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03.13.18

Links 13/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.5.2, Tails 3.6, Firefox 59

Posted in News Roundup at 7:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Sourcing the Hunt for Exoplanets
  • Google’s Open Source AI Lets Anyone Hunt for Alien Planets At Home

    Last December, NASA announced that two new exoplanets had been hiding in plain sight among data from the Kepler space telescope. These two new planets weren’t discovered by a human, however. Instead, an exoplanet hunting neural network—a type of machine learning algorithm loosely modeled after the human brain—had discovered the planets by finding subtle patterns in the Kepler data that would’ve been nearly impossible for a human to see.

    On Thursday, Christopher Shallue, the lead Google engineer behind the exoplanet AI, announced in a blog post that the company was making the algorithm open source. In other words, anyone can download the code and help hunt for exoplanets in Kepler data.

  • Google Open-Sources AI Code To Analyze Kepler Data For Exoplanets
  • You Can Hunt for Alien Planets in Kepler Data Using Newly Released Google Code
  • Google AI That Helped NASA Find Exoplanets Now Available to All
  • Find Alien Life and Discover New Exoplanets With Google’s New Machine-Learning Algorithm
  • Now, use Google AI to hunt planets from NASA data
  • Want to join in NASA’s search for exoplanets? Google’s AI can help
  • Google TensorFlow now available for researchers
  • Google AI that helped NASA find exoplanets now open for all
  • Google AI models which helped NASA discover exoplanets, are now available for everyone
  • Researchers Now Have Access to the Same Google AI that NASA had
  • Google AI Is Now Publically Accessible That Helped NASA Boost Its Hunt for Exoplanet
  • A plan for rebooting an open source project

    Once in a while, you will have an open source project that needs care and feeding. Maybe you’re just stepping into an existing project, and you need to figure out where the project is and where it needs to go. It needs a reboot. What do you do? How do you begin?

    When I was in this situation, I was thrown into the deep end with a security issue. I spent a good eight months getting to know the community as we resolved that issue and other legacy infrastructure issues. After about a year, I finally felt like I had a good outline of the community and its challenges and strengths. I realized afterward that it would’ve been smarter if I had first invested time to review the project’s status and create a strategy for how we tackled its needs.

  • Google Open Sources Exoplanet-Hunting AI

    NASA’s Kepler satellite has been observing the stars for nearly a decade, and it’s produced a mountain of data in that time. Late last year, Google showed how machine learning could help astronomers dig through the Kepler backlog, and it discovered a few new exoplanets in the process. Google has now open sourced the planet-spotting AI so anyone can give it a shot.

  • Google collaborates with Ubisoft to launch Agones, an open source game server hosting system

    When you think of cloud computing, chances are you are thinking about massive server farms that let you edit documents in the cloud and update your CRM system, but thankfully, there’s a playful side to the cloud as well. All of those multiplayer games, after all, have to run somewhere, too. Often, gaming companies write their own systems for running these servers, but Google and Ubisoft today announced a new project that provides an open source alternative to managing and hosting multiplayer game servers.

    Agones, as the project is called because that’s the Greek word for ‘contest,’ uses the Google-incubated Kubernetes container project as it core tool for orchestrating and scaling a fleet of multiplayer game servers. When you play your favorite multiplayer game, it’s these kind of game servers that assure that users can see each other as they traverse an island full of 99 other suicidal maniacs, for example — and they also often run the software necessary to identify cheaters. Containers are actually ideal for this kind of scenario because game sessions tend to last for relatively short periods of time and containers can be deployed and shut down quickly.

  • Google & Ubisoft Announce Game Hosting Solution Agones
  • Google & Ubisoft announce Agones, a game server hosting project
  • Google announces new open source multiplayer server Agones
  • Google Steps on Microsoft’s Toes in New Cloud Gaming Push (Premium)
  • Google gets into multiplayer game server hosting with Agones project
  • Google Cloud & Ubisoft Announce Agones – Open Source Dedicated Multiplayer Game Server Hosting
  • Google Cloud’s Agones enables open source dedicated multiplayer game servers
  • Google and the publisher of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ are teaming up for a new weapon in the cloud wars
  • It’s Happening: Substratum Network Announces Plan to Open-Source Its Software in Next Release

    Substratum Network (www.Substratum.net) is pleased to announce it will open-source its software in the next release to further its fight against cyber-censorship. Built as a foundation for the decentralized web, Substratum’s mission is to ensure that all people have free and equal access to information, without impediment.

  • Anti-tracking browser extension Ghostery goes open source

    Ghostery, a provider of free software that makes your web browsing experience cleaner and safer by detecting and blocking third-party data-tracking technologies, announced that it is going open source and the code for its popular browser extension is now publicly available on GitHub.

    This move demonstrates Ghostery’s commitment to transparency, empowering the public to see how Ghostery works and what types of data it collects, as well as the ability to make contributions to its source code.

  • China develops open-source platform for AI development

    China has developed an open-source artificial intelligence platform as part of its plan to become a world leader in the technology by 2030, the country’s science and technology minister said, according to the Business Standard.

    “Open-source platforms are needed because AI can play a bigger role in development and make it easier for entrepreneurs to have access to resources,” Wan Gang said at a press conference.

  • Creating an Open Source Program for Your Company

    The recent growth of open source has been phenomenal; the latest GitHub Octoverse survey reports the GitHub community reached 24 million developers working across 67 million repositories. Adoption of open source has also grown rapidly with studies showing that 65% of companies are using and contributing to open source. However, many decision makers in those organizations using and contributing to open source do not fully understand how it works. The collaborative development model utilized in open source is different from the closed, proprietary models many individuals are used to, requiring a change in thinking.

    An ideal starting place is creating a formal open source program office, which is a best practice pioneered by Google and Facebook and can support a company’s open source strategy. Such an office helps explain to employees how open source works and its benefits, while providing supporting functions such as training, auditing, defining policies, developer relations and legal guidance. Although the office should be customized to a specific organization’s needs, there are still some standard steps everyone will go through.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 59 Prepped For Release: Nukes GTK2 Code, Still Prepping For Wayland

        Mozilla’s Firefox 59.0 is now available to download from the FTP server ahead of the official announcement.

        Firefox 59.0 can now be downloaded for all supported platforms. Firefox 59.0 does deliver on dropping GTK2 support in favor of the GTK3 tool-kit support that’s now mature.

        But what didn’t make it for Firefox 59.0 is the Firefox 59 Wayland support that remains a work-in-progress and was diverted from being a target for mozilla59. While the Wayland support isn’t yet squared away, there have been bug fixes and other improvements in working towards getting this native Wayland support ready by default for those not building your web-browser with the –enable-default-toolkit=cairo-gtk3-wayland switch.

      • Version 59.0, first offered to Release channel users on March 13, 2018
      • Mozilla Firefox 59 Released with Faster Page Load Times, New Privacy Features
      • Latest Firefox available to users where they browse the web — laptop, Fire TV and the office. Plus, a chance to help with the next Firefox release!
      • Firefox 59 “Quantum” released

        Mozilla has released its Firefox 59.0 “Quantum” browser.

        The browser supports GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems, and iOS and Android mobile devices.

      • Firefox 59 released, these are the key changes
      • Mozilla’s Firefox 59 Released, New Agones Project, SparkyLinux 5.3 Available, Hunt for Exoplanets and More

        Mozilla’s Firefox 59 is available for download. See the wiki for more information on its new features, including the “option to stop websites from asking to send notifications or access your device’s camera, microphone, and location”.

      • IT Pros and CIOs: sign up to try Firefox Quantum for Enterprise
      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Mozilla files response to European Commission ‘Fake news and online disinformation’ public consultation
      • Can Chrome Sync or Firefox Sync be trusted with sensitive data?
      • Mozilla Foundation is seeking a VP, Leadership Programs

        One of Mozilla’s biggest strengths is the people — a global community of engineers, designers, educators, lawyers, scientists, researchers, artists, activists and every day users brought together with the common goal of making the internet healthier.

