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01.28.17

Links 28/1/2017: New Plasma 5 for Slackware, Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Oracle Switching Solaris To A Continuous Delivery Model

      Last week talk of Solaris heated up again with Solaris 12 being removed from the Oracle road-map, after rumors of Oracle canning Solaris occurred in early December, meanwhile there are also more layoffs happening at Oracle. Oracle finally issued a blog post this week with a bit more clarification on the matter.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Performance

      This page links to various Linux performance material I’ve created, including the tools maps on the right. The first is a hi-res version combining observability, static performance tuning, and perf-tools/bcc (see discussion). The remainder were designed for use in slide decks and have larger fonts and arrows, and show: Linux observability tools, Linux benchmarking tools, Linux tuning tools, and Linux sar. For even more diagrams, see my slide decks below.

    • Shutting down FTP services

      Those of you who have been around for a while may remember a time when you used to be able to mount kernel.org directly as a partition on your system using NFS (or even SMB/CIFS). The Wayback Machine shows that this was still advertised some time in January 1998, but was removed by the time the December 1998 copy was made.

      Let’s face it — while kinda neat and convenient, offering a public NFS/CIFS server was a Pretty Bad Idea, not only because both these protocols are pretty terrible over high latency connections, but also because of important security implications.

    • Video: LCA 2017 – The Kernel Report

      It is that time of year again… linux.conf.au. They have been doing a great job getting the videos up fast and they are still uploading more. Here’s Jon Corbet’s talk, The Kernel Report.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 Vulkan vs. Mesa 17.1-dev RADV Performance

        Given yesterday’s release of the AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 driver I’ve been busy running various benchmarks on this first AMD Linux hybrid driver release of 2017. A number of OpenGL benchmarks will be published this weekend compared to the latest Mesa RadeonSI Git driver while for your viewing pleasure today is a look at the Vulkan performance of AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 compared to the Linux 4.10 + Mesa 17.1-dev driver stack for Dota 2 and The Talos Principle.

      • Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu On An Intel Pentium CPU

        When we are usually running our cross-distribution/OS Linux comparisons, we are generally using Intel Xeon or Core i5/i7 CPUs and whatever else is the latest and greatest hardware, since that’s what excites us the most. But a Phoronix Premium member recently inquired whether Intel’s performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution would also be of benefit on lower-end hardware. So for some benchmarking fun this weekend, here are some Ubuntu 16.10 vs. Clear Linux results on an older Pentium system.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • New ISOs released!

        Today we released new BlackArch Linux ISOs. For details see the ChangeLog below.

    • Slackware Family

      • Plasma 5_17.01 for Slackware

        My previous post concerned itself with the question: what do I spend my time on? Keeping Plasma 5 working on Slackware 14.2 and -current, and for 32bit as well as 64bit architectures, is simply too time-consuming for a monthly release. I asked for your opinion and I was glad for all the feedback I have received. Predominantly, people are using 64bit Slackware and I saw both the stable 14.2 and the -current development tree mentioned. It looks like a small minority of people is running Plasma 5 on 32bit Slackware – not my target of choice but everyone has his or her own reasons and I am not here to doubt those.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Huawei Extends its Cooperation with Red Hat to Public and NFV Clouds
      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Make Fedora fonts better

          Citizens of the Internet, welcome. Fonts in Linux are a rather neglected topic; there are things with a higher delight factor we could talk about, discuss, test, and indeed, write. But fonts be probably one of the most important elements of modern computing. Because we spend countless hours staring at monitors, and the precision of displayed information affects our productivity, health, mood, and ability to remain in front of a screen.

          It’s not all about fonts, but then, it is. Types of displays, pixel density, color calibration, screen resolution, lighting, viewing distance, and many other factors affect how we experience text before us. But for any given hardware and setup, there’s a drastic variation among operating systems. Windows and Linux. And then, each distro has its own way of showing text. We talked about this in my songesque-titled article, and one of the things I mentioned was the inferiority of Fedora fonts compared to Ubuntu. I want to focus on this claim some more today, and eventually, give you better fonts. Let’s do-oo-oo-oo it.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian at FOSDEM 2017

        On February 4th and 5th, Debian will be attending FOSDEM 2017 in Brussels, Belgium; a yearly gratis event (no registration needed) run by volunteers from the Open Source and Free Software community. It’s free, and it’s big: more than 600 speakers, over 600 events, in 29 rooms.

      • Derivatives

        • Am I a target now?

          While reading the Tails 2.10 changelog I stumbled upon the fact that Tails now supports exFAT. Since Tails is Debian based I just checked the image and indeed it contains the fuse-exfat package. Do I’ve to assume that I’ve now another set of crosshairs on my back just because it’s one possible maintainer you could attack to place malicious code into Tails?

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Opt-In Flavors Finally Get Their Alpha Release, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical today released the second Alpha of the upcoming Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system, which, in fact, is the first Alpha of the new series.

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Spins Do Their Lone Alpha Release
          • Ubuntu 17.04 Alpha 2 Released, Available to Download Now
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released

              Today I am happy to announce the first scheduled update release of the Bodhi Linux 4 branch – Bodhi Linux 4.1.0. This release serves to package up the fixes for a few bugs that slipped through the cracks in the 4.0.0 release, as well as provided updated package sets for the install ISO images. Most notably these ISO images come with EFL 1.18.4, Linux Kernel 4.8, and a new Moksha Theme based on the “Arc Dark” theme. Existing Bodhi 4.0.0 users already have the bug fixes incorporated into these ISO images, but they will need to manually install the newer kernel and theme if they wish to utilize them.

            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released with New Moksha “Arc Dark” Theme, Linux Kernel 4.8
            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Ubuntu-based distro now available with updated kernel and new theme

              There are so many Linux distributions nowadays, that it can be hard to be excited by them. Linux Mint, for example, releases too many versions of its operating system; news of an update can become rather ho-hum. Major Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu and Fedora, remain exciting, however.

              Some smaller Linux-based operating systems are still worthy of attention, however, and one such distro is Bodhi. Based on Ubuntu, the lightweight OS is very unique thanks to the Moksha desktop environment. Because of its familiarity, that DE makes Bodhi a smart choice for Windows users looking to switch to Linux. Today, Bodhi reaches version 4.1.0.

              “Today I am happy to announce the first scheduled update release of the Bodhi Linux 4 branch — Bodhi Linux 4.1.0. This release serves to package up the fixes for a few bugs that slipped through the cracks in the 4.0.0 release, as well as provided updated package sets for the install ISO images. Most notably these ISO images come with EFL 1.18.4, Linux Kernel 4.8, and a new Moksha Theme based on the ‘Arc Dark’ theme. Existing Bodhi 4.0.0 users already have the bug fixes incorporated into these ISO images, but they will need to manually install the newer kernel and theme if they wish to utilize them,” says Jeff Hoogland, Bodhi Linux.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce And KDE Editions Available For Download

              The Linux Mint project has released Xfce and KDE version of its Linux Mint 18.1 operating system. Shipping with Xfce 4.12 and KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS desktop environments, these releases are based on Linux kernel 4.4 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The users can download the 32-bit and 64-bit images of these versions via Linux Mint’s website.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How communities in India support privacy and software freedom

    The free and open source communities in India, particularly Mozilla and Wikimedia communities, are leading two unique global events for better privacy and in support of free software.

