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04.24.17

Links 24/4/2017: Linux 4.11 RC8, MPV 0.25

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Software: 10 Go To Solution for Small Businesses

    While closed-source operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS may still dominate the OS market, not everyone can afford the high costs that they entail. For small- and medium-sized enterprises where every penny matters, taking advantage of open-source software such as Ubuntu’s Linux is a good bet to boost productivity and cost effectiveness. The fact that open-source softwares have evolved to become somewhat user-friendly and sleek also helps a good deal.

  • How I became a webcomic artist in less than a month with open source tools

    If you are reading this, you probably care about, or are at least mildly interested in, open source. Like you, I care about and am interested in open source. Perhaps unlike you, I am also a webcomic artist. You can find my work at Herpaderp.party.

    This is a story about how I came to use and, indeed, vaunt open source. I’ll also tell you about how and why I produce my comic using open source tools and infrastructure.

    The story begins in 2005 when I got my first computer as an off-to-college gift. It was an iBook G4. I carefully booted it and set it up according to the manual. It worked. I didn’t feel as excited as I expected. I didn’t feel cool, or dangerous, or in control, or like I should start wearing a leather trench coat like in The Matrix five years before. I knew a place called SourceForge, which had programs that weren’t written by Apple, but I didn’t see anything I really needed there. I installed The Matrix screensaver and moved on to my next challenge.

  • Switch to open source model turns costs into R&D

    Public administrations that switch to an open source software model and contracting for services, also transform the costs previously spent on acquisition and maintenance into budget for research, development and innovation, says Álvaro Anguix, general manager of the gvSIG association.

  • How to track and secure open source in your enterprise

    Recently, SAS issued a rather plaintive call for enterprises to limit the number of open source projects they use to a somewhat arbitrary percentage. That seems a rather obvious attempt to protest the rise of the open source R programming language for data science and analysis in a market where SAS has been dominant. But there is a good point hidden in the bluster: Using open source responsibly means knowing what you’re using so you can track and maintain it.

  • An Aerospace Coder Drags a Stodgy Industry Toward Open Source

    More than a decade ago, software engineer Ryan Melton spent his evenings, after workdays at Ball Aerospace, trying to learn to use a 3-D modeling program. After a few weeks, for all his effort, he could make … rectangles that moved. Still, it was a good start. Melton showed his spinning digital shapes to Ball, a company that makes spacecraft and spacecraft parts, and got the go-ahead he’d been looking for: He could try to use the software to model a gimbal—the piece on a satellite that lets the satellite point.

    Melton wanted to build the program to save himself time, learn something new. “It was something I needed for me,” he says. But his work morphed into a software project called Cosmos—a “command and control” system that sends instructions to satellites and displays data from their parts and pieces. Ball used it for some 50 flight projects and on-the-ground test systems. And in 2014, Melton decided Cosmos should share its light with the world. Today, it’s been used with everything from college projects to the planet-seeking Kepler telescope.

  • SRT Video Transport Protocol Open-Sourced

    In aiming to enhance online video streaming, the SRT video protocol has been open-sourced and an alliance forming around that for low-latency video.

    SRT is short for Secure Reliable Transport and is a low-latency video transport protocol developed by Haivision. The SRT protocol is being opened under the LGPL license.

  • Events

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Your CEO’s Obliviousness about Open Source is Endangering Your Business [Ed: Jeff Luszcz says nothing about the risk of proprietary components with back doors etc. and instead 'pulls a Black Duck']

      But what caused these issues? Itis what happens when an open source component is integrated into a commercial software product and violates its open source license, or when it contains a vulnerability that was previously unknown. As technology evolves, open source security and compliance risk are reaching a critical apex that if not addressed, will threaten the entire software supply chain.

  • BSD

    • TrueOS STABLE Update: 4/24/17

      After testing the UNSTABLE push over the weekend, the devs are happy to release a new STABLE update and installation files today! This update consists of two parts: installer changes for those who install TrueOS fresh, and general updates for systems with TrueOS already installed.

    • TrueOS 20170424 Stable Update
  • Public Services/Government

    • German states adopt open source-based security checks system

      The German federal state of Thuringia will join North RhineWestphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg and Hesse and start using OSiP, a system for performing security checks for staff access to sensitive areas. The system, built on open source components, is set to become the default security system for all 16 federal states.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 6 Becoming Auxiliary Compiler In OpenIndiana

      While GCC 7 is being released in the days ahead, the OpenIndiana crew continuing to advance the open-source Solaris stack has begun offering GCC 6 as an auxiliary/supplementary compiler.

    • LLVM Still Working Towards Apache 2.0 Relicensing

      LLVM developers have been wanting to move from their 3-clause BSD-like “LLVM license” to the Apache 2.0 license with exceptions. It’s been a while since last hearing about the effort while now a third round of request for comments was issued.

    • How Operation Code helps veterans learn programming skills

      After leaving the military, Army Captain David Molina knew he wanted to go into software development. As Molina did research on the field, he found himself overwhelmed by the vast amount of information and choices. For example: What coding language is the right one to learn? What language is the most valuable for being competitive in the job market? To add to the confusion, there are a myriad of for-profit code schools that are proliferating at an exponential rate, and each one advertises career outcomes for a fraction of the cost of a four-year computer science degree. Where could he turn for guidance on how to enter the tech industry?

