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04.21.17

Links 21/4/2017: System76 Entering Phase Three, KDE Applications 17.04, Elive 2.9.0 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 7:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Dangers of in-person meetings for an existing community

    It is inarguable there is a lot of value that we humans get from meeting with people in person. For a free/open source software project, this is often cited as the glue that holds together people whose normal interactions are textual (email, IRC) and lower-resolution than an in-person interaction gives. People who are bound together not by an employment agreement but rather a social agreement.

  • How to run your small business with free open source software ["This article was originally published in November, 2013. It was last updated in April 2017."]

    Take a look at the next desktop PC or laptop you come across. Odds are good it won’t be running an open-source operating system. Microsoft’s closed-source Windows has by far the highest share of the PC client operating system market, followed in a distant second by Apple’s macOS. Linux and other wholly open source operating systems have only a tiny market share.

    It’s not hard to see why. Despite the advances made by distributions such as Ubuntu, desktop Linux is still miles behind Windows and macOS in terms of the look, the feel and the slickness that most office workers have come to expect. The vast majority of companies simply aren’t prepared to make office workers use an open source OS — and most office workers aren’t prepared to use them, either.

  • Agreement on software preservation signed at UNESCO

    UNESCO and the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) today signed an agreement at the Organization’s headquarters to contribute to the preservation of the technological and scientific knowledge contained in software. This includes promoting universal access to software source code.

  • How the ‘itch-to-scratch model’ can solve our UX woes

    Open source is a developer-centric solutions model, which, in a nutshell, could be described as building communities of developers to solve problems.

  • Baidu to Open Source Its Self-Driving Technology

    Baidu Inc. will share software technology it is developing for self-driving cars in a bid to catch up with competitors including General Motors Co. and Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc.

  • Baidu To Open-Source Autonomous Driving Platform Apollo to Spur Industry Innovation
  • A Chinese internet giant just made a big move to compete with Tesla in the self-driving-car space
  • Baidu Has Decided To Open-Source Its Self-Driving Car Tech
  • Events

    • Event report: FOSSASIA 2017

      FOSSASIA 2017 reminded me of foss.in. After a long time, finally, a conference which has the similar aspects. Similar kind of tight organizing team, the presence of upstream communities from different locations. The participation from the local Singapore tech community along with Hackerspace Singapore is a serious boost. This was my 4th FOSSASIA conference, and also 3rd time in Singapore. I should thank Mario, Hong, and rest of the organizers to make this event a very pleasant experience.

    • Share Your Apache Mesos Expertise and Best Practices at MesosCon Events in 2017
  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Will Google move to block adverts?

        Google’s vast wealth and huge influence is built on one thing – advertising – so it might seem bizarre for the search giant to make it less likely that users would see ads.

        But the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is planning to introduce ad-blocking in its popular Chrome web browser.

      • Google might roll out their own ad-blocker in Chrome
      • The Weird Antitrust Questions Of A Google Chrome Ad Blocker

        So rumors have started flying that Google is about to build some ad blocker technology into Chrome, that would block ads that the company considers to be “unacceptable ads” — as determined by the “Coalition for Better Ads.” Of course, while a coalition for “better ads” sounds like a good thing, this Coalition for Better Ads has been criticized. It was put together by the biggest companies in the internet ad space, and many worry that it’s just an attempt to whitewash over a lot of bad practices by declaring just the extremely egregious practices as “bad.” Either way, the original report from the paywalled Wall Street Journal notes that the ad blocker might even block all ads on sites that run “bad” ads (i.e., not just the bad ads).

        There have been all sorts of reactions to the news of a built-in Chrome ad blocker, but a lot of people are raising the antitrust questions. Obviously, Google is unlikely to consider its own ads to be the “bad ads.” And thus, an official Google ad blocker — especially one that allows its own ads through and is default on its very popular browser — at least raises eyebrows about antitrust issues. There’s a strong argument to be made (and I’m pretty sure that some ad firms would raise this with a court within a day or so of such an ad blocker being released) that this is an anti-competitive move to suppress competing ad firms.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox web browser may no longer be supported on your Linux computer

        Firefox is a wonderful open source web browser. As a result, it comes pre-loaded on many Linux-based operating systems, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Yeah, some people choose to install Chromium or Chrome instead, but Mozilla’s offering remains a staple in the Linux community.

      • If Only Thunderbird Did Look Like This…

        If Thunderbird looked like the design you see above would there be any question on whether Ubuntu should drop it from the default install? I think not.

      • Mockups of a new Thunderbird style look quite incredible
      • Ubuntu might retire Thunderbird

        The open saucy Ubuntu is considering dumping the Thunderbird mail app because users tend to favour using webservices mail instead.

        Ubuntu 17.10 may not include a default desktop email app at all and Thunderbird is Ubuntu’s default email app at the moment.

      • Firefox 53 Released With 2 New Compact Themes

        Mozilla Firefox 53 has been released, and is now available to download right now. The latest release of the popular open-source web-browser ships with two new compact themes, reader mode improvements, and updated site permission requests.

