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05.10.18

Links 10/5/2018: Battle for Wesnoth 1.14, Tails 3.7, Devuan 2.0 RC

Posted in News Roundup at 9:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Looking for old game source Conquer (FOUND)

    Years later I met someone who had helped write a similar game called Dominion which is also very similar. The game has been kept up and is under a GPL license which is probably why it is still findable.

  • Summer of Code: Small steps

    As a first step towards working encryption and decryption, I obviously needed to create some PGP keys for testing purposes. As a regular user of OpenPGP I knew how to create keys using the command line tool GnuPG, so I started up the key creation by typing “gpg –generate-key”. I chose the key type to be RSA with a length of 2048 bits, as those settings are also the defaults recommended by GnuPG itself. When it came to entering user id information though, things got a little more complicated. GnuPG asks for the name of the user, their email address and a comment. XEP-0373 states, that the user id packet of a PGP key MUST be of the format “xmpp:juliet@capulet.lit”. My first thing to figure out was, if I should enter that String as the name, email or as a comment. I first tried with the name, upon which GnuPG complained, that neither name, nor comment is allowed to contain an email address. Logically my next step was to enter the String as the users email address. Again, GnuPG complained, this time it stated, that “xmpp:juliet@capulet.lit” was not a valid Email address. So I got stuck.

  • At The Source, Exploring the Blockchain Realm of GitHub

    Blockchain/cryptocurrency projects & the ever-mysterious open-source. If you come from a nontechnical background, you’ve probably wondered just exactly what open-source means; if you’ve hung around developers, in particular, you might’ve even heard about the powerful GitHub & the world of repositories. If you aren’t familiar with a terminal console, you likely aren’t familiar with previous terms.

    Yet understanding how open-source repositories work, as well as exploring the very basics of the GitHub platform, is probably one of the most effective ways to understand cryptocurrencies & their respective communities at a deeper level.

    Code talks. And learning how to view the source code for cryptocurrencies projects by yourself, regardless of your programming proficiency (or lack of), is an indispensable tool.

  • QElectroTech: An Open Source Wiring Diagram Tool

    There’s a few open source options out there for creating electrical schematics. KiCad and Fritzing are two that will take you from schematic capture to PCB layout. However, there’s been limited options for creating wiring diagrams. Often these are created in Microsoft’s Visio, which is neither open source nor well suited for the task.

  • 3 Ways to Use ART – IBM’S Open Source AI Security Library

    IBM’s Adversarial Robustness Toolbox, an open AI library, was released in April. Since then, developers have found some interesting uses for the tool.

    IBM launched an open library to help secure artificial intelligence systems in April.

    They call it the Adversarial Robustness Toolbox (ART) to help developers better protect AI systems and neural network. It contains benchmarks, defenses, and attacks in a framework-agnostic library.

  • Google Open Sources Seurat To Bring PC-Level VR To Mobile

    This year’s Google I/O developer conference might not have had much to share about VR, but one of the biggest reveals of last year’s event is now available to all.

  • Events

    • SecureDrop development sprint in PyCon 2018

      SecureDrop will take part in PyCon US development sprints (from 14th to 17th May). This will be first time for the SecureDrop project to present in the sprints.

      If you never heard of the project before, SecureDrop is an open source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. Currently, dozens of news organizations including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, USA Today, and more, use SecureDrop to preserve the anonymous tipline in an era of mass surveillance. SecureDrop is installed on-premises in the news organizations, and journalists and source both use a web application to interact with the system. It was originally coded by the late Aaron Swartz and is now managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation.

    • Highlights from the OpenStack project teams gathering

      A few weeks back in Dublin, Ireland, OpenStack engineers gathered from dozens of countries and companies to discuss the next release of OpenStack. This is always my favorite OpenStack event, because I get to do interviews with the various teams, to talk about what they did in the just-released version (Queens, in this case) and what they have planned for the next one (Rocky).

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Open for business: Firefox Quantum is ready for IT

        The new, super fast Firefox supports Windows Group Policy, so enterprise IT pros can easily configure the browser for organizational use.

        In the fall of 2017, Mozilla introduced Firefox Quantum — the blazing fast, completely reinvented Firefox. The new Firefox quickly won critical acclaim, with Wired writing that “Firefox Quantum is the browser built for 2017”.

      • Firefox 60 Is Here, And It (Finally) Includes Linux CSD Support

        Firefox 60 is now available to download and among the changes it sports is support for CSD on Linux.

        The latest stable release of Mozilla’s hugely influentially open-source web browser also brings a number of other tweaks, including a somewhat controversial change to the new tab page…

      • Firefox 60 released
      • An Enterprising Future

        So, to say that I’m happy about this particular release would be an understatement. I’m absolutely ecstatic that Mozilla decided that adding support for enterprise features was important.

