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Links 27/2/2017: GNU Linux-libre 4.10, Weston 2.0.0, Git 2.12.0, Linux From Scratch 8.0

Posted in News Roundup at 9:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • GitHub Invites Developers to Contribute to the Open Source Guides

    GitHub has recently launched its Open Source Guides, a collection of resources addressing the most common scenarios and best practices for both contributors and maintainers of open source projects. The guides themselves are open source and GitHub is actively inviting developers to participate and share their stories.

  • Top open source projects

    TechRadar recently posted an article about “The best open source software 2017″ where they list a few of their favorite open source software projects. It’s really hard for an open source software project to become popular if it has poor usability—so I thought I’d add a few quick comments of my own about each.

  • Dropbox releases open-source Slack bot

    Dropbox is looking to tackle unauthorized access and other security incidents in the workplace with a chatbot. Called Securitybot, it that can automatically grab alerts from security monitoring tools and verify incidents with other employers.

    The company says that through the use of the chatbot, which is open source, it will no longer be necessary to manually reach out to employees to verify access, every time someone enters a sensitive part of the system.

    The bot is built primarily for Slack, but it is designed to be transferable to other platforms as well.

  • Dropbox’s tool shows how chatbots could be future of cybersecurity

    Disillusion with chatbots has set in across the tech industry and yet Dropbox’s deep thinkers believe they have spotted the technology’s hidden talent: cybersecurity.

  • What motivates the open-source community?

    Many of us will have been involved in a free-software community that ran out of steam, and either ended up moribund or just plain died. Some of us will have gone through such cycles more than once; it’s never nice to watch something that used to be a vibrant community in its death throes. Knowing what motivates the sort of people who get heavily involved in free software projects is really useful when trying to keep them motivated, and a systematic approach to understanding this is what Rina Jensen, Strategist at Mozilla, talked about at FOSDEM 2017.

    Mozilla talks a lot about promoting innovation and opportunity on the web, and the organization does care a lot about those objectives, but the realities of day-to-day life can interfere and make working toward them tedious. The thinking was that if Mozilla could help make the experience for contributors better, then the contributors could make Mozilla better — but doing that required understanding how things could be better for contributors.

  • Shuttle Music Player is now Open Source

    Music is a major part of everyone’s life, and our smartphones allow us to truly enjoy our music anywhere. Over the years, Android has received a fair share of excellent music player apps, and Shuttle Music Player has managed to stand out.

    Shuttle is a music player following Google’s Material Design guidelines, and its listing is nearing 4 Million downloads. Currently, the app offers two versions: free and paid. The paid version is priced at $0.99 and has received over 50 thousand downloads on the Play Store already.

  • GNU/Linux Events

    • Takeaways from the Open Source Leadership Summit: Mainstream Open Source, Security, Policy, and Business Models

      The 2017 Open Source Leadership Summit, put on by the Linux Foundation, brought together leaders from the open source community in Lake Tahoe last week to discuss timely open source topics. The topics that came up most throughout the conference included: open source becoming mainstream, future open source business models, security in a time where everything is connected, and a call to action to be active in technology policy.

      Open source is becoming a larger focus for major companies, from Toyota to Disney to Walmart. While open source vendors continue to look to the Red Hat model as one of the most successful open source business models to date, entrepreneurs believe there are new models that can surpass this success. As the world becomes ever more connected to the internet, there are general concerns about security, and a call to take action in policymaking. Read on below to learn more about the conversations at the Open Source Leadership Summit.

    • Persistent Memory Usage within Linux Environment by Maciej Maciejewski & Krzysztof Czurylo, Intel
    • Persistent Memory Usage in Linux

      In most cases, when a machine crashes or fails, we lose whatever we had loaded into memory, which for some applications can result in quite a bit of time and effort to recover when the system comes back online. At LinuxCon Europe, Maciej Maciejewski, Senior Software Engineer at Intel, talked about how persistent memory can be used to retain its contents after a power failure.

    • Amidst Bias, Women Work to Find a Place in Open Source Communities

      Despite efforts to enhance diversity, women continue to be under-represented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and open-source software is no different.

      A talk at the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS), held last week in Lake Tahoe, highlighted some of the issues facing women in the open source community, from low participation to gender bias and unequal pay to overall job satisfaction.

    • Engineer Finds Passion and Community With Kids On Computers

      If you love technology, you can find a space for yourself and connect with others around mutual interests, according to Avni Khatri, president of Kids on Computers (KoC), a nonprofit that sets up computer labs using donated hardware and open source software in areas where kids have no other access to technology.

      During LinuxCon North America 2016, Khatri organized Kids Day, a day-long workshop that’s aimed at helping school-aged children get interested in computer programming. For Khatri, it’s also a way of furthering her dream of giving children unlimited access to education and helping them succeed in technology.

    • Join Hackaday And Tindie At The Southern California Linux Expo

      Do you like Open Source? Join Hackaday and Tindie at the largest community-run Open Source conference in North America. We’ll be at the Southern California Linux Expo next week, and we want to see you there.

    • What I’m looking forward to at IBM Interconnect 2017

      IBM Interconnect 2017 is coming up next month in Las Vegas. Last year’s conference was a whirlwind of useful talks, inspiring hallway conversations, and great networking opportunities. I was exhausted by the week’s end, but it was totally worth it.

    • foss-north 2017

      After much preparation, the tickets for foss-north 2017 is available at foss-north.se – grab them while they are hot!

    • C++ in Russia, again

      Yesterday during our team meeting Eike told me that I’m a mobile C++ conference nowadays. While it sounds funny, it is true that I’ve been a bit more active than usual.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The Great Debian Iceweasel/Icedove Saga Comes to an End

        The hatchet is finally completely buried. Iceweasel was laid to rest a year ago with the return of Firefox to Debian. Now, Icedove gets to go gently into that good night as well, as the Thunderbird email client returns to Debian.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack isn’t dead. It’s boring. That’s a good thing.

      The first OpenStack Project Teams Gathering (PTG) event was held this week in Atlanta. The week was broken into two parts: cross-project work on Monday and Tuesday, and individual projects Wednesday through Friday. I was there for the first two days and heard a few discussions that started the same way.

    • A Guide to the OpenStack Ocata Release
    • OpenStack Ocata improves core components, containerization

      The OpenStack Foundation has released Ocata, the 15th iteration of the popular open source cloud platform. The latest release has focused on enhancing core compute and networking services and expanding support for application container technologies.

    • RDO Ocata Released

      The RDO community is pleased to announce the general availability of the RDO build for OpenStack Ocata for RPM-based distributions, CentOS Linux 7 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. RDO is suitable for building private, public, and hybrid clouds. Ocata is the 15th release from the OpenStack project, which is the work of more than 2500 contributors from around the world (source).

    • Walmart Boasts 213,000 Cores on OpenStack

      Two Walmart associates who spoke recently at the Linux Foundation’s Leadership Summit provided some updates on the retailer’s efforts to automate its business.

      According to Andrew Mitry, a distinguished engineer, Cloud, and Megan Rossetti, a senior engineer, Cloud, the company is expanding its cloud services to encompass more than its e-commerce business. And it’s streamlined its cloud services and DevOps teams into one group for the whole company.

    • Reflections on the first #OpenStack PTG (Pike PTG, Atlanta)
    • A look at OpenStack’s newest release, Ocata

      Are you interested in keeping track of what is happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for news in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

  • CMS

    • Diving into Drupal: Princeton’s Multi-site Migration Success with Open-source

      Princeton University’s web team had a complex and overwhelming digital ecosystem comprised of many different websites, created from pre-built templates and hosted exclusively on internal servers.