    • Stack Overflow: Python snakes up developer ecosystem ladder
    • Almost 10pc of Dublin workers are software developers
    • Which programmers work late at night
    • These are the fastest growing developer technologies in the UK and Ireland
    • Stanford Uni’s intro to CompSci course adopts JavaScript, bins Java

      In early April, Stanford University began piloting a new version of its introductory computer science course, CS 106A. The variant, CS 106J, is taught in JavaScript rather than Java.

      “[CS 106J] covers the same material as CS 106A but does so using JavaScript, the most common language for implementing interactive web pages, instead of Java,” the university website explains. “No prior programming experience required.”

      According to The Stanford Daily, Eric Roberts, emeritus professor of computer science, has been working on the transition for the past five years, writing a new textbook, creating assignments, and training teaching assistants.

    • Assimilate Go Programming with Open Source Books

      Go is a compiled, statically typed programming language that makes it easy to build simple, reliable, and efficient software. It’s a general purpose programming language with modern features, clean syntax and a robust well-documented common library, making it a good candidate to learn as your first programming language. While it borrows ideas from other languages such as Algol and C, it has a very different character. It’s sometimes described as a simple language.

Leftovers

  • Stop Guessing Languages Based on IP Address

    Instead, Accept-Language should be used and the browser should provide appropriate methods at relevant times for specifying it.

    Currently there are ways to specify Accept-Language in the major browsers, but almost nobody does it, knows about it, and leaves it as the language of their browser’s interface.
    [...]
    That is a UX failure, not an engineering one. That’s a shame because Accept-Language is likely more powerful than you realize.

  • Linguistic experts warn Icelandic language is at risk of dying out because smartphones don’t speak it

    The widespread use of English in the country, both for tourism and for voice-controlled electronic devices, has slowly reduced the numbers of people speaking Icelandic to less than 400,000.

  • [Old] Björn Bjarnason
    Minister of Education, Science and Culture: Address on the Signing of the Translation Agreement with Microsoft, 20th January 1999

    Referring to the policy adopted by the Ministry in 1993 to fund only the publication of software for DOS/Windows, the booklet stated:
    [...]

  • Guardian US receives major grant to create change within the homelessness crisis [Ed: Bill Gates pays The Guardian again].
  • Science

    • How The March For Science Finally Found Its Voice

      They marched for science, and at first, they did so quietly. On Saturday, as thousands of people started streaming eastward from the Washington Monument, in a river of ponchos and umbrellas, the usual raucous chants that accompany such protests were rarely heard and even more rarely continued. “Knowledge is power; it’s our final hour,” said six enthusiastic people—to little response. “What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!” shouted another pocket of marchers—for about five rounds.

      Scientists are not a group to whom activism comes easily or familiarly. Most have traditionally stayed out of the political sphere, preferring to stick to their research. But for many, this historical detachment ended with the election of Donald Trump.

    • In Photos: Scientists Worldwide Fight Back Against Anti-Science Trump Agenda
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Farm Workers Resist Trump’s Policies

      President Trump’s promised purge of undocumented people from the United States is facing resistance from the United Farm Workers (UFW) and other groups in California that reject this rollback of civil rights and workers’ rights.

      On March 31, the birthday of the late founder of the UFW, Cesar Chavez, the union kicked off a month-long series of activities to fight back against Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, which many analysts believe is designed to make life so miserable and difficult in the U.S. that people begin to “self-deport in” in large numbers.

    • Sanders’ Stumping for Anti-Choice Mayoral Candidate Draws Ire

      U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who’s now on a multi-state tour to galvanize grassroots resistance to the Trump agenda, can boast of high popularity, but he’s taking flak for backing an anti-choice mayoral candidate.

      Speaking Thursday at a sold-out event at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Baxter Arena, Sanders rallied support for Heath Mello, the Democrat who’s hoping to unseat Omaha’s Republican Mayor Jean Stothert next month.

      “Maybe, just maybe it’s time to change one-party rule in Nebraska,” Sanders said during the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) “Come Together and Fight Back” tour stop, the Associated Press reports. “And we can start right here by electing Heath Mello as the next mayor,” Sanders said.

  • Security

    • More Windows PCs infected with NSA backdoor DoublePulsar [Ed: Look what Microsoft’s back doors for the NSA are causing this month; recall Snowden’s leaks about it.]

      Although the exact number varies among security researchers, the DoublePulsar infection rate is climbing

    • NSA-linked hacking tools released by Shadow Brokers have compromised almost 200,000 Windows PCs
    • ‘Beautiful’ NSA hacking tool DoublePulsar infects almost 200,000 Windows PCs

      Tools supposedly developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) leaked early this month by the Shadow Brokers hacking group are being used in attacks on Windows PCs.

      The tools, released to the open-source developer website Github, have been gratefully scooped up by malware writers of varying levels of competency and pimped via phishing emails across the internet.

      And researchers at Swiss security company Binary Edge claim to have found 183,107 compromised PCs connected to the internet after conducting a scan for the DoublePulsar malware. Conducted every day over the past four days, the number of infected PCs has increased dramatically with each scan, according to Binary Edge.

    • Three months on, no Linksys router patches for remote holes

      More than three months after being informed about remotely exploitable vulnerabilities in 25 router models, Linksys is yet to issue patches to remedy them.

    • [Older] Tracing Spam: Diet Pills from Beltway Bandits

      Here’s the simple story of how a recent spam email advertising celebrity “diet pills” was traced back to a Washington, D.C.-area defense contractor that builds tactical communications systems for the U.S. military and intelligence communities.