        But I have to admit something; over the years in my zeal to get enterprise support into Firefox, I’ve encouraged just about every method possible to get customizations into Firefox. As a result, I know there are many installations of Firefox that use methods that are definitely not recommended anymore, especially now that we have real policy support.

      • Things Gateway – Monitoring Solar Panels
      • L10N Report: May Edition

        Activity Stream has become an integral part of Firefox, officially replacing the existing New Tab and soon integrating code for displaying snippets and onboarding content. For this reason, we’re working on moving translations to mozilla-central.

        Currently, Activity Stream is managed as a stand-alone project in Pontoon, and store its translations in a GitHub repository. Once this meta bug is fixed, Activity Stream’s strings will be exposed as part of the Firefox project.

        While this makes the relation between Activity Stream and Firefox more obvious for localizers, it will also allow to make some improvements in the future, like reducing the lag between translations landing in repositories and actually being available for testing in Firefox.

      • Firefox 61 Enters Development with Faster Tab Switching on Linux and Windows

        Now that Mozilla released the final Firefox 60 “Quantum” web browser, it’s time for them to concentrate on the next release, Firefox 61, which enters beta testing today with a bunch of much-needed enhancements.

        While Firefox 60 marked the Quantum series as ready for enterprise deployments, Firefox 61 will focus on performance enhancements and improvements of all sorts. For starters, Firefox 61 promises to enable faster tab switching on both GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows platforms and makes WebExtensions run in their own process on Apple’s macOS.

        Talking about WebExtensions, Firefox 61 will improve the way they manage and hide tabs. Mac users are also getting a new feature in the Page Actions menu that allows them to share the current URL with the sharing providers from macOS, and it looks like the dark theme will receive various improvements for a more consistent experience across Firefox’s user interface.

      • Firefox 61 Beta Brings Quantum CSS Improvements, Faster Tab Switching

        Rounding out today’s Firefox 60 release comes with promoting Firefox 61 to beta.

        Firefox 61.0 is now available in beta form and it excites us a lot for a sizable amount of performance work that’s been ongoing. Among the work to find with the Firefox 61 Beta are Quantum CSS improvements for faster page rendering times, improved page rendering speed thanks to retained display lists, and faster switching between tabs on Linux/Windows.

      • Firefox 60 for Android Brings Faster Page Rendering, New View Page Source Option

        Mozilla released today the Firefox 60 “Quantum” web browser for supported desktop platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, as well as for Google’s Android mobile operating system.

        Mozilla Firefox 60 “Quantum” is the next ESR (Extended Support Release) version of the open-source and cross-platform web browser, introducing USB token based authentication support, enhancements to New Tab and Firefox Home pages, revamped Cookies and Site Storage section, enhanced camera privacy indicators, better WebRTC audio performance and playback on Linux, and a new a policy engine to make enterprise deployments a breeze for IT professionals.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL visits LSFMM

      The recent fsync() woes experienced by PostgreSQL led to a session on the first day (April 23) of the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM). Those problems also led to a second-day session with PostgreSQL developer Andres Freund who gave an overview of how PostgreSQL does I/O and where that ran aground on some assumptions that had been made. The session led to a fair amount of discussion with the filesystem-track developers; real solutions seem to be in the offing.

      PostgreSQL is process-based; there are no threads used, Freund said. It does write-ahead logging (WAL) for durability and replication. That means it logs data before it is marked dirty and the log is flushed before the dirty data is written. Checkpointing is done in the background with writes that are throttled as needed. In general, all data I/O is buffered, though the WAL can use direct I/O.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Best Free Photoshop Alternative: GIMP

      Adobe Photoshop is a household name, and is widely regarded as one of, if not THE best photo editing and image manipulation suites around.

      Basically, it’s an industry leader, and if you work in a professional industry that relates to photography, publishing, design or any other simiar creative sphere, chances are it takes centre stage.

      It’s useful in a non-professional capacity too, however, being a much more powerful editing suite than things like Microsoft Paint.

      But the problem is, it’s expensive. You have to buy Adobe Photoshop and it costs a fair bit to do so. Hardly surprising that quite a few alternative software packages have emerged over the years for those on a budget, or for those who don’t want to pay a penny.

      For this article I could have quite easily put together a list of multiple different free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop, however, from my years of dabbling with what’s available there’s only one I can really say is worth bothering with – Gnu Image Manipulation Program, aka GIMP.

    • You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion ‘joke’ diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

      Late last month, open-source contributor Raymond Nicholson proposed a change to the manual for glibc, the GNU implementation of the C programming language’s standard library, to remove “the abortion joke,” which accompanied the explanation of libc’s abort() function.

      Nicholson said: “The joke does not provide any useful information about the abort() function so removing it will not hinder use of glibc.”

