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12.13.17

Links 13/12/2017: GIMP 2.9.8, Fedora 25 End Of Life, AltOS 1.8.3

Posted in News Roundup at 3:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What Open Means to OpenStack

    In his keynote at OpenStack Summit in Australia, Jonathan Bryce (Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation) stressed on the meaning of both “Open” and “Stack” in the name of the project and focused on the importance of collaboration within the OpenStack ecosystem.

    OpenStack has enjoyed unprecedented success since its early days. It has excited the IT industry about applications at scale and created new ways to consume cloud. The adoption rate of OpenStack and the growth of its community exceeded even the biggest open source project on the planet, Linux. In its short life of 6 years, OpenStack has achieved more than Linux did in a similar time span.

    So, why does OpenStack need to redefine the meaning of the project and stress collaboration? Why now?

    “We have reached a point where the technology has proven itself,” said Mark Collier, the CTO of the OpenStack Foundation. “You have seen all the massive use case of OpenStack all around the globe.”

  • Asynchronous decision-making: Helping remote teams succeed

    In contrast, asynchronous decision-making, which is often used in large open source projects—for example, at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), where I’m most active—provides an efficient way for teams to move forward with minimal meetings. Many open source projects involve only a few meetings each year (and some none at all), yet development teams consistently produce high-quality software.

  • Events

    • Linux Foundation Continues to Emphasize Diversity and Inclusiveness at Events

      This has been a pivotal year for Linux Foundation events. Our largest gatherings, which include Open Source Summit, Embedded Linux Conference, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, Open Networking Summit, and Cloud Foundry Summit, attracted a combined 25,000 people from 4,500 different organizations globally. Attendance was up 25 percent over 2016.

      Linux Foundation events are often the only time that developers, maintainers, and other pros who contribute to Linux and other critical open source projects — like AGL, Kubernetes and Hyperledger to name a few — get together in person. Face-to-face meetings are crucial because they speed collaboration, engagement and innovation, improving the sustainability of projects over time.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Early Returns on Firefox Quantum Point to Growth

        When we set out to launch Firefox Quantum earlier this year, we knew we had a hugely improved product. It not only felt faster — with a look and feel that tested off the charts — it was measurably faster. Thanks to multiple changes under the hood, we doubled Firefox’s speed while using 30% less memory than Chrome.

        In less than a month, Firefox Quantum has already been installed by over 170M people around the world. We’re just getting started and early returns are super encouraging.

      • Mozilla Joins Net Neutrality Blackout for ‘Break the Internet’ Day

        We’re joining with others across the web — from Github and Reddit to Etsy and Imgur — for a Break the Internet Day of Action. The idea: to show how broadly we all value an open internet. And to ask Americans to call their members of Congress and urge them to stop the FCC’s plan to end net neutrality.

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • I’m Brian Fox, Author of the Bash Shell, and This Is How I Work

      Brian Fox is a titan of open source software. As the first employee of Richard Stallman’s Free Software Foundation, he wrote several core GNU components, including the GNU Bash shell. Now he’s a board member of the National Association of Voting Officials and co-founder of Orchid Labs, which delivers uncensored and private internet access to users like those behind China’s firewall. We talked to him about his career and how he works.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Know Before You Grow: Proprietary Transportation Systems and Open Source Software Risk

      We live in the era of gig economies and e-commerce, where supply chains are evolving before our eyes due in part to the speed of technological innovation. All transportation and logistics services are under pressure to deliver highly analytic data-rich solutions in addition to freight. The challenge to gain advantage through information technology systems, let alone to remain competitive, is often met through “homegrown” proprietary IT solutions in addition to those many options available on the market.