    • Top-ranked programming Web tutorials introduce vulnerabilities into software

      “[Our findings] suggest that there is a pressing need for code audit of widely consumed tutorials, perhaps with as much rigor as for production code,” they pointed out.

    • [Old] PHP: a fractal of bad design

      PHP is an embarrassment, a blight upon my craft. It’s so broken, but so lauded by every empowered amateur who’s yet to learn anything else, as to be maddening. It has paltry few redeeming qualities and I would prefer to forget it exists at all.

    • The Cloud Foundry Approach to Container Storage and Security

      Recently, The New Stack published an article titled “Containers and Storage: Why We Aren’t There Yet” covering a talk from IBM’s James Bottomley at the Linux Foundation’s Vault conference in March. Both the talk and article focused on one of the central problems we’ve been working to address in the Cloud Foundry Foundation’s Diego Persistence project team, so we thought it would be a good idea to highlight the features we’ve added to mitigate it. Cloud Foundry does significantly better than what the article suggests is the current state of the art on the container security front, so we’ll cover that here as well.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Every Day Things Are Getting Worse’ for Children in Yemen

      Persistent attacks on health care in Yemen is severely impacting children’s well-being, civil society detailed at the launch of a report.

      In the report, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, in collaboration with Save the Children, found a series of systematic attacks on medical facilities and personnel and families’ restricted access to health care across three of the most insecure governorates in the Middle Eastern nation.

      According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), warring parties carried out at least 160 attacks against medical facilities and personnel between March 2015 and March 2017 through intimidation, air strikes, and impeded access to medical supplies.

      In one incident, anti-Houthi forces raided and shutdown Al Thawra hospital for reportedly treating several injured Houthi-fighers. The hospital had also previously been shelled on numerous occasions.

    • With Error Fixed, Evidence Against ‘Sarin Attack’ Remains Convincing

      In my report published April 19 on Truthdig, I misinterpreted the wind-direction convention, resulting in my estimates of plume directions being exactly 180 degrees off. This article corrects that error and provides important new analytic results that follow from correction of that error.

      When the error in wind direction is corrected, the conclusion is that if there was a significant sarin release at the crater as alleged by the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued April 11, the immediate result would have been significant casualties immediately adjacent to the dispersion crater.

    • NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims

      In the old days of journalism, we were taught that there were almost always two sides to a story, if not more sides than that. Indeed, part of the professional challenge of journalism was to sort out conflicting facts on a complicated topic. Often we found that the initial impression of a story was wrong once we understood the more nuanced reality.

    • At Sea With Capt. ‘Wrong Way’ Trump

      Baby boomers like me fondly remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of childhood (and adulthood, for that matter — in their grown-up jokes and cultural references they presaged The Simpsons by a good 25 years and are still pretty hilarious).

      You may particularly recall one Rocky and Bullwinkle character, Capt. Peter “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz, an addled mariner so spectacular in his incompetence that even his toy boats sank in the bathtub.

      At one point, Peachfuzz managed to steer his ship into New York’s financial district — and I mean into, so much so that it was given the permanent address of 17 ½ Wall Street. Now at the helm of an investment firm, his board of directors wanted to get Capt. Peachfuzz as far away as possible and found him a job counting penguin eggs in Antarctica. But a secretary mistyped the form and Peachfuzz was made head of the nation’s intelligence community.

      [...]

      In recent days, we’ve heard inconsistent policy statements, and not just about where the hell our ships are. There have been flip-flops on China and Russia as well as conflicting declarations when it comes to President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality in Syria and the contested referendum in Turkey that by a narrow margin gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased dictatorial control over his government. Trump called to heartily congratulate Erdogan on his win, yet at the same time the State Department warned the Turkish leader against ignoring the “rule of law” and urged him to respect “a diverse and free media.”

    • Dropping the (Non-Nuclear) Big One

      After pounding “war on terror” targets for 15-plus years, the U.S. military dropped its “mother of all bombs” on some caves in Afghanistan, a show-off of its terrifying weapon, peace activist Kathy Kelly told Dennis J Bernstein.

    • Borussia Dortmund bombs: ‘Speculator’ charged with bus attack

      Police in Germany have charged a man suspected of being behind an attack on the Borussia Dortmund team bus.

      Rather than having links to radical Islamism, he was a market trader hoping to make money if the price of shares in the team fell, prosecutors say.

      The suspect has been charged with attempted murder, triggering explosions and causing serious physical injury.

    • Human rights lawyer lodges case at International Criminal Court against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for ‘mass murder’

      A human rights lawyer lodged a case on Monday (April 24) with the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling President Rodrigo Duterte a “mass murderer”, and seeking an investigation into “this dark, obscene, murderous and evil era in the Philippines”.

      In a 77-page complaint filed with ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, lawyer Jude Jose Sabio sought to have Mr Duterte and 11 others arrested and held in The Hague to prevent him “from further committing mass murder and from killing potential victims and witnesses”.

    • Istanbul law enforcement ban April 23 Armenian Genocide commemoration event

      Turkish law enforcement banned the April 23 Armenian Genocide commemorative event in Istanbul’s Sisli district. The event is being held for five years.

      Police told the participants of the event they “have orders from above to ban the rally”, threatening if they don’t obey, police are authorized to intervene.

      The demonstrators collected the posters, which said: “Don’t forget, don’t let to be forgotten”, “As long as there is no confrontation, genocides won’t stop” and took off to the Sisli office of the People’s Democratic Party.

