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04.19.18

Links 19/4/2018: Mesa 17.3.9 and 18.0.1, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas, Elections for openSUSE Board

Posted in News Roundup at 9:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-source library for improving security of AI systems

    Attacks against neural networks have recently been flagged as one of the biggest dangers in our modern world where AI systems are increasingly getting embedded in many technologies we use and depend on daily.

    Adversaries can sometimes tamper with them even if they don’t know much about them, and “breaking” the system could result in very dangerous consequences.

    [...]

    The library is written in Python, as it is the most commonly used programming language for developing, testing and deploying Deep Neural Networks.

  • IBM launches open-source library for securing AI systems

    On Tuesday at the RSA conference in San Francisco, IBM announced the launch of the Adversarial Robustness Toolbox to support developers and users of AI that may become the victims of attacks against AI systems including Deep Neural Networks (DNNs).

    According to the tech giant, threat actors may be able to exploit weaknesses in AI systems through very subtle means. Simple, small, and often undetectable alterations in content including images, video, and audio recordings can be crafted to confuse AI systems, even without a deep knowledge of the AI or DNN a cyberattack is targeting.

  • IBM releases new toolbox to protect AI from adversarial attacks

    IBM is releasing an open-source software library to combat against adversarial attacks in deep neural networks (DNNs). DNNs are machine learning models that are capable of recognizing patterns.

  • Build a serverless framework at home: Go on, bit of open sourcey hijinx won’t hurt

    First unveiled at SpringOne Platform in December, riff is still an early project. It emerged from the Spring Cloud Data Flow, a data integration project to run Java code as microservices created under Pivotal’s open source Java-focused Spring framework.

    “Riff is the next step in that evolution,” says Jürgen Leschner, a riff organiser who works at Pivotal. Instead of running microservices that persist in containers, serverless models hide the containers from the developers and operations teams entirely. Instead, when a developer calls a software function, the container orchestration system (in riff’s case, Kubernetes) spins one up and then kills it off silently.

    [...]

    The benefits of open source serverless

    What do these open source serverless options bring to the party? Unless you’re using them to slurp services on the AWS platform and minimise container fees by weeding out idle compute power, why bother?

    Efficiency for developers is one driver, says Leschner. “Developers don’t have to worry about building the connectors and boilerplate stuff into their code. They can package a simpler project and the boilerplate is already in the platform.”

  • How will the GDPR impact open source communities?

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016, and will be enforced beginning May 25, 2018. The GDPR replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC which was designed “to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

    The aim of the GDPR is to protect the personal data of individuals in the EU in an increasingly data-driven world.

  • 3 tips for organizing your open source project’s workflow on GitHub

    Managing an open source project is challenging work, and the challenges grow as a project grows. Eventually, a project may need to meet different requirements and span multiple repositories. These problems aren’t technical, but they are important to solve to scale a technical project. Business process management methodologies such as agile and kanban bring a method to the madness. Developers and managers can make realistic decisions for estimating deadlines and team bandwidth with an organized development focus.

  • Prospects for free software in cars

    Car manufacturers, like most companies, navigate a narrow lane between the benefits of using free and open-source software and the perceived or real importance of hiding their trade secrets. Many are using free software in some of the myriad software components that make up a modern car, and even work in consortia to develop free software. At the recent LibrePlanet conference, free-software advocate Jeremiah Foster covered progress in the automotive sector and made an impassioned case for more free software in their embedded systems. Foster has worked in automotive free software for many years and has played a leading role in the GENIVI Alliance, which is dedicated to incorporating free software into in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. He is currently the community manager for the GENIVI Alliance.

    First, Foster talked about the importance of software in modern vehicles. He pointed out that software increasingly becomes the differentiator used to market cars. Horsepower no longer sells these vehicles, Foster says—features do. He claims that some companies even sell the car at cost (the old “razor/blades” or “printer/ink” business model) and make their money on aftermarket apps and features. Companies are finding it effective to get hardware from other manufacturers while improving the user experience through their software. Some of these features contribute to safety (such as alerts that help you drive within the lane or parallel park), and some may be critical, such dashboard icons that warn the driver of electrical system problems or low brake fluid.

  • Productising open source integration

    We asked Lumina Networks’ CEO Andrew Coward, how companies can make best use of open source. “Open source is not a spectator sport,” says Andrew. “Sitting around and waiting for somebody to show up and deliver the equivalent of your existing vendor’s offering is not the right approach. So we work best when our customers are very engaged. And really, it’s all about how you automate things.”

  • Riot: A Distributed Way of Having IRC and VOIP Client and Home Server

    Riot is a free and open source decentralized instant messaging application that can be considered an alternative to Slack. We take a look at features of Riot, installation procedure and usage.

    It’s surprising that many Linux users and open source projects use a proprietary messaging service like Slack. Even we at It’s FOSS use Slack for our internal communication which I don’t like. This is why I came up with the proposal of using an open source alternative to Slack, called Riot.

  • Announcing the 2018 Fractal Hackfest

    For the past few months, I’ve been contributing to a new group messaging app called Fractal. Its aim is to be so good that we can maybe, eventually, finally replace IRC as the primary communication channel for GNOME development.

  • Events

    • Rust loves GNOME Hackfest: Day 1

      This is a report of the first day of the Rust loves GNOME Hackfest that we are having in Madrid at the moment. During the first day we had a round of introductions and starting outlining the state of the art.

    • Madrid GNOME+Rust Hackfest, part 1

      I’m in Madrid since Monday, at the third GNOME+Rust hackfest! The OpenShine folks are kindly letting us use their offices, on the seventh floor of a building by the Cuatro Caminos roundabout.

      I am very, very thankful that this time everyone seems to be working on developing gnome-class. It’s a difficult project for me, and more brainpower is definitely welcome — all the indirection, type conversion, GObject obscurity, and procedural macro shenanigans definitely take a toll on oneself.

    • Five days left

      I use to joke that the last week before foss-north is the worst – everything is done, all that is left is the stress.

    • KubeCon + CloudnativeCon Europe 2018

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s flagship conference will be taking place in Copenhagen from May 2-4. It will cover Kubernetes, Prometheus OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, and other key technologies in cloud native computing.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • No-Judgment Digital Definitions: App vs Web App

        Just when you think you’ve got a handle on this web stuff, things change. The latest mixup? Apps vs Web Apps. An app should be an app no matter what, but there is a difference between the two. Let’s find out what it is.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Viswaprasath Ks

        Please meet our newest Friend of Add-ons, Viswaprasanth Ks! Viswa began contributing to Mozilla in January 2013, when he met regional community members while participating in a Firefox OS hackathon in Bangalore, India. Since then, he has been a member of the Firefox Student Ambassador Board, a Sr. Firefox OS app reviewer, and a Mozilla Rep and Tech Speaker.

        In early 2017, Viswa began developing extensions for Firefox using the WebExtensions API. From the start, Viswa wanted to invite his community to learn this framework and create extensions with him. At community events, he would speak about extension development and help participants build their first extensions. These presentations served as a starting point for creating the Activate campaign “Build Your Own Extension.” Viswa quickly became a leader in developing the campaign and testing iterations with a variety of different audiences. In late 2017, he collaborated with community members Santosh Viswanatham and Trishul Goel to re-launch the campaign with a new event flow and more learning resources for new developers.

      • Virtual Reality at the Intersection of Art & Technology

        This is the second video in our four part series around creators, virtual reality, and the open web. As we laid out in the opening post of this series, virtual reality is more than a technology, and it is far more than mere eye-candy. VR is an immensely powerful tool that is honed and developed every day. In the hands of a creator, that tool has the potential to transport audiences into new worlds and provide new perspectives.

      • Hello wasm-pack!

        As Lin Clark emphasizes in her article about Rust and WebAssembly: the goal of WebAssembly is not to replace JavaScript, but to be an awesome tool to use with JavaScript. Lots of amazing work has been done to simplify crossing the language boundary between JavaScript and WebAssembly, and you can read all about that in Alex Crichton’s post on wasm-bindgen. This post focuses on a different type of JavaScript/Rust integration: package ecosystem and developer workflows.

