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10.18.17

Links 18/10/2017: GTK+ 3.92, Microsoft Bug Doors Leaked

Posted in News Roundup at 6:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Blockchain and the Web Are Coming Together, Says Berners-Lee

    Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a famous computer scientist and academic who invented the World Wide Web in 1989—so when he talks about new technologies it’s worth paying attention.

    Today, one of the topics on his mind is blockchain, a revolutionary way of creating permanent, tamper-proof records across a disparate network of computers.

    Blockchain is most famously associated with the digital currency bitcoin but the technology is increasingly being used for record keeping by banks and retailers. It will also come to be used by more ordinary citizens in the near future, says Berners-Lee.

  • GMO Internet introduces open source KYC as blockchain project enters fifth phase
  • Eclipse Science Advances Open Source Technology for Scientific Research

    The Eclipse Science Working Group, a working group of the Eclipse Foundation, today announced the new releases of five open source projects used by the scientific research community to advance and simplify the software used by science projects, like genomic, astrophysics, nuclear simulations, etc. The new project releases are part of an annual release train that is managed by the Science WG.

  • Dmark East Africa to develop open source IT applications

    We have an operation around the region; in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda. And this has exposed us to different levels of talent across the region. As a result, we have come to a conclusion that Uganda has special talents in the area of information technology, specifically, product development or software engineering.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla brings Microsoft, Google, the W3C, Samsung together to create cross-browser documentation on MDN

        Community contributions are at the core of MDN’s success. Thousands of volunteers have helped build and refine MDN over the past 12 years. In this year alone, 8,021 users made 76,203 edits, greatly increasing the scope and quality of the content. Cross-browser documentation contributions include input from writers at Google and Microsoft; Microsoft writers have made more than 5,000 edits so far in 2017. This cross-browser collaboration adds valuable content on browser compatibility and new features of the web platform. Going forward, Microsoft writers will focus their Web API documentation efforts on MDN and will redirect relevant pages from Microsoft Developer Network to MDN.

      • A Week-Long Festival for Internet Health

        Says Mark Surman, Mozilla’s Executive Director: “The Internet is layered into our lives like we never could have imagined. Access is no longer a luxury — it’s a fundamental part of 21st century life. A virus is no longer a nuisance consigned to a single terminal — it’s an existential threat that can disrupt hospitals, governments and entire cities.”

        But much of the Internet’s best nature is flourishing, too. Each day, new communities form despite members being separated by whole continents. Start-ups and artists have access to a global stage. And open-source projects put innovation and inclusion ahead of profit.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Arrives Late January 2018, First Bug Hunting Session Starts Soon

      Now that the LibreOffice Conference 2017 event is over, it’s time for The Document Foundation to start the bug hunting sessions, and the first one was set for the end of the week, October 20, 2017, for the first Alpha release of the LibreOffice 6.0 office suite.

      Work on LibreOffice 6.0, the next big release of the popular open-source and cross-platform office suite for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating system, begun this week with a focus on revamping the user interface as well as various of its core components, including Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base, and Math.

    • Coming up on Friday: first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0 Alpha 1

      The LibreOffice community has returned from a great conference in Rome (more on that later this week), and we’re now working eagerly on LibreOffice 6.0, which is due to be released at the end of January 2018. This version will include a large number of new features – and those already implemented are summarised on the release notes page.

    • LibreOffice Is Getting New Look for KDE’s Plasma Desktop Thanks to LiMux Project

      During the LibreOffice Conference 2017 event that took place in Rome, Italy, from October 10 to October 13, there were talks about the status the Qt 5 port of LibreOffice’s VCL plugin for KDE Plasma.

      Every year, The Document Foundation plans and organizes a LibreOffice Conference event where developers, contributors, sponsors, users, and other members of the LibreOffice community can gather to talk about the future of the Open Souce office suite.

      And this year they planned the new features of the next major release of the cross-platform office suite, LibreOffice 6.0, which will arrive in late January 2018 with a new look for the KDE Plasma desktop environment, work that will be sponsored by the LiMux project.

  • CMS

  • Healthcare

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Eclipse Public License version 2.0 added to license list

      We recently updated our list of various licenses and comments about them to include the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 (EPL).

      In terms of GPL compatibility, the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 is essentially equivalent to version 1.0. The only change is that it explicitly offers the option of designating the GNU GPL version 2 or later as a “secondary license” for a certain piece of code.

    • Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

      Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman and several other senior Linux figures have published a “Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement” to be included in future Linux documentation, in order to ensure contributions to the kernel don’t fall foul of copyright claims that have already seen a single developer win “at least a few million Euros.”

      In a post released on Monday, October 16th, Kroah-Hartman explained the Statement’s needed because not everyone who contributes to the kernel understands the obligations the GNU Public Licence 2.0 (GPL 2.0), and the licence has “ambiguities … that no one in our community has ever considered part of compliance.”

    • Fiduciary License Agreement 2.0

      After many years of working on it, it is with immense pleasure to see the FLA-2.0 – the full rewrite of the Fiduciary License Agreement – officially launch.

    • Control Or Consensus?

      In a recent conversation on the Apache Legal mailing list, a participant opined that “any license can be Open Source. OSI doesn’t ‘own’ the term.” He went on to explain “I could clone the Apache License and call it ‘Greg’s License’ and it would be an open source license.”

      As long as the only people involved in the conversation are the speaker and people who defer to his authority, this might be OK. But as soon as there are others involved, it’s not. For the vast majority of people, the term “open source license” is not a personal conclusion resulting from considered evaluation, but rather a term of art applied to the consensus of the community. Individuals are obviously free to use words however they wish, just like Humpty Dumpty. But the power of the open source movement over two decades has arisen from a different approach.