    January Privacy Month is led by the Mozilla community in India to educate the masses about online privacy via both online and offline outreach events. And, Freedom in Feb is led by the Centre for Internet and Society to educate content producers like bloggers and photographers on how to donate their content under open licenses.

  • Who’s Responsible If An Open Source Software Powered Self-Driving Vehicle Kills Someone?

    Hotz recently wrote in an email that “It’s not my code, I did not release it” and that Comma.ai Inc. “released and maintains it.” Comma.ai Inc. includes the disclaimer, ““THIS IS ALPHA QUALITY SOFTWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLYING WITH LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED.” Hotz is technically protected by the standard MIT open source license.

  • Open source challenges reduce menu choices in Docker data storage

    I don’t think the decision that we made indicts the whole industry. There’s a lot of momentum around Docker itself; Kubernetes is going crazy right now. There’s definitely lots and lots of uptake. But I still think it’s going to be tough for people to make significant money with open source software, because the difference between usage and revenue right now for everybody is a huge gap.

  • The hackers religion of open source: A manifesto (kind of)

    Technology can be seen as a religious experience. Tim Bradshaw from the Financial Times, in an interview with Founders Fund compared the first VR experience with discovering faith: “You either have that experience and you believe in God, and you then feel so strongly about it you want to convince other people that their life would be improved by having God in it.”

  • Events

    • gbgcpp

      Another interesting weeks has passed by. We held our first Gothenburg C++ meetup with a nice turn up. We met at the Pelagicore offices in Gothenburg (thanks for the fika) and decided on a format, the cadence and future topics for the group. If you want a primer in C++ and Qt in the next few months, make sure to join us! All the details are on the gbgcpp meetup page. For those of you not based in Gothenburg, there is a Sweden C++ group based in Stockholm.

    • There’s One Week Until FOSDEM 2017

      Next week is the annual Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM) taking place in Brussels, Belgium.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 51.0.1 and Thunderbird 45.7 Land in All Supported Ubuntu OSes

        If you’ve been waiting to install the recently released Mozilla Firefox 51.0 web browser on your Linux-based operating system, today we have some good news for you, especially if you’re using the popular Ubuntu.

      • Mozilla delivers browsing privacy to millions of Firefox users

        Mozilla’s contribution to Data Privacy Day 2017 centers on its privacy browser Firefox Focus is now available for iOS in 27 languages benefitting millions of users worldwide.

        The company said this launch is part of its on-going campaign to give users more control over their web experiences. In this case the ability to erase their web history. The initial rollout of Firefox Focus took place in November 2016 and from that the company said it realized there were a huge number of people who wanted to wander through the web anonymously.

      • I cannot continue working on my add-ons anymore. I’m sorry, but it’s time.

        Some time ago, Mozilla announced WebExtensions as the future of Firefox add-ons. At the time, it was not fully clear to me what this would mean for my add-ons, I was optimistic in that they would at least keep working in some way, but over this past year it became clear that this is not the case.

        WebExtensions are great for adding functionality to the browser, and without a doubt are versatile and easy to use. However, manipulation of the browser window’s interface and functionality will be extremely limited by definition, and even if it wasn’t, the implementation of such abilities is nearly impossible to achieve in WebExtensions.

      • Firefox Focus Now Available in 27 Languages for iOS
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK’s GDS to renew focus on reusable software

      The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) will renew its focus on the creation of reusable, open source software projects, says Anna Shipman, GDS’ Open Source Lead. It is a subtle shift from making source code publicly available – the default of the past five years, to creating real open source projects – getting a community involved and providing support for its reuse.

    • Germany and Italy to cooperate on standardisation

      The governments of Italy and Germany will intensify their cooperation on ICT standardisation, the two agreed on 18 January at a conference in Berlin. The countries want to advance the digital single market and set the pace for other European countries, announced the German government.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7.0 vs. LLVM Clang 4.0 Performance With Both Compiler Updates Coming Soon

      LLVM Clang 4.0 is set to be released in February while GCC 7 will be released as stable in March~April. For those curious how both compilers are currently performing, here is our latest installment of GCC vs. LLVM Clang benchmarking on Linux x86_64.

      From an Intel Core i7 6800K Broadwell-E box running Ubuntu 16.04, I just wrapped up fresh GCC and Clang C/C++ benchmarks. On the GCC side were 4.9.4, 5.4.0, 6.3.0, and 7.0.0 snapshot. On the LLVM Clang side was Clang 3.9.1 and Clang 4.0.0 SVN.

Leftovers

  • Disqus Now Requires Either Ads or Paid Subscription for its Commenting Platform [iophk: “disqus is a common way to block comments in general while at the same time pretending to allow them”]

    You also used to be able to use Disqus for free, but that changed this past week when the company started telling websites that use Disqus that they had to either sign up for the paid service or turn on the Disqus ads.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • In fight for Americans’ health, Big Soda is winning

      Nearly two-thirds of kids (ages two- to 19-years-old) drink at least one sugary drink a day, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, kids and adults have stopped making progress in cutting back on their taste for sweet drinks. After a steady decline in the past decade, sugary beverage consumption appears to be hitting a plateau.

    • Antibiotic resistance on the rise: Superbug infections found in Chinese hospitals

      New research suggests a worrying number of people in China may be infected with bacteria resistant to an antibiotic used as a last resort.

      Researchers examined more than 17,000 samples from patients with infections of common bacteria found in the gut, in two hospitals in China’s Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, over eight years. About 1 percent of those samples were resistant to colistin, often considered the last option in antibiotics.

      The study, published Friday in the Lancet journal, is one of the first to document the extent of drug-resistant infections in more than one Chinese province.

      For decades, China has used colistin in its agriculture industry to speed animals’ growth, but the drug was not used in people. Scientists say the latest work is further evidence that overuse in animals can spread to people. Chinese officials earlier this year approved colistin for use in hospitals, raising fears that it could worsen the resistance problem.

    • US Army Extends Comment Period On Proposed Exclusive Zika Licence

      The US Army has extended the comment period on the proposed licence to pharmaceutical company Sanofi on technology necessary to create a vaccine for the Zika virus. This is the second extension, and will permit public comments through 10 March 2017.

    • WHO-Netherlands To Hold Fair Pricing Forum In May

      The World Health Organization and The Netherlands government will co-host a meeting in the spring that brings experts together to look at high drug prices and government purchasing of medicines.

      The forum is planned for the first half of May in The Hague, according to Daniela Bagozzi of the WHO Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products, which is handling the initiative at the WHO.

    • SNP calls on PM not to lower food and safety standards in her bid to get US trade deal

      THERESA May has been called on by the SNP leadership not to lower Britain’s food and safety standards in her desire for a trade deal with America.

      The issue was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions by Angus Robertson, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, who asked Mrs May if she would be willing to make sacrifices on privatisation of healthcare or food safety to secure a deal with President Donald Trump.