      • Firefox Performance Update #6

        These updates are going to shift format slightly. I’m going to start by highlighting the status of some of the projects the Firefox Performance Team (the front-end team working to make Firefox snappy AF), and then go into the grab-bag list of improvements that we’ve seen landing in the tree.

      • Announcing cargo src (beta)

        cargo src is a new tool for exploring your Rust code. It is a cargo plugin which runs locally and lets you navigate your project in a web browser. It has syntax highlighting, jump to definition, type on hover, semantic search, find uses, find impls, and more.

      • Things Gateway – Series 2, Episode 1
      • Firefox Data engineering newsletter Q1 / 2018

        As the Firefox data engineering teams we provide core tools for using data to other teams. This spans from collection through Firefox Telemetry, storage & processing in our Data Platform to making data available in Data Tools.

        [...]

        Most centrally, the Telemetry portal is now the main entry point to our tools, documentation and other resources. When working with Firefox data you will find all the important tools linked from there.

      • Working for Good: Metalwood Salvage of Portland

        The web should be open to everyone, a place for unbridled innovation, education, and creative expression. That’s why Firefox fights for Net Neutrality, promotes online privacy rights, and supports open-source tech around the globe. We strive to make the online community a better place. We also know people everywhere work tirelessly to improve their own communities. In this series, we’re profiling businesses that work to make the world better—and use Firefox to support a healthy, open, and safe internet.

      • It’s time to give Firefox a fresh chance

        After spending some quality time comparing the actual experience of using Chrome, Safari, and Firefox across a variety of websites, I’m confident in saying browser benchmarks are profoundly uninformative. The truth is that performance differences are not substantial enough to be noticed. If anything, you’re most likely to clash with “only works in Chrome” incompatibilities, but that’s kind of the whole reason for me to avoid Chrome: someone has to keep using the alternatives so as to give them a reason to exist.

  • BSD

    • LLVM Is Playing A Big Role With Vulkan/SPIR-V Compilers

      The usage of LLVM as part of the graphics driver stack continues to be picked up now especially in the Vulkan/SPIR-V world.

      With the new NVIDIA 396 driver series there is their new “NVVM” compiler stack for SPIR-V, the IR used by Vulkan and OpenCL and now can be consumed by OpenGL 4.6 too.

    • OpenBSD on my fanless desktop computer

      I’ve been using OpenBSD on servers for years as a web developer, but never had a chance to dive in to system administration before. If you appreciate the simplicity of OpenBSD and you have to give it a try on your desktop.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ‘No Company Is So Important Its Existence Justifies Setting Up a Police State’

      You’re talking about very — about specific manifestations, and in some cases in ways that presuppose a weak solution.

      What is data privacy? The term implies that if a company collects data about you, it should somehow protect that data. But I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the problem is that it collects data about you period. We shouldn’t let them do that.

      I won’t let them collect data about me. I refuse to use the ones that would know who I am. There are unfortunately some areas where I can’t avoid that. I can’t avoid even for a domestic flight giving the information of who I am. That’s wrong. You shouldn’t have to identify yourself if you’re not crossing a border and having your passport checked.

      With prescriptions, pharmacies sell the information about who gets what sort of prescription. There are companies that find this out about people. But they don’t get much of a chance to show me ads because I don’t use any sites in a way that lets them know who I am and show ads accordingly.

      So I think the problem is fundamental. Companies are collecting data about people. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical, extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem.

      A database about people can be misused in four ways. First, the organization that collects the data can misuse the data. Second, rogue employees can misuse the data. Third, unrelated parties can steal the data and misuse it. That happens frequently, too. And fourth, the state can collect the data and do really horrible things with it, like put people in prison camps. Which is what happened famously in World War II in the United States. And the data can also enable, as it did in World War II, Nazis to find Jews to kill.

      In China, for example, any data can be misused horribly. But in the U.S. also, you’re looking at a CIA torturer being nominated to head the CIA, and we can’t assume that she will be rejected. So when you put this together with the state spying that Snowden told us about, and with the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to take almost any database of personal data without even talking to a court. And what you see is, for companies to have data about you is dangerous.

      And I’m not interested in discussing the privacy policies that these companies have. First of all, privacy policies are written so that they appear to promise you some sort of respect for privacy, while in fact having such loopholes that the company can do anything at all. But second, the privacy policy of the company doesn’t do anything to stop the FBI from taking all that data every week. Anytime anybody starts collecting some data, if the FBI thinks it’s interesting, it will grab that data.

      And we also know that the FBI and other such agencies are inclined to label protesters as terrorists. So that way they can use laws that were ostensibly adopted to protect us from terrorists to threaten a much larger number of us than any terrorist could.

    • Numerical Analysis Software Global Market Analysis & Forecast: Analytica, Matlab, GNU Octave, Plotly, FlexPro
  • Public Services/Government

    • German government moves to open source private cloud

      The German federal government is moving to an open source, self-hosted cloud platform from Nextcloud for file sync and sharing and collaboration, in order to protect the data of its citizens.

      The Federal Information Technology Center (ITZBund), which takes care of IT services for the entire federal government, has been running a pilot of 5000 users with Nextcloud since October 2016 and after a successful tender this will now be rolled out everywhere.

    • German government chooses Nextcloud for open-source files

      Nextcloud has revealed its new three-year contract which will consist of supplying the German federal government with its private, on-premises cloud platform.

    • Open source’s big German win: 300,000 users shift to Nextcloud for file sharing

      The German federal government has chosen local private cloud and open-source file-sync operator Nextcloud as its collaboration and file-sharing platform for 300,000 government users.

      Nextcloud arrived on Germany’s tech scene in 2016 after Frank Karlitschek, co-founder of the open source infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud program OwnCloud, forked the software to create a more open-source model.

    • German Government Chooses Open Source For Its Federal Cloud Solution

      It’s not hidden that apart from costing tons of money, the use of proprietary software also brings along hidden security caveats. These are the two primary reasons why the usage of open source software is being pushed in public agencies all around the world, especially in European countries.

    • Israeli Government Is Open Sourcing Its Software Code

      Just yesterday, we told you about German government’s decision to go ahead with an open source solution for creating its private cloud. The government announced a partnership with Nextcloud, which is a popular open source solutions provider.

      In another encouraging development for the open source enthusiasts, the Israeli government has decided to open source its software code. As a result, the released code will be available to public and free to reuse.

  • Programming/Development

    • A Taxonomy of Tech Debt

      Hi there. I’m Bill “LtRandolph” Clark, and I’m the engineering manager for the Champions team on LoL. I’ve worked on several different teams on League over the past years, but one focus has been consistent: I’m obsessed with tech debt. I want to find it, I want to understand it, and where possible, I want to fix it.

      When engineers talk about any existing piece of technology – for example League of Legends patch 8.4 – we often talk about tech debt. I define tech debt as code or data that future developers will pay a cost for. Countless blog posts, articles, and definitions have been written about this scourge of software development. This post will focus on types of tech debt I’ve seen during my time working at Riot, and a model for discussing it that we’re starting to use internally. If you only take away one lesson from this article, I hope you remember the “contagion” metric discussed below.

    • 6 Python datetime libraries

      Once upon a time, one of us (Lacey) had spent more than an hour staring at the table in the Python docs that describes date and time formatting strings. I was having a hard time understanding one specific piece of the puzzle as I was trying to write the code to translate a datetime string from an API into a Python datetime object, so I asked for help.

    • Is DevOps compatible with part-time community teams?
    • Intel Opens Up nGraph Source Code For DNN Model Compiler

      Intel tonight announced they are open-sourcing their nGraph compiler code, which serves as a framework-neutral deep neural network model compiler.

      Intel claims with nGraph and Xeon Scalable hardware that researchers can obtain up to 10x performance improvements over previous TensorFlow integrations, as one example. Besides TensorFlow, nGraph also supports PyTorch, MXNet, Neon, Caffe2, and CNTK while also planning to support other frameworks moving forward.

    • Why it’s finally time to give up on the name JavaScript

      An iOS developer has apparently received a cease and desist notice from Oracle over the use of the word “JavaScript” in the title of their app. The developer, Tyanya Software, shared the notice on perennial internet soapbox Reddit to seek advice on how to fight the order.

      [...]