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Containers and license compliance

      Containers are, of course, all the rage these days; in fact, during his 2018 Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW) talk, Dirk Hohndel said with a grin that he hears “containers may take off”. But, while containers are easy to set up and use, license compliance for containers is “incredibly hard”. He has been spending “way too much time” thinking about container compliance recently and, beyond the standard “let’s go shopping” solution to hard problems, has come up with some ideas. Hohndel is a longtime member of the FOSS community who is now the chief open source officer at VMware—a company that ships some container images.

      He said that he would be using Docker in his examples, but he is not picking on Docker, it is just a well-known container management system. His talk is targeting those that want to ship an actual container image, rather than simply a Dockerfile that a customer would build into an image. He has heard of some trying to avoid “distributing” free and open-source software that way, but is rather skeptical of that approach.

Leftovers

  • It Ain’t Innovation if No One Wants To Buy What You’re Selling

    In case you missed it, last month Gibson, the famed guitar company, filed for bankruptcy. Matt LeMay has a really fascinating and worth reading Medium post up, claiming that Gibson’s failure is a “cautionary tale about innovation.” He compares what Gibson’s management did over the past few years to another big name in guitars: Fender. And finds quite a telling story in the contrast.

    Specifically, he notes that Gibson doubled down on “innovation” and trying to come up with something new — almost none of which really seemed to catch on, while more or less ignoring the core product. Meanwhile, Fender took a step back and looked at what the data showed concerning what its existing customers wanted, and realized that it wasn’t serving the customer as well as it could. LeMay points to a Forbes interview with Fender CEO,

  • Hardware

    • Qualcomm Plans Exit From Server Chips

      Qualcomm Inc., the biggest maker of mobile-phone chips, is preparing to give up its push to develop processors for data-center servers, an effort that sought to break Intel Corp.’s hold on the lucrative market, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans.

      The San Diego-based company is exploring whether to shutter the unit or look for a new owner for the division, which was working on ways to get technology from ARM Holdings Plc into the market for chips that are at the heart of servers, the person said. ARM is one of Intel’s only rivals in developing semiconductor designs, and its architecture is primarily used in less power-intensive products, such as smartphones.

      [...]

      Qualcomm began selling a server chip, the Centriq 2400, based on ARM technology last year. At the time, the company said the chips, which were manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co., offered better results than an Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 processor, based on energy efficiency and cost. At the public introduction of the server chip line in November, potential customers such as Microsoft Corp. took to the stage to voice their interest in the offering. Since then, Qualcomm has been silent about its progress.

    • Qualcomm Reportedly Wanting To Exit ARM Server CPU Business

      Calxeda as the first interesting ARM-based servers didn’t pan out and the company went bust, attempts by the likes of AMD at ARM server CPUs so far have not panned out, and now today is a report that Qualcomm is looking to end its Centriq server CPU line or sell off that division.

      While the parts began shipping and they have some interesting offers up to a 48-core SoC and they were punctual with their Linux kernel support for these “Falkor” CPU cores, GCC support, etc. It looks like the Centriq server division isn’t making financial sense for Qualcomm. This is a bit surprising with their current Centriq wares offering competitive cost and performance-per-Watt to the x86 server competition.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • [DE] UPDATE: DFN-CERT-2018-0862 GNU Wget: Eine Schwachstelle ermöglicht die Manipulation von Cookies
    • A new strain of IoT malware can survive a reboot

      As scary as the epidemics of malware for Internet of Things devices have been, they had one saving grace: because they only lived in RAM (where they were hard to detect!), they could be flushed just by rebooting the infected gadget.

      But a new strain of malware, dubbed “Hide n Seek,” can live through a power-cycle: it writes a copy of itself to the /etc/init.d/ directory in the IoT device’s embedded GNU/Linux system, where startup programs are stored. When a device that’s been infected this way is rebooted, it is freshly infected.

    • World of Warcraft attacker jailed in US

      The Romanian citizen – who had been extradited to Los Angeles to face the charges – pleaded guilty in February to one count of causing damage to a protected computer.

    • Are you using Python module ‘SSH Decorator’? Newer versions include a backdoor

      Early this week, a developer noticed that multiple backdoored versions of the SSH Decorate module, the malicious code included in the library allowed to collect users’ SSH credentials and sent the data to a remote server controlled by the attackers.

    • Crypto backdoors are in the news again, and as bad for privacy as ever

      What is troubling, though, is that Ozzie’s reputation as one of the foremost engineers of recent years will allow some to claim that the backdoor puzzle has now been “solved” – because Ray Ozzie says it has. That’s definitely not the case, as the two critiques mentioned above, and others elsewhere, make plain. But politicians won’t worry about such technical niceties when it comes to calling for laws that mandate these “safe” backdoors in devices. That’s why it’s important that everyone who cares about their privacy and security should be ready to push back against attempts to turn a flawed idea into a flawed reality.

