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12.22.17

Links 22/12/2017: Mesa 17.3.1, Wine 3.0 RC3, LLVM 5.0.1

Posted in News Roundup at 7:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Twenty Years and Counting

    20 years ago, in February 1998, the term “open source” was first applied to software, Soon afterwards, the Open Source Definition was created and the seeds that became the Open Source Initiative (OSI) were sown.

  • Guardian Project Debuts Haven Security App to Protect Personal Privacy

    Haven app is being built as an open-source project and is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0.

  • CanYa Purchase Open Source Bounty Software Platform Prior To Ending Its ICO

    CanYa has recently announced the purchase of Bountysource, a global peer-to-peer (P2P) open source software bounty system. CanYa, as a blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organization, fits well with Bountysource’s business model and will build an international community where any number of digital services can be provided.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Graduation Report: Activity Stream

        We believed that if people could easily get back to the pages they had recently viewed and saved, they would be happier and more productive. We wanted to help people rediscover where they had been and help them decide where to go next.

      • Distributed teams: Better communication and engagement

        I always think that as a distributed team, we have to overcome friction to communicate. If we all worked in the same physical office, you could just walk over to someone’s desk and look at the same screen to debug a problem. Instead, we have to talk in slack, irc, a video chat, email, or issue trackers. When the discussion takes place in a public forum, some people hesitate to discuss the issue. It’s sometimes difficult to admit you don’t know something, even if the team culture is welcoming and people are happy to answer questions.

      • Open Innovation for Inclusion

        We partnered with Stanford University for a user-centric open design sprint. Technology is permeating most human interactions, but we still have very centralized design processes, that only include few people. We wanted to experiment with an open innovation approach that would allow users with accessibility needs to take an active part in the design process. Our chosen path to tackle this challenge allowed for a collaborative form of crowdsourcing. Instead of relying on individual work, we got our participants to work in teams across countries, time zones and professional expertise.

      • The Mozilla Bug Firehose – Design Decisions

        There could be many blog posts about the Mozilla bug firehose. This is just about dealing with one particular aspect.

        When a bug comes into Mozilla it needs to get triaged – someone needs to figure out what to do with it. Triaging is an effort to try and get bugs appropriately classified to see how critical the bug is. Part of shipping a product every 6 weeks is that we have to try and fix crucial bugs in each release. To do that you have to read the bugs reports and try to understand what’s happening.

      • Firefox 57′s been quietly delaying tracking scripts

        When Mozilla lobbed Firefox 57 over the fence last month, it introduced an anti-tracking feature without saying anything much about it.

        The changes are in the browser’s “network requests scheduler”, and developer Honza Bambas explained the change in detail here.

        Bambas wrote that during page load, the scheduler uses the Tracking Protection database “to delay load of scripts from tracking domains when possible during the time a page is actively loading and rendering”.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Conservancy: How and Why We Should Settle

      Yesterday marks three years that I have been trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with my ex-employees, Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn, of various complaints SFLC and I have about the way they treat us. After all this time when they would not even meet with us to discuss our issues, the involvement of the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board in one aspect of the matter has at least created a space for structured discussion. Intermediaries both organizations work with and trust have generously taken the opportunity to communicate our settlement proposals, and we have initiated discussion through counsel. As transparency is, indeed, a valued commitment in the free software world, we think it is now time to publish our offer:

      We propose a general peace, releasing all claims that the parties have against one another, in return for an iron-clad agreement for mutual non-disparagement, binding all the organizations and individuals involved, with strong safeguards against breach. SFLC will offer, as part of such an overall agreement, a perpetual, royalty-free trademark license for the Software Freedom Conservancy to keep and use its present name, subject to agreed measures to prevent confusion, and continued observance of the non-disparagement agreement.

    • Conservancy’s Executive Director Delivers Keynote Address at Swatantra ’17

      This week, Karen Sandler keynoted at Swatantra ’17, a conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala organized by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous organization set up by Kerala’s government.