      • This April, Mozilla is Standing Up for Science

        We believe openness is a core component not just of a healthy Internet, but also a healthy society. Much like open practices can unlock innovation in the realm of technology, open practices can also invigorate fields like civics, journalism — and science.

        In laboratories and at academic institutions, open source code, data and methodology foster collaboration between researchers; spark scientific progress; increase transparency and encourage reproducibility; and better serve the public interest.

      • Mozilla, Microsoft rebuilding their browsers’ foundations without anyone noticing

        Project Quantum is how Mozilla plans to adapt for this new age. Mozilla is using its safer Rust programming language for parts of Quantum. The company has an experimental rendering engine called Servo that’s written in Rust, and pieces of this will make their way into Firefox. The initial focus will be on updating those parts of Gecko that are most amenable to parallel or GPU-based computation, and Firefox 53 contains the first element of this. Firefox 53 will (for most people; it requires Windows 7 with the Platform Update, or better, plus a GPU that isn’t blacklisted) create a separate GPU process that’s used to perform compositing. The compositor process takes the different elements of the page and the Firefox window and merges them together to create the finished product.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Mirantis enters the Kubernetes game and ups its OpenStack play

      The Sunnyvale, Calif. company is doing this by launching a new single integrated distribution of OpenStack and Kubernetes: Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) 1.0. This new release also offers a unique build-operate-transfer delivery model.

    • Mirantis launches its new OpenStack and Kubernetes cloud platform

      Mirantis, one of the earliest players in the OpenStack ecosystem, today announced that it will end-of-life Mirantis OpenStack support in September 2019. The Mirantis Cloud Platform, which combines OpenStack with the Kubernetes container platform (or which could even be used to run Kubernetes separately), is going to take its place.

      While Mirantis is obviously not getting out of the OpenStack game, this move clearly shows that there is a growing interest in the Kubernetes container platform and that Mirantis’ customers are now starting to look at this as a way to modernize their software deployment strategies without going to OpenStack. The new platform allows users to deploy multiple Kubernetes clusters side-by-side with OpenStack — or separately.

    • Open Source Tools for Enterprise Data Science
    • Open for business: Hortonworks aims for open source profitability

      It used to be the Hadoop Summit, but the strategic focus at Hortonworks the enterprise-ready open source Apache Hadoop provider, has evolved. So, this year it was renamed DataWorks Summit. The company now encompasses data at rest (the Hadoop Data Platform now in version 2.6), data in motion (the Hadoop Data Flow) and data in the cloud (the Hadoop Data Cloud). Hortonworks aims to become a multi-platform and multi-cloud company. The focus is on the data in data driven organisations. Just a few years ago Hortonworks connected with IT architects. Today it’s launching conversations with lines of business and chief marketing officers.

    • What’s new in OpenStack Ocata

      OpenStack Ocata has now been out for a little over a month and we’re about to see the first milestone of the Pike release. Past cycles show that now’s about the time when people start looking at the new release to see if they should consider moving to it. So here’s a quick overview of what’s new in this release.

    • Research: OpenStack user satisfaction ratings drop, as adoption of the open source cloud rises
  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Rewriting the bottom line: Docker EE and the open-source profit question

      Docker Inc., which provides an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship and run distributed applications, is a company sometimes knocked for failing to monetize, is a case study in how the evolving open-source community is rethinking how to drive profit.

      “Open source today is very different than open source five years, ago, 10 years ago,” said Jerry Chen, partner at Greylock Partners. “The ecosystem is very different, because all of a sudden, the developers and contributors are not just kind of your misfits and rebels working on the weekends. They are Fortune 100, Fortune 500 companies.”

  • BSD

  • Compiler

    • Psychec: A Type Inference Engine For C, The C Language Meets Unification

      Here, at the Compiler’s Laboratory of UFMG, we’ve been trying to understand the meaning of incomplete C code. How well can a parser reason about a source when declarations (or complete headers) are missing? In the C language, challenges appear already during parsing, since, not only syntax, but also semantic information (possibly absent) is required. Yet, the really cool challenges emerge when we want to reconstruct a partial program into a complete one that passes the type-checker.

    • GCC 7 Has Been Branched, GCC 8.0 Now On Master

      The GCC 7 mainline code-base hit the important milestone today of having zero P1 regressions — issues of the highest priority — and as such they branched the GCC7 code-base and GCC 7.1 RC1 is then being announced later this week as they prepare for this first stable release of GCC 7.

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK GDS looking for architects with open source expertise

      The UK Government Digital Service (GDS) has released a ‘Technical Architects recruitment guide’. The agency hopes to attract more technical architects by describing its recruitment process, thereby helping candidates to prepare better for the job interviews and making these more accessible to people unfamiliar with the Civil Service Commission recruitment principles.

    • Two tender announcements: lock-in vs. moving freely

      Using open source software and avoiding proprietary products is the only way to structurally prevent vendor lock-in. This principle has once again become clear from two procurement announcements recently published on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED), the public procurement journal of the European Union.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open source @ Midburn, the Israeli burning man

      Our code is available on GitHub at https://github.com/Midburn/. And while it still need to be more tidy, I prefer the release early and often approach. The main idea we want to bring to the Burn infrastructure is using Spark as a database and have already began talking with parallel teams of other burn events. I’ll follow up on our technological agenda / vision. In the mean while, you are more than welcome to comment on the code or join one of the teams (e.g. volunteers module to organize who does which shift during the event).

