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12.31.18

Links 31/12/2018: PureOS and Purity, Q4OS 2.7 Scorpion Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 2018: Top 10 biggest news stories from Linux and open source world

    In September 2018, Linus Torvalds issued an apology regarding his public behavior and announced that he would be taking some time off from the Linux kernel. Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds has told the BBC that he is seeking professional help to become more empathetic towards fellow developers, but admits he may have to “fake it until I make it.”

  • 5 Linux Predictions for 2019

    With a brand new year about to kick off my mind is in a contemplative mode, wondering what the next twelve months might hold for Linux and the wider open source community.

    So naturally, and without any shred of originality, I’m going to share my Linux predictions for 2019.

    Now, I am not psychic; whether any of my Linux predictions actually happen, or whether they remain wannabe “would’ve-beens” left to loiter in my head, is totally unknown.

  • What happened with Linux in 2018

    Linux continued to dominate the realms of servers and smartphones in 2018, and the pace of development of distributions and the Linux kernel remained relentless.

    Kernel developers had their hands full this year, having to deal with the disclosure of significant vulnerabilities in the CPUs used by almost every desktop computer and web server in the world – Spectre and Meltdown.

    The year also saw significant changes within the community when the creator of the Linux kernel Linus Torvalds apologised for his past behaviour and advocated for a new contributor code of conduct.

    Below is the significant Linux news from the past year.

  • Desktop

    • Google to start testing GPU support in Linux apps on Chrome OS soon

      Support for Linux apps was one of the more significant additions to Chrome OS in recent months, but the feature isn’t perfect. Thankfully, Google is getting close to improving some of the bigger issues with Linux app support.

      Notable issues include audio not working and no graphics acceleration. These two issues stem from reported problems Google had integrating audio and graphics drivers into the virtual machine used to run Linux apps.

      The search giant initially planned to resolve these issues by Chrome OS version 71, but that update has rolled out this week without the promised fixes.

  • Server

    • 5 things you didn’t know about Istio

      Microservices are rapidly rising in utilization, but their advantages are offset by the operational challenges reported by early adopters. Istio is one of the platforms that has emerged to make microservices environments simpler for enterprise IT teams. Istio is an open service mesh platform that enables developers to connect, observe, secure, and control microservices.

      In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC, IBM senior technical staff member Lin Sun shared “5 things you didn’t know about Istio.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds’ New Helper Is Working Out Well For Linux 4.21

      One of the changes recently on the kernel mailing list to help in Torvalds’ communication with kernel developers is having a bot that lets the developer know if/when their pull request has been honored. Up until now it’s been up to Linus Torvalds to manually say it’s been pulled or for the kernel developer to keep a close eye over the kernel Git tree. But Linus always didn’t email the developer over each pull request, particularly when he didn’t have anything to critique. But now with this pr-tracker-bot on duty, there’s always a message for each pull request going through.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA’s 2018 Linux Highlights Included Some Open-Source Milestones, But Not Many

        Besides the launch of their successful RTX “Turing” graphics cards, releasing the exciting Jetson AGX Xavier board, and other hardware initiatives, the green giant continued work on their flagship Linux graphics driver that while proprietary continues offering effectively the same feature set and performance as their Windows driver. They did make some open-source surprises this year, but not nearly as many as many in the community would have liked to see.

  • Applications

    • Release month, Nanonote 1.0.0

      Here is the last issue of release month! Today is the first release of Nanonote, a minimalist note-taking application.

    • Linux KVM Continues Offering Much Better Out-Of-The-Box Performance Than VirtualBox

      With the release earlier this month of Oracle VirtualBox 6.0, besides running some benchmarks of its VMSVGA 3D graphics support, I also ran some basic benchmarks to see how a similarly configured VM under both VirtualBox 6.0 with Linux KVM setup via virt-manager would compare for performance as we hit the end of 2018. This quick round of Linux virtualization tests was done on the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX system.

    • Cantata 2.3.3 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04/Higher

      Cantata MPD client released version 2.3.3 a few hours ago with enhancements and many bug-fixes. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 16.04, and Ubuntu 14.04.

    • Udeler – An Open-source Desktop App for Downloading Udemy Courses

      Are you following any online education center? Nowadays, it’s very obvious that people choose online education center to learn a lot of things important to them. These online education centers are giving so many opportunities to learn any subject or programming language or any other topic. Some of these centers offer you free courses and some offer paid ones.