    • Ray Ozzie’s Encryption Backdoor

      I have no idea why anyone is talking as if this were anything new. Several cryptographers have already explained explained why this key escrow scheme is no better than any other key escrow scheme. The short answer is (1) we won’t be able to secure that database of backdoor keys, (2) we don’t know how to build the secure coprocessor the scheme requires, and (3) it solves none of the policy problems around the whole system. This is the typical mistake non-cryptographers make when they approach this problem: they think that the hard part is the cryptography to create the backdoor. That’s actually the easy part. The hard part is ensuring that it’s only used by the good guys, and there’s nothing in Ozzie’s proposal that addresses any of that.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Meaning of Verification in Iran, Syria and North Korea

      Donald Trump bombed Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons last month and he has now officially pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran.

      But Syria officially has no chemical weapons and Iran has no nuclear ones. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)verifiedSyria to be chemical free, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verifiedIran’s consistent and continued compliance with the JCPOA. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Syria has no chemicals and Iran has no nukes: that’s what verification means.

    • CNN’s Iran Fearmongering Would Make More Sense Coming Directly From Pentagon

      Why doesn’t CNN Defense Department reporter Barbara Starr just leave CNN and instead work directly for the Trump DoD?

      On Tuesday, hours after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), Starr (5/8/18) rushed to publish an anonymously sourced and transparently propagandistic press release for the Trump administration and Pentagon. Wouldn’t it be easier if Starr just skipped the middleman and just worked for the DoD?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks Founder Remains Cut Off from Internet Access at Ecuador Embassy

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains cut off from the web after his Ecuadorian Embassy hosts severed his communications with the outside world, the Ecuadorian foreign minister said.

      “He remains disconnected from the Internet and other communications,” Maria Fernanda Espinosa said. “A dialogue is continuing, and there is a will and interest to make progress.”

      Ecuador suspended his Internet access in March after accusing the whistleblower of interfering with other countries’ internal affairs via his social media posts.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • AAA Survey Finds 20% Of Americans Plan To Buy An Electric Car

      Last year, AAA began asking Americans if they planned to buy an electric car. 15% said yes. AAA plans to ask the same question every year and track the results — at least until electric cars become the norm. This year, 20% of Americans said they are considering an electric car for their next vehicle purchase.

      [...]

      “For instance,” Fisher says, “some of the reliability problems we see are with new multispeed transmissions. Having a one-speed, direct drive eliminates any of those issues.” Automatic transmissions with 8, 9, or 10 gears are becoming more common in conventional cars as manufacturers struggle to hit higher fuel consumption targets. But they can be fiendishly complex and devilishly expensive to repair when they fail.

      For example, the Chevy Bolt gets especially high marks for reliability from Consumer Reports. “It’s the most reliable car GM makes, which is especially impressive for a completely new model,” says Anita Lam, CR’s associate director of data integration.

  • Finance

    • Teachers Are Leading the Revolt Against Austerity

      In less than three months, rank-and-file teachers and educational support staff in five states—West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona—have turned the entire country into their classroom. They haven’t just pushed for—and won—better pay and working conditions for themselves. They’ve also mounted a direct challenge to decades of bipartisan tax cuts for corporations, helping us all understand what austerity means. And by championing a raft of policy proposals to redistribute wealth away from the 1 percent and back to the working and middle-class, they’ve shown us how austerity can be defeated. As Emily Comer, a middle-school Spanish teacher who was a leader in the strikes in West Virginia, put it, “The phase we are in now—to win a real, progressive solution to the health-insurance crisis—forces us to dream bigger. This isn’t just about our healthcare plan. It’s about rebalancing the power of workers and corporations in our state.”

    • Chicago Begins To Rethink How Bankruptcy Lawyers Get Paid

      Twice in the past three years, Kimberly Williams-Hayes has filed for bankruptcy. The first time, she made about $5,400 in total payments toward her debt before her case was dismissed, when she failed to hand over her tax refund.

      Only a fraction of that amount went toward a car loan, while her thousands of dollars in unpaid tickets and assorted other debts were untouched. One bill got paid in full: the bill from her bankruptcy lawyers.

      By the time she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy again, in September of last year, represented by another firm, her debt had grown. And again, her lawyers added language into her proposed payment plan to ensure they, too, would be paid first.

      For years, putting the lawyers and their fees ahead of other creditors through so-called “step up” payment plans has been standard practice among bankruptcy firms in the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • AT&T Stumbles As It Tries To Explain Why It Paid $200K To Cohen’s Shady Shell Company

      Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti yesterday dropped a bit of a bombshell on DC in the form of this document (pdf), which alleges that Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen was engaged in far deeper, shadier financial shenanigans than had so far been reported. Numerous allegations are made in the document, including claims that Cohen may have violated banking laws in setting up and funneling money through a front company by the name of Essential Consultants, including payments made by Columbus Nova, a U.S.-based affiliate of a company controlled by a Russian millionaire, Victor Vekselberg.