      If user reviews are any indication, the app is not even particularly good, with reviewers stating things such as “Not ready for production,” “Does not work as advertised,” and “Waste of money, don’t buy this.” The last update to the app was in 2014, which the changelog notes was only an upgrade to add support for iOS 8. The app developer is at least honest about the intent behind the unwieldy name for the app, saying in a Reddit comment that “we game the App Store ranking by adding all the keywords to the app name.”

      While Oracle has a duty to protect their trademarks, this type of legal bludgeoning underscores a historical problem that has been left unaddressed for too long: JavaScript is a terrible name for the thing being described.

      It has nothing to do with Java, an actual product developed by Sun (now owned by Oracle). JavaScript was developed at Mozilla, and the name was changed during beta releases of Netscape Navigator 2.0 from “LiveScript” to “JavaScript.” It has, for some time, caused confusion among casual web users about the difference between Java and JavaScript. Given that ECMAScript is also a trademarked term, it seems best to revert to calling the language “LiveScript” to undercut trademark-related legal posturing.

      [...]

      Oracle declined to comment on this story.

    • New PyPI launched

      The new PyPI has been launched. Browser traffic and API calls (including “pip install”) have been redirected from the old pypi.python.org to the new site. The old PyPI will shut down on April 30. LWN covered the new PyPI last week.

    • Pip 10.0 has been released

      The release of pip 10.0 has been announced. Some highlights of this release include the removal of Python 2.6 support, limited PEP 518 support (with more to come), a new “pip config” command, and other improvements.

    • Understanding metrics and monitoring with Python
    • A new package index for Python

      The Python Package Index (PyPI) is the principal repository of libraries for the Python programming language, serving more than 170 million downloads each week. Fifteen years after PyPI launched, a new edition is in beta at pypi.org, with features like better search, a refreshed layout, and Markdown README files (and with some old features removed, like viewing GPG package signatures). Starting April 16, users visiting the site or running pip install will be seamlessly redirected to the new site. Two weeks after that, the legacy site is expected to be shut down and the team will turn toward new features; in the meantime, it is worth a look at what the new PyPI brings to the table.

    • Spyder – The Scientific Python IDE for Data Science

      I don’t know how many of our readers are research scientists, data analysts, etc. but today, we introduce an IDE that is ideal for Python development and it goes by the name of Spyder.

      Spyder is an Open Source IDE written in Python for Python development with a focus on research, data analysis, and scientific package creation. It boasts a well-planned User Interface with interactive options, customizable layouts, and toggle-able sections.

      Its features include a multi-language editor with automatic code completion, real-time code analysis, go-to definitions, etc. It also contains a history log, developer tools, a documentation viewer, a variable explorer, and an interactive console, among other perks.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Rampage may stoke CRISPR fears, but scientists say it could be educational, too

      “In a sense, it’s flattering that Hollywood is interested in CRISPR technology enough to make it the premise of a movie,” Liu says. It’s even more flattering for scientists who are fans of the people in those movies. “If The Rock is really interested in learning more about CRISPR, you can tell him to reach out to me,” Liu adds. “I’m happy to give him a CRISPR lecture.”

  • Hardware

    • Facebook Is Working To Build Its Own Chips For Its Hardware Projects

      Facebook is following the footsteps of its fellow tech giants and planning to build its own chips. This move comes in the wake of recent efforts from Google, Apple, and Amazon reduce their reliance on Intel and Qualcomm.

    • Facebook is building a team to design its own chips
    • Facebook Is Forming a Team to Design Its Own Chips

      The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. A job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks.

    • Digital remains should be treated like physical ones [iophk: “unlike most physical artifacts, storage devices lose data quickly without active maintenance up to and including regular migrations: magnetic loses in a matter of years, SSD loses in a matter of months”]

      To date, there has been little effort to build frameworks that ensure ethical usage of our internet activity for commercial purposes. However, new research from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) suggests that the guidelines used to manage human remains in archaeological exhibitions could be used as a framework to regulate the growing DAI industry, and make the commercial use of digital remains more ethical.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Goldman Sachs Analyst Asks Whether Curing Patients Is A Sustainable Business Model

      Pharma companies generally like to give the impression that their business is a win-win kind of thing: you get better, they get sales. But sometimes the mask slips, and the real strategy that lies behind the benevolent exterior is revealed. For example, back in 2014 we wrote about the CEO of Bayer, one of the biggest drug companies in the world, openly admitting it developed medicines for rich patients in the West that can pay high prices, not for those in places like India that need them just as much, but can’t afford them.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A 10-Minute Trial, a Death Sentence: Iraqi Justice for ISIS Suspects

      Iraq is ramping up prosecutions of thousands of people accused of supporting the Islamic State, handing death sentences to workers, wives and fighters.

    • Return to Ward 17: Making peace with lost comrades

      I was the Iraq bureau chief for Reuters when Namir, 22, and Saeed, 40, were shot dead by a U.S. Apache helicopter on the streets of Baghdad on July 12, 2007, along with 10 other people. The attack grabbed global attention when WikiLeaks released classified U.S. military footage of the incident in 2010. The video, titled “Collateral Murder,” was viewed millions of times.

      I had planned to be in Iraq for the 10th anniversary, to apologise to Namir and Saeed’s families. Instead, unable to cope as the day approached, I was admitted to the Psychological Trauma Recovery Services inpatient unit at Melbourne’s Austin Health. It was my second admission to the facility, known as Ward 17, in less than a year.

    • Belgium Illegally Shipped 96 Tonnes of Sarin Precursor to Syria

      Knack and Syrian Archive reveal today that Belgian companies have violated EU sanctions against Syria, according to the summons of an upcoming lawsuit.

      Based on information found through the UN Comtrade database, freedom of information requests, and confirmed by the Belgian Customs, we can reveal that a criminal case regarding exports of chemicals to Syria has been opened in Antwerp Criminal Court. This case is brought by the Belgian Customs against three Flemish companies, one managing director and one manager, according to court press judge Roland Cassiers citing the summons.

      Since EU sanctions from September 2013 made export licences compulsory for the export of isopropanol to Syria in concentrations of 95% or higher, Syrian Archive and Knack can report that Belgian companies exported 96 tonnes of isopropanol, a sarin precursor, to Syria between 2014 and 2016.

    • How Social Media Built the Case for Trump’s Strike on Syria

      Social media has emerged as a key battleground in the U.S. and Russian media campaign to promote their sharply divergent accounts of chemical weapons in Syria.

      The intelligence assessments presented over the weekend by the United States and France to justify missiles strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb relied to an unusual degree on information gleaned from open source material and social media. Russia, meanwhile, is mustering an army of internet trolls to shift blame for the chemical weapons attack.

    • ‘We are watching you’: Political killings shake Mexico election

      Magda Rubio had just launched her campaign for mayor of a small city in northern Mexico, when a chilling voice came through her cell phone. “Drop out,” the caller warned, “or be killed.”

    • Turkey’s anti-war protesters detained: ‘Everything is a crime’

      “It was 04:00 when the police came beating at my door. ‘Open up! Open up!’ they were shouting,” recalls Denizhan Eren, a 23-year-old college student.

      “As soon as I opened the door, they yelled ‘Lie down!’ They had huge guns and they were wearing balaclavas.”

      Denizhan is one of a number of students from Turkey’s prestigious Bogazici University who have been detained in Istanbul in recent weeks.

      In total 31 students have been detained. While 10 have been freed, eight have been released pending trial and another 13 students are still being held in pre-trial detention.

    • This is the First War Since the Iraq Invasion Where the World Hasn’t Heard From Julian Assange

      In the spring of 2003 when the US and UK commenced their illegal invasion of Iraq, there was no Wikileaks, a free man called Julian Assange was someone no one had heard of, alt-media did not exist and nor did social media as it is understood today.

      In a short 15 years a lot has changed. Independent online media has become a global force and social media allows people to share information and opinions with an ease, scope and impact that was previously unthinkable. News channels like CGTV, RT, Press-TV and Telesur have changed both the online, cable and satellite tv landscape and perhaps most importantly, since 2006 Julian Assange’s Wikileaks has brought to light, information that was never intended to see the light of day – all of which has exposed the lies, manipulation and violence behind the governments taking the world to illegal war after illegal war.