      The world before open source left every developer to make their own decision about whether software was under a license that delivers the liberty to use, improve and share code without seeking the permission of a rights holder. Inevitably that meant either uncertainty or seeking advice from a lawyer about the presence of software freedom. The introduction of the open source concept around the turn of the millennium solved that using the crystalisation of consensus to empower developers.

      By holding a public discussion of each license around the Open Source Definition, a consensus emerged that could then by crystalised by the OSI Board. Once crystalised into “OSI Approval”, the community then has no need to revisit the discussion and the individual developer has no need to guess (or to buy advice) on the compatibility of a given license with software freedom. That in turn means proceeding with innovation or deployment without delay.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • UK Startup Lifebit Builds on Popular Nextflow Open-Source Genomics Platform
    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Makerbot Labs Is One Step Toward Open Source 3D Printing

        3D printing feels a bit stuck. At the dawn of the 2010s, the device seemed destined to reimagine the creative process, putting the power of additive manufacturing within anyone’s grasp. But trend has gone cold since reaching its popular zenith in 2013. While people continue to create amazing things with 3D printing, the “one in every household” promise has been put on temporary—or possibly permanent—hold.

        But the leader of the once great 3D printing revolution hasn’t gone away quietly. In fact, it’s done the opposite. Makerbot, the Brooklyn-based startup that sold its first printers back in 2009, is launching a brand new platform, Makerbot Labs, to help turn its 3D printing community into super-users, able to access parts of the printer that were otherwise inaccessible. Makerbot describes this new platform as a place, built for creators, who want to experiment with 3D printing but still have the bedrock of the platform to fall back on if need be.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • IEEE to develop standard for automotive Ethernet of over 1 Gbps

      Industry body IEEE and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) announced the formation of a task force to develop IEEE P802.3ch—Standard for Ethernet physical layer specifications and management parameters for greater than 1 Gbps automotive Ethernet. The new standards development project aims to meet the demand for higher speed Ethernet in the automotive environment to support ongoing technological developments, such as connected cars, advanced driver assisted systems and infotainment systems.

Leftovers

  • Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting
  • Meet Bill Pollock, founder of No Starch Press

    If you’re a geek, a do-it-yourselfer, a maker, or just plain curious, you need to get your hands on some reading material from No Starch Press, which bills itself as “The Finest in Geek Entertainment.” I have used its books as reference materials when teaching students about the Linux operating system and helping them learn to code.

    I recently chatted over email with Bill Pollock, owner of No Starch Press, which he founded in 1994. Bill didn’t set out to be a book publisher; he enrolled at Amherst College to study biology, with the goal of becoming a medical doctor, but became fascinated by his political science coursework and, in 1983, earned his bachelor’s degree in that discipline. Even so, he put his interest in medical science to use in his first editorial job, with Springer-Verlag Publishing, where he edited medical books for fun. While there, he tried (and sometimes failed) to teach others how to use the new personal computer in the office.

  • Science

    • The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math

      For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. Sometimes they misinterpret it. And sometimes they cast it aside in order to hold on to more traditional legal arguments. (And, yes, sometimes they also listen to the numbers.) Yet the world itself is becoming more computationally driven, and some of those computations will need to be adjudicated before long. Some major artificial intelligence case will likely come across the court’s desk in the next decade, for example. By voicing an unwillingness to engage with data-driven empiricism, justices — and thus the court — are at risk of making decisions without fully grappling with the evidence.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trumpcare for Veterans? VA Outsourcing Will Create Healthcare Industry Bonanza

      In January President Trump delivered on his promise to shrink the federal government: he announced a hiring freeze, despite thousands of federal job vacancies.

      As a candidate, Trump campaigned as a great friend of veterans. He pledged to make big improvements in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) the arm of the Veterans Administration (VA) which operates the largest healthcare system in the country.

      Yet Trump’s hiring freeze deepened an already existing staffing crisis at VHA hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S where there are 49,000 vacant positions.

      Union activists believe that the resulting understaffing is designed to generate patient complaints and negative publicity that will cause veterans and their families to lose faith in VA-provided care.

    • A nurse’s aide plays video games while a Vietnam veteran dies at Bedford VA Medical Center
    • Honey tests reveal global contamination by bee-harming pesticides

      Honey from across the world is contaminated with potent pesticides known to harm bees, new research shows, clearly revealing the global exposure of vital pollinators for the first time.

      Almost 200 samples of honey were analysed for neonicotinoid insecticides and 75% contained the chemicals, with most contaminated with multiple types. Bees range over many kilometres to collect nectar and pollen, making the honey they produce an excellent indicator of the pesticide pollution across their local landscape.

      Bees and other pollinators are vital to three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in serious decline in recent decades. The destruction of wild habitats, disease and widespread pesticide use are all important factors. Scientists responding to the new work say a crackdown on the industrial-scale use of the nerve agents is urgently needed.

  • Security

    • Microsoft never disclosed 2013 hack of secret vulnerability database

      Hackers broke into Microsoft’s secret, internal bug-tracking database and stole information related to vulnerabilities that were exploited in later attacks. But the software developer never disclosed the breach, Reuters reported, citing former company employees.

      In an article published Tuesday, Reuters said Microsoft’s decision not to disclose details came after an internal review concluded the exploits used in later attacks could have been discovered elsewhere. That investigation relied, in part, on automated reports Microsoft receives when its software crashes. The problem with that approach, Reuters pointed out, is that advanced computer attacks are written so carefully they rarely cause crashes.

      Reuters said Microsoft discovered the database breach in early 2013, after a still-unknown hacking group broke into computers belonging to a raft of companies. Besides Microsoft, the affected companies included Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. As reported at the time, the hackers infected a website frequented by software developers with attack code that exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Oracle’s Java software framework. When employees of the targeted companies visited the site, they became infected, too.

    • Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and elementary OS All Patched Against WPA2 KRACK Bug

      As you are aware, there’s a major WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) security vulnerability in the wild, affecting virtually any device or operating system that uses the security protocol, including all GNU/Linux distributions.

    • Fedora Dev Teaches Users How to Protect Their Wi-Fi Against WPA2 KRACK Bug

      Former Fedora Project leader Paul W. Frields talks today about how to protect your Fedora computers from the dangerous WPA2 KRACK security vulnerability that affects virtually any device using the security protocol to connect to the Internet.

    • WPA2 was kracked because it was based on a closed standard that you needed to pay to read

      How did a bug like krack fester in WPA2, the 13-year-old wifi standard whose flaws have rendered hundreds of millions of devices insecure, some of them permanently so?

      Thank the IEEE’s business model. The IEEE is the standards body that developed WPA2, and they fund their operations by charging hundreds of dollars to review the WPA2 standard, and hundreds more for each of the standards it builds upon, so that would-be auditors of the protocol have to shell out thousands just to start looking.

      It’s an issue that Carl Mamamud, Public Resource and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been fighting hard on for years, ensuring that the standards that undergird public safety and vital infrastructure are available for anyone to review, audit and criticize.

    • Patch Available for Linux Kernel Privilege Escalation

      The issue — tracked as CVE-2017-15265 — is a use-after-free memory corruption issue that affects ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture), a software framework included in the Linux kernel that provides an API for sound card drivers.

    • ​Linus Torvalds says targeted fuzzing is improving Linux security

      Announcing the fifth release candidate for the Linux kernel version 4.14, Linus Torvalds has revealed that fuzzing is producing a steady stream of security fixes.

      Fuzzing involves stress testing a system by generating random code to induce errors, which in turn may help identify potential security flaws. Fuzzing is helping software developers catch bugs before shipping software to users.

    • Devsecops: Add security to complete your devops process [Ed: more silly buzzwords]
    • Companies overlook risks in open source software [Ed: marketing disguised as "news" (and which is actually FUD)]
    • Q&A: Does blockchain alleviate security concerns or create new challenges?

      According to some, blockchain is one of the hottest and most intriguing technologies currently in the market. Similar to the rising of the internet, blockchain could potentially disrupt multiple industries, including financial services. This Thursday, October 19 at Sibos in Toronto, Hyperledger’s Security Maven Dave Huseby will be moderating a panel “Does Blockchain technology alleviate security concerns or create new challenges?” During this session, experts will explore whether the shared nature of blockchain helps or hinders security.

    • ACME Support in Apache HTTP Server Project

      We’re excited that support for getting and managing TLS certificates via the ACME protocol is coming to the Apache HTTP Server Project (httpd). ACME is the protocol used by Let’s Encrypt, and hopefully other Certificate Authorities in the future. We anticipate this feature will significantly aid the adoption of HTTPS for new and existing websites.

      We created Let’s Encrypt in order to make getting and managing TLS certificates as simple as possible. For Let’s Encrypt subscribers, this usually means obtaining an ACME client and executing some simple commands. Ultimately though, we’d like for most Let’s Encrypt subscribers to have ACME clients built in to their server software so that obtaining an additional piece of software is not necessary. The less work people have to do to deploy HTTPS the better!

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Google now offers special security program for high-risk users
    • Chrome 62 rolling out to Mac, Windows, and Linux w/ increased ‘Not secure’ HTTP warnings

      Chrome 62 is now rolling out to desktops in the stable channel with a number of new features for developers, as well as some changed security behaviors as Google continues to encourage HTTPS adoption.

    • DHS orders federal agencies to bolster cybersecurity with HTTPS, email authentication

      The US Department of Homeland Security will require federal agencies to use web and email encryption practices to enhance their security posture.

    • Adobe warns that hackers are exploiting its Flash software

      Adobe Systems Inc (ADBE.O) warned on Monday that hackers are exploiting vulnerabilities in its Flash multimedia software platform in web browsers, and the company urged users to quickly patch their systems to prevent such attacks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Deadly Overconfidence: Trump Thinks Missile Defenses Work Against North Korea, and That Should Scare You

      Could a president’s overconfidence in U.S. defensive systems lead to deadly miscalculation and nuclear armageddon? Yes. Yes, it could. Last Wednesday, referring to potential American responses to North Korea’s missile and nuclear program, President Donald Trump told Sean Hannity “We have missiles that can knock out a missile in the air 97 percent of the time, and if you send two of them it’s gonna get knocked out.” If Trump believes — or is being told — that American missile defenses are that accurate, not only is he factually wrong, he is also very dangerously wrong. This misperception could be enough to lead the United States into a costly war with devastating consequences.

      Here’s why: If Trump believes U.S. missile defenses work this effectively, he might actually think a first strike attempt to disarm North Korea of its missile and nuclear forces would successfully spare U.S. cities from North Korean nuclear retaliation. They probably wouldn’t. Believing that each ground-based midcourse missile defense (GMD) interceptor can provide anything close to a 97 percent interception rate against retaliation raises the temptation to attempt a so-called “splendid first strike” based on the assumption that missile defenses can successfully intercept any leftover missiles North Korea could then fire at the United States.

    • Mogadishu Massacre: Hospitals Run Out of Blood, Antibiotics for Victims in Mass Bombing Killing 300+

      Rescue operations continue in Mogadishu, Somalia, after two massive truck bombs exploded Saturday, killing at least 300 in the country’s deadliest attack since the rise of the al-Shabab militant group a decade ago. The disaster is being referred to as the “Mogadishu massacre,” and some are calling it “the 9/11 of the Somali people.” The explosions came after the Trump administration stepped up a U.S. campaign against al-Shabab in Somalia. We speak with Somali scholar Abdi Samatar and journalist Amanda Sperber, who splits her time between Nairobi, Kenya, and Mogadishu, Somalia.

