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02.14.17

Links 14/2/2017: Linux Lite 3.4, GNU Health 3.0.6

Posted in News Roundup at 11:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Video: State of Linux Containers

      In this video from the 2017 HPC Advisory Council Stanford Conference, Christian Kniep from Gaikai presents: Best Practices: State of Linux Containers.

    • VC Investor Martin Casado on the Future of Software-Defined Networking

      Software-defined networking’s biggest accomplishment last year was achieving market traction and validation, says Martin Casado, a general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. But there are still many challenges ahead for the industry at large and the organizations that aim to drive SDN forward.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.10-rc8

      Hey, it’s another week, and I could have released the final 4.10.

      It’s not been all that busy, although we did have a number of small
      last-minute regression fixes (some just reverting stuff that caused
      problems and needed more thought, others fixing things). But nothing
      out of the ordinary, and I wouldn’t have felt bad about just doing the
      final release today.

      But I decided that there’s also no huge overriding reason to do so
      (other than getting back to the usual “rc7 is the last rc” schedule,
      which would have been nice), and with travel coming up, I decided that
      I didn’t really need to open the merge window. I’ve done merge windows
      during travel before, but I just prefer not to. If it was the second
      week of the merge window when the big bulk of stuff had been merged,
      that would be one thing, but that’s not how the schedule turned out.

    • Linux 4.10-rc8 Kernel Released, Final Pushed Out By One Week
    • Linux Kernel 4.10 Delayed by a Week, Last Release Candidate Is Now Available
    • Linus Torvalds decides world doesn’t need a new Linux today

      Those waiting for the milestone that would have been version 4.10 of the Linux kernel have another week to wait, after Linus Torvalds decided not to release the final version this week.

      “Hey, it’s another week, and I could have released the final 4.10,” Torvalds posted to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, adding that “… I wouldn’t have felt bad about just doing the final release today.”

    • Ten Exciting Features Of The Linux 4.10 Kernel

      The Linux 4.10 kernel didn’t end up being released today, but was pushed back by an extra week. However, in looking forward to next weekend, here are ten of the features that excite us about Linux 4.10.

    • WireGuard Is Still Looking Good As A Linux VPN Tunnel

      We’ve been talking about WireGuard for months and it’s hoping to go mainline in the Linux kernel this calendar year. Earlier this month at FOSDEM was a status update on the project.

      WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld presented on this project that he’s been developing over the past year. For those that haven’t been following WireGuard up to now, this VPN tunnel is implemented in less than four thousand lines of kernel code, is designed to be very secure, keeps track of minimal state, has a minimal attack surface, provides a solid crypto base, is designed to be very performant, and has other benefits.

    • Automotive Grade Linux Continues Rapid Growth

      Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open source project developing a Linux-based, open platform for the connected car, today announced that six new members have joined Automotive Grade Linux and The Linux Foundation. DrimAES joins AGL at the Silver level while ARM, Elektrobit, RealVNC, Telenav and Tuxera join AGL at the Bronze level.

    • Why Microsoft Won’t Use the Linux Kernel for Windows

      There are a number of reasons why Microsoft won’t use the Linux kernel for Windows. For one there is a huge difference in the technical aspects of the Linux Kernel and the NT kernel.

      Another reason would be the issues of licensing involved if Microsoft has to switch over to using the Linux kernel for windows. Thirdly, there are things done on Windows that can’t be done on any other operating system.

    • Linux Enhanced BPF (eBPF) Tracing Tools

      This page shows examples of performance analysis tools using enhancements to BPF (Berkeley Packet Filter) which were added to the Linux 4.x series kernels, allowing BPF to do much more than just filtering packets. These enhancements allow custom analysis programs to be executed on Linux dynamic tracing, static tracing, and profiling events.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Vulkan 1.0.40 Released With Fixes, SMPTE 2086 HDR Metadata Support
      • Intel’s Linux Graphics Driver To Enable Atomic Support By Default

        The patch landed in Intel’s drm-intel-next-queued branch this week for enabling atomic support by default on the hardware platforms where it’s fully supported.

        Following this mailing list discussion, atomic support is now being turned on by default for the Intel Linux DRM driver while it’s disabled-by-default support has been in good shape since Linux ~4.9. Though due to the timing of this change-over, this looks like it will be a change for Linux 4.12 as Intel’s 4.11 DRM feature work is already over with the 4.11 merge window being imminent.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 Breaks The Video Driver ABI

        Just a quick note for anyone who routinely builds the latest X.Org Server from Git, the video driver ABI has been broken again, thus you’ll need to rebuild your dependent DDX drivers assuming they have been modified for this new ABI.

      • Mesa 17.0.0 Officially Released

        Mesa 17.0 ships with many big changes and improvements — see that article for an overview. In the past week I’ve also published Intel benchmark results with ANV Vulkan having noticeably better performance, RADV/RadeonSI being much faster, and Nouveau Maxwell improvements.

      • [Mesa-dev] [ANNOUNCE] mesa 17.0.0
      • The beginning of the end of the RadeonHD driver.

        Soon it will be a decade since we started the RadeonHD driver, where we pushed ATI to a point of no return, got a proper C coded graphics driver and freely accessible documentation out. We all know just what happened to this in the end, and i will make a rather complete write-up spanning multiple blog entries over the following months. But while i was digging out backed up home directories for information, i came across this…

      • Almost A Decade Later, RadeonHD Stories Still Coming To Light

        This September will mark 10 years since the public launch of the RadeonHD DDX driver (xf86-video-radeonhd) that was developed by SUSE during the Radeon X1000 and HD 2000/3000 days in conjunction with ATI/AMD. While we’ve talked about what started AMD’s open-source strategy in the past and dozens of other RadeonHD articles, new stories are still coming to light.

      • R600/RadeonSI GLSL/TGSI On-Disk Shader Cache Revised

        Last week Collabora’s Timothy Arceri posted TGSI shader cache patches for Mesa that so far benefit the R600g and RadeonSI Gallium3D drivers but could also help out the other Gallium3D drivers too. The second version of those patches have now been published.

      • RADV Gets More Improvements For Mesa 17.1-dev, Lower Dota 2 CPU Usage

        While Mesa 17.0 was just released, new feature development continues building up for Mesa 17.1.

        David Airlie landed a few more RADV patches into mainline Mesa Git. One of the changes is for detecting command buffers that don’t do any work and then discard them. Airlie mentioned, “If a buffer is just full of flushes we flush things on command buffer submission, so don’t bother submitting these. This will reduce some CPU overhead on dota2, which submits a fair few command streams that don’t end up drawing anything.

      • Mesa 17.0.0 Released

        It’s been a busy few week for Mesa related news, and today is no exception as Mesa 17.0 is now officially available. Mesa 17.0.0 is the first release with the new year-based versioning system (it would’ve been Mesa 13.1.0 otherwise).

      • Mesa 17.0 Officially Released with OpenGL 4.5 Capability for Intel Haswell, More

        Today is a great day for Linux gamers as Collabora’s Emil Velikov proudly announced the general availability of the Mesa 17.0.0 3D Graphics Library for all GNU/Linux operating systems.

        Yes, Mesa 17, not Mesa 14, nor 15 or 16, as the development team has decided to skip them all and jump from the Mesa 13 series straight to version 17 according to a newly adopted versioning scheme based on the current year, something that will happen at the beginning of each new year.

      • Mesa 17.0.0 has officially released and it’s well worth updating

        The Mesa developers have announced the release of Mesa 17.0.0 and it’s a truly incredible release. You should probably update as soon as possible.

        For those that don’t know what Mesa is: you will be using Mesa if you’re on Intel graphics, most likely with an AMD GPU and also some older NVIDIA models. You are not using Mesa if you install AMD/NVIDIA proprietary drivers.

    • Benchmarks

      • More Power Consumption / Perf-Per-Watt Figures For Intel Kabylake On Linux

        In yesterday’s Core i3 2100 “Sandy Bridge” vs. Core i3 7100 “Kabylake” comparison I included all of the power consumption and performance-per-Watt results. If you are looking for additional power numbers from other Kabylake CPUs, here is some additional data.

      • Windows 10 vs. Linux With AMDGPU+RadeonSI, NVIDIA Pascal, Lots Of Games Coming

        There’s going to be fresh AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce Windows 10 vs. Linux comparisons on Phoronix in the week ahead. Here are the early details and a RFC for our patrons.

      • Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Gaming Performance With NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060/1080

        It’s been a while since last testing Windows 10 vs. Linux on different, newer Linux game ports with a variety of GPUs, but that changed this week. As mentioned this weekend, I’ve been working on a large, fresh Windows vs. Linux gaming performance comparison. The results available today are for NVIDIA with testing a GeForce GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 on Windows 10 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 16.10 x86_64 with the latest drivers and using a variety of newer Direct3D 11/12 / OpenGL / Vulkan games.

  • Applications

    • 5 Linux Music Players You Should Consider Switching To

      There are dozens of Linux music players out there, and this makes it difficult to find the best one for our usage. In the past we’ve reviewed some of these players, such as Cantata, Exaile, or even the lesser known ones like Clementine, Nightingale and Quod Libet.

      In this article I will be covering more music players for Linux that in some aspects are even better than the ones we’ve already told you about.

    • Ardour 5.6 released

      Another two months of development has rolled by, involving more than 600 commits by developers, and it’s time for us to release Ardour 5.6. Although there are no major new features in this release, there is the usual list of dozens of bug fixes major and minor, plus some workflow and GUI enhancements. There has been a significant rearrangement of the transport bar to try to use space more efficiently and effectively. The new design also permits session navigation while using the Mixer tab, and there are numerous optionally visible elements. Similarly, the Preferences dialog was rearranged to try to make it easier to find and browse the many, many available options. Other interesting new features: session archiving, a new General MIDI default synth for MIDI tracks, and direct and immediate control of routing for heavily multichannel (typically multitimbral) synth plugins.

    • Ardour 5.6 Open-Source DAW Improves Unloading of Large Sessions, Adds Many Fixes

      A new important update of the Ardour open-source and cross-platform DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software has been released this past weekend for Linux-based operating systems, as well as macOS and Microsoft Windows platforms.

      Ardour 5.6 comes two months after the release of the previous version, and it looks like it’s yet another big update implementing numerous improvements and fixing some of those nasty bugs reported by users lately. For example, the transport bar has been greatly revamped to use space more effectively and efficiently, and there’s a new design that allows for session navigation while the Mixer tab is in use.

    • Ardour 5.6 Digital Audio Workstation Released

      Available this weekend is the newest release of the Ardour digital audio workstation software for Linux, macOS, and Windows.

      Ardour 5.6 features some speed-up improvements in different areas, a mini-timeline was added to the toolbar, there’s the ability to archive a session, various editor improvements, restored save-as support to work as intended, and more. There are also action/binding changes, scripting improvements, plugin improvements, and a wide-range of fixes.

    • Roundup of Recent App Updates: Harmony, Komorebi, Alduin

      Time for our weekly round up of recent app updates that weren’t quite big enough to merit their own dedicated post

      If you’re averse to Electron apps you’re advised to look away now. If an app you love got an update this week chances are it’s because we didn’t know about it, rather than we hate the app.

    • Xfce’s Parole Media Player Gets First Update In Over a Year

      Parole 0.9.0 brings a number of new features to Linux desktops, including a new mini-mode, working ‘play’ and ‘replay’ icons in the content area, and the window title and content title show the filename if no corresponding ID3 tag is detected.

    • After a Year in Development, Parole Media Player 0.9 Arrives with New Mini Mode
    • Xfce Parole Media Player 0.9 Released

      Xfce developers have restored work on their Parole Media Player as the primary media player for this lightweight desktop environment.

    • Write Markdown with 8 Exceptional Open Source Editors

      By way of a succinct introduction, Markdown is a lightweight plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber together with Aaron Swartz. Markdown offers individuals “to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML)”. Markdown’s syntax consists of easy to remember symbols. It has a gentle learning curve; you can literally learn the Markdown syntax in the time it takes to fry some mushrooms (that’s about 10 minutes). By keeping the syntax as simple as possible, the risk of errors is minimized. Besides being a friendly syntax, it has the virtue of producing clean and valid (X)HTML output. If you have seen my HTML, you would know that’s pretty essential.

    • Telegram on Mobile and openSUSE

      Small Messaging Service, or SMS, is a very common and popular way to communicate today. It is a convenient way to transmit a short message. It has seemingly evolved into a way to carry on conversations throughout the day… but it is so 2007…

      [...]

      Privacy: The people behind Telegram are not making money off of your data and take privacy quite seriously. They have received a “generous donation” by an individual and have quite enough money for the time being. Maybe eventually they will have a paid service but not now.

    • NixNote An Unofficial Evernote Client For Linux/Ubuntu/Fedora

      Evernote is arguably the most popular and powerful note-taking tool available. You can save notes in different forms like text, pictures, videos, voice memos and web pages. There are clients available for the web, desktop operating systems (Windows and Mac) as well as mobile devices (Android and iOS) but none for the Linux desktop. There are a few third-party options available including GeekNote, Everpad and NixNote.

    • The minority yields to the majority!

      As previously mentioned I contribute to the NetSurf project and the browser natively supports numerous toolkits for numerous platforms. This produces many challenges in development to obtain the benefits of a more diverse user base. As part of the recent NetSurf developer weekend we took the opportunity to review all the frontends to make a decision on their future sustainability.

    • Best Linux Email Clients

      Finding the best Linux email client is largely a matter of taste. That said, there are specific email clients for Linux that are better than others. In this article, I’ll share some of the best Linux email clients available.

    • Ktube Media Downloader Is a Powerful App to Download YouTube Videos on Ubuntu

      Keshav Bhatt, the developer of the open-source Snapcraft GUI app and many other tools, is informing Softpedia today about the availability of Ktube Media Downloader 1.0.

      Ktube Media Downloader appears to be the successor of Ultimate Media Downloader, another video downloader utility that the developer created a long time ago. However, the new app is a lot more powerful, featuring a modern and dark graphical user interface, and lots of attractive new features.