      Developing proprietary IT systems, whether for core operating systems or customer-facing applications, can be a costly endeavor and therefore the speed and cost of development tend to be areas of concern. Most IT systems today contain what is known as open source software because using open source is generally much more cost-effective than developing entirely from scratch. While using open source software is advantageous in some ways, it also carries certain risks that must be navigated in order to achieve and protect the full potential of a homegrown system.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • How a maker with Type I diabetes led an open source project to create a free-as-in-code artificial pancreas

        Dana Lewis kickstarted the Open Artificial Pancreas System (previously) by trying to solve her own problems with monitoring her glucose levels, calculating insulin doses, and administering them around the clock — an onerous task that her life depended on, which disrupted her sleep and challenged her to make reliable calculations regarding dangerous substances while her blood-sugar levels were troughing or spiking.

      • LTE NB Internet Of Things Open Source Arduino Shield

        An open-source LTE shield equipped with SIMCOM’s SIM7000-series modules combined with the latest LTE CAT-M technology has been created by Hackaday member Timothy Woo to enable Arduino users to easily connect low-power Internet of Things devices to next-generation cellular technology!

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO, World Bank Say Half The World Population Cannot Access Essential Health Services

      According to a report released today by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, at least half the world’s population is lacking access to essential health services. Out of pocket expenses related to health care are pushing millions of people into extreme poverty each year, the report says. Both organisations say they are committed to working with countries to increase access to essential health services.

    • Medicines Patent Pool Expands Its Patent Database To Cancer Treatments

      The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) announced today that MedsPaL, its database of information on the patent and licensing status of selected HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis medicines, now extends to patented treatments on the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines. New patents data include medicines for leukaemia, breast cancer and other cancer indications.

      MedsPaL now covers 6,800 national patent applications in more than 110 countries for more than 70 priority treatments, according to a press release. Patent information has been added for seven medications: bendamustine, bevacizumab, dasatinib, imatinib, nilotinib, rituximab and trastuzumab, “as a first step in incorporating additional data on patented medicines on the WHO’s EML [Essential Medicines List],” according to the release.

  • Security

    • Language bugs infest downstream software, fuzzer finds

      Developers working in secure development guidelines can still be bitten by upstream bugs in the languages they use.

      That’s the conclusion of research presented last week at Black Hat Europe by IOActive’s Fernando Arnaboldi.

      As Arnaboldi wrote in his Black Hat Europe paper [PDF]: “software developers may unknowingly include code in an application that can be used in a way that the designer did not foresee. Some of these behaviors pose a security risk to applications that were securely developed according to guidelines.”

    • Kaspersky Antivirus Engine Causing BSOD on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

      Despite the criticism it received in the United States and in the United Kingdom, Kaspersky continues to be one of the leading security vendors for Windows users across the world, with its software protecting millions of systems powered by Microsoft’s OS.

      But it turns out that some of those whose computers were running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Kaspersky Internet Security 2018 have been hit by a bug causing a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) since earlier this month.

      BornCity reveals that the issue first appeared earlier this month when some users complained of a BSOD on Windows 10 build 16299.98, which indicates that these systems were running the latest version of the OS with cumulative update KB4051963.

    • ROBOT Attack

      ROBOT is the return of a 19-year-old vulnerability that allows performing RSA decryption and signing operations with the private key of a TLS server.

    • ROBOT Attack: 19-Year-Old Bug Returns With More Power To Target Facebook & Paypal

      The attack can compromise a website’s RSA encryption by decrypting the data using the private key of the TLS server. It was possible because of the vulnerability present in the RSA algorithm used in SSL protocol, exploited by Bleichenbacher.

    • Intel Adding ‘Hardware Lock’ To Prevent ME Chip Hacking In Future

      While you might be thinking about the ways to get rid of the secret (flawed) ME chip Intel puts insider its processors, the silicon giant has announced their plans to prevent the ME chip from getting hacked in the future.

    • NIST Releases Second Draft to Cybersecurity Framework, ANSI Encourages Stakeholders to Comment

      The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued the second draft of the proposed update to the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity—also known as the Cybersecurity Framework. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) encourages all relevant stakeholders to submit draft comments to NIST by the deadline on Friday, January 19, 2018.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump’s Lethal Decision on Jerusalem

      Protests have broken out across the Middle East against President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and Western critics complain that the move adds one more brick in the wall against the prospects for peace.