      Fast forward six years: Princeton continues to manage a their multisite and flagship endeavors on the open-source Drupal platform, and have seen some great results since their migration back in 2011. However, this success did not come overnight. Organizational buy-in, multi-site migration and authentication were a few of the many challenges Princeton ran into when making the decision to move to the cloud.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Think open source software is free? Think again… [Ed: Think open source FUD is dead? Think again… gymnastics in logic and cherry-picking by Founder and former CTO of Palamida, who is trying to sell a 'solution']
    • Open Source: Not Pragmatic After All? [Ed: FUD that is repeating Microsoft talking points and dirty tricks in Munich, pretending that proprietary software never ceases development]

      Another open-source project, the Mozilla-backed (and Dipert-beloved) Thunderbird email client also mentioned as atypically thriving in my late-2012 blog post, is now also struggling. As is Firefox itself, which recently wound down its Firefox OS-for-smartphones efforts and is also facing browser add-on developer defections due to its embrace of Chrome-model APIs and other changes. Even mighty Linux is struggling with developer-induced bugs. Wonder if all this uncertainty is behind longstanding open-source poster child Munich, Germany’s reconsideration of Microsoft products?

    • You Can’t Get Around Code Scanning if You Care About Open Source Licenses [Ed: Let's just pretend there are no issues associated with proprietary licensing, renewal, patching etc.]
    • Linux on Windows 10: Will penguin treats in Creators Update be enough to lure you? [Ed: When Microsoft Tim writes about “Linux” [sic] it’s to promote Microsoft malware]
  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Software Freedom Conservancy matching

      Non-profits that provide project support have proven themselves to be necessary for the success and advancement of individual projects and Free Software as a whole. The Free Software Foundation (founded in 1985) serves as a home to GNU projects and a canonical list of Free Software licenses. The Open Source Initiative came about in 1998, maintaining the Open Source Definition, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines, with affiliate members including Debian, Mozilla, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Software in the Public Interest (SPI) was created in the late 90s largely to act as a fiscal sponsor for projects like Debian, enabling it to do things like accept donations and handle other financial transactions.

    • Clojars is Conservancy’s Newest Member Project

      Software Freedom Conservancy is pleased to announce the addition of Clojars as its newest member project. Clojars is a community-maintained repository for free and open source libraries written in the Clojure programming language. Clojars emphasizes ease of use, publishing library packages that are simple to use with build automation tools.

  • Programming/Development

    • Coder Dojo: Kids Teaching Themselves Programming

      Despite not much advertising, word has gotten around and we typically have 5-7 kids on Dojo nights, enough that all the makerspace’s Raspberry Pi workstations are filled and we sometimes have to scrounge for more machines for the kids who don’t bring their own laptops.

      A fun moment early on came when we had a mentor meeting, and Neil, our head organizer (who deserves most of the credit for making this program work so well), looked around and said “One thing that might be good at some point is to get more men involved.” Sure enough — he was the only man in the room! For whatever reason, most of the programmers who have gotten involved have been women. A refreshing change from the usual programming group. (Come to think of it, the PEEC web development team is three women. A girl could get a skewed idea of gender demographics, living here.) The kids who come to program are about 40% girls.

    • 3 cool machine learning projects using TensorFlow and the Raspberry Pi

      In early 2017, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a Google developer survey, which requested feedback from the maker community on what tools they wanted on the Raspberry Pi. The blog post says that Google has developed tools for machine learning, IoT, wearables, robotics, and home automation, and that the survey mentions face- and emotion-recognition, speech-to-text translation, natural language processing, and sentiment analysis. “The survey will help them get a feel for the Raspberry Pi community, but it’ll also help us get the kinds of services we need,” the post explains. Meanwhile, data scientists aren’t waiting around to put Google’s TensorFlow, an open source software library for machine learning, to work on the Raspberry Pi.

      Let’s take a look at a few cool examples of machine learning with TensorFlow on the Raspberry Pi.


  • Microsoft hasn’t turned a phone into a PC just yet [Ed: copying GNU/Linux again]

    Using the Lapdock wired to the X3 charges the phone and provides the most reliable connection for Continuum. I found the wireless connection made things a little unreliable and choppy on some more graphically intense things like full-screen video playback. Connecting the phone is as simple as just plugging it in and watching a Windows 10 desktop burst to life on the Lapdock.

    While the Windows 10 desktop looks familiar, this is exactly when I realized just how limited Continuum really is. There’s a Start Menu that’s basically the home screen of a Windows phone, and access to Cortana, but there’s a lot missing. Things like putting apps side by side simply don’t exist in this Continuum world, nor do a lot of the typical places you’d right-click on apps or use keyboard shortcuts to get to the desktop. If you’re a Windows power user like me, or even if you’re just used to a standard window management system, it’s immediately frustrating.

  • Science

    • Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

      In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

      Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Radiation levels in one Fukushima reactor high enough to kill a human in two minutes

      The radiation levels in Fukushima’s unit two reactor are so high they could kill a human in two minutes, according to data collected by a robot.

      Tokyo Electric Power, the company which operates the nuclear plant in Fukushima, carried out a robotic survey of the area around the core that melted six years ago, following the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear accident.

      But the scorpion robot Sasori got stuck inside the reactor after its crawling functions failed while climbing over highly radioactive debris and had to be abandoned inside the reactor.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • [Older] Microsoft Delays February Patch Tuesday Updates Until Next Month

      It was created by Microsoft as a way to have a standard delivery date/schedule for updates that were being provided for the companies software. This allowed a lot of stability for users and IT Pros so they could be prepared for the monthly distribution oof the updates.

      Well this month Microsoft has hit a snag with their monthly Patch Tuesday.

    • Watershed SHA1 collision just broke the WebKit repository, others may follow

      The bug resides in Apache SVN, an open source version control system that WebKit and other large software development organizations use to keep track of code submitted by individual members. Often abbreviated as SVN, Subversion uses SHA1 to track and merge duplicate files. Somehow, SVN systems can experience a severe glitch when they encounter the two PDF files published Thursday, proving that real-world collisions on SHA1 are now practical.

    • SHA1 collisions make Git vulnerable to attakcs by third-parties, not just repo maintainers

      After sitting through an endless flood of headless-chicken messages on multiple media about SHA-1 being fatally broken, I thought I’d do a quick writeup about what this actually means.

    • Cryptographers Demonstrate Collision in Popular SHA-1 Algorithm
    • Linus Torvalds on SHA-1 and Git: ‘The sky isn’t falling’

      Yes, SHA-1 has been cracked, but that doesn’t mean your code in Git repositories is in any real danger of being hacked.

    • Torvalds patches git to mitigate against SHA-1 attacks

      Linux creator Linus Torvalds says two sets of patches have been posted for the distributed version control system git to mitigate against SHA-1 attacks which are based on the method that Dutch and Google engineers detailed last week.

      The post by Torvalds detailing this came after reports emerged of the version control system used by the WebKit browser engine repository becoming corrupted after the two proof-of-concept PDF files that were released by the Dutch and Google researchers were uploaded to the repository.

    • Linus Torvalds on “SHA1 collisions found”
    • More from Torvalds on SHA1 collisions

      I thought I’d write an update on git and SHA1, since the SHA1 collision attack was so prominently in the news.

      Quick overview first, with more in-depth explanation below:

      (1) First off – the sky isn’t falling. There’s a big difference between using a cryptographic hash for things like security signing, and using one for generating a “content identifier” for a content-addressable system like git.

      (2) Secondly, the nature of this particular SHA1 attack means that it’s actually pretty easy to mitigate against, and there’s already been two sets of patches posted for that mitigation.

      (3) And finally, there’s actually a reasonably straightforward transition to some other hash that won’t break the world – or even old git repositories.

    • Cloudflare Reverse Proxies are Dumping Uninitialized Memory

      Thanks to Josh Triplett for sending us this Google Project Zero report about a dump of unitialized memory caused by Cloudflare’s reverse proxies. “A while later, we figured out how to reproduce the problem. It looked like that if an html page hosted behind cloudflare had a specific combination of unbalanced tags, the proxy would intersperse pages of uninitialized memory into the output (kinda like heartbleed, but cloudflare specific and worse for reasons I’ll explain later). My working theory was that this was related to their “ScrapeShield” feature which parses and obfuscates html – but because reverse proxies are shared between customers, it would affect *all* Cloudflare customers. We fetched a few live samples, and we observed encryption keys, cookies, passwords, chunks of POST data and even HTTPS requests for other major cloudflare-hosted sites from other users. Once we understood what we were seeing and the implications, we immediately stopped and contacted cloudflare security. ”

    • Secure your system with SELinux

      SELinux is well known as the most sophisticated Linux Mandatory Access Control (MAC) System. If you install any Fedora or Redhat operating System it is enabled by default and running in enforcing mode. So far so good.