    • Linuxbrew – A Common Package Manager For Linux And Mac OS X

      If you have used Mac OS, you will certainly have known about Homebrew, a package manager that allows you to install, remove, and update Unix tools and open source applications and packages. Homebrew is a free and open source package management system specially designed for Apple’s Mac OS operating system. It is written using Ruby programming language, and it comes preinstalled with Mac OS. As you might know, it is one of the open source project that both the largest number of contributors and issues closed of any project on GitHub. If you ever looking for a similar package manager like Homebrew for your Linux operating system, you should try Linuxbrew.

    • Babe Is a Promising New Qt Music Player
    • Proprietary

      • Microsoft loves Linux. But not Skype for Linux

        First, let me make it plain that if Microsoft had decided to junk Skype for Linux at the time when it decided to redesign the client, I would have no complaint. A commercial company is free to produce what software it wants and drop whatever does not net it a return.

        When Linux users were critical of the alpha client in its early days, I took up cudgels on behalf of Microsoft, something I rarely do.

        But after deciding to keep offering a client for Linux, it should not be left at this very basic stage. Is it too much to ask that after six months, one does not have to input one’s credentials every third time one starts up the client?

      • Skype Say Linux App Will Work Past March 1 (For Now)
    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5.31 Adds Qt 5.8 Support for C++ Highlighting, over 70 Bug Fixes

        KDE announced this weekend the general availability of the monthly maintenance update to their open-source KDE Frameworks project, a collection of over 70 add-on libraries for Qt 5 providing common functionality for many KDE apps.

        KDE Frameworks 5.31.0 is here with a total of 72 changes across most of its components, including Attica, which now supports display_name in categories, the Breeze icons, the framework integration, as well as KArchive archive manager and KAuth.

      • Kdenlive 16.12.2 Open-Source Video Editor Released with GPU Improvements, More

        Now that the second maintenance update to the KDE Applications 16.12 software suite for KDE Plasma desktops arrived, it’s time for the Kdenlive developers to tell us all about the new features implemented in Kdenlive 16.12.2.

        >From the release notes, it looks like Kdenlive 16.12.2 is a small bugfix release adding a total of 20 changes, as the development team is currently concentrating all of their efforts on the refactoring of the timeline with its highly anticipated professional-grade feature and an extra layer of stability.

      • Review: KDE neon 5.9.1

        It has been a while since I’ve done a review of a Linux distribution. Lately, I’ve seen a few reviews of KDE neon (the second word being intentionally written in lowercase), and some of them have praised it as being much better than Kubuntu (the traditionally KDE spin of Ubuntu). That got my attention, so I figured I should check it out.

      • KDE neon + Kernel 4.8

        We are currently looking to roll out Kernel 4.8 and I’d love to get some informal testing done first. Everyone who wants to help with testing the 4.8 Kernel please install and reboot afterward:

      • 6 Reasons Why I Love Using KDE Connect on Ubuntu

        I love using KDE Connect on Ubuntu with the app’s indicator applet. It’s the easiest way to connect my Android phone to my Linux desktop.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • New Users Panel

        The GNOME Control Center redesign goes on. This release we are happy to announce the new Users Panel design. As you can see in the preview video below, we are moving away from a two column panel into a single page concept. These changes make the panel way clearer specially with the new shell.

      • Google Code In at coala

        We have always been active in engaging newcomers and teaching people about Open Source. It is only natural that we think and work towards helping pupils all over the world take this step and learn about contributing to open source. (If you are a teacher and reading this, reach out to us on coala.io/chat – we’re very interested in working with you and are also starting an initiative in germany to connect to schools.)

      • Recipes by mail

        Since I last wrote about GNOME recipes, we’ve mainly focused on completing our feature set for 3.24.

      • GNOME Software 3.24 to Handle APT & Snap URLs for Easy Installation of Packages

        The GNOME developers are currently preparing to unleash the first Beta milestone of the upcoming GNOME 3.24 desktop environment, due for release on February 15, 2017.

      • GTK+ Implements Window Focus Tracking and Window Properties for Ubuntu’s Mir

        The GTK+ development team just released a few moments ago a new stable and development release of the widely-used GTK+ open-source toolkit for GNOME and GNOME-based desktop environments and related apps.

        GTK+ 3.22.8 is now the most stable and advanced build of the toolkit, and will soon be available for most GNU/Linux distributions that use it. While it’s only a small maintenance update, it adds a few interesting improvements for Ubuntu’s Mir display server, such as window focus tracking, window properties, and modal hint support.

      • On Vala

        Of course, and with reason, I’ve been called out on this by various people. Luckily, it was on Twitter, so we haven’t seen articles on Slashdot and Phoronix and LWN with headlines like “GNOME developer says Vala is dead and will be removed from all servers for all eternity and you all suck”. At least, I’ve only seen a bunch of comments on Reddit about this, but nobody cares about that particular cesspool of humanity.

      • A GNOME Developer’s Arguments On Vala Being A “Dead” Language

        Longtime GNOME developer Emmanuele Bassi has pleaded his case that Vala is a “dead” language and that new applications/developers should look at alternatives or first work on improving this GNOME-centered language.

        There’s previously been efforts to use more Rust code in GNOME than C/Vala and developers expressing their disappointment/frustrations in Vala. Emmanuele Bassi recently tweeted, “PSA: if you want to write a new @gnome application, don’t use Vala; if you’re already using it, consider porting to a non-dead language.”

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is Open Source?

    Open source software is everywhere. It underpins virtually the entire technology sector, with every single element of IT relying on at least one open source component.

    For those who aren’t aware, free and open source software (commonly abbreviated to FOSS) is software and tools that are made freely available online. Not only are they free to download, install and use, the creators also publish the source code for these programs – their ‘DNA’. This means anyone can recreate, tweak, improve or modify them as they see fit.

  • Opening the Software Heritage archive

    We posted this while I was keynoting with Roberto at FOSDEM 2017, to discuss the role Software Heritage plays in preserving the Free Software commons. To accompany the talk we released our first public API, which allows to navigate the entire content of the Software Heritage archive as a graph of connected development objects (e.g., blobs, directories, commits, releases, etc.).

    Over the past months we have been busy working on getting source code (with full development history) into the archive, to minimize the risk that important bits of Free/Open Sources Software that are publicly available today disappear forever from the net, due to whatever reason — crashes, black hat hacking, business decisions, you name it. As a result, our archive is already one of the largest collections of source code in existence, spanning a GitHub mirror, injections of important Free Software collections such as Debian and GNU, and an ongoing import of all Google Code and Gitorious repositories.

  • 13 best free and open source inventory management systems 2017: How to save money and improve service for your customers

    Inventory management is the process of specifying and quantifying the shape and percentage of goods you hold in stock. By knowing what you have, and where, you can save money and improve your service to customers.

    There are myriad free inventory management software systems to choose from, many of which are free to use. We have highlighted 13 that are worth considering for your business.

  • Raptor Engineering Hopes To Bring OpenBMC To An ASUS Motherboard

    While Raptor Engineering was unsuccessful with their Talos Secure Workstation effort to build a high-end, libre POWER8 workstation, they are now backing a more realistic effort: opening the Baseboard Management Controller of an ASUS server motherboard still on the market.

    They are hoping to replace the proprietary baseboard management controller firmware with an open-source solution using OpenBMC. They are hoping to do this not only for the sake of having a fully-free server/workstation motherboard but also for addressing security holes in the proprietary firmware and add missing features while also allowing Coreboot to interact with this BMC.

  • Open source human body simulator trains future doctors

    SOFA an open source human body simulator used for training medical students and for preparing medical interventions, is being used by an increasing number of research centres and companies, says Hugo Talbot, coordinator of the SOFA consortium. He demonstrated SOFA (Simulation Open Framework Architecture) last week at Fosdem, Europe’s largest free software conference, in Brussels (Belgium).

  • Growing Your Open Source Community With Twitter

    Engagement in an open source community leads to collaboration, says Jason Hibbets, community evangelist at Red Hat. And social media is one good tool that projects can use to help increase engagement in their communities, he adds, “because you can reach a broad audience at pretty much no-to-low costs.”

    Hibbets will discuss how Red Hat has increased engagement with one such social media tool, Twitter chats, in his talk at Open Source Leadership Summit in Lake Tahoe on Feb. 16, 2017. Here, he shares with us some of his reasoning behind why engagement is important, some best practices for increasing engagement, and a few lessons learned from Red Hat’s Twitter chats.

  • 10 Open Source Challenges

    For the open source movement, things seem to be going better than ever. Desktop Linux still hasn’t caught on the way advocates had hoped, but within the enterprise, open source is becoming the norm.A Black Duck survey found that 65 percent of enterprises increased their use of open source software in 2016, and open source software is dominating in areas like big data analytics, containerization, development tools, cloud infrastructure, the Internet of things (IoT) and others.

    However, if the community is going to continue to thrive, it will need to find a way to deal with some very big challenges.

    As open source usage has increased, projects have sometimes struggled to scale with demand. And as enterprise developers incorporate more open source code into their own applications, their organizations face headaches related to security, compatibility, licensing and more.

    This slideshow highlights ten open source challenges that could pose an existential threat to the movement itself.

  • Unleashed: Open source tech for pets and animals

    I was discussing open source technology with my cat this morning and he brought up a good point: “Why don’t you do an article on open source tech for animals?”

    You know, Donald’s right. Animal open source tech deserves a spotlight. Afterall, animals appear in many open source brands, and pets, like mine at least, lend lots of support while I’m trying out new software, building gadgets, or just writing about this stuff.

  • What’s your favorite open source animal?

    Open source brands and logos often feature animals. In the image above you might be able to think of one or a few open source projects those animals might represent.

    In one of Jeff Macharyas’s latest articles, he highlights six open source projects with iconic brands, with some background on what the animal is and where it came from.

    In this poll, we came up with a few more to add to his list for you to vote on: Which is your favorite?

  • Four major advantages to using open source software in the enterprise

    With WordPress, Firefox and Linux now the virtual infrastructure for many millions of Internet users globally, and the likes of Apache and database management system MySQL widely embraced by corporations, open source (OS) software has long since passed a tipping-point moment. Yet despite growing familiarity with what OS means — and usage even by the EU and the US government — doubts among many businesses about the quality and reliability of OS software persist.

    Such concerns tend to cluster around three perceptions. The first is that because many OS products were built by the wider developer community — projects and foundations without the resources of a software giant with a history of producing proprietary programs — they cannot then be truly enterprise grade; indeed, they must be of inferior quality and reliability.

    That, in turn, feeds a second perception that because an OS product is usually free, or low-cost, to use, then the organization or team behind it will inherently lacks the economic basis to offer the sort of 24/7 “real time” customer support enterprises expect, especially during the implementation process and its aftermath. In particular, they fear that the project or team in question may vanish into the shadows a couple of years down the line, leaving them at the mercy of bugs and hackers.

  • ToaruOS 1.0 Released, Hobby OS/Kernel Written From Scratch Over 6+ Years

    In the past on Phoronix we have mentioned ToaruOS a few times. It’s a “hobby” kernel and operating system written mostly from scratch yet supports Mesa, GCC, Python, and more. It’s been in development since 2011 while now the operating system’s 1.0 release finally took place.

    The ToaruOS developer wrote in about the Toaru 1.0 release that took place at the end of January. He wrote, “After six years of development, I am very happy to finally announce the 1.0 release of ToaruOS. While I would not consider this “complete” – there is still much work to be done – it is time to refocus my development, and with that comes the time to declare a stable release. ToaruOS 1.0 has been the result of over half a decade of effort, with contributions from a dozen people besides myself.”

  • ToaruOS 1.0 Open Source OS Released After 6+ Years Of Development

    Hobbyist operating systems are seen as one of the more advanced projects taken up by the computer enthusiasts. While some developers use some existing kernel and other resources, others design everything from the scratch. ToaruOS is also one such hobby operating system/kernel, which is mostly written from the scratch.

  • Fund Open Source Software Research to Enhance ICT for Development (ICT4D) and ICT for Dollars (ICT4$)

    I owe part of my IT education to the Open Source community. I enhanced my programming skills using Open Source programming languages; I garnered a better understanding of operating systems through my study and research of the Linux kernel; I understood the inner workings of software by having access to their code; and in college, I used learning materials from computer science classes made available by MIT Open Courseware. But this article is not about how I benefited from open source software. I only mentioned my experience with Open Source Software (OSS) to stress the plethora of opportunities that it provides and the impact it can have on our ICT sector, and the country as a whole. Hence, the subsequent paragraphs provide insights into the positive impact that Open Source Software can have on a developing country like Liberia. The article is also a call to both the public and private sectors to invest in Open Source Software or OSS in order to enhance Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) and Information and Communications Technology for Dollars (ICT4$).

  • 15 Open Source Artificial Intelligence Tools

    One of the hottest areas in technology right now is the Artificial Intelligence (AI). Big like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon investing lots money in the R&D to take the AI to next level. Even companies like Samsung last year take over a start-up to roll out it’s of AI assistant Bixby. Given the level of interest, here are some for tools for Building the next generation of AI algorithms.

  • What’s moving and shaking in the open-source community?

    Open source software has its roots in the very birth of software and computing itself. The field was first pioneered by scientists, researchers and academics with information and knowledge being freely and widely shared. Over the years open-source has matured and behind this maturity is a community of developers, collaborating and sharing to make better innovations faster. Successful open source projects like Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL and many others are growing super-linearly. As 2017 gathers steam, the open-source community is also rapidly developing. This year, as businesses focus on rightsizing their resources, containers will become more common as they give businesses the ability to leverage highly portable assets or resources, which makes the move into micro-services much easier.

  • 9 relevant topics for community leaders today

    In 2009, Jono Bacon brought the first Community Leadership Summit to the free and open source world. Five years later, Donna Benjamin hosted an off-shoot event, CLSx at linux.conf.au in Perth. 2017 marks the third year for CLSxAU at LCA.

    This year the event hosted nearly 30 attendees, each participating in one or more of nine discussion sessions.

  • Free as in puppy: The hidden costs of free software [Ed: This repeats Sun and Microsoft FUD against FOSS; Proprietary software has these costs too, and MORE]

    The following sections represent common areas for software costs to sneak in. This is by no means a comprehensive list.

  • What happens when we just assume positive intent?

    I never make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never understood the concept, never felt motivated to change with the calendar, and always been cynical of the effectiveness of “resolving” to change.

    Instead, I like to continually examine my habits and think about how I can improve on a more frequent basis. That said, 2016 has been an interesting year, and the beginning of 2017 I think is a good opportunity to think about how to be intentional about my behavior in all aspects of my life.