      Karen told the large crowd about her own experience that led her to become a strong advocate for software freedom. Specifically, in 2006, Karen needed a heart defibrillator implanted. In a subsequent research project, Karen learned disturbing facts regarding the safety of the proprietary software in medical devices, which she presented in her keynote. Karen further spoke about her ongoing experiences as both a patient living with implanted proprietary software and an expert in this field, and also discussed the future of ethics in technology and its impact on society.

    • What Is GNU In GNU/Linux?

      GNU is an operating system and an extensive collection of free and open source software all of which are licensed under GPL(General Public License). A lot of people often get confused with the full form of GNU. Well, the full form of GNU is GNU’s Not UNIX. Yes, this is not a typing error and you read it right. It is a recursive word and has no actual meaning.

      However, an animal called Wildebeest is in some places called GNU, hence it was chosen as the official mascot for GNU.

    • FSF adds PureOS to list of endorsed GNU/Linux distributions

      The FSF’s list showcases GNU/Linux operating system distributions whose developers have made a commitment to follow its Guidelines for Free System Distributions. Each one includes and endorses exclusively free “as in freedom” software.

      After extensive evaluation and many iterations, the FSF concluded that PureOS, a modern and user-friendly Debian-derived distribution, meets these criteria.

      “The FSF’s high standards for distributions help users know which ones will honor their desire to be fully in control of their computers and devices. These standards also help drive the development work needed to make the free world’s tools more practical and powerful than the proprietary dystopia exemplified by Windows, iOS, and Chrome. PureOS is living — and growing — proof that you can meet ethical standards while also achieving excellence in user experience,” said John Sullivan, FSF’s executive director.

      “PureOS is a GNU operating system that embodies privacy, security, and convenience strictly with free software throughout. Working with the Free Software Foundation in this multi-year endorsement effort solidifies our longstanding belief that free software is the nucleus for all things ethical for users. Using PureOS ensures you are using an ethical operating system, committed to providing the best in privacy, security, and freedom,” said Todd Weaver, Founder & CEO of Purism.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Programming/Development

    • 10 keys to quick game development

      In early October, the inaugural Open Jam sponsored by Opensource.com drew 45 entries from teams located around the world. The teams had just three days to create a game using open source software to enter into the competition, and three teams came out on top.

      We hosted our own Open Jam event at our university for anyone who wanted to participate. We reserved a computer lab for the weekend and taught people how to use open source software—Godot for the game engine, LMMS for music creation, GIMP for 2D art, and Blender for 3D art—to create games and game art assets. Three games were submitted from our event: Loathsome, Lost Artist, and Paint Rider (which I created).

    • Fuzzing: An Old Testing Technique Comes of Age

      Both proprietary and open source development tends to have more developers than testers. As a result, automated testing has become increasingly common. In the last year, fuzzing — testing with dummy or random data — has become particularly widespread, and its popularity seems likely to continue.

      Fuzzing’s name is newer than the concept itself. Computer scientist Gerald Weinberg recalls that when he worked at IBM and Mercury Project in the late 1950s “it was our standard practice to test programs by inputting decks of punch cards taken from the trash. We also used decks of random number punch cards. We weren’t networked in those days, so we weren’t much worried about security, but our random/trash decks often turned up undesirable behavior.

    • Safely testing my students’ PHP graded labs with docker containers

      Of course one may give a grade only by reading the students’ code and not testing, but that would be bad taste. And yes, there are probably ways to escape the container safety net in PHP… but I sould maybe not tempt the smartest students of mine in continuing on this path 😉

    • New projects on Hosted Weblate
    • LLVM 5.0.1 Release

      LLVM 5.0.1 is now available! Download it now, or read the release notes.

      This release contains bug-fixes for the LLVM 5.0.0 release. This release is API and ABI compatible with 5.0.0.

    • LLVM 5.0.1 Released

      LLVM 5.0.1 is now available as the first and likely only point release to LLVM 5.0.

      LLVM 5.0.1 incorporates bug fixes that were requested for back-porting to LLVM 5.0 rather than waiting for LLVM 6.0. LLVM 5.0.1 retains API/ABI compatibility with LLVM 5.0.0.

Leftovers

  • Eric Schmidt to step down as executive chairman of Alphabet

    He will continue on the board as a science and technical advisor.