    • Out of 26 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Zero Opposed

      A survey by FAIR of the top 100 papers in the US by circulation found not a single editorial board opposed to Trump’s April 13 airstrikes on Syria. Twenty supported the strikes, while six were ambiguous as to whether or not the bombing was advisable. The remaining 74 issued no opinion about Trump’s latest escalation of the Syrian war.

      This is fairly consistent with editorial support for Trump’s April 2017 airstrikes against the Syrian government, which saw only one editorial out of 47 oppose the bombing (FAIR.org, 4/11/17). The single paper of dissent from last year, the Houston Chronicle, didn’t publish an editorial on last week’s bombing.

      Seven of the top 10 newspapers by circulation—USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and Washington Post—supported the airstrikes. The New York Daily News and San Jose Mercury News offered no opinion, while the New York Times (4/13/18) was ambiguous—mostly lamenting the lack of congressional approval, but not saying that this meant the strikes were illegal or unwise. “Legislation should…set limits on a president’s ability to wage war against states like Syria,” is the Times’ conclusion. A complete list of editorials on the airstrikes can be viewed here.

    • How The Health Community Is Failing Julian Assange, The Victims Of The Douma Attacks, And Three Women Struggling To Feed Their Kids

      Around the world, people are getting sicker, and more and more are dying from entirely preventable causes. We have the answers to why, we just don’t have the will to stop it. In the first of a two part series, Dr Lissa Johnson looks at the greatest cause of global illness and death.

      The Lancet recently published an article identifying the single most important action that health professionals can take to promote “health for all”. The article’s recommendations draw on the findings of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has pinpointed the most pervasive cause of ill-health worldwide.

      However, scarcely a mainstream health professional in the Western world has heeded the advice of The Lancet or the WHA, which is curious. The Lancet is described by its publisher as the world’s leading independent medical journal. The paper’s author, David McCoy, is Professor of Global Public Health at Queen Mary University London, ranked as one of the top universities in the UK. The WHA is widely regarded as the highest health policy-setting body in the world.

    • Special Operations Forces Aiming to Expand

      The 2019 budget request for U.S. Special Operations Command — $13.6 billion — is 10% higher than the 2018 level and is the largest budget request ever submitted by US SOCOM.

      U.S. special operations forces, which are currently deployed in 90 countries, have more than doubled in size from 33,000 personnel in 2001 to around 70,000 personnel in early 2018. Next year’s budget, if approved, would make them larger still.

    • Senior Civil Servants Still Deeply Sceptical of Russian Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning

      Well-placed FCO sources tell me it remains the case that senior civil servants in both the FCO and Home Office remain very sceptical of Russian guilt in the Skripal case. It remains the case that Porton Down scientists have identified the chemical as a “novichok-style” nerve agent but still cannot tie its production to Russia – there are many other possibilities. The effort to identify the actual perpetrator is making no headway, with the police having eliminated by alibi the Russian air passenger on the same flight as Julia Skripal identified as suspicious by MI5 purely on grounds of the brevity of their stay.

    • What is the U.S. Fighting for in Syria?

      The Trump administration delivered several dozen military strikes against Syria purportedly aimed at chemical production and storage facilities. It was an act the international community feared might lead to overt war in Syria between the US, Iran and Russia, but it came off a bit better: the strike seems to have been carefully calibrated, involved care to avoid casualties and seemed largely symbolic in nature. The strikes did not meaningfully change facts on the ground.

      What sense can we make out of all these strategic events in Syria? We encounter a baffling array of players: Syrian troops, Syrian insurgents, jihadis of varying ideologies, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Shi’ite militias, Iraqis, Kurds, Hizballah—all locked in a deadly dance. But as complex as it may be, this seven-year bloody conflict still continues to pose the very same long-term fundamental questions to US policy in Syria and the region. These questions demand an answer.

    • “I Really Did Kill Those Babies”

      Genene Jones, a Texas nurse long suspected of more than a dozen child murders decades ago but convicted of only one, allegedly confessed. The newly uncovered evidence emerged in a hearing today in which Jones attempted to have five murder charges against her dismissed.

    • Ukraine’s NATO Bid Risks Even Worse U.S.-Russia Ties

      It’s been four years since the hectic “Euromaidan” protest movement culminated in a coup that deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Though civil war grinds on in the eastern half of the country, Ukraine has wandered in and out of American news cycles since the dramatic change of government in Kiev.

      But a more recent development has implications that are rarely explored in American media, despite what it could mean for broader U.S. international relations. Ukraine is vying to take its place as NATO’s newest member state, a move that could seriously escalate tensions between Washington and Moscow beyond their current high point.

      “It’s safe to say that Russia would be, and has been, opposed to NATO membership for Ukraine,” James Carden, former advisor to the State Department’s U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, said in an email exchange.

      Neighboring states such as Ukraine and Georgia, Carden added, “are red lines for Russia and we should take them at their word.”

    • Four Lessons From the Strike on Syria

      The lessons from last weekend’s strike on Syria by the United States of America and two of its allies do not bode well for the future of democracy or the future of peace, says Inder Comar.

      [...]

      Checks and balances are swept away. And the strike now sets further precedent for unilateral executive authority to attack or invade another country based. It is one person, and one person alone, who commands American military might, without scrutiny or later accountability.

    • ‘Absolutely Earth-Shaking’: North and South Korea Reportedly in Talks to Officially End Korean War

      Technically, North and South Korea are still at war, and have been for more than six decades—but an “absolutely earth-shaking” new report on Tuesday indicates the conflict may soon be coming to an end.

      Citing an anonymous South Korean diplomatic official, Munhwa Ilbo—a South Korean daily newspaper—reported that the neighboring countries are hashing out a statement that could officially bring the war to an end later this month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet in person for the first time.

    • North and South Korea reportedly set to announce official end to war

      North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

      Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation.

      Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, the newspaper said.

      [...]

      Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce — and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Puerto Rico Hit With Island-Wide Blackout

      Today’s outage marks the first time since the island has suffered a total electrical failure since the Category 4 storm hit on September 20 – leaving many of Puerto Rico’s 40,000 electric customers without reliable power.

    • Why Can’t We Fix Puerto Rico’s Power Grid?

      How’d they get that way? As an invaluable article in IEEE Spectrum points out, tax incentives in the 1970s induced mainland US companies to build factories in the southern part of the island, so Prepa built generating facilities there. In 1996 the tax break expired and the factories left. So today, 70 percent of Puerto Rico’s population lives in the north, around San Juan, and 70 percent of the power generation is in the south. A fragile grid connects the two via tough, mountainous terrain. Scattered rural populations have always had a tenuous connection to that grid. Meanwhile Prepa, hamstrung by billions of dollars of debt, austerity measures, and possible corruption slacked off on maintenance. Hurricane Maria sliced Puerto Rico’s broken-down grid in half.

  • Finance

    • ‘Big bitcoin heist’ suspect escapes prison and flees Iceland ‘on PM’s plane’

      “Prison breaks in Iceland usually mean someone just fled to get drunk,” he said. “The underworlds are tiny and it is extremely difficult to hide, let alone flee the country.”

    • ATMs go dry nationwide; government says needs three days to fix problem
    • Officials: Sharing Economy Booming In China; Success And Challenges Of New Business Models

      The sharing economy is booming, disrupting conventional ways of doing business, creating new jobs, and new headaches for policymakers. China is promoting the sharing economy as a national strategy, as explained during the annual United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) electronic commerce event this week, and illustrated by DiDi Chuxing, a leading Chinese mobile-based transportation platform.

    • Panel: E-Commerce Crucial For Development, Some Eager To Negotiate At WTO
    • Censorship-free social network Memo is built on Bitcoin Cash

      Memo, an on-chain social network developed on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain, has launched in alpha testing this week. Developed on the Bitcoin BCH network, the application allows the recording and storage of data on the blockchain through its front-end protocol, tied to individual BCH addresses and keys.

      Using OP_RETURN transactions, users can tether specific information to their profile, in the makings of what could be one of the first social networks for BCH. According to the developer behind Memo, the application aims to create an ‘uncensorable’ way to store data and transactional information, contrary to the model used by online social networks.

    • That’s Not My Brexit!

      That’s not my Brexit…

      …the promised Free Trade Agreements are all too far away.

      That’s my Brexit!

      That one there.