        A big part of Mozilla Foundation’s focus over the past few years has been increasing both the size and diversity of this community and the broader moveme. In particular, we’ve run a series of initiatives — the Internet Health Report, MozFest, our fellowships and awards — aimed at connecting and supporting people who want to take a leadership role in this community. Our global community is the lynchpin in our strategy to grow a global movement to create a healthier digital world.

      • Side projects and swag-driven development

        Another option I keep hearing is to push Mozilla leadership into making side-projects real. That seems like a good option and I think it happens periodically. I sort of did this with Bleach. I spent tons of time trying to get Bleach turned into a real project and it sort of is now.

        Based on that experience, I think it requires a bunch of people and meetings to come to a consensus on validating the project’s existence which is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. It’s important that projects paid for by budgets have impact and value and all that–I get that–but the work to get a side-project to that point is unpleasant and time-consuming. I bet many side-projects can’t pass muster to become a real project. I think what happens instead is that side-projects continue to exist in the misty “there be dragons” part of the Mozilla universe map until the relevant people leave and stuff breaks.

        There are probably other options.

        I’ve been wondering about an option where where the maintainers aren’t locked into choosing between walking away and guilt-driven development for a project that’s important, but for some reason doesn’t have a critical mass and doesn’t pass muster enough to turn into a real project.

        I started wondering if my problem with Standups is two fold: first, I have no incentive to work on it other than bad feelings, and second, it’s a free service so no one else has incentive to work on it either.

        One incentive is getting paid in money, but that’s messy, problematic, and hard to do. But what if we used a different currency? There’s a lot of swag at Mozilla. What if we could use swag to drive development?

      • So, How’s Screenshots Doing?

        It’s been a bit over five months since we launched Firefox Screenshots in Firefox 56, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what’s happened so far and to look forward to what’s coming next.

        So far, our users have taken more than 67 million screenshots. This is a big number that makes my manager happy, but more interesting is how we got here.

      • March Add(on)ness is here

        Winter’s icy hand is releasing its grip, birds are returning from southern migration which means it’s that time of year where people everywhere rank things, put them in brackets and have them compete for bragging rights over who’s the best. It’s time for March Add(on)ness!

      • A Truly Responsive WebXR Experiment: A-Painter XR

        In our posts announcing our Mixed Reality program last year, we talked about some of the reasons we were excited to expand WebVR to include AR technology. In the post about our experimental WebXR Polyfill and WebXR Viewer, we mentioned that the WebVR Community Group has shifted to become the Immersive Web Community Group and the WebVR API proposal is becoming the WebXR Device API proposal. As the community works through the details of these these changes, this is a great time to step back and think about the requirements and implications of mixing AR and VR in one API.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Google Maps wants to simplify Indian address with open-source Plus Codes
    • Google’s new ‘Plus Codes’ are an open source, global alternative to street addresses [Ed: No, it is not "open source"; it makes addresses proprietary and more strictly controlled by Google]

      Google frequently touts that the “next billion users” will come from developing nations with different focuses and needs. To that end, the company has developed a number of optimized services, with the latest being a “simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally.

    • Time for ‘Open Innovation,’ Not Just Open Source

      Embedded open source software not only works; most our world runs on it today. That said, the real story is open innovation, of which open source licenses are simply one part.

      We can all agree that open source revolutionized the software industry. The effect has been profound on every segment from enterprise software to search and social networking. But it wasn’t always that way. The late Jim Ready, founding father of embedded open source software, told me once that his early prospects told him that open source wouldn’t fly because they wouldn’t trust their code to a bunch of teenagers in some far-off part of the world.

      Well, guess what? Embedded open source software not only works; most our world runs on it today.

      That said, the real story is open innovation, of which open source licenses are simply one part. Open innovation means looking outside traditional corporate silos to harness the collective knowledge of a global community of developers and using that community to create new and transformative things. Open innovation in software is enabled by many things: GitHub, app stores and crowdsourcing platforms like Topcoder (founded by our investor and director Jack Hughes) being just a few. Once enabled, though, the innovation potential of this crowd is mind boggling.

    • Inside the Vatican’s First-Ever Hackathon [iophk: "misuse of the term hackathon; hackathons are collaborative, this was an app contest not a hackathon"]

      They received consultation from 40 on-site mentors, many of whom represented Microsoft, Google, and other corporate sponsors of the event who taught the participants how to use their company’s tools and technologies [...]

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Best 10 Free Accounting Software Packages for Small Business

      GnuCash provides a simple approach to bookkeeping and accounting for small businesses. This free accounting software is available for Android, Linux, Windows, OS X, FreeBSDm GNU and OpenBSD. The software manages invoices, accounts payable and receivable, as well as employee expenses and some payroll features.

    • Two new entries for the GNU Licenses FAQ

      We recently made some new additions to our resource Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses (FAQ). The FAQ is one of our most robust articles, covering common questions for using and understanding GNU licenses. We are always looking to improve our materials, so this week we’ve made some fresh updates.

      The first is an update to our entry on using works under the GNU General Public License (GPL) on a Web site. This entry explains that people are free to use modified versions of GPL’ed works internally without releasing source code, and that using GPL’ed code to run your site is just a special case of that. The problem was that the entry went on to explain how things are different when it comes to the Affero GNU General Public License (AGPL). That transition in the old entry wasn’t quite as elegant as we would have liked, and so people were often writing to us to ask for clarification. They were getting confused about whether the comments on the AGPL also applied to the GPL. So we’ve updated that entry, and moved the information on the AGPL to its own entry. The updated text and new entry were both created by long-time licensing team volunteer Yoni Rabkin.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Can we automate open behaviors?

      When I began studying sales training and giving sales seminars, I realized I was discovering a few basic principles. These principles were applicable anywhere in the world—and they were as true in the past as they will be in the future. They pertained to fundamental aspects of my work: Finding customers, meeting customers, learning what customers want, choosing a product or service that would satisfy customers’ needs, etc. One can enact these principles in various, situational ways. But the principles themselves are constant.

      Open organizations operate according to principles, too: transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration, and community. We can relate those principles to specific behaviors that propel the principles forward and keep them firmly rooted as part of the organization’s culture.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Google NSynth Super puts Magenta AI into open-source synthesizer

        Google’s Magenta AI has spawned an unexpected hardware device, the NSynth Super synthesizer that uses machine learning to create new sounds. Based on the Magenta research project, it’s built using the NSynth neutral synthesizer that Google released last year, embodying the AI smarts in a tactile physical interface.

      • Open Source Hardware Video Game Music Player

        [Aidan Lawrence] likes classic synthesized video game music in the same way that other people “like” breathing and eating. He spent a good deal of 2017 working on a line of devices based on the Yamaha YM2612 used in the Sega Genesis to get his feet wet in the world of gaming synths, and is now ready to take the wraps off his latest and most refined creation.

  • Programming/Development

    • Which programming languages pay best, most popular? Developers’ top choices

      Stack Overflow has released the results of its annual survey of 100,000 developers, revealing the most-popular, top-earning, and preferred programming languages.

      The most-loved languages are Kotlin and Mozilla-developed Rust, according to Stack Overflow’s 2018 developer survey.

    • Developers love trendy new languages, but earn more with functional programming

      JavaScript remains the most widely used programming language among professional developers, making that six years at the top for the lingua franca of Web development. Other Web tech including HTML (#2 in the ranking), CSS (#3), and PHP (#9). Business-oriented languages were also in wide use, with SQL at #4, Java at #5, and C# at #8. Shell scripting made a surprising showing at #6 (having not shown up at all in past years, which suggests that the questions have changed year-to-year), Python appeared at #7, and systems programming stalwart C++ rounded out the top 10.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ONF Launches New Open Source SDN Switching Platform – Stratum

      The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is creating a new open source project that stems largely from Google’s desire for programmable white boxes that are easily interchangeable.

      The new project, named Stratum, will create a reference platform for a truly software-defined data plane along with a new set of software-defined networking (SDN) interfaces. Its goal is to provide a white box switch and an open software system.