    So here’s my 2017 open organization resolution: When it comes to leading in an open organization, I want to be more intentional about understanding and considering my own motivations and the motivations of others, and encouraging my colleagues to do the same.

  • DevOps Poetry Slam: 5 poems on the art of DevOps
  • Events

    • The Call for Papers for LIBER’s 2017 Annual Conference in Greece — from 5 to 7 July — is now open.

      Implicit in the concept of access to knowledge is the idea of sustainability. As the idea that we should move towards a more open approach to conducting and disseminating research takes hold it is incumbent on libraries to ensure that in this shifting environment that the accessibility, usability, and long term availability of research outcomes are taken care of. This is a proactive role requiring leadership, vision, innovation and a flexible approach to partnering with researchers and infrastructure.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Had A Crazy Week Landing Servo, WebRender & More Into Firefox Repo

        This was one of the busiest weeks in Firefox’s history with having more than ~10,000 change-sets affecting ~97,000 file changes.

        Landing into the mainline codebase of Firefox Nightly’s mozilla-central repository was vendoring the Servo project, WebRender, the ECMAScript ECMA-262 conformance test suite, and various Rust dependencies.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • Postmortem of database outage of January 31

      This incident caused the GitLab.com service to be unavailable for many hours. We also lost some production data that we were eventually unable to recover. Specifically, we lost modifications to database data such as projects, comments, user accounts, issues and snippets, that took place between 17:20 and 00:00 UTC on January 31. Our best estimate is that it affected roughly 5,000 projects, 5,000 comments and 700 new user accounts. Code repositories or wikis hosted on GitLab.com were unavailable during the outage, but were not affected by the data loss. GitLab Enterprise customers, GitHost customers, and self-hosted GitLab CE users were not affected by the outage, or the data loss.

    • SQLite Release 3.17.0 On 2017-02-13
    • SQLite 3.17 Released With More Performance Improvements

      SQLite 3.17.0 was released today as the newest version of this widely-used embedded database library.

      With many recent releases we’ve seen a focus on performance improvements and with SQLite 3.17 it is no different. SQLite 3.17 features approximately 25% better performance when using the R-Tree extension, which was achieved by using more compiler built-ins and other optimizations. SQLite 3.17 also features more general performance improvements and uses around 6.5% less CPU cycles.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.3: A week in stats

      We announced LibreOffice 5.3 one week ago, and a lot has happened in the meantime! Here’s a summary of downloads, web page views, social media activity and other statistics. We’ve also compared these to the LibreOffice 5.2 first week stats to see how the project and community is progressing…

    • Experimenting with LibreOffice 5.3

      I finally installed LibreOffice 5.3 to try it out. (This is actually version 5.3.0.3.) This version comes with a new interface called MUFFIN, which I wrote about as LibreOffice updating its user interface.

  • CMS

    • ‘Think WordPress’ Documentary Trailer

      Open source activism takes many forms, including the creation of documentaries that celebrate and explain open source solutions. Two bold women in France, Deborah Donnier and Emilie Lebrun are working on a 50-minute documentary in French that celebrates and explains WordPress.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Clangd: LLVM’s Clang Gets A Server
    • GhostBSD 11.0 to Ship with Whisker Menu as Default Application Menu for Xfce

      The GhostBSD developers have announced this past weekend the availability of the first Alpha development release of the upcoming GhostBSD 11.0 open-source, BSD-based operating system.

      GhostBSD 11.0 development is ongoing, and a first Alpha build is now ready for public testing, for early adopters and anyone else who wants to help the GhostBSD developers polish the final release of the operating system by fixing the remaining bugs. This Alpha adds the missing Xfce .xinitrc configuration file and theme engine.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Baofeng Handy Talkie Meets GNU Radio

      There was a time when just about every ham had a pricey VHF or UHF transceiver in their vehicle or on their belt. It was great to talk to friends while driving. You could even make phone calls from anywhere thanks to automatic phone patches. In 1980 cell phones were uncommon, so making a call from your car was sure to get attention.

    • Understanding The Complexity of Copyleft Defense

      After 25 years of copyleft enforcement and compliance work, is copyleft succeeding as a strategy to defend software freedom? This talk explores the history of enforcement of the GPL and other copyleft licenses, and considers this question carefully. Attendees who have hitherto not followed the current and past debates about copyleft licenses and their enforcement can attend this talk and learn the background, and can expect to learn enough to provide salient and informed feedback of their own opinions about the processes behind upholding copyleft.

    • GNU Health 3.0.6 patchset released

      We provide “patchsets” to stable releases. Patchsets allow applying bug fixes and updates on production systems. Always try to keep your production system up-to-date with the latest patches.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Study of German weather data made easy with Rdwd

      Rdwd, an open source software solutions developed at at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Science at Potsdam University (Germany) is making it easy to study records made public by the German weather service (DWD, Deutsche Wetterdienst).

    • Government finally launches digital transformation strategy

      The long-awaited strategy for the Government Digital Service was finally launched today, more than a year since it was promised, providing an outline of how it intends to reach the ambitious goal of using its £450 million budget to save £3.5 billion by the end of 2020.

      Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer MP announced the proposals at the annual conference of public sector think tank Reform.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • How We Talk About Free Software Legal Tools

      Companies are using more free software than ever, but often with little or no understanding of the licenses or the community norms that are part of the package. When it comes to talking about free software legal tools, we need to control the message. This talk will offer ideas on how we should craft and deliver our message around the adoption of free software legal tools.

      Companies are using more free software than ever, but often with little or no understanding of the licenses or the community norms that are part of the package. When it comes to talking about free software legal tools, we need to control the message. If we let other entities fill in the gaps in our outreach strategy, a lot of context and nuance will be lost. A poor or incomplete message hinders our ability to gain more widespread acceptance of free software tools and practices.

    • Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

      There are a lot of problems in our society, and particularly in the USA, right now, and plenty of charities who need our support. The reason I continue to focus my work on software freedom is simply because there are so few focused on the moral and ethical issues of computing. Open Source has reached its pinnacle as an industry fad, and with it, a watered-down message: “having some of the source code for some of your systems some of the time is so great, why would you need anything more?”. Universal software freedom is however further from reality than it was even a few years ago. At least a few of us, in my view, must focus on that cause.

      I did not post many blog posts about this in 2016. There was a reason for that — more than any other year, work demands at Conservancy have been constant and unrelenting. I enjoy my work, so I don’t mind, but blogging becomes low priority when there is a constant backlog of urgent work to support Conservancy’s mission and our member projects. It’s not just Conservancy’s mission, of course, it’s my personal one as well.

    • The decline of GPL? [Ed: So Bacon is citing Microsoft proxies like Black Duck whose sole initial purpose was to attack the GPL… Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm.]

      It seems that in recent years that trend has continued. Aside from the Black Duck research, a license study in GitHub in 2015 found that the MIT license was a dominant choice. Even observationally in my work at XPRIZE (where we chose a license for the Global Learning XPRIZE), and my work as a community leadership consultant, I have seen a similar trend with many of my clients who feel uncomfortable licensing their code under GPL.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • A $100,000 grant would help the University System of Maryland promote open-source textbooks

        Some students spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks every semester, but the Textbook Cost Savings Act of 2017, sponsored by Maryland state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, could help students save a lot of that money.

        The bill would provide a $100,000 grant to the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation to promote the use of open source materials in place of traditional textbooks. The money would be used to foster the use of open education resources, or OERs, among the system’s 12 institutions, said MJ Bishop, director of the Kirwan Center.

      • The Met Goes Public Domain With CC0, But It Shouldn’t Have To

        The ongoing digitization of the vast wealth of material sitting in museums and archives around the world is one of the greatest projects of the digital age — a full realization of the internet’s ability to spread knowledge and culture to all. Or it would be, if it weren’t for copyfraud: for every museum genuinely embracing open content and the public domain, there’s another claiming copyright on public domain images and being backed up by terrible court rulings.

        And so it’s fantastic to see The Metropolitan Museum of Art joining the former camp with a new Open Access policy that is putting images of 375,000 works online with a CC0 public domain declaration. The Met actually partnered with Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Pinterest and others to help make this happen, and has even announced its first Wikimedian-in-residence who will head up the project to get these images into Wikimedia Commons and onto Wikipedia.

        This is all great, but here’s the annoying thing: it should be totally unnecessary. These are digitizations of public domain works, and there’s no reasonable basis for granting them any copyright protection that would need to be divested with a CC0 mark in the first place. They are not creative transformative works, and in fact they are the opposite: attempts to capture the original as faithfully and accurately as possible, with no detectable changes in the transfer from one medium to another. It might take a lot of work, but sweat of the brow does not establish copyright, and allowing such images to be re-copyrighted (in some cases hundreds or even thousands of years after their original creation) would be pointless and disastrous.

      • The Met Makes 375,000 Public Domain Images Available

        The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Tuesday that more than 375,000 of the Museum’s “public-domain artworks” are now available for unrestricted use.

        “We have been working toward the goal of sharing our images with the public for a number of years,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, in a statement. “Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture and our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care.”

        The image collection covers photographs, paintings, and sculptures, among other works. Images now available for both scholarly and commercial purposes include Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware; photographs by Walker Evans, Alfred Steiglitz, and Dorothea Lange; and even some Vincent van Gogh paintings.

      • Ambra, the PLOS Journal Publishing Platform, is Open Again

        As part of our commitment to Open Science, PLOS is pleased to announce that Ambra™, the engine behind PLOS journals, is once again open source. Head over to ambraproject.org to read more and get started.

  • Programming/Development

    • RcppTOML 0.1.1

      Following up on the somewhat important RcppTOML 0.1.0 releaseas which brought RcppTOML to Windows, we have a first minor update 0.1.1. Two things changed: once again updated upstream code from Chase Geigle’s cpptoml which now supports Date types too, and we added the ability to parse TOML from strings as opposed to only from files.

    • The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding

      When I ask people to picture a coder, they usually imagine someone like Mark Zuckerberg: a hoodied college dropout who builds an app in a feverish 72-hour programming jag—with the goal of getting insanely rich and, as they say, “changing the world.”

    • Looking into what Rust can do that other languages can’t … or can they
    • PHP vs. Node.js: An epic battle for developer mind share

      It’s a classic Hollywood plot: the battle between two old friends who went separate ways. Often the friction begins when one pal sparks an interest in what had always been the other pal’s unspoken domain. In the programming language version of this movie, it’s the introduction of Node.js that turns the buddy flick into a grudge match: PHP and JavaScript, two partners who once ruled the internet together but now duke it out for the mind share of developers.

      In the old days, the partnership was simple. JavaScript handled little details on the browser, while PHP managed all the server-side tasks between port 80 and MySQL. It was a happy union that continues to support many crucial parts of the internet. Between WordPress, Drupal, and Facebook, people can hardly go a minute on the web without running into PHP.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Yale University college honouring slave advocate renamed for pioneering woman scientist

      One of America’s most celebrated universities is renaming a residential college established in memory of a white supremacist to instead honour a pioneering woman scientist.

      After years of debate, officials at Yale University said they were changing the name of Calhoun College, which was named for a 19th Century alumni who advocated slavery. Instead, the college will now honour Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who studied at Yale in the 1930s, invented a pioneering computer programming language and became a Navy rear admiral. She died in 1992.

      “We have a strong presumption against renaming buildings on this campus,” the university’s president, Peter Salovey, said on Saturday.

    • Official University Messages – Message Detail
    • How the Anti-Vaxxers Are Winning

      It’s looking as if 2017 could become the year when the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States and we begin to see a reversal of several decades in steady public health gains. The first blow will be measles outbreaks in America.

      Measles is one of the most contagious and most lethal of all human diseases. A single person infected with the virus can infect more than a dozen unvaccinated people, typically infants too young to have received their first measles shot. Such high levels of transmissibility mean that when the percentage of children in a community who have received the measles vaccine falls below 90 percent to 95 percent, we can start to see major outbreaks, as in the 1950s when four million Americans a year were infected and 450 died. Worldwide, measles still kills around 100,000 children each year.

      The myth that vaccines like the one that prevents measles are connected to autism has persisted despite rock-solid proof to the contrary. Donald Trump has given credence to such views in tweets and during a Republican debate, but as president he has said nothing to support vaccination opponents, so there is reason to hope that his views are changing.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump’s F.D.A. Pick Could Undo Decades of Drug Safeguards

      President Trump’s vow to overhaul the Food and Drug Administration could bring major changes in policy, including steps to accelerate the process of approving new prescription drugs, setting up a clash with critics who say his push for deregulation might put consumers at risk.

      Mr. Trump has been vetting candidates to run the agency, which regulates the safety of everything from drugs and medical devices to food and cosmetics. Among them is Jim O’Neill, a former official at the Health and Human Services Department who is an associate of the Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. Mr. O’Neill has argued that companies should not have to prove that their drugs work in clinical trials before selling them to consumers.

      Other candidates also have called for reducing regulatory hurdles.

    • Doctor who exposed Flint water crisis to speak at IWU

      The pediatrician who exposed the Flint water crisis will be the Founders Day speaker on Wednesday at Illinois Wesleyan University.

      Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha will give her talk, “The Flint Water Crisis: A Journey for Justice,” at 11 a.m. in Presser Hall’s Westbrook Auditorium, 1210 N. Park St. The talk is free and open to the public.

      Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, was alerted that Marc Edwards, a water engineer and Virginia Tech University professor, had found high lead levels in the water of Flint residents’ homes.

    • Antibiotic abuse: the nightmare scenario

      Imagine a world in which even the slightest scratch could be lethal. Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, and organ transplants are no longer possible. Even simple surgery is too risky to contemplate, while epidemics triggered by deadly bacteria have left our health services helpless.

      It is science fiction, of course – but only just. According to many doctors and scientists, the rise of antibiotic resistance across the planet could soon make this grim scenario a reality. And if it does, humans will have to face up to challenges that would once have seemed unthinkable. The question is: when – and how – might this horrific medical ordeal unfold for the human race?

    • Hepatitis C Patent Challenges In India, Argentina To Allow Generic Production

      Resistance to high prices for hepatitis C drugs is ongoing as five new challenges against patents have been filed in India and Argentina, according to sources. Those challenges aim at allowing the production and distribution of affordable generic versions of new hepatitis C medicines (direct-acting antivirals).