    • Flying The First Open Source Satellite

      The Libre Space Foundation is an organization dedicated to the development of libre space hardware. It was born from the SatNOGS project — the winners of the first Hackaday Prize — and now this foundation is in space. The Libre Space Foundation hitched a ride on the Orbital ATK launch yesterday, and right now their completely Open Source cube sat is on its way to the International Space Station.

    • Why open source pharma is the path to both new and cheaper medicines

      We can all agree that we have some life-saving medicines available to us. We may have benefited directly, or have family members who are benefiting at the moment.

      Some medicines, however, are too expensive. Some don’t work too well and there are, of course, many terrible diseases for which we have no medicines at all. These issues affect rich and poor nations alike.

    • Open Access/Content

      • States are moving to cut college costs by introducing open-source textbooks

        Every cost associated with higher learning has steadily increased over the past decade, but none more so than college textbooks. While tuition increased by 63% between 2006 and 2016, and housing costs increased by 50%, the cost of textbooks went up by 88%, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    • Hardware/Modding

      • Atreus: Building a custom ergonomic keyboard

        As mentioned in my Working on Android post, I’ve been using a mechanical keyboard for a couple of years now. Now that I work on Flowhub from home, it was a good time to re-evaluate the whole work setup. As far as regular keyboards go, the MiniLa was nice, but I wanted something more compact and ergonomic.

      • Korean researchers develop open source 3D bioprinter

        Researchers from Seoul National University of Science and Technology in Korea have published the schematics for an open source 3D bioprinter.

      • 3d-Printing is cool

        I’ve heard about 3d-printing a lot in the past, although the hype seems to have mostly died down. My view has always been “That seems cool”, coupled with “Everybody says making the models is very hard”, and “the process itself is fiddly & time-consuming”.

      • Intel Open Sources All Lustre Work, Brent Gorda Exits

        In a letter to the Lustre community posted on the Intel website, Vice President of Intel’s Data Center Group Trish Damkroger informs that effective immediately the company will be contributing all Lustre development to the open source community. Damkroger also announced that Brent Gorda, General Manager, High Performance Data Division at Intel is leaving the company. Gorda is the former CEO of Whamcloud, the Lustre specialist acquired by Intel in 2012.

      • Intel axes lack Lustre file systems and open sources features

        According to The Register, Trish Damkroger, Intel’s Vice President and General Manager for Technical Computing Initiative sent an email this week to partners and customers confirming the change.

        [...]

        The Enterprise Edition provides large-scale, high bandwidth storage with the power and scalability of Lustre, whilst the Foundation Edition offers maximum speed and scale Lustre storage with support from Intel.

      • Should Desktop 3D Printing Be Open Source or Closed Source?

        Open source development has brought a lot of advantages to desktop 3D printing. Is our flirtation with open source a youthful indiscretion that will soon be discarded? Or is open source the key to our recent past and to unlocking the future of 3D printing?

      • How desktop 3D printing’s open source platforms shaped the industry’s diverse material supply

        Ten years ago, John Kawola remembers the 3D printing industry as a very different place to how it looks today. While still a dynamic field with innovation aplenty, it was dominated by a handful of players. “3D Systems, Stratasys, EOS and EnvisionTEC,” the President of Ultimaker North America lists. Between them, they dominated the 3D printer business, they drove innovation at a rate smaller companies could not keep up with, and they all had a closed materials environment.

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 ways to succeed at learning a programming language

      Whether you’re taking up programming for the first time, or learning your 50th language, you might ask, “What’s the best way to learn to program?” I surveyed dozens of people who taught themselves to program in Rust as part of my OSCON talk in 2016, and asked the expert autodidacts what advice they would give to others for picking up a new language. I found that despite their diverse backgrounds, all of my interviewees shared five common approaches to building new programming skills.

    • GitHub Developer Program shows bigger love

      The GitHub Developer Program (programme, if we’re using Her Majesty’s English) has been around for around three years now.

      Essentially, this initiative exists to encourage developers to test out application builds that integrate with GitHub.

    • GitHub Opens Developer Program to All

      GitHub Inc. has revamped its developer program with several changes, including opening it up to all developers for the first time.

      Previously, the three-year-old GitHub Developer Program was available to only those developers who had paid accounts at the open source code repository and software development platform specializing in Git-based version control.

    • 3 open source code libraries to handle MARC-formatted records
    • RcppQuantuccia 0.0.1
    • Rblpapi 0.3.6

Leftovers

  • A user’s guide to failing faster

    Most failures in the pure software realm don’t lead to the same visceral imagery as the above, but they can have widespread financial and human costs all the same. Think of the failed Healthcare.gov launch, the Target data breach, or really any number of multi-million dollar projects that basically didn’t work in the end. In 2012, the US Air Force scrapped an ERP project after racking up $1 billion in costs.