    • Google Seeds Latest SDN Effort

      Google contributed code to an open-source project organized by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), the latest effort in software-defined networks (SDNs). Stratum will use the P4 programming language and a handful of open-source interfaces to manage large networks for data centers and carriers.

      The group aims to release open-source code early next year, available on multiple networking chips and systems. So far, the project consists of a handful of software companies along with five chip vendors, five potential users, and four OEMs, including Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, Cavium, China Unicom, Dell EMC, Mellanox, and Tencent.

Leftovers

  • Graduate sues Anglia Ruskin University claiming she ended up with a ‘mickey mouse’ degree

    A graduate is suing her university, claiming boasts in its prospectus about high quality teaching and excellent career prospects were fraudulently misleading after she ended up with a ‘mickey mouse’ degree.

  • Hardware

    • Trump Blocks Broadcom Takeover of Qualcomm on Security Risks

      President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday blocking Broadcom Ltd. from pursuing its hostile takeover of Qualcomm Inc., scuttling a $117 billion deal that had been scrutinized by a secretive panel over the tie-up’s threat to U.S. national security.

      Trump acted on a recommendation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews acquisitions of American firms by foreign investors. The decision was unveiled just hours after Hock Tan, the chief executive officer of Singapore-based Broadcom, met with officials at the Pentagon in a last-ditch effort to salvage what would have been the biggest technology deal in history.

    • President Trump Blocks Broadcom Purchase of Qualcomm

      Broadcom is in the process of moving its legal headquarters from Singapore to the U.S., with the company planning on finishing the move by April 3, 2018. Trump hosted Broadcom CEO Hock E. Tan in the White House last year as he announced the move, and the company had hoped that would help it skirt the national security review.

    • Trump Blocks Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm

      President Trump on Monday blocked Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns and sending a clear signal that he was willing to take extraordinary measures to promote his administration’s increasingly protectionist stance.

      In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said “credible evidence” had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Feds Bust CEO Allegedly Selling Custom BlackBerry Phones to Sinaloa Drug Cartel

      Now, the FBI has arrested the owner of one of the most established companies, Phantom Secure, as part of a complex law enforcement operation, according to court records and sources familiar with the matter.

      “FBI are flexing their muscle,” one source familiar with the secure phone industry, and who gave Motherboard specific and accurate details about the operation before it was public knowledge, said. Motherboard granted the sources in this story anonymity to talk about sensitive developments in the secure phone trade. The source said the Phantom operation was carried out in partnership with Canadian and Australian authorities.

    • WHO: Access To Hepatitis C Treatment Increasing, But Most Patients Undiagnosed

      The report also found that the majority of the estimated 71 million people living with HCV remain untreated, mostly because they are not diagnosed. Globally, it says, only about one in five people living with HCV in 2016 had been diagnosed, and in low-income countries, less than 10 percent of people infected with HCV had been diagnosed. Some 40 percent are diagnosed in high-income countries, says the report.

  • Security

    • Judge clears way for breach victims to sue Yahoo

      Among the suits were claims alleging negligence and breach of contract.

      [...]

      Yahoo believes that all 3 billion of its user accounts were affected by the 2013 breach.

    • Data breach victims can sue Yahoo in the United States: judge

      Yahoo was accused of being too slow to disclose three data breaches that occurred from 2013 and 2016, increasing users’ risk of identity theft and requiring them to spend money on credit freeze, monitoring and other protection services.

    • Distrust of Symantec TLS Certificates

      A Certification Authority (CA) is an organization that browser vendors (like Mozilla) trust to issue certificates to websites. Last year, Mozilla published and discussed a set of issues with one of the oldest and largest CAs run by Symantec. The discussion resulted in the adoption of a consensus proposal to gradually remove trust in all Symantec TLS/SSL certificates from Firefox. The proposal includes a number of phases designed to minimize the impact of the change to Firefox users:

    • How Creative DDOS Attacks Still Slip Past Defenses

      Distributed denial of service attacks, in which hackers use a targeted hose of junk traffic to overwhelm a service or take a server offline, have been a digital menace for decades. But in just the last 18 months, the public picture of DDoS defense has evolved rapidly. In fall 2016, a rash of then-unprecedented attacks caused internet outages and other service disruptions at a series of internet infrastructure and telecom companies around the world. Those attacks walloped their victims with floods of malicious data measured up to 1.2 Tbps. And they gave the impression that massive, “volumetric” DDOS attacks can be nearly impossible to defend against.

    • Potent malware that hid for six years spread through routers

      Slingshot—which gets its name from text found inside some of the recovered malware samples—is among the most advanced attack platforms ever discovered, which means it was likely developed on behalf of a well-resourced country, researchers with Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab reported Friday. The sophistication of the malware rivals that of Regin—the advanced backdoor that infected Belgian telecom Belgacom and other high-profile targets for years—and Project Sauron, a separate piece of malware suspected of being developed by a nation-state that also remained hidden for years.

    • Hidden For 6 Years, ‘Slingshot’ Malware Hacks Your PC Through Your Router
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Microsoft Admits It Incorrectly Upgraded Some Windows 10 Users to v1709 [Ed: Windows Update is technically (not a joke) a botnet. It takes over people's PCs and hands them over for Microsoft to use up their CPU and bandwidth. Microsoft has ignored users' "update" settings since at least Windows XP days.]

      Microsoft admitted last week that it incorrectly updated some Windows 10 users to the latest version of the Windows 10 operating system —version 1709— despite users having specifically paused update operations in their OS settings.

      The admission came in a knowledge base article updated last week. Not all users of older Windows versions were forcibly updated, but only those of Windows 10 v1703 (Creators Update).

      This is the version where Microsoft added special controls to the Windows Update setting section that allow users to pause OS updates in case they have driver or other hardware issues with the latest OS version.

    • We Still Need More HTTPS: Government Middleboxes Caught Injecting Spyware, Ads, and Cryptocurrency Miners

      Last week, researchers at Citizen Lab discovered that Sandvine’s PacketLogic devices were being used to hijack users’ unencrypted internet connections, making yet another case for encrypting the web with HTTPS. In Turkey and Syria, users who were trying to download legitimate applications were instead served malicious software intending to spy on them. In Egypt, these devices injected money-making content into users’ web traffic, including advertisements and cryptocurrency mining scripts.

      These are all standard machine-in-the-middle attacks, where a computer on the path between your browser and a legitimate web server is able to intercept and modify your traffic data. This can happen if your web connections use HTTP, since data sent over HTTP is unencrypted and can be modified or read by anyone on the network.

      The Sandvine middleboxes were doing exactly this. On Türk Telekom’s network, it was reported that when a user attempted to download legitimate applications over HTTP, these devices injected fake “redirect” messages which caused the user’s browser to fetch the file from a different, malicious, site. Users downloading common applications like Avast Antivirus, 7-Zip, Opera, CCleaner, and programs from download.cnet.com had their downloads silently redirected. Telecom Egypt’s Sandvine devices, Citizen Lab noted, were using similar methods to inject money-making content into HTTP connections, by redirecting existing ad links to affiliate advertisements and legitimate javascript files to cryptocurrency mining scripts.

    • Let’s Encrypt takes free “wildcard” certificates live
    • GuardiCore Upgrades Infection Monkey Open Source Cyber Security Testing Tool
    • A Guide To Securing Docker and Kubernetes Containers With a Firewall
    • How IBM Helps Organizations to Improve Security with Incident Response

      Protecting organizations against cyber-security threats isn’t just about prevention, it’s also about incident response. There are many different organizations that provide these security capabilities, including IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS), which is led by Wendi Whitmore.

      In the attached video interview Whitmore explains how incident response works and how she helps organizations to define a winning strategy. Succeeding at incident response in Whitmore’s view, shouldn’t be focused just on prevention but on building a resilient environment.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Modernization’: Media’s Favorite Euphemism for Military Buildup

      A variation on this tautology is “overhaul” (New York Times, 8/27/17) or “rebuild” (The Hill, 1/20/18), the idea being that something has fallen into disrepair or broken down and simply needs to be put back together. How vast new expenditures on weapons that can already end civilization can be justified in either financial or moral terms is simply breezed past. A “modern” United States is self-evidently preferable to a pre-modern one, and the United States must be “modern” to “keep pace” with perennial Bad Guys Russia and China.