    • USDA blacks out animal welfare information

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today removed public access to tens of thousands of reports that document the numbers of animals kept by research labs, companies, zoos, circuses, and animal transporters—and whether those animals are being treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act. Henceforth, those wanting access to the information will need to file a Freedom of Information Act request. The same goes for inspection reports under the Horse Protection Act, which prohibits injuring horses’ hooves or legs for show.

      The agency said in a statement that it revoked public access to the reports “based on our commitment to being transparent … and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals.”

    • Updated: USDA responds to outcry over removal of animal welfare documents, lawsuit threats

      In this letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the animal welfare organization reminded the government that under the terms of a 2009 legal settlement with HSUS, USDA had agreed to make public some of the records it has now scrubbed from its public database. HSUS, its lawyers write, “is exercising its rights under [the 2009 settlement] and intends to take further action unless USDA agrees to reconsider this bizarre reversal of the agency’s longstanding policy” of making inspection records and others publicly available.

    • GOP fights ObamaCare PR war

      Republicans are facing a new public relations war in their effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

      The GOP Congress has repeatedly approved legislation to repeal ObamaCare, but those proposals went nowhere with President Obama in the White House.

      Now that Republicans also hold the White House, the challenge for the GOP is taking the long-promised action in a way that won’t backfire politically.

    • Officials: Flint to get water filters 3 more years

      The state of Michigan plans to provide Flint residents with water filters and replacement cartridges for about three more years amid the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water.

    • End to water credits brings protestors to Flint City Hall – ABC 12
    • Granddad, World’s Oldest Public Aquarium Fish, Dies at Shedd, His Home Since 1933

      Granddad, an Australian lungfish considered the oldest fish in any public zoo or aquarium around the world, was euthanized Sunday at the Shedd Aquarium after “a rapid decline” in the animal’s health.

      The world-famous fish was an aquarium resident since 1933 and was the last of a trio of ancient animals residing at Chicago-area institutions. That group also included R1, a dwarf African crocodile who lived at Lincoln Park Zoo from 1930 to 2010; and Cookie, an 83-year-old Major Mitchell’s cockatoo who died last August at Brookfield Zoo.

    • How we are all cooking rice incorrectly – and could be endangering our health

      Millions of cooks are endangering their health by cooking their rice incorrectly, scientists believe.

      Putting more water in the pan or even steeping it overnight is the best way to flush out traces of the poison arsenic, they found.

      The chemical contaminates rice as a result of industrial toxins and pesticides which can remain in the soil for decades.

      Experts have long debated what level of arsenic is safe, with new limits set by the EU in 2016.

  • Security

    • Opening Cyber Salvo in the French Elections

      On Feb 1st, 2017, Wikileaks began tweeting about the candidates in the French election coming up in a few months. This election (along with Germany’s later this year) is a very highly anticipated overt cyber conflict, one that many people in the intelligence, infosec and natsec communities are all paying attention to. We all saw what happened in the US and expect the Russians to meddle in both of these elections too. The outcomes are particularly important because France and Germany (“Old Europe”) are the strong core of the EU, and Putin’s strategic goal is a weak EU. He’s been dealt a weak hand and his geopolitical strategy is to weaken his opponents, pretty straight forward.

    • Kaspersky says businesses hit by fileless Windows malware

      Fileless Windows malware is infecting enterprise systems in 40 or more countries, with more than 140 institutions having been hit, according to the anti-virus company Kaspersky.

      The malware has not been given a name yet, but Kaspersky says it is similar to Duqu 2.0 that attacked its own network and stayed undetected for more than six months.

      It said an unnamed bank found the malware in late 2016 after it detected Meterpreter code in the physical memory of one of its Windows domain controllers. Meterpreter is an advanced, dynamically extensible payload that uses in-memory DLL injection stagers and is extended over the network at runtime.

    • Hack my car? Most believe it can happen

      Most Americans have some concerns that self-driving cars can be hacked to cause crashes, disable the vehicle in some way or even be used as weapons by terrorists, according to researchers at the University of Michigan.

      And large percentages of people are at least slightly concerned that these kinds of vehicles can be hacked to gain access to personal data.

      However, more than half have these same cybersecurity concerns about conventional vehicles, say Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute.

      Using an online survey of more than 500 Americans, the researchers asked respondents how concerned they are about hackers gaining access to personally owned self-driving (both with control over the gas pedal, brake and steering, and without) and conventional vehicles.

    • ‘Top 10 Spammer’ Indicted for Wire Fraud

      Michael A. Persaud, a California man profiled in a Nov. 2014 KrebsOnSecurity story about a junk email purveyor tagged as one of the World’s Top 10 Worst Spammers, was indicted this week on federal wire fraud charges tied to an alleged spamming operation.

    • Chap scripts remote Linux takeover for sysadmins

      Linux sysadmins with a sense of adventure: Tokyo-based developer Hector Martin has put together a set of scripts to replace an in-use Linux system over SSH.

      Over at GitHub, Martin’s Takeover.sh is the kind of no-safety-net we imagine El Reg’s readers will love.

    • Monday’s security advisories
    • Reproducible Builds: week 94 in Stretch cycle
    • Reality Based Security

      The way cybersecurity works today someone will say “this is a problem”. Maybe it’s IoT, or ransomware, or antivirus, secure coding, security vulnerabilities; whatever, pick something, there’s plenty to choose from. It’s rarely in a general context though, it will be sort of specific, for example “we have to teach developers how to stop adding security flaws to software”. Someone else will say “we can’t fix that”, then they get called a defeatist for being negative and it’s assumed the defeatists are the problem. The real problem is they’re not wrong. It can’t be fixed. We will never see humans write error free code, there is no amount of training we can give them. Pretending it can is what’s dangerous. Pretending we can fix problems we can’t is lying.

    • Ensuring Secure Practices around Open Source [Ed: Latest FUD from Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm, Black Duck]
    • RSA 2017: SophosLabs sees spike in Linux-IoT malware
    • Sophos: IoT Malware Growing More Sophisticated
    • Linux IoT, Android and MacOS expected in 2017, SophosLabs
    • Hackers using Linux flaws to attack IoT devices
    • Linux Security Fundamentals: Estimating the Cost of a Cyber Attack
    • Recent WordPress vulnerability used to deface 1.5 million pages

      Up to 20 attackers or groups of attackers are defacing WordPress websites that haven’t yet applied a recent patch for a critical vulnerability.

      The vulnerability, located in the platform’s REST API, allows unauthenticated attackers to modify the content of any post or page within a WordPress site. The flaw was fixed in WordPress 4.7.2, released on Jan. 26, but the WordPress team did not publicly disclose the vulnerability’s existence until a week later, to allow enough time for a large number of users to deploy the update.

    • Simple Server Hardening

      These days, it’s more important than ever to tighten up the security on your servers, yet if you were to look at several official hardening guides, they read as though they were written for Red Hat from 2005. That’s because they were written for Red Hat in 2005 and updated here and there through the years. I came across one of these guides when I was referring to some official hardening benchmarks for a PCI audit and realized if others new to Linux server administration were to run across the same guide, they likely would be overwhelmed with all of the obscure steps. Worse though, they likely would spend hours performing obscure sysctl tweaks and end up with a computer that was no more protected against a modern attack. Instead, they could have spent a few minutes performing a few simple hardening steps and ended up with a more secure computer at the end. So in this article, I describe a few hardening steps that provide the most bang for the buck. These tips should take only a few minutes, yet for that effort, you should get a much more secure system at the end.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Bangladesh booksellers warned not to offend Muslims

      Bangladesh’s largest bookfair began in Dhaka on Wednesday with police warning organisers against selling books that hurt “religious sentiment” in the Muslim-majority country.
      But the fair has incurred the wrath of Islamist extremists who hacked and critically injured a top secular writer in 2004 and killed a US-based atheist blogger moments after he signed books for readers in 2015.
      Last year a 73-year-old publisher was arrested and his stall at the fair was shut down after a book called ‘Islam Debate’ triggered protests by Islamists who said the work was offensive to Muslims.
      Police said they have tightened security for the annual fair, which is being organised at a park on the campus of Dhaka University, the country’s main secular bastion.
      Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia visited the fairground on Tuesday, asking the authorities to “scrutinise” the books before they are cleared to be displayed at stalls.

    • Think Betsy DeVos is a lightning rod? Try her brother, Erik Prince of Blackwater.

      This week’s controversial confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the nation’s education secretary confirmed another thing:

      It’s a new day for the Prince family – notably Erik Prince, DeVos’ brother.

      Prince, 47, is best known for founding Blackwater U.S.A., a private military company born in Moyock, N.C., just a half-hour drive from downtown Norfolk.

      Prince and Blackwater were Bush-era favorites, reaping billions in security contracts during the Iraq war. Under the Democrats, they fell from grace, becoming a symbol of America’s heavy boot overseas.

      Bitterly, Prince sold Blackwater and moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, accusing Washington of throwing his company under the bus.

      DeVos was almost as embattled as her brother before Tuesday, when she won her post by the slimmest margin in Cabinet nominee history: a single, tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

    • 13,000 people hanged in secret at Syrian prison, Amnesty says

      Thousands of people have been hanged at a Syrian prison in a secret crackdown on dissent by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a report by Amnesty International alleges.
      The human rights group says as many as 13,000 people have been executed at Saydnaya prison, north of the capital Damascus in a “hidden” campaign authorized by senior regime figures.

    • Swedish police chief car explodes in Stockholm

      A Swedish police officer’s personal car exploded outside his home early Monday in an attack, authorities said, as they expressed concerns over rising violence against law enforcement officials.

      “Each time a member of the judiciary or the Swedish police is subjected to threats or attacks, it is one too many,” Swedish chief of police Dan Eliasson said in a statement.

      No one was injured in the attack, which occurred just after midnight in the leafy Stockholm suburb of Taby.

    • Six Red Cross workers in Afghanistan killed in ambush

      Six Afghan Red Cross aid workers have been killed in an ambush in the country’s north while travelling to a remote area to deliver humanitarian aid.

      Three vehicles carrying eight International Committee of the Red Cross employees were travelling through Dasht-e Leili, a desert in Jowzjan province, when they came under fire, according to the provincial governor, Lotfullah Azizi. Three drivers and three other personnel were killed, and two are missing.

    • Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty in call with Russia’s Putin

      In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

      When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

    • Iraq war allegations probe to end

      A probe into allegations made against Iraq war veterans will be shut down within months, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced.

      The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) will close in the summer and around 20 remaining cases will be given to the Royal Navy Police, he said.

      MPs have branded the probe, which has spent £34m but led to no successful prosecutions, an “unmitigated failure”.

      The IHAT was set up in 2010 to examine allegations made by Iraqi civilians.

      The decision to close the team comes after a public inquiry exposed the behaviour of a human rights lawyer in charge of many of the abuse allegation cases.

    • New report shows the real face of Islamic State terror converts

      The Australian Strategic Policy Institute recently released a report titled The American Face of ISIS, which it commissioned in the hope of better understanding terror converts in Australia.

      The larger number of converts in America charged with an Islamic State-related incident or travelling to the Middle East in order to fight with the terrorist group provided more statistical certainty than could be achieved using Australian data only. The report is to be followed with a study of the societal traits of Australians charged with terror-related incidents.

    • Yes, It’s Legal To Designate The Muslim Brotherhood A Terrorist Organization

      As President Trump moves towards designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, we’re hearing all the reasons he can’t or shouldn’t.

      The latest tactic has been to assert that designating the Muslim Brotherhood is not possible, or simply illegal, because it does not conform with the letter of the law regarding Foreign Terrorist Designations. This is a specious claim, but made with such confidence that it requires a serious examination to debunk.

    • Forgotten mass grave in the U.P. finally gets recognition

      They were considered the lowest of the low, the dregs of the world. And when they died, they were thrown into an unmarked pit and forgotten.

      A hundred years ago, life in Upper Peninsula towns like Sault Ste. Marie was tough. People died young, people died suddenly, and they often died in horrendous ways. Many worked themselves to death, or drank themselves to death, or were killed on the job in unsafe conditions. And if they didn’t have a family, or if their family didn’t have any money, they wound up buried in a potter’s field, the quaint old term for a mass grave.

    • Undercover Panorama report reveals prison chaos

      Chaos in one of the biggest prisons in the country has been revealed in secret filming for the BBC.

      An undercover reporter spent two months at HMP Northumberland, which houses up to 1,348 male inmates, for Panorama.

      He discovered widespread drug use, a lack of control, door alarms that did not go off in one block and a hole in an internal security fence.

      The Ministry of Justice said it would investigate the “extremely serious allegations” at the Acklington jail.

    • Ministers came ‘within hours’ of suspending UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia

      Government ministers reportedly came within hours of suspending controversial UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia, official documents have shown.

      On 12 February last year, Sajid Javid, the then Business Secretary, threatened to end the exports by the end of the day, The Observer reports.

      Court documents show that Mr Javid wanted both former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon to back continuing the exports, otherwise he would suspend them.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador presidential hopeful promises to evict Julian Assange from embassy

      Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election.

      In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified.

    • The Guardian view on official secrets: new proposals threaten democracy

      The Law Commission’s purpose is to review the state of the law in England and Wales and where necessary to suggest how it should be updated. It is one of those rarely noticed constitutional cogs, an important institution that does important work. The law that relates to official secrets is indeed dated and, in a digital age of global publication, it is also technologically obsolete. Yet this is not at the heart of the proposals the commission is making. Instead, it proposes powers that would herald a new journalistic ice age. Anyone that published an intelligence- or foreign affairs-related story based on a leak would be open to criminal charges. Reporters, as well as the whistleblowers whose stories they tell, would be under threat of sentences of up to 14 years, regardless of the public interest and even if there were no likelihood of damage.

    • Whistleblowers keep us safe. We can’t allow them to be silenced

      The Law Commission is an important body with a proud history. Set up in 1965 to provide independent advice to government on law reform, it describes itself as non-political and has often made meticulous recommendations on overlooked but vital areas of the statute book, from criminal and family law to that governing property, trusts and other areas of commerce. Its status, value and prestige have been greatly enhanced by a succession of judicial chairs, usually of the high court and then promoted to the court of appeal.