      [...]

      Granted AT&T’s also been pressuring the Trump administration to “reform” NAFTA to make it easier on AT&T’s telecom ambitions in Mexico. AT&T was also trying to secure the administration’s blessing for its $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. But given the Trump DOJ proceeded to sue to block that deal for anti-competitive reasons (or hey, just good old cronyism), if the payments were to grease the M&A skids AT&T certainly didn’t get their money’s worth.

      The most likely reason is that AT&T, for some idiotic reason, thought paying a shady NYC fixer’s dubious front company would help curry general favor with the Trump administration. That’s certainly not out of character. AT&T is a company with pretty greasy track record, whether we’re talking about the time it turned a blind eye to drug dealers running a directory assistance scam on its own users, the time it was caught helping scammers rip off telecom systems for the hearing impaired, or that time it was caught making bills harder to understand just to help crammers rip off AT&T customers.

    • Trump’s Act of American Hubris

      The United States is so far doing virtually no trade with Iran anyway. In 2017 total US exports to Iran were just 138 million dollars, and total imports a mere 63 million dollars, figures entirely insignificant to the US economy. By contrast, for the EU as a whole imports and exports to Iran were each a very much more substantial 8 billion dollars in 2017 and projected to rise to over 10 billion dollars in 2018.

      There is one very significant US deal in the pipeline, for sale of Boeing aircraft, worth $18 billion dollars. It will now be cancelled.

      Which brings us to the crux of the argument. Can America make its will hold? Airbus also has orders from Iran of over US$20 billion, and it is assumed those orders will be stopped too, because Airbus planes contain parts and technology licensed from the US. It is possible, but unlikely, that the US could grant a waiver to Airbus – highly unlikely because Boeing would be furious.

      [...]

      I shall be most surprised if we do not see increased US/Israeli/Saudi sponsored jihadist attacks in Syria, and in Lebanon following Hezbollah’s new national electoral victory. Hezbollah’s democratic advance has stunned and infuriated the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia but been reported very sparsely in the MSM, as it very much goes against the neo-con narrative. It does not alter the positions of President or Prime Minister, constitutionally allocated by religion, but it does increase Hezbollah’s power in the Lebanese state, and thus Iranian influence.

      Iran is a difficult country to predict. I hope they will stick to the agreement and wait to see how Europe is able to adapt, before taking any rash decisions. They face, however, not only the provocation of Trump but the probability of a renewed wave of anti-Shia violence from Pakistan to Lebanon, designed to provoke Iran into reaction. These will be a tense few weeks. I do not think even Netanyahu is crazy enough to launch an early air strike on Iran itself, but I would not willingly bet my life on it.

    • Trump Vindicates Iranian Hardliners and Victimizes Ordinary Citizens

      When the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was announced in 2015, the Iranian people poured into the streets to celebrate what they thought was the beginning of a new era.

      Long squeezed by both U.S. pressure and their own government, they had just cause for optimism. The threat of war was receding, and the sanctions that had stifled Iran’s economy were soon to be lifted. Many hoped that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, vindicated by his success at the negotiating table, would leverage his political capital and ease Iran’s harsh security environment at home.

      Today, as President Donald Trump tears up the agreement, the Iranian people are once again those who will suffer most. Iranian hardliners, empowered by the deal’s failure, are sharpening their knives for Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the chances of catastrophic war are undoubtedly greater.

    • Russian Oligarch-Linked Firm That Paid Michael Cohen Was Also Represented by Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz

      The news on Tuesday that the same shell company that Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer for Donald Trump, had used to pay $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels had also received about $500,000 in 2017 from a firm linked to a Russian oligarch set off a frenzy of commentary on Twitter and cable TV.

      At the heart of the story is an investment firm called Columbus Nova, which has close links to Renova Group, a conglomerate founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. A Columbus Nova spokesman has said the payments to Cohen were for unspecified investment consulting.

      Now there’s a new wrinkle: Another longtime Trump personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, also represented Columbus Nova in recent years in a commercial case. A spokesman for Kasowitz said the case settled in early 2017.

      As ProPublica reported last year, Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan, alarming several lawyers at the firm who worried about the brash attorney’s reputation. That was at the beginning of the period, between January and August 2017, when Columbus Nova made its payments to Cohen.

      Cohen told ProPublica last year that he used Kasowitz’s offices “because we were working on several matters together after the inauguration.” Both he and Kasowitz have declined to specify what they collaborated on.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How China Managed to Play Censor at a Conference on U.S. Soil

      Taiwan was scrubbed from my biography.