      He told MPs: “The European Union, which we are still a part of, has amongst the highest food safety standards anywhere in the world and we are proud on our continent to have public national health systems.

  • Security

    • WordPress 4.7.2 Security Release

      WordPress 4.7.2 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

    • Alleged LinkedIn hacker is stuck between a Trump and a hard face

      PITY ALLEGED LINKEDIN HACKER Yevgeniy Nikulin. He is currently facing extradition requests from both the USA and Russia, suggesting that he is doomed for Putin or Trump style punishment.

      Nikulin is suspected of hacking LinkedIn, which is a glue-like social network for businesses and business people. If you are not on it, someone has probably still tried to connect you to it. If you are on it, you were probably hacked when it was. A lot of people were.

    • Security is now ‘number one priority’ in app development

      VESTED INTEREST AND APP TESTING COMPANY F5 Networks has advised that security is now a more important consideration than availability when it comes to application deployment.

      What a trade off to make. Security or availability? Surely there is equal room for both? We don’t make the rules and we don’t do the surveys. F5 does the latter, studying how the companies that buy and use apps decide where to spend their money.

      It produces this regular report called ‘The State of Application Delivery’. 2017′s is just out, and it finds that the whims of companies has changed because of the cloud and insecurity.

    • Securing MySQL DBMS

      MySQL, owned by Oracle since 2009, is the number one open source database for successful startups and Web-based applications, loved by such iconic social networks as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others. The database comes in two different editions: the open source MySQL Community Server and the proprietary Enterprise Server. Today, we will discuss the MySQL Community Server, and more specifically the basic security aspects of setting up this DBMS.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How to make America great again? Bully Mexico.

      The inauguration of the new US President, Donald Trump, certainly carried some jingoistic overtones. His electoral success was to a great extent built on his promise to put America first and protect the interests of ‘our people’ and in doing so, he has organised a line-up of usual suspects: the political establishment, the CIA, radical Islam, the press, women’s rights, China, and of course, Mexico. As central points in his campaign, his short-term popularity as a president will be measured on his ability to get visible results in these areas. And anyone unconvinced by the President’s ability to put his words into action should only see his performance during his first week in office.

      On Mexico, Trump will continue the policy trend set by his two previous incumbents of heightened security on the US-Mexico border and deportations. “We’re going to build that wall” brought Trump’s controversial character into the international spotlight during the Republican primaries. Yet this is a symbolic policy, radical and controversial for the unacceptable prejudice and slurs against Mexicans with which it was delivered, rather than offering a new solution to the challenges of migration.

    • Food scarcity caused by terrorists will take time to fix – Lai Mohammed

      Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the food crisis caused by Boko Haram in the North East will take a while to resolve.

      Mohammed made the comment on Thursday, January 26, while receiving members of the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative in Abuja.

      “The Boko Haram insurgency affects seven countries and more than 20 million people are also affected. The food security or scarcity caused by the Boko Haram will take time to fix, this is because, for six years, people could not go to their farm,” Mohammed said.

    • FGM clinic hailed as ‘life-changing’ to close after losing funding

      A “life changing” clinic which helps women and girls subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) could be forced to close in March after losing its council funding.

      The Acton FGM Community Clinic in West London – where FGM figures are the highest in the country – is the only facility in the country to offer reversal of the practice.

      Ealing Council and Imperial NHS Trust have funded the service for the past decade, but the council is withdrawing money for rent of the space and other costs – and health commissioners have refused to plug the gap.

      The procedure, also known as female circumcision or “cutting” is considered child abuse under UK law, where it has been illegal since 1985.

    • Malmö police chief: ‘Help us’

      After a wave of violence in Sweden’s third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: “Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.”

      In an opinion piece published by regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, he describes an “upward spiral of violence of great proportions” in the city, where police are currently dealing with 11 ongoing murder investigations and around 80 attempted murders.

    • American Muslims Stop More Terror Attacks Than The NSA

      An entry ban on the residents of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees was touted by President Donald Trump’s administration as a vital part of an effective counterterrorism policy.

      On January 27, he signed an executive order that temporarily banned refugees and indefinitely suspended resettlement for all Syrian refugees. The order reportedly targeted citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for “extreme vetting” if they would like to come to the United States.

      “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want ’em here,” Trump proclaimed, when signing the order. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

      Previously, Trump promised a “Muslim registry” and increased surveillance of Muslims.

      Yet, experts warn that this policy will be seen by American Muslims as discriminatory and could actually undermine one of the U.S.’s major counterterrorism assets: Muslims themselves.

    • Kamala Harris: ‘Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban’

      Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is ripping President Trump for his executive order on refugees, saying it is nothing short of a Muslim ban.
      Trump’s order declares that “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States” and suspends their entry until the president has determined they have been sufficiently changed.

      “On Holocaust Memorial Day, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban,” Harris said in a statement.

    • Islamophobia is alive in America

      Alaa Ibrahim spends most of her free time at school socializing and relaxing with her friends in the Student Center. Never could she have thought that her peaceful time could turn into a battleground of hate.

    • Editorial: Stop ignorance; Embrace understanding

      Since 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror, Muslims have become easy targets for discrimination in Western society. This is especially true for Muslim women who are easily identified as Muslim by their headscarf, known as a hijab, worn by certain practitioners.

      Despite what many people think, Muslim is not a race of people, but rather a name for practitioners of the religion of Islam.

    • Race politics: Racializing Islam and seeing beyond stereotypes

      In today’s political climate, many people overlook the difference between the “religious” and the “fanatical”, as the media often hastily interlaces those terms when it comes to Islam.

      Western media have regularly designated persons who allegedly follow Islam and have committed atrocious crimes as Muslims in headlines, while criminals and terrorists who follow other faiths are not branded by their religions.

    • In Trump Era, Young Muslims Question Respectability Politics of Mosques

      Possibly this week, President Trump might sign yet another executive order, this time restricting entry to the United States from majority Muslim countries [read a draft obtained by HuffPo here]. This, on the heels of the executive orders he just signed to ramp up immigration enforcement and enable the building of the U.S.-Mexico border wall he promised during his campaign. Muslim and immigrant groups, especially youth, are mobilizing against these actions, with a major protest taking place last night in New York City’s Washington Square Park.

    • Visit a mosque

      About half of Americans think at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, which is roughly the same amount of Americans who do not personally know a Muslim. Next to not knowing a Muslim, one of the other bigger shifts in opinion on Islam is due to age — according to FiveThirtyEight, a respondent was more likely to express negative sentiments towards Muslims the older they were. There is clearly a disconnect between what we Americans think we know about Islam and the actual facts.

    • A mix of despair and resolve for US Muslims in Trump era

      Four days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, mental health counsellors hosted a webinar on how their fellow American Muslims could cope. They surveyed the political landscape: a White House framing Islam itself as a threat, a surge in anti-Muslim hostility and suspicion of immigrants in general.

      The counsellors offered tips such as limiting time on social media. And they cautioned against withdrawing in discouragement, worried about losing whatever foothold Muslims have gained in public life since the crucible of Sept. 11.