    • “Tell Me How This Ends?”

      It was March 2003, the invasion of Iraq was underway, and Major General David Petraeus was in command of the 101st Airborne Division heading for the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Rick Atkinson, Washington Post journalist and military historian, was accompanying him. Six days into a lightning campaign, his division suddenly found itself stopped 30 miles southwest of the city of Najaf by terrible weather, including a blinding dust storm, and the unexpectedly “fanatical” attacks of Iraqi irregulars. At that moment, Atkinson reported,

      [...]

      So as American air power in places like Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan is ramped up yet again, as the latest mini-surge of troops arrives in Afghanistan, as Niger enters the war, it’s time to put generals David Petraeus, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly in context. It’s time to call them what they truly are: Nixon’s children.

    • The CIA Is Playing Coy About Trump’s First Raid In Yemen

      The CIA’s attempt to use Glomar to keep the public in the dark about its role in the Yemen raid is absurd.

      Just days after Donald Trump assumed the powers of the presidency, he convened a group of top intelligence and military officials for dinner at the White House. The group included Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Michael Pompeo. Presumably they were not there for the steak.

      Instead, they were there to discuss and sign off on an intelligence-gathering raid in al Ghayil, Yemen — the first of its kind under the Trump presidency, though planning for it had commenced under his predecessor. Days later, Navy SEAL Team 6 carried out the raid, but early reports were that the raid went awry. One service member and multiple Yemeni civilians — the exact number remains disputed — were killed.

      Still, the White House defended the raid as a success. From the White House podium, then–Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained that “the goal of the raid was intelligence-gathering. And that’s what we received, and that’s what we got. That’s why we can deem it a success.”

      But criticism continued, and reports surfaced that prior to the raid, President Trump had exempted the area of Yemen in which the raid took place from rules governing the United States’ use of lethal force outside of war zones. Those rules were put in place by President Obama and were intended — however flawed they were — to limit civilian casualties.

    • Iran Doesn’t Have a Nuclear Weapons Program. Why Do Media Keep Saying It Does?

      The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs; only a handful—including, of course, the US and Israel—have nuclear weapons programs. One is used to power cities, one is used to level them.

      If you are skeptical, just refer to a 2007 assessment by all 16 US intelligences agencies (yes, those 16 US intelligence agencies), which found Iran had “halted” its nuclear weapons program. Or look at the same National Intelligence Estimate in 2012, which concluded again that there “is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” Or we can listen to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which concurred with the US intelligence assessment (Haaretz, 3/18/12).

      The “Iran Deal,” formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is built on curbing Iran’s civilian nuclear program, out of fear—fair or not—that it could one day morph into a nuclear weapons program. But at present, there is no evidence, much less a consensus, that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program. JCPOA cannot be used as per se evidence such a program exists today; indeed, it is specifically designed to prevent such a program from developing down the road.

    • In 3-1 vote, LA Police Commission approves drones for LAPD

      The Los Angeles Police Department, one of the nation’s largest municipal police forces, approved a one-year pilot program for drones—making it the largest city in the nation to undertake such an evaluation.

      According to the Los Angeles Times, the LA Police Commission approved a set of policies that limits “their use to a handful of tactical situations, searches or natural disasters.” Each drone flight must also be signed off by a “high-ranking officer on a case-by-case basis.” The drones are also not to be weaponized. The decision, which was announced Tuesday, was made despite vociferous protest.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Police sergeant suspended after Facebook comments celebrating Caruana Galizia murder

      A police sergeant who yesterday celebrated the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has been suspended, with the Office of the Prime Minister describing his remarks on Facebook as ‘reprehensible’.
      He will be investigated by the Public Service Commission.
      The shadow minister for justice, Jason Azzopardi, the Malta Police Association and the Police Officers’ Union all condemned the comments.
      The post, by Ramon Mifsud, was uploaded yesterday.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Pentagon accidentally included reporter in Puerto Rico spin talks

      Officials at the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accidentally included a Bloomberg climate reporter on an internal email distribution list that included discussions on how to present Puerto Rico recovery efforts to the media.

      Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle said he repeatedly alerted officials at the Pentagon to the error but kept receiving emails for five days.

      “Those messages, each of which was marked ‘unclassified,’ offer a glimpse into the federal government’s struggle to convince the public that the response effort was going well. That struggle was compounded by the commander-in-chief, and eased only when public attention was pulled to a very different disaster,” writes Flavelle in a Bloomberg story published Friday.

    • NOAA Marks 45th Anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act

      The hurricanes of 2017 affected many coastal areas. Guided by the CZMA over the past 45 years, the coastal programs have gained the experience, scientific information, and policies needed to address reconstruction and recovery needs. As a result, coastal communities stand a better chance of weathering future storms and day-by-day challenges. Two examples illustrate this approach.

  • Finance

    • What is technical debt? And why does almost every startup have it?

      Technical debt is no different. It allows companies to create software faster, with the understanding that they will slow down software development in the future. Companies will eventually be forced to spend more time fixing the debt than the amount of time it took them to produce the best solution at the beginning.

    • Austerity, Macron-Style

      When French President Emmanuel Macron’s secured his sweeping majority of the Elysee Palace and parliament in May and June, it was said that only the unions had a chance of checking his power. So this week’s show of unity and strength by public sector unions – after months of squabbling – will have him worried.

      For the first time a decade all nine unions representing 5.4 million public workers protested in the streets of France on Tuesday. At issue are Macron’s plans to axe 120,000 public sector jobs, to reduce sick leave compensation and freeze public sector pay. Workers in health, education, local government, air traffic controllers and train drivers are among those who went on strike.