      I’d been invited to give a keynote speech and accept an award at Savannah State University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. In a description of my background, I’d listed the self-governing island as one of the places where I’d reported. But in the printed materials for the event, the reference to Taiwan had been removed.

      The department had given the award annually since 1975. But in the past few years, finances had dwindled and organizers struggled to find the resources to cover the expenses of bringing in a speaker from out of town.

      Enter the Confucius Institute, a Chinese government-affiliated organization that teaches Chinese language and culture and sponsors educational exchanges, with more than 500 branches around the globe. The branch at Savannah State, founded four years ago, agreed to sponsor the speech.

    • BWW TV: Go Behind the Scenes with BroadwayHD on the Censorship in INDECENT

      The theater and the arts is generally more progressive than the rest of the world. It’s a place where stories take shape that reflect the parts of society that many aren’t quite ready to face. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the way.

      Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance was a beautifully edgy play, depicting the first woman-on-woman kiss on Broadway. Written in 1907 but not performed in the States until 1923, the contents shocked theatergoers in America, leading to the arrest of the Broadway cast on obscenity charges. The hostile use of government resources fanned the discussion around morality onstage.

    • As Russia’s government effort to ban Telegram falters, digital activists are pranking the censorship agency

      Russia’s so-called “Digital Resistance” has struck out against the country’s internet blacklist, an ever-growing list of websites censored by the Russian government.

      Since April 16, Russia’s media regulatory agency Roskomnadzor has been trying — with mixed results — to block Telegram, a popular mobile messaging service. Since then, the blacklist, or registry of blocked websites, has grown and shrunk many times.

      The collateral damage of their approach has been enormous. Millions of unrelated IP addresses and internet services were blocked when the agency went after internet cloud services that are used by Telegram and plenty of other products, a move that some say could cost Russian businesses up to one billion dollars. Roskomnadzor began removing addresses from the blacklist on May 8, in what appeared to be a tacit acknowledgement of defeat.

    • Matt Drudge warns Trump is opening a pandora’s box of censorship with ‘crusade on fake news’

      Besides the occasional breaking news dispatch, Matt Drudge spends more time arranging the front page of the Internet than actually reporting. One of the most influential journalists, Drudge is normally remarkably silent, which is why his latest condemnation of free speech is noteworthy.

      The Drudge Report publisher tweeted Wednesday to condemn President Trump’s assault on Fake News:

      I fear the future result of Trump’s crusade on ‘fake news’ will be licensing of all reporters. [Dems already floated this in the senate pre-Trump.] The mop up on this issue is going to be excruciating…

    • Self-censorship bane of Nigerian media, says Iredia

      A former Director-General, Nigerian Television Authority, Dr. Tonnie Iredia, has highlighted the need for the Nigerian media to be courageous in discharging its duties as the 2019 elections draw near, describing self-censorship as a major problem.

      Iredia stated this on Wednesday during a courtesy visit by the Media and Publicity Committee of the International Press Institute Congress 2018 to The Punch Place, headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited in Ogun State.

    • Donald Trump Jr. has a history of incorrectly suggesting Twitter is censoring or blocking tweets
    • ‘You Muppet’: Donald Trump Jr Mocked for Crying ‘Censorship’ After Supporter Deletes Tweet
    • Why You Should Support Your University’s Independent Student Newsroom
    • Students’ Survey Highlights Censorship of Christian College Newspapers [Ed: This has nothing at all to do with religion which is just desperate to paint itself as the victim of censorship or oppression]
    • At Christian Colleges, Many Student Journalists Have to Deal With Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Fourth Circuit Rules That Suspicionless Forensic Searches of Electronic Devices at the Border Are Unconstitutional

      In a victory for privacy rights at the border, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled that forensic searches of electronic devices carried out by border agents without any suspicion that the traveler has committed a crime violate the U.S. Constitution.

      The ruling in U.S. v. Kolsuz is the first federal appellate case after the Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Riley v. California (2014) to hold that certain border device searches require individualized suspicion that the traveler is involved in criminal wrongdoing. Two other federal appellate opinions this year—from the Fifth Circuit and Eleventh Circuit—included strong analyses by judges who similarly questioned suspicionless border device searches.

      EFF filed an amicus brief in Kolsuz arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley supports the conclusion that border agents need a probable cause warrant before searching electronic devices—whether manually or with forensic software—because of the unprecedented and significant privacy interests travelers have in their digital data. In Riley, a case that involved manual searches, the Supreme Court followed similar reasoning and held that police must obtain a warrant to search the cell phone of an arrestee.

    • State Judge Finds New Hampshire Border Patrol Checkpoint Unconstitutional

      In a rebuke to the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies, a New Hampshire court ruled last week that a Border Patrol checkpoint on an interstate highway last summer was “unconstitutional under both State and federal law.”