      Professor Francis Boyle, who teaches international law at the University of Illinois College of Law and served as a long-time legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), calls Trump’s announcement a “symbolic but still critical step in Israeli designs to control not just Jerusalem, but all of historic Palestine.” I spoke with Boyle on Dec. 6.

    • Trump, N. Korea & the Phony ‘Terror List’

      In an effort to further tighten the screws on North Korea in what is likely to be another failed U.S. attempt to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear program, President Trump put that country back on its list of countries sponsoring terrorism. North Korea will join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the list. In response, North Korea has conducted another ballistic missile test.

    • North Korea’s Understandable Fears

      Like Pavlov’s dog, the mainstream media slobbers predicable reactions every time North Korea launches another test missile. Listening to the blather one would think that once Kim Jong Un has a missile capable of reaching the U.S., he is going to use it in an unprovoked nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland killing millions of Americans.

    • Silencing of Courageous Documentaries

      In the U.S., I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny. In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.

    • Trump’s Illegal Syrian Mission Creep

      The other day we learned that there are four times more U.S. troops in Syria than any earlier official figure had acknowledged. The discrepancy did not get much public attention, perhaps because the numbers are small compared to some other U.S. military deployments: about 2,000 troops in Syria, with the earlier official figure being 500.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • We Still Don’t Know Why Three Different Outlets “Confirmed” the Same Bogus Russia Story Last Week

      Referring to erroneous reports that the Trump campaign received a file of hacked emails ten days before it was posted on Wikileaks in September 2016, the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote this weekend that last Friday was “one of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time.” While Greenwald’s rhetoric about the American press is often harsh even by leftist-intellectual standards, it’s hard to say he is wrong about this. Let’s review:

      • CNN reported Friday morning that Donald Trump Jr. and his father received an email on Sept. 4, 2016 which would have allowed them to access hacked Democratic emails that weren’t posted by Wikileaks until Sept. 13. CNN’s report was based on “multiple sources,” and would have been huge news—evidence of the Trumps being given an early look at material that, it’s believed, was originally obtained by Russian intelligence operatives.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Watchdogs Say US Chemical Safety Board Is “Flying Blind”

      In the early hours of August 31, explosions erupted at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, where floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey had cut off the power supply to refrigerated containers containing organic peroxide. Residences in a 1.5-mile radius had been evacuated, and deputies manning barricades began falling ill in the middle of the road one by one. Medics were called, but no further warning was given as columns of black smoke filled the air.

      Arkema knew the fires were coming — organic peroxides burst into flames unless they are kept cool — but company officials had insisted in a press conference prior to the explosions that the chemicals were not toxic or harmful to people, according to a lawsuit filed in September by emergency workers injured at the scene.

  • Finance

    • Apple Just Bought Shazam. Here’s What We Know
    • Merkel ally says Brexit talks have raised UK support for second referendum

      A key ally of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has claimed that a growing awareness of the damaging terms of a future Brexit deal has led to a rise in support in the UK for a second referendum on EU membership.

      Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest party in the European parliament, said a row over the ineligibility of Britain’s cities in the European capital of culture competition was just the latest example of the UK’s losses hitting home.

      “An opinion poll showed 50% of the British people are in favour of a new referendum,” Weber, who leads the centre-right European People’s party, told MEPs in Strasbourg. “The British people realise that Brexit means losing many things, but not gaining anything.”

    • What Is Litecoin? How Has It Beaten Bitcoin’s Growth To Reach All-time High?

      Before knowing about Litecoin and its exponential growth, I’d like to tell you about the term “Altcoin.” As its name tries to give away (alt + coin), altcoins are the alternative digital coins that mushroomed on the scene after Bitcoin’s success. This was inevitable. A notable feature of all the altcoins is that they try to pose themselves as a better option with more features.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Women Accusing Donald Trump of Sexual Abuse Call for Congressional Probe

      In New York, three of the 16 women who have publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual abuse called on Congress Monday to investigate the president. In a press conference in Manhattan, the women shared accounts in which they said Trump groped, fondled or otherwise made unwanted sexual advances toward them. This is Rachel Crooks, who says Trump forcibly kissed her against her will in 2005.