      Even there are such online centers which have both the free and paid course option. If you’re familiar with the online education center, then you should have heard about Code Academy or Khan Academy. Udemy is also an online education center that provides you different online courses to learn from your place. Even you can get some of the courses entirely free.

    • VLC 3.0.5 Released with Improved YouTube, HDR & BluRay Support

      A new version of the versatile VLC media player has been released — and would you believe it: the update is already available on Ubuntu!

      VLC 3.0.5 isn’t dramatic; a minor update in the 3.x series, this is the first release of the player since the summer.

      But the version uplift brings a bunch of bug fixes and security updates to the fore, particularly for third-party libraries. There are also performance tweaks and (though not relevant here) improved compatibility with macOS 10.14 and its newfangled “dark mode”.

    • 5 Best Free Code Editors for Ubuntu, Linux

      Each editors have their own unique selling point. Developers choose their own IDE as per their comfort and needs. I hope this list helped you to decide which one you would rather pick for development use. Drop a comment below with your views.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • New Screenshots And Gameplay GIF Shown Off For Streets Of Rage 4

        Furthermore, while the game platforms have not been confirmed, Lizardcube are not ruling out a Linux port, considering their previous game, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, eventually got ported to Linux.

      • KDE Plasma, GNOME Shell, Xfce, LXQt & MATE Linux Gaming Benchmarks, Including X.Org/Wayland

        The desktop environments tested were GNOME Shell 3.30.1 (with X.Org, the default Ubuntu 19.04 experience currently), GNOME Shell 3.30.1 as a Wayland session, KDE Plasma 5.14.4, KDE Plasma 5.14.4 as a Wayland session, Xfce 4.12, LXQt 0.13, and MATE 1.20.3 all via the Ubuntu Disco packages.

      • Our top Linux picks released in 2018, the GamingOnLinux editor awards

        Now that 2018 is coming to a close, let’s have a little look over some of what we think are the top Linux games released this year.

        Unlike previous years, we’re making our own views known to the world rather than just doing user votes (that may come later for a reader award, usually January).

      • Epic Games have confirmed a Linux version of their store is not on the roadmap

        It’s interesting, since their original announcement mentioned the store was coming to “other open platforms” besides Windows, Mac and Android which we presumed would mean Linux. It’s odd, since there aren’t really other open platforms besides those to put a store on. We also had Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, give a ray of hope on Twitter with “We’ll See :D” in reply to a user asking if the other open platforms meant Linux. So, I do still find it very odd that it’s not on the roadmap at all. Not surprising though, Linux has always been low priority for Epic Games.

        This could create an issue for us in future, since Epic Games are taking on timed-exclusive games which would mean no possibility for a Linux version until that ends. Even then, the developers of those games could decide to remain solely on the Epic Store. Remember, this has already happened with Satisfactory from Coffee Stain having the Steam store page removed to be exclusive to the Epic Store.

        Speaking on Reddit, Epic’s Sweeney said “These exclusives don’t come to stores for free; they’re a result of some combination of marketing commitments, development funding, or revenue guarantees.”. So with that in mind, Epic Games are offering some commitments to developers to get their games, which could sway some future high-profile titles away from the likes of Steam.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • What’s New in Manjaro 18.0 Xfce Edition

        Manjaro 18.0 Xfce Edition is official Manjaro Linux flavour with XFCE 4.13 as default desktop environment include Xfce component.Powered by the latest Long-Term Support of Linux Kernel 4.19, include pamac version 7.3.

        in manjaro 18.0, The Manjaro Settings Manager (MSM) now provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for installing and removing the many series of kernels. At the time of this release, eight kernel-series are available directly from our binary repositories, from 3.16 series to the latest 4.19 release.

      • PureOS and Purity

        I have been following the development of Purism‘s Librem 13 and 15 laptops for several years. Like many Linux users, I am attracted by the efforts to build secure and free systems, but hesitant about the high prices for midlist hardware. At the very least, I would want to try before I buy. However, because that opportunity seems unlikely, the best I can do is to install PureOS, Purism’s distribution, on a virtual machine. Unfortunately, a couple of days of exploring leaves me with mixed reactions, and in the end does nothing to resolve my ambiguities.