  • Artist Sues Church For Moving His 9/11 Memorial Sculpture

    It’s pretty rare for us to bring up the issue of “moral rights” over creative works in the US, and even rarer to directly reference VARA — the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 — and yet, here we are, twice in one week discussing VARA claims. Even more incredibly, both are about sculptures that were placed for free in parts of lower Manhattan, right off Wall St. The claim that’s received lots of attention was the one over the Wall St. Bull and the fact that another statue was placed near the bull, which the artist claims changes his message, and thereby violates VARA. This other claim is from another sculptor, Steve Tobin, who is suing Trinity Church for moving his 9/11 memorial sculpture to Connecticut.

    [...]

    In the end, while the damaging of the statue perhaps adds at least some greater credibility to the VARA claim — even though it wasn’t designed to be a mutilation, just an accident while moving — the fact that an artist can claim (even after giving up all rights and title to the piece) that because the piece has some connection to a site, the owners can no longer move it, would be really, really dangerous. Yes, there’s a stronger argument here as to why this one location is directly tied to this piece of artwork (and many other artists would have trouble showing the same level of connection), any time you argue that artwork is so connected to its siting that moving it would violate the law… something seems to have gone wrong. I can certainly understand why the artist is upset, but as we noted with the bull, artists give up quite a lot of control when they let art out into the world and, as in this case, hand ownership over to a third party.

  • Science

    • Scientists to take to the streets in global march for truth

      Scientists and science supporters will take to the streets in a global March for Science on 22 April . What began as a small Facebook group in the US capital, Washington DC has spiralled into a global phenomenon that will now see marches and other events in more than 500 locations around the world, from Seattle to Seoul.

      It is great news that so many people are prepared to stand up and defend the need for evidence-based thinking and the scientific method. But it is also a sad comment on our times that a March for Science is needed at all. Post-truth populism has infected democracies around the world, scientific objectivity is under threat from multiple sources and there seems a real danger of falling into a modern dystopian dark age.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • African Civil Society, Farmers Demand ARIPO Lift Blackout On Protocol Protecting Plant Varieties

      Civil society and farmers allege communication blackout from by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) about a protocol protecting new plant varieties. The 2015 protocol was highly criticised by those organisations as endangering traditional practices of African farmers. Draft regulations could not be adopted in December, but the regional organisation, according to the civil society and farmer groups, is keeping the outcome of the December meeting secret.

    • Open-source mungbean genetic information website enables better varieties

      Scientists and mungbean growers around the world now have access to an open-source website containing the latest genetic information on the qualities of 560 accessions of mungbean.

      The new website, from QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, provides a database of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genetic markers which can be used to map a variety of traits like disease resistance and yield.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Reproducible Builds: week 103 in Stretch cycle
    • ‘Benign’ worm seeks out vulnerable smart devices

      A “benign” worm is scouring the net seeking out poorly protected smart gadgets.

      CCTV systems, routers, digital video recorders and other internet-of-things (IoT) devices are now believed to be harbouring the Hajime worm.

    • How to manage the computer-security threat

      COMPUTER security is a contradiction in terms. Consider the past year alone: cyberthieves stole $81m from the central bank of Bangladesh; the $4.8bn takeover of Yahoo, an internet firm, by Verizon, a telecoms firm, was nearly derailed by two enormous data breaches; and Russian hackers interfered in the American presidential election.

      Away from the headlines, a black market in computerised extortion, hacking-for-hire and stolen digital goods is booming. The problem is about to get worse. Computers increasingly deal not just with abstract data like credit-card details and databases, but also with the real world of physical objects and vulnerable human bodies. A modern car is a computer on wheels; an aeroplane is a computer with wings. The arrival of the “Internet of Things” will see computers baked into everything from road signs and MRI scanners to prosthetics and insulin pumps. There is little evidence that these gadgets will be any more trustworthy than their desktop counterparts. Hackers have already proved that they can take remote control of connected cars and pacemakers.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Open Source Remote Access Trojan Targets Telegram Users

      Remote access Trojans are mainly used to steal consumer data, either for consumers themselves or the conglomerate keeping this information safe from prying eyes. However, it appears criminals are looking at a different approach for these tools right now. A new open source remote access Trojan can now be used to extract data from the Telegram communication platform.

    • New Open Source RAT Uses Telegram Protocol to Steal Data from Victims
    • Open Source Remote Access Trojan Targets Telegram Users
    • Should we worry the general election will be hacked? [iophk: "it will be. no worries."]
    • Hackers use old Stuxnet-related bug to carry out attacks
    • Oracle databases at risk because of a leaked NSA hacking tool, researcher says
    • Script kiddies pwn 1000s of Windows boxes using leaked NSA hack tools

      The NSA’s Equation Group hacking tools, leaked last Friday by the Shadow Brokers, have now been used to infect thousands of Windows machines worldwide, we’re told.

      On Thursday, Dan Tentler, founder of security shop Phobos Group, told The Register he’s seen rising numbers of boxes on the public internet showing signs they have DOUBLEPULSAR installed on them. These hijacked machines can be used to sling malware, spam netizens, launch further attacks on other victims, and so on.