    • [Older] Donald Trump’s mother asked: ‘What kind of son have I created?’

      Mary Trump, the Scottish-born mother of the US President who died in 2000, is reported to have been acutely embarrassed by the antics of her fourth child during the 1990s when his failing marriage and business were the subject of intense tabloid scrutiny.

      Born as the 10th child of the MacLeod family on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis in 1912, Ms Trump was raised in a strict Presbyterian, Gaelic speaking household.

      [...]

      Psychologists who are analysing the President behaviour have wondered whether his thin skin, need for praise and poor treatment of women – particularly those who stand up to him – stems from his relationship with his mother.

      Prudence Gourguechon, from the American Psychoanalytic Association, told Politico: “I’m not talking specifically about any individual, including the president, or his mother”.

    • Alabama Supreme Court stays judge’s order to preserve voting records in Senate election

      The Alabama Supreme Court has reportedly stayed a lower court’s order to election officials that would have required the preservation of voting records in Tuesday’s Senate special election.

      A circuit judge on Monday ordered election officials to set voting machines to save all digital ballot images, which would preserve voting records in the event of a recount.

      Alabama’s AL.com said Tuesday morning that the state’s Supreme Court had blocked the order.

      A group of four Alabama voters filed a lawsuit last Thursday arguing that the state is required by law to preserve the images. The voters’ attorney, Priscilla Duncan, said that the circuit judge’s order would protect votes if there were an “election challenge.”
      “People think that when they mark the ballots and they go into the machine that that’s what counted,” Duncan told AL.com. “But it’s not, the paper ballot is not what’s counted. That ballot is scanned and they destroy [the ballots] after the election.”

    • Trump’s Mining Regulator Nominee Was Once Dropped by the Agency for Doing “Junk” Work

      President Donald Trump’s choice to head a federal coal mine regulator, like more than one of his nominees, is a vocal critic of the very agency he’s being asked to lead. Steven Gardner is a longtime coal industry consultant, and he has called the agency’s marquee Obama-era regulation the product of “one of the most disingenuous and dishonest efforts put forward by a government agency.”

      But in Gardner’s case, there is an unusual — and contentious — twist: He runs an engineering firm that produced a report as part of the process of preparing that regulation, and the agency deemed it so shoddy that it cut ties with Gardner’s company. Now he’s the nominee to head that agency, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. (In broad terms, OSMRE — pronounced “oz-muhr” — focuses on mining’s effect on the environment, while the other key regulator, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, focuses on the welfare of miners.)

    • Pedestrian Tickets Lead to Hundreds of Suspended Driver’s Licenses

      More than half the 2,000 people who received pedestrian tickets in Duval County, Florida, from 2012 to 2016 saw their driver’s licenses suspended or their ability to obtain one limited, according to an analysis by the Florida Times-Union and ProPublica.

      The tickets, which carry what can seem like a modest $65 fine, can have more significant consequences for those who get them and refuse to pay or are unable to do so.

      Over five years, a total of 2,004 pedestrian tickets were issued in Duval County, which is comprised almost entirely by the city of Jacksonville. Of those tickets, 982 people who failed or were unable to pay the fine lost their driver’s licenses or their ability to obtain one, according to the analysis.

      The license suspensions help answer a question at the center of a Times-Union/ProPublica investigation of pedestrian tickets in Jacksonville: What are the consequences for individuals swept up in the Jacksonville Sheriff Office’s aggressive enforcement of some two dozen often obscure pedestrian statutes?

      Last month, the Times-Union/ProPublica investigation showed that 55 percent of the tickets given in recent years went to blacks despite the fact that they make up only 29 percent of the city’s population. Blacks were similarly overrepresented in the 932 tickets that led to license suspensions — 54 percent.