      Don’t believe for a second the administration’s official response that this decision “does not affect the U.S. Border Patrol’s federal authority to conduct immigration checkpoints.” All motorists’ constitutional rights got a huge boost from Judge Thomas Rappa’s refusal to give Trump’s deportation force a blank check to pretextually set up a drug checkpoint under the guise of immigration enforcement.

      Why was this checkpoint unlawful?

      Because federal customs and border agents used impermissible dog-sniff searches to go after drugs without a warrant and without any reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed. After conducting these dog-sniff searches, CBP agents then turned over to the local police the resulting evidence for state drug prosecutions.

    • Facial recognition tech used by UK police is making a ton of mistakes

      At the end of each summer for the last 14 years, the small Welsh town of Porthcawl has been invaded. Every year its 16,000 population is swamped by up to 35,000 Elvis fans. Many people attending the yearly festival look the same: they slick back their hair, throw on oversized sunglasses and don white flares.

      At 2017′s Elvis festival, impersonators were faced with something different. Police were trialling automated facial recognition technology to track down criminals. Cameras scanning the public spotted 17 faces that they believed matched those stored in databases. Ten were correct, and seven people were wrongly identified.

      South Wales Police has been testing an automated facial recognition system since June 2017 and has used it in the real-world at more than ten events. In the majority of cases, the system has made more incorrect matches than the times it has been able to correctly identify a potential suspect or offender.

    • Not Ready For Prime Time: UK Law Enforcement Facial Recognition Software Producing Tons Of False Positives

      Law enforcement agencies have embraced facial recognition. And contractors have returned the embrace, offering up a variety of “solutions” that are long on promise, but short on accuracy. That hasn’t stopped the mutual attraction, as government agencies are apparently willing to sacrifice people’s lives and freedom during these extended beta tests.

      The latest example of widespread failure comes from the UK, where the government’s embrace of surveillance equipment far exceeds that of the United States. Matt Burgess of Wired obtained documents detailing the South Wales Police’s deployment of automated facial recognition software. What’s shown in the FOI docs should worry everyone who isn’t part of UK law enforcement. (It should worry law enforcement as well, but strangely does not seem to bother them.)

    • Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Data Protection? A Troubling Implication Of The American Voter UK Data Protection Case

      The Guardian had an article this past weekend about what looks like a potentially successful attempt by an American to use UK data protection law to force Cambridge Analytica to divulge what information it had collected about US voters like him. Whether the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is truly entitled to compel Cambridge Analytica to do anything, much less on behalf of an American, is an open question. But for purposes here, let’s assume that UK data protection law works this way, that it was intended to work this way, and that it’s good policy for it to work this way.

      The problem is, it’s one thing for the ICO to force Cambridge Analytica to share with the American voter himself what personal data it had about him. But it’s another thing entirely for the ICO to force Cambridge Analytica to share the personal data it has about American voters with it. Yet it looks from the article like that’s what ICO may have threatened to force Cambridge Analytica to do.

    • Rights groups to take Government to court over shocking immigration exemption

      This exemption will affect everyone involved in an immigration case, for example: those seeking refuge in the UK, those affected by the Windrush scandal, the three million EU citizens who will have to submit their applications for a new immigration status after Brexit. If this Bill becomes law, people won’t have the right to access their personal data held by the Home Office.

      According to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Home Office has a ten percent error rate in immigration status checks. This exemption would allow these mistakes to go unchallenged. These errors could lead to an application being refused or even deportation.

    • Just 12% People Want To Pay For Facebook If Their Data Isn’t Collected And Sold

      Ever since the Cambridge Analytica fire sparked, Mozilla has been busy leg-pulling Facebook wherever and whenever they can. They have already released Facebook Container meant to prevent the social network from tracking users on the web.

      [...]

      It turns out, just 11.43%% of the 47,000 respondents agreed that they’d shell out up to $10/month to continue using the social network. Around 1% of the respondents were even comfortable in paying more. For the rest, it was a strick ‘No’ in the case of 62.84%, and 34.68% were not sure.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Could Ida B. Wells Have Exposed Lynching on Your Newsfeed?

      If Ida B. Wells had depended on Facebook, would we ever have had a National Lynching Memorial?

      Two stories collided in my head this week. One of which was the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama—this country’s first major effort to confront the vast scope of the racial-terror lynchings that ravaged the black community under a pervasive, prevailing culture of white supremacy. It is the first because, until now, that same majority culture of white supremacy hasn’t wanted to look.

    • What Gina Haspel Got Wrong About the Torture Tapes She Helped Destroy

      During today’s nomination hearing for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Haspel testified about a topic that has rightly generated significant controversy: the destruction of 92 videotapes showing CIA torture.

      Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), asked a question about the destruction of those tapes, misspeaking when she referred to tapes showing interrogations “of 92 detainees.” Haspel, seemingly determined to correct Feinstein, stated that the tapes “were of only one detainee.”