    • No-deal Brexit requires a general election, Carwyn Jones says

      Carwyn Jones has argued there would have to be a general election in 2019 if Theresa May failed to secure a Brexit deal by that deadline.
      Talks at securing a deal with the other 27 EU states on trade and on any remaining budget payments have stalled.
      Some MPs have backed a “no deal” Brexit while others warn of economic chaos.
      The first minister told S4C’s O’r Senedd programme the UK government had an unrealistic view of Britain’s influence in the world.

    • After five rounds of Brexit talks, David Davis runs out of bluster

      Same time, same place, same speech. The humiliation is now almost complete. Five times David Davis has come back to the Commons to report on the progress of his talks with Michel Barnier, and on each occasion the Brexit secretary has had little to say. In the early days, he used to claim that the lack of progress was a sign of how much progress had been made, but now he has lost the will to even bluster. The former SAS man has barely got the strength to fight his way out of a paper bag.

      Throughout his five-minute statement, Davis could barely bring himself to raise his eyes towards the opposition benches. The contempt he could have taken. But it was the pity that got him every time. Some important steps had been made, he said in a barely audible mumble. He couldn’t say exactly what they were but they had been made. The negotiations were being conducted in a good spirit. As in, no one had actually walked out yet. But he was reaching the limits of what was possible.

    • Verhofstadt condemns ‘witch hunt’ by David Davis against British MEPs

      The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, criticized David Davis for conducting a “witch hunt” against British MEPs who voted to delay trade talks.

      Davis has called for 18 Labour MEPs and one from the Liberal Democrats to be sacked “in the national interest” for supporting a European Parliament resolution critical of the British government’s approach to the negotiations.

    • Government rejects calls from OECD to reverse Brexit for the sake of the economy

      The Government has rejected calls to reverse Brexit after economic experts said a second referendum would have a significant, positive effect on the economy.

      The decision to leave the EU has “raised uncertainty and dented business investment” in the UK, a new report warned.

      Real wages are being stripped back amid soaring inflation despite low unemployment, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

      Its 140-page annual report outlines the state of Britain’s economy 16 months after last year’s EU Leave vote.

    • Reverse Brexit with second referendum to save your economy, OECD tells UK

      Economic experts have made an explosive suggestion of a further referendum to reverse Brexit, to avoid the crippling of the British economy.

      The influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the deadlock in the exit talks now threatened a “disorderly Brexit”, with severe consequences.

      Its report controversially puts the case for a dramatic rethink on the agenda – suggesting halting EU withdrawal is a route to avoiding that fate.

    • Brexit poses an ‘extreme risk’ to Britain’s food security. Don’t ignore the warnings

      Global food security — its availability, affordability, quality and safety — is beginning to slip for the first time in half a decade. Britain, being far from self sufficient in its food production, is taking a massive risk in quitting the safety of the single market.

      In response to concerns about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food prices and the UK’s food security, Brexiteer Chris Grayling suggested recently that British farmers will just have to grow more food.

      Alongside this ‘Dig For Victory’ bravado was the suggestion that we should also increase imports from across the world: two diametrically opposed food and farming policies in one breath.

      Such ‘solutions’ come easily if you’ve never had to think deeply about where food comes from; if all it has ever meant is a stroll to the nearest supermarket.

    • Trapped in an immigration nightmare: How a single Home Office error threw a couple’s life into chaos

      Somewhere out there is the immigration officer who made the decision. As a result of what they did, my husband and I were locked in a legal ordeal for seven months, separated for four, lived in rural Sweden for three, and spent over £10,000. What we went through provides an instructive lesson in the failures and mean-spiritedness of the Home Office.

    • Who’s to blame for Brexit’s fantasy politics? The experts, of course

      Politics, runs the cliche, is the art of the possible. The compromise. The curbed expectation.

      Not any more. Not in the age of Brexit and Trump. In 2017, politics is the art of the impossible. Of writing blank cheques and scattering them to the wind. Of peddling fantasies and promising the voters they will be made flesh by tomorrow.

    • Report Reveals ‘Staggering’ Scale Of Foodbank Demand In Britain

      Growing numbers of foodbanks are distributing emergency parcels amid problems with the roll out of universal credit, a new report reveals.

      More than 2,000 foodbanks are now recorded as operating in Britain, with around 700 independent and 1,235 Trussell Trust centres, figures up slightly on earlier this year.

      The report highlights problems with the roll out of the welfare reform as a reason for recent “dramatic increases” in demand, the Press Association reported.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump gives his own performance a Trump-sized endorsement

      Friends say President Donald Trump has grown frustrated that his greatness is not widely understood, that his critics are fierce and on TV every morning, that his poll numbers are both low and “fake,” and that his White House is caricatured as adrift.

      So on Monday, the consummate salesman — who has spent his life selling his business acumen, golf courses, sexual prowess, luxury properties and, above all, his last name — gave the Trump White House a Trump-sized dose of brand enhancement.

      With both the Roosevelt Room and the Rose Garden as backdrops, he mixed facts and mirage, praise and perfidy in two head-spinning, sometimes contradictory performances designed to convince supporters and detractors alike that everything’s terrific, moving ahead of schedule and getting even better. His opponents were cast as misguided, deluded or even unpatriotic.

    • Trump’s alternative reality

      President Trump “goes there, on just about every topic imaginable,” as NBC’s Brian Williams put it, during a pair of Q&As, two hours apart yesterday — one in the Cabinet Room and one with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Rose Garden.

      Why it matters: It’s almost impossible for the media to cover these press conferences — or for Republicans to discern what he wants and how he plans to get it — because Trump spreads fake news while calling real news fake. This isn’t new. And, yes, 35% of voters don’t seem to care. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

    • Trump Falsely Claims Obama Didn’t Contact Gold Star Families

      President Donald Trump broke his silence Monday over the deaths of four U.S. Army Green Berets who died in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago, saying he would contact the families of the soldiers—while falsely claiming that President Barack Obama did not reach out after U.S. troops were killed in combat. Trump’s comments came only after he was questioned over his silence by reporters during a press conference at the White House with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

    • Is the BBC hideously middle class?