      As of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, three elected officials on the body have called on Sheriff Mike Williams to order his officers to stop writing pedestrian tickets. Council member Garrett Dennis asked the Office of General Counsel to review what authority the council had to compel him to do so. In addition to voicing her support for that measure, council member Katrina Brown asked for a noticed meeting focused on pedestrian infrastructure and enforcement.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship as False Morality

      The most recent attempt at censorship came from a petition started by Mia Merrill. Merrill complained about a painting that’s housed at the Metropolitan Art Gallery titled Thérèse Dreaming by a Polish-French painter known as Balthus.

      In the petition, Merrill states that the painting “is an evocative portrait of a prepubescent girl relaxing on a chair with her legs up and underwear exposed.” She goes on to say that the image is “disturbing,” and that Balthus “had a noted infatuation with pubescent girls,” and finally, that “given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations,” the gallery is “perhaps, unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children.” Merrill claims that she’s “not asking for this painting to be censored,” but only for the gallery to consider the “implications” of having such a painting on display.

    • Pittsburgh Councilmember Again Faces Allegations Of Social Media Censorship

      The ACLU of Pennsylvania is again confronting Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris for allegedly censoring a constituent on her new official Facebook page.

      In a letter to the city solicitor Tuesday, the civil liberties organization accused Harris of deleting a post on her official page that included a link to the Facebook group, “Citizens Against Darlene Harris for Pittsburgh City Council.”

    • Meet Canada’s pro-censorship librarians (and their surprising supporters) [Ed: The far right props up the lie that censorship comes only from the "left"]

      Hate is a natural human emotion. It’s not illegal. In fact, it is part of our freedom of thought and belief. Just don’t commit a crime while you’re expressing it.

    • Sudan papers go online for freedom from censors

      Seated in his Khartoum office overlooking the Blue Nile, Sudanese journalist Adil al-Baz no longer fears a crackdown by security agents over his articles since he launched an online newspaper.

      “We are free to publish what we want on our online newspaper,” Baz, a former print newspaper editor, told AFP at the office of Al-Ahdath, the website he launched this year.

      In a country of increasing media censorship, Baz is among several independent journalists who have left newspaper jobs and launched online papers or websites.

    • Theresa May told to make Mark Zuckerburg a national censor

      Reacting to Theresa May’s proposal to make social media companies liable for content, Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

      “This is an attempt to make Mark Zuckerberg a national censor.

      “Facebook and Twitter will censor legal material because they are scared of fines. They are the worst people to judge right and wrong. Theresa May is in danger of removing people’s right to a proper legal decision.”

    • Why China’s Internet Censorship Model Will Prevail Over Russia’s

      Over the last few years, China and Russia have been quietly exporting their models of online information controls through the supply of surveillance and censorship equipment, as well as providing training in the latest information control techniques. However, Beijing and Moscow differ considerably in the way they control information online, and these differences will determine which is more popular with authoritarian regimes in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

      Despots, dictators, and autocrats will pick the model they prefer using two criteria: the ambition of the censorship system (e.g. how much information can a system filter) and the technology and services required to maintain the system. China’s model outcompetes Russia’s model in both categories.

    • Balochistan activists accuse London Mayor of censorship

      LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan has been criticised over his office banning an ad campaign relating to a conflict-ridden region in Pakistan.

      The #FreeBalochistan adverts were displayed on London taxis and buses to highlight alleged “war crimes and human rights abuses”, but were later removed by Transport for London (TfL) for allegedly breaching advertising guidelines.

    • Saudi lifts ban on movies but what role will censorship play?
    • Saudis rejoice after decades-long ban on cinemas lifted
    • Saudi Arabia to lift 35-year ban on cinemas
    • The Art of Escaping Censorship

      Three recent documentaries track the ingenious ways that banned literature, films, and music circulated in the Soviet Union.

    • African girls march against Google and Facebook censorship

      About 200 young girls marched through the streets of Johannesburg on Wednesday to demand that Google and Facebook respect African culture.