    • US ‘deep state’ sold out counter-terrorism to keep itself in business

      New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to “back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

    • Tell Us Why We’re At War, President Trump

      People speak of Afghanistan as “our generation’s” Vietnam, a quagmire, a war that goes on simply because it has been going on.

      The Afghan war is dragging into being our generation’s, and soon the next generation’s Vietnam as well, over a decade and a half old. There are troops deploying now that were two years old when the conflict started. There are fathers and sons deploying together. Bin Laden’s been dead for years.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks

      The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

    • Prosecuting Assange under Espionage Act would set dangerous precedent

      Last week, news reports indicated that the Justice Department is considering whether to press charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for posting classified information on the Internet. Section 793(e) of the Espionage Act makes it illegal for anyone with “unauthorized possession” of “national defense information” to “willfully communicate” such information “to any person not entitled to receive it” if the person “has reason to believe” the information “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” This language is incredibly broad and, if applied as written, raises serious First Amendment concerns. As Steve Vladeck noted on Twitter, using the Espionage Act in this way would set a troubling precedent.

      The Trump administration is not the first to consider using the Espionage Act to prosecute those who disclose embarrassing national security information. The George W. Bush administration considered prosecuting journalists for publishing information about surveillance and other counter-terrorism activities. At the time, I co-authored an article with Michael Berry for National Review Online explaining why such prosecutions would be a bad idea (with a follow-up here).

    • Long before WikiLeaks, the FBI spent decades obsessing over Gavin MacFadyen

      In response to the initial FOIA request for files on deceased WikiLeaks Director and Courage Foundation trustee Gavin MacFadyen, the FBI cited a litany of exemptions. These included an ongoing investigation, national security, and the need to protect the identity of a confidential informant. While the Bureau used these exemptions to withhold all of the materials on MacFadyen in their possession, they did reveal that at least four files mentioning MacFadyen had been transferred to the National Archives.

    • Candidate Trump: ‘I Love Wikileaks.’ President Trump: ‘Arrest Assange!’

      “I love Wikileaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks.

      Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day. The candidate praised whistleblowers and Wikileaks often on the campaign trail. In fact, candidate Trump loved Wikileaks so much he mentioned the organization more than 140 times in the final month of the campaign alone! Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison.

      Last week CNN reported, citing anonymous “intelligence community” sources, that the Trump Administration’s Justice Department was seeking the arrest of Assange and had found a way to charge the Wikileaks founder for publishing classified information without charging other media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post for publishing the same information.

      It might have been tempting to write off the CNN report as “fake news,” as is much of their reporting, but for the fact President Trump said in an interview on Friday that issuing an arrest warrant for Julian Assange would be, “OK with me.”

    • Symantec Blames Global Cyber Attacks On Secret CIA Tools

      Agency spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak said any WikiLeaks disclosures aimed at damaging the intelligence community “not only jeopardise United States personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm”.

      Numerous tools revealed in the WikiLeaks Vault7 cache have been spotted in the wild attacking targets in 16 countries and linked to a group operating since at least 2011, Symantec claimed. Given the close similarities between the tools and techniques, there can be little doubt that Longhorn’s activities and the Vault 7 documents are the work of the same group.

    • CIA Director Says WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Has No Freedom Of Speech Protection Because He’s Not A Citizen
    • Wikileaks investigation could threaten freedom of the press

      Late Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice is reconsidering whether to file charges against Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, for publishing classified government documents.

      Potential charges against Assange and other members of Wikileaks could include conspiracy, theft of government property, and charges under the Espionage Act, according to the Post.

    • Why Soviet Weather Was Secret, a Critical Gap in Korea, and Other NSA Newsletter Tales

      Three years after the 9/11 attacks, a frustrated NSA employee complained that Osama bin Laden was alive and well, and yet the surveillance agency still had no automated way to search the Arabic language PDFs it had intercepted.

      This is just one of many complaints and observations included in SIDtoday, the internal newsletter of the NSA’s signals intelligence division. The Intercept today is publishing 251 articles from the newsletter, covering the second half of 2004 and the beginning of 2005. The newsletters were part of a large collection of NSA documents provided to The Intercept by Edward Snowden.

      This latest batch of posts includes candid employee comments about over-classification, descriptions of tensions in the NSA-CIA relationship, and an intern’s enthusiastic appraisal of a stint in Pakistan.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Planet Can’t Stand This Presidency

      What I mean is, we have only a short window to deal with the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart truly catastrophic heating.

    • French Elections: Alt-Right, Total and Gold Mines, the Story Behind the Candidates’ Environmental Policies

      France, the birthplace of the Paris Agreement, is a week away from the first round of its presidential election on April 23. Throughout the campaign debates on the environment have often been side-lined, with the three leading candidates showing no sign of real climate leadership.

      The backdrop to the election campaign has been full of “fake news”, Brexit and Donald Trump. It has also been mired in scandals over corruption claims and growing concerns of Russian interference.

    • Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers

      One of the least understood aspects of global warming is entire countries threatened by loss of major rivers, for example, the Lancang River (70% of its headwater glaciers gone), affectionately known as “the Danube of the East” of China and the Andes river system in South America (the World Bank warning that millions threatened by loss of glacial water supplies), and the Lower Colorado River in America, at “the breaking point.”