    • Nobel Peace winner Malala ‘heartbroken’ by Trump order

      Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist and Nobel Peace laureate, said Friday she was “heartbroken” by Donald Trump’s order on refugees and urged the US president not to abandon the world’s “most defenseless.”

      “I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” said the 19-year-old, shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after publicly advocating education for girls in her home country.

      “In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families,” she added in a statement just moments after Trump signed the decree.

    • Nuclear ‘Doomsday Clock’ ticks closest to midnight in 64 years

      Atomic scientists reset their symbolic “Doomsday Clock” to its closest time to midnight in 64 years on Thursday, saying the world was closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

      The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and displayed on its website, is widely viewed as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to disaster.

      Its hands were moved to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes.

      “The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it’s ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room,” Lawrence Krauss, the bulletin’s chair, told a news conference in Washington.

      The clock was last set this close to midnight in 1953, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thursday’s reset was the first since 2015.

    • From Tweet to Trade War, Trump Shreds US-Mexico Relations in 24 Hours

      President Donald Trump has bragged throughout his career that he makes “great deals—the best deals,” but it took him less than a week to create a major international rift with one of the nation’s neighbors and chief trading partners.

      [...]

      Amid the dust-up about the border wall, it emerged Thursday that U.S. Border Patrol chief Mark Morgan is leaving the agency, the Associated Press reported, although it is unclear whether he resigned or was asked to leave.

    • Tomgram: William Astore, A Violent Cesspool of Our Own Making

      I came of age during America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union, witnessing its denouement while serving in the U.S. military. In those days, the USSR led the world’s weapons trade, providing arms to the Warsaw Pact (the military alliance it dominated) as well as to client states like Cuba, Egypt, and Syria. The United States usually came in second in arms dealing, a dubious silver medal that could, at least, be rationalized as a justifiable response to Soviet aggression, part of the necessary price for a longstanding policy of “containment.” In 1983, President Ronald Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union an “evil empire” in part because of its militarism and aggressive push to sell weaponry around the globe, often accompanied by Soviet troops, ostensibly as trainers and advisers.

      After the USSR imploded in 1991, dominating the world’s arms trade somehow came to seem so much less evil. In fact, faced with large trade deficits, a powerful military-industrial complex looking for markets, and ever more global military commitments, Washington actively sought to promote and sell American-made weaponry on a remarkable scale. And in that it succeeded admirably.

      Today, when it comes to building and exporting murderous weaponry, no other country, not even that evil-empire-substitute, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, comes faintly close. The U.S. doth bestride the world of arms production and dealing like a colossus. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms contractors sold $209.7 billion in weaponry in 2015, representing 56% of the world’s production. Of that, $40 billion was exported to an array of countries, representing “half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar,” as the New York Times put it. France ($15 billion) was a distant second, with Putin’s Russia ($11 billion) earning a weak third. Judged by the sheer amount of weapons it produces for itself, as well as for others, the U.S., notes Forbes, is “still comfortably the world’s superpower — or warmonger, depending on how you look at it.” Indeed, under President Obama, in the five-year period beginning in 2010, American arms exports outpaced the figures for the previous Bush-Cheney years by 23%.

    • The media–technology–military industrial complex

      Mills, like Eisenhower, reflected on the exponential growth and consolidation of corporations, the military establishment and government bureaucracy during the post-war period, along with the rapid development of communication technologies and infrastructures. These were not coincidental and autonomous processes but mutually constitutive of an ever more integrated elite power structure; and one that transcended the formal checks and balances of the political system.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • DOJ Blows Redaction Effort; Exposes Immigration Judges Accused Of Misconduct

      Some more inadvertent transparency has resulted from a FOIA lawsuit. Two years ago, the DOJ released a bunch of heavily-redacted documents containing complaints about immigration judges to the Public Citizen Litigation Group and the American Immigration Council. Withheld at the time — or so the DOJ thought — were the names of the judges named in the complaints.

      But that’s all history now. Even though the DOJ and the American Immigration Council are still litigating over the legality of redacting the judges’ names, those arguments have been rendered irrelevant. As Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast reports, additional research work by an immigration lawyer has uncovered the judges’ supposedly redacted names.

      [...]

      Understandably, these judges aren’t happy that complaints have been linked to their mistakenly-unredacted names. This has led to talk of a possible lawsuit against the DOJ for doing an inadequate job of protecting the judges’ privacy.

      On the other hand, government agencies are well-known for doing everything they can to ensure the public knows as little as possible about misconduct or illegal activity committed by government employees. No matter how egregious the violation, the names are withheld for as long as possible — in some cases indefinitely. Meanwhile, the merest accusation of illegal activity committed by a taxpayer tends to result in the release of that person’s name in full — along with any background info that can be dredged up. If these judges are worried about their reputations as the result of unsubstantiated allegations… well, hey, welcome to the world the rest of us live in.

      But underlying all of this is an error that undoes months of litigation and thousands of taxpayer dollars. The government — at least until recently — has been arguing this information should be withheld. Right or wrong, the information hasn’t been, but constituents are still on the hook for the costs of this particularly futile legal battle.

  • Finance

    • Gov. Cuomo’s New Affordable Housing Proposal Would Make Some Rents Less Affordable

      Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal that he dubbed the “Affordable New York Housing Program.” Turns out, one of its provisions would likely increase rents for most New York City tenants who move into buildings constructed under the program.

      Cuomo’s initiative, included in his budget proposal for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, would water down the rent regulations associated with a $1.4 billion tax break for real-estate developers. This program, known as 421-a, has historically required developers who accept the benefit to cap rent hikes in new apartments — a policy aimed at slowing the explosive growth of the city’s housing costs. Developers who built in certain high-demand areas, such as Manhattan, also had to set aside 20 percent of their units for low-income renters. The program was suspended last year and is now closed to new applicants.

    • Senator Demands Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin Tell the Truth About Robo-Signing

      Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has angrily responded to treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s false responses to questions submitted for the record to the Senate Finance Committee, stating that Mnuchin’s “answers to basic questions are at war with facts.” The Intercept called attention to those responses on Wednesday.

      Casey had asked Mnuchin if OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin led from 2009 to 2015, engaged in “robo-signing” — a process by which employees rapidly signed off on affidavits and other documents in foreclosure cases without proper reviews, creating false evidence submitted to courtrooms and county offices.

      Mnuchin claimed that OneWest did not robo-sign documents, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including an admission of guilt from a OneWest employee in a 2009 deposition.

      “This seems to be part of a pattern with Mr. Mnuchin,” Casey said in a statement emailed to The Intercept.

    • Mnuchin Lied About His Bank’s History of Robo-Signing Foreclosure Documents

      Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin lied in his written responses to the Senate Finance Committee, claiming that “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” when ample evidence proves that they did.

      Mnuchin ran OneWest Bank from 2009 to 2015 in a manner so ruthless to mortgage holders that he has been dubbed the “Foreclosure King” by his critics.