        PureOS starts off promisingly enough, being based on Debian,one of the more secure major distributions. In keeping with basic security principles, the installation is minimal (after all, how can you secure a system without knowing what is on it?), consisting chiefly of utilities and a few basic applications like LibreOffice. However, mouse movement is erratic, either because of the virtual machine or because the system is customized for Purism’s particular hardware, although an immediate software update does improve performance somewhat.

    • New Releases

      • Q4OS 2.7 Scorpion, stable

        A significant update to the Q4OS 2 Scorpion stable LTS is immediately available for download. The new 2.7 series brings some important improvements for the Trinity desktop. An essential change is much improved scaling ability for hi-dpi screens, making this operating system better adapted for modern computers. Desktop profiler, Software centre, Welcome screen, Setup utility, and other Q4OS specific tools have been updated to be rendered correctly for higher screen resolutions. Apart from the scaling capabilities, Q4OS 2.7 brings numerous improvements and fixes, for example better GTK3 themes integration, fixes to XDG standard implementation and others.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Debian Family

      • wrap up: debootstrap in 2018
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Had A Very Busy 2018 But Not Everything Turned Out As Planned

            There were a lot of accomplishments for Ubuntu users and developers in 2018 ranging from the successful 18.04 LTS release to Ubuntu shipping on more Dell systems to continuing to polish their GNOME Shell based desktop experience. But, also, there were a number of letdowns.

            The Ubuntu plans for shipping with GSConnect for offering some basic smartphone integration from the desktop has yet to materialize as part of the default Ubuntu desktop offering. The Ubuntu survey data that users are prompted to engage in when hitting a new Ubuntu installation also isn’t quite transparent yet with that data still largely being closed up and just pushed out partially in static snapshots. Also, unfortunately, Ubuntu hasn’t yet tried switching back over to the GNOME Wayland session after shipping their Long Term Support release with the mature X.Org session… Hopefully we’ll see them try that transition back to Wayland in 2019 so it can be vetted ahead of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. But even with the year not having executed perfectly, there still is a lot to be happy about for Ubuntu in 2018.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Richard W.M. Jones: Haiku!
  • Events

    • Erase unconscious bias from your AI datasets

      Artificial intelligence failures often generate a lot of laughs when they make silly mistakes like this goofy photo. However, “the problem is that machine learning gaffes aren’t always funny … They can have pretty serious consequences for end users when the datasets that are used to train these machine learning algorithms aren’t diverse enough,” says Lauren Maffeo, a senior content analyst at GetApp.

      In her Lightning Talk, “Erase unconscious bias from your AI datasets,” at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC, Lauren describes some of the grim implications and advocated for developers to take measures to protect people from machine learning and artificial intelligence bias.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Microsoft Open-sources the UEFI Core Used by Surface Devices and Hyper-V [Ed: Microosft is openwashing an antifeature that promotes proprietary malware with NSA back doors]

      Project Mu aims to make it easier for developers to quickly create and frequently update the firmware of their devices, enabling Project Mu devices to adopt a Firmware as a Service (FaaS) evolution model. Project Mu contains the same code leveraged in several of products, including the Microsoft Surface and Hyper-V, Microsoft says.

      Project Mu is based on TianoCore’s edk2, a cross-platform firmware development environment for the UEFI and PI specifications which Microsoft adopted for the Surface. In the process of developing FaaS for the Surface, Microsoft learned that TianoCore was not optimized to support rapid update cycles across multiple product lines. Thus, they set out to build Project Mu on top of TianoCore.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12 and the graphics stack

      Over the Christmas season I rebuilt my workstation — the one I use in my home office, all day every day, writing Calamares or FreeBSD ports or other stuff — to be almost-all-flash (and 3TB of spinning rust for backups). Since the machine was open and on its side on my desk anyway, I decided to try out the available graphics options.

      As occurs so often: I’m not writing about something I did. It’s nearly all someone else’s work, and the FreeBSD 12.0 release notes understate it a great deal.

    • NetBSD entering 2019 with more complete LLVM support

      I’m recently helping the NetBSD developers to improve the support for this operating system in various LLVM components. As you can read in my previous report, I’ve been focusing on fixing build and test failures for the purpose of improving the buildbot coverage.