      But the CIA’s own records produced in response to the ACLU’s torture transparency litigation contradict Haspel. According to those records, which include a declaration under oath from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, the 92 destroyed tapes depicted abuse of two detainees: Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

      Here’s what we know: The videotapes were subject to long-running ACLU Freedom of Information Act litigation seeking to make public information about the torture program. After news about the videotape destruction broke, the judge in the case ordered the CIA to produce information about, among other things, the content of those videotapes.

    • How Gina Haspel Dodged CIA Torture Questions During Her Senate Hearing

      President Trump’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, faced pointed questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning. Senators asked about her role in the agency’s torture program and its cover-up, including her role in the destruction of dozens of videotapes documenting torture.

      Haspel, however, was far from forthright, regularly evading questions or giving only vague answers.

    • Cops ‘Help’ Naked, Possibly-Suicidal Schizophrenic Man By Tasing Him To Death

      “Excited delirium” makes an appearance in another case where medical help for a mentally ill person was sought, but instead, police arrived and delivered someone to an early grave. (h/t Radley Balko)

      22-year-old Adam Trammell was spotted wandering the halls of his group home completely naked. Feeling the young man was experiencing a psychotic break, the neighbor whose door Trammell had knocked on called the police. When officers arrived, they found Trammell in a distinctly non-threatening state: naked in the shower.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • It’s not over! Take action for net neutrality today!

      In December 2017, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the policies that protected net neutrality.

      Rather than merely accepting this, Senator Ed Markey launched a Congressional Review Act (CRA) to save net neutrality. A CRA allows a simple majority (more than 50%) of Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives) to overturn an FCC vote. You can read more about CRAs on Wikipedia.

      Already, 50 senators are supporting the CRA. We need one more vote to pass this effort to overturn the FCC’s ruling.

    • Red Alert for Net Neutrality: Tell Congress to Save the Open Internet Order

      In December, the FCC voted to end the 2015 Open Internet Order, which prevented Internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Comcast from violating net neutrality principles. A simple majority vote in Congress can keep the FCC’s decision from going into effect. From now until the Senate votes, EFF, along with a coalition of organizations, companies, and websites, is on red alert and calling on you to tell Congress to vote to restore the Open Internet Order.

      The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to overturn an agency rule using a simple majority vote. It likewise only requires 30 signatures in order to force a vote. The petition to force the vote was delivered today. That means we’re likely to see the Senate—which has only been only one vote away from restoring net neutrality protections for quite a while—vote in mid-May.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • New Report Shines Much-Needed Light On Shadow Libraries Around The World

        Techdirt readers with long memories may recall a post back in 2011 about a 440-page report entitled “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies.” As Mike wrote then, this detailed study effectively debunked the entire foundation of US attempts to impose maximalist copyright regimes on other countries. That report was edited by Joe Karaganis, who has put together another collection of articles, called “Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education”, that are also likely to be of interest to Techdirt readers.

      • Gaming Industry And Game Consumers On A Collision Course Over Loot Boxes

        If you’re a gamer, you know all about loot boxes. We haven’t covered them or the associated controversy here, as both are slightly outside of the usual topics we cover. But we do in fact cover digital marketplaces and how companies and industries react to market forces and it’s becoming more clear that the gaming industry and the gaming public are on something of a collision course over loot boxes.

        As a primer, a loot box is a digital randomized thing, typically purchased in-game and resulting in a random reward of in-game content. Some content is more valuable than others, leading to some referring to loot boxes as a form of gambling, particularly when some of the game content can provide benefits to players in multiplayer settings. Overwatch popularized loot boxes somewhat in 2016, although mobile games have used some flavor of this kind of monetization for pretty much ever. The gaming public never really liked this concept, with many arguing that it breaks in-game competition by giving players willing to pay for loot boxes an advantage. But the loot box fervor hit its pique after the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, with EA being forced to massively alter how its loot boxes worked in game. Since then, loot boxes are a topic of consumer backlash as a general rule.

      • Copyright changes in the UK after Brexit

        Patrick Wingrove asks UK practitioners how copyright will change after Brexit, and analyses the EU Commission’s recent report on the subject

      • Originality in copyright: a meaningless requirement?

        Is the originality requirement in copyright a non-requirement? In other words: is there any meaningful threshold to copyright protection?

        I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this issue three times over less than a month: first, at a workshop in Berlin, then with a Belgian student and, finally, with an IP lawyer based outside Europe. If these three situations had anything in common, it was the suggestion that the originality requirement is not really a requirement – whether under EU or US law – and that copyright protection is very easy to obtain.

        While it is true that originality is not a particularly difficult condition to satisfy, it is still a requirement and: (1) it is not a mundane one, both in the EU and the US; and (2) there are a few instances in which the threshold would unlikely to be passed.

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