    • The US Government Is Considering Drafting Middle-Aged Hackers To Fight The Cyberwar

      There’s no time like the near future to be conscripted into military service. Due to citizens’ declining interest in being personally involved in the government’s multiple Forever Wars, the Commission on Military, National and Public Service is exploring its options. And one of the options on the table is removing restrictions on certain draftees (or volunteers) headed for certain positions in the armed forces.

    • Erdogan marries Turkish ultranationalist salute with that of Muslim Brotherhood
    • The New York Times proves that Thomas Friedman was so wrong about Saudi Arabia
    • Russian to Judgement

      The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

      The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.

      Incidentally, novachok is not a specific substance but a class of new nerve agents. Sources agree they were designed to be persistent, and of an order of magnitude stronger than sarin or VX. That is rather hard to square with the fact that thankfully nobody has died and those possibly in contact just have to wash their clothes.

    • The Strange Case of the Russian Spy Poisoning

      The suspected nerve agent attack upon former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, which also affected his daughter in the English city of Salisbury last Sunday, has given rise to too much speculation, too much hysteria, and too little analysis or insight. It has provided ammunition for the Russophobic Western media to make accusations that it was another example of Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular disposing of a supposed enemy of the Kremlin.

    • Republicans Want to Look at Gun Violence in Movies? OK, Let’s Look

      A ticket to a PG-13 movie can be sold to anyone over 13, while an R rating requires viewers under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The PG-13 rating (by far the most lucrative one the MPAA dishes out) was invented in 1984 when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom didn’t seem quite violent enough for an R rating, but still featured a guy’s heart being torn out of his chest. In director Stephen Spielberg’s words, it was a way to put “a little hot sauce” on a PG rating, while still allowing children to watch.

      Thirty years later, a study found that gun violence in PG-13 movies had tripled, and today there is more gun violence in PG-13 movies than R-rated ones. So according to the MPAA, showing someone gleefully firing a weapon is fine for children, but showing what happens when bullets strike a person is not.

      Hollywood’s penchant for sensationalizing violence is an old, tired argument. You can find studies and anecdotal evidence both that it’s poisoning our children, and that it’s almost entirely harmless. But while people fret over that controversy, they ignore the fact that most people get their education on how guns work from on-screen violence, and movies (and TV) mislead their audience on how useful — not to mention easy to use — firearms are.

    • Russia warns UK of ‘consequences’ of cyber strike after Skripal poisoning

      The Russian Embassy has responded to speculation the UK will launch a retaliatory attack.

      [...]

      If there is no credible response from the Kremlin, Mrs May has pledged to set out a “full range” of measures to be taken in response.

      The Government has not publicly disclosed the options under consideration but reports on Tuesday suggested one possibility was a cyber counter-attack.

      Responding to the speculation, the Russian Embassy in the UK said: “Statements by a number of MPs, ‘Whitehall sources’ and ‘experts’ regarding a possible ‘deployment’ of ‘offensive cyber-capabilities’ cause serious concern.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Xiaxue finds an admirer in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after she trolls “virtue-signalling” American activist

      Singaporean blogger and YouTuber Xiaxue has drawn appreciation from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a tweet of hers went viral.

      Interestingly, the tweet that garnered praise from Assange is about 10 months old. In May 2017, American author and activist Dan Arel was asked to provide proof for accusing someone for being a rapist. In response, he tweeted that believed victims of rape.

    • Lawyer for Assange Leaves Miller & Chevalier as Mueller Probe Heats Up

      Barry Pollack, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s Washington, D.C.-based attorney, has left Miller & Chevalier for a smaller boutique law firm and is representing an unnamed client involved in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

      “I am representing someone with respect to the Mueller probe,” said Pollack, who is now a partner at Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner, & Sauber. “The representation is not public at this point,” he said.

      Pollack said Assange, whose organization in 2016 released troves of Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian hackers, has not been contacted by Mueller’s office thus far. Pollack said he is representing Assange only in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia. He gave no hints as to who he was representing in connection with Mueller’s investigation.

    • Chelsea Manning on Sharing Military Documents With Wikileaks: ‘It Wasn’t a Mistake’

      Speaking at the SXSW Conference Tuesday morning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst said she had no regrets about her “data dump” of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents with WikiLeaks in 2010.

      “I made a decision to do something and I made that decision and I’m owning that decision. When it comes to something like that it’s not about second-guessing it or regretting it,” Manning told the audience in Austin, Tex.

    • Chelsea Manning On Life After Prison, Advocacy, And Coder Ethics — SXSW

      Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower who was convicted of leaking classified information, talked about re-entering civilian life after spending seven years in federal prison.

  • Finance

    • Central Banks Urged to Study Digital Currency Risks and Rewards

      The BIS — the club of the world’s largest central banks — said in a report on Monday that the new form of money could one day be issued by policy makers for tasks such as settling payments among financial institutions. At the same time, it warned that digital coins might destabilize traditional lenders if offered widely to the general public.

    • Magic Leap Raises $461 Million From Saudis

      Magic Leap announced Wednesday that it had raised $461 million, mostly from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment arm. The company described the investment as the second closing of a round that totaled $963 million. The first part, announced in October, was led by Temasek Holdings Pte., Singapore’s state-owned investment company.

      Magic Leap has raised more than $2.3 billion to date, and has been valued at above $6 billion. Google, Alibaba and Morgan Stanley are already investors.

    • Dropbox files $7 billion IPO

      The cloud storage company Dropbox on Monday filed to issue public stock at a valuation of roughly $7 billion, well below its valuation during its last public offering several years ago.

    • Zuckerberg’s Money Manager Bets on Bone-Broth Company
    • Prediction that $45 billion added to GDP from digital transformation

      The optimism about digital transformation and economic growth comes from research – Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific – undertaken by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific with 1,560 global business decision makers, including 100 in Australia.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Tanzania: Electoral Processes Questioned
    • The Smallness of Mark Zuckerberg And why he should not be trusted as the world’s custodian of information

      People who seek high office should have a long record of honesty, good judgment, and good character. That should not be too much to ask, but it disqualifies a lot of people, Mark Zuckerberg among them.

    • If The US Government Can’t Figure Out Who’s A Russian Troll, Why Should It Expect Internet Companies To Do So?

      A few weeks back, following the DOJ’s indictment of various Russians for interfering in the US election, we noted that the indictment showed just how silly it was to blame various internet platforms for not magically stopping these Russians because in many cases, they bent over backwards to appear to be regular, everyday Americans. And now, with pressure coming from elected officials to regulate internet platforms if they somehow fail to catch Russian bots, it seems worth pointing out the flip side of the “why couldn’t internet companies catch these guys” question: which is why couldn’t the government?

    • Trump’s “fake news” smear is starting to have dangerous consequences
    • Guy Verhofstadt tells Juncker to ‘sort out’ Selmayrgate

      The scandal over the flash promotion of Martin Selmayr to the Commission’s most powerful civil service post is “bad for Europe and bad for the European Commission,” leading liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt told MEPs.

      Addressing a debate at the Parliament’s plenary session on Brexit, the former Belgian prime minister directed his opening remarks to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who had opened the session.

      “Your former head of cabinet yesterday has done something that nobody has done ever before here in this house: to unite the whole parliament, the left and the right,” said Verhofstadt, as Selmayr glowered at him from his position seated behind his former boss. “Its’a not a joke, you have to sort it out,” he added.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Schools grapple with how to accommodate student activism
    • The antiquarian assault on press freedom

      Today, the great and the good are going down much the same road when faced with speech they would prefer to suppress. Old-fashioned hair-trigger libel actions are one technique: witness Jeremy Corbyn seriously threatening to sue fellow politician Ben Bradley for libel last month over unguarded comments. But the last few years have also seen another insidious piece of legal antiquarianism being put into operation – and one concerned directly with the publication of the truth.