      River systems provide recreation, sport, wildlife habitat, agricultural irrigation, and drinking water for the majority of the world’s population. The loss of river system integrity and strength of its flow indubitably throws the world into utter chaos, likely leading to worldwide water wars, e.g.: India’s numerous clashes and riots over water for example in Bundelkhand (deadly clashes), Bangalore, and Munak (18 people killed and 200 injured); and, Tunisia’s “thirst uprisings”; and, 10 deaths over water rights on Iran and Afghanistan border; and, Peru farmers challenging (clashes) a corporation over water rights; and, Syria’s repeated fighting over water; and, Somalia where dozens killed over water access; and, Mexico’s 100 injured in water clashes; and, Yemen, where 4,000 die every year from water-related violence. Moreover, the list of water wars goes on and on, seemingly evermore.

    • The environment-hating US Chamber of Commerce is losing the support of the world’s biggest companies

      The US Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of over 3 million companies and spent $104 million on lobbying in 2016, has been less than willing acknowledge the role that humans, and businesses, play in climate change.

      When the Chamber’s representative was asked whether climate change was real and caused by humans in a 2014 Senate hearing, she dodged the question until finally saying that it was “an ongoing discussion.”

      Following president Donald Trump’s executive actions that would gut the Obama administration’s policies to curb global warming, the chamber’s president, Thomas Donohue, said, “These executive actions are a welcome departure from the previous administration’s strategy of making energy more expensive through costly, job-killing regulations that choked our economy.”

  • Finance

    • Sir Philip Green could still lose knighthood, says MP

      Sir Philip Green has been warned that he could still be stripped of his knighthood and faces further questions from MPs, one year after the collapse of BHS.

      The veteran Labour MP Frank Field said Green had not done enough to keep his title amid lingering concerns over the £363m settlement struck between the retail tycoon and the Pensions Regulator.

      “Sir Philip Green remains on the hook,” he said. “When parliament comes back from the election we need to pursue the charge sheet from the Pensions Regulator against him and what the Pensions Regulator got in return,” said Field.

    • Displacing the Unprofitable and Undesirable in San Jose’s Fountain Alley

      The impulse to surveil this area in this manner brings up a question of San Jose’s decision-makers: who is being protected and for what motives? The individuals the police presence targets are predominantly Black and Brown folks, many of whom are homeless or poor. Some are caught up in alleged drug violence or sex work, which are not acknowledged as a symptom of larger issues – of poverty, a lack of housing, of mental illness among others – in our community, but as the problem itself. In our minds, the very people targeted are the ones who need the most assistance and protection.

    • In Latest Populist Betrayal, Trump Executive Order Unchains Wall Street Greed

      Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for watchdog group Public Citizen, described the orders signed Friday at the Treasury Department as “nothing more than special favors for the same Wall Street banks that crashed our economy in 2008 and put millions of Americans out of work.”

      According to ABC News, Trump signed “two presidential memoranda on the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which former President [Barack] Obama signed in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.” They order two six-month reviews of what the Los Angeles Times called “pillars” of Dodd-Frank: the Orderly Liquidation Authority and the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

    • “Fear City” Explores How Donald Trump Exploited the New York Debt Crisis To Boost His Own Fortune

      Reading this, it struck me how Trump’s entire career has been shaped by the exploitation of crisis. And that’s relevant stuff for what it tells us about what we can expect from his administration in the months and years to come. So I’m very happy to be joined by Kim Phillips-Fein, a historian of the first order, in The Intercept studios.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Front National’s Le Pen can be called fascist, court rules
    • French election: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen through to second round, estimates show – live
    • Far-Right Le Pen and Center-Right Macron Frontrunners in French Election

      France will see the far-right, xenophobic Front National candidate Marine Le Pen face off against Emmanuel Macron, an investment banker who hasn’t held public office, in a runoff vote on May 7, as the first round of an unusual presidential election concluded with Sunday’s vote.

    • Russia’s Shadow-War in a Wary Europe

      Last month, the combative populist Marine Le Pen of the right-wing National Front flew to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. It was a display of longtime mutual admiration. The frontrunner in a field of 11 candidates, Le Pen shrugs off allegations of corruption and human rights abuses against Putin, calling him a tough and effective leader. Her hard-line views on immigration, Islam and the European Union win praise from Putin and enthusiastic coverage from Russian media outlets. Her campaign has been propelled by a loan of more than $9 million from a Russian bank in 2014, according to Western officials and media reports.

    • Remember Those Temporary Officials Trump Quietly Installed? Some Are Now Permanent Employees.

      Last month, ProPublica revealed that the Trump administration had installed hundreds of political appointees across the federal government without formally announcing them.

      The more than 400 officials were hired in temporary positions for what the White House calls “beachhead teams.” Government hiring rules allow them to have those positions for up to eight months.

      Now some of them are getting permanent federal jobs, oftentimes with little or no public notice.

      A review of federal agencies’ staffing lists, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and department websites, found the Trump administration has made at least 25 of its beachhead hires permanent. The White House and federal agencies don’t have to make public hires that don’t require Senate confirmation.

    • RIP United Kingdom, 1927-2017

      Theresa May’s call for a snap election received overwhelming endorsement from parliament by 522 to 13, whereas the Scottish SNP abstained. It is now expected that parliament will end all business in early May in the run up to the ballot of 8 June. Why did May call an early election since her argument all along has been that the “country needs stability” and that new elections would take place as normal in 2020?

      May was appointed PM in the wake of the Brexit referendum of 23 June 2016, after the country, albeit narrowly, voted to leave the EU. Commentators argue that she needed an electoral mandate to strengthen her position and image as PM. Also, her surprise move, the argument goes, was caused by a shrewd power calculus, the most important factors being the disarray in the Labour Party; the need for May to strengthen her grip on her own party and government undermining Europhile influence while boosting her parliamentary majority (currently only at 17 seats whereas polls show a Tory lead as high as 21%); and, thereby ‘strengthening the external position of the country in the Brexit negotiations’ that May herself triggered on 29 March. These arguments do not go to the bone of British, European and global politics.