      The robo-signing scandal involved mortgage companies having their employees falsely sign hundreds of affidavits per week attesting that they had reviewed and verified all the business records associated with a foreclosure — when in fact they never read through the material and just blindly signed off. Those records, in many cases, were prepared improperly, but the foreclosures went ahead anyway because of the fraudulent affidavits.

    • Md. Democrat wants to ban local governments from boosting minimum wage

      A top Democratic lawmaker in Maryland wants to ban counties and cities from increasing minimum wage in their individual jurisdictions, a proposal that is likely to pit progressive Democrats who have embraced a national push for a $15 hourly wage against the party’s center- and right-leaning members.

      Del. Derek E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, has introduced a bill that would put the General Assembly in charge of setting minimum wage even for cities and counties.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit Plan Will Leave Britain Subject To Secret Global Trade Courts

      Theresa May’s plan for Brexit could leave the UK exposed to a network of secret international courts able to rule in corporations’ favour over the NHS, food standards, environmental rules and more, leading trade experts have told BuzzFeed News.

      In a detailed speech in January, May set out a plan for Brexit which would see the UK becoming a pioneer of free trade, signing deals with countries across the world, and leaving the jurisdiction of the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice (ECJ). May and her ministers have said they want to sign deals quickly to show the UK can be a “great, global trading nation” after Brexit.

      But trade experts have warned that signing such deals without the EU judicial system will almost inevitably mean signing up to systems known as “ISDS” (Investor State Dispute Settlement) – secretive, binding arbitration systems that can force countries to overturn their laws when it hurts corporate interests. These formed the core of international opposition to trade deals such as TTIP (between the EU and US) and CETA (between the EU and Canada).

    • How to Cut Infrastructure Costs in Half

      Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota.

    • Why Trump’s Meetings With CEOs Seeking Mergers Trouble Observers

      When the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer met now-President Donald Trump earlier this month, eager for a nod of assent for their controversial merger into an agrochemical and seed giant, they promised jobs and investment.

      Sure enough, a week later, the companies and a Trump spokesman announced that the combined company would create several thousand new U.S. jobs. Trump himself Twitter-touted the companies’ pledge.

      But as Trump talked with the CEOs from his perch on Fifth Avenue, antitrust experts shook their heads.

    • Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism

      We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.

      All this is dangerous enough. What’s even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Executive Orders Are Normal; Trump’s Are Only Appalling Because of What They Say

      With President Trump issuing a flurry of executive orders in his first week in office, it’s important for everyone who opposes him to understand the history of this political tool.

      Unfortunately for those appalled by Trump’s directives, it cannot be said that the mere issuance of the orders is an outrageous departure from tradition. The truth is that previous presidents have successfully used executive orders to make significant policy changes.

      Prior experience also suggests that while it won’t necessarily be impossible to successfully challenge Trump’s executive orders in court — several of George W. Bush’s were — it will be quite difficult, since judges usually interpret presidential power broadly, especially if the legislative branch isn’t objecting.

    • WHEN GOING TO BED WITH DOGS IS NEWS, GETTING UP WITH FLEAS IS A SCOOP – HERE’S THE ONE ABOUT TRUMP’S BED, PUTIN’S BED

      Almost everyone goes to bed at night. Some get up to urinate. The older, less continent ones can’t get up easily, so they urinate on themselves. If properly cared for, they do so in what is known in the geriatric product market as roll-ups.

      A small minority arrange to be urinated upon by others, though not usually on the bed they aim to sleep in. This may be an erotic pleasure for you, a perversion to the next man. The name for it is Golden Showers. If conducted between consenting adults, it’s not a crime. Paying for it may be a crime, depending on the local law on procuring. In the Russian criminal code it’s not a felony but a misdemeanour with a fine so small it usually isn’t enforced by the police; certainly not in expensive big-city hotels.

      A claim is being widely reported in the US media which supported Hillary Clinton for president that President-elect Donald Trump paid for at least two ladies to urinate on the bed in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel of Moscow. A former British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) agent named Christopher Steele has reported the episode in a memorandum dated June 20, 2016, because he was paid by a US client to do it; and also because he was paid to speculate that the Russian Security Service (FSB) filmed it, and has been blackmailing Trump ever since.

    • Trump called Park Service over inauguration crowd photos, report says

      The day after his inauguration, President Trump ordered the National Park Service to provide photographs of the National Mall crowds in hopes that they would corroborate his belief that the media misrepresented the inaugural crowd sizes, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

      According to the Post, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds provided the White House with additional aerial photographs after receiving personal orders from Trump last Saturday. The Post report also adds that Trump expressed displeasure over a tweet shared by the agency’s account, comparing his inauguration crowdto that of former president Barack Obama’s in 2009.

      Trump, who has become fixated with crowd-size totals since his presidential campaign, used his speech at the CIA headquarters — just hours after his inauguration — to claim that “one of the networks” had shown “an empty field,” while Trump felt the crowd he saw looked “like a million-and-a-half people” and “went all the way back to the Washington Monument” — a claim contradicted by aerial photos.

    • In world first, Denmark to name a ‘digital ambassador’

      Saying that tech giants like Google and Apple now have more influence than many countries, Denmark will become the first nation in the world to appoint a so-called digital ambassador.
      Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen revealed the plans in an interview with Politiken newspaper on Friday, saying that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft “affect Denmark just as much as entire countries”.

    • ‘Calexit’ supporters can start work to make ballot

      Californians who want their state to secede from the United States can now start collecting signatures to put the initiative on the 2018 ballot.

      The Yes California Independence Campaign has been around for at least two years, but the election of President Trump only saw increased momentum for the so-called Calexit cause. Trump lost California by more than 4 million votes, fueling interest in a Calexit — a play on the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” campaign that saw that country’s voters decide to leave the European Union.

      The California secretary of state’s office announced that the group could begin collecting signatures on Thursday.

      The group needs 585,407 signatures from registered voters over the next 180 days to qualify for the ballot.

    • Tesla CEO Elon Musk joins President Trump’s new manufacturing council, again getting closer to the new administration

      Tesla CEO Elon Musk was already on President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the White House announced today that he will also be joining the administration’s new manufacturing council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce.

      Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris was nominated as the head of the council by Trump last month.

      He headed a meeting on Monday at the White House. Musk was present along with several other industry leaders who are now also formally joining the manufacturing council. CNBC reports:

    • An open source insurgency against Trump?

      First of all it’s true, as many Leftist critics say, that Trump’s hardcore fascist voters simply don’t care if liberal commentators, mainstream journalists or fact-check websites prove his statements to be lie; they just laugh. And they just laugh at repeated statements that “this is not normal,” from liberals who judge the behavior of Trump and his henchmen from traditional civics textbook standards of legitimate behavior.

    • Trump says US will prioritize Christian refugees

      President Donald Trump said in a new interview Friday that persecuted Christians will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been “horribly treated.”

      Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been “impossible, or at least very tough” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.