  • Eric Schmidt is stepping down as the executive chairman of Alphabet

    The company expects the board to appoint a non-executive chairman at its next meeting in January

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • A Prescription for Reducing Wasted Health Care Spending

      Earlier this year, the Gallup organization set out to identify the top concerns everyday Americans have about money. Researchers asked more than a thousand people across the country, “What is the most important financial problem facing your family today?” Their top answer: the cost of health care.

  • Security

    • “I Just Pressed Shift Key 5 Times” — User Gains Full Access On A Windows XP ATM Machine

      When you’re running Windows XP in today’s times, you shouldn’t expect your machine to fully bulletproof against different kinds of malware attacks. Now combine it with some poor implementation on an ATM machine that demands heavy security measures and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

    • Windows XP ATM Machine “Hacked” by Simply Pressing Shift Five Times in a Row

      We’ve known for a while that ATM machines running Windows XP (Embedded version or not) are exposed to attacks, but when we mix the lack of updates with bad configuration from IT admins what we get is a vulnerability that’s worryingly easy to exploit.

      One of the users of Russian blogging platform Habrahabr discovered that an ATM machine operated by state-owned bank Sberbank runs Windows XP and suffers from a security hole that makes it possible for pretty much anyone to completely hack it.

      While it’s not hard to figure out what hacking of an ATM machine means, it appears that the full-screen lock system that prevented the ATM interface from accessing other parts of the operating system could be bypassed by simply invoking Sticky Keys.

    • Cryptojacking Bot “Digimine” Spreading Via FB Messenger in Google Chrome Desktop

      Cryptocurrency mining is on the rise and so does the number of instances where wrong ways are used to harvest the digital currency. Just a day before yesterday, we told you about the Loapi Android malware that mines Monero on your device. Even if you’re sitting at a place like Starbucks, mining can happen anytime.

    • Digmine Cryptocurrency Miner Spreading via Facebook Messenger

      We found a new cryptocurrency-mining bot spreading through Facebook Messenger, which we first observed in South Korea. We named this Digmine based on the moniker (비트코인 채굴기 bot) it was referred to in a report of recent related incidents in South Korea. We’ve also seen Digmine spreading in other regions such as Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, and Venezuela. It’s not far-off for Digmine to reach other countries given the way it propagates.

    • Zealot Loads Cryptocurrency Miner on Linux, Windows Machines

      A new Apache Struts campaign that researchers named “Zealot” has come to light in recent weeks. Zealot loads Windows or Linux-based machines by installing a miner for Monero, which has become one of the hottest cryptocurrencies used in recent malware attacks.

    • 8 Best WiFi Hacking Software And Analysis Tools You Should Use In 2018

      Security analysis and penetration testing is an integral part of creating any kind of secure network. This brings us to the WiFi hacking software that could be used for ethically testing a wireless network and make amends. In the past, we’ve already covered the top wireless security apps for Android and now it’s the turn of such tools for your PC. In case you’re looking for a more diverse collection of tools (not for just wireless analysis), you can refer to another list.

    • BPF security issues in Debian

      Since Debian 9 “stretch”, we’ve shipped a Linux kernel supporting the “enhanced BPF” feature which allows unprivileged user space to upload code into the kernel. This code is written in a restricted language, but one that’s much richer than the older “classic” BPF. The kernel verifies that the code is safe (doesn’t loop, only accesses memory it is supposed to, etc.) before running it. However, this means that bugs in the verifier could allow unsafe programs to compromise the kernel’s security.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor

      A group of U.S. intelligence veterans urges President Trump to stop his administration’s false claims about Iran being the leading state sponsor of terrorism when U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia. are clearly much guiltier.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks: Why is the Freedom of the Press Foundation cutting ties with Julian Assange?

      Since 2012, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) has helped to process financial donations for the Julian Assange-led whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks. But the relationship has now come to an end, the organisation confirmed Wednesday (20 December).

      The team-up started after a financial blockade on WikiLeaks was enforced by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, which halted money flowing to the website and instead forcing it to turn towards cryptocurrency as a primary method of funding.