      Organised by local media company TV Yabantu‚ the march was to pressure social media platforms to stop censoring African cultural content. Lazi Dlamini said the companies are insulting African culture and women as they continue to remove cultural videos and images that feature bare-breasted women on their platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FISC Assurances on Spying Leave Too Many Questions Unanswered

      Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray faced questions from the House Judiciary Committee about how his department is implementing one of the government’s most powerful surveillance tools. Despite repeated bipartisan requests, Director Wray refused to tell the Members of the Committee how many Americans have been impacted by Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act. This isn’t the first time the FBI has refused to answer to Congress.

      EFF has long held that Section 702 is being used to violate the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Section 702 authorizes the acquisition of foreign intelligence information; however, because many Americans communicate with foreign persons outside the United States every day, our communications are also being captured and read without a warrant.

    • ACLU Complaint Warns of Privacy Risks From Kobach’s Voter Data Scheme

      The man at the helm of the White House’s voter suppression efforts has a terrible record that just keeps getting worse.

      The ACLU’s Voting Rights Project today amended our complaint in ACLU v. Donald Trump, our lawsuit against the White House’s voter suppression commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

      In addition to the ACLU’s existing transparency and fair balance claims, the amended complaint charges that the commission has acted arbitrarily and outside the scope of its legal authority. In making its unprecedented decision to aggregate the personal data of every registered voter in the United States, the commission failed to properly consider, for example, the cybersecurity and privacy implications of compiling this sensitive data. In addition, investigating records of individual voters goes well beyond the commission’s mandate to study and make recommendations concerning registration and voting processes.

      Kobach’s record on this matter is extremely troubling. His prized voter monitoring system, Crosscheck, which stores millions of voter files and is ostensibly meant to stop people from voting in more than one state, has serious defects. It not only produces erroneous findings, but it is also open to massive security risks.

      Gizmodo found that “the records passing through the Crosscheck system have been stored on a server in Arkansas operating on a network rife with security flaws” and that “multiple sets of login credentials” have been compromised. ProPublica similarly discovered that security vulnerabilities, like hosting files on an insecure server and sharing login credentials over email, “could imperil the safety of millions of peoples’ records.” And security analysts warned in a recent court brief that Kobach’s plan to collect millions of files containing voters’ personal information “would constitute a treasure trove for malicious actors.”

    • The Internet Went Crazy Over a Sex Toy App “Secretly” Recording Lovemaking

      Hong Kong-based sex toy company Lovense received some bad publicity the past weekend after someone on reddit accused the company of secretly recording users’ lovemaking sessions with the mobile app allowing for remote controlling of its vibrators.

      Basically, reddit user /u/tydoctor claimed he came across a .3gp file stored on his device that was “a full audio recording 6 minutes long of the last time I had used the app to control my SO’s remote control vibrator.” This way, the user claimed, Lovesense secretly created audio recordings of the sex sessions, obviously making people believe that the company was actually spying on people.

      And since spying is quite a hot topic these days, it’s ten times worse when it involves anything related to sex, so the discussion rapidly made the rounds, with more than 200 users chiming in and debating how and why Lovsense creates the audio recording.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New York City Takes on Algorithmic Discrimination

      The city will create a task force to review its agencies’ use of algorithms and the policy issues they implicate.

      Invisible algorithms increasingly shape the world we live in, and not always for the better. Unfortunately, few mechanisms are in place to ensure they’re not causing more harm than good.

      That might finally be changing: A first-in-the-nation bill, passed yesterday in New York City, offers a way to help ensure the computer codes that governments use to make decisions are serving justice rather than inequality.

      Computer algorithms are a series of steps or instructions designed to perform a specific task or solve a particular problem. Algorithms inform decisions that affect many aspects of society. These days, they can determine which school a child can attend, whether a person will be offered credit from a bank, what products are advertised to consumer, and whether someone will receive an interview for a job. Government officials also use them to predict where crimes will take place, who is likely to commit a crime and whether someone should be allowed out of jail on bail.