    • After Denying Christian Refugees Refuge, Trump Promises Them Priority…

      I wasn’t planning to write anything more about Trump. I thought I’d seen it all… Today takes the cake however. After banning all refugees Christians, Muslims, Martians, all of them, he turns around and gives an interview promising to give Christians priority. He’s hurting all kinds of immigrants, even ones who already have started their travels to USA with a visa. He’s hurting families who have one or more members in USA and others being stuck in limbo somewhere else. He’s endangering refugees who are still mired in war somewhere. He’s endangering Christians who are targets of the murdering bastards. He’s destroying the long tradition of USA accepting refugees. What he’s done is not too different from banning Jews fleeing Hitler in WWII, yet now Trump claims to be a supporter of Israel, the country guilt built because of that.

    • How the Media Sowed the Seeds of Its Own Post-Trump Irrelevance
    • Donald Trump’s Muslim ban ‘means Iranian film director nominated for an Oscar won’t be able to attend ceremony’
    • Oscar-nominated Iranian director is blocked from attending awards ceremony, seven U.S.-bound migrants are stopped in Cairo and two refugees are held in JFK as Trump’s immigration ban kicks in
    • Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi to miss this year’s ceremony after President Trump’s Muslim ban
    • Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi to miss Academy Awards due to Trump immigration order
    • Oscar-nominated director can’t attend awards because of Trump ban: Iranian group
    • Donald Trump didn’t come up with the list of Muslim countries he wants to ban. Obama did.

      President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Friday that would impose a 30-day ban on entry to the United States for visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

      After word of Trump’s pending executive order spread, the administration faced a lot of pushback — especially the early stages of his Muslim ban.

      The executive order is widely viewed as the first step to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

      “We are excluding certain countries,” Trump said of visa issuances during a Wednesday interview with ABC News.

    • Google Parts With Podesta Lobbying Firm as Trump Enters Washington

      After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.

      The Podesta Group — whose chairman, Tony Podesta, is a major Democratic fundraiser and the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager — is no longer lobbying on behalf of Google, public disclosures show. The change coincided with Google’s bid to hire someone for “conservative outreach,” according to a December job advertisement.

      Veteran lobbyists say it’s not unusual to see such shifts after an election. U.S. companies are responding to a power shift in Washington that put Republicans in charge — but with a president who sometimes departs from party orthodoxy on issues like taxes and trade. President Donald Trump’s practice of calling out companies for cost-overruns on government contracts and decisions to move jobs overseas has also changed the stakes for corporate lobbyists.

    • Top Trump Adviser Stephen Bannon and Tiffany Trump Are Each Registered to Vote in Two States

      Early Wednesday, President Trump took to Twitter to call for “a major investigation” into voter fraud during the 2016 election. He specifically noted that this “include[s] those registered to vote in two states.”

      It seems that Trump’s investigation should start close to home, as one of his top advisers and his own daughter are currently registered to vote in two states. Stephen Bannon, former executive chair of Breitbart news, was registered in both Florida and New York during the 2016 election, and Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, is also registered in two states: New York and Pennsylvania.

    • Lawyer Who Defended Racial Gerrymandering Picked for A Top Civil Rights Job

      John Gore, an attorney who has worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, was selected by President Donald Trump to serve as a senior civil rights official at the Department of Justice.

      Gore’s new role as Trump’s choice for deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is notable because he will lead the division that oversees civil rights laws, including voter suppression issues. Trump and his nominee to lead the Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are strong supporters of voting restrictions such as voter identification.

      The appointment of Gore represents a dramatic break from the the civil rights legacy of the outgoing Obama Justice Department, which has filed suits against voter restrictions in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, and other states. Under Obama, the civil rights division was restructured to take on more cases, with former Attorney General Eric Holder describing the team as the agency’s “crown jewel.”

      In stark contrast, Gore has worked to defend Republican redistricting laws in Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and Florida — including maps that opponents say were drawn to maximize Republican seats in Congress and frequently employed a strategy of packing African-American voters into a single district to dilute their voting power in neighboring districts.

    • Trump’s Ego-Driven Lies

      The practice involves the President’s disdain for truth, but it is not just a matter of the volume of lies and how he has built his political career on falsehood, as disturbing as that is. Rather it is the more specific technique of unrelentingly repeating a lie so often and with such apparent conviction, while ignoring all contrary evidence and refutations, that through sheer repetition many people are led to believe it to be true.

      The technique has been demonstrated by authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Many results of modern opinion polling suggest that now, in the post-truth era, there is even greater potential for making the technique work than for dictatorships of the past. Even a fact-checking free press cannot stop it; the fact-checking gets shoved aside amid the repetition.

    • Ignoring the Voice of the People

      The massive protests that followed the inauguration should have reminded Donald Trump that he is a minority president with a slim-to-none popular mandate, as Michael Winship describes.

      [...]

      It sure didn’t sound like the troll we’ve come to know. A couple of days in, maybe the awesomeness of becoming the leader of the free world had penetrated his roiling psyche and settled him down. Nah. Clearly, he hadn’t written it. Because just two hours before, in a tone far more like the narcissistic whine we’re used to, the Trump account tweeted, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

      Not voting? Celebs? That sound you heard was my cognitive dissonance alarm hitting DEFCON 1. In both instances, the bad and not-quite-as-bad Trump personas were writing about Saturday’s worldwide protests, women’s marches in more than 500 cities in the United States — at least 3.7 million Americans — and more than another hundred demonstrations internationally, from London and Paris to that handful of hearty souls who displayed their protest signs in Antarctica.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How to Protect Your Digital Privacy in the Era of Public Shaming

      Every January, I do a digital tune-up, cleaning up my privacy settings, updating my software and generally trying to upgrade my security. This year, the task feels particularly urgent as we face a world with unprecedented threats to our digital safety.

      We are living in an era of widespread hacking and public shaming. Don’t like your political rivals? Beg Russia to hack them, and their emails mysteriously show up on Wikileaks. Don’t like your ex-spouse? Post a revenge porn video. Don’t like your video game opponents? Find their address online and send a SWAT team to their door.

      And, of course, the US government has the capability to do even more. It can spy on much of the globe’s Internet traffic and has in the past kept tabs on nearly every American’s phone calls. Like it or not, we are all combatants in an information war, with our data under constant siege.

      So how can ordinary people defend themselves? The truth is you can’t defend everything. But you can mitigate threats by reducing how much data you leave exposed for an intruder to grab. Hackers call this minimizing your “attack surface.”

    • Interesting times

      I usually don’t write political blog posts, especially if it relates to a country of which I’m not a citizen off nor live in. While I definitely have very clear opinions and views, I want to stay neutral in this blog and only talk about the technology side of things.

      It seems that the new US administration is in the process of shaking-up a lot of traditions and regulations, while also redefining the relations between the USA and the rest of the world. Even though a lot of these changes are very relevant to a lot of people on this planet, I want to focus on three topics that directly affect the IT, the free software world and especially my work at Nextcloud.

    • Column: Pardoning Manning doesn’t cover for new NSA powers

      Several days before leaving office, President Barack Obama did something few believed possible under his administration: He commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Manning was found guilty of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to Wikileaks.

      Like Edward Snowden, she was praised for doing so by multiple rights advocacy agencies and groups. This is a shocking outcome because the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act of 1917 more than any other administration, using more power to silence whistleblowers and their journalist contacts. From a public persona perspective, it may appear that the Obama administration is attempting to back its notion of being the “most transparent” administration, but one could argue the opposite after what was signed on Jan. 3.