      The one which cannot actually happen.

    • Bitcoin boosted as IMF boss Christine Lagarde praises cryptocurrency and suggests it could transform the way people save and invest

      Bitcoin has received an unexpected boost from Christine Lagarde, after the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) detailed the global benefits of cryptocurrency.

      Ms Lagarde wrote in a blogpost that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin could enable fast and inexpensive transactions, while the underlying blockchain technology could make financial markets safer.

      The price of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency returned above $8,000 following the publication of Ms Lagarde’s comments, though it is unclear if the gains are directly attributable to the news.

    • Death By a Thousand Tax Cuts

      Every year at this time, US taxpayers (who bother to read news) are treated to a parade of stories about taxes and tax policy. We learn about the citizens who work multiple jobs and pay their taxes, while falling farther and farther behind in an economy that clearly exists to redistribute wealth upwards. We also learn about corporations, the real “welfare queens,” which have used the courts and legislatures to legally avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while demanding subsidies, tax breaks, and the dismantling of labor unions.

      Under the current administration, we are witnessing the deathblows to the economic and social policies of the New Deal, FDR’s plan to save capitalism after the Crash of 29, which created the greatest economic expansion in the world, and with it the largest expansion of civil rights in US history. Tax policy was a core element of this transformation. After a false start or two, the New Deal became wildly successful. Besides the implementation of Social Security through a payroll tax structure, he raised taxes on the highest brackets and decreased or eliminated them on the lowest. He also adopted new monetary policy; FDR moved the US to fiat currency and running deficits. It worked for a long time.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Cuba: President Raúl Castro Stepping Down from Power

      In Cuba, the National Assembly is meeting today to elect a successor for President Raúl Castro, who has announced he’s stepping down this week. The Assembly is widely expected to choose the current vice president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, to be Cuba’s next leader. Raúl Castro is the younger brother of Fidel Castro, who led Cuba for decades following the 1959 revolution. The transition will mark the first time in more than six decades that Cuba will be led by someone outside the Castro family.

    • Comedian Randy Credico says Trump adviser Roger Stone threatened his dog

      New York City comic and ex-radio host Randy Credico says that longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone sent him “scary,” obscenity-filled emails — including one threatening his dog — after he went public disputing Stone’s claim that Credico was his “backchannel” to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

      In a new interview on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Credico shared with co-hosts Daniel Klaidman and Michael Isikoff email messages he said he had received from Stone in just the last few days.

    • Trump’s Legal Worries Grow as Judge Rejects Effort for President to Review Docs Seized in FBI Raid

      In a potentially major setback for President Trump, a federal judge has rejected efforts from the president to be given first access to documents seized by the FBI last week during raids on the properties of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, who is being investigated for possible bank and wire fraud. Monday’s court hearing pitted the president against his own Justice Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay urged the judge to reject the president’s request. McKay said, “Just because he has a powerful client doesn’t mean he should get special treatment.” The FBI seized 10 boxes of documents and as many as a dozen electronic devices from Cohen. According to press accounts, the Trump administration now views the probe into Cohen as a more serious threat to the president than special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Meanwhile, on Monday, Cohen’s attorneys were forced to reveal Fox News host Sean Hannity was also one of Cohen’s other legal clients. Just last week, Hannity slammed the FBI for raiding Cohen’s office and home, but he never disclosed his ties to Cohen. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net.

    • The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America

      In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory.

      [...]

      After the students’ arrival in Illinois, their home university asked the group to set up a temporary party branch and requested that the students hold a viewing party to watch the 19th party plenum in October, the major party planning conference held every five years. (The plenum was the subject of a major global propaganda push, with Chinese embassies and consulates reaching out to Chinese community organizations around the world, asking them to organize events for their members.)

    • British Democracy is Dysfunctional

      A significant proportion of Labour MPs are actively seeking to cause their own party to do badly in forthcoming local elections, with the aim of damaging the leader of that party. To that end they have attacked Jeremy Corbyn relentlessly in a six week crescendo, in parliament and in the entirely neo-liberal owned corporate media, over the Skripal case, over Syria, and over crazy allegations of anti-semitism, again and again and again.

      [...]

      That it is “undemocratic” for party members to select their candidates freely at each election, and it is “democratic” for MP’s to have the guaranteed candidacy for forty years irrespective of their behaviour, is a nonsensical argument, but one to which the neo-liberal media fiercely clings as axiomatic. Meanwhile in the SNP, all MPs have to put themselves forward to party members equally with other candidates for selection at every election. This seems perfectly normal. Indeed every serious democratic system elects people for a fixed term. Labour members do not elect their constituency chairman for life, so why should they elect their parliamentary candidate for life? Why do we keep having general elections rather than voters elect the MP for life?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Inverting The Expected Order Of Things, German Court Orders Facebook To Reinstate ‘Offensive’ Content

      Germany’s ridiculous hate speech law continues to wreak havoc in the stupidest ways possible. Giving social media companies 24 hours to remove poorly-defined “offensive” content has resulted in proactive removals targeting anything marginally questionable. Official complaints aren’t much better. Government demands for removal have been no less idiotic than proactive deletions by Facebook and Twitter.

      It’s a bad law. The only way bad laws can be followed is badly. Facebook is dealing with something new, thanks to its adherence to its own content policies. It’s an argument over deleted content, but the push/pull tension has been reversed.

    • Russia’s Telegram Ban Is a Fiasco, and It’s Rendering Millions of IP Addresses Inaccessible

      Consequently, when Roskomnadzor blocked 15.8 million Amazon- and Google-owned IPs it also knocked banking services and retail shopping platforms offline.

      That shows the lengths to which the government censors are willing to go to block access to the app, which has refused to cave to the demands of state intelligence officials even after a court approved a ban on the service.

    • Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For VPNs and “Digital Resistance”

      A massive wave of action to block messaging service Telegram resulted in widespread collateral damage yesterday after Russian authorities ordered millions of IP addresses blocked across the country. But the efforts have only lit a fire under Telegram founder Pavel Durov, who has pledged to donate millions of dollars in bitcoin to VPN providers as part of his “Digital Resistance”.

    • Russia’s Encryption War: 1.8m Google & Amazon IPs Blocked to Silence Telegram

      Russian authorities are attempting to crush messaging platform Telegram. After refusing to hand over its encryption keys so that users can be spied on, last week a court ordered the service to be blocked. Yesterday broad action was taken, with ISPs blocking more than 1.8 million Telegram-utilized IP addresses belonging to Google and Amazon.

    • In Trying To Ban Telegram, Russia Breaks The Internet

      Russia’s war on encryption and privacy has reached an entirely new level of ridiculous. We’ve noted for a while how Putin’s government has been escalating its war on encrypted services and VPNs in the misguided hope of keeping citizens from dodging government surveillance. But things escalated dramatically when the Russian government demanded that encrypted messaging app Telegram hand over its encryption keys to the FSB. After Telegram refused, a Russian court banned the app entirely last Friday, and the Russian government began trying to actually implement it this week.

      It’s not going particularly well.

      Telegram tried to mitigate the ban by moving some of its essential infrastructure to third-party cloud services. But Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor responded by blocking upwards of 16 million IP addresses, many belonging to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.

    • Facebook blocking fake news is censorship? Hell yeah!

      Diehard supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte or so-called DDS have raised their concerns about Facebook’s recent initiative to partner with fact-checkers and prohibit fake news (as verified by the fact-checkers) from being posted or shared on its social media platform. Some DDS bloggers and even some members of mainstream media have called the initiative censorship.

      But is it really?

      Censorship, according to Wikipedia, is the suppression of speech or information. The basis could be many things but usually it is for content that is found objectionable or harmful by the government or the community.

    • A Google update just created a big problem for anti-censorship tools

      App developers won’t be able to use Google to get around internet censorship anymore. The Google App Engine is discontinuing a practice called domain-fronting, which let services use Google’s network to get around state-level internet blocks.

      A recent change in Google’s network architecture means the trick no longer works. First spotted by Tor developers on April 13th, the change has been rolling out across Google services and threatens to disrupt services for a number of anti-censorship tools, including Signal, GreatFire.org and Psiphon’s VPN services.