      A panel at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge this year revealed a broad range of concerns regarding class in television. Ofcom released a report coincident with the Convention reporting on diversity and equal opportunities in television. While Ofcom focused on race, gender and disability, it also reported on broadcasters’ initiatives to promote social mobility. Ofcom added that it will explore what new information can be provided on social background.

      Broadcasters, including the BBC, have recently begun to address social class in terms of diversity. Undoubtedly, this has been aided by existing initiatives on diversity with reference principally to gender, race, disability, age and sexual orientation. Much of this engagement with class seems tentative and in development. Some commentators are concerned variously with ‘class’, ‘socioeconomic background’, or ‘social mobility’. Different variables are proposed to measure class. Proponents tend to rely exclusively on a metrics-based approach.

      At this stage, key issues must be addressed: what is the problem against which these initiatives are directed? Is ‘class’ a valid category for analysis and, if so, how might class be monitored? If class is insufficient as a category to address the diagnosed problem, what other categories and interventions might be warranted? I will explore these questions with particular reference to the BBC. I do so in part because the BBC is a public service broadcaster whose duties raise distinctive issues regarding class.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Q&A with Professor Xaioxing Xi, Victim of Unjust Surveillance
    • California Governor Signs Bill to Defend Against Religious Registries

      On the last day to act on legislation in 2017, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill creating a firewall between the state’s data and any attempt by the federal government to create lists, registries, or databases based on a person’s religion, nationality, or ethnicity.

      S.B. 31 was one of the earliest bills introduced by the legislature to oppose discriminatory policies floated by Pres. Donald Trump and his surrogates during the 2016 campaign. S.B. 31, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, was a direct response to Trump’s and his surrogates’ support of a so-called “Muslim Registry.” Although the bill places California at odds with the White House, both parties in the California Senate unanimously approved the bill, as did an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Assembly.

    • Risk & Repeat: Kaspersky antivirus scans implicated in NSA breach

      Kaspersky antivirus scans were further implicated in the NSA breach by reports last week from The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal; anonymous sources claimed Israeli intelligence officers hacked into Kaspersky’s network in 2015 and observed Russian hackers using the company’s antivirus software to search millions of computers around the world for classified government documents. The reports also claimed the U.S. government determined that Kaspersky antivirus scans were specifically designed to search for classified U.S. data.

    • Regressive group finally out of debate on our ePrivacy!
    • UK spies using social media data for mass surveillance
    • UK intelligence agencies ‘unlawfully’ sharing sensitive personal data, court hears
    • British spies are collecting and sharing datasets of people’s social media activities

      Well. The latest revelations from the UK’s crusading Privacy International show not only that the GCHQ spy agency has been assembling databases of people’s social media data by gaining access to private companies’ own troves of data, but also that the agencies shared their databases with foreign governments and their law enforcement agencies – without the knowledge of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the supposed provider of oversight.

    • British intelligence agencies may have been collecting and sharing your social media data
    • UK spy agency GCHQ is monitoring social media accounts of millions of people
    • British intelligence allegedly using social media for mass surveillance
    • UK spy agencies are unlawfully collecting social media data on ‘millions’ of people
    • British government accused of spying on millions of social media accounts
    • UK spy agencies may be circumventing data-sharing law, tribunal told

      MI5 and MI6 may be circumventing legal safeguards when they share bulk datasets with foreign intelligence services and commercial partners, a court has been told.

      Most of the bulk personal datasets relate to UK citizens who are not of “legitimate intelligence interest”, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) heard.

    • Internet giants contest proposed privacy laws

      Internet giants Comcast and Verizon have brought along some friends to their fight against three local towns considering adopting online privacy ordinances.

      Representatives of the two companies have partnered with four national lobbying groups to convince officials in Falls, Lower Makefield and Middletown not to pass laws that would prohibit internet service providers from sharing customers’ “personally identifiable information” with advertisers without the customers’ permission.

      The information could include web search activities, medical and financial information, and video viewing habits

    • Garmin teamed up with Amazon to make a tiny Echo Dot for your car [Ed: The scariest thing is, there are enough gullible people who will think it's "cool" to have listening device in car]
    • The Cyber World Is Falling Apart And The DOJ Is Calling For Weakened Encryption

      It seemed like the (mostly) one-man War on Encryption had reached a ceasefire agreement when “Going Dark” theorist James Comey was unceremoniously ejected from office for failing to pledge allegiance to the new king president. But it had barely had time to be relegated to the “Tired” heap before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resurrected it.

      Rosenstein has been going from cybersecurity conference to cybersecurity conference raising arguments for encryption before dismissing them entirely. His remarks have opened with the generally awful state of cybersecurity at both the public and private levels. He says encryption is important, especially when there are so many active security threats. Then he undermines his own arguments by calling for “responsible encryption” — a euphemism for weakened encryption that provides law enforcement access to locked devices and communications on secured platforms.

      Considering recent events, this isn’t the direction the DOJ should be pushing. Russian hackers used a popular antivirus software to liberate NSA exploits from a contractor’s computer. Equifax exposed the data of millions of US citizens who never asked to be tracked by the service in the first place. Yahoo just admitted everyone who ever signed up for its email service was affected by a years-old security breach. Ransomware based on NSA malware wreaked havoc all over the world. These are all issues Rosenstein has touched on during his remarks. But they’re swiftly forgotten by the Deputy Attorney General when his focus shifts to what he personally — representing US law enforcement — can’t access because of encryption.