      Previously, I’ve resolved test failures in LLVM, Clang, LLD, libunwind, openmp and partially libc++. During the remainder of the month, I’ve been working on the remaining libc++ test failures, improving the NetBSD clang driver and helping Kamil Rytarowski with compiler-rt.

    • NetBSD Working On Better LLVM Toolchain Support

      While a number of BSDs already have great LLVM toolchain support and are generally quite fond of this liberally licensed compiler alternative to GCC, the NetBSD support has lagged behind a bit for LLVM but that is continuing to improve.

    • FreeBSD security settings and KDE Konsole

      Konsole has this neat feature where you can automatically title each tab in the terminal-emulator window with information from the foreground process running in that tab. Useful if you have lots of shells opened to different directories in the system.

    • OpenBSD Security, DragonFly + Threadripper, TrueOS Topped Out BSD News This Year

      For those not following the BSD operating systems on a daily basis, here is a look back at the biggest highlights in the BSD land for 2018 ranging from OpenBSD’s continued security conscious decisions, NetBSD 8.0 bringing USB 3.0 and other hardware support improvements, DragonFlyBSD running great on Threadripper 2, FreeBSD 12.0 making its highly anticipated debut, and much more.

      Of all our BSD coverage on Phoronix this year, below is a look back at the 20 most popular articles for those wishing to relive the exciting highlights. Looking ahead to 2019, it will be interesting to see what comes about as FreeBSD 13 development gets underway, DragonFlyBSD continuing with its optimizations around HAMMER2 and separately around Threadripper 2 / Ryzen 2, we’ll see what new innovations come to TrueOS, and there is also notable smaller work happening around HardenedBSD, MidnightBSD, GhostBSD, etc.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • gzip-1.10 released [stable]

      This is to announce gzip-1.10, a stable release.

      There have been 19 commits by 2 people in the 51 weeks since 1.9,
      not to mention the 559 gnulib-related changes.

    • A message from Richard M. Stallman

      This year, I’m happy to report, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) received two large donations, each nominally a million dollars.

      The donation from the Pineapple Fund arrived in the form of Bitcoin and had gone down to around $860,000 by the time we could convert it all to dollars. Around half of the donation from Handshake is earmarked for specific software projects; some of that will go to improving Replicant, the free Android fork, but that half won’t help fund the FSF’s general operations.

      We will need to add part of these donations to our reserves, which are meant to enable us to keep operating in the case of a possible downturn. That still leaves enough to expand our staff by two or three positions. We will be able to do some of the work that always needed doing but that we could not undertake.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU Offering Cash Bounty Incentives For Finding Security Flaws in Open Source Tools

      FOSSA aims at bringing together the developer community to ensure better security of open source systems, such as CMS or other standard software used by the EU.

      There are several open-source software that is widely used by the authorities, as well as the public at large. Reportedly some of these are used as part of the EU’s IT Infrastructure, and therefore they are keen on ensuring better security for such projects.

    • Europe to fund bug bounties for 15 open source programs, including VLC, Drupal and Notepad++

      The full list of programs that will be funded by the EC from January includes a number of popular tools: 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services (DSS), Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, Notepad++, PuTTY, PHP Symfony, VLC Media Player and WSO2. In March, midpoint will be added to the list.

    • European Union to fund bug bounties for leading open-source software projects

      The European Union is an unexpected entrant into the world of bug bounties, funding 14 of them for open-source software projects on which the organization relies.

      Bug bounties are payments provided to security researchers and others who detect and report vulnerabilities in software. The EU’s funding will begin at the start of January.

      Announced late last week by Julia Reda, an elected representative of the EU Parliament, the program will fund bug bounties for a variety of software: 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services, Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, midPoint, Notepad++, PuTTY, the Symfony PHP framework, VLC Media Player and WSO2.

      The funding will be provided through the Free and Open Source Software Audit project that was approved by the EU in 2015. That project was founded after flaws were found in OpenSSL, the open-source library used for the encryption of internet traffic.

    • EU offers bounties to help find security flaws in open source tools
    • EU to Launch Bug Bounty Program for Open Source Software

      The bounties are offered as part of the Free and Open Source Software Audit project (FOSSA), originally launched in 2015 following the discovery of security flaws in OpenSSL encryption.