      In a blog post, the FPF said this week: “Last month, FPF’s board unanimously concluded [...] that the financial blockade by Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal is now over and likely has been for some time.

    • ‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread’

      Reality Winner grew up in a carefully kept manufactured home on the edge of a cattle farm 100 miles north of the Mexican border in a majority-Latino town where her mother, Billie, still lives. From the back porch, a carpet of green meets the horizon, and when a neighbor shoots a gun for target practice, a half-dozen local dogs run under the trailer to hide. Billie worked for Child Protective Services, and in Ricardo, Texas, the steady income made her daughters feel well-off; the fact that they had a dishwasher seemed evidence of elevated social standing. Billie, a chatty redhead with the high-pitched voice of a doll, supported the family while her husband, Ronald, she says, “collected degrees.” It was Ronald who named Reality. The deal had been that Billie got to name their first — Brittany — but their second was his to choose. He noticed, on a T-shirt at their Lamaze class, the words I COACHED A REAL WINNER. He wanted a success story and felt that an aspirational name would increase his chances of producing one. Billie did not object; a deal is a deal.

      [...]

      What remained abstract and distant to the news-consuming public was neither abstract nor distant to Reality. “She was really, really passionate about Afghanistan and stopping ISIS,” says Golden. “We would go to lunch, and that’s pretty much all she would talk about. She was despondent that ISIS was the way that it was, that we can’t do anything to help the whole situation, that it’s so fucked up.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Nearly 20,000 badgers culled in attempt to reduce bovine TB

      Nearly 20,000 badgers were culled this autumn as part of the government’s attempt to reduce bovine TB in cattle, in what critics called the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory.

      The 19,274 dead badgers is almost twice as many as last year after 11 new cull zones were added to a swath of the West Country worst-hit by bovine TB. While some badgers were trapped before being shot, the majority – 11,638 badgers – were killed by free shooting, a method judged inhumane by the British Veterinary Association.

      The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) hailed the cull as a success and said it would be expanded to more areas next year. Farming minister George Eustice announced the authorities would also increase the regularity of testing cattle for bovine TB from annually to six-monthly in high-risk areas.

    • GE has a fossil fuels problem

      The iconic company has been badly caught off guard by the dramatic rise of renewable energy at the expense of fossil fuels. Rapid adoption of solar and wind has created chaos in GE’s power division, which makes giant turbines and generators used by coal and natural gas power plants.

    • Brain Drain At the EPA

      More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Donald Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

      Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.

      The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. That unease is likely to deepen following revelations that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from EPA officials suspected of opposing Trump and his agenda.

  • Finance

    • Top EU Court Says Uber Is A Transport Service That Can Be Regulated Like Traditional Taxis

      Uber is a company that provokes strong emotions, as numerous stories on Techdirt indicate. Uber has been involved in some pretty bad situations, including inappropriate behavior, special apps to hide from regulators, and massive leaks of customer information. Despite this, it is undeniable that millions of people around the world love the convenience and competitive pricing of its service.

      Equally, traditional taxi services dislike it for the way Uber flouts transports regulations that they obey, which is fair enough, and hate it for the way Uber challenges their often lazy monopolies, which is not. This has led to some appalling violence in some countries, as well as numerous legal actions.

    • U.S. tax bill provision likely to spark EU trade dispute: legal experts

      The sweeping tax bill awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature includes a tax break for U.S. exporters that appears to contravene World Trade Organization rules and is likely to spark a major trade dispute with Europe, legal experts said.

      For some U.S. companies, the provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed both houses of Congress this week could be twice as generous as the Foreign Sales Corporation scheme, which was abolished around 2006 after causing one of the biggest transatlantic trade disputes of recent decades.

    • State-owned railway firm to pay 100m euro dividend

      The Finnish state-owned railway company, VR, is to pay 100 million euros to its owners—the Finnish state—as a dividend. The payment was agreed at an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders on Thursday.

      The company says that it is able to pay dividends thanks to a programme of efficiency savings, which have improved its profits this year. In March the company had paid a 90 million euro dividend into state coffers.

      The company will also pay the balance of a budget allocated for track improvements, amounting to some 49.5 million euros, back to the state.