      DOUBLEPULSAR is a backdoor used to inject and run malicious code on an infected system, and is installed using the ETERNALBLUE exploit that attacks SMB file-sharing services on Windows XP to Server 2008 R2. That means to compromise a computer, it must be running a vulnerable version of Windows and expose an SMB service to the attacker. Both DOUBLEPULSAR and ETERNALBLUE are leaked Equation Group tools, now available for any script kiddie or hardened crim to download and wield against vulnerable systems.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Actual Lawyer Thinks That Criminalizing Showing Murder On Facebook Will Prevent Murders On Facebook

      Earlier this week, we wrote about the silly take at Wired, more or less suggesting that it was somehow Facebook’s issue that a troubled individual took a video of himself randomly killing an elderly man and then uploaded the video to Facebook. Unfortunately, others have had similar takes, including the New Yorker’s Steve Coll, whose piece is mostly balanced and admits that it’s basically impossible for Facebook to prevent this thing… but then at the end ignores all that and says, effectively, “Well, Facebook’s big so it has no excuse not to do something.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chancellery investigated in hunt for WikiLeaks sources: reports

      German media reported on Thursday that Angela Merkel’s Chancellery has been included in an ongoing investigation into a recent WikiLeaks release of confidential documents.

      Broadcaster NDR reported on Thursday that according to unnamed sources, public prosecutors in Berlin are investigating employees of the Chancellery in their search to find who sent confidential documents to WikiLeaks.

    • Journalism in the Doxing Era: Is Wikileaks Different from the New York Times?

      The question is provocative, but the answer is hard. The reaction to WikiLeaks’ publication of the fruits of Russia’s DNC hack raises many puzzles about how we should think about publication of truthful secret information that touches on public affairs. These puzzles are important to figure out, since organizational doxing is growing more prevalent and consequential and our intuitions about it are not obviously coherent. I don’t have great answers to what traditional news sources like the Times should do with hacked documents, but in practice I think the Times and other mainstream news organizations operate more like WikiLeaks than we have appreciated. Even if I am wrong about that, I hope the following analysis and questions shed a little light on the problem.

      Many people who are appalled by WikiLeaks’ publication of the stolen DNC emails applauded the publication by mainstream news organizations of Snowden’s stolen NSA documents. They emphasize Snowden’s good intent as a whistleblower, the Times’ aim to foster the public interest, and the positive consequences of publication for the public interest (such as exposure of the U.S. intelligence practices, the spread of encryption, more NSA transparency, and a global privacy movement). By contrast, one story goes, Russia and WikiLeaks had bad intent and publication of the DNC emails skewed the public interest.

    • Julian Assange: US set to ‘seek arrest of Wikileaks founder’

      US authorities have prepared charges to arrest the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to CNN.

    • Sources: US prepares charges to seek arrest of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

      US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN.

      The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

      Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.

      During President Barack Obama’s administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn’t alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. Several newspapers, including The New York Times, did as well. The investigation continued, but any possible charges were put on hold, according to US officials involved in the process then.

    • German chancellery investigated in probe into WikiLeaks sources

      Berlin’s chief public prosecutor has extended an investigation into the release of a trove of documents by WikiLeaks to include the chancellery as well as the Bundestag lower house of parliament, broadcaster NDR said on Thursday.

      Last December, WikiLeaks released the confidential documents, which German security agencies had submitted to a parliamentary committee investigating the extent to which German spies helped the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to spy in Europe.

    • Justice Dept. debating charges against WikiLeaks members in revelations of diplomatic, CIA materials

      Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents and investigating whether the group bears criminal responsibility for the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools, according to people familiar with the case.

      The Justice Department under President Barack Obama had decided not to charge WikiLeaks for revealing some of the government’s most sensitive secrets — concluding that doing so would be akin to prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information. Justice Department leadership under President Trump, though, has indicated to prosecutors that it is open to taking another look at the case, which the Obama administration did not formally close.

  • Finance

    • Immigrants flooded California construction. Worker pay sank. Here’s why

      But for more than a decade before immigrants flooded the market, contractors and their corporate clients were pushing to undercut construction wages by shunning union labor.

      [...]

      The result: Today slightly more than 1 in 10 construction workers are in a union, compared with 4 in 10 in the 1970s.

    • The final tipping point for O’Reilly and Fox was plain old money
    • EU leader: UK would be welcomed back if voters overturn Brexit

      The president of the European parliament has said Britain would be welcomed back with open arms if voters changed their minds about Brexit on 8 June, challenging Theresa May’s claim that “there is no turning back” after article 50.

      Speaking after a meeting with the prime minister in Downing Street, Antonio Tajani insisted that her triggering of the departure process last month could be reversed easily by the remaining EU members if there was a change of UK government after the general election, and that it would not even require a court case.

    • Argentina: Brexit could end Europe’s support for UK control of Falklands

      Argentina believes Brexit might cost Britain the support of European allies for its control of the Falkland Islands and is watching developments closely, the Argentinian foreign minister said in Brussels.