      Julia Reda, a German member of the European Parliament, says the bug bounty program will include 14 projects that the EU itself relies on.

      “The amount of the bounty depends on the severity of the issue uncovered and the relative importance of the software. The software projects chosen were previously identified as candidates in the inventories and a public survey,” she says.

    • EU puts up bug bounties to find flaws in open source software

      The European Union (EU) has put up a bug bounty for security researchers to spot flaws in the open source software used by the regional bloc.

      In a post on her website, European Parliament member Julia Reda of Germany said the bounty to be launched in 2019 by the European Commission – EU’s executive branch – will cover a total of 15 free and open source software “that the EU institutions rely on.”

    • EU to fund bug bounties for open source projects including PuTTY, Notepad++, KeePass, Filezilla and VLC

      Why it matters: The internet largely relies on open source projects to survive, but these are often developed by hardworking and charitable developers rather than well-paid employees. An unfortunate consequence of this is that developers simply don’t get the time and resources they require to hunt down the vulnerabilities that are so pervasive in complex code.

      The European Union has recognized this problem, and as part of their Free and Open Source Software Audit (FOSSA) they’ve set up a bug bounty for 15 applications. The bounty ranges from $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the software in question, and of course, on the seriousness of the vulnerability discovered.

    • Misguided misguidings over the EU bug bounty

      The EU recently announced they are going to sponsor a security bug bounty program for 14 open source projects in 2019. There has been quite a bit of buzz about this program in all the usual places. The opinions are all over the place. Some people wonder why those 14, some wonder why not more. Some think it’s great. Some think it’s a horrible idea.

      I don’t want to focus too much on the details as they are unimportant in the big picture. Which applications are part of the program don’t really matter. What matters is why are we here today and where should this go in the future.

      There are plenty of people claiming that a security bug bounty isn’t fair, we need to be paying the project developers, the people who are going to fix the bugs found by the bug bounty. Why are we only paying the people who find the bugs? This is the correct question, but it’s not correct for the reasons most think it is.

      There are a lot of details to unpack about all this and I don’t want to write a novel to explain all the nuance and complication around what’s going to happen. The TL;DR is basically this: The EU doesn’t have a way to pay the projects today, but they do have a way to pay security bug bounties.

      Right now if you want to pay a particular project, who do you send the check to? In some cases like the Apache Software Foundation it’s quite clear. In other cases when it’s some person who publishes a library for fun, it’s not clear at all. It may even be illegal in some cases, sending money across borders can get complicated very quickly. I’ll give a shoutout to Tidelift here, I think they’re on the right path to make this happen. The honest truth is it’s really really hard to give money to the open source projects you use.

    • UF professor’s invention makes voting more accessible

      “It is somewhat of a challenge because it’s different than what they are used to, a voting machine manufacturer gives them equipment and support and helps them in a lot of ways,” Gilbert said. “With the technology, like in New Hampshire, they have an IT department which is very strong, and they are able to put this together and make this work for them … you need IT talent to do an open source voting system and that’s what I’m hearing from election officials at this point.”

      Eventually, Gilbert said he believes Florida and other states will try Prime III. With it being an open source company, Gilbert was able to provide the Prime III technology to New Hampshire for free, and charged a one-time licensing fee for the two counties in Ohio. Basic voting machines, on average, run from $2,500 to $3,000.

    • Finland’s teachers turn to open source geospatial tools

      PaikkaOppi, a portal that introduces Finland’s school students to geographic maps and the use of geospatial information, will switch to using Oskari, the open source, on-line geographic map-building tool originally developed by the National Land Survey of Finland.

  • Programming/Development

    • Ansible-bender in OKD

      For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a project we call “Ansible OCI image builder”. I named the tool itself ansible-bender (and yes, it’s shiny).

    • The pygame project has finally ready

      It has been a day since I had mentioned that I want to upload the new pygame project to the major gaming websites but because of some technical problems that occurred during the files packaging stage the uploading plan has been delayed until today. I have managed to solve all the files packaging issues this morning thus finally this game has been uploaded successfully to various gaming websites. Although we have finished this project together this game is still at its early stage which means more features and levels will be included from time to time. You can download this game from any of these three websites below.

    • Creating your own custom terminal image

      In this series of posts I have been talking about some of the work I have been doing with creating environments to host workshops when needing to train users in using a software product such as OpenShift.