    • [Older] The Secure Linux OS – Tails

      Some people worry a lot about security issues. Anyone can worry about their personal information, such as credit card numbers, on the Internet. They can also be concerned with someone monitoring their activity on the Internet, such as the websites they visit. To help ease these frustrations about the Internet anyone can use the Internet without having to “look over their shoulder”.

    • Major Cloudflare bug leaked sensitive data from customers’ websites

      Cloudflare revealed a serious bug in its software today that caused sensitive data like passwords, cookies, authentication tokens to spill in plaintext from its customers’ websites. The announcement is a major blow for the content delivery network, which offers enhanced security and performance for more than 5 million websites.

      This could have allowed anyone who noticed the error to collect a variety of very personal information that is typically encrypted or obscured.

    • Password management made easy as news of CloudFlare leak surfaces

      In the last 24 hours, news broke that a serious Cloudflare bug has been causing sensitive data leaks since September, exposing 5.5 million users across thousands of websites. In addition to login data cached by Google and other search engines, it is possible that some iOS applications have been affected as well. With the scale of this leak, the best course of action is to update every password for every site you have an account for. If there was ever a good time to modernize your password practices, this is it.

      As consumers and denizens of the Internet, we have a responsibility to be aware of the risks we face and make an attempt to mitigate that risk by taking best-effort precautions. Poor password and authentication hygiene leaves a user open to risks such as credit card fraud and identity theft, just like forgetting to brush your teeth regularly can lead to cavities and gum disease. This leaves us with the question of what good password and authentication hygiene looks like. If we stick with the (admittedly poorly chosen) dentistry analogy, then there are five easily identifiable aspects of good hygiene.

    • Security: You might want to change passwords on sites that use Cloudflare
    • Smoothwall Express

      The award-winning Smoothwall Express open-source firewall—designed specifically to be installed and administered by non-experts—continues its forward development march with a new 3.1 release.

    • [Older] Wire’s independent security review

      Ever since Wire launched end-to-end encryption and open sourced its apps one question has consistently popped up: “Is there an independent security review available?” Well, there is now!

    • Malware Lets a Drone Steal Data by Watching a Computer’s Blinking LED
    • FCC to halt rule that protects your private data from security breaches

      The Federal Communications Commission plans to halt implementation of a privacy rule that requires ISPs to protect the security of its customers’ personal information.

      The data security rule is part of a broader privacy rulemaking implemented under former Chairman Tom Wheeler but opposed by the FCC’s new Republican majority. The privacy order’s data security obligations are scheduled to take effect on March 2, but Chairman Ajit Pai wants to prevent that from happening.

      The data security rule requires ISPs and phone companies to take “reasonable” steps to protect customers’ information—such as Social Security numbers, financial and health information, and Web browsing data—from theft and data breaches.

      “Chairman Pai is seeking to act on a request to stay this rule before it takes effect on March 2,” an FCC spokesperson said in a statement to Ars.

    • Google releases details of another Windows bug
    • Researchers offer simple scheme to stop the next Stuxnet [Ed: Well, to stop Stuxnet they would have to stop Microsoft Windows being spread]

      One of the world’s oldest programming styles, the ladder logic that runs on industrial programmable logic controllers, remains dangerously vulnerable to attack, according to boffins from Singapore and India.

      The researchers – Naman Govil of the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad; and Anand Agrawal and Nils Ole Tippenhauer of the Singapore University of Technology and Design – explain that for all the attention paid to attacks like Stuxnet, there’s a dearth of work looking at what’s going on at the control logic level.

    • How to secure the IoT in your organisation: advice and best practice for securing the Internet of Things

      All of the major technology vendors are making a play in the Internet of Things space and there are few organisations that won’t benefit from collecting and analysing the vast array of new data that will be made available.

      But the recent Mirai botnet is just one example of the tremendous vulnerabilities that exist with unsecured access points. What are the main security considerations and best practices, then, for businesses seeking to leverage the potential of IoT?

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Thousands mourn ‘blind sheikh’ convicted in 1993 World Trade Center bombing

      Thousands of mourners gathered in a small Egyptian town on Wednesday for the funeral of the Muslim cleric known as “the blind sheikh” who was convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.

      Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was also convicted of planning a broader “war of urban terrorism” in the United States, died on Saturday in a North Carolina prison aged 78.

      Movements across the Islamist spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood to al Qaeda issued statements mourning him, and several leaders from Egypt’s Islamic Group, which views the sheikh as a spiritual leader and renounced violence in 1997, attended.

    • Militants kill 2 Christians in Egypt’s Sinai

      Egyptian security officials say suspected militants have killed two Christians in the restive north of the Sinai Peninsula, days after an Islamic State affiliate vowed to step up a wave of attacks on the embattled minority.

      The officials said Saad Hana, 65, was shot dead and his son Medhat, 45, was abducted and burned alive before their bodies were dumped on a roadside in el-Arish on Wednesday.

    • Olathe shooting: India shocked after national killed in US

      India has expressed shock after the fatal shooting of an Indian national in the US, amid reports that the attack may have been racially motivated.

      Srinivas Kuchibhotla died shortly after Wednesday’s attack at a bar in Olathe, Kansas. His friend Alok Madasani, also from India, and an American were hurt.

      Adam Purinton has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder.

      The killing dominated news bulletins in India and social media, where some blamed Donald Trump’s presidency.

    • Portrait Of A Trump-Supporter

      This isn’t really about some loser losing it. It’s about Trump not understanding leadership. If he understood leadership, he would lead his country towards the light not towards Hell. If he’s doing it deliberately, and understands leadership, he is a traitor to USA of the first magnitude.

    • Trump promises border wall ‘soon, way ahead of schedule’

      US President Donald Trump has vowed to start building a wall on the Mexican border “soon, way ahead of schedule”, in a speech at a conservative event.

      Addressing the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC), he vowed to always put American citizens first and build a “great, great border wall”.

      He also promised to focus on “getting bad people out of this country”.

    • Trump Lie Of The Week

      Trump is not so stupid that he doesn’t know smugglers are entrepreneurial, so this is just another lie in a long line of them, about a project of no value except getting elected by haters and lazy voters who are now aroused and angry and going after their congresspeople.

    • Egypt’s Christians flee Sinai amid Islamic State killing spree

      Christian families and students fled Egypt’s North Sinai province in droves on Friday after Islamic State killed the seventh member of their community in just three weeks.

      A Reuters reporter saw 25 families gathered with their belongings in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia’s Evangelical Church and church officials said 100 families, out of around 160 in North Sinai, were fleeing. More than 200 students studying in Arish, the province’s capital, have also left.

      Seven Christians have been killed in Arish between Jan. 30 and Thursday. Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency there, claimed responsibility for the killings, five of which were shootings. One man was beheaded and another set on fire.

    • BBC Glories in Death

      The BBC appear enraptured by the apparent death of Ronald Fiddler in Mosul fighting for Islamic State forces. Fiddler was a former inmate of Guantanamo Bay, so this “vindicates” the War on Terror. The BBC are leading every news bulletin and giving us full spectrum security services propaganda. We have MI6 mouthpiece Frank Gardner, the discredited neo-con chancers of the Quilliam Foundation and the far right professional supporter of military attacks on the Middle East, Afzal Ashraf, all giving us their views every half hour on the BBC.

      It has never been disputed that Ronald Fiddler was tortured in Guantanamo, which is partly why he was paid substantial compensation by the British government. It does not seem to have occurred to the BBC as worth any consideration that the fact Fiddler emerged from Guantanamo and apparently became a supporter of violent Islam, does not in any sense prove that he was a violent islamist before being tortured in Guantanamo. Yet that Guantanamo was the cause of his extreme alienation is on the surface highly probable.

    • Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia

      The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see link and link). Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians’ understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?