      Yet in an age of high-octane media and politics, legislative policy has been driven more by kneejerks and soundbites than reason and research. The commission has felt neglected, with too many reports unimplemented by parliament, and it may be concerned for its long-term future. Some years ago I was visited in my Liberty office by commission officials concerned about their declining brand and influence, and with a healthy curiosity as to how better to communicate with the world beyond Whitehall. So the government’s invitation to the commission in 2015 to look at what is bureaucratically called the “protection of official data” must have caused considerable excitement.

    • With So Much Public Interest In Our Judicial System, It’s Time To Free Up Access To Court Documents

      Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, I am closely following the “airport cases” around the country. In order to keep abreast of the latest developments in one of the fastest-moving cases, Washington v. Trump, I built a Twitter bot that scrapes the public docket mirror hosted by the Ninth Circuit and tweets about new documents and links as soon as they’re added.

      This case leads a legal push that has attracted incredible amounts of public attention. There have been tens of thousands of protestors, dozens of organizations and companies that submitted amicus briefs (including Techdirt’s think-tank arm, the Copia Institute), and over 135,000 people who tuned into the audio-only livestream of the Ninth Circuit oral arguments (which was also broadcast live on multiple news channels).

    • European Parliament Demands Transparency In Expert Groups And Protection For Whistleblowers

      The European Commission is reforming the way it populates its “expert groups” which has been criticized as unbalanced and non-transparent for years. But the European Parliament is not satisfied. In a report on its own initiative passed in Strasbourg today practically unanimously (663 in favour, 16 against, 13 abstentions), the Parliament requested the Commission make public how it decides the composition of expert groups and explain which interest groups are to be represented and how geographical and political interests will be balanced.

    • After Passing Worst Surveillance Law In A Democracy, UK Now Proposes Worst Anti-Whistleblowing Law

      Last November, the UK government finally passed the Snooper’s Charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act. That was largely because everyone in the UK was too busy arguing over the Brexit mess to notice that Theresa May had finally achieved her goal, and pushed through what the Open Rights Group called “the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy.” Now that May has provided the police with the ability to rummage through a year’s worth of every Brit’s browsing history without a warrant, and given permission for the intelligence agencies to break into any computer and demand backdoors to be installed for any software or online service used in the UK, it seems she has a new target: whistleblowers. The Guardian reports on big changes the authorities want to make to the laws protecting government secrets, doubtless with an eye to dissuading any future Snowden/Guardian-type partnerships in the UK…

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Hungry Venezuelans killing flamingos and anteaters for food, biologists say

      Biology student Luis Sibira stumbled across the first set of gory remains last November: eight pink flamingos, their breasts and torsos sliced out, leaving their heads, spindly legs and vivid feathers scattered across the marshy ground at Las Peonias Lagoon in western Venezuela.

      Flamingo hunting is both illegal and unusual at the lagoon, less than 200 miles from the Colombian border. Sibera, who had been studying the pink birds that nest there for years, had never seen anything remotely like that before.

      Since then, though, he’s seen at least 20 similar cases, most recently in January, when he found several carcasses hidden under shrubs, with a shotgun shell nearby.

    • No Data Manipulation at NOAA

      Top Republicans on the House science committee claim a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist “confirmed” that his NOAA colleagues “manipulated” climate data for a 2015 study. But that scientist denies that he accused NOAA of manipulating data.

      Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and two subcommittee chairmen issued a Feb. 5 press release — “Former NOAA Scientist Confirms Colleagues Manipulated Climate Records” — as part of an ongoing dispute over the validity of a paper published in the journal Science in June 2015 by NOAA scientists.

    • Trump’s Pipeline and America’s Shame

      The Trump Administration is breaking with tradition on so many fronts—renting out the family hotel to foreign diplomats, say, or imposing travel restrictions on the adherents of disfavored religions—that it seems noteworthy when it exhibits some continuity with American custom. And so let us focus for a moment, before the President’s next disorienting tweet, on yesterday’s news that construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline will be restarted, a development that fits in perfectly with one of this country’s oldest cultural practices, going back to the days of Plymouth Rock: repressing Native Americans.

      Just to rehash the story briefly, this pipeline had originally been set to carry its freight of crude oil under the Missouri River, north of Bismarck. But the predominantly white citizens of that town objected, pointing out that a spill could foul their drinking water. So the pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, remapped the crossing for just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This piece of blatant environmental racism elicited a remarkable reaction, eventually drawing representatives of more than two hundred Indian nations from around the continent to a great encampment at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers, near where the pipeline was set to go. They were joined, last summer and into the fall, by clergy groups, veterans groups, environmental groups—including 350.org, the climate-advocacy organization I co-founded—and private citizens, who felt that this was a chance to begin reversing four centuries of literally and figuratively dumping on Native Americans. And the protesters succeeded. Despite the German shepherds and pepper spray let loose by E.T.P.’s security guards, despite the fire hoses and rubber bullets employed by the various paramilitary police forces that assembled, they kept a nonviolent discipline that eventually persuaded the Obama Administration to agree to further study of the plan.

    • When fire gives Mother Nature a helping hand

      Cities and fire usually don’t mix.

      But this spring, strategically selected portions of Belle Isle and William G. Milliken State Park in downtown Detroit will be set on fire in what’s known as a “prescribed burn” – deliberately set and carefully controlled fires that actually help the growth of trees, wildflowers and native grasses while improving habitats for wildlife.

      “With nearly 20 million acres of forests covering more than half of Michigan’s landscape, forests clearly are a critical part of our state’s environment and economy,” said Carol Rose of the Michigan Wildlife Council.

    • Government accused of trying to kill off UK solar industry before it can become cheapest form of electricity

      The Government has been accused of trying to kill off Britain’s solar energy industry just as it is about to become one of the cheapest suppliers of electricity – with no need for any kind of state subsidy.

      In fact, according to the Government’s own projections, only onshore windfarms could provide cheaper power within the next decade or so – and the Conservatives pledged in the party’s election manifesto to “halt their spread”.

    • Dakota Access oil pipeline: Standing Rock Sioux tribe ‘running out of options’ to stop project going ahead

      The leader of a Native American tribe attempting to block the Dakota Access oil pipeline has said the Standing Rock Sioux may have exhausted legal options to stop the project after the company building it won federal permission to tunnel under the Missouri River.

      Legal experts agreed the tribe faces long odds in convincing any court to halt the $3.8 billion project led by Energy Transfer Partners LP, which could now begin operation as soon as June.

      The US Army said on Tuesday it would grant the final permit for the pipeline after an order from President Donald Trump to expedite the project. The army owns the land through its Corps of Engineers.

      “We’re running out of options, but that doesn’t mean that it’s over,” David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told Reuters in a telephone interview. “We’re still going to continue to look at all legal options available to us.”

    • Sound of crickets ‘could become a thing of the past’

      The first comprehensive assessment of Europe’s crickets and grasshoppers has found that more than a quarter of species are being driven to extinction.

      According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the insect group is the most threatened of those assessed so far in Europe.

      Europe harbours more than 1,000 species of grasshopper and cricket.

    • Standing Rock Sioux Ask Court to Halt Dakota Access Pipeline Construction

      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has joined a motion filed Thursday by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe seeking a temporary restraining order to stop construction of the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which began earlier this week.

      In a declaration filed with the motion, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, II, writes that it is “vitally important to our people that our rights be heard by this Court before Dakota Access drills under Lake Oahe.”

    • Central New Yorkers standing in solidarity against Dakota Access Pipeline

      On Saturday a rally was held in the heart of Syracuse, all standing in solidarity against the Dakota Pipeline.

      Central New Yorkers came together at Perseverance Park as part of an international effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      Throughout the crowd chants could be heard including, “We Stand with Standing Rock,” while signs read things like “All Pipelines Leak, All Oil Peaks” and “Water if Life.”

    • 65% of British public support new Clean Air Act, says survey

      More than half of the British public believe air pollution levels across the UK are damaging to their health and almost two-thirds back proposals for new laws to tackle the issue, according to research.

      Canvassing the views of 1,670 adults, the survey found that 58% believed the current levels of air pollution in the UK to be either harmful or very harmful to health, a figure that rose to 73% among Londoners. What’s more, 65% of those polled said they would support a new Clean Air Act to tackle the issue.

      The study, undertaken by YouGov, was commissioned by the environmental law organisation ClientEarth on behalf of the campaign for a new Clean Air Act.

  • Finance

    • Rio Olympic venues already falling into a state of disrepair

      Just six months on from the 2016 Games, a number of Rio’s major Olympic venues have fallen into a state of disrepair. Since the Paralympics closing ceremony, the Maracana Stadium has been looted, the key Games precinct has been shut down and the city’s Olympic golf course is struggling.

      The most alarming visual deterioration can be seen at the Maracana, where worms have damaged the now-threadbare playing surface, windows inside the stadium have been smashed, copper wire stolen from walls and ceilings, and a reported 10% of the 78,000 seats have been torn up. Late in January local electric utility company Light cut off power to the stadium in response to unpaid bills, claimed to be in the region of three million reals (USD$940,000).

    • Tesla employee writes of low wages, poor morale; company denies claims

      In a Medium post published today, Tesla employee Jose Moran detailed working conditions at the company’s Fremont factory and called for the factory workers to unionize with United Auto Workers (UAW).

      Tesla currently employs more than 5,000 non-union workers at its Fremont, California-based factory. Moran wrote that the workers are often faced with “excessive mandatory overtime” and earn between $17 and $21 hourly, compared with the national average of $25.58 hourly for most autoworkers in the US. The Tesla employee noted that the astronomical cost of living in the Bay Area makes $21 an hour difficult to live on.

    • Betsy DeVos Teaches the Value of Ignorance

      “Government really sucks.” This belief, expressed by the just-confirmed education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in a 2015 speech to educators, may be the only qualification she needed for President Trump.

      Ms. DeVos is the perfect cabinet member for a president determined to appoint officials eager to destroy the agencies they run and weigh the fate of policies and programs based on ideological considerations.

      She has never run, taught in, attended or sent a child to an American public school, and her confirmation hearings laid bare her ignorance of education policy and scorn for public education itself. She has donated millions to, and helped direct, groups that want to replace traditional public schools with charter schools and convert taxpayer dollars into vouchers to help parents send children to private and religious schools.

    • Betsy DeVos Has Been Confirmed. Now the Fight Really Begins.

      Several years ago, billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos wrote that she’d “decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence.” Instead, she and her family would concede the point: “We expect a return on our investment.”

    • Congressman: Rarely used law could make Trump tax returns public

      A New Jersey congressman says a rarely invoked 1924 law could be used to examine President Donald Trump’s tax returns for possible conflicts of interest and Constitutional violations.

      Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, has asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, to order the Treasury Department to provide tax returns to the committee. Brady’s office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

    • Tories to ‘secretly’ pass Ceta treaty

      CAMPAIGNERS protested outside Parliament yesterday against a government “cover-up” for refusing a Commons debate on a trade deal that puts “democracy and public services up for sale.”

      The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta) is a “secretly negotiated” trade deal between Canada and the European Union that will “undermine our democracy and destroy our basic rights,” campaign group Ceta Blockers argued.

    • Feeling ‘Pressure All the Time’ on Europe’s Treadmill of Temporary Work

      After graduating with degrees in accounting and finance from a university in Finland, Ville Markus Kieloniemi thought he would at least find an entry-level job in his field. He studied potential employers, tailoring his applications accordingly.

      He wound up churning through eight temporary jobs over the next three years. He worked variously as a hotel receptionist and as a salesman in men’s clothing stores, peddling tailored suits and sportswear.

      “It’s hard to manage your finances or even get housing, let alone start a career,” said Mr. Kieloniemi, 23, who added depth to his résumé by accepting unpaid office jobs and internships in New York and Spain, mostly at his own expense. “You feel pressure all the time.”

    • The tiny bank running Saudi Aramco’s world record IPO

      Moelis & Company is about to become a very big name on Wall Street.

      The small investment bank has been hired by Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, to be the sole independent advisor on its huge public offering, according to two people familiar with the matter.

      In winning the lucrative and prestigious assignment, Moelis will have beaten off competition from some of Wall Street’s biggest banks.

      Moelis (MC) will advise Aramco on who to pick as underwriters for what is expected to be the biggest IPO in history if it happens, as expected, next year.

      Saudi Aramco and Moelis declined to comment.

    • Islamic finance body drafts new standard for centralised sharia boards

      Feb 9 A global body for Islamic finance has issued a draft standard on centralized sharia boards, aiming to improve corporate governance in the industry and increase the consumer appeal of sharia-compliant financial products.

      The proposed rules come at a time when Islamic banks are trying to widen their appeal to consumers in core markets of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, while opening up entirely new ones – particularly across Africa.

      Islamic banks have traditionally established internal sharia boards, employing scholars to rule on whether their products are religiously permissible.

    • Brexit four times worse for UK economy than previously believed, say MIT economists

      Britain’s departure from the European Union could cause output losses of as much as 9.5 per cent, according to new research.

      Calculations using models that incorporate productivity measures show a negative impact on gross domestic product per capita of almost four times that of previous estimates, according to John Van Reenen, a professor of applied economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management who supported the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.

    • Who are you calling Malthusian?

      My concept of a Malthusian economy involves two characteristics. First, living standards are negatively related to the size of population. This would occur if we had some sort of fixed factor of production. Typically, one might say it was agricultural land, but you could just say resources if you like. It isn’t even important that they are truly fixed. So long as the resources are inelastic, whether due to a physical limit or because bringing them into use is prohibitively expensive, you’d satisfy the first characteristic of a Malthusian economy.

    • Mexico ready to retaliate by hurting American corn farmers

      Mexico is ready to hit the U.S. where it hurts: Corn.

      Mexico is one of the top buyers of American corn in the world today. And Mexican senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Sales of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale have soared since Trump’s win

      When Kellyanne Conway went before NBC’s Meet the Press and described statements made by Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “alternative facts”, it had the unintended consequence of driving up sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. Since President Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, another dystopian novel has begun climbing the charts: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.

    • Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again

      You only use 10 percent of your brain. Eating carrots improves your eyesight. Vitamin C cures the common cold. Crime in the United States is at an all-time high.

      None of those things are true.

      But the facts don’t actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.