      In August the government announced plans to end VR’s monopoly on passenger transport, allowing private providers to enter the market. Under the proposals VR would be split into three separate entities responsible for the railways’ property, rolling stock and track maintenance.

    • Lee-Chin takes on Dom Rep – Businessman seeking US$300m from country’s government for expropriating his investment

      Lee-Chin takes on Dom Rep – Businessman seeking US$300m from country’s government for expropriating his investment

      Businessman Michael Lee-Chin has served notice that he intends to submit to arbitration a claim against the government of the Dominican Republic seeking to recover more than US$300 million in damages for expropriating his investment in that country.

      The notice was filed on Tuesday, and there is a cooling-off period of 90 days for the government to either settle or be subjected to arbitration either in Washington or Brussels, Lee-Chin advised The Gleaner.

    • Paradise Papers: US puts sanctions on billionaire over dealings in DRC

      The US government has imposed sanctions on the Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, whose African business dealings were exposed in the Paradise Papers, over “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      In a strongly worded statement, the US president, Donald Trump, placed sanctions on 13 people and companies associated with them, declaring a state of “national emergency with respect to serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world”.

      In November, the Paradise Papers investigation unveiled new details of Gertler’s mining deals in strife-torn but resource-rich DRC, in particular over a $45m loan in shares to one of his companies from the world’s biggest miner, Glencore.

    • Blue passports could put UK citizens at back of queue, EU officials say

      European officials have warned that Britain’s new blue passports could spell travel delays and extra paperwork rather than the enhanced freedom promised by the government.

      Theresa May sought to end a difficult political year on a high note on Friday by confirming the return of navy travel documents after Brexit. She said that abandoning the EU-style burgundy design introduced in 1988 was an expression of “independence and sovereignty” that reflected “citizenship of a proud, great nation”.

      But as the announcement divided domestic opinion along increasingly entrenched cultural battle lines, sources in Brussels pointed out that holders of any colour of British passport could see diminished travel rights after Brexit unless there were further negotiating concessions.

    • Jeremy Corbyn leads criticism of Paradise Papers legal action

      Senior MPs from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties joined Labour in expressing support for investigative reporting and agreeing the disclosures were firmly in the public interest.

      The Guardian is to mount a defence against Appleby’s action, which is seeking to force the disclosure of the documents that formed the basis for a series of articles.

      Corbyn said: “The Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers shone a powerful light on the absolute scandal of tax dodging. Knowledge is power and investigative reporters and whistleblowers bring into the open information that strengthens democratic debate about the type of society we want to live in.

      “The more we know about the scale of, and techniques used for, tax dodging, the more we can develop policies to tackle this immoral scourge.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Russian [astroturfers] went on attack during key election moments

      The records show how digital communications tools invented by U.S. companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, were instead exploited by the Kremlin-backed agents to promote autocracy and fear.

      Twitter has identified 2,752 accounts as being linked to the Kremlin. In November, Congress released the list of account names.

    • How Facebook’s Political Unit Enables the Dark Art of Digital Propaganda

      The initiative is run by a little-known Facebook global government and politics team that’s neutral in that it works with nearly anyone seeking or securing power. The unit is led from Washington by Katie Harbath, a former Republican digital strategist who worked on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign. Since Facebook hired Harbath three years later, her team has traveled the globe helping political clients use the company’s powerful digital tools.

    • Penske Media buys majority stake in Rolling Stone magazine

      Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed in a statement from the companies.

    • Penske Media, Wenner Media Invest in Rolling Stone at $100 Million-Plus Valuation
    • Disney, Fox, and the painful path to a la carte TV

      Disney must convince regulators that its mega-merger won’t harm consumers, so it’s probably no accident that Iger’s vision sounds a lot like the a la carte model cord cutters have dreamed about for years. Still, the TV bundle is a long way from total collapse, and in the meantime, Disney will gain immense power over how much consumers will pay for all those channels. The result may be a faster decline for TV as we know it, but with plenty of consumer pain along the way.