    • Syrian War Propaganda at the Oscars

      The Western-backed war in Syria, like the invasion of Iraq, was so smothered by propaganda that truth was not only the first casualty but has been steadily suffocated for five years, now reaching the Oscars, says Rick Sterling.

    • Using phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” is not helpful for US: Trump’s NSA
    • Trump’s new national security adviser: Saying ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ is counterproductive
    • Newly Installed NSA McMaster Reassures National Security Staff: No Witch Hunts Coming
    • New US NSA breaks with Trump admin’s views on Islam
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • [Older] FBI Throws Up Digital Roadblock to Transparency

      It’s well documented that the FBI is keen on adopting new technologies that intrude on our civil liberties. The FBI’s enthusiasm for technology, however, doesn’t extend to tools that make it easier for the public to understand what the agency is up to—despite such transparency being mandated by law.

    • Julian Assange Lawyer Fears Wikileaks Founder Could Be Evicted From Embassy Shelter

      A lawyer acting for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told NBC News there is “great concern” among his team that a new Ecuadorian president could force him out of the country’s London embassy and warned his health was deteriorating.

      Ecuador’s presidential race will be decided in a run-off election, to be held April 2, between ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno and opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso.

      Moreno has indicated he would back Assange’s continued stay, while Lasso has indicated he would evict the Australian activist within 30 days of taking office.

      “We are preparing potential legal remedies should the opposition come to power in Ecuador,” Jennifer Robinson, a member of the legal team representing Assange and Wikileaks, told Keir Simmons on MSNBC Saturday.

    • Julian Assange Lawyer Fears Wikileaks Founder Could Be Evicted From Embassy Shelter

      A lawyer acting for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told NBC News there is “great concern” among his team that a new Ecuadorian president could force him out of the country’s London embassy and warned his health was deteriorating.

      Ecuador’s presidential race will be decided in a run-off election, to be held April 2, between ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno and opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso.

      Moreno has indicated he would back Assange’s continued stay, while Lasso has indicated he would evict the Australian activist within 30 days of taking office.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Human-Generated Electromagnetic Radiation as Possible Explanation for Climate Change

      A new theory has emerged as a possible explanation for climate change. Human generated electromagnetic radiation may contribute to global warming by diverting a natural energy force termed KELEA (kinetic energy limiting electrostatic attraction) from its presumed association with cosmic rays. This theory states that cosmic ray delivered KELEA normally participates in the formation of clouds, by transforming electrostatically inert particles into electrostatic aerosols capable of acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). These clouds then act as a reflective barrier to some of the infrared radiation from the sun, thereby, reducing the earth’s heat.

    • ‘Any of the Journalists Present Could Have Been Arrested’

      Filmmaker Jahnny Lee working with the Sundance Institute was arrested yesterday by North Dakota police while filming a stand-off between police and water protectors. He was charged with “obstruction of a government function.” I can only surmise that the charge of “criminal trespass,” leveled at Jihan Hafiz and many other journalists while covering events of the Standing Rock resistance against the DAPL pipeline, could not be used against Jahnny because he was on State Highway 1806. (How can one trespass on a highway?)

    • From Ridge to Reef

      A Unique Approach to Habitat Conservation in Culebra, Puerto Rico

    • Sweden Has Run Out of Garbage with Revolutionary Recycling System

      “Swedish people are quite keen on being out in nature and they are aware of what we need do on nature and environmental issues,” Gripwall says. Despite these successes, Swedish authorities are not satisfied. Gripwall says the eventual aim in Sweden is to stop people from sending waste to recycling in the first place; instead, they are actively promoting repairing, sharing and reusing, and assessing other futuristic waste collection techniques. In this respect, Sweden is a practical role model for the rest of the world.

  • Finance

    • Americans believe robots will take everyone else’s job, but theirs will be safe

      You may accept, by now, that robots will take over lots of jobs currently held by human workers. But you probably believe they won’t be taking yours. Though other industries are in danger, your position is safe.

      That’s according to a report released Thursday by LivePerson, a cloud-based messaging company that provides customer service messaging software to companies and which surveyed 2,000 U.S.-based consumers online in January. Their researchers find that only three percent of respondents say they experience fear about losing their job to a robot once a week. By contrast, more than 40 percent of respondents never worry about it.

    • Secretive DUP Brexit donor links to the Saudi intelligence service

      The shadowy donor group that gave the Democratic Unionist Party £425,000 during the Brexit referendum campaign has links to the former Director General of the Saudi intelligence service – also the father of the current Saudi Ambassador to the UK – openDemocracy can reveal.

      The donation to Arlene Foster’s party – which was used to fund key Leave campaign advertisements across the UK in the run up to the European referendum – was initially kept hidden because of Northern Ireland’s donor secrecy laws. However, under pressure from activists after openDemocracy revealed how Brexit campaigners were funnelling dark money through Northern Ireland to fund “Take Back Control” adverts, the Democratic Unionist Party was forced last night to reveal its major donor to be a group calling itself the Constitutional Research Council.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • NPR Spins Trump’s ‘Restrained’ Foreign Policy–Ignoring Threats, Bans and Escalation

      The NPR story mentions the US-backed Yemen catastrophe, but only in the context of the botched January 29 raid, which it euphemistically says had “mixed and disputed results,” without mentioning that those results included the death of an eight-year-old girl—a US citizen—and dozens of other civilians (though the linked article does, ten paragraphs down).

      NPR glosses over the January raid by insisting it was “planned during Barack Obama’s final days” (again, that which is bipartisan must therefore be normal and moderate and good) but even this is misleading. Lots of things are “planned” by the military; whether a president greenlights them depends upon their disposition and, yes, restraint. Members of Obama’s inner circle have denied “planning” such a raid at all.

    • Trump Didn’t ‘Revoke’ Protections for Trans Students–Because He Can’t

      The problem with this framing is that Trump does not have the power to unilaterally change what rights transgender students have. These rights derive from Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972, that bars discrimination based on gender in publicly funded schools. It was a series of federal court rulings, not the Obama administration’s say-so, that found that protection against gender discrimination extends to trans people.

    • President Trump blames Mexicans, Chinese and other foreigners for the plight of downwardly mobile Americans

      President Trump blames Mexicans, Chinese and other foreigners for the plight of downwardly mobile Americans but the real culprits are his corporatist pals who grab the lion’s share of the wealth from U.S. global dominance, says JP Sottile.

    • The mystery of ‘populism’ finally unveiled

      Hungarian Prime Minister Orban looking at the Bavarian and the Hungarian flag in front of the parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, March 2016. Peter Kneffel DPA/Press Association. All rights reserved.There is nothing new in consecrated terms being used in an entirely novel sense without announcing the change, and thereby misleading readers. It happens every day. It is no surprise if, being unable to explain a new phenomenon, people give it a resounding name instead of a theory or at least a description. This is what is happening with ‘populism’ or ‘right populism’ – or even ‘left populism’ – words used to depict states of affairs old as the hills at the same time as surprisingly new ones. ‘Populism’ has become a synonym of ‘I don’t understand it, but I was asked to talk about it’.

    • ‘Incredibly Disappointing’: Democrats Choose Tom Perez to Head Party

      Democrats on Saturday chose Tom Perez to lead the party, sparking criticism from progressive organizations who say picking the former labor secretary over the other front-runner, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was a missed opportunity for the party.

      Perez’s win was secured in a second round of voting by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gathered in Atlanta, getting 235 votes to Ellison’s 200.

      It marks the end of a race many observers saw as a choice between the establishment and the progressive wing of the party. Ellison had the backing of lawmakers like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and groups including National Nurses United and the Communications Workers of America; Perez was backed by “many from former President Obama’s political orbit,” as ABC News writes, and “is viewed—with good reason—as a reliable functionary and trustworthy loyalist by those who have controlled the party and run it into the ground,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote this week.

    • Fox News Interview With Fake Expert on Sweden Further Baffles Swedes

      A man interviewed by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News this week, who was identified in an on-screen caption as a “Swedish Defense and National Security Advisor,” turns out to be entirely unknown in his native country, with no connections to either the nation’s defense or security services.

