimatidis gave $100,000, Joe Cayre donated $50,000 and Ziel Feldman chipped in $25,000.

      LeFrak and Feldman confirmed through representatives that they would attend the inauguration. Cayre had a vacation commitment with his grandchildren that will keep him away from the festivities. Stan Gale Jr. said he, his father and sister will be at the inauguration. Catsimatidis, who when asked last summer which candidate he would support for president told TRD “I’m very friendly with both people running,” is also attending.

    • Trump Lost $1.2 Million at Hotel He Should Sell, Democrats Say

      President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel lost almost $1.2 million during its first two months of operation, before he was elected president, according to a letter released Monday by four congressional Democrats who say the president is violating the hotel’s lease with the federal government.

      Trump’s company had projected $397,000 in net income for September and October, according to the Jan. 23 letter. The lawmakers cited information from the General Services Administration, which oversees government real estate, in a letter to the agency that sought more information. Before the Nov. 8 election, business analysts suggested that the hotel had suffered as Trump lagged Democrat Hillary Clinton in polling.

    • Schumer to GOP: Push back against Trump’s ‘alternative facts’

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tore into the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on Monday over a top adviser using “alternative facts.”
      “We have to be able to agree on a baseline of facts. Facts aren’t partisan,” Schumer said. “They don’t have ‘alternatives.’ The alternative to fact is fiction.”

      He added that if the Trump administration is going to be “ignoring the facts on the ground — we’re going to have huge problems” and he said Republicans should join their Democratic colleagues in speaking out.

      “The need for Republicans to speak out when President Trump engages in the kind of rhetoric he engaged in this weekend,” he said. “A White House that presents ‘alternative facts’ needs to be called out for doing so – by both parties.”

    • Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway gets shut down by dictionary for calling lies ‘alternative facts’

      Donald Trump’s inauguration has been marred by a row over whether one of his key advisors told falsehoods or “alternative facts”.

      As the controversy spread, the social media team at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary clarified the definition of the word.

      “A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the company said in a tweet.

    • Sorry, Kellyanne Conway. ‘Alternative facts’ are just lies

      I just bought my first official souvenir of the Trump era. No, it wasn’t a pink pussycat hat. It’s a black T-shirt with white typography that says “Alternative Facts are Lies”.

    • ‘The Veil Has Come Off’—Jill Stein Rallies Occupiers After Trump Inauguration

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein told a crowd of supporters last night that President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday represented a “scary” moment in the country’s history—but said she was glad that the “veil has come off” and people are starting to turn against the“predatory bipartisan political system.”

      Stein made the remarks at Occupy Inauguration‘s “Inaugurate the Resistance” event at Almas Temple. Just hours before, 500,000 people turned up in the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington to protest the Republican agenda on healthcare, immigrant and the rights of racial and sexual minorities.

      The Massachusetts physician, who did not attend the demonstration, called it a “revolution” that has been “in the cards for quite some time”—and that both major parties are to blame.

    • Sanders: I’ll work with Trump on trade

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) praised President Trump Monday for pulling out of a massive Asia-Pacific trade deal, offering to work with him on the issue in the future.

      On Monday, Trump signed an executive order to end U.S. participation in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), former President Obama’s top trade priority during his second term. The Trump administration is expected to focus instead on bilateral trade deals with the countries included in the deal.

      “Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations,” Sanders said in a statement. “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

      Sanders hailed the move, saying the TPP is “dead and gone.”

    • US Is Officially Out Of The TPP, Though Not For Any Of The (Many) Good Reasons

      We’ve been quite vocal for more than six years about the problems of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and why it would do really bad things for intellectual property laws and expand the concept of corporate sovereignty over national laws. Throughout the campaign, both major candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, campaigned against the agreement, though many people (quite reasonably) doubted Clinton’s sincerity over that position.

      On the flip side, no one doubted Trump’s sincerity — but many of us disagreed with his reasons. Still, it’s at least marginally good news to have Trump officially get us out of the TPP negotiations, effectively killing the agreement.