      Visiting the EU capital for trade talks on Thursday, Susana Malcorra stressed it was too soon to say whether Britain quitting the bloc might soften EU backing for London against an 18th-century claim to the South Atlantic islands that Buenos Aires has maintained despite losing a brief war there in 1982.

    • EU leader: UK would be welcomed back if voters overturn Brexit

      The president of the European parliament has said Britain would be welcomed back with open arms if voters changed their minds about Brexit on 8 June, challenging Theresa May’s claim that “there is no turning back” after article 50.

      Speaking after a meeting with the prime minister in Downing Street, Antonio Tajani insisted that her triggering of the departure process last month could be reversed easily by the remaining EU members if there was a change of UK government after the general election, and that it would not even require a court case.

      “If the UK, after the election, wants to withdraw [article 50], then the procedure is very clear,” he said in an interview. “If the UK wanted to stay, everybody would be in favour. I would be very happy.”

    • Corporate Sovereignty Used To Bully Ukraine, Colombia And Italy For Protecting Public Health And The Environment

      Since Rockhopper is an oil exploration company, it must have carried out detailed studies on the geology of the field before deciding to drill for oil and gas. Either its geologists were negligent in not spotting that there was a risk of earthquakes which made the area unsuitable for exploitation, or the company knew about the dangers, and decided to continue with its plans anyway. In any case, it’s ridiculous that Rockhopper thinks the Italian government owes it money for “lost future profits” that clearly never existed anywhere other than in the company’s fantasies.

      This is a general problem with corporate sovereignty claims: they often invoke some mythical “future profits” as if those were indisputable and guaranteed. But business is based on rewarding calculated risk-taking, and that includes the risk that hoped-for profits never materialize. ISDS is an attempt to remove the risk of investment from companies, and place it squarely on the public’s shoulders, without any quid pro quo.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Could Trump’s Financial Ties Have Influenced His Phone Call With Erdogan?

      Instead, Trump’s actions point to a subtler type of influence. Whether or not he wants it to be—indeed, whether or not he even knows it—it is natural that Trump’s attitude toward Erdogan and Turkey is shaped in part by the fact that he has business interests within the country.

    • Poll: Trump gets historically low approval ratings

      President Trump’s average approval rating is the lowest since Gallup began presidential approval surveys in 1953, the polling firm said Thursday.

      Trump’s approval rating has been as low as 39 percent since January, but averaged out at 41 percent. According to Gallup, the historical average approval of presidents is 61 percent.

      The previous president to hold Gallup’s lowest approval rating in their first quarter was former President Bill Clinton, who had a 55 percent approval rating.

    • A quarter of news shared about French election is fake: report

      One in four political links shared on social media in France ahead of the first round of the country’s presidential election Sunday contained misinformation, according to a study by Oxford University researchers.

      “Highly automated accounts,” which “occasionally generated large amounts of traffic” are particularly targeting Conservative presidential candidate François Fillon, according to the study, which is to be published Friday but was previewed by Reuters.

      But Europeans are sharing better quality news than Americans did ahead of the U.S. presidential election last year, the study found.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New GCHQ chief arrives in wake of UK-US wiretap spat

      A senior intelligence officer who led counter-terrorism operations for the London 2012 Olympics has been appointed as head of the UK’s surveillance agency GCHQ.

    • Intelligence Community Pushes to Keep Surveillance Powers

      The Office of the Director of National Intelligence Wednesday published a document advocating for the protection of what newly minted spy chief Dan Coats has described as the “crown jewels” of the intelligence community.

      The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, in particular Section 702, authorizes the bulk of the intelligence community’s overseas digital collection powers. A new informational questionnaire published by the ODNI, says maintaining those surveillance powers is “the intelligence community’s top legislative priority for 2017.”

      If Congress didn’t reauthorize those authorities, it would “greatly impair the ability of the United States to respond to national security threats,” the document notes.

    • We’re spying on you for your own protection, says NSA, FBI

      A new factsheet by the NSA and FBI has laid bare ludicrous contradictions in how US intelligence agencies choose to interpret a law designed to prevent spying on American citizens, but which they use to achieve exactly that end.

    • Schiff advocates for NSA, Cyber Command split

      Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said it would be “wise” to have separate leaders for the two organizations, pushing for a civilian head of the NSA during remarks at Columbia Law School in New York.

      Currently, the two organizations are both led by Adm. Mike Rogers. Congress elevated Cyber Command to a unified combatant command using annual defense policy legislation passed last year, but also required the Pentagon to conduct a full assessment before splitting it from the NSA.

    • The Teddy Bear And Toaster Act Is Device Regulation Done Wrong

      Should government to protect us from snooping teddy bears and untrustworthy toasters? The California State Senate seems to think so.

      With traditional devices on the decline, laptop and desktop computers now account for less than 25 percent of internet network traffic. Indeed, American households now use, on average, seven connected devices every day. As this so-called “internet of things” continues to expand, an array of connected objects—from toasters to lightbulbs to dishwashers—now include embedded microprocessors, multiplying the number of potential threat vectors for data breaches and cyberattacks.

    • Thursday’s papers: New intelligence powers under scrutiny, also, warm summer ahead? Nope.