      As the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on Friday, Nils Bildt, who echoed President Donald Trump’s debunked claim that immigrants from Muslim majority nations had driven a rise in violent crime in Sweden, has no known expertise in national security, and has not lived in his homeland since 1994. Officials at the Swedish Defense Ministry and Foreign Office told the newspaper they have never heard of this “unknown Bildt.”

    • While War on Media Escalates, CBS Chief Praises Trump’s Deregulatory Agenda

      While the Washington press corps is expressing ever-greater alarm over President Donald Trump’s mounting attacks on journalists — culminating in Friday’s banning of some leading outlets from a White House press briefing — the media executives who sign their paychecks are praising the new administration for a deregulatory agenda that would likely boost company profits.

      Les Moonves, the chief executive and chairman of CBS Corporation, told investors recently that he is “looking forward to not having as much regulation and having the ability to do more.”

      Moonves specifically celebrated the appointment of Trump’s new FCC chairman, former Verizon attorney Ajit Pai, calling him “very beneficial to our business.”

      The media industry arguably helped Trump enormously in the early presidential campaign with extensive coverage that drowned out his competitors and left little room for discussion of the substantive policy issues facing voters. Now it has a lot to gain if the FCC begins a new wave of ownership deregulation and relaxes certain limits that currently prevent media conglomerates from controlling a large swath of local television stations, and prevent firms from owning television stations and newspapers in the same media market.

    • BBC Announces New Anti-Scottish Channel

      The BBC is to launch a major new unionist propaganda channel in time for the next Independence referendum. There will be 80 new unionists employed as journalists. Close relatives of senior Labour party figures are particularly welcome to apply, and in a new broadening of BBC Scotland employment policy, a larger percentage of Ruth Davidson fans will also be recruited. The news of the new job opportunities is especially welcome to the large number of Labour Party hacks who will be unemployed following the Scottish council elections in May.

    • Tom Perez Narrowly Defeats Keith Ellison for DNC Chair

      Tom Perez, the former Obama administration secretary of labor, was elected Saturday to chair a Democratic National Committee that must rapidly renew the party after a devastating 2016 election cycle that saw Republicans take control of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government and most statehouses.

      “A united Democratic Party is not only our best hope,” declared Perez, “it is Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.” That is undoubtedly true.

      But Perez clearly recognizes that he will have to work hard to first unite the party and then transform it into a dramatically more grassroots-oriented and ideologically progressive political force within a broader resistance to Trump.

    • Trump: I won’t attend White House correspondents’ dinner

      President Trump announced Saturday he will not be attending this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, a break with past presidents.

      “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!” Trump tweeted.

    • New York Times, CNN and other media barred from White House press event

      The New York Times reports that it and at least two other media outlets, CNN and Politico, were barred today from a White House press event. Also locked out were the LA Times and Buzzfeed, writes Politico’s Dan Diamond.

    • White House blocks CNN, BBC, New York Times, LA Times from media briefing

      The White House has blocked several major news outlets from covering its press briefing.

      White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday hand selected news outlets to participate in an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the James S Brady Press Briefing Room.

      The news outlets blocked from the press briefing include organisations who President Trump has criticised by name. CNN, BBC, The New York Times, LA Times, New York Daily News, BuzzFeed, The Hill, and the Daily Mail, were among the news outlets barred from the gathering.

    • Trump’s Rhetoric Degrades Freedom of Press

      Even before the Revolutionary war began, the founding fathers and mothers articulated how important the freedom of the press is. The Continental Congress – the legislative body of these political minds – wrote in 1774:

      “The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs.”

    • Donald Trump: White House bars several major news outlets from informal press briefing [Ed: Shielding oneself from criticism by attacking the press]

      News organisations including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were blocked from joining an informal, on-the-record White House press briefing.
      Key points:

      The Associated Press chose not to participate in the gaggle after White House press secretary Sean Spicer restricted the number of journalists present for the briefing.

      Typically, the daily briefing is televised and open to all news organisations credentialed to cover the White House.

      On Friday, hours after President Donald Trump delivered a speech blasting the media, Mr Spicer invited only a pool of news organisations that represents and shares reporting with the larger press corps.

    • Federal Election Commission Member Quits, Says Agency Refuses To Address Campaign Finance Violations

      Every bit as meaningless as Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.” The Beltway Swamp is drain-proof. The process that populates the swamp is rigged. Not in the “millions of illegal votes from illegals” way… or even the “I can see the Russians hacking the election from my house” way. It’s rigged because the only federal agency charged with making sure the election process is fair and equitable can’t — actually, won’t — do a single thing to ensure the process’ integrity.

    • Trump’s Fake News Attack on Sweden, Immigrants, and Crime

      Is it really safe for you to return to Sweden, asked an American friend, jokingly, when I prepared to check out from my hotel in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump had just warned his audience in Melbourne, Florida, about Muslim immigrants and terrorism in Europe. “You look at what happened last night in Sweden” the president yelled, “Sweden! Who would believe this!”

      Swedes took to social media to speculate about which awful event he referred to. An aged pop star had technical problems during rehearsal for a popular music contest, observed someone. Another Swede tweeted that out of respect for the families of victims we should not speculate about the terrible event until after it actually occurs. #lastnightinsweden quickly became a meme.

    • Pro-Trump megadonor is part owner of Breitbart News empire, CEO reveals

      Breitbart News Network, the far-right media outlet that heralded President Trump’s rise and was once led by his top White House strategist, is owned in part by a wealthy conservative family that poured millions into propelling Trump into office, the company’s chief executive acknowledged Friday.

      The site’s financial backing from the Mercers further cements the family’s status as some of the most influential financiers of the Trump era. The news comes as Breitbart has enjoyed a higher profile within the White House press corps.

    • DNC Chair Candidate Tom Perez’s Bank-Friendly Record Could Kneecap the Democratic Party

      “Why does nobody ever go to jail?” asked Mandy Grunwald, a messaging guru for the Hillary Clinton campaign, in an email in 2015 to eight other top campaign officials.

      She was responding to a settlement announced by the Department of Justice with several large banks that had manipulated foreign exchange markets. Though the banks pled guilty as institutions, no individual banker was punished.

    • Beware the Trump brain rot: The cognitive effects of this administration’s actions could be disastrous

      Thirty years ago one of the most famous public service announcement ad campaigns was launched. “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” featured a man asking the audience if they understood the dangers of drug use. He then held up an egg, saying, “This is your brain.” He motioned to a frying pan, “This is drugs.” He then cracked the egg into the pan and as the egg fried said, “This is your brain on drugs.”

      Now just a bit more than a month into President Donald Trump’s administration, I’ve found myself returning to the imagery of that ad because it seems to so perfectly encapsulate the cognitive damage that we risk as a result of the Trump presidency.

      While there is little question that the Trump team is set to unravel our democracy, our foreign relations and every stitch of political progress our nation has ever made; that isn’t all that is at stake here. A healthy democracy depends on an active and engaged citizenry. It demands a citizenry attentive to issues and able to productively debate and dialogue. But, most important, it requires a nation that can think.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • China Orders Every Vehicle In Region Troubled By Ethnic Unrest To Be Fitted With Satnav Tracker

      Techdirt stories on China tend to paint a fairly grim picture of relentless surveillance and censorship, and serve as a warning of what could happen in the West if government powers there are not constrained. But if you want to see how a real dystopian world operates, you need to look at what is happening in the north-western part of China’s huge domain. Xinjiang was originally a turkic-speaking land, but the indigenous Uyghur population is increasingly swamped by Chinese-speaking immigrants, which has caused growing unrest. Violent attacks on the Chinese population in the region have led to a harsh crackdown on the Uyghurs, provoking yet more resentment, and yet more attacks.

    • Protect Biometric Privacy in Montana

      The danger to our privacy is growing commensurately with the development of sophisticated biometric technology. More and more companies are using biometrics, such as requiring our fingerprints to access amusement parks, or scraping social media for our faces.