    • Pakistani journalists condemn ongoing censorship

      Prominent journalists, editors, columnists and media persons on Wednesday issued a joint-statement to express their concerns and condemn “the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in Pakistan”.

      The statement was endorsed by prominent journalists and editors including Daily Times Editor Raza Rumi, Daily Times correspondent Marvi Sirmed, BBC Urdu Editor Haroon Rashid, columnist and TV anchor Hamid Mir, columnist Ibn Abdur Rehman, journalist Ahmed Noorani among several others.

    • Journalists sign declaration condemning ongoing censorship fiasco

      Over fifty working journalists, editors, columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in the country.

      Condemning the ongoing censorship fiasco in a declaration, the journalists said that beginning with a crackdown against selected media groups and banning the broadcast of various channels, there was now an enhanced pressure on media houses to refrain from covering certain rights-based movements.

    • Censorship for social media

      New developments need new policies. We have some or the other kind of censorship in all media today, be it newspapers, television news, movies and even posters and billboards on the road. There is a valid and well thought out reason behind it. Most of the people believe what gets reported without putting any second thoughts on it. So it is possible that people’s reactions are directed in a certain way by the media and that is exactly the reason why censorship exists.

      Now look at social media. The reach of social media is more than any other form of media today. But, there is no censorship. Anybody is allowed to post anything whether it is true or false, good or bad. No controls exist, no questions are asked and there is zero accountability. Are we surprised then by what happened in the Cambridge Analytica case? The way people reacted to the Kathua and Asifa rape cases in India? Weren’t these bound to happen?

    • Anti-abortion extremists keep crying censorship to raise money

      If there’s one thing Republicans love more than pretending they’re being victimized by liberal elites, it’s raising money off this inaccurate claim — a tendency demonstrated clearly during recent congressional hearings on the activities of Facebook. During these hearings, Republican members of Congress elevated various overinflated right-wing grievances against social media companies (such as claims of anti-abortion censorship and anti-Christian bias) in order to pressure the platform into allowing greater promotion of inflammatory or inaccurate content. In particular, they seized on pro-Trump YouTubers Diamond and Silk, who have actively lied about Facebook censoring them and then used the attention to raise money. As close watchers of the anti-abortion movement know, this tactic of crying censorship to garner attention and raise funds is a favorite of anti-choice actors. Here are a few that have recently employed this practice:

    • It’s Time to Tackle GAFAM and Their World

      Last Monday, we launched our class action campaign against GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft). Until May 25th (the day complaints will be brought to the CNIL – the French Data Protection Authority), anyone living in France can join us on gafam.laquadrature.net. These first steps will, over the long term, pave the way to steadily counter the world they are trying to force on us.

    • What censorship?

      Michael Briguglio sought to belittle the Front Against Censorship by calling it a “front for censorship” in an article bearing the same title (April 16).

      For starters, Briguglio might not be aware that the Front Against Censorship resisted the Media and Defamation Bill when it was first introduced and that it was the Front which negotiated the substantial changes that turned this Bill into one of the most liberal statutes in Europe.

      Thanks to the Front’s efforts, criminal libel was removed, the proposed doubling of damages for civil libel was scrapped, garnishees are no longer possible and the final nail in the coffin of the artistic censorship regime was hammered with the removal of obscene libel.

    • Baltic translations for Fox TV undergo Russian censorship

      The Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has been informed about this but does not see a reason to intervene in this situation.

      NEPLP spokesman Kalvis Gavars told LETA that Fox is a TV channel in Spain’s jurisdiction and its programs are rebroadcast in Latvia’s territory, which means that the translation issues have to be dealt with between the holder of the programs’ rights and the translators, while the quality of the translations is outside the National Electronic Mass Media Council’s area of competence.

      [...]

      Anda Rozukalne, a media expert and associate professor at Riga Stradins University, said that Russia uses any channels and tools, including translation, to distort information wherever it can.

      She admitted, however, that under the current regulation NEPLP is unable to reverse an intermediary’s requirements regarding the TV channel’s content.

    • China Shuts Down Bytedance’s Parody Website

      Chinese authorities have permanently shut down jokes and parody application Neihan Duanzhi. The operation is part of the Toutiao news aggregation group, that is backed by Bytedance Technology.

      Zhang Yiming, Toutiao’s CEO published a letter of apology. He said that he was “sincerely sorry for publishing a product that collided with core Socialist values.” The app had some 17 million users, and was alleged to have carried material that was vulgar or pornographic.

    • Widening net of China censors puts tech on notice

      The widening net of Chinese censors have put tech on notice. Jokes and gay content are disappearing from the web. It’s a fresh sign that Beijing is policing beyond political discourse. For the $26 billion microblog Weibo and peers, appeasing both users and regulators will get harder.

    • Chinese social network backtracks on gay censorship after massive protest
    • It’s Still (Just About) OK to Be Gay in China
    • China’s Weibo site backtracks on gay censorship after outcry
    • Homosexuality Not an Illness, Chinese Say
    • China Approves First Gay Romance For Theatrical Release
    • Following Questionable Election, Honduran Government Debuts New Censorship Law
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Privacy as an Afterthought: ICANN’s Response to the GDPR

      Almost three years ago, the global domain name authority ICANN chartered a working group to consider how to build a replacement for the WHOIS database, a publicly-accessible record of registered domain names. Because it includes the personal information of millions of domain name registrants with no built-in protections for their privacy, the legacy WHOIS system exposes registrants to the risk that their information will be misused by spammers, identity thieves, doxxers, and censors.

      But at the same time, the public availability of the information contained in the WHOIS database has become taken for granted, not only by its regular users, but by a secondary industry that repackages and sells access to its data, providing services like bulk searches and reverse lookups for clients as diverse as marketers, anti-abuse experts, trademark attorneys, and law enforcement authorities.

      The working group tasked with replacing this outdated system, formally known as the Next Generation gTLD RDS to Replace WHOIS PDP Working Group did not get far. Despite holding 90 minute weekly working meetings for more than two years, deep divisions within the group have resulted in glacial progress, even as the urgency of its work has increased. A key privacy advocate within that Working Group, EFF Pioneer Award winner Stephanie Perrin, ended up resigning from the group in frustration this March, saying “I believe this process is fundamentally flawed and does not reflect well on the multi-stakeholder model.”

    • NSA grant will fund UNG summer camp for future cyber warriors

      Thanks to a $94,000 grant from the National Security Agency’s (NSA) GenCyber program, the National Cyber Warrior Academy (NCWA) at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will again host area high school students whose career interests lie in cyber operations or security.

    • Second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says ‘sex compass’ app gathered more Facebook data beyond the 87 million we already knew about

      The 87 million Facebook accounts harvested by Cambridge Analytica (CA) in a massive data breach were probably just the tip of the iceberg.

      That’s the written testimony CA’s former Business Development Director Brittany Kaiser gave to Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) on Tuesday.
      She told British lawmakers, who are conducting an inquiry into fake news and the Facebook data scandal, that CA used numerous questionnaires to gather data.

      These quizzes, Kaiser said, were in addition to the now infamous Thisisyourdigitallife personality quiz CA conducted with University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan’s firm Global Science Research to harvest information from 87 million Facebook accounts.

    • Facebook Data Leak “Much Greater Than 87 Million,” New Whistleblower Reveals

      While numerous concerns had been raised over the uninformed data collection of over 87 million Facebook users, the actual number of people affected may be far more.

      The CA data breach came to light when the company’s former director of research Christopher Wylie took charge and went into Edward Snowden-mode to break the news. It resulted in Facebook losing loads of money and its CEO testifying before the US Congress.

    • Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Virtual Currency Plans

      The embattled political data firm Cambridge Analytica quietly sought to develop its own virtual currency in recent months through a so-called initial coin offering, a novel fund-raising method that has come under growing scrutiny by financial regulators around the world.

      The offering was part of a broader, but still very private push that the firm was making into the nascent world of cryptocurrencies over the last year.

      Much like its acquisition of Facebook data to build psychological profiles of voters, the new business line pushed the firm into murky ethical and legal situations. Documents and emails obtained by The New York Times show that Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to help promote another group’s digital token, the Dragon Coin, associated the firm with a famous gangster in Macau who has gone by the nickname Broken Tooth.