    • Trump Inaugural Committee Falsely Lists Big Donation From “Hidden Figures” Hero

      The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, the campaign entity used to fund Donald Trump’s inauguration and related festivities, claimed in its official filing with the Federal Election Commission that it received a $25,000 donation from Katherine Johnson, the distinguished NASA mathematician and physicist. The filing listed her address at 1 NASA Drive in Hampton, Va., the location of NASA’s Langley Research Center. Johnson, who is retired at age 98, does not live at the research center.

      Eugene Johnson, who described himself as a friend and power of attorney for Katherine Johnson, told The Intercept that the “donation is fake, she did not make that donation.”

    • Donald Trump: Ruling Class President

      One of the many irritating things about the dominant United States corporate media is the way it repeatedly discovers anew things that are not remotely novel. Take its recent discovery that Donald Trump isn’t really the swamp-draining populist working class champion he pretended to be on the campaign trail.

      The evidence for this “news” is solid enough. His cabinet and top advisor circle has been chock full of ruling class swamp creatures like former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn (top economic adviser), longtime top Goldman Sachs partner and top executive Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury), and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce). Trump has surrounded himself with super-opulent and planetarily invested financial gatekeepers – the very club he criticized Hillary Clinton for representing.

      Trump meets regularly with top corporate and financial CEOs, who have been assured that he will govern in accord with their wishes. He receives applause from business elites for his agenda of significant large scale tax cuts and deregulation for wealthy individuals and for the giant, hyper-parasitic, and largely transnational corporations they milk for obscene profits

    • Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?

      Trump seems to suffer from a kind of attention deficit disorder.

      [...]

      Uncharacteristically, Trump didn’t even pause for a selfie beside the smoldering crater left by his MOAB bomb in Afghanistan, before he was rattling his sabre at North Korea, boasting about how his giant Armada was steaming toward the Korean peninsula. A few days later this robust pronouncement was obsolete, when it turned out that the mighty fleet was instead retreating 3,000 miles in the opposite direction, south to the coast of Australia. Call it the wrong-way Armada. Meanwhile, Trump had already fast-forwarded to furious denunciations of Iran.

      Trump’s martial pronouncements are generally too truncated and disarticulated to ever embody something so substantial as a trope or a theme. Indeed, many of these public utterances are so garbled that they defy translation by even the most gifted linguists. They are more like the petulant bleats of an overgrown adolescent testing out a rack of video games, blasting away at one zombie invasion after another until he tires of it and seizes on another scenario. It might be said that he practices the Man-Child theory of foreign relations: belligerent, shallow, easily bored.

    • Group of Mental Health Professionals Warn Trump’s State ‘Putting Country in Danger’

      A group of mental health professionals gathered at Yale University Thursday to discuss what they believe is their duty to warn the public of the “danger” posed by President Donald Trump.

      The “Duty to Warn” event was attended by roughly two dozen people and was organized Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the CTPost writes. Lee called the mental health of the president “the elephant in the room,” and said: “Colleagues are concerned about the repercussions of speaking.”

    • The Corbyn Conundrum

      Having shared a platform with Jeremy Corbyn several times, I have to admit I had doubts about his leadership capacity. I had none about his heart, his motives, or his intellectual capacity. My doubts were about his interpersonal skills and charisma. I had him marked down as not very sociable and even shy.

      I have just watched his interview on Marr where Corbyn performed much better than I would have imagined possible. He was calm, reasonable and even wise. He came over as an attractive personality. He was, in short, excellent.

      Marr did the job his masters paid him to. He started, instantly, going for the jugular on the tabloids’ favourite attack line on Jeremy Corbyn. Having stated he was going to kick off with foreign policy, did Marr then ask whether Corbyn would continue to support the Tory policy of selling weapons to the Saudis to kill children in Yemen? Would continue uncritical support of Israel and diplomatic protection of its illegal occupation?

    • Equal under the Law

      The Pirate Party stands for justice and equality. We believe that a person’s beliefs, preferences, and physical attributes should have no bearing on how they are treated or what opportunities they have access to.

    • Whistleblower exposes conflict of interest at the heart of HS2

      A whistleblower exposed a significant conflict of interest at the heart of the government’s controversial HS2 project which led to the withdrawal of American firm CH2M from the contract, City AM reported yesterday.

      CH2M was set to be awarded the HS2 contract when a whistleblower alerted rival firm Mace to a major potential conflict of interest involving former HS2 Chief of Staff Chris Reynolds, who had taken up a role with CH2M three months after leaving HS2. Upon questioning, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling claimed that the onus was “first and foremost” on the firms bidding to conform to the rules, rather than on the Department for Transport (DfT) or HS2 to look for possible concerns.

    • Nearing 100 Days In, Trump is Least Popular President in Modern History

      A NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll recorded a 40 percent approval rating, and a Washington Post-ABC News poll saw 42 percent approval. Other surveys have previously put his approval rating as low as 37 percent.

    • “You black bastard” Offensive, friendly banter, somewhere in between or both?

      The Sun publishes an article comparing a black Everton player to a gorilla. While the reporter denies that his piece could be seen as racist, The Sun issues an apology. How might the law deal with this situation? Was the original article racist, defamatory, ignorant or simply fair comment?