    • Two days, two marches and very different hopes under a Trump presidency

      The demonstrators at the women’s march in St. Paul joined with others in cities and towns across Minnesota — in places like Mankato, Bemidji, Grand Marais and Morris. And they joined millions of other demonstrators around the world. They demanded protection for immigrants, the right to legal abortion and equal pay for women.

      Demonstrator Mohamed Yakub of Minneapolis said they’re issues that affect the whole of society.

      “It may be a women’s march, but women’s rights are human rights, everyone’s rights,” said Yakub. “We’re all in this together. I don’t see them as women’s rights. They’re rights for everyone.”

      A day later, the state Capitol grounds were host to another protest, this one to mark the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Several thousand people gathered for the annual anti-abortion demonstration.

    • From war to more war

      Well, it’s over … and good riddance. What began with a purchased Nobel Peace Prize and a lecture to the Middle East, under the then omnipotent eyes of Hosni Mubarak, has ended with a parting bang … yet another round of massive US air strikes in Libya and Syria.

      Forgive my cynicism, but if history is, in fact, a fair guidepost of what comes to be, Barack Obama’s parting shots at so-called “jihadi” camps most likely did little more than slaughter civilians … thereby enticing 10 times as many others to pick up a gun or a bomb and strike back, however possible, wherever feasible.

      Eight years ago the world held its collective breath for what would prove to be an all-too-brief moment with the election of a self-professed anti-war “liberal” to the most powerful and deadly office in the world.

    • Lawmakers in Eight States Have Proposed Laws Criminalizing Peaceful Protest

      Over the weekend, millions of demonstrators took to streets across the country to mobilize against the new president and his agenda, assembling in a national turnout that organizers call the beginning of a reinvigorated protest movement. But in states home to dozens of Saturday’s demonstrations, Republican lawmakers are moving to criminalize and increase penalties on peaceful protesting.

      Last week, I reported that such efforts were afoot in five states: In Minnesota, Washington state, Michigan, and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have proposed an array of anti-protesting laws that center on stiffening penalties for demonstrators who block traffic; in North Dakota, conservatives are even pushing a bill that would allow motorists to run over and kill protesters so long as the collision was accidental. Similarly, Republicans in Indiana last week prompted uproar over a proposed law that would instruct police to use “any means necessary” to clear protesters off of a roadway.

    • US: Reject Pompeo for CIA Director

      United States Senators should vote against the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo as director of the Central Intelligence Agency due to overriding concerns that he would use the agency’s surveillance and other powers in ways likely to violate rights on a broad scale, Human Rights Watch said today.

    • Donald Trump’s team defends ‘alternative facts’ after widespread protests

      Donald Trump began his first full week as US president firmly on the defensive, after millions of Americans took to the streets to protest against his election and the White House came under fire for brazenly lying to the public.

    • We Are Dissidents; We Are Legion

      On Friday, Donald J. Trump, the embodiment, instrument and provocateur of American animus, was installed — and I use that word with purpose and displeasure — as America’s 45th president. He delivered a particularly inauspicious speech to a seemingly sparse crowd, presenting a vision for America that would best be described as aggressive atavism, a retrograde positioning of policy that threatens to drag the country back to a time of division and fear and hostility, when some stand in the light by casting others into darkness.

      The speech was replete with phrases never before uttered in an Inaugural Address. Bleed, carnage, depletion and disrepair. Ripped, rusted and stolen. Tombstones, trapped and windswept. Urban, sad and Islamic. It felt at times as though he were reading aloud from a post-apocalyptic movie script.

      Indeed, some have pointed out that portions of the speech sounded eerily familiar to one delivered by the movie villain Bane in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Bane, too, promises: “We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you, the people,” even as he plunges the fictitious city into chaos.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amos Yee buckles under pressure from detention in US – lashes out against country he seeks asylum in

      Amos’ rant against the American system is a U-Turn from his earlier post where he said that incarceration in the US “is far better than Singaporean jail.”