    • Jeremy Corbyn urges British public to protest in force when Donald Trump visits the UK

      Jeremy Corbyn today urges protestors to turn out in force when Donald Trump visits the UK next year.

      In an exclusive podcast for the Mirror , the Labour leader issues a stinging rebuke to the US president for giving publicity to the far right British First and pulling out of a global climate change agreement.

      Mr Trump is due to make a flying visit to London in February to open the new US embassy.

      Mr Corbyn says people should turn out to send the president “a clear message.”

      “My message to Donald Trump is this you represent a country that has been through some amazing social transformation, from the growth of the civil rights movement, the way in which Martin Luther King stood up for the rights of black people and was assassinated for it.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitter will now warn you if its blocking your content for offensiveness

      The new interstitials will build on Twitter’s Country Withheld Content (CWC) tool, which was launched in 2012 to transparently handle global legal requests to remove content from the site, alongside the firm’s first ever Twitter Transparency Report.

    • Facebook declares changes to combat fake news

      The first of the changes will see the social network no longer using Disputed Flags to identify fake news and instead will use “Related Articles” to help “give people more context about the story”.

    • Sounds like censorship: Letter to the editor

      Thou shalt not use the following words in your official communications (“Trump admin gives CDC list of 7 forbidden words, including fetus, transgender, diversity,” Dec.15) the Centers for Disease Control was told by the administration: “evidence-based,” “science based,” “fetus,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity” and “transgender.”

    • The CDC Words Trump “Banned” Were Projected Onto His Hotel & The Photos Are Powerful

      After reports that the Trump Administration apparently banned several words at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last week, a group of LGBTQ activists decided to take their concerns all the way to the president — or, at least, to one of his eponymous properties. On Tuesday, members from Human Rights Campaign projected all seven reportedly-banned words, plus the declaration “We will not be erased,” onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the photos of the CDC words Trump reportedly banned send a strong message.

    • Journal Times editorial: Let the CDC’s scientists be scientists

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known commonly as the CDC, is America’s leading public health institution. It focuses national attention on developing and applying disease control and prevention, specifically on infectious disease, food-borne pathogens, environmental health, occupational health and injury prevention; it also researches and provides information on non-infectious diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

    • Lean Into It: The seven dirty words

      Some would call these words ‘essential to the function of a science based organization’ but the United States government evidentially thinks differently. The report has come into question and has been subject to hot debate as details emerge on the content of the report. The political nature of the ‘banned words’ combined with the topic of censorship in the United States have devolved the conversation into yet another partisan screaming match of ever-growing proportions. The end to the mess the United States is making for itself seems to be ever elusive, if it exists at all.

    • Vulnerable Words and the CDC

      When we think not just of censorship, but of actual, specific banned words, regimes in places like China, North Korea, and Russia come to mind. But government word-banning isn’t entirely new in the United States. In the George W. Bush administration, climate scientists were warned against using the phrase global warming. The 1873 Comstock Laws, with their emphasis on forbidding “immoral” texts or devices, certainly resulted in a wave of word-shunning. And the activist educator Diane Ravitch has compiled a remarkable list of words banned by various state departments of education and other authorities.

    • US Dept. of Health word censoring reminiscent of Chinese thought police

      Words are power. Whether used to twist or reveal, language matters, especially that used by the people who govern a nation devoted to free speech. This is why it was such a shock to hear the Department of Health and Human Services instruct some of its divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. It sounds like thought police at work.

    • It’s Still Censorship: On the CDC Banned Word List
    • EDITORIAL: Seven words, and plenty of outrage

      It wasn’t clear who gave the order, or if it was an order at all, or even whether the directive constituted an actual ban, or more of a recommendation. CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald insisted there was no ban, but there was a list of words, and the budget document was the subject of concern.

    • Forbidden Words: Censorship at the C.D.C.?

      The intent of recent discussions about banning seven specific words or phrases is unclear. There is growing concern that this list is not merely suggestions to make budget proposals more likely to pass a conservative Office of Management and Budget and Congress but really a further creep of ideology over science that is an alarming hallmark of this administration. We as nurses know that words matter.