    • Newspaper Accidentally Uses Alec Baldwin ‘SNL’ Photo Instead of Donald Trump

      Dominican newspaper El Nacional apologized on Saturday after mistakenly using a photo of Baldwin dressed as President Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” instead of the president himself.

      The photo appeared in the paper next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The photo “was placed as if it were the one of Trump,” the paper wrote. “El Nacional apologizes to the readers and to all those who felt affected by the publication.”

    • Russia Considers Returning Snowden to U.S. to ‘Curry Favor’ With Trump: Official

      U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a “gift” to President Donald Trump — who has called the NSA leaker a “spy” and a “traitor” who deserves to be executed.

      That’s according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to “curry favor” with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

    • Key lawmakers seek probe of Kellyanne Conway’s ‘go buy Ivanka’s stuff’ message

      In a rare bipartisan move, the top Republican and Democrat on a key congressional panel Thursday sharply rebuked White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for publicly promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and asked the federal government’s chief ethics official to review her conduct.

      “What she did was wrong, wrong, wrong,” Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, tweeted Thursday afternoon as he and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released the letter questioning Conway’s actions.

    • Russia may turn Snowden over to U.S. as ‘gift’ to ‘curry favor’ with Trump (who wants to kill the NSA leaker)
    • Russia considers sending Edward Snowden back to U.S., report says

      An NBC News report citing U.S. intelligence sources says Russia may consider handing over Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower, to the United States as a favor to President Trump.

      NBC News, the only major news outlet to report the development so far, wrote that “highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations” suggest Russia is mulling over sending Snowden back to the U.S. as a favor to Trump. NBC News reported it is one of several tactics Russia could use to cozy up to the president.

    • Donald Trump has successfully buried the story that worries him most
    • John Oliver Returns to Out-News the News—by Ignoring Trump

      If it were up to John Oliver, this sentence will be the last time “Last Week Tonight” and “President Donald Trump” are mentioned in the same story. It’s not that he doesn’t want to take on the administration. Far from it. But he also knows everyone from CNN to his former coworker Stephen Colbert is already doing that on a daily basis, and covering Trump’s tweets just won’t cut it for a weekly show. Instead, he’s going to double down—not on the news, but on everything else.

    • Warren seizes spotlight after GOP rebuke

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to rebuke the Senate’s most prominent liberal woman has significantly raised the temperature in what was already a ­red-hot chamber of Congress.

      The partisan back-and-forth between McConnell and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the culmination of weeks of simmering tension over President Trump’s Cabinet nominees and the latest indication that bipartisanship will be elusive in 2017.

      Senate Republicans aren’t regretting the unusual Tuesday night vote to suspend Warren from the debate on Sen. Jeff Sessions’s (R-Ala.) nomination to serve as attorney general, even though it caused a media firestorm and energized the Democratic base.

      For McConnell, it was about defending a colleague and friend with whom he has served since 1997 and firing a warning shot at Democrats.

    • Trump attacks Nordstrom over daughter’s clothing line

      The White House became embroiled in a feud with retail giant Nordstrom Wednesday, highlighting the first family’s potential business conflicts and President Trump’s penchant for attacking businesses he perceives as foes.

      Nordstrom stopped carrying Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing and accessories from its stores last week, saying that it will sell its remaining inventory but will not renew its agreement to sell products in her brand.

      The retailer said the decision was based on poor product sales, although critics have noted that outside groups threatened to boycott stores that carry Trump family products on their shelves.

      Nordstrom’s decision provoked the president to blast the company in a Wednesday tweet.

    • Want to Talk to the President? Advertise Here

      Donald Trump watches a lot of television. It is not mere entertainment for him, but also a means to power and a guide to policy. Anonymous aides have said it can be difficult to wrest Trump from the screen to fulfill the duties of his office.

      To anybody interested in a competent executive branch, this falls somewhere between mild and full-blown crisis. But every crisis is an opportunity, of sorts. If Trump gets his talking points, policy ideas, and legislative focus from a handful of advertising-supported television shows, it’s only a matter of time until these show’s advertisers and producers recognize they potentially have enormous power over national policy—or, at the very least, they can tell advertising companies that they do. Got a point to make? Don’t spend a fortune on lobbying and white papers. Just buy an ad on Hannity.

    • Shouldn’t We Know Who Else Is at the ‘Winter White House’?

      President Trump departed Friday for his second consecutive weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, which administration officials have labored to dub the “Winter White House.” He will be hosting the prime minister of Japan for the weekend as a “personal gift” while the two leaders discuss the US-Japanese relationship amidst rounds of golf.

      White House staff has told reporters to prepare for a presidential trip to Florida every weekend this month—a getaway, perhaps, from the cold humdrum of White House life. But Trump’s retreats also appear to be an escape from the routine transparency and ethics laws of his normal residence. Mar-a-Lago, though now treated as a satellite White House, isn’t being subjected to the same rules as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    • Noam Chomsky’s “Responsibility of Intellectuals” after 50 years: It’s an even heavier responsibility now

      There are determining events, especially when we’re young and formulating our sense of the world: Times when we learn how to take ourselves, where to stand, how to move forward in a fresh way. For me, a key moment was stepping into the periodicals room of my college library in late February of 1967 — I was a sophomore — and reading an article in the New York Review of Books that caught my eye. It was “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” written by Noam Chomsky.

      Nothing was quite the same for me after reading that piece, which I’ve reread periodically throughout my life, finding things to challenge me each time. I always finish the essay feeling reawakened, aware that I’ve not done enough to make the world a better place by using whatever gifts I may have. Chomsky spurs me to more intense reading and thinking, driving me into action, which might take the form of writing an op-ed piece, joining a march or protest, sending money to a special cause, or just committing myself to further study a political issue.

    • Why Elizabeth Warren was accused of ‘impugning’ Jeff Sessions

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren had to cut short her speech during the debate over Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for U.S. attorney general. The reason? She read a scathing 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King condemning the Alabama Republican’s response to blacks’ voting right efforts.

      Warren read the eight-page letter in full, including the following passage: “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.”

    • Leaks from inside Trump’s White House suggest staff are alarmed by his volatile and erratic conduct

      The Huffington Post reports tonight that President Donald Trump recently phoned up General Mike Flynn at 3 AM to ask him whether a strong or weak dollar is good for the American economy. The question is one thing, as you’d expect someone who managed to scam his way in to the presidency might know basic economics and civics stuff. More alarming is the report that Trump called his Secretary of Defense nominee for the economic information.

    • Ivanka Trump Was a Trustee for Rupert Murdoch’s Daughters

      President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka helped to oversee a trust fund worth nearly $300 million on behalf of Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s two youngest daughters, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

      The FT quoted a spokesman for the President’s daughter as saying that she had stepped down from a five-person trustee board at the end of December, pre-empting suggestions of any improper association with one of the U.S.’s most powerful media moguls.

      However, Ivanka Trump had previously sat on the trust’s board for “several years,” administering nearly $300 million in shares in 21st Century Fox (fox) and News Corp (nws), on behalf of Grace and Chloe Murdoch, aged 15 and 13 respectively. Grace and Chloe are Murdoch’s children by his third wife, Wendi Deng.

    • Trump Tower In Toronto Is Up For Sale And Facing Legal Woes

      The official address of Toronto’s Trump International Hotel and Tower is 325 Bay St., in the middle of the city’s financial district. Think of it as Canada’s answer to Wall Street. But the hotel’s entrance is actually around the corner. So instead of seeing a grand facade bearing the Trump name, what you see from the prestigious Bay Street side is a loading dock.

      This is just one of the many miscalculations that have undermined the Trump International Hotel and Tower, even before construction began in 2007. The soaring, 65-story glass and granite building has been plagued by financial setbacks, construction problems and legal woes. Investors have lost millions of dollars and have sued Donald Trump and the hotel’s developers.

    • Donald Trump’s criticism of Nordstrom raises ethical concerns, senator says

      Donald Trump should be referred to the federal ethics office for his tweet attacking department store Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, a Democratic senator has suggested.

      Bob Casey pointed the US Office of Government Ethics towards Trump’s message in a tweet, which read: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” Trump’s message was later retweeted from the official presidential account, @potus.

    • White House says Conway has been ‘counseled’ after touting Ivanka Trump’s products

      The White House on Thursday said that a top adviser to President Trump had been “counseled” after using a television appearance from the West Wing to promote the clothing and jewelry line sold under the brand of Trump’s daughter.

      The endorsement, in which Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Channel viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” appeared to violate a key ethics rule barring federal employees from using their public office to endorse products. The White House reaction was a rare acknowledgment of an ethical misstep.

    • The resistance: 1, Ivanka Trump: 0

      Ivanka Trump spent the election trying to pull off a delicate balancing act: campaigning for an authoritarian demagogue while simultaneously hawking sensible office clothes to women. Now, those contradictions have caught up with her: Nordstrom and others have dropped her toxic brand. Her father’s reaction, predictably, was: so unfair!

      But it’s not.

      Back in October, Fast Company reported that traffic to her site was up 275% from the previous year and online searches for her products were up 335% from April. Ivanka’s frequent appearances on the campaign trail might have been “controversial” in the fake America, but they were paying off at the bank, as clear a sign as any that the people were with her.

    • Trump Vows to Get Endorsement for Jeff Sessions from Frederick Douglass

      Infuriated after Senator Elizabeth Warren read a scathing letter from 1986 about Jeff Sessions by Coretta Scott King, Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to secure an endorsement for Sessions from Frederick Douglass.

      “I know Frederick Douglass will write a great letter, much better than that bad letter Coretta Scott King wrote,” Trump said. “I said really nice things about Frederick Douglass last week, so I’m sure he will do this for me.”

      Visibly angered by the King letter, Trump contrasted the “great job Douglass has done” with the “terrible, very bad job that Coretta Scott King has done.”

    • Microsoft, Google and Amazon gave cash for Trump inauguration

      Big US technology companies Amazon, Google and Microsoft donated both cash and services to the ceremonies around the swearing-in of US President Donald Trump on 20 January.

      The same companies, and a host of others, have put their names to a letter requesting that the ban on travel to the US by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries be rescinded.

      The website Politico reported that the cash and services were quietly donated to the Trump administration.

      Microsoft contributed US$250,000 in cash and a similar amount in services on 28 December to the Presidential Inauguration Committee, according to federal ethics records.

    • Trump spreads debunked story about CNN cutting off Sanders for calling the network ‘fake news’

      President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that “Bernie Sanders was cut off” of CNN “for using the term fake news to describe the network” — but CNN quickly responded that Sanders had used the term jokingly, and that he had not been cut off.

    • Trump isn’t killing the bull market. Here’s why

      More and more business leaders and Wall Street strategists are expressing their worries about what President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies and unpredictable nature might do to the markets and economy.

    • Trump posts fake Lincoln quote on Instagram
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Open letter to the MEPs: don’t haggle over the right to privacy

      Tonight the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will have to decide which political group will be in charge of the draft report and thus to supervise the negotiations over the future ePrivacy regulation concerning respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications. The choice of political group, and therefore of the rapporteur, is often neglected in following up a legislative dossier, and yet it has substantial implications for the negotiations to come, because this person will set the general orientation and have a preponderant weight in these negociations.

      La Quadrature du Net wishes to remind Members of the LIBE Committee, that the ePrivacy rule’s rapporteur should be aware of the text’s importance so as to respond to the expectations of millions of Europeans.

    • NSA Withholding Intelligence From ‘Untrustworthy’ Trump Administration, Former Analyst Claims
    • NSA so concerned over Donald Trump’s ties to Russia they’ve ‘withheld information from presidential briefings’

      A website that until very recently was published by Donald Trump’s son-in-law has claimed that US spies are withholding their most sensitive intelligence from the White House.

      For the past three weeks, according to a former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst and counter-intelligence officer, some the America’s spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office amid fears “the Kremlin has ears inside” the White House situation room.

    • Bundestag grills Merkel subordinates on NSA spying

      The German parliament is asking tough questions about what the Chancellery knew about US spying. Members of Angela Merkel’s staff are on the spot this week. Merkel will be questioned on Thursday.

    • Donald Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn reported to NSA as White House refuses to offer backing

      Donald Trump’s national security adviser has been reported to the National Security Agency over claims he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

      Mike Flynn has been accused by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump (DCAT) of carrying out political activities seeking to influence the White House on behalf of Turkey and its president, Recep Erdogan, while failing to register as an agent with the Department of Justice.

    • Donald Trump’s Cabinet: Michael Flynn resigns as NSA under a month into his stint

      President Donald Trump’s embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night, following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump’s senior team after less than one month in office.

      In a resignation letter, Flynn said he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the transition and gave “incomplete information” about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.

    • Man jailed 16 months, and counting, for refusing to decrypt hard drives

      Francis Rawls, a former Philadelphia police sergeant, has been in the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center for more than 16 months. His crime: the fired police officer has been found in contempt of court for refusing a judge’s order to unlock two hard drives the authorities believe contain child pornography. Theoretically, Rawls can remain jailed indefinitely until he complies.

    • American Spies: how we got to mass surveillance without even trying
    • How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords
    • US Secret Service Prefers Belt Sanders And Third-Party Vendors To Cell Phone Encryption Backdoors

      The Christian Science Monitor has posted an interesting article detailing some (but certainly not all) of the ways the US Secret Service can obtain data from locked phones. In all the cases discussed in the article, the data itself wasn’t encrypted, but was otherwise inaccessible without the password.

      In addition to using third-party forensic software and hardware (like that of recently-hacked Cellebrite), the Secret Service also engages in a lot of manual labor to recover phone data. In one instance, the Secret Service was able to pull out the phone’s flash memory and grab data from it — although this process took it nearly a week.

    • Ex-GCHQ whistleblower attacks plans to extend dragnet of secrecy law

      A former GCHQ whistleblower has condemned plans by government lawyers to increase prison sentences and expand the definition of espionage for the digital age.

      Katharine Gun, a former translator for the monitoring agency who leaked details of an operation to bug United Nations offices before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has spoken out following the publication of Law Commission plans suggestingthat maximum jail terms for those leaking information should rise from two years to 14 years.

      In the past, Gun has called for a public interest defence to be introduced into the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to protect whistleblowers and prevent governments from hiding politically embarrassing information.