      Yee landed in Chicago O-Hare Airport on 16 Dec with a tourist visa and was detained by the US authorities when they discovered text messages between him and a US-based Singaporean activist, Melissa Chen, about his bid for political asylum in America.

      Ms Chen has started a petition demanding the immediate release of Amos from American jail. She claimed that his detention highlighted the flaws of USA’s immigration policy and is contradictory to the principles of free speech America professes to hold. The petition has over 200 signatures.

    • China cracks down on tools used to get around web filters

      China is beefing up a campaign to root out services that circumvent the government’s internet censorship with a 14-month-long “clean-up” of the internet industry.

      The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a directive that it forbids the operation of virtual private networks (VPNs) or leased lines that allow users and businesses to access blocked overseas websites without government permission.

    • China declares unauthorised VPNs illegal

      The great Firewall of China just got higher, stronger, thicker and longer, with any VPN now requiring prior government approval. Why – because it’s one party communist system allows supreme political control over the state, military, and media.

      A notice released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Sunday said that all special cable and VPN services in China required prior government approval – a move effectively making consumer “cross-border” VPN service providers illegal. “China’s internet connection service market … has signs of ­disordered development that ­require urgent regulation and governance.”

    • China cracks down on VPNs, making it harder to circumvent Great Firewall
    • Memorial Drive series looks at the unexpurgated history of film censorship in Atlanta

      Memorial Drive is a collaborative series about the history of the arts in Atlanta. Putting a fresh spin on the old phrase “memory lane,” the series title also honors its namesake, the long road that runs from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain. The series explores the theme of memory, holding that, in order to move forward as a creative community, we also need to look backward. We invite readers to comment on social media and to offer ideas for further topics.

    • Yandere Simulator Dev Warns Other Developers About Twitch’s Censorship

      Twitch.tv runs an opaque ship when it comes to why some games get banned and others don’t. The support staff are extremely reticent when it comes to press statements; and the topic of censorship is never directly addressed by them. Well, one developer whose game was banned for nebulous reasons – and it was never explained why – decided to warn other developers about the issue.

    • A Year Later, Yandere Simulator’s Dev Says Twitch Still Hasn’t Explained Ban

      The developer of Yandere Simulator, a game about a sociopathic high school girl who murders her classmates, is demanding answers from Twitch, which banned the game exactly one year ago. Today, he posted a YouTube video describing his year of begging Twitch for a reason, which he says has led to nothing.

    • EFF to Court: Protect Free Speech From Overbroad Use of DMCA

      In order to make remix videos, do computer research, or make e-books accessible, people often need to bypass access controls on the media they own. This week, EFF explained to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the government cannot prohibit such speech without running afoul of the First Amendment, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case of VidAngel v. Disney.

      VidAngel provides a service that allows customers to view movies minus the parts it identifies as offensive. Disney and other entertainment companies, including Fox and Warner Brothers, argued that providing this service violates copyright law and the related law against bypassing access controls in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    • Bill to protect student journalists from censorship returns

      Witnesses urged the state to stand on the side of student press rights Monday evening, as members of a Missouri House of Representatives committee listened to testimony about a bill that would increase protections for high school and college student journalists.

      HB 441, the Cronkite New Voices Act, would prevent school administrations from censoring what student journalists can publish. Schools could limit the content if it is deemed libelous or slanderous, invades privacy, violates federal or state law or violates school policy or disrupts school.

    • Facebook must be wary of viewpoint censorship in fake news battle

      Facebook faced harsh criticism after people became aware that fake news stories were circulating on the social media platform during the recent presidential election, spreading false information to many voters. Prompted by widespread criticism that fabricated stories might have influenced presidential election results,

      Facebook’s Director of Product Fidji Simo said in a Jan. 11 press release that Facebook would be teaming up with journalists and multiple news organizations to create mechanisms to detect fake news and prevent it from circulating.

      A Dec. 17, 2016, Guardian article describes fake news as “completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue.”