    • “Smart Cities,” Surveillance, and New Streetlights in San Jose

      The San Jose City Council is considering a proposal to install over 39,000 “smart streetlights.” A pilot program is already underway. These smart streetlights are not themselves a surveillance technology. But they have ports on top that, in the future, could accommodate surveillance technology, such as video cameras and microphones.

      EFF and our allies sent a letter to the San Jose City Council urging them to adopt an ordinance to ensure democratic control of all of that community’s surveillance technology decisions—including whether to plug spy cameras into the ports of smart streetlights.

    • FBI Search Warrant That Fueled Massive Government Hacking Was Unconstitutional, EFF Tells Court

      Appeals Court Should Find Warrant Violated Fourth Amendment Protections

      Boston—An FBI search warrant used to hack into thousands of computers around the world was unconstitutional, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal appeals court today in a case about a controversial criminal investigation that resulted in the largest known government hacking campaign in domestic law enforcement history.

      The Constitution requires law enforcement officers seeking a search warrant to show specific evidence of a possible crime, and tie that evidence to specific persons and places they want to search. These fundamental rules protect people from invasions of privacy and police fishing expeditions.

      But the government violated those rules while investigating “Playpen,” a child pornography website operating as a Tor hidden service. During the investigation, the FBI secretly seized servers running the website and, in a controversial decision, continued to operate it for two weeks rather than shut it down, allowing thousands of images to be downloaded. While running the site, the bureau began to hack its visitors, sending malware that it called a “Network Investigative Technique” (NIT) to visitors’ computers. The malware was then used to identify users of the site. Ultimately, the FBI hacked into 8,000 devices located in 120 countries around the world. All of this hacking was done on the basis of a single warrant. The FBI charged hundreds of suspects who visited the website, several of whom are challenging the validity of the warrant.

    • Border Security Overreach Continues: DHS Wants Social Media Login Information
    • Using Linux and Looking for a VPN! Here is How Choose The Best Option?

      Linux is always a better option than other operating systems in terms of security, and it is an ideal OS for the privacy and security conscious user, but the best way to secure your online activity and increase your privacy is to use a good Linux VPN, a Virtual Private Network that encrypts all your internet traffic and prevents monitoring of your online communications. VPNs are useful tools to access business or home networks when you are traveling, and region-restricted websites, hide your browsing activity when you use a public Wi-Fi connection, avoid internet censorship, and download files.

    • FCC puts the brakes on ISP privacy rules it just passed in October

      The new chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will seek a stay on privacy rules for broadband providers that the agency just passed in October.

      FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will ask for either a full commission vote on the stay before parts of the rules take effect next Thursday or he will instruct FCC staff to delay part of the rules pending a commission vote, a spokesman said Friday.

    • Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) lobbied the FCC for permission to spy on you

      Your Internet service provider’s (ISP) ability to not only spy on you, but to profit on that spying, has been upheld by the FCC. Ajit Pai, President Trump’s pick for the new FCC Chairman has made it clear that he is going to overturn wide-reaching data security and privacy order that the FCC had originally agreed upon back in October of 2016 under Tom Wheeler. The privacy order, which would have come into effect by December 4, 2017, would have forced large ISPs, such as AT&T, to get user consent before selling personal information such as web browsing history, to third party advertisers. The data security order, which would have come into effect by March 2nd, 2017, would have forced phone companies and ISPs to take steps to protect any sensitive user information such as social security number or health information.

    • NSA head Rogers pushes to loosen reins on cyberweapons

      Adm. Michael Rogers — both head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Cyber Command — is pushing for widespread changes to the U.S.’s treatment of cyber weaponry, including contracting private sector firms to develop arms.

      “In the application of kinetic functionality — weapons — we go to the private sector and say, ‘Build this thing we call a [joint directed-attack munition], a [Tomahawk land-attack munition].’ Fill in the blank,” he said at a conference in San Diego, as quoted by the Department of Defense.

      “On the offensive side, to date, we have done almost all of our weapons development internally,” Rogers said. “And part of me goes — five to 10 years from now is that a long-term sustainable model? Does that enable you to access fully the capabilities resident in the private sector? I’m still trying to work my way through that, intellectually.”

    • Judge Rejects Warrant Seeking To Force Everyone At A Searched Location To Unlock Seized Electronic Devices

      Late last year, Thomas Fox-Brewster of Forbes uncovered a strange search warrant among a pile of unsealed documents. The warrant — approved by a magistrate judge — allowed law enforcement officers to demand that everyone present at the searched location provide their fingerprints to unlock devices seized from the same location.

      In support of its request, the government cited cases dating back to 1910, as though they had any relevance to the current situation. The most recent case cited was 30 years old — still far from easily applicable to today’s smartphones, which are basically pocket-sized personal data centers.

      The judge granted it, stating that demands for fingerprints, passwords, or anything (like encryption keys) that might give law enforcement access to the devices’ content did not implicate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments. While the magistrate was correct that no court has found the application of fingerprints to unlock devices to be a violation of the Fifth Amendment, the other access options (passwords, encryption keys) might pose Fifth Amendment problems down the road.

    • NSA snoops told: Get your checkbooks and pens ready for a cyber-weapon shopping spree

      NSA and US Cyber Command boss Mike Rogers has revealed the future direction of his two agencies – and for the private sector, this masterplan can be summarized in one word.

    • Peter Thiel’s Palantir Spreads Its Tentacles Throughout Europe

      Palantir Technologies Inc., the data mining company named after the all-seeing stone from the Lord of the Rings, likes to apply J.R.R. Tolkien references to many aspects of its business. The name of its London office is Grey Havens, a major strategic port in the fantasy trilogy’s Middle Earth setting.

      It’s an apt moniker since the U.K. capital has become a vital hub driving growth of the $20 billion startup. Palantir has roughly tripled annual revenue from Europe over the past three years, said Alex Karp, the chief executive officer who started the company with billionaire Peter Thiel.

    • Turkey encouraging teachers to spy in German schools: report

      The Turkish government has urged teachers and parents in western Germany with Turkish roots to report any criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan they hear at schools, according to local media.

      The Turkish consulate in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) told parents and teachers at “information events” in Düsseldorf, Essen, Cologne und Münster in January that they should spy on classes at German schools, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) reported on Thursday.

      Attendees were told to report any criticism of Erdogan they witnessed in schools to the consulate.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Swedish police accused of failings after riots break out in immigrant suburb of Stockholm

      An investigation has been launched after unrest broke out in Rinkeby, which saw masked rioters throwing rocks, setting vehicles alight and looting shops.

      The violence broke out at around 8pm following the arrest of a man on drugs charges a few hours earlier.

      Warning shots were fired, but police later said one officer had also fired at least one shot at stone-throwers directly.

    • Philippines: Impending Arrest of Senator Politically Motivated

      Amnesty International condemns the impending arrest of prominent human rights defender Senator Leila de Lima as politically motivated and is calling for all charges against her to be dropped immediately. The arrest of de Lima is a blatant attempt by the Philippine government to silence criticism of President Duterte and divert attention away from serious human rights violations in the “war on drugs.”

    • The ‘unpatriotic’ post on Facebook that meant I finally had to flee Russia

      I can tell you what political harassment feels like in Putin’s Russia. Like many dissidents I am used to abuse, but a recent campaign against me was so personal, so scary, that I was forced to flee.

      Two months ago, a Russian plane transporting the world-famous military choir Alexandrov Ensemble crashed into the Black Sea en route to Syria. They were travelling to perform for pilots involved in Russia’s air campaign on Aleppo.

    • Memo Restoring Use of Private Prisons Is Good News for One Company

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s four-sentence memo rescinding Justice Department guidance to reduce the use of private prisons sent stock soaring for the two companies that dominate the industry, Geo Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America). That’s not necessarily because the memo will lead to a ramp-up in Geo- or CoreCivic-run federal prisons. As of December 2015, about 12 percent of all inmates in federal prisons were housed in private facilities, representing only 22,660 inmates. That certainly won’t decline under Sessions, but he didn’t promise to increase it substantially. “I direct the [Bureau of Prisons] to return to its previous approach,” Sessions wrote. Anyway, DoJ renewed a pair of contracts with CoreCivic despite the now-scuttled order, so it’s unclear if the status quo ever stopped.