    • Article 13 Open letter – Monitoring and Filtering of Internet Content is Unacceptable
    • How these librarians are changing how we think about digital privacy

      In August, New York University and the Library Freedom Project – an organization that trains librarians on using privacy tools to protect intellectual freedom – received a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency. Its purpose: to train librarians to implement secure protocols on their own web services, and to teach members of the community to evade the prying eyes of governments, corporations, and criminal hackers. According to the Library Freedom Project’s website, the group aims to create what it calls “a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the communities they serve.”

    • ShadowBrokers’ Kiss of Death

      Forgive me for being an ingrate, but I’m trying to engage seriously on Section 702 reform. Surveillance boosters are already fighting this fight primarily by waging ad hominem attacks. Having TSB call me out really makes it easy for surveillance boosters to suggest I’m not operating in the good faith I’ve spent 10 years doing.

    • Details Emerge Of World’s Biggest Facial Recognition Surveillance System, Aiming To Identify Any Chinese Citizen In Three Seconds

      The article says that the system will use cloud computing facilities to process images from the millions of CCTV cameras located across the country. The company involved is Isvision, which has been using facial recognition with CCTV cameras since 2003. The earliest deployments were in the highly-sensitive Tiananmen Square area. Other hotspots where its technology has been installed are Tibet and Xinjiang, where surveillance has been at a high level for many years.

      However, the report also cautions that the project is encountering “many difficulties” due to the technical limits of facial recognition and the sheer size of the database involved. A Chinese researcher is quoted as saying that some totally unrelated people in China have faces so alike that even their parents cannot tell them apart. Another issue is managing the biometric data, which is around 13 terabytes for the facial information, and 90 terabytes for the full dataset, which includes additional personal details on everyone in China.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ICE Now Calling Aiding Unaccompanied Minors ‘Human Trafficking’ To Bypass Sanctuary City Laws

      In the name of fighting sex trafficking, legislators are willing to make the internet mostly worthless. Punching a hole in Section 230 protections will encourage incumbents to limit user participation and prevent startups from ever making it off the ground. Proponents claim it’s narrowly-targeted and abuse-proof, but the language would allow any service provider to be held accountable for the criminal actions of users. If traffickers can’t use Facebook or Google thanks to heavier moderation, they’ll move onto other websites and services until those too are rendered useless by government action.

      Part of the problem with legislation like this is mission creep. It may start with sex trafficking, but it will inevitably be expanded to cover other illicit content. And sex trafficking itself is its own dodge. All the government has to do is claim something is trafficking and the hammer begins to fall.

      This is because the term leaves no room for intelligent conversations. Proponents know people aren’t likely to speak up against efforts to fight sex trafficking, especially when they point out this sometimes includes children. It becomes a governmental blank check for enforcement action — something that deters questioning of the government’s activities, much in the way the term “national security” has limited legislative and judicial discussion about surveillance overreach.

    • Wife of stroke victim who needs 24hr care must leave UK while he cares for children

      A British stroke victim who uses a wheelchair, requires 24-hour supervision to keep him alive and cannot speak, write or reliably understand what is said to him, has been told by the Home Office that he must become the sole carer for his two young British children while his wife travels to the Philippines to apply for a visa to care for the family.

      Simon Waterman was living with his Filipino wife, Leah, and their children Kimi and Bryce, aged 10 and seven, in the Philippines when he had a severe stroke in September 2015. The family moved back to Abergavenny in South Wales in December so Simon could be near his family. When they applied for a visa for Leah to remain in the country, however, they were told there were “no exceptional circumstances” preventing her following the conventional route of applying for her visa from outside the UK.

    • Whistleblower Protections in USA Liberty Act Not Enough

      The USA Liberty Act fails to safeguard whistleblowers—both as federal employees and contractors—because of a total lack of protection from criminal prosecution. These shortcomings—which exist in other whistleblower protection laws—shine a light on much-needed Espionage Act reform, a law that has been used to stifle anti-war speech and punish political dissent.

      Inside the recent House bill, which seeks reauthorization for a massive government surveillance tool, authors have extended whistleblower protections to contract employees, a group that, today, has no such protection.

      The Liberty Act attempts to bring parity between intelligence community employees and contract employees by amending Section 1104 of the National Security Act of 1947.

      According to the act, employees for the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office are protected from certain types of employer retaliation when reporting evidence of “a violation of any federal law, rule, or regulation,” or “mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.” Employees working at agencies the President deems have a “primary function” of conducting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence are also covered by these protections.

    • New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro Breaks the Law to Enforce It. We’re Holding Him Accountable.

      Cannizzaro and elected district attorneys like him must answer to the communities that elect them.

      Renata Singleton was the victim in a criminal case and served five days in jail. That’s right, the victim. And Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro is to blame.

      In the fall of 2014, Renata Singleton and her boyfriend got into an argument at her apartment. He took her phone and slammed it on her porch. She wanted him out of the house, so she called the police, and they took him away. A criminal case was brought against her boyfriend. After Singleton told the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office that she had resolved things with him and wanted to move on, Cannizzaro’s office didn’t listen. Instead, agents left two “subpoenas” at her door demanding she appear at its office for a private interview.

      Only they were not subpoenas at all.

    • As the Weinstein Scandal Sinks in, Where Do We Go From Here?

      Here’s how to start making workplace sexual misconduct and discrimination a thing of the past.

      In the wake of bombshell reports by the The New York Times and The New Yorker detailing three decades of sexual misconduct by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the revelations keep coming. So do the questions: How did such flagrant misconduct stay an “open secret” for so long? Just how many women were harmed? And how do we make sure that such an egregious abuse of power never happens again?

      Sexual harassment that is “severe or pervasive” was deemed by the Supreme Court to be illegal sex discrimination more than 30 years ago, when Mechelle Vinson, a bank employee in Washington, D.C., challenged her manager’s three-year campaign of abuse, including rape. And it’s been nearly a quarter-century since the court clarified that conduct becomes illegal harassment at the point that a “reasonable person” would find it abusive, even if it never gets physical.