    • China cracks down on bids to bypass online censorship
    • China Tightens Great Firewall By Declaring Unauthorised VPN Services Illegal
    • China Just Made It Even Harder to Get Around the Great Firewall
    • China cracks down on tools used to get around web filters
    • French internet censorship rose sharply in 2016
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Will the Momentum to Stop Solitary Grind to a Halt Under Trump?

      I spent 11 consecutive months in a cell that was the size of a parking space — and though I consider myself one of the lucky ones for making it out — the cost of solitary confinement still weighs heavily on me. For many years after my release, I couldn’t adjust to life on the outside. My relationships suffered greatly because the moment someone got too close to me, I would push them away. I was living in a crowded solitude, even though I was now ostensibly free. It took me many years to overcome the deep scars caused by my time in confinement. I am not alone in this, and I know that there are men and women with long-lasting or permanent damage to their mental health after solitary confinement.

    • On Donald Trump’s First Full Day in Office, Millions Showed the President That ‘Dissent Is Patriotic’

      As inauguration ceremonies commenced for President Trump, I was aboard the Amtrak 2117 from New York to Washington, D.C. Almost everyone on the train was female, and there was no need to ask anyone where they were going. The train was a river of pink pussy hats. Amy Schumer was in the next car over, with a running commentary on the inaugural, which a fellow passenger was streaming.

    • Faces From the Women’s March on Washington

      Hundreds of thousands of women and men crowded the streets of Washington in an anti-Donald Trump rally and march on Saturday. Photographer Polina Yamshchikov (@polinavy) shared faces and voices from the street for @theintercept on Instagram. As she followed along the route of the Women’s March on Washington, she asked the people that she met the same question: What are you marching for?

    • Proposed CIA Chief Seems Happy To Spy On Americans, Even If Using Info Hacked By Russians

      Last Friday, the first three of Donald Trump’s appointments were up for vote — with his DOD and DHS nominees sailing through with an easy vote. However, the Senate blocked Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for CIA. As we’ve discussed in the past, Pompeo is not concerned with violating civil liberties. In the past, we’ve noted that Pompeo put forth a sneaky fake amendment that pretended to defund NSA metadata collection, but which really reinforced it. He’s further defended spying on Americans’ metadata as the way government is supposed to operate. Oh, and did we mention that he angrily denounced SXSW for daring to have Ed Snowden speak there.

      That’s all quite concerning. But in opposing Pompeo for the CIA slot, Senator Ron Wyden has raised even more concerns — including about Pompeo’s willingness (or even eagerness) to use information hacked by the Russians to spy on Americans (and not just the Russians, but anyone else as well). That… should be concerning. As Marcy Wheeler explains, there were a long series of questions all leading up to the basic idea that Pompeo has no problem using whatever info is given to him to spy on people domestically, even if it comes from foreign hacking.

    • California Man Brings Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple For Not Preventing Drivers From Doing Stupid Stuff

      There’s lots of “me too” litigation flying right now. Multiple plaintiffs have advanced the theory that because terrorists kill people and terrorists use social media platforms to communicate, it somehow follows that social media platforms are at least partially responsible for terrorists killing people.

      Bed legislation tends to follow tragedies. So does bad litigation. In the aftermath of a car accident that killed a five-year-old girl, a lawsuit was brought against Apple for supposed negligence — solely because it has yet to implement a patented lockout mechanism that might have prevented the driver who killed the plaintiff’s daughter from using Facetime while driving.

    • FBI Decides It’s Finally Time To Do A Terrible Job Of Defending Civil Asset Forfeiture

      Perhaps sensing the wave of civil asset forfeiture reform might eventually come crashing against the seized beach houses of the federal government, the FBI has decided to post a defense of the oft-abused process at its website.

      The post speaks in warm terms about federal partnerships with state law enforcement agencies — partnerships often abused by local authorities to route around restrictive state laws governing forfeiture. Of course, there’s no mention of this particular facet of federal partnerships in the FBI’s post. Instead, the post does all it can to portray it as a legitimate tool of law enforcement, rather than the analogue for legalized theft it’s become.