    • NSA Keeps Contractor Records Secret Over ‘Changing Security Concerns’

      National Security Agency (NSA) officials refuse to release any information about its private contractors or even conduct search for related records.

      NSA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) chief liaison John Chapman denied a records request regarding the U.K.-based behavioral research company SCL group without searching for any responsive documents.

    • The Privacy Act Executive Order

      I teach internet law – and so I’m working through the Privacy Act statement in President Trump’s recent Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.

      [...]

      I may still be stuck in the globalist view of civil liberties, but my perspective is that the US should not take the general stance of providing civil liberties to its citizenry while affirmatively trampling those same civil liberties for non-citizens. Exceptions may arise, but as a general matter, no.

    • Twitter Reveals Two National Security Letters After Gag Orders Lifted; Rightly Complains About Gag Orders

      In the last few months, we’ve seen multiple internet companies finally able to reveal National Security Letters (NSLs) they had received from the Justice Department, demanding information from the companies, while simultaneously saddling those companies with gag orders, forbidding them to speak about the orders. It started last June, when Yahoo was the first company to publicly acknowledge such an NSL. In December, Google revealed 8 NSLs around the same time that the Internet Archive was able to reveal it had received an NSL as well. Earlier this month, Cloudflare was finally able to reveal the NSL it had received (which a Senate staffer had told the company was impossible — and the company’s top lawyer was bound by the gag order, unable to correct that staffer).

      And now we can add Twitter to the list. On Friday, the company announced that the gag order on two NSLs had been lifted. There’s one from 2015 and another from June of last year. Twitter appears relieved that it’s finally able to reveal these, but quite frustrated that it was gagged at all.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Muslim Women’s March Organizer Attacks Female Genital Mutilation Survivor Hirsi Ali: I Would Take Her ‘Vagina Away’

      Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York who was co-chair of the Women’s March protesting against Donald Trump, calls herself a “racial justice & civil rights activist.”

      Right.

      Sarsour is the same woman who tweeted one of the most vile attacks on a woman in the history of Twitter in 2011, when she targeted the heroic and outspoken champion of Islamic women seeking freedom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    • “A Hostile Act”: Mexico Braces for Trump’s Border Wall

      Less than one week into his presidency, Donald Trump has taken the first steps in making his vision of a massive barrier between the U.S. and Mexico a reality, signing an executive order Wednesday afternoon calling for the “immediate” construction of a sprawling border wall to separate the two nations.

      Though the move is likely to appeal to his core supporters north of the border, one place where Trump’s efforts are not playing well is Mexico, despite the president’s dubious assertion Wednesday afternoon that “our relationship with Mexico is going to get better.”

      By Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after his order was signed, Trump’s dubious optimism suffered a public blow when Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he would not be attending a meeting in Washington, D.C., scheduled for next Tuesday.

      Peña Nieto’s decision followed escalating tensions between his government and the newly empowered Trump administration that appear to have reached a critical point following Wednesday’s signing.

      Throughout his campaign, Trump insisted the Mexican government could be forced into paying for the wall, which would likely cost billions of dollars. He has walked that back in recent weeks, asserting instead that Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the project.

    • Theresa May refuses to condemn Donald Trump’s immigration controls

      Theresa May has refused to condemn Donald Trump when asked by Sky News about his new ban on refugees and controls on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

      The Prime Minister tried to avoid commenting on the controversial policy during a news conference with her Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

      On Friday Mrs May became the first foreign leader to visit the White House since Mr Trump’s inauguration – and talked stateside about their shared values.

      The new controls were announced after the PM left Washington DC and she was asked by Sky News whether she still believed she shared the values of President Trump.

      But while Mr Yildirim criticised the visa restrictions, Mrs May at first dodged the question.

    • ‘Sanctuary cities’ undaunted by Trump move to cut funding

      In New York, Trump’s hometown, city officials said the administration’s action could take away over $150 million in law enforcement funding mainly for counterterrorism efforts, protecting international missions and dignitaries and, arguably, safeguarding Trump Tower, city officials said.

    • New Bill in Illinois Would Increase Temp Worker Protections

      An Illinois lawmaker is set to introduce a bill in the state legislature today to increase protections for the growing army of temporary workers.

      The bill was prompted in part by a 2013 ProPublica investigation that highlighted the instability and dangers faced by temp workers nationwide and comes as President Donald Trump begins to address the economic anxieties that helped propel him to the Oval Office.

      Trump’s economic plans have focused on the effects of trade deals, but he has said little about other forces affecting blue-collar workers, such as the growth in temporary and contract jobs. His nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, and others leading the transition have been outspoken opponents of regulation of the “gig” economy or policies that would hold large employers, like fast-food restaurants, responsible for what happens to temp and franchise workers.

    • ACLU and Other Groups Challenge Trump Immigration Ban After Refugees Detained at Airports Following Executive Order

      One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was traveling on an Iraqi special Immigrant Visa and had worked as an electrical engineer and contractor for the U.S. government from 2003–2010. Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, said Mr. Darweesh had worked for him as an interpreter. He said on Twitter yesterday that Mr. Darweesh “spent years keeping U.S. soldiers alive in combat in Iraq.”

      The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had been granted a Follow to Join Visa. His wife and 7-year-old son are lawful permanent residents residing in Houston, Texas, and were eagerly awaiting his arrival. Mr. Alshawi’s son has not seen his father for three years.

    • The battle for minds, and role of human behaviour in generating plutocracies

      Just as there are mainstream media, mainstream narratives, mainstream academia, and mainstream organizations, so there are also ‘mainstream ethics’. These widespread and established ethical strands assert, for example, that humans are naturally egotistical, competitive and nationalistic and prone to sexism and racism and other similar mindsets that result in polarization among non-elites and their submission to elites.

    • US Immigration Ban

      The executive order ignores the single truth that we have come to know; talented immigrants have had outsized contributions to the growth and prosperity of the United States and countries around the world. Diversity in all of its forms is crucial to growth, innovation and a healthy, inclusive society.

      We recognize the rights of sovereign nations to protect their security, but believe that this overly broad order and its implementation does not create an appropriate and necessary balance. It’s a bad precedent, ignores history, and is likely to do more lasting harm than good.

    • WELCOME TO CANADA!

      There is a simple and effective solution for Web 2.0 firms distressed by the unpredictable harmful effects of Trumpism. Move to Canada.

    • Apple, Google, Uber, Microsoft And Others React To Trump’s Refugee Ban

      Intel, Oracle, Tesla, and Hewlett-Packard did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Amazon declined to provide one. Oracle CEO Safra Catz and Tesla CEO Elon Musk both serve on Trump administration advisory committees.

    • “But I have a valid visa:” An Iranian researcher barred from flying to US for new job

      Samira Asgari had spent months planning her move from Switzerland to the United States. The 30-year-old Iranian woman had secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She’d won a prestigious award for her research in genomics that would even pay her salary at her new, American lab. “I was really happy, and it felt like everything was going right,” she said.