    • ‘You’re Fucked’: The Acquittal of Officer Brailsford and the Crisis of Police Impunity

      The execution of Daniel Shaver demonstrates the importance of police training.

      Two words stick in my mind when I think of the video of Daniel Shaver begging for his life before he was shot and killed by Officer Philip Brailsford of the Police Department in Mesa, Arizona. The two words were written on the dust cover of the AR-15 rifle Braisford used to kill Shaver:

      “You’re fucked.”

      We have seen this movie before. Daniel Shaver was not armed or committing any crime when was he shot to death by Brailsford. Like many previous police shooting videos, this one shows police behaving much more aggressively than Mr. Shaver. And like previous videos, a jury acquitted the officer of all criminal charges. But this video showed us two things about policing culture in America that stand out. First, the video shows Shaver begging for his life while he tried to follow contradictory instructions screamed at him by an officer. And Shaver was white.

      Shaver had a job killing pests. Sometimes he used a pellet gun to get the job done, and he was seen holding the gun by people at the hotel. When the police were called, they were told a man had a gun so they had to be careful.

      I get it. But how far does that information take us?

    • Tough-on-Crime Prosecutors Are Out of Step With Public Views

      The ACLU polled likely voters and found strong support for prosecutors committed to criminal justice reform.

      “Mass incarceration is a myth.” Racial bias in the criminal justice system “is the most ludicrous concept ever.” Data on sexual assault prosecutions should be kept secret because it might be “misinterpreted by the public.”

      These are all real quotes from elected prosecutors, the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. There are approximately 2,400 elected prosecutors in America, and these views may well be common among them. But the public appears to be moving away from these misconceptions.

      A first-of-its-kind poll conducted by the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice shows that voters of every persuasion across the United States — in red states and in blue states alike — strongly prefer elected prosecutors who are committed to reducing incarceration, tackling racial disparities, and being transparent.

      Approximately nine out of 10 likely voters surveyed said that it was important for their prosecutor to prioritize alternatives to incarceration. This includes 83 percent of Republicans polled. Eighty-eight percent of voters also said they were more likely to support a prosecutor who actively works to reduce racial bias in the criminal justice system. And 91 percent want prosecutors to reduce sentences in instances where people were treated unequally because of their race. Respondents also want a prosecutor who makes a commitment to transparency, with 85 percent favoring a prosecutor who shares data and policies with the public.

    • U.N. expert says torture persists at Guantanamo Bay; U.S. denies

      The U.S. Department of Defense denied the allegation, saying there was no credible evidence to support it.

      Nils Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said he had information that Ammar al-Baluchi – accused of being a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks on the United States – was being subjected to treatment that is banned under international law.

      “His torture and ill-treatment are reported to continue,” a statement from the U.N. human rights office said, without giving details of the source of Melzer’s information.

      “In addition to the long-term effects of past torture, noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention,” it said.

    • Ferguson’s School Board Elections Dilute the African-American Vote

      The Ferguson-Florissant School District was born out of a 1975 federal desegregation order, intended to remedy effects of historical discrimination against African-American students.

      Yet, as recently as 2014, the school board was all white, and its members had not had a racial make-up that reflects the district’s population in the 12 years prior. Slightly less than half of the voting-age residents of the district are African-American, as are roughly 80 percent of the students who attend the public schools. While some African-American candidates have been elected to the school board in the last few years, recent victories do not erase the district’s long history of racial exclusion and inequality.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 100 million Americans live in areas where every single ISP has admitted to violating net neutrality
    • The FCC’s Democratic commissioners on net neutrality vote: ‘We have a mess on our hands’

      Regardless, the rollback is expected to pass by a 3-2 margin on party lines. In separate phone interviews conducted last week, The Verge spoke with commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel about this week’s vote, and what happens next.

      Interviews were conducted separately. They have been condensed and edited.