    • NSA Withholding Intelligence From ‘Untrustworthy’ Trump Administration, Former Analyst Claims

      The National Security Agency has been withholding information from the White House, fearing that President Donald Trump and his staff cannot be trusted not to leak sensitive information, a former NSA analyst claims.

      In a column written by John R. Schindler for The Observer, the security expert and former professor at the U.S. Naval War College claims that the NSA has stopped its decades-old practice of preparing special reports for U.S. presidents since Trump took office.

      Schindler added that the NSA’s concerns were shared across the American intelligence community, and it appears that other agencies are withholding intelligence from the White House as well.

    • National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Security Risk
    • National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Security Risk
    • Top Flynn deputy denied high-level clearance, off NSA team
    • Cyberbullying Bill Would Grant Power To Strip Online Anonymity Before Legal Proceedings Begin

      The Texas legislature’s proposed cyberbullying bill is gathering more opposition. As we covered here last month, the “for the children” bill was meeting resistance from groups actually concerned about the welfare of the state’s children.

      According to the Texas branch of the National Association of Social Workers, the bill would put more students in harm’s way by trimming back counseling and other resources in favor of dumping the problem in the lap of law enforcement. Not only that, but the bill would expand the jurisdiction of school disciplinary procedures to cover actions taken by students off-campus.

      The bill has additional problems that need to be addressed before it’s passed, as the EFF points out. One of the more dangerous aspects of the proposed legislation is its presumptive stripping of anonymity. Rather than let a court decide whether the party bringing charges has earned the right to uncover the identity of an online commenter, the law hands that power to the aggrieved person before any legal proceedings have commenced.

    • Android privacy assistant seeks to stop unwanted data collection

      Not sure what your phone is collecting about you? A free Android app is promising to simplify the privacy settings on your smartphone, and stop any unwanted data collection.

      The English language app, called Privacy Assistant, comes from a team at Carnegie Mellon University, who’ve built it after six years of research studying digital privacy.

    • Apple is storing your ‘deleted’ Safari search history in iCloud

      A RUSSIAN HACKING TEAM has shown evidence that Apple is storing records of users’ browser history even after it has been ‘deleted’.

      Elcomsoft has sounded the alarm bells and has warned that users of Safari, the default browser for Mac, iPhone and iPad, may find that the list of sites they’ve visited is being stored in iCloud for a year or more even if they have opted to delete it.

      Elcomsoft boss Vladimir Katalov explains that the deleted data is kept in a file called Tombstone which iCloud uses to sync with other devices, ironically, in order to tell them what to delete off the device.

      Elcomsoft makes a software package called Phone Breaker which they used to find the information which they came upon by accident. We previously reported on how Phone Breaker was able to extract your previous call history via your iCloud account, as well as your backups to iTunes.

    • Cortana now reminds you to do the things you promised in emails [Ed: Microsoft not only records you 24/7 and stores it for government; it also reads your mail]
    • Homeland Security Secretary: Travel Vetting Could Include Passwords, Tweets

      Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says the U.S. needs to “do a better job to vet” residents of seven majority-Muslim countries that the Trump administration has temporarily banned from entering the U.S.

      In an interview with Morning Edition host Rachel Martin, the retired Marine Corps general said the ban, which has been blocked by a district court order that is now being reviewed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, “is not based on religion in any way.”

    • China to take fingerprints of foreign visitors as security step

      China is to begin taking fingerprints of all foreign visitors as it steps up security on its borders, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

      The fingerprinting of foreigners will be introduced at Shenzhen airport in the south from Friday, and it will then be gradually rolled out at other entry points around the country, the ministry said in a statement.

    • House Passes Long-Sought Email Privacy Bill

      The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill that would update the nation’s email surveillance laws so that federal investigators are required to obtain a court-ordered warrant for access to older stored emails. Under the current law, U.S. authorities can legally obtain stored emails older than 180 days using only a subpoena issued by a prosecutor or FBI agent without the approval of a judge.

    • Uber wants to use Facebook data to show what you have in common with other UberPool passengers

      The company also seems to want the increased social integration to run both ways.

      The filing outlines an “Uber there” feature that could be embedded into an event invitation. For example, you could be looking at a Facebook invite to a friend’s birthday at a bar, hit the embedded “Uber there” button, and share a ride there with friends of friends who may live nearby, all without leaving Facebook.

      It’s worth noting Uber has filed but not been granted the patent, meaning the data mining feature may never see the light of day.

      If it does, all of this might make UberPool more palatable to anyone worried about sharing a car with strangers. At the end of last year, Uber had to issue rules for carsharing passengers, warning them not to flirt with or vomit on fellow riders.

    • If Facebook makes billions from my data, I deserve the basic income as a dividend for my work

      ​“Why do I exist?”: a question that has preoccupied the greatest minds, and the rest of us after a heavy night out, since time immemorial. Today, it appears the answer is to simply make a lot of money for Google and Facebook.

      You and I are the raw material for these social media companies. Those baby photos, the birthday party invites and the self-indulgent status updates are the coal, iron and steel of the fourth industrial revolution.

      Facebook, Google and other major technology firms harvest the raw data you produce – the pages you like, the time and location stamps on your tagged photographs, your planned travel routes, and so on. Then they analyse this information and use it to sell advertising space to third parties. Last year those two brands alone made 96 and 89 per cent of their revenues respectively from advertising. In short, they made a hell of a lot of money from you. These figures are set to increase as the two platforms push for more users to access their services via apps, be it Facebook Messenger or Google Maps, so that they can bypass browser-hosted ad blockers.

    • Why the Facebook case matters to you

      Last June the Irish Commercial Court admitted a case initiated by Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon against Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems to its fast track and case managed commercial lists.

      The commissioner is seeking legal clarity over three European Commission decisions dealing with the transfer of data to and from the United States under what have been termed standard contractual clauses – SCCs. The legal clarity sought could see the case being referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union should the High Court approve.

    • A School Librarian Caught In The Middle of Student Privacy Extremes

      As a school librarian at a small K-12 district in Illinois, Angela K. is at the center of a battle of extremes in educational technology and student privacy.

      On one side, her district is careful and privacy-conscious when it comes to technology, with key administrators who take extreme caution with ID numbers, logins, and any other potentially identifying information required to use online services. On the other side, the district has enough technology “cheerleaders” driving adoption forward that now students as young as second grade are using Google’s G Suite for Education.

      In search of a middle ground that serves students, Angela is asking hard, fundamental questions. “We can use technology to do this, but should we? Is it giving us the same results as something non-technological?” Angela asked. “We need to see the big picture. How do we take advantage of these tools while keeping information private and being aware of what we might be giving away?”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pre-clearance bill would give U.S. border agents in Canada new powers

      U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.

      Legal experts say Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and likely to pass in the current sitting of Parliament, could also erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada.

      The bill would enshrine in law a reciprocal agreement for customs and immigration pre-clearance signed by the governments of Stephen Harper and Barack Obama in 2015. Both houses of Congress passed the U.S. version of the bill in December.

      Michael Greene, an immigration lawyer in Calgary, says C-23 takes away an important right found in the existing law.

    • Indonesia’s Aceh Authorities Lash Hundreds Under Sharia Statutes

      Authorities in Indonesia’s Aceh province imposed the Sharia, or Islamic law, punishment of multiple lashes of a cane against 339 people in 2016, the first full-year of implementation of Aceh’s Sharia’s Criminal Code since it went into effect in September 2015.

      The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an Indonesian nongovernmental organization that compiled the statistics, warned the abusive practice will “continue to rise” in 2017.

    • Revealed: FBI terrorism taskforce investigating Standing Rock activists

      The FBI is investigating political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists.

      The Guardian has established that multiple officers within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least three people tied to the Standing Rock “water protector” movement in North Dakota.

      The purpose of the officers’ inquiries into Standing Rock, and scope of the task force’s work, remains unknown. Agency officials declined to comment. But the fact that the officers have even tried to communicate with activists is alarming to free-speech experts who argue that anti-terrorism agents have no business scrutinizing protesters.

    • Construction resumes on Dakota pipeline despite tribe’s challenge

      The company building an oil pipeline that has fueled sustained public protests said on Thursday it has started drilling under a North Dakota lake despite a last-ditch legal challenge from a Native American tribe leading the opposition.

    • Veterans unite for second ‘deployment’ against Dakota Access Pipeline

      Fireworks lit the sky at the Oceti Sakowin Camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota on December 4, 2016, after the Army Corps of Engineers halted the Dakota Access Pipeline route. An executive order by President Donald Trump in January allowed work to resume.

    • Jeff Sessions confirmed as Attorney General under Trump, despite protest of his racist legacy

      The U.S. Senate just confirmed noted racist Jeff Sessions as our next attorney general, following a widely viral debate in the chambers last night in which Republicans led by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) formally silenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for reading the words of civil rights hero and widow Coretta Scott King to criticize her colleague from Alabama as unfit for nomination.

    • Senate confirms Jeff Sessions as attorney general

      The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general, following a bitter debate in the chamber that saw Republicans formally rebuke Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for the manner in which she criticized her colleague from Alabama.

      Sessions, a four-term U.S. senator, was the first senator to endorse Trump in February 2016, and his conservative, populist views have shaped many of the administration’s early policies, including on immigration.

    • Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states

      U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

      Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

    • Indonesians at mass prayers urged to vote for Muslims

      Tens of thousands of Indonesians gathered at the national mosque in the capital on Saturday for mass prayers urging people to vote for a Muslim governor of the city as the country prepares for regional elections next week.

      The crowds overflowed from Istiqlal Mosque in the heart of Jakarta into the surrounding streets. Clerics gave sermons calling on people to protect Islam and vote for Muslim candidates.

      Police denied hard-line groups permission to march through the city. Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono estimated the crowd at 60,000 to 70,000 people in the morning.

      Protests against the minority Christian governor of Jakarta drew hundreds of thousands of people to the city’s streets in November and December and shook the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

    • Why Islam Likely Can’t Be Reformed

      What it would take — as I have said in numerous blog posts and what ex-Muslim Hamed Abdel-Samad, an author and political scientist, says in this two-minute video.

      As @TarekFatah tweeted from Samad’s words in the video: “I don’t believe in reform of Islam. I believe in the reformability of thinking Muslims.”

      In short, Samad says — and is surely right — that to reform Islam, Muslims must put aside Mohammed and the Quran.

      This is why I think Islam cannot be reformed.

    • Georgetown Professor Jonathan Brown Defends Slavery as Moral and Rape as Normal in Virginia Lecture

      Last night I attended a lecture by Georgetown Islamic Studies professor Jonathan Brown at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia. I’d never met Brown and don’t know really much about him other than a brother was amused he scheduled a recent lecture during the Super Bowl.

      Not knowing what to expect from Brown I was shocked when he basically went into a 90 minute defense of slavery which included an explicit endorsement of non-consensual sex.

      While the lecture was supposed to be about slavery in Islam Brown spent the majority of the lecture talking about slavery in the United States, the United Kingdom and China. When discussing slavery in these societies Brown painted slavery as brutal and violent (which it certainly was). When the conversation would briefly flip to historic slavery in the Arab and Turkish World slavery was described by Brown in glowing terms. Indeed, according to Brown, slaves in the Muslim World lived a pretty good life.

    • Fourth Muslim group rejects federal grant to fight extremism

      A California Islamic school wanted to keep an open mind before Donald Trump took office. But less than a month into Trump’s presidency, the school rejected $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combatting violent extremism.

      The decision made late Friday night by the Bayan Claremont graduate school’s board to turn down the money — an amount that would cover more than half its yearly budget — capped weeks of sleepless nights and debate. Many there felt Trump’s rhetoric singling out Islamic extremism and his travel ban affecting predominantly Muslim countries had gone too far.

      It also marked the fourth organization nationwide under the Trump administration to reject the money for a program created under President Barack Obama known as countering violent extremism, or CVE, which officials say aims to thwart extremist groups’ abilities to recruit would-be terrorists.

    • Child veiling is child abuse, By Gina Khan

      A few Tweets after I raised questions about the actions of a senior Labour Councillor in Birmingham City Council, Waseem Zafar, it became national news.

      I was furious when I saw some Facebook posts where he was discussing with someone, allegedly a male relative seeking support from him, about how he had called on a Catholic Infant and Primary school in Birmingham to immediately change its policy on forbidding hijab. Zaffar is Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality for Birmingham City Council; if he wants an immediate change, that’s quite a demand from a powerful man using religion.

      I challenged him publicly. I Tweeted: “Hijab isn’t compulsory for a child in Islam, but patriarchal biraadari power used to control Muslim school girls”.

    • The blogger jailed for visiting a country that ‘doesn’t exist’

      A popular travel blogger known more for his wry observations than his political views has ended up in jail – and at the centre of a geopolitical row – after visiting a disputed territory and thumbing his nose at the authorities.

      Alexander Lapshin writes the blog “Life Adventures”, where he details his transport woes, his visits to odd and unusual sites, and his thoughts on the beauty of local women.

      His popular posts hosted on the website LiveJournal feature international politics considerably less often. But his latest trip has landed the 40-year-old Lapshin in a Belarusian jail, and politicians from four countries – including the Russian foreign minister and the President of Belarus – have weighed in on his case.

    • Malaysia seizes pig-hair brushes after Muslims complain

      Malaysian authorities have seized thousands of paint brushes suspected of containing pig bristles after consumers in this Muslim-majority nation demanded a crackdown, officials said on Wednesday (Feb 8).

      Pigs and dogs are considered unclean by many Muslims, who make up some 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people. It is illegal in the country to sell products made from any part of a pig or a dog, unless the goods are labelled and kept separately.

    • Trump questions lawmakers’ efforts to curb asset seizures by police

      President Donald Trump said on Tuesday there was “no reason” to curb law enforcement agencies that seize cash, vehicles and other assets of people suspected of crimes, a practice that some lawmakers and activists have criticized for denying legal rights.

    • Saudi Arabia ‘steps up’ crackdown on human rights activists, watchdog claims

      The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is persecuting prominent activists and other dissidents with renewed zeal so far into 2017, a human rights monitor has claimed.

      Two people were sentenced to lengthy jail terms and two more detained without change in January alone, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

      The four were arrested after being accused of contact with international media and rights organisations, detentions which HRW says fit a “pattern of ongoing repression against peaceful advocates and dissidents, including harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, travel bans, detention, and prosecution.”