    • We Made A Documentary Exposing The ‘Israel Lobby.’ Why Hasn’t It Run?

      You never know who you’re going to spot at the Doha Four Seasons in Qatar. So I was only somewhat surprised when I found myself standing next to Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz in the omelet line last Saturday.

      It was a fortuitous meeting. Dershowitz had recently played a small role in an episode that was threatening the reputation of my long-time employer, Al Jazeera. So naturally, I leapt at the opportunity to defend it.

      The circumstances of the threat were these: In 2016, the award-winning Investigative Unit I directed sent an undercover reporter to look into how Israel wields influence in America through the pro-Israel American community. But when some right wing American supporters of Israel found out about the documentary, there was a massive backlash. It was even labeled as anti-Semitic in a spate of articles.

    • Dear Leader McConnell: Don’t pass FOSTA

      We have heard that the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) may be on the U.S. Senate floor this week for a final vote. We are concerned that the U.S. Senate appears to be rushing to pass a seriously flawed bill without considering the impact it will have on Internet users and free speech.

    • Iowa Town Threatens Critical Resident With A Lawsuit, Gets Sued By The ACLU Instead

      A small town in Iowa has decided one of its residents has too much First Amendment. Boldly marching forward in the face of mild criticism, Sibley’s government had its lawyer threaten a local man with a lawsuit if he didn’t take down or alter his website that criticized the town government for its repeated failure to address a serious problem in the town.

      Sibley has less than 3,000 residents but it is the home to a large animal byproduct processing plant. Iowa Drying and Processing went into operation five years ago. Unaffectionately nicknamed the “Blood Plant,” IDP’s operations were the subject of complaints due to the pervasive foul odor emanating from it.

      Local programmer Jeremy Harms set up a website advising people to stay away from Sibley after repeated calls for action were met with a lot of doing nothing by city politicians. His website previously answered the question about relocating to Sibley with “No.” Thanks to the city’s legal threats, the answer has been upgraded to “Maybe.” In addition to pulling his hard “no,” Sibley also amended his original post to reflect the few positives the town has.

    • Trump’s Lawyers Apparently Unfamiliar With Streisand Effect Or 1st Amendment’s Limits On Prior Restraint

      Over this past weekend, it was revealed that (1) the adult film actress Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), who has claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump and then was given $130,000 to stay silent about it, is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes next weekend and (2) President Trump’s lawyers are considering going to court to block CBS from airing it. This is silly, dumb and not actually allowed by the law.

    • SA’s internet censorship bill will break media, marketing

      Nearly half of our 400 MPs were too apathetic to pitch up for one of the most-significant debates seen by Parliament in recent years. And, of the 224 elected representatives who deigned to vote, a staggering 189 supported a bill that is so preposterous it’s almost comedic.

      The Film and Publications Amendment Bill gives the erstwhile Film and Publications Board the right to regulate online content. Ostensibly, the bill is designed to protect children from being exposed to disturbing content. Laudably, it aims to curb revenge porn and hate speech while also addressing the scourge of fake news.

    • Sobchak proposes to repeal ‘censorship’ law

      In the course of the pre-election debate presidential hopeful Kseniya Sobchak proposed to repeal Article 282 of the Criminal Code on Incitement of Hatred or Enmity. She stated this at the debates on Channel One.

      “In our program, as you know, we are for the abolition of Article 282, because this article, which was allegedly made to fight extremists, is used against people who like the posts of dissenters in Russia… Just like Yarovaya’s package, which enables all special services to monitor each of us,” – RIA Novosti quotes her words.

      “Yarovaya’s package will be used in the business interests of thievish officials, so I am in favor of repealing Article 282, and of disembodying the department – the so-called E, which ostensibly fights extremists, but in fact it fights dissenters,” added Sobchak.

    • Trump admin sets new record for censorship of federal files

      The federal government denied more public records requests in 2017 than at any other point in the past decade, according to an analysis by the AP. Out of 823,222 requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act last year, the government censored or failed to provide records in 78% of cases claiming that it could either not find the requested files or that releasing the information would be illegal under U.S. law.

    • Age Verification pushed back

      The deadline for the implementation of the Government’s potentially disastrous Age Verification scheme has officially been pushed back to ‘before the end of the year’.

    • Reporter’s viral eye-roll causes trouble in China
    • An Epic Eye Roll Enthralls China
    • This Video Of A Chinese Reporter’s Eye Roll Made Her An Instant Hero On The Internet
    • Minitrue: Do Not Hype Two Sessions Reporter’s Eyeroll
    • The student censors in anti-fascist clothing

      Student politics reached a new low this month, when Yaron Brook, an American-Israeli writer, and Carl Benjamin, a popular political YouTuber, were prevented from speaking to the Libertarian Society at King’s College London by a group of activists who claimed Brook and Benjamin were ‘fascists’ and ‘white supremacists’.

      Wearing masks, the activists punched their way through security, hospitalising one guard, before setting off smoke bombs, fire alarms and thundering through the room where the event was taking place, seeking to intimidate speakers, students and staff. From what we know, the protagonists were from outside King’s, but their stunt was organised with the complicity of certain King’s students. This was clear given that seven left-wing student societies had organised a protest the day before the Libertarian Society talk, with the stated aim of keeping the speakers ‘off campus’. It seems that students were once again successful in No Platforming speakers and shutting down an event designed to be a forum for debate and discussion.

    • The resurgence of class struggle and the fight against Internet censorship

      The American government, Internet companies and capitalist states around the world are engaged in an aggressive campaign to censor the Internet, under the guise of combating “fake news” and “Russian meddling.” The real aim is to suppress and criminalize the growth of opposition in the working class to austerity, war and social inequality.

      On Sunday, April 22, the World Socialist Web Site, Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) are holding a public conference in Detroit, Michigan to mobilize the working class against Internet censorship.

    • The Marketplace of Ideas: Assaulting the First Amendment

      Poetry of freedom, this verse has safeguarded the chase of truth in ways that no military might can provide or preserve be it in the United States or elsewhere.

      Almost 250 years later, we are, again, witness to an evident onslaught upon the core of our collective freedom… the marketplace of ideas.

      [...]

      Under the First Amendment, people may elect to embrace or promote “radical” anti-American, anti-Israeli or even anti-Semitic commentary or opinion; it is a choice left to them and them alone. Neither the government nor any of its minions have the constitutional authority to limit access to information not in itself otherwise prohibited by law.

      The marketplace must be open to all ideas – even false ideas. In an open marketplace ideas must “clash” and “grapple;” they must stand up to assault and prove their worthiness. Truth cannot be pampered, too delicate to be examined – truth must be tested, forged in the furnace of doubt and questioning.

      And, where, as here, government seeks to reprimand Al Jazeera for ensuring our collective right to the widest diversity of information and opinion it is a punishment that penalizes all.

    • Russia Censors News Reports About Anti-Putin Ice Graffiti, Leaving Its Contents Entirely Up To Our Collective Imagination

      Readers here will be familiar with the Streisand Effect, by which a topic or information becomes wildly viral due to the very attempts at censoring it. The idea is that by trying to keep Subject X out of the news, the public suddenly is far more exposed to Subject X as a result of news coverage of the cover-up. This story slightly deviates from the Streisand Effect formula, but only in the most hilarious way.

      People should know by now that Vladimir Putin is a strong-arm “President” that runs the country like a fiefdom. As such, most if not all wings of his government serve him personally far more directly than they do his constituents. Evidence of this is practically everywhere, especially in how his government and non-government organizations in Russia react to his political opponents. Typically, his political rivals are jailed, silenced, or otherwise tamped down viciously in terms of how much exposure they can get to challenge his political position. A recent example of this concerns presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, whose supporters painted the ice on a frozen river in St. Petersburg with the mildest anti-Putin slogan, reading “Against Putin.” As a result, Roskomnadzor, the government agency featured in our pages for its censorship of websites in the name of literally anything it can dream up, ordered news groups to censor the contents of the message-on-ice in any reporting on the incident.