    • Cambridge Analytica Planned Its Own Cryptocurrency For Selling Your Data

      A lot of bad things happening today on the web are tied to a single name: Cambridge Analytica. The firm–and Facebook–was first criticised for obtaining and using data of 87 million users to build psychological profiles for political campaigns.

      Just recently, the company’s former employee Brittany Kaiser, who’s the latest whistleblower in town, revealed that the Facebook data leak might be far more in numbers.

    • Russia’s Telegram ban is a big, convoluted mess

      If you want to know the reason I’m not on WhatsApp with its other 1.5 billion users, the answer is Telegram. To people unfamiliar with it, I like to describe Telegram as simply WhatsApp without any of the icky data sharing with Facebook. It has been my favorite, most reliable messaging client, and its platform-agnostic design means I can access my messages across iPhones, Android devices, and desktop browsers. I’m a big fan of Telegram, which is part of why its present ban in its native Russia troubles me.

      Telegram got its start, and its initial funding, under the premise of providing a messaging tool that was shielded from the inquisitive glare of Russian spy agencies. Its effectiveness in pursuing that original goal has been demonstrated this month with the ruling by a Russian court that Telegram should be banned in the country, owing to the app’s makers refusing to hand over encryption keys to the Russian government.

    • Google, card lobby want Aadhaar to fail: UIDAI to Supreme Court

      Appearing for the Unique Identity Authority of India, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi told a CJI-headed Constitution bench that a campaign had been unleashed that Aadhaar should’ve been like smart cards, a Europe-based commercial venture. “If Aadhaar succeeds, smart cards will be out of business. Google does not want it. Smart card lobby does not want Aadhaar to succeed. That’s why these allegations are being made,” he said.

    • I was wrong. Too much technology is ruining lives
    • Oblivious DNS could protect your internet traffic against snooping

      The Princeton team developed what it calls Oblivious DNS (ODNS), which protects user data not only by encrypting it, but also by separating what different nodes in the DNS chain are aware of, making it much harder, if not impossible, to snoop on users.

      And they’ve done it all without requiring a single change to the structure of DNS.

    • Facebook admits tracking users and non-users off-site

      In a blog post, Facebook’s product management director, David Baser, wrote that the company tracked users and non-users across websites and apps for three main reasons: [...]

    • Facebook Is Steering Users Away From Privacy Protections
    • A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook’s new GDPR privacy changes

      Facebook is about to start pushing European users to speed through giving consent for its new GDPR privacy law compliance changes. It will ask people to review how Facebook applies data from the web to target them with ads, and surface the sensitive profile info they share. Facebook will also allow European and Canadian users to turn on facial recognition after six years of the feature being blocked there. But with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Facebook among tech firms to sign ‘digital Geneva convention’

      Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, has been the driving force behind the accord. He has argued for months that the tech industry needs “a digital Geneva convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace”.

    • Who Killed Journalist Tyron Browne?

      According to the PUL, the killing of Tyron has increased the level of fear in the journalism community in Liberia and has further strengthened the case for self-censorship in the traditional journalism sphere in Liberia.

    • In the line of fire

      But the record of Commonwealth countries concerning the rising number of killings of journalists points to a failure by authorities in some member states to protect the lives of journalists targeted for their work. UN statistics show that in all but a few cases the killers are shielded from facing justice by a climate of judicial impunity. Where is the ‘rule of law’ in that?

    • Passenger says Uber driver locked the doors, tried to take her to hotel

      “Hey @Uber your driver was taking me to the airport. He said he was going to ‘take me to a hotel’ and got off the highway. We got to a stop light. I started yelling ‘let me out of the f—ing car’ and he wouldn’t unlock the doors,” she tweeted.

      [...]

      Leong called another Uber to take her to the airport.

    • The Trump Administration Is Trying to Forcibly Send a Detained US Citizen to Another Country

      For more than seven months, the Trump administration has been unlawfully detaining an American citizen in Iraq. Rather than charge him with a crime or set him free, the government wants to transfer him, involuntarily, to a third country. The ACLU is going to court on Thursday to stop the transfer and fight the government’s dangerous claims that it has the authority to violate an American’s constitutional rights.

      The Trump administration claims that the citizen, who was detained in September by Kurdish forces in Syria and transferred to U.S. custody, is a fighter for ISIS — an allegation he denies. The ACLU began representing him in January after a federal court ordered the government to allow us unmonitored access to him. This came after the government insisted, over several months, that it did not need to respect the man’s wishes to challenge his detention or to speak with a lawyer.

    • “Motivated by justice”: defending the world’s courageous people

      Julian first reached out to myself and a colleague of mine, the Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, in around September 2010. This was just before WikiLeaks was about to publish the Iraq war logs. Julian was in London, preparing that release, which came several months later, at the end of November. He was working with the Guardian and a group of other international newspapers.

      It was around the time when there was concern about what might happen in Sweden, where there was an open investigation into sexual allegations that had previously being dropped. It now seemed that Julian might have to answer those allegations. So, Julian required assistance and advice. It was also the time, of course, that Chelsea Manning was arrested, and a US criminal investigation in grand jury had been announced.

    • Bundestag warns it would be illegal for Spain to have spied on Puigdemont

      The Bundestag, the German federal parliament, in response to a question from deputy Andrej Hunko (Die Linke), has warned that if the CNI (Spanish security service) spied on president Carles Puigdemont in Germany, that would have been illegal. A legal report from the chamber makes this clear and warns that it could have consequences.

      “Action by sovereign authorities without the consent from the German state entails several legal consequences: foreign secret service operations against the Federal Republic are punishable in accordance with § 99 of the Criminal Code. Spying on foreigners in the Federal Republic fulfils this criteria. The unauthorised collection of data can fulfil the criteria of a misdemeanour or felony according to the Federal Data Protection Act,” the report says.

    • This Law Makes It Nearly Impossible to Police the NYPD

      Leaked NYPD documents provide a necessary window into the secret world of how the department deals with abusive officers.

      This week, Buzzfeed released a trove of leaked records for 1,800 New York Police Department employees who were charged with misconduct between 2011 and 2015. These records do not make for easy reading, but they are undoubtedly in the public interest.

      For instance, the public has a clear interest in knowing that at least 319 NYPD employees were allowed to keep their jobs, even after committing offenses that NYPD leaders have always assured us were fireable. Those pushing for more police in schools in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, might want to know that three school safety officers found guilty of using excessive force against students were punished with just five lost vacation days. And anyone concerned about false information leading to wrongful convictions might like to know that more than 100 employees accused of “lying on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation” were punished with as little as a few days of lost vacation.

      Much of this information would have been made publicly available up until recently. But in 2016 the NYPD suddenly decided, after decades of posting so-called police “personnel orders,” that doing so violated section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law, which limits the release of certain police personnel records. The law says that personnel records used to evaluate an officer’s performance toward continued employment or promotion are confidential, and it’s constantly and increasingly used as a tool by the police establishment to thwart police accountability and transparency statewide.

    • In 5-4 Vote, Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Mandating Deportation for Some Crimes

      In a victory for the immigrant rights movement, the Supreme Court has struck down a law requiring the mandatory deportation of lawful permanent residents who are convicted of some crimes, saying the law was unconstitutionally vague. Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch sided with the liberal justices, writing, “Vague laws invite arbitrary power.” The case centered on a Filipino man named James Garcia Dimaya, who had been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1992. After being convicted of residential burglary, the Obama administration sought to deport him for having committed an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling will mean that lower-level offenses are less likely to trigger the automatic deportation of lawful permanent residents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Former FCC Broadband Advisory Panel Chair Arrested For Fraud

      For a few months now we’ve been noting how a “broadband deployment advisory panel” (BDAC) the FCC created to “solve the digital divide” has been plagued by scandal, resignation, and accusations of corruption. The panel was created last year to purportedly advise the Trump FCC on the best approach(es) to improving broadband cost and availability. But it didn’t take long for reports to emerge that the panel was little more than a who’s who of entrenched telecom industry interests, and since its creation its been plagued by a steady stream of disgruntled departures.