      On Wednesday Juha Sipilä’s government unfurled long-awaited draft legislation aimed at beefing up the country’s intelligence-gathering muscle. Experts immediately weighed in, saying that the draft bill clearly needs finessing.

      Capital-based daily Helsingin Sanomat interviewed two experts who both said that the government’s attempt to craft unified legislation governing intelligence-gathering activities still needs work. HS spoke with international law professor Martin Scheinin, who said outright that Finland doesn’t need such legal reform – at least not in the form proposed by the Interior and Defence ministries.

      “It has not been shown that there are any shortcomings in the powers of Finnish police, customs and intelligence police,” Scheinin told the paper.

    • Microsoft will cut services to standalone Office users so they’ll subscribe to Office 365

      In an update to Microsoft’s Office 365 system requirements released on Thursday, Microsoft said that consumers who have already purchased “perpetual”—i.e., standalone—versions of Office, such as Office 2010, Office 2013, and Office 2016, would be cut off from accessing the business versions of OneDrive and Skype after mainstream support expires.

    • Facebook Just Handed Out Thousands of 360 Cameras. We’ve Got a Review

      Giroptic released a new Android-compatible version of its mobile 360 camera as part of the F8 giveaway.

    • Illinois resident sues Bose over alleged wiretapping

      Zak said he had bought a set of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless Bluetooth headphones. He alleged that unknown to customers, a Bose Connect app had been designed to collect and record the titles of the music and audio files that users of its wireless products played.

      Additionally, he claimed, Bose was transmitting this data, including personal identifiers, to third parties, including a data miner, without the user’s consent or knowledge.

    • Bose faces lawsuit claiming headphone apps collects user data

      The complaint filed in U.S. district court in Illinois alleges Bose collected information such as music and audio choices through its Connect mobile app, then shared that with other companies — including a data mining firm — without user consent.

    • DHS Boss Calls For More Fear, Less Encryption

      The Trump administration is rebranding the country: Make America Fear Again. In response to a national crime wave that doesn’t exist, the head of the DOJ is rolling back police reform and replacing it with extra “toughness.” Under the new regime, law enforcement officers will have the full (and, apparently, unconditional) backing of the White House.

      The DHS is joining the DOJ in flexing its new muscle. DHS Secretary John Kelly has already stated he’s looking to turn requests for visitors’ social media/email account information into demands, which would include the mandatory relinquishment of account passwords.

    • Digital Economy Bill: What Could Happen After the Government Crackdown on Online Pornography

      “What they [the government] haven’t taken into account is privacy or security,” Mr Jackman told The Independent explaining there is “absolutely no prohibition” on companies that provide the age verification checks from “monetising” the data of the website visitors.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Don’t Bet On The Emergence Of A ‘Religious Left’
    • Taslima Nasreen supports Sonu Nigam, says Kolkata Imam issued fatwa against her too

      The row began after Sonu Nigam tweeted saying how the sound of azaan woke him up from sleep. He had said that it was “forced religiousness” and use of loudspeakers at religious places should stop. Reacting to Sonu’s statement, a Kolkata Imam Syed Shah Atif Al-Qaderi said that he would give Rs 10 lakh to anyone who shaves Sonu Nigam’s head and garlands with him footwear.

    • Iran’s Guardian Council Tries to Exclude Non-Muslims from Running

      Just one week before parliament is to approve a list of candidates, a letter published this week by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, declared it is against Sharia (Islamic law) for non-Muslims to be candidates in Shia Muslim-majority areas in city and village council elections. These contests, along with the presidential election, are set for May 19.

    • Indonesia prosecutors call for Christian Jakarta governor to be jailed amid election defeat

      Hardline Muslim groups alleged that the governor had insulted Islam and dishonoured the Quran by quoting a verse during his campaign to boost his chances of winning the governor’s post for a second term.

    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali on What the Future Holds for Muslim Women

      At many American universities today, any critical examination pertaining to Islam, including Shariah and the treatment of women in Islam, is declared to be out of the realm of scrutiny. My thoughts on the crisis within Islam were so terrifying to Brandeis University — the university named for a champion of the First Amendment — that it withdrew its invitation to speak and accept an honorary degree. A strange irony that my story frightened the university more than the litany of honor killings and wholesale abuse of women in so many parts of the Islamic world.

    • Indian Army tie captured Kahmiri man to the front of a jeep to deter rock-throwers
    • NYPD Finally Comes Up With A Body Camera Policy, And It’s Terrible

      Nearly four years after the NYPD was ordered by a federal judge to implement body cameras, the department is finally getting around to finalizing its rule set for deployment. Part of the delay is due to the NYPD seeking input from the public — input it has apparently decided to ignore.

      As Scott Greenfield notes, the NYPD gets everything wrong about its policies, applying guidelines that directly contradict the responses received from everyone in New York City not wearing a blue uniform.

    • First prison unit for extremists to open this summer

      Three purpose-built blocks are to open within high-security jails to hold the most dangerous extremist prisoners away from other inmates.

      The Ministry of Justice said the blocks will have their own facilities and be able to hold up to 28 people in total.