      In the first post I explained how JupyterHub can be used to deploy web applications other than Jupyter notebooks, and how I use it to deploy user environments which give each attendee of a workshop, access to an interactive command line shell in their browser, with all the command line client tools and files they need for the workshop.

      In the second post I delved into how the container image was constructed, as well as how it could be run independent of using JupyterHub where a user may want to deploy it themselves and wasn’t running a workshop.

      In this post I am going to explain more about how the terminal image is constructed and how it can be extended to add additional command line tools and files required for a specific workshop.

    • PyDev of the Week: Mike Grouchy
    • Write python code to win the challenge
    • Trying to Beta Test Your New App? Consider These Helpful Tips For Success

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Lawrence Roberts, One Of Early Internet Pioneers, Dies At 81

      Among the early architects of the internet, who helped shape the internet as it is today, Lawrence Roberts is a prominent name. He was the program manager for ARPAnet — a precursor to the internet.

      Sadly, he died on December 26th at the age of 81. Even though he was a public figure for the internet as much as Tim Berners-Lee or Vint Cerf, the key decisions he made ended up deciding how the internet behaves today.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Energy firm fined for North Fork leaks
    • One dead, 10 missing after methane explosion in Czech coal mine
    • As Centrist Democrat Who Lost Reelection Attacks Medicare for All, Progressives Respond With the Facts

      Despite losing reelection in November after running on a fervently anti-Medicare for All platform, outgoing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) confidently declared during a CNN interview on Friday that the bold and increasingly popular solution to America’s healthcare crisis does not inspire voters in states like Indiana.

      “When you talk ‘Medicare for All’… you start losing the people in my state,” Donnelly said. “The talk on the coasts just doesn’t get it done in the middle.”

      The notion that an ambitious left-wing platform only resonates “on the coasts” and is not electorally viable in more conservative states has become a common trope among “moderate” Democrats, but progressives were quick to push back on Donnelly’s evidence-free claim, noting that Medicare for All has high levels of support in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.

    • Gdansk

      Arriving in Gdansk I very soon discovered that the victims were dispersed round several hospitals and there was no central authority able to produce a list of requirements. Poland was still in the early stages of a shock transition from communism and elements of administration were shaky at the best of times, let alone in a large scale emergency. The only way to make any progress was for me physically to go to every hospital and every concerned ward, buttonhole the doctors there and ask them what they needed.

      To say they were swamped would be ridiculous understatement. Victims were everywhere, very many critical, and in some places bleary-eyed doctors literally had nothing – creams, bandages, painkillers, saline drips all exhausted. Meeting many doctors, when I told them I could get anything sent out instantly, the reaction ranged from angrily incredulous to massive bear hugs.

      It was of course difficult. In 1994 Polish medical practice differed quite sharply from British. There were language barriers; my as yet basic Polish lacked medical vocabulary. And I had to keep interrupting incredibly busy people. But after the first couple of hospitals I was able to extrapolate and phone through to Mukesh the most obviously urgent items, and by the end of the day I was clutching 16 handwritten lists and could sit down to consolidate them.

      But I have not described to you what it was like to go round those wards. I really cannot – it was indescribable. Horribly disfigured people screaming and writhing in pain, begging and pleading for any relief, even asking to die. And the worst thing is, they were all teenagers – the average age seemed about 16. One image I shall never forget was of a girl sitting bolt upright in bed, looking calm, and I recall thinking that at least this one is OK. But I had seen her right profile and as I passed her, the left side of her face was literally skeletal, with a yellow blob for an eye, no skin and just the odd sinew attached to the bone. Her calm was catatonic.

  • Security

    • Best Wireless Adapter For Hacking in Kali Linux (2018 Review)

      Today you’ll learn which wireless adapter you should buy for hacking wifi networks using Kali Linux.

      Before I begin, there’s something you should know:

      Not all wireless adapters are created equal and therefore compatible with Kali Linux. And the majority you’ll find for sale aren’t equipped with packet injection or monitor mode — both of which are required for penetration testing wireless networks.

    • Hackers pocketed $878,000 from cryptocurrency bug bounties in 2018

      While hardcore cryptocurrency enthusiasts often tout blockchain for its heightened security, the technology is not perfect – and there are often tons of vulnerabilities in the code. Indeed, blockchain companies have received at least 3,000 vulnerability reports in 2018 alone.