    • Twitter’s Attempt To Clean Up Spammers Meant That People Sarcastically Tweeting ‘Kill Me’ Were Suspended

      Just recently, Senator Amy Klobuchar suggested that the government should start fining social media platforms that don’t remove bots fast enough. We’ve pointed out how silly and counterproductive (not to mention unconstitutional) this likely would be. However, every time we see people demanding that these platforms better moderate their content, we end up with examples of why perhaps we really don’t want those companies to be making these kinds of decisions.

      You may have heard that, over the weekend, Twitter started its latest sweep of accounts to shutdown. Much of the focus was on so-called Tweetdeckers, which were basically a network of teens using Tweetdeck software to retweet accounts for money. In particular, it was widely reported that a bunch of accounts known for copying (without attribution) the marginally funny tweets of others and then paying “Tweetdeckers” for mass promotion. These accounts were shutdown en masse over the weekend.

    • New project pairs journalists with musicians to fight censorship

      A new project from Reporters Without Borders Germany is using a loophole in certain nations’ censorship laws to deliver news, Pitchfork reports. The Uncensored Playlist pairs journalists with local musicians in China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam to write songs which convey news stories that would otherwise be censored beyond meaning. The songs are then uploaded on Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music, with the names of the artists and reporters protected in their home countries.

    • New Journalism Project Spreads Censored News Through Music Streaming Services

      The Uncensored Playlist is a new project from Reporters Without Borders Germany that uses music streaming services to spread censored news stories around the world. It pairs local journalists with local musicians in China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam to write songs that convey the news, and then releases the songs via Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music. All of the songs have been recorded in English as well as the individual countries’ languages. For the songs’ international release, they are credited to the journalists that wrote them. However, to protect the writers and to avoid censorship laws, for their release within their original countries, they are credited to aliases and feature alternate titles.

    • “Indecent” Brings Issues of Censorship and Anti-Semitism Center Stage

      We don’t talk nearly enough about how censorship is often the first step towards total fascism and tyranny, and this show covers that topic expertly with this based-on-a-true-story rooted in that very subject. We also see America’s complacency in the horrors that happen in the rest of the world, as it’s the USA where the actors in God of Vengeance are tried in court. This is a very unusual and necessary look at world history, as our history books like to paint us as the heroes in this particular series of events. In Indecent we see the cast of characters go from eager and excited about a show to victims of actual genocide in roughly ninety minutes, and it is a powerful and important message about how quickly things spiral out of control and who’s to blame when they do. While I would like to see more from the plethora of Jewish stories available to us, this show’s focus on what leads to things like the Holocaust and its original point of view regarding those events is still refreshing. While not perfect, this show leaves us with plenty to chew on and mull over for weeks after the fact. That’s art, warts and all, and I’m grateful to see The Guthrie taking on such powerful work.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Government ‘unlawfully delegated’ bulk data powers to GCHQ, court hears

      Privacy International urges Britain’s most secret court, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, to rule that the government illegally collected surveillance data from internet and phone companies until at least September 2017

    • Leaked Tools Show How NSA Pulls Back from Target Computers If They’re Already Hacked by Other Nations

      An interesting research published this month reveals how the National Security Agency (NSA) quickly pulls back from its target machines if it spots any other malware dropped by threat groups. An array of tools called Territorial Dispute was apparently dropped by the Shadow Brokers along with the infamous EternalBlue exploit, however, it didn’t receive much attention due to its non-offensive nature.

    • EFF and 23 Groups Tell Congress to Oppose the CLOUD Act

      EFF and 23 other civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Congress urging Members and Senators to oppose the CLOUD Act and any efforts to attach it to other legislation.

      The CLOUD Act (S. 2383 and H.R. 4943) is a dangerous bill that would tear away global privacy protections by allowing police in the United States and abroad to grab cross-border data without following the privacy rules of where the data is stored. Currently, law enforcement requests for cross-border data often use a legal system called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, or MLATs. This system ensures that, for example, should a foreign government wish to seize communications stored in the United States, that data is properly secured by the Fourth Amendment requirement for a search warrant.

      The other groups signing the new coalition letter against the CLOUD Act are Access Now, Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Campaign for Liberty, Center for Democracy & Technology, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Constitutional Alliance, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress Action, Equality California, Free Press Action Fund, Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Human Rights Watch, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Black Justice Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia, People For the American Way, and Restore The Fourth.

    • James Clapper avoids charges for ‘clearly erroneous’ surveillance testimony

      Former intelligence chief James Clapper is poised to avoid charges for allegedly lying to Congress after five years of apparent inaction by the Justice Department.

      Clapper, director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, admitted giving “clearly erroneous” testimony about mass surveillance in March 2013, and offered differing explanations for why.

      Two criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress have five-year statutes of limitations, establishing a Monday deadline to charge Clapper, who in retirement has emerged as a leading critic of President Trump.

      The under-oath untruth was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who sparked national debate on surveillance policy with leaks to the press.

      Many members of Congress, mostly Republicans supportive of new limits on electronic surveillance, called for Clapper to be prosecuted as the deadline neared, saying unpunished perjury jeopardizes the ability of Congress to perform oversight.

      “He admitted to lying to Congress and was unremorseful and flippant about it,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told the Washington Examiner. “The integrity of our federal government is at stake because his behavior sets the standard for the entire intelligence community.”

    • RedisWannaMine Unveiled: New Cryptojacking Attack Powered by Redis and NSA Exploits

      Recently cryptojacking attacks have been spreading like wildfire. At Imperva we have witnessed it firsthand and even concluded that these attacks hold roughly 90% of all remote code execution attacks in web applications.

      Having said that, all of the attacks we have seen so far, were somewhat limited in their complexity and capability. The attacks contained malicious code that downloaded a cryptominer executable file and ran it with a basic evasion technique or none at all.

      This week we saw a new generation of cryptojacking attacks aimed at both database servers and application servers. We dubbed one of these attacks RedisWannaMine.

    • NSA Retreats From Targeted PCs If They’re Already Infected by Other APT Malware

      Hacking tools leaked last year and believed to belong to the US National Security Agency (NSA) contain an utility for detecting the presence of malware developed by other cyber-espionage groups.

      This utility, going by the codename of “Territorial Dispute,” is meant to alert NSA operators about the presence of other APT hacking groups on a compromised computer and allows an NSA operator to retreat from an infected machine and avoid further exposure of NSA hacking tools and operations to other nation-state attackers.

    • Aadhaar hearings: Day 15 saw arguments on Aadhaar as a money bill, interim orders for NEET registrations were also passed

      This was compared to the use of Aadhaar today. It was argued that today, it was not possible for an individual to survive without Aadhaar, and it was needed from ‘birth to death’. It was further argued that worldwide, there was a turn towards limiting the use of data while here, the opposite was happening.

      In view of this, it was argued that Section 57 allowing the use of Aadhaar for ‘any purpose’ could not be interpreted to mean use for ‘all purposes’. The Bench, here, also questioned if there was any compelling state interest in authorising private parties to mandate Aadhaar. Further, previous arguments on Section 57 as an excessive delegation of essential functions were reiterated.

    • How to Make a Clean Break With the Clingiest Social Networks

      [...] Wanting to delete your account is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, the biggest networks have made it overly complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.

    • World Sticks to Cash as Sweden Heads Alone Into Cashless Future

      That resurgence appears to be driven by so-called store-of-value motives (reflecting lower opportunity cost of holding cash) rather than by payment needs, BIS said. That means as interest rates fall — and even go negative some places — there is more incentive to hold cash.

    • US NTIA Boss On Whois Debate: ‘Keep Data Open For IP Rightsholders, Others’

      US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information David Redl today weighed in on the debate over changes to the storage and public display of personal information of domain name registrants at the meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Border Control Enthusiast Banned From Crossing UK Border

      Local newspaper Luton Today reports that Southern was denied entry to the UK after she was photographed in the Bedfordshire town displaying inflammatory posters that stated “Allah is a gay god.”