    • Another Survey Shows Massive Bipartisan Opposition To Net Neutrality Repeal

      While giant ISPs like Comcast (and the politicians and regulators paid to love them) have been very successful framing net neutrality as a partisan issue to sow dissent and stall policy progress and consensus, the reality is that net neutrality continues to have overwhelming, bipartisan support. Survey after survey have shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans support net neutrality, and for most people preventing natural monopolies from being bullies (at least until somebody has the courage to embrace policies that encourage broadband competition) is a no brainer.

      This week another survey highlighted how opposition to Ajit Pai and the Trump FCC’s net neutrality repeal is overwhelming. According to a new study out of the University of Maryland (pdf), 86% of the country opposes the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality protections at ISP lobbyist behest. And again that opposition is bipartisan, with 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats opposing the FCC’s obnoxiously-named “restoring internet freedom” repeal.

  • DRM

    • Meet the latest DRM Drones

      The latest round of opposition comments in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) exemption process shows which government entities oppose user freedom.

      Back during the last round of the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions process, we wrote about the DRM Drones who were opposing exemptions. These companies, along with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were trying to stifle the work of activists working to claw back a bit of freedom in the face of the DMCA’s draconian provisions. A few years later, and it’s a new round of the exemptions process, with perhaps some new faces, but the same old problem.

      As we’ve often said, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is not about copyright, it’s about control. And these opposition comments truly demonstrate that that is the case. The DMCA is allegedly meant to aid in copyright enforcement, but goes about its task in the worst way possible, creating legal penalties for circumventing DRM. By itself, DRM is harmful to users, who all have the right to control their own computing. Adding legal penalties only compounds the harm of DRM. Even if DRM were an effective tool for enforcing copyright (and if copyright were not already extremely excessive), it is unethical to place such onerous control over users.

      So what does the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for that matter, care about enforcing copyright? The reality is that they don’t, but they realize the nefarious power of DRM to lock down and control users for any purpose, using copyright as an excuse. Like the EPA, the FDA and the FAA are also trying to use DRM to enforce the laws and regulations they are tasked with upholding. The cause the FDA and FAA have chosen to champion is the ability to force users to buy particular feedstock for 3D printers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Cost remains top priority and concern for most patent owners in Taiwan [Ed: Microsoft feeds these NPEs]

      She specifically mentioned Microsoft’s Azure IP protection platform as providing a good potential option when the company faces NPE assertions and needs to counter. She also suggested that her firm has a similar partnership with ITRI, a government backed R&D lab.

      [...]

      TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry, seems to be an exception that proves the rule when it comes to tight patent budgets in Taiwan. Donald McKenna, director of R&D legal division, stated that as the biggest player in its market, TSMC does not have to watch its portfolio spend as cautiously as some others. This is in part because in a cutthroat market, patents are seen as a key ingredient to keeping TSMC competitive. It is no surprise, then, to see TSMC appear once again in the top 10 recipients of US patent grants. McKenna says this strategy underlines TSMC top management’s solid grasp of IP value.

    • The Navy is Accused of Hacking $ 600 Million in Software

      The US Navy faces two processes: one for installing software without a license and another for using ship designs with patents.

      [...]

      In parallel, the US Navy was also denounced by the FastShip company, which claims more than 6.5 million dollars in damages for using the helmet design patented by this firm without paying any kind of rights.

      This second case has had tragic experiences for this company, which patented a new design for the hull of ships that increased its buoyancy and reduced friction with water, which in addition to the US Navy says that its intellectual property was also stolen by Lockheed Martin, one of the main military contractors of the United States.

    • IP rights – what does the future hold after Brexit?

      There are no provisions relating to patents, which is unsurprising as the existing European patent system is not administered by the European Union. The European Patent Office (EPO) is a separate international body; therefore, UK patent protection will continue to be available through the EPO regardless of how Brexit proceeds.

    • TIPO introduces new hearing system for invalidation proceedings

      TIPO expects at least 10 hearings to be held this year to help determine whether the Patent Act should be amended (ie, the number of invalidation cases filed for hearings this year may affect the duration of the pilot programme and any future amendments to the Patent Act).

      According to the director of TIPO Patent Division III, with inquiries to suitable patent invalidation case parties docketed, no hearings have yet been scheduled as they require the consent of both parties.

    • Trademarks

      • Mexico amends its trade mark opposition system

        Legislation that amends Mexico’s trade mark opposition system is expected to improve the still-new system but Mexico’s IP practitioners say many issues remain, reports Ellie Mertens

        Legislation that amended Mexico’s trade mark opposition system passed Congress on April 3, and is on schedule to come into force in June.

      • What makes a family? Bridgestone opposition two tyred, fell flat

        In respect of families of marks, the Bridgestone decision tells us that mere evidence of use is insufficient. First, use must be made of trade marks sharing common elements, which consumers may regard as belonging to a family. On the facts of this case, the evidence of use – where there were only two marks – was insufficient to substantiate the existence of a family. Second, over and above demonstrating use, the evidence must show that the common elements take consumers home to the same source. The opponents in this case had failed to identify themselves to consumers as constituting a single source. At the end of the day, it is the average consumer who will decide whether there exists a family of marks in the marketplace, and steps should be taken to educate the public of such matters.

    • Copyrights

      • Facebook is testing a way to let people watch video premieres in Facebook Live
      • Facebook lets creators turn video premieres into live events

        The initial testers include an unspecified mix of creators, publishers and shows, but the feature should be available “more broadly” in the near future.

      • Hollywood Studios Get ISP Blocking Order Against Rarbg in India

        Hollywood continues to expand its blocking efforts around the globe. Most recently, several major studios including Disney Enterprises and Warner Bros obtained a blocking order against the popular torrent site Rarbg in India. More than twenty ISPs must block the site, while the Government is instructed to help enforce the measures.

      • There Are Several Good Reasons To End Entertainment Industry Subsidies, But Blasphemy Isn’t One Of Them

        There are a lot of arguments to be made against subsidizing movie/TV studios. The best argument is this: the payouts to visiting studios rarely pay off for local taxpayers. Politicians love the side benefits — rubbing elbows with producers, actors, and other studio personnel — but there’s nothing to be gained financially by paying a studio to film in your town. In one case, a city was promised 3,600 additional jobs. In reality, only 200 jobs materialized, all but 14 of those temporary construction work.

        Then there’s the argument against using public funding to prop up an out-of-town industry. If there are extra tax dollars around, they’re better spent locally, where they’ll do the most good. Subsidizing businesses is always problematic. It skews incentives and allows governments to play favorites using the public’s money.

        But the worst argument someone can make against subsidies is this one: subsidies should be content-based. Two members of the clergy and a state politician are bent out of shape because a subsidized TV series shoot resulted in the depiction of a historical figure in compromising positions.

      • Stupid Copyright: MLB Shuts Down Twitter Account Of Guy Who Shared Cool MLB Gifs

        Another day, another story of copyright gone stupid. This time it involves Major League Baseball, which is no stranger to stupid copyright arguments. Going back fifteen years, we wrote about Major League Baseball claiming that other websites couldn’t even describe professional baseball games. There was a legal fight over this and MLB lost. A decade ago, MLB was shutting down fan pages for doing crazy things like “using a logo” of their favorite sports team. And, of course, like all major professional sports leagues, MLB has long engaged in copyfraud by claiming that “any account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited”, which is just false. MLB has also made up ridiculous rules about how much reporters can post online at times, restricting things that they have no right to actually restrict.

        The latest seems particularly stupid. Following on some sort of silly spat in which a guy named Kevin Clancy at Barstool Sports (the same brainiacs who wanted to sue the NFL for having sorta, not really, similar merchandise) got pissed off at a popular Twitter account called @PitchingNinja run by a guy named Rob Friedman, who would tweet out GIFs and videos of interesting pitches from MLB games. Apparently, the dudebro Clancy from Barstool sports pointed out that Friedman was violating the made up rules that MLB has on how much someone is allowed to share on social media, leading a ton of Clancy’s fans to “report” Friedman. Twitter shut down Friedman’s account — leading said dudebro, Clancy, to celebrate.

      • Pirate Party Urges Swedish Govt to Stop ‘Copyright Troll’ Invasion

        The Swedish Pirate Party is calling on Justice Minister Morgan Johansson to put a halt to the wave of threatening piracy letters that have swept the country in recent months. The party likens the so-called copyright trolling campaigns to extortion and wants local courts to raise the evidence bar.

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