      The first unit will open this summer at Frankland Prison, County Durham, with two more to follow at other jails.

      Ministers said last year that they wanted to isolate extremist inmates who “seek to poison the minds of others”.

      [...]

      Justice Secretary Liz Truss first announced the plans last August after accepting a recommendation from an independent review into radicalisation in English and Welsh prisons.

      The report had found evidence of inmates advocating support for so-called Islamic State and some prisoners acting as “self-styled emirs” to radicalise offenders.

    • Cop Arrested, Fired After Wife Captures His Abusive Actions On His Own Body Camera

      This is one of the strangest “but for video” cases ever. We know many cops are hesitant to clip body-worn cameras on themselves for a variety of reasons. The official statements always express concern about privacy, as though people interacting with public servants somehow believe these interactions are private. Others show concern for police officers’ privacy, as though the public is really hoping to FOIA footage of officers sitting in the break room or using the restroom.

      Deep down, everyone knows the cameras are a tool of accountability, albeit one that’s far from perfect. Body camera footage frequently goes “missing” when force is deployed questionably. And it’s completely possible to make the footage subjective with strategic body positioning and constant yelling of exonerative phrases like “Stop resisting!”

      So, it’s accountability in its infancy, run through a layer of law enforcement-friendly filters (footage is controlled by police officers and often sheltered from FOIA requests). But it’s much better than what we had before, where all action had to take place in front of stationary dashboard cameras.

    • 162 Tech Companies Tell Appeals Court That Trump’s 2nd Travel Ban Is Illegal

      As you’ll recall, back in early February, over 100 tech companies signed onto an amicus brief, arguing that President Trump’s initial plan to bar immigration from certain countries was unconstitutional and illegal. A month later, a smaller group of companies signed onto an amicus brief in the district court in Hawaii concerning the revised travel ban (and a few people noted that some of the companies that signed onto the first brief had not signed onto the second one — wondering if that meant many companies weren’t as worried about the revised ban. Except, yesterday an even larger group of tech companies (162 in total) signed onto a new amicus brief for the 4th Circuit court of appeals which is the next appeals court hearing a case on the revised travel ban. And, yes, we at the Copia Institute signed onto this one as well (we also signed onto the first two).

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • CRTC strengthens its commitment to net neutrality, consumer choice and free exchange of ideas by citizens

      The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today strengthened its commitment to net neutrality by declaring that Internet service providers should treat data traffic equally to foster consumer choice, innovation and the free exchange of ideas. As such, the CRTC today is publishing a new framework regarding differential pricing practices.

    • Canada Censures Quebecor in Net Neutrality Split With U.S.

      Canada is strengthening regulations to protect the principle of net neutrality just as the U.S. is preparing to gut Obama-era internet rules.

    • Your internet provider can’t pick which apps and services count against your data cap, says CRTC

      “While the CRTC could have gone further,” the group said in a statement, “today’s ruling is still a very positive step in the right direction.”

    • Roku Hires DC Lobbyists For First Time To Fight For Net Neutrality

      With broadband privacy rules dead, ISP lobbyists and their loyal lawmakers have begun quickly shifting their attention to killing FCC oversight of broadband providers and net neutrality. We’ve pointed out how folks concerned about this shouldn’t expect a lot of help from the likes of Facebook, Netflix and Google this go round. We’ve also noted how folks need to begin waking up to the false arguments being used to sell the pitch (namely that gutting net neutrality and FCC authority over ISPs will be fine because existing FTC rules will protect users, which simply isn’t true).

    • FCC Moves To Make Life Easier For Business Broadband Monopolies

      By now, most people understand that the residential broadband market simply isn’t very competitive. They also understand that’s in large part due to the lobbying and financial stranglehold many providers have over both state and federal lawmakers and regulators. But however uncompetitive the residential broadband market is, the business “special access market” (often called Business Data Services (BDS)) is notably worse. This important but overlooked segment of the telecom market connects schools, cell towers, ATMs, retailers, and countless others to the internet at large.

      But consumer groups and smaller companies for years have complained that this segment suffers under an absurd amount of monopoly control, resulting in many companies and organizations paying sky-high rates for basic connectivity. According to the FCC’s own data (pdf), in the lion’s share of markets, 73% of the special access market is controlled by one provider (usually AT&T, CenturyLink or Verizon), 24% usually “enjoys” duopoly control, and only a tiny fraction of markets have more than two choices of BDS providers providing this key connectivity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • ISP Can’t Have Blanket Immunity From Pirating Subscribers, Court Rules

        A New York federal court has dismissed the ‘piracy liability’ case U.S. Internet provider Windstream filed against music group BMG and its anti-piracy partner Rightscorp. The court rules that, without concrete examples of alleged copyright infringements, it can’t just give blanket approval to the ISPs business model.

      • Departure Of YouTube From Russia Could Result In Growth Of Pirated Content, Government Warns

        The use of pirated content in Russia may significantly increase in the event of a decision by leading foreign video-sharing websites and servers to leave the country due to the planned imposition of restrictions on their ownership by foreigners, which is currently being considered by the Russian government and the local Parliament (State Duma).

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