    • #DearNonNatives: What Native Americans Want Non-Natives To Know
    • Nebraska Is Illegally Obtaining and Storing Execution Drugs in Defiance of Federal Law

      The state has operated outside the law using an improper license to purchase and store lethal injection drugs.

      For years, the state of Nebraska has had a troubled history of cutting corners in its zealous pursuit of lethal-injection drugs to keep its death penalty program alive. In November, the state announced that it would use an experimental drug cocktail not previously used in the United States to carry out its next execution. What the state didn’t reveal, however, is that it was violating federal law when acquiring the ingredients for the lethal cocktail.

      In a complaint filed today by the ACLU of Nebraska with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the ACLU has shown that the state of Nebraska is playing fast and loose with DEA registrations in order to covertly obtain and store the drugs it intends to use for executing prisoners. The DEA should seize the drugs Nebraska has unlawfully obtained before they can be used in an execution.

      As the complaint shows, a person or entity, including government agencies, needs a DEA registration to import a controlled substance. Federal law also requires those that handle a controlled substance to have a DEA registration particular to their authorized usage. These laws apply to the Nebraska Department of Corrections and to the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), where the state carries out executions. But both institutions are ignoring the law in order to get the execution drugs they need to carry out the death penalty.

    • The Trump Administration’s Campaign to Weaken Civil Service Ramps Up at the VA

      Last June, President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by signing a bipartisan bill to make it easier to fire employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The law, a rare rollback of the federal government’s strict civil-service job protections, was intended as a much-needed fix for an organization widely perceived as broken. “VA accountability is essential to making sure that our veterans are treated with the respect they have so richly earned through their blood, sweat and tears,” Trump said that day. “Those entrusted with the sacred duty of serving our veterans will be held accountable for the care they provide.”

      At the time, proponents of the bill repeatedly emphasized that it would hold everyone — especially top officials — accountable: “senior executives,” stressed Senate Veterans Committee chair Johnny Isakson; “medical directors,” specified Trump; anyone who “undermined trust” in the VA, according to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Shulkin advocated for the measure, called the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, by highlighting a case in which the agency had to wait 30 days to fire a worker caught watching porn with a patient.

    • Schools Should Use Walkouts in Protest of Gun Violence as a Teaching Moment

      A disciplinary response to the walkout is a disservice to young people and a missed educational opportunity.

      For 17 minutes on March 14, students and their supporters across the country are planning to walk out of their schools, honoring the victims of the Parkland school shooting and calling for Congress to pass meaningful gun regulation. Unfortunately, some schools view this act as a disruption and are threatening to discipline students who participate. A disciplinary response is a disservice to young people and a missed educational opportunity.

      Too often, adults discipline students for expressing their opinions or simply being themselves. LGBTQ students have been sent home for expressing their sexual orientation, and girls have been disciplined when they challenge gendered uniform policies. Students of color are more likely than their white classmates to be disciplined, especially for subjective offenses like excessive noise. A hairstyle, a hoodie, or even a creative school science project can be seen as cause for disciplining Black and brown students. Punishment has even been invoked against students who attempt to speak up when they see abuse. That’s what happened to a high school student in Columbia, South Carolina, who was charged with “disturbing schools” after daring to speak up against a police officer’s violent mistreatment of a classmate.

    • The Government’s Case Against California’s ‘Sanctuary’ Policies Is on Weak Legal Ground

      Under the 10th Amendment, the federal government cannot force states or localities to participate in a federal program.

      Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the latest move in this administration’s increasingly desperate attempts to bully states and localities into colluding with its draconian detention and deportation agenda. Following a brief aside to blame all immigrants for violent crime, homicides, and opioid overdose deaths, he told a meeting of the California Peace Officers’ Association that the Justice Department had just filed a major lawsuit against the state of California.

      The lawsuit challenges three state laws passed and signed into law in 2017: AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act; AB 103, a detention statute that was part of an omnibus bill; and SB 54, the California Values Act. The DOJ claims that these three laws “have the purpose and effect of making it more difficult for federal immigration officers to carry out their responsibilities in California.” In fact, these laws simply ensure that state actors comply with the U.S. Constitution and that local law enforcement’s limited resources are not co-opted for federal immigration enforcement purposes except in certain circumstances.

      AB 103 expands state oversight of California’s local detention facilities when they hold people under contracts with ICE because federal oversight of the ICE detention system is woefully inadequate. And AB 450 reinforces the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement by requiring employers to see a judicial warrant from ICE before they allow ICE to enter a non-public part of a workplace. The Sessions’ lawsuit details the federal government’s objections to these attempts to limit the harm caused by the deportation force that President Trump has unleashed.

    • No Money to Make Bail or Pay for a Lawyer? Too Bad, Say Officials in Glynn County, Georgia

      ACLU’s lawsuit says it’s unconstitutional to have one pretrial system for the wealthy and another for the poor.

      Margery Mock is 28 years old and the mother to an 8-year-old girl. She is currently unemployed and battling homelessness, having spent one month in a hotel and several nights in her storage unit, where all of her belongings are kept. She was recently arrested on an alleged criminal trespassing charge from trying to visit a relative at a motel and incarcerated on a $1,256 bond that she can’t afford.

      Mock is a victim of Glynn County, Georgia’s wealth-based pretrial system. The county allows those with money to walk free while they await trial, while those who can’t make bail remain locked up. It also fails to provide people who can’t afford to pay for a lawyer with a public defender to argue for their release.

      Both practices are illegal. The constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process prohibit people from being jailed simply because they cannot afford a monetary payment. The Sixth Amendment guarantees people accused of crimes will be appointed lawyers to defend them if they cannot afford to hire a private lawyer.

    • Pakistan Court Declares Mobile Data Disconnections By The Government Illegal

      In countries that put far less an emphasis on expanding human rights and personal liberty, it’s become somewhat common for them to use strong-arm tactics to stifle dissent. One aspect of that is often times the suspension or shutdown of mobile networks, the theory being that the messaging and social media apps dissenters use on their phones allow them to organize far better than they otherwise could and therefore cause more trouble. Frankly, this has become something more expected out of Middle East authoritarian regimes than in other places, but they certainly do not have a monopoly on this practice.

      However, there are governments with the ability to reverse course and go back in the right direction. One Pakistani court in Islamabad recently ruled that government shutdown of mobile networks, even if done under some claims for national security, are illegal. The news comes via a translation of a bytesforall.pk report. As a heads up, you will notice that the translation is imperfect.

    • “No Right Without a Remedy”: Why NSA Whistleblower Protections Are Lacking

      Earlier this month Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, attended a roundtable discussion with the National Security Agency (NSA) Inspector General (IG) Robert Storch. The meeting served as an avenue for the IG to hear comments on the NSA’s whistleblower program.

      In attendance was Andrew Snowdon, NSA whistleblower coordinator and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) counsel, as well as representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Project on Government Oversight, and Government Accountability Project, among others.

      When explaining his commitment to strengthening whistleblower protections in the NSA, the IG stated, “there is no right without a remedy.”

    • Reality Winner: The Cost of Mounting a Defense Arguing the Government Overclassifies

      This is the no-win situation Winner is in, trying to challenge her conviction after having been denied bail. Because of the way we deal with classified information, she’ll have served a likely full sentence by the time she gets to trial.

      It still may be worth it. After all, if she wins at trial, she’ll avoid a record as a felon.

    • Cop Hits Woman’s Car At 94 MPH, Killing Her Infant. Police Arrest Woman For Negligent Homicide.

      This isn’t apples-to-apples (the court making this declaration was in Ohio, not Louisiana, where this accident took place) but it’s a good rule of thumb. If someone is driving 44 mph over the speed limit, they’ve effectively forfeited their right-of-way status. A left turn taken in front of a speeding officer should give the officer zero preferential treatment in the eyes of the law. The officer should be 100% culpable for the damage and loss of life. Arresting a mother who lost her infant to an officer’s reckless actions is needlessly cruel and serves zero deterrent purpose. Her daughter can’t be killed again.