    • A Hundred Days of Trump

      On April 29th, Donald Trump will have occupied the Oval Office for a hundred days. For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-racked constancy. Trump does not afford this. His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. The hundred-day marker is never an entirely reliable indicator of a four-year term, but it’s worth remembering that Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama were among those who came to office at a moment of national crisis and had the discipline, the preparation, and the rigor to set an entirely new course. Impulsive, egocentric, and mendacious, Trump has, in the same span, set fire to the integrity of his office.

      Trump has never gone out of his way to conceal the essence of his relationship to the truth and how he chooses to navigate the world. In 1980, when he was about to announce plans to build Trump Tower, a fifty-eight-story edifice on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street, he coached his architect before meeting with a group of reporters. “Give them the old Trump bullshit,” he said. “Tell them it’s going to be a million square feet, sixty-eight stories.”

    • Stop It. Trump’s Lawyers Did Not Say That Protestors Have No First Amendment Right To Dissent

      If you’re wondering why people who support Donald Trump can repeatedly claim that various mainstream publications traffic in “fake news,” look no further than the ongoing news coverage of a lawsuit that was filed against his campaign by three protestors. Yes, we know that reporting on legal issues by mainstream publications is bad, but the reporting on this particular case is so bad that over and over and over again it directly states, or at least implies, things that are simply not true. Over and over and over again, the press has taken fairly mundane and expected aspects of this lawsuit and taken them out of context, misreported them and generally suggested they meant things they absolutely did not. And, of course, every time, the reporting has made the President look bad. It should be quite clear by now that I’m not a fan of the President, who I think may be the least qualified person in office ever, but this particular case is a perfect case study in the kind of biased bad reporting, which will cling to anything to attack the President.

      So if you’ve heard reporting recently about how a Trump supporter was suing the President for inspiring him to violence against a protestor, or how a judge said Trump incited violence at a rally, or how Trump’s lawyers claimed there’s no right to protest the President at rallies or that the President is claiming that protestors violated his First Amendment rights, then you’ve been had. None of those are accurate depictions of what’s happening. And, amazingly, these all refer to the same exact case. A case where the press can’t help themselves but to report everything in misleading ways.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Homeland Security’s Inspector General Investigating Attempt To Unmask ‘Rogue’ Tweeter

      As you probably recall, a few weeks ago Twitter sued Homeland Security after it received a summons from Customs & Border Patrol seeking to identify any information about the @ALT_uscis account. USCIS is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the “alt” part is similar to many other such accounts purporting to be anonymous insiders in the government reporting on what’s happening there (whether or not the operators of those accounts truly are inside those organizations is an open question). Anyway, the issue here is that such a use of Twitter would be protected by the First Amendment, and unless the account was revealing classified info, it’s unlikely that there would be any legit means to investigate who was behind the account. And, because of that, it certainly appeared that Customs and Border Patrol decided to use illegitimate means to get the info. Specifically it sent a 19 USC 1509 summons, which is an investigative tool for determining the correct duties, fees or taxes on imported goods. As you can see, identifying a Twitter user does not seem to fit into what that law is for.

    • NSA Kept Watch Over Democratic and Republican Conventions, Snowden Documents Reveal
    • Japan secretly funneled hundreds of millions to the NSA, breaking its own laws
    • NSA Gave Japan Access to Secret Internet Surveillance Program in 2013 – Reports
    • Japan Made Secret Deals With the NSA That Expanded Global Surveillance

      It began as routinely as any other passenger flight. At gate 15 of New York City’s JFK Airport, more than 200 men, women, and children stood in line as they waited to board a Boeing 747. They were on their way to Seoul, South Korea’s capital city. But none would ever make it to their destination. About 14 hours after its departure, the plane was cruising at around 35,000 feet not far from the north of Japan when it was shot out of the sky.

      The downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007 occurred on September 1, 1983, in what was one of the Cold War’s most shocking incidents. The plane had veered off course and for a short time entered Soviet airspace. At Dolinsk-Sokol military base, Soviet commanders dispatched two fighter jets and issued an order to “destroy the intruder.” The plane was hit once by an air-to-air missile and plummeted into the sea, killing all passengers and crew. President Ronald Reagan declared it a “crime against humanity,” marking the dawn of a volatile new chapter in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Soon, tensions would escalate to a level not seen since the Cuban missile crisis, which 20 years earlier had brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

    • LinkedIn Apologizes For Trying To Connect Everyone In Real Life

      LinkedIn has apologized for a vague new update that told some iPhone users its app would begin sharing their data with nearby users without further explanation.

    • [Tor] Transparency, Openness, and our 2015 Financials

      After completing the standard audit, our 2015 state and federal tax filings are available. We publish all of our related tax documents because we believe in transparency.

      I’m sorry for the delay in posting them: we had everything ready in December, but we had a lot going on at the end of the year (if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Tor at the Heart of Internet Freedom blog post series!), and then time got away from me after the new year.

    • USPTO site downgrades to HTTP despite US federal government promise to adopt HTTPS on all websites

      The US Patent Office’s (USPTO) website is now unusable with HTTPS as of April 21st, 2017.

    • Uber tried to fool Apple and got caught

      Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to have Uber’s iPhone app removed from the App Store in 2015, when it learned that the ride-sharing company had secretly found a way to identify individual iPhones, even once the app was deleted from the phone, according to The New York Times.

    • Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire

      For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had been secretly identifying and tagging iPhones even after its app had been deleted and the devices erased — a fraud detection maneuver that violated Apple’s privacy guidelines.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How tech created a global village — and put us at each other’s throats

      For years now, psychological and sociological studies have been casting doubt on the idea that communication dissolves differences. The research suggests that the opposite is true: free-flowing information makes personal and cultural differences more salient, turning people against one another instead of bringing them together. “Familiarity breeds contempt” is one of the gloomiest of proverbs. It is also, the evidence indicates, one of the truest.

    • Saudi Arabia elected to UN women’s rights commission

      [UN Watch's] executive director slammed the election, which occurred in a secret vote during the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.

    • No Joke: U.N. Elects Saudi Arabia to Women’s Rights Commission, For 2018-2022 Term

      The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch condemned the U.N.’s election of Saudi Arabia, “the world’s most misogynistic regime,” to a 2018-2022 term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the U.N. agency “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

      “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It’s absurd.”

    • US family wins battle, names baby ‘Allah’

      Their daughter, ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah, was born in 2015, but Georgia’s health department had insisted that the initial birth record should have one of the parent’s last names, or a combination thereof.

      [...]

      Handy and Walk’s two sons had previously been given the surname “Allah” without objection from Georgia authorities, according to the civil rights group.

    • Crime Lab Scandal Forces Prosecutors to Disavow Thousands of Drug Convictions

      During her career as a Massachusetts lab chemist, Annie Dookhan has admitted to making up drug test results and tampering with samples, in the process helping send scores of people to prison. Her work may have touched some 24,000 cases.

      On April 18, nearly five years after Dookhan’s confession, prosecutors submitted lists of about 21,587 tainted cases with flawed convictions that they have agreed to overturn. The state’s highest court must still formally dismiss the convictions.

      Once that happens, many of the cleared defendants will be freed from the collateral consequences that can result from drug convictions, including loss of access to government benefits, public housing, driver’s licenses and federal financial aid for college. Convicted green card holders can also become eligible for deportation, and employers might deny someone a job due to a drug conviction on their record.

    • Thousands of hardline Islamists protest Bangladesh statue

      Protesters want the statue of the blindfolded woman holding scales — said to represent justice — destroyed and replaced with a Koran, despite Bangladesh’s secular constitution.

    • Reforming Islam: Can it be done?
    • Chechen Leader Wants Gays ‘Eliminated By Start Of Ramadan’
    • Maldives blogger stabbed to death in capital

      His blog, The Daily Panic, had a considerable following and was known for poking fun at politicians in the nation of some 340,000 Sunni Muslims.

    • 2nd doctor, wife arrested in genital mutilation case

      Nagarwala’s husband, Moiz Nagarwala, is listed as a leader of the Farmington Hills mosque, according to the mosque’s password-protected website, and records list him as having served as joint treasurer.

    • Here Are 11 Weird Fatwas Issued By Clerics Which Will Leave You In Splits

      In 2007, Dr Izzat Atiya, head of Al Azhar University’s Department of Hadith, issued a fatwa, or Islamic decree, saying that female workers should “breastfeed” their male co-workers in order to work in each other’s company.

    • Anti-Israel Sharia advocate to give CUNY commencement speech

      Anti-Zionist who praised terrorist murderer, hailed stone throwers as ‘courageous’ tapped to give commencement address at public NY college.

    • UK Crime Agency’s Latest Moral Panic: Kids Modding Videogames May Be A Gateway To Becoming Criminal Hackers

      In this age where having more people knowledgeable about computers and programming is important for future innovation, these kinds of scaremongering reports do a hell of a lot of damage. Lots of really smart techies got their programming chops started by messing around with video games. Having parents stop them from tinkering because of this overblown report of how it’s a “gateway” to crime could do a lot of damage.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The relentless fighting over net neutrality rules needs to end, but how can it?

      Leaving the matter to voluntary pledges and the Federal Trade Commission, on the other hand, would be precious close to having no safeguards at all.

    • Net neutrality changes would ‘kneecap’ Mass. entrepreneurs, say tech execs

      The Massachusetts tech community continued its vocal opposition to the Trump administration’s policies on Friday at a press conference where a number of prominent CEOs joined U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in decrying potential changes to so-called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission.

      Speakers argued that allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to choose which data travels fastest over their networks would give them too much control over who wins and who loses in the internet economy and would be especially damaging to startups, which can’t afford to pay ISPs for faster access to the internet.

    • Boston tech firms, Markey, vow net neutrality fight

      Markey met with executives of 14 major companies, including General Electric Co.,TripAdvisor , Wayfair LLC, iRobot Corp., and Microsoft Corp., at the Boston headquarters of data backup company Carbonite Inc. At a post-meeting press conference, Markey said the coming fight over net neutrality “is going to create a national debate about the Internet the likes of which we have never seen before.”

    • Trainwreck – the danger of upending net neutrality

      The anti-net neutrality crowd prefers a system in which, much like airlines, a monopolist entity can dominate a market deciding service levels and fees. Of course one of the big issues in net neutrality is giving this oligopoly the ability to set up a multi-tiered system for delivering Internet services. Another way to look at it would be institutionalizing slow Internet.

  • DRM

    • Kodi and DRM

      Thanks to a bunch of ill-informed idiots on YouTube posing as Kodi experts and shady vendors looking to make a quick buck off our backs and take advantage of gullible people, Kodi is generally portrayed as a piracy platform. Meanwhile, Team Kodi takes all the heat. Add to that lazy article authors on several news and media sites and we have the perfect storm. Sadly, for many article authors, hearsay is actually a credible source and click bait their living.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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