      Frowning on the use of “diversity” is a nod to white nationalism. Excluding “transgender” from our dialogue denies a population most at risk for health disparities. Prohibiting the word “fetus” and using “unborn child” is not only scientifically inaccurate, but also a bow to the right-to-life movement and a threat to women’s reproductive rights.

    • The Dangers of Censoring Science

      Do you want your medical treatment to be based on science? The Trump administration disagrees. It banned the top US public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from using seven words, including “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

      Prominent public health advocates have expressed outrage about these measures. For example, Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, tweeted “This is astonishing. It would be a parody of a flailing effort to limit the effectiveness of #publichealth if it did not suggest a real problem. #7words.”

    • Future research censorship is of serious U.S. concern

      These words will be prohibited in the official documents for the upcoming budget, which is expected to be released in February of 2018. There wasn’t a stated reason for why the words were going to be banned, but there is a certain, and major, impact on those who work within the CDC, the American people, and other government agencies like the HHS, Department of Health and Human Services. Agencies like the HHS operate under similar verbiage guidelines, so if the CDC decidedly bans specific words, then so will HHS and government departments alike.

    • The troubling new language of science under Trump, explained

      In 1946, George Orwell published the seminal essay “Politics and the English Language,” in which he described how convoluted language can be used to intentionally confuse or mislead people. “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details,” he wrote. “When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.”

      Language is undoubtedly suffering in the Trump era, particularly the language of health and science. “There have been too many instances and too many suspected instances of words or ideas being set out of bounds,” Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told Vox.

    • Censorship concerns

      For example, the word “fetus” should no longer be used. How else are we to discuss and understand the dangers of Zika virus for birth defects? And the phrases “evidence-based” and “science-based” are not recommended. Are we to resort to voodoo medicine for the sake of political correctness?

    • LatAm NGOs fear censorship in anti-fake news drive
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Introducing Haven, the open source security system in your pocket

      Today we’re proud to announce the release a new Android app called Haven, an open source security system for journalists and human rights defenders.

      Haven is a “personal security system” that empowers individuals to use a cheap second phone running free, open-source software to monitor their possessions and physical spaces when they are away from them. Haven is a joint project between Guardian Project and Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF).

      Imagine you are a journalist working in a hostile foreign country and you are worried about security services breaking into your hotel room and rifling through your belongings and computer while you are away. Haven detects changes in the environment using the sensors in a typical smartphone—the camera, microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light, USB power—to alert you if anyone enters your space or attempts to tamper with your devices while you aren’t there.

    • Canadian Government Looking To Step Up Domestic Surveillance, Scale Back Intelligence Oversight
    • Edward Snowden and human rights groups slam NSA bill that’s rushing through Congress

      The law that gives the National Security Agency the legal authority to spy on millions of Americans is set to expire at the end of the year.

      That might sound like good news, a chance to perhaps scale back the agency’s far-reaching powers and rethink how far its tentacles are allowed to reach into the lives of private citizens across the US.

      Not so much. In fact, Congress is rushing through a bill that will expand the NSA’s legal authority to collect, analyze, and act on the digital communications of American citizens.

      Rep. Devin Nunes is pushing the innocuous-sounding “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017,” based on another bill submitted by Sen. Richard Burr. The bill looks to maintain and potentially expand the NSA’s powers for the next seven years.

    • NSA Surveillance Reauthorization And Expansion Is On Hold. For Now.

      Among the items on a busy Congressional agenda this week was a little-noticed vote on reauthorization and possible expansion of the legal authority for one of the biggest NSA surveillance operations ever authorized against U.S. citizens. An outcry from privacy advocates and a bipartisan group in Congress has, at least temporarily, stalled the extension.

    • Facebook’s New Facial Recognition Feature Is Unnerving Privacy Experts (and Maybe You Too)
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Cook County Assessor’s Old-School Politics Come With a Price for Taxpayers

      Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios has never made any secret of his affinity for old-school politics that put a premium on loyalty and favors.

      That approach has served him well in the Cook County Democratic Party, where he’s risen to chairman, and at the ballot box, where he’s won two terms as assessor and next year will seek a third.