      The way the Baton Rouge PD is handling this ensures Officer Manuel’s eventual conviction will also have zero deterrent value. It shows officers the PD is willing to arrest victims of their unlawful actions and give them all the time they want — with pay! — to heal up before they’re forced to confront the results of their recklessness. If the DA is smart, the charges against the mother will vanish and the cop will be rung up for his negligent actions.

    • Off-duty Baton Rouge police officer going 94 mph in crash that killed 1-year-old baby, police say

      A Baton Rouge police officer was arrested Friday on a count of negligent homicide, accused of going 94 mph in a Corvette when he caused an off-duty crash on Airline Highway that killed an infant and injured six others.

      The officer, Christopher Manuel, 28, was driving north in a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 12 on Airline Highway when it struck a Nissan at the intersection at Florline Boulevard that was occupied by four adults and three children.

    • Matthew Keys, now freed from prison, is ready to get back to journalism

      Speaking to Ars by phone last Thursday from a halfway house in California, Keys underscored three basic points about his case. The first, he said, is that it’s all said and done. There will be no further appeal. Secondly, he maintains he did not commit the crime for which he was convicted. Finally, Keys is now ready to write a new chapter of his life: one where he can get back to doing meaningful, workaday journalism.

    • New CIA Director Nominee: When There’s No Justice For Torture

      President Donald Trump nominated CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to succeed Mike Pompeo as director of the agency. Haspel was briefly in charge of a black site prison and helped destroy evidence to cover up torture.

      The possible promotion is but another consequence of the failure and refusal among President Barack Obama’s administration and the political establishment to meaningfully hold officials accountable for torture.

      Trump made the announcement as part of a tweet that indicated CIA Director Mike Pompeo was nominated to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Tillerson was effectively fired.

      Haspel would not only be the first woman to run the CIA. She would also be the first woman, who helped agency officials conceal evidence of torture and abuse against detainees in the “war on terrorism,” to serve as a CIA director.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC must defend net neutrality repeal in court against dozens of litigants

      Twelve lawsuits filed against the Federal Communications Commission over its net neutrality repeal have been consolidated into one suit that will be heard at a federal appeals court in California.

      The 12 lawsuits were filed by more than three dozen entities, including state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and tech companies.

    • Here’s that Scientology TV network you didn’t ask for
    • Telecom Lobbyists Whine About State Net Neutrality Efforts They Helped Create

      So one, most of the state-level rules closely mirror the same rules the FCC is trying to eliminate, so most of them are fairly uniform. It’s also worth pointing out that these companies already have to navigate a vast array of regulations governing phone, cable and broadband service — rules that can often vary town by town. In other words, these net neutrality efforts aren’t as uncommon, discordant and fractured as the telecom industry might have you believe.

      Granted having disparate state-level protections may in some ways be cumbersome, but that’s again something ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast should have thought a little harder about before killing extremely popular and modest (by international standards) federal protections. Large ISP lobbyists created this mess and, unsurprisingly, they’re simply refusing to own it.

      US Telecom is also being disingenuous in claiming to want “permanent and sustainable rules” via new legislation. As we’ve noted several times, what they really want is a net neutrality law they know they’ll write. One that prohibits ISPs from doing things they never intended to do (like blocking websites entirely), while carving out vast loopholes allowing anti-competitive behavior on numerous other fronts (zero rating, interconnection). The real goal: pass flimsy legislation that pre-empts tougher state rules, or future efforts by the FCC or Congress to implement meaningful protections.

    • On 29th Birthday of World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee Voices The Need For Internet Regulation
    • The web is under threat. Join us and fight for it.

      Today, the World Wide Web turns 29. This year marks a milestone in the web’s history: for the first time, we will cross the tipping point when more than half of the world’s population will be online.

      When I share this exciting news with people, I tend to get one of two concerned reactions:

      How do we get the other half of the world connected?
      Are we sure the rest of the world wants to connect to the web we have today?

    • The Importance of Ending the Internet as We Know It
    • Ten Years Later, Cable Industry Finally Realizes More Ads Is Not The Solution To Cord Cutting

      For years we’ve noted how the traditional cable TV industry is slowly-but-surely bleeding customers tired of paying an arm and a leg for bloated bundles of often terrible programming. And for just as long we’ve documented how far too many cable and broadcast executives are hell bent on doubling down on all of the bad behaviors that cause these defections in the first place. That has ranged from knee jerk price hikes in the face of growing streaming competition, to efforts to stuff more ads into every viewing hour, whether by editing down programs or speeding them up to ensure maximum commercial load.

      The ugly truth most cable and broadcasting executives can’t face is that the era of the sacred cable TV cash cow is over. Television simply isn’t going to be as profitable in the wake of real competition and the more flexible, cheaper pay TV alternatives that competition is providing. And while countless industry executives still somehow think this is a fad they can wait out, there’s growing evidence that at least a few industry executives are finally getting the message.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Federal Judge Says Business Names Provided By Reviewers At A Review Site Are Contributory Trademark Infringement

        Users of the site submitted reviews of companies whose names contained the word “reliable.” The plaintiff claims some of the company names are infringing. The plaintiff, illogically, sues the third party host of user reviews of companies whose names may be infringing on the plaintiff’s trademark. This is where the suit gets tossed because the alleged infringement isn’t taking place at TransportReviews. It’s taking place at all of the businesses allegedly misusing a registered mark.

        But the suit doesn’t get tossed. Instead, the judge says it can continue. The judge actually says user reviews hosted at a review site of businesses whose names might be infringing is the review site’s problem. The only intelligible part of the opinion states there’s no direct infringement. These were only names returned in search results, all of which were input by third party users. The website did not use the plaintiff’s mark to identify its own goods or services. In fact, the site never used the names at all other than to serve up relevant hits for users’ search terms.

        Everything goes sideways after that. The judge decides that because the defendant was notified about this alleged infringement and did not immediately kowtow to a bizarre request directed at completely the wrong party (a middleman hosting third party content that had nothing to do with naming related businesses names that might be infringing), the website can be held responsible for contributory infringement.

    • Copyrights

      • Killing The Golden Goose (Again); How The Copyright Stranglehold Dooms Spotify

        For many, many, many years, we’ve talked about how the legacy entertainment industry will seek to kill the Golden Goose by strangling basically any innovation that is helping it adapt to new innovations. We saw the same pattern over and over and over again. The simple version of it goes like this: the legacy entertainment industry sits around and whines about how awful the internet is because it’s undermining its gatekeeper business model that extracts massive monopoly rents, but does nothing to actually adapt. Eventually, companies come along and innovate and create a service (a) people want that (b) actually is legal and pays the legacy companies lots of money. This should be seen as a win-win for everyone.

        But the legacy companies get jealous of the success of the innovator who did the actual work. They start to overvalue the content and undervalue the innovative service. The short version of this tends to pop up when a legacy entertainment exec says something like “why is innovative company x making so much money when all it’s doing is making use of our content?” Of course, if the service part was so obvious, so easy, and so devoid of value, then the legacy entertainment companies would have done it themselves. But they didn’t. So with the jealousy comes the inevitable demand for more cash from the innovator. And, usually, demands for equity too, which the innovator has basically no ability to resist, because they need to have a “good” relationship with the content companies. But the demands for more (and the jealousy) never go away.

      • U.S. Navy Under Fire in Mass Software Piracy Lawsuit

        German software company Bitmanagement is asking the US Court of Federal Claims for a partial summary judgment against the US Government. According to the software vendor, it’s undisputed that the Navy installed its software on hundreds of thousands of computers without permission, infringing its copyright.

      • Voksi ‘Pirates’ New Serious Sam Game With Permission From Developers

        Best known for his efforts to defeat anti-piracy protection Denuvo, the cracker known as ‘Voksi’ has revealed another string to his bow. After participating in the closed beta of Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour in 2016, he got friendly with the game’s developers. Now, with their permission, he’s giving the game away for free in an effort to boost sales of the action adventure.

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