    • Fired Cop’s Attorney Argues His Client Is Being Punished Unfairly Because The Public Got To See His Misconduct

      A little over a month ago, body cam footage of a police officer trying to bully a nurse into breaking the law went viral. Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne wrapped up his failed intimidation attempt by arresting nurse Alex Wubbels for following her hospital’s policy on blood draws. If there are no exigent circumstances and the person not suspected of criminal activity, police need a warrant to draw blood.

      None of those factors were present when Detective Payne demanded the hospital draw blood from an accident victim. The victim was, in fact, a reserve police officer from an Idaho law enforcement agency, who had been hit head-on by a fleeing suspect. This officer later died from his injuries. He was in a coma when Detective Payne began demanding the hospital hand over some blood, obviously in no condition to consent to the search.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • GAO Will Investigate The FCC’s Dubious DDoS Attack Claims

      You might recall that when HBO comedian John Oliver originally tackled net neutrality on his show in 2014, the FCC website crashed under the load of concerned consumers eager to support the creation of net neutrality rules. When Oliver revisited the topic last May to discuss FCC boss Ajit Pai’s myopic plan to kill those same rules, the FCC website crashed under the load a second time. That’s not particularly surprising; the FCC’s website has long been seen as an outdated relic from the wayback times of Netscape hit counters and awful MIDI music.

    • Six days later, FCC chair says Trump can’t order FCC to revoke TV licenses

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai initially resisted calls to tell President Trump that the FCC won’t revoke broadcast licenses from stations whose news coverage Trump dislikes.

      But today, six days after Trump first said that NBC and other networks should have their licenses challenged, Pai said the FCC won’t pull licenses based on the content of news reports.

    • FCC Chair Finally Says Agency Won’t Censor Trump’s Enemies

      Last Wednesday President Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest the government should challenge broadcasting licenses for stations that air “fake news.”

    • AT&T Spent Hundreds Of Billions On Mergers And All It Got Was A Big Pile Of Cord Cutters

      Over the last few years AT&T and Verizon have been desperately trying to pivot from stodgy, protectionist old telcos — to sexy new Millennial media juggernauts. And while this pivot attempt has been notably expensive, the net result has been somewhat underwhelming. Verizon, for example, spent billions to gobble up AOL and Yahoo, but its lack of savvy in the space has so far culminated in a privacy scandal, a major hacking scandal, a quickly shuttered website where reporters couldn’t write about controversial subjects, and a fairly shitty Millennial streaming service even Verizon’s own media partners have called a “dud.”

      AT&T’s efforts have been notably more expensive, but just as underwhelming. The company first decided to shell out $70 billion for a satellite TV provider (DirecTV) on the eve of the cord cutting revolution. And the company’s putting the finishing touches on shelling out another $89 billion for Time Warner in a quest to gain broader media and advertising relevance. That was paired with the launch of a new streaming service, DirecTV Now, which the company hoped would help it beat back the tide of cord cutting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Disney: The Only Fun Allowed At Children’s Birthday Parties Is Properly Licensed Fun

        For that reason, Characters For Hire is claiming that both the copyright and trademark claims from Disney aren’t valid. The characters are altered and renamed in an effort to gain protection from the idea/expression dichotomy, with those same changes and the disclaimer making it clear to the public that the company has no affiliation with the IP owners of the original characters from which these generics are inspired.
        That said… yeah, but no. The point made in the disclaimer that the likenesses are strictly coincidental is laughable at best. It’s very likely that the copyright portion of Disney’s claims will hold up in court. The trademark claims have less a chance of success, as it’s abundantly clear that these are not licensed characters or associated in any way with companies like Disney. But, still, the so-called generic characters of Characters For Hire appear to be more than merely “inspired” by the originals and are instead near identical characters with alterations made only to get around copyright law.
        But the larger point is: hey, Disney, why? Given that the copyright claims are the most substantive, there was nothing requiring Disney to take this action. Certainly it is laughable for Disney to claim any serious harm from a copyright perspective due to Characters For Hire’s actions. All this is really doing is keeping some fun, if unoriginal, characters from entertaining kids and people at birthdays and related events. Is giving up the stated aim to make children happy really worth smacking around a relatively small company that works these sorts of parties?

      • Digital Rights Groups Demand Deletion of Unlawful Filtering Mandate From Proposed EU Copyright Law

        The upload filtering mandate in Article 13 isn’t the only provision of the proposed Directive that concerns us. Another provision of concern, Article 11, would impose a new “link tax” payable to news publishers on websites that publish small snippets of news articles to contextualize links to those articles. Since we last wrote about this, an interesting new report has come out providing evidence that European publishers—who are the supposed beneficiaries of the link tax—actually oppose it.

      • Abandon Proactive Copyright Filters, Huge Coalition Tells EU Heavyweights

        Dozens of influential civil rights groups have called on EU decision-makers to abandon proposals for compulsory proactive copyright filters. Their open letter, addressed to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and colleagues, warns that monitoring citizens’ Internet traffic would restrict fundamental rights while running counter to the Electronic Commerce Directive.

      • Over 50 Academics Slam Censorship Filter & Join Calls to Stop © Madness

        On 17 October, 56 respected academics co-signed a recommendation on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the Open Internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform. This effort is a reaction to the multiple questions regarding the legality of the so-called censorship filter (Article 13 and its Recitals) that were raised by seven Member States, including Germany (see here and here).

      • New ‘Coalition Against Piracy’ Will Crack Down on Pirate Streaming Boxes

        A newly announced coalition of major entertainment companies including Disney, Fox, HBO, NBCUniversal and BBC Worldwide has set its eye on pirate streaming boxes. The Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) will coordinate local enforcement efforts in Asia, hoping to disrupt the “criminal syndicates” behind these devices.

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