    • Alleged gang rape shown on Facebook shocks Sweden

      Outrage and shock are spreading across Sweden over a case against three men of foreign origin arrested on suspicion of raping a woman and broadcasting it live on Facebook.

      Swedish authorities said Wednesday that the case against the unidentified men was “growing stronger” amid an increasing backlash against immigrants in a country that took in more asylum seekers per capita than any other nation in Europe last year.

    • TSA knows its airport behavior detection program is ineffective

      The reliability of the Transportation Security Administration’s program to weed out terrorists based on their behavior among travelers is coming under scrutiny. Doubts about the program are coming directly from within the TSA, according to documents the ACLU obtained from the agency via the Freedom of Information Act.

      The ACLU report (PDF) says that the TSA’s own files were loaded with research questioning the behavior detection program. The program has cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion to deploy 3,000 detection officers at 176 airports nationwide over the last decade.

      “Academic research and other documents in the TSA’s own files reinforce that behavior detection is unscientific and unreliable,” the ACLU said. “The TSA repeatedly overstated the scientific validity of behavior detection in communications with members of Congress and the Government Accountability Office.”

    • Court Unanimously Keeps Lower Court’s Injunction Against Trump’s Immigration Order In Place

      Let’s start this out by being quite clear: this is still the beginning of a fairly long legal process. But, the 9th Circuit appeals court has just unanimously ruled that the lower’ court’s injunction barring Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration should remain in place. In short: the federal government remains barred from actually carrying out the order. This does not mean, as our President has wrongly suggested, that people are free to randomly enter the country in droves. They still have to go through the already thorough vetting and visa process. It just means that the blanket ban that caused so much havoc cannot be used to bar entry into the country. We were among those who signed onto an amicus brief for the wider tech industry, asking the court to rule this way, so we’re happy they did.

    • Muslim youth killed by friends over ‘religious differences’
    • Court Orders Small Ohio Speed Trap Town To Refund $3 Million In Unconstitutional Speeding Tickets

      The state of Ohio has had its problems with speed cameras. Back in 2010, the city of New Garfield refunded $100,000 in fines collected in violation of its speed camera policy. The city told the public that drivers would only be ticketed for driving more than eleven mph over the speed limit [... which makes one question the purpose of its speed limits]. Plenty of drivers got dinged for exceeding the speed limit by less than the arbitrary cutoff, resulting in the mass refund.

      Not that this will necessarily keep anyone from being ticketed, speeding or not. In the same year, an Ohio court ruled that an officer’s guesstimate of someone’s speed is just as reliable as radar or speed cameras when it comes to testimony. Given how many speed cameras have ticketed parked cars and brick walls, this is somewhat of a “close case” when it comes to testimonial accuracy.

    • Ohio Town Ordered To Repay Every Speed Camera Ticket Issued

      “If the government has created an unconstitutional law/ordinance that has taken people’s money without affording them the necessary due process protections, should not justice demand, and the law require, restitution of that money to the people?” Oster asked at the opening of his ruling. “Once the complexities of the law are analyzed, the answer is simple: Yes.”

    • Chris Christie Says Asset Forfeiture Transparency Is Bad For Law Enforcement, Vetoes Unanimously-Supported Bill

      Part of the reason asset forfeiture is such a problem is the lack of transparency. The funds obtained through this process are frequently hidden from the public and used to purchase everything from margarita makers to Stingray devices. The procedure through which the government takes control of citizens’ assets is also shrouded in secrecy. Cases are filed against property, not the persons formerly in possession of them. The process for retrieval is purposely impenetrable, designed to make it almost impossible for petitioners to reclaim their assets.

      Law enforcement officials claim that all parts of this opaque process are there to prevent drug dealing and/or terrorism, hence their reluctance to divulge the inner details of this particular mean/method. Legislators in New Jersey were hoping to end this unofficial tradition with a bill that would have demanded far more transparency from agencies involved in asset forfeiture.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Commissioner Thinks Ultra-Fast Broadband Just a ‘Novelty’

      One of the hallmarks of Tom Wheeler’s FCC was a renewed focus on competition at higher broadband speeds. It’s one of the reasons the last FCC bumped the standard definition of broadband from a measly 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to 25 Mbps down, and 3 Mbps up. That higher benchmark allowed the FCC to point out that roughly two-thirds of American homes lack access to more than one ISP at 25 Mbps or better, highlighting a growing cable monopoly over broadband as DSL providers like AT&T and Verizon shift their attention toward giant media acquisitions and away from residential broadband.

      Needless to say, large broadband providers (and the politicians paid to love them) quickly threw a hissy fit, insisting that nobody really needs that much bandwidth. This idea that you don’t really need faster speeds falls in line with the industry’s (and again, many politicians’) ongoing refusal to acknowledge that the broadband market isn’t all that competitive. After all, if you admit there’s a problem, then you’ve admitted that somebody may just have to fix it.

    • A Little Something Called Competition Forces Verizon To Bring Back Unlimited* Data

      Despite the rising competitive threat of T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless has spent the last few years simply refusing to seriously compete on price. That stubbornness has extended to the company’s refusal to match T-Mobile’s unlimited data plans, eliminated by Verizon back in 2011. In a truly competitive market, you’re supposed to listen to your customers and try to provide whatever they’re clamoring for. But Verizon’s tack has been the exact opposite; the company spending the last few years trying to tell consumers they don’t really want simpler, unlimited data options — and that these plans are unnecessary and unviable.

    • You’re Really Going to Miss Net Neutrality

      The internet is currently in its “wild west” phase. Illegal downloads, cyber attackers, and unregulated content roams free through this vast digital dystopia. Governments and corporations have widely debated the best ways to curb this unchecked power held by smartphone wielders and keyboard warriors. The answer has been within reach for years, but net neutrality advocates have successfully blocked any attempt to regulate the last truly free space in the world. But with the political landscape shaping up to be more unsettling than ever, the internet’s wild west phase could be coming to a close.

    • The six terrible ways your life will change when Net Neutrality dies

      We’ve been debating Net Neutrality for more than 20 years. In that time, the internet’s gone through substantial changes, and maybe those old concerns about an open and equal internet might no longer be a concern?

    • Most of the web really sucks if you have a slow connection

      A couple years ago, I took a road trip from Wisconsin to Washington and mostly stayed in rural hotels on the way. I expected the internet in rural areas too sparse to have cable internet to be slow, but I was still surprised that a large fraction of the web was inaccessible. Some blogs with lightweight styling were readable, as were pages by academics who hadn’t updated the styling on their website since 1995. But very few commercial websites were usable (other than Google). When I measured my connection, I found that the bandwidth was roughly comparable to what I got with a 56k modem in the 90s. The latency and packetloss were significantly worse than the average day on dialup: latency varied between 500ms and 1000ms and packetloss varied between 1% and 10%. Those numbers are comparable to what I’d see on dialup on a bad day.

    • How Net Neutrality could get reversed (and what that means to you)

      Net neutrality looks like it’s headed for an overhaul. For consumers, that could mean more clogged Internet speeds on some providers — but the chance of freebies from others.

      Since President Trump’s election, the conventional wisdom has been that the administration will find a way to overturn the 2015 regulations passed by the Federal Communications Commission, then headed by Chairman Tom Wheeler.

      Under those net neutrality regulations, Internet service providers cannot slow or block legal content that their paying subscribers want to reach. Content providers also cannot pay ISPs to make their Web sites or services flow faster than those of competitors. However, ISPs can set aside fast lanes for some exceptions, including public services, like remote heart monitoring.

    • The end of net neutrality is nigh—here’s what’s likely to happen

      The concept of net neutrality holds that telecom carriers may not treat some content differently than other content, depending on who owns it, for example. The idea’s merits have been hotly debated for years, eventually coming to serve as a technological/ideological litmus test.

      Liberals, typically, favored the concept, believing it is necessary to ensure equal, unfettered access to all kinds of online content. Conservatives mostly disagreed with it, claiming it unfairly and unnecessarily regulated telecom carriers.

    • Future of “net neutrality” in question under Trump

      Several Democratic senators, including Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, met Tuesday to fight any federal plans to stop net neutrality.

      The term “net neutrality” means that Internet providers cannot discriminate when it comes to websites, and are not allowed to make certain websites faster than others. They all have to function at the same speed, no matter what their content is.

      Markey and the other Democratic senators gathered at the meeting support regulating the Internet like a public utility.

    • Wyden, Other Senators Warn That Net Neutrality Repeal Will Make SOPA Backlash Look Like A Fireside Snuggle

      We’ve repeatedly noted how for some stupid reason, net neutrality is treated as a partisan issue in Washington — with Democrats (generally) in support, and Republicans (generally) opposing the idea. It’s an absurd, myopic paradigm given the fact that net neutrality has broad, bipartisan consumer support. Most people want the internet to function as a relatively-level playing field. Everybody wants to be able to access the content and services of their choice without interference from the likes of Comcast and AT&T, who seem hell bent on using their monopoly over the last mile to their anti-competitive advantage.

      With the looming specter of a net neutrality rule repeal under Trump, the GOP, and new FCC Boss Ajit Pai, a number of Democratic Senators (including Ron Wyden and Ed Markey) held a press event (video) warning that if the GOP and FCC try to repeal net neutrality, it will result in a “political firestorm” they may not be entirely prepared for. The Senators were quick to recall that roughly 4 million consumers reached out in support of the FCC’s net neutrality rules a few years ago, a number Markey proclaimed would look “miniscule” in comparison to the looming backlash against the rules’ repeal.

  • DRM

    • Radio Lockdown Directive

      Since June 2014 we face an EU directive that threatens all wireless devices. The Radio Equipment Directive requires all devices that are able to send and receive radio signals to be locked down. This goes much further than the FCC lockdown in the US since it doesn’t only affect routers but also mobile phones, GPS receivers, and amateur radio operators.

      From June 2017 hardware manufacturers will be forced to install technical measurements to protect the devices from being flashed with “non-compliant” software: firmware that hasn’t been checked by the manufacturer to comply with applicable radio regulations (e.g. signal strenght, frequences). Many European states already have implemented the directive in national law without many ways how to circumvent the major lockdown.

    • The World Wide Web Consortium wants to give companies a veto over warnings about browser defects

      Since 2013, when the W3C decided to standardize DRM for web videos, activists, security researchers and disabled rights advocates have been asking the organization what it plans on doing about the laws that make it illegal to bypass DRM, even to add features to help blind people, or to improve on browsers, or just to point out the defects in browsers that put billions of web users at risk.

      EFF proposed that the W3C should get out of the legal arms-dealing business by making its members promise not to use DRM standardization as a way to get new legal rights to sue people for legitimate, legal activities like reporting security defects, or shifting the gamut in videos for color-blind people, or adding innovative features to browsers.

    • Indefensible: the W3C says companies should get to decide when and how security researchers reveal defects in browsers

      The World Wide Web Consortium has just signaled its intention to deliberately create legal jeopardy for security researchers who reveal defects in its members’ products, unless the security researchers get the approval of its members prior to revealing the embarrassing mistakes those members have made in creating their products. It’s a move that will put literally billions of people at risk as researchers are chilled from investigating and publishing on browsers that follow W3C standards.

    • A battle rages for the future of the Web

      The W3C, led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, looks set to standardise DRM-enabling Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in browsers, a move that betrays the founding principles of the open Web.

      When Berners-Lee invented the Web, he gave it away. His employer at the time, CERN, licensed the patents royalty-free for anyone to use. An open architecture that supported the free flow of information for all made it what it is today.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Fashion Law – New US/EU Legislation And Retailers: Customer Data And Trademarks

        With the prospect of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) being renegotiated, Anthony V. Lupo of Arent Fox LLP in New York reported that some clients are looking into alternatives for sourcing supply in Latin America. Panama and Costa Rica are both attractive options, Lupo said. But a presentation by Maricruz Villanea Villegas, partner at Ideas, Trademarks and Patents in San Jose, Costa Rica, highlighted the difficulties retailers face in registering trademarks in these locations.

    • Copyrights

      • First Look At UK Piracy Alert System: Mostly Benign, Except ISPs Are Requesting Filesharing Software Be Removed By Clients

        Earlier in the year, the public learned ISPs in the UK were partnering with the entertainment industries to send out “educational notices” to internet users suspected of copyright infringement. Having seen this type of “education” take many forms in the past, from silly to threatening, we have since waited to see what form this iteration would take. Well, TorrentFreak got in touch with someone who was notified through the system, and it appears this version is relatively benign.

      • Google Has Received Takedown Notices For a Million Websites

        It’s no secret that online pirates have plenty of websites to choose from. This is also exemplified by a new milestone just reached by Google. According to the search engine, rightsholders have asked the company to remove content from a million different sites. The targets include some unusual suspects, including The White House, NASA, and the New York Times.

      • Search Engines & Copyright Holders Ready Voluntary Anti-Piracy Code

        Google and other search companies are close to striking a voluntary agreement with entertainment companies to tackle the appearance of infringing content links in search results. Following roundtable discussions chaired by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, all parties have agreed that the code should take effect by June 1, 2017.

      • Internet Backbone Provider Cogent Blocks Pirate Bay and other “Pirate” Sites

        Several Pirate Bay users from ISPs all over the world have been unable to access their favorite torrent site for more than a week. Their requests are being stopped in the Internet backbone network of Cogent Communications, which has blackholed the CloudFlare IP-address of The Pirate Bay and many other torrent and streaming sites.

      • How the copyright industry works methodically to erode your civil liberties and human rights

        In a previous column, I outlined how the copyright monopoly is fundamentally, irreparably incompatible with privacy at the conceptual level. While the copyright industry may appear behind the times — even outright dumb — it is a mistake to believe they’re unaware of this incompatibility. To the contrary, their persistent and consistent actions show they’re trying to erode privacy at every level and every turn in order to tip the balance toward preserving their distribution monopoly at the expense of civil liberties and human rights.

        To talk of human rights and civil liberties are at risk when you’re doing something that’s technically illegal – such talk can easily come across as exaggerated and hyperbolic, even objectively false. In this case, there would be no shortage of people who dismissed people who share knowledge and culture — file-sharers and streamers – as mere criminals trying to excuse something illegal. It’s a little reminiscent of people who yell “that’s against the Constitution” at every corner when they see something they either don’t like or insist they have a right to do.

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