      The FBI tries to spin this as a limited-use tool that only affects convicted criminals. But even in its defense of the process, it can’t help but enthuse about the near lack of limitations it enjoys.

    • An unwanted touch. Two lives in free fall. A dispatch from the drive to stop sexual assault on campus.

      The facts are largely undisputed: Two college students on summer break – he’s a sophomore; she, a freshman – make a date. It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2014, and their intentions are explicit. They meet and have sex – consensual, enthusiastic – when a passerby interrupts them.

      A few hours later, still together, the male student attempts to resume the sexual encounter. He reaches under her shirt to touch her breast. He stops immediately when she asks him to. They agree about these facts.

      Yet this “one-time, non-consensual touching,” as university documents summarize it, is the crux of a startling Michigan State University sexual misconduct case. It has generated a thick stack of legal documents, months of MSU administrator time, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills since the female student, known here as Melanie, formally complained on Sept. 25, 2015 – almost 16 months after the incident.

      More importantly, though, the case – which has traveled through an internal appeals process, exhausting the now-22-year-old man’s hope for reversal of sanctions at the university level – challenges what some might see as common-sense assumptions about sex and dating behavior. MSU’s findings draw sharply etched lines into the blurry world of dating intimacy and reveal the power of university administrators to mark a student as a sexual offender – for touching a lover’s breast after sex, miles from campus, without any accusations of violence, intimidation or stalking behavior.

      Deborah Gordon, the Bloomfield Hills lawyer representing the man, says she intends to file a federal lawsuit against the university. She calls the case “beyond ridiculous.”

    • Arrested Flag Burner Sues Arresting Officers

      Last summer, we brought to you the story of how Bryton Mellott, a young man in Urbana, IL, was arrested for posting a picture of himself burning the American flag on his social media accounts. The story was strange on a variety of levels. First, the law utilized to arrest him, one of many flag-burning prohibitions that exist in laws at the state level, had been declared unconstitutional decades prior to it having ever been enacted. Burning the flag has been codified as a form of protected free speech, no matter how stomach-turning any individual might find it. It was for that reason that the local State’s Attorney’s office requested that the police let Mellott go and didn’t even attempt to bring any kind of charges against him, because they couldn’t. The police report also noted that Mellott had been taken in for disorderly conduct, referencing the backlash his actions caused, which is insane. Blaming a victim of threats for receiving those threats as a reaction to protected speech ought to be beneath the common citizen, nevermind those we actually entrust to enforce the law.

      But perhaps the strangest part of the story, previously un-noted by us in our original post, the impetus for Mellott’s arrest was one officer’s apparent desperate search to find something for which to arrest him.

    • CIA Nominee Leaves Door Open to Torture, Making Senate Vote a Test of Principles

      CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo — whose confirmation vote in the Senate is set for Monday — has said he is open to changing the rules governing the interrogation of detainees, which could mean re-authorizing the use of the torture technique called waterboarding.

      The vote is shaping up as a test for Senate Democrats, who will have to choose between letting Donald Trump fill a key national-security post, on the one hand, and support for basic human rights on the other.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • IPv6 Transition: A Quick Guide

      Despite the much-anticipated depletion of public IPv4 addresses, adoption of network address translation (NAT) has led most enterprises to continue using IPv4 both internally and at the internet edge. But as companies refresh their networks and IoT begins to pick up steam, many network administrators are finally making the choice to incorporate IPv6 in their network in some capacity. Here are some fundamentals when it comes to an IPv6 transition.

    • Trump’s FCC Pick Doesn’t Bode Well For Net Neutrality

      President Donald Trump has tapped Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission’s senior Republican member, to head the regulatory agency. The appointment, announced by the FCC today, does not require congressional approval since Pai is already an FCC commissioner.

      Pai replaces Tom Wheeler, who announced last month that Inaugeration Day would be his last with the FCC. His departure gave Republicans a two-to-one majority in the FCC.