      But everything changed this morning, when Asgari flew from Geneva to Frankfurt. There, she attempted to board her second flight to Boston.

      “A gentleman stopped me from boarding the plane,” she said. “He told me he was a consulate of the American government in Frankfurt and not allowing anybody with a number of nationalities to board planes to the United States. They had already unloaded my luggage and everything.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Me And My ISP

      So, We are a lot more dependent on our ISP than I knew. Oh, how the Internet has changed. Almost nothing is flat HTML any more. Huge data, images and JavaScript pour down on us. I used to run a whole school on dial-up…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Jose Cuervo Loses Bid To Block Trademark Registration For Il Corvo Wine

        When it comes to trademark disputes involving alcohol companies, we should all agree by now that things tend to get really, really silly. Too often a reversion to protectionism causes company lawyers to stretch the plain meaning of words on matters of similarity and the potential for customer confusion. The latest example of this comes to us from South Africa, where the company behind Jose Cuervo tequila attempted, and failed, to block the trademark registration for Il Corvo branded wine.

    • Copyrights

      • Not guilty plea in landmark Kodi box trial

        Brian Thompson, a shopkeeper from Middlesbrough, has pleaded not guilty in a landmark case, challenging the legality of video-streaming set-top boxes that provide subscription content for free.

        Mr Thompson is accused of selling “fully loaded” Kodi boxes, modified with software that allowed users to watch pirated content.

      • ISPs Don’t Have Blanket Immunity From Piracy, BMG Says

        Music rights group BMG has asked a New York federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Internet provider RCN. The ISP requested a declaratory judgment on their potential liability for pirating subscribers. However, according to the music group, ISPs don’t have “blanket immunity” against secondary infringement claims.

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  9. In Attempt to Promote the Horrific UPC (Poor Quality of Patents Everywhere), Minnoye and Casado Cerviño Attack Their Own Staff for Saying the Truth

    An attack on truth itself -- the disintegration of the European Patent Office (EPO) -- carries on, after staff found the courage to tell delegates what had happened due to Battistelli's policies and incredible oppression that prevails and expands



  10. Another Likely Casualty of the Battistelli Regime at the EPO: Validity of Decisions of Terrified Boards of Appeal Judges

    Under pressure and habitual intervention from a demoralising, overreaching, and out-of-control President (from an entirely different division), examiners and judges 'normalise' the practice of granting patents on genetics -- a very slippery slope in terms of patent scope



  11. Benoît Battistelli 'Pulls an Erdoğan' Faster Than Erdoğan

    An explanation of what the imminent departure of Minnoye (this summer) will mean for Benoît Battistelli and his confidants, who now resemble some of the world's most ruthless dictatorships



  12. With Important Supreme Court Decisions Looming, Mainstream Media Tackles Patent Trolls

    The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will soon rule on TC Heartland and Lexmark, potentially restricting abusive patent behaviour even further (making room for freedom to innovate and for competition)



  13. IAM Magazine is Very Blatantly Promoting Patent Trolls and Their Agenda

    IAM Media, which produces a magazine every now and then while posting online every day, maintains its pro-trolls agenda, which is becoming so clear to see that it is definitely worth documenting yet again



  14. A “Perfect Recipe for Fraud” at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    How the world's leading patent office became a world-leading source of abuse, corruption, nepotism, injustice, incompetence, censorship, alleged bribery, pure deception, distortion of media, defamation, and suicides (among many other things)



  15. Techrights Was Right About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    No Unified Patent Court in the UK and probably nothing like it in the rest of Europe any time soon (if ever)



  16. Patents on Life and Patents on Software Serve to Show That EPO Patent Quality Fell Well Behind the US (PTO)

    Anything goes at the EPO, except dissent; any patent application seems to be grantable, provided one uses simple tricks and persists against overworked examiners who are pressured to increase so-called 'production'



  17. Links 28/3/2017: Linux 4.11-rc4 Kernel Released, Red Hat Surge on Sales

    Links for the day



  18. The Crook Goes to Brussels to Lie About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The person who spent years lying about the UPC and severely attacking critics (usually by blatantly lying about them) goes to Brussels for another nose extension



  19. The EPO's HR Roadmap Retrospective

    A look back at the terrible ‘accomplishments’ of the Jesper Kongstad-led Administrative Council, which still issues hogwash and face-saving lies, as one might expect from a protector of Battistelli that lies to national representatives and buries inconvenient topics



  20. Links 26/3/2017: Debian Project Leader Elections, SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva FSF Winners

    Links for the day



  21. His Master's Voice, Jesper Kongstad, Blocks Discussion of Investigative and Disciplinary Procedures at the EPO

    The Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation is actively preventing not just the dismissal of Battistelli but also discussion of Battistelli's abuses



  22. Heiko Maas and the State of Germany Viewed as Increasingly Complicit in EPO Scandals and Toxic UPC Agenda

    It is becoming hard if not impossible to interpret silence and inaction from Maas as a form of endorsement for everything the EPO has been doing, with the German delegates displaying more of that apathy which in itself constitutes a form of complicity



  23. With IP Kat Coverage of EPO Scandals Coming to an End (Officially), Techrights and The Register Remain to Cover New Developments

    One final post about the end of Merpel’s EPO coverage, which is unfortunate but understandable given the EPO’s track record attacking the media, including blogs like IP Kat, sites of patent stakeholders, and even so-called media partners



  24. Everyone, Including Patent Law Firms, Will Suffer From the Demise of the EPO

    Concerns about quality of patents granted by the EPO (EPs) are publicly raised by industry/EPO insiders, albeit in an anonymous fashion



  25. Yes, Battistelli's Ban on EPO Strikes (or Severe Limitation Thereof) is a Violation of Human Rights

    Battistelli has curtailed even the right to strike, yet anonymous cowards attempt to blame the staff (as in patent examiners) for not going out of their way to engage in 'unauthorised' strikes (entailing dismissal)



  26. Even the EPO's Administrative Council No Longer Trusts Its Chairman, Battistelli's 'Chinchilla' Jesper Kongstad

    Kongstad's protection of Battistelli, whom he is supposed to oversee, stretches to the point where national representatives (delegates) are being misinformed



  27. Thanks to Merpel, the World Knows EPO Scandals a Lot Better, But It's a Shame That IP Kat Helped UPC

    A look back at Merpel's final post about EPO scandals and the looming threat of the UPC, which UPC opportunists such as Bristows LLP still try hard to make a reality, exploiting bogus (hastily-granted) patents for endless litigation all around Europe



  28. EPO Critics Threatened by Self-Censorship, Comment Censorship, and a Growing Threat to Anonymity

    Putting in perspective the campaign for justice at the EPO, which to a large degree relies on whistleblowers and thus depends a great deal on freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and anonymity



  29. Links 25/3/2017: Maru OS 0.4, C++17 Complete

    Links for the day



  30. Judge and Justice Bashing in the United States, EPC Bashing at the EPO

    Enforcement of the law based on constitutional grounds and based on the European Patent Convention (EPC) in an age of retribution and insults -- sometimes even libel -- against judges


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