      But it also has caused problems for him with federal court monitors, who are not so fond of the old ways. For years they have been prodding Berrios to comply with standards from the landmark Shakman decree aimed at ending political patronage in local government.

      The monitors’ reports, reviewed by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois, reveal a persistent pattern in Berrios’ office of improper hiring and firing, arbitrary staffing decisions and resistance to change. The pace of reform has been slow and the assessor’s commitment often tepid, records and interviews show.

    • DEA Operation Played Hidden Role in the Disappearance of Five Innocent Mexicans

      At about 2 a.m. on April 21, 2010, a convoy of gunmen working for the Zetas drug cartel, one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, rolled into Monterrey, Mexico, a wealthy, bustling city considered that country’s commercial capital. With brazen efficiency, they set up roadblocks at all major thoroughfares, then sent a convoy of sport utility vehicles downtown, encircling a Holiday Inn.

      The heavily armed men, some wearing ski masks, swarmed into the hotel’s lobby and rushed directly to the fifth floor, bursting into every room and rousting the guests from their beds. The gunmen questioned the guests, then separated four of them from the rest: a marketing executive at an eyewear company, a chemical engineer for a cosmetics manufacturer, a shoe salesman expecting his first child, and a college professor who was the mother of two.

    • What happened when the infosec community outed its own sexual predators

      In 2016 I noticed something odd on Twitter — without context or explanation, Andrea Shepard, a Tor developer, had posted a string of random letters and numbers. Some days later, news broke that the Tor Project had cut ties with Jake Appelbaum, a lauded activist and the most high-profile of their developers, in response to allegations of sexual harassment. Shepard tweeted again, revealing that the mysterious message was a SHA-256 hash of the sentence, “It seems one rapist is one rapist too many.”

    • How organizations can become more inclusive of people with disabilities

      Gender and ethnic/racial equality in the tech community are both important, and I certainly don’t want to downplay these issues. But limiting diversity efforts to gender and race excludes many other worthy groups. One of these is people with disabilities.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Facebook challenges music streaming giants with Universal Music deal

        The deal with Universal Music, thought to be worth several hundred million dollars, will allow Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Oculus Rift users to share and listen to music without breaching copyright.

      • Gamers Want DMCA Exemption for ‘Abandoned’ Online Games

        Several organizations and gaming fans are asking the Copyright Office to make a DMCA circumvention exemption for abandoned online games, to preserve them for future generations. The exemption would allow museums and libraries to offer copies of abandoned online servers, so these games won’t turn to dust.

      • Yet More Copyright Trolls Invade Sweden Demanding Much More Money

        In recent months, thousands of alleged movie pirates in Sweden have been hit with cash demands by a Danish law firm. Sadly, instead of the situation calming down, things are now getting worse. According to a local report, several new law firms are getting in on the action, with one demanding almost double the figures quoted by the Danish outfit while warning of additional costs on top.

      • BYTE Magazine Archive (1975-1995)

        Byte magazine was a microcomputer magazine, influential in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s because of its wide-ranging editorial coverage. Whereas many magazines from the mid-1980s had been dedicated to the MS-DOS (PC) platform or the Mac, mostly from a business or home user’s perspective, Byte covered developments in the entire field of “small computers and software”, and sometimes other computing fields such as supercomputers and high-reliability computing. Coverage was in-depth with much technical detail, rather than user-oriented.

      • Diego Gómez Is Safe, but Threats to Curiosity Still Abound

        In 2011, Colombian graduate student Diego Gómez did something that hundreds of people do every day: he shared another student’s Master’s thesis with colleagues over the Internet. He didn’t know that that simple, common act could put him in prison for years on a charge of criminal copyright infringement.

        After a very long ordeal, we can breathe a sigh of relief: a Colombian appeals court has affirmed the lower court’s acquittal of Diego.

        How did we get to the point where a student can go to prison for eight years for sharing a paper on the Internet?

        Diego’s case is a reminder of the dangers of overly restrictive copyright laws. While Diego is finally in the clear, extreme criminal penalties for copyright infringement continue to chill research, innovation, and creativity all over the world, especially in countries that don’t have broad exemptions and limitations to copyright, or the same protections for fair use that we have in the United States.

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