    • Trump’s new FCC chief is Ajit Pai, and he wants to destroy net neutrality

      Donald Trump has elevated Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, giving control over the agency to a reliable conservative who’s been opposed to pretty much every big action the commission has taken in recent years, from establishing net neutrality to protecting consumer privacy to restricting major cable mergers.

      Pai has been a commissioner at the FCC since 2012, when he was appointed by then-President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. Though an Obama appointee, Pai does not share Obama’s progressive views and is by no means someone Obama would have chosen to lead the commission. Rather, there’s a tradition of giving two out of the FCC’s five seats to the minority party; in nominating Pai — at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican — Obama was sticking to that tradition.

    • Trump just made a vocal opponent of today’s ‘open internet’ laws the next FCC boss

      President Donald Trump has named Ajit Pai as the 34th chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

      Pai confirmed the appointment on Twitter on Monday. Politico’s Alex Byers and Tony Romm first reported the news last week.

    • SNMP

      How would you find out how much RAM is free on your Linux desktop? That’s a really easy question with a lot of answers—free, any of the implementations of top and Glances all are valid responses. How would you find out how much RAM is free on 200 Linux instances, which are running on a mixture of real and virtual hardware, in dozens of physical locations spread out around the globe? That’s a much bigger problem, and there is a tool to make the job easier. However, the lack of upkeep on the standards and lack of development support for the Linux implementation are resulting in proprietary standards creeping in where there once was a more open standard.

      SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) was designed in 1990 to read and write structured data on devices attached to a network, such as how much free RAM there is. Yes, and this is important, the M in SNMP really does stand for “Management”, not “Monitoring”. Although SNMP is usually used to request operational status information, the SNMP “write” functionality can be used to change the configuration on remote devices. Given the lack of security and authentication in the SNMP protocol, SNMP “write” functionality almost always is disabled on the modern internet, and I will not be discussing it here.

  • DRM

    • Amazon offers to scrap e-book clauses to settle EU antitrust probe [Ed: Many other issues exist. DRM, deletes (burns) your books etc.]

      U.S. online retailer Amazon (AMZN.O) has offered to alter its e-book contracts with publishers in a bid to end an EU antitrust probe and stave off a possible fine, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

      Amazon, the biggest e-book distributor in Europe, proposed to drop some clauses in its contracts so publishers will not be forced to give it terms as good as those for rivals, the Commission said.

      Such clauses relate to business models, release dates, catalogs of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency prices, agency commissions and wholesale prices.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • US Supreme Court examines many angles in Slants oral arguments

        Supreme Court justices grappled with issues including whether trade marks are commercial speech rather than expressive speech, in oral arguments in Lee v Tam. Natalie Rahhal examines the arguments made and how the court may rule

      • The Michael Jordan case in China – to be continued

        You may find the Gif file (left, showing a courtroom demonstration of the identity between silhouettes) shocking, however, the SPC upheld the former decision regarding this silhouette, i.e. Michael Jordan cannot enjoy the right of portrait on it. We may all feel the impulse to say something cynical about it, but think twice, the grounds might be shaking: without seeing the Gif file, will you still recognize the figure is Michael Jordan? Can’t it be other basketball players? Which part of the figure makes you firmly and exclusively believe that it is Michael Jordan? Let’s be fair, it could be any muscular man that has a similar figure and happens to hold a basketball… It is not a slam dunk, or any other motion that require high skills, is it?

    • Copyrights

      • Hollywood Doesn’t Represent All Creators

        One of the biggest pitfalls in copyright policymaking is to treat creators of copyrighted content as a monolithic entity with identical interests and concerns. When massive entertainment companies ask for dangerous new types of copyright protection, they imply that all artists share the same set of interests (which allegedly line up with those of the big companies themselves). It would be a mistake even to accept the entertainment industry’s interpretation of the will of the artists it represents, let alone extend it to the community of artists in general. Copyright should take into account the needs of artists and creators of all stripes, reflecting the differences among their tactics, their goals, their business models, and how they go about creating new works.

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