    • Requiem for an Internet Dream

      The dream of the Internet is dying. Killed by its children. We have barely noticed its demise and done even less to save it.

      It was a dream of openness, of unprecedented technological and social freedom to connect and innovate. Whilst expressed in technology, it was a dream that was, in essence, political and social. A dream of equality of opportunity, of equality of standing, and of liberty. A world where anyone could connect and almost everyone did.

      No-one controlled or owned the Internet; no one person or group decided who got on it or who didn’t. It was open to all.

    • Net Neutrality: How a Repeal Could Kill the Careers of Indie Musicians

      Repeal will corporatize selection too. A free and open Internet has allowed independent artists like Sturgill Simpson, Drive-By Truckers and Chance the Rapper to grow and cultivate a fan base on their own terms, and for fans to find them. But if Net Neutrality goes away, not only will access to discovery platforms be limited, corporations and providers will have the opportunity to boost artists that have deals with their brands instead. And since the Internet is such an important vehicle behind the genre-less creativity in today’s music – artists grow up with near universal access to music from every corner of the globe through the Web – the end of Net Neutrality could mean more music that is culturally myopic in scope.

    • More than 100 Million Americans Can Only Get Internet Service from Companies That Have Violated Net Neutrality

      This is a problem faced by millions of Americans, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for equitable development and local government rule. Based on the Federal Communications Commission’s own data, the ILSR found that 129 million Americans only have one option for broadband internet service in their area, which equals about 40 percent of the country.

    • Net neutrality repeal means you’re going to hate your cable company even more

      No one wanted to see big service providers turn the Internet into the cable industry, with its high prices and relatively few choices. But that’s what’s about to happen.

    • Internet Governance Forum Next Week: Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data On Agenda

      The 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum will open in Geneva next week. The United Nations entity, which presents itself as a free electron of internet governance, will host a large number of sessions addressing pressing issues of the digital world, including big data, cyber security, and artificial intelligence. Discussions held at the forum will enhance understanding of the broad issue of internet governance, and help hold actors accountable.

      The 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take place from 18-21 December on the theme “Shape Your Digital Future.” This is the first time the IGF is being held in Geneva, which is the home of the IGF secretariat.

  • DRM

    • Why Linux HDCP isn’t the end of the world

      Recently, Sean Paul from Google’s ChromeOS team, submitted a patch series to enable HDCP support for the Intel display driver. HDCP – or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection to its parents – is used to encrypt content over HDMI and DisplayPort links, which can only be decoded by trusted devices.

      HDCP is typically used to protect high-quality content. A source device will try to negotiate a HDCP link with its downstream receiver such as your TV or a frame-capture device. If a HDCP link can be negotiated, the pixel content will be encrypted over the wire and decrypted by the trusted downstream device. If a HDCP link cannot be successfully negotiated and pixel data remains unencrypted, the typical behaviour is to fall back to a lower resolution, or quality that is in some way less desirable to capture.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Idea for finding all public domain movies in the USA

        While looking at the scanned copies for the copyright renewal entries for movies published in the USA, an idea occurred to me. The number of renewals are so few per year, it should be fairly quick to transcribe them all and add references to the corresponding IMDB title ID. This would give the (presumably) complete list of movies published 28 years earlier that did _not_ enter the public domain for the transcribed year. By fetching the list of USA movies published 28 years earlier and subtract the movies with renewals, we should be left with movies registered in IMDB that are now in the public domain. For the year 1955 (which is the one I have looked at the most), the total number of pages to transcribe is 21. For the 28 years from 1950 to 1978, it should be in the range 500-600 pages. It is just a few days of work, and spread among a small group of people it should be doable in a few weeks of spare time.

      • How The US Pushed Sweden to Take Down The Pirate Bay

        A series of documents released by the US Department of State have revealed how Sweden was pressed to take action against The Pirate Bay. According to US officials, this directly led to law enforcement’s decision to shut down the torrent site more than ten years ago. Sweden, meanwhile, avoided a spot on the feared US Trade Representative’s 301 Watch List.

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