      But the high-profile memo does matter because of the precedent. States and federal agencies that might have otherwise been wary of the negative perception of private prisons, and their often horrific outcomes, can now rest easy.

    • Pope Francis: better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic

      Pope Francis has delivered another criticism of some members of his own church, suggesting it was better to be an atheist than one of many Catholics who he said lead a hypocritical double life.

      In improvised comments in the sermon of his private morning mass in his residence, he said: “It is a scandal to say one thing and do another. That is a double life.

      “There are those who say, ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to mass, I belong to this and that association’,” the head of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic church said, according to a Vatican Radio transcript.

    • Arizona Legislators Approve Bill That Would Allow Government To Seize Assets From Protesters

      Nothing good can come from the expansion of racketeering laws, which are already abused by government agencies and citizens alike. But it gets worse. A lot worse. It doesn’t just apply to protesters who damage property. It applies to anyone possibly connected to a protest in which damage occurs, even if they don’t induce or encourage the destruction. (Perhaps even if they speak out against violent acts, but still support the demonstration’s premise.)

      And, to top it all off, police officers would not only be authorized to arrest people engaged in First Amendment activity just because someone down the street broke a window, but also to enrich themselves in the process.

    • California Law Enforcement Union Sues To Block Police Accountability

      Because there’s just not enough opacity shrouding police misconduct and not enough slanting of the criminal justice system against defendants, California police unions have decided to get involved in a judicial dispute over lists of law enforcement officers whose half of “our word against yours” isn’t quite as bulletproof as is normally assumed.

      A Los Angeles sheriff is trying to do the right thing, but he’s running into opposition from his own supposed “representatives.”

    • High Court rejects devout Muslim’s divorce claims

      He had insisted that because he and his wife married in Pakistan under Sharia law a divorce could only be approved in that country. The man made this argument after his wife, a dual British and Pakistani citizen, filed a petition for divorce here in the UK.

      Following a hearing in Birmingham, Mr Justice Francis dismissed the man’s claim and ruled that his wife was entitled to seek a divorce in England.

      Accepting the man’s argument would have “far-reaching consequences”, the Judge explained. Had he done so, the wife “would be subjected to different rules of English law than people of other faiths or other nationalities living here”.

      This would amount to “approving both racial and gender discrimination” Mr Justice Francis declared. If the husband’s claim was endorsed by the Court, it would state that his wife “should be treated differently from a British citizen who is not a national of Pakistan”.

    • Somali Group Pushes For Non-Pork Food Shelf

      But many in the Somali-American community say finding a food shelf that caters to their religious dietary restrictions is almost impossible.

      “Some food shelves are trying to meet the need, but some of them already got canned beans that have already been mixed with pork — and there is a literacy issue here,” said community activist Fartun Weli.

      A group of first-generation Somali Americans says they need help in developing a food shelf that specializes in healthy foods that do not contain pork or pork byproducts.

    • Woman: After I rebuffed my Uber driver’s advances, he tried to rape me

      A woman in Minnesota has sued Uber, alleging that one of the company’s drivers attempted to rape her in August 2016.

      As is the case in other sexual assault lawsuits involving the ride-sharing company, the woman argues that Uber has been negligent in its hiring practices. The company, she claims, is not as safe as it purports to be.

      Uber has faced numerous similar legal battles in recent years. Last month, a New Jersey man sued the company over an alleged assault that he sustained after his driver apparently refused to take him from Philadelphia back to his hometown, nine miles away. Last year, two women in Boston settled their lawsuit with Uber on similar allegations of sexual assault.

    • Uber might genuinely be worried that #DeleteUber is working

      This week, Uber drew increased scrutiny in the wake of public allegations by a former engineer named Susan Fowler, who described Uber as having a culture of sexual harassment during her tenure there. The San Francisco company has since publicly rebuked this behavior and announced that it has retained former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Fowler’s allegations.

      However, in response, some customers renewed calls to “#DeleteUber,” which led the company to respond with an automated message about the investigations. The hashtag dates back to 2011 but didn’t really get going until 2014, and it has flared up at various moments since.

    • Mizue Aizeki on Criminalizing Immigrants

      This week on CounterSpin: Early morning deportation raids are stoking fear in immigrant communities, pulling parents from children and shipping people who’ve lived in the US for decades to places they don’t remember. Donald Trump talks about rounding up “drug lords” and murderers, but not only is that not who is being targeted, recently released executive orders expand the category of “criminal alien” to any immigrant who has been accused of a crime, or who someone thinks may have committed one.

      The evidence of the chaos and harm deportation policies inflict is in the spotlight now. Can we use the moment to talk about resisting viewing immigration policy through a lens of criminality? Jettisoning the pretense that these measures—from Obama’s stated “felons, not families” approach to this new conceit about “bad hombres”—are about public safety? That shift will be key in moving toward a humane vision of immigration. We talk about that with Mizue Aizeki, deputy director of the Immigrant Defense Project.

    • Admitting Refugees Makes America Great

      I know because I worked in the White House to bring them to the United States.

      Since President Trump first issued an executive order slashing refugee admissions to the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000, a certain irony keeps running through my mind. Candidate Trump campaigned on a slogan of “Make America Great Again.” Yet now he is pushing to cut refugee admissions by more than half. I can think of few policy decisions that would make America look smaller or more cold-hearted than closing our doors to refugees who desperately need a second chance at life. Even worse, the decision is animated by a discriminatory intent that is completely inconsistent with our values and Constitution.

      I spent the last few years of the Obama administration running the refugee portfolio from the White House, which gave me a front row seat on countless displays of true American greatness. Faced with an unprecedented global humanitarian crisis, I watched America’s commitment to respond grow week by week — in communities around the country, in the private sector, and within government. At the White House, we convened officials from across the federal agencies at the deputy secretary level every two weeks to ensure we were doing as much as we could. We worked to not only meet our refugee admissions targets each year but to increase them, even as we added new layers of rigor to our security screening.

    • Trump Is Violating the Constitution

      When Barack Obama became the forty-fourth president of the United States in 2009, he appointed Norman Eisen, a “special counsel for ethics and government,” to ensure that he violated no prohibitions on conflicts of interest. Before he was replaced in 2011, Eisen, later an ambassador to the Czech Republic and a lawyer who specialized in cases involving fraud, addressed a wide range of questions, including such matters as whether President Obama, a basketball fan, could accept tickets to see the Washington Wizards or the Georgetown Hoyas play.

    • Keith Ellison Loses DNC Race After Heated Campaign Targeting Him for His Views on Palestine

      Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison lost his bid to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Saturday after a scorched-earth smear campaign targeting his religious faith, his affinity for the Nation of Islam in his youth, and his support for Palestinian rights alongside a secure Israel.

      Instead, the majority of the DNC’s voting members chose former labor secretary Tom Perez to lead the party. After two rounds of voting in Atlanta, Perez netted 235 votes to Ellison’s 200.

      Perez was widely perceived as being brought into the race by allies of President Obama, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other members of the party establishment. One of the speakers who introduced his nomination, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jamie Harrison, also works as a corporate lobbyist for the D.C.-based Podesta Group. After neither candidate reached a majority of votes in the first round of voting, Harrison was on the floor, whipping votes for Perez.

    • Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?

      On Jan. 25, 26 and 27, the new president repeated falsely that “torture works.” Claiming to have spoken with high-level intelligence officers, Trump said they told him torture works “absolutely.”

      This implausible story flies in the face of the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report which concluded that torture is not merely illegal but worthless. The 6,000+-page report found that torture produced “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence.” This common knowledge has been settled law for so long that torture has been prohibited by international treaties and US statutes. Historian Michael Kwass reminds us that as early as 1764, Cesare Beccaria called for abolishing torture because it is immoral and doesn’t work. For good measure, the Senate again voted to ban torture in 2015.

      On Feb. 17 last year at an event in Bluffton, S.C., Trump said, “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works,” and, “Half these guys [say], ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ Believe me, it works. … I would bring back waterboarding. And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” At a big rally Nov. 23, 2015, he said, “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would, in a heartbeat, in a heartbeat. And don’t kid yourself folks, it works, okay, it works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work. It works.” At a Republican debate last March he said, “Waterboarding is fine, and if we want to go stronger I’d go stronger too. We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.” In a televised chat with South Carolina State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, Trump said that if elected he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and “much worse,” calling waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation.

    • Grandmother married to British man for 27 years is deported from UK to Singapore

      She told the BBC she was put in a van and taken to the airport from the Dungavel Detention Centre in South Lanarkshire on Saturday without the opportunity to contact her lawyer or get any clothes from her home.

      Mrs Clennell was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK after her marriage but periods spent in Singapore caring for her elderly parents appear to have invalidated her residential status.

      She has made repeated attempts – both in the Singapore and in the UK – to re-apply for permission to live with her husband, who she said is in poor health and needs her as his carer.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ‘Ajit Pai Wants to Shut Down the Way We Communicate and Organize’

      Regulators who don’t much believe in regulation are looking like a hallmark of the Trump administration. What does that mean for the access to communication and information that’s critical to our daily lives? The newly appointed chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, doesn’t want to actually eliminate the agency, as far as we know, but what does his record suggest for his term leading what’s meant to be the public’s advocate in the communications realm? Jessica Gonzalez is deputy director and senior counsel at the group Free Press. She joins us now by phone from Los Angeles. Welcome to CounterSpin, Jessica Gonzalez.

  • DRM

    • The Video Game Industry Is Lobbying Against Your Right to Repair Consoles

      The video game industry has been a particularly notable enemy of fair repair.

      The video game industry is lobbying against legislation that would make it easier for gamers to repair their consoles and for consumers to repair all electronics more generally.

      The Entertainment Software Association, a trade organization that includes Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, as well as dozens of video game developers and publishers, is opposing a “right to repair” bill in Nebraska, which would give hardware manufacturers fewer rights to control the end-of-life of electronics that they have sold to their customers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Tiffany & Co., Defenders Of Intellectual Property, Sued For Copyright Infringement

      For some time now, famed jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. has been a staunch defender of intellectual property and an adversary to a free and open internet. You will recall that this is the company that wanted eBay to be held liable for third-party auctions of counterfeit Tiffany products. The company also lent its support to censoring the internet via the seizing of domains it didn’t like, as well as its support for COICA (which was the predecessor of the bill that eventually became SOPA). COICA, among other things, was a bill that would have allowed the DOJ to seize so-called “pirate” websites that infringed on others’ intellectual property.

    • Patents and the Silicon Valley of clothespins

      In 1998, the Smithsonian institute’s National Museum of American History carried a display—“America’s Clothespins”–, which included 41 patents dealing with clothespins for the period between 1852-1887 (although the child of one visitor was heard to say– “What’s a clothespin, Dad?”) All of this points to a fascinating tale of how patents served as a linchpin (with a Kat apology for the unintended pun) for the rise of the American of State of Vermont, nestled in the northwestern corner of New England, as, in the words of the New York Times, “the Silicon Valley of 19-century clothespin technology”.

    • Trademarks

      • ARGOS – trade marks, domains, and google advertising

        First there was metadata, then there was Google AdWords, the latest High Court dispute concerns the question: can the adverts which are displayed on a website constitute trade mark infringement?

        Back in 1992, Argos Systems Inc (ASI), an American company specialising in CAD systems for the design and construction of buildings, registered the domain argos.com. Several years later in 1996, Argos Limited, a well known UK retailer registered argos.co.uk. Argos owned various EU and UK trade marks for ARGOS but was too late to the domain name party to secure the .com.

    • Copyrights

      • Shadow Regulation Withers In The Sunlight

        Yesterday, the group that runs the .org top-level domain announced that they will suspend their plans to create a new, private, problematic copyright enforcement system. That’s welcome news for tens of millions of nonprofits, charities, businesses, clubs, bloggers, and personal website owners that use .org. It’s also surprising, because most of those Internet users had no idea that a new copyright system, strongly reminiscent of the failed SOPA/PIPA Internet censorship bills, might be forced on them.

        The possibility was easy to miss. Public Interest Registry, the nonprofit organization that administers the .org domain, never mentioned the new policy on its blog before yesterday, nor on the registrar websites where people actually register and renew their domain names. It was announced two weeks ago on a news website that covers the domain industry. And it was referenced in a proposal by the Domain Name Association, an industry group, titled “Registry/Registrar Healthy Practices,” a day later.

      • Fair Use: Journalism Can’t Succeed Without It
      • Law Professors Address RCEP Negotiators on Copyright

        Next week the latest round of secret negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) kicks off in Kobe, Japan. Once the shy younger sibling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the recent death of the TPP has thrust RCEP further into the spotlight, and raised the stakes both for its sixteen prospective parties, and for lobbyists with designs to stamp their own mark on the text’s intellectual property and e-commerce chapters.

        Our last analysis of RCEP pointed out some of the ways in which the then-current leaked text represented an improvement on the TPP, but how other parts of it—including those on copyright enforcement—repeated its mistakes and failed to seize opportunities for improvement. This week, over 60 copyright scholars released an open letter that sets out their views of what negotiators ought to do in order to address these problems.


        While EFF’s position is that copyright doesn’t belong in trade agreements at all, we have acknowledged that copyright lobbyists aren’t going to stop seeking their inclusion in such agreements any time soon. We have also recommended some improvements to the processes of trade negotiation that would make them more transparent and inclusive, and therefore more democratically legitimate. Although our recommendations were directed to the U.S. Trade Representative (which is not a party to the RCEP negotiations), the law professors’ letter echoes the spirit of some of them.

      • Copyright Law Versus Internet Culture

        Throughout human history, culture has been made by people telling one another stories, building on what has come before, and making it their own. Every generation, every storyteller puts their own spin on old tales to reflect their own values and changing times.

        This creative remixing happens today and it happens in spite of the legal cloud cast by copyright law. Many of our modern cultural icons are “owned” by a small number of content companies. We rework popular stories to critique them or assign new meanings to them, telling our own stories about well-known characters and settings. When copyright holders try to shut us down, fair use helps us fight back.

      • Fair Use as Consumer Protection

        Talking about fair use often means talking about your right to re-use existing copyrighted works in the process of making something new – to make remixes and documentaries, parodies, or even to build novel Internet search tools. But now that copyright-protected software is in almost everything (including our cars, our toasters, our pacemakers and our insulin pumps) fair use has a new critically important role: basic consumer protection.

        We entrust a lot of our lives to the devices we use on a daily basis – and to the software inside them. We trust them to get us from one place to another safely, to monitor our health conditions accurately and securely, and to keep us warm on a cold night. But what if those devices break? What if we want to make sure they aren’t collecting information about us without our consent, or infecting our systems with malware? What if we just want to be able to use third party apps and so on to make them work better?

      • Federal Judge Says Providing Web Hosting Isn’t Even Close To The Same Thing As Contributory Infringement

        A federal judge has just let a plaintiff know there’s a big difference between providing hosting for infringing content and actually participating in copyright infringement. ALS Scan sued basically everybody for copyright infringement after discovering adult images that it owned posted all over the web. In addition to Steadfast Holdings — the defendant just dismissed from this suit — ALS Scan sued Cloudflare, Juicy Ads, and a number of other hosting services and Does.

      • How Snapchat, Instagram and Apple Are Reinventing Photography Forever [iophk: "a world where you don't own the photos you've taken"]

        The next chapter of Snapchat’s life will begin over the coming months, as parent company Snap, Inc. goes public with an initial offering that could value the firm at approximately $20 billion. Success is far from certain: The Venice Beach, Calif.-based Snap has warned in investor documents that it could lose users to competitors with “greater resources and broader global recognition” — shorthand for the Facebook-owned Instagram. Snapchat’s once-meteoric growth is showing signs of slowing, with only 8 million new users over the last six months.

        But whether or not Snapchat survives in a competitive market in the coming years, its contributions — along with those of rivals like Instagram and Apple — to the medium of photography and visual communication are unprecedented. Snap put it this way in its IPO documents: “In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones.”

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