      According to stats from breach disclosure platform HackerOne, blockchain companies awarded $878,504 in bug bounties to hackers this year. The data was compiled in mid-December. By contrast, the total sum of bug bounties awarded by August was $600,000.

    • Ransomware suspected in cyberattack that crippled major US newspapers {Ed: Drama queen Catalin Cimpanu does not mention Microsoft Windows when it causes issues, blames “Linux” even when it’s nothing to do with GNU/Linux]

      A Tribune Publishing spokesperson didn’t confirm the ransomware infection, but did say the incident was caused by “malware.” The same spokesperson said that websites and mobile applications of its newspapers weren’t affected.

    • Cyber attack causes distribution delays at prominent US newspapers: report

      The Los Angeles Times reported that Tribune Publishing was affected by a cyberattack originating outside of the U.S., which caused service disruptions for the Saturday editions of major newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun.

    • Six places to report phishing emails and websites

      It’s easy to just ignore a phishing email or website. You’re of course smart enough to realize you’re looking at a fake version of your online bank. However, would you realize that if you were feeling a bit under the weather or when you’re quickly checking emails on your phone after a night on the town? Please do take the time to report phishing immediately when you encounter it!

      [...]

      Note that you should only report emails that pretend to be from a trusted organization for the purpose of stealing login credentials, credit card information, or other personal information. SpamCop also welcome reports of other types of unsolicited bulk spam emails.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Basing Air Force Jets in Vermont Violates US’s Own Laws of War

      The US Air Force decision to base F-16 and F-35 jets at a civilian airport in a heavily populated area in Vermont violates multiple principles of long-established international humanitarian law codified in the 1,236-page US Department of Defense (DoD) “Law of War Manual.”

      The DoD first published its Manual in 2015, a time of growing recognition that the wanton killing and injuring of civilians in Iraq and the torturing of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was illegal, immoral, unjust and counterproductive. Updated twice since that first publication, the December 2016 version of the DoD Manual states that, “The protection of civilians against the harmful effects of hostilities is one of the main purposes of the law of war.”

      So far, however, that acknowledgement has not developed sufficiently to end the gratuitous F-16 operations that harm civilians and their property in the Chamberlin School neighborhood of South Burlington, Vermont, in violation of principles in the DoD Manual. Nor are there any plans to cancel the basing of the even more harmful F-35 jets in that neighborhood.

      The willful exposure of Vermonters to harm from extreme noise and crash risks, the positioning of high-value weapons intermingled with civilians, and the use of civilian residents and the civilian airport as human shields each violate long-established law-of-war principles.

    • Trump Administration Shows Off Iranian Missiles to Try and Save Saudi War in Yemen We Support

      The Trump administration’s war in Yemen is on the rocks in Congress. So what can you do when the Hill doesn’t want to back your Saudi allies’ increasingly bloody war there? Drag out some Iranian missiles from Yemen and hope the sight of them is enough to spook senators into supporting continued American involvement in the war.

      In a briefing on Thursday, the State Department’s special Iran envoy Brian Hook hailed the display of seized Iranian weapons from Yemen as “new evidence of Iran’s ongoing missile proliferation” and a sign that the “Iranian threat is growing and we are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to act.”

    • Islamic extremists are now using drones in Nigeria, leader says

      Islamic extremists in Nigeria have begun using drones, the country’s president says, opening a worrying new front in the region’s nearly decade-long fight against Boko Haram and an offshoot linked to the Islamic State.

      President Muhammadu Buhari announced the development during a meeting on Thursday of countries that contribute troops to a multinational force combatting the extremists.

    • U.S. Military Says It Has a “Light Footprint” in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases.

      THE U.S. MILITARY has long insisted that it maintains a “light footprint” in Africa, and there have been reports of proposed drawdowns in special operations forces and closures of outposts on the continent, due to a 2017 ambush in Niger and an increasing focus on rivals like China and Russia. But through it all, U.S. Africa Command has fallen short of providing concrete information about its bases on the continent, leaving in question the true scope of the American presence there.

      Documents obtained from AFRICOM by The Intercept, via the Freedom of Information Act, however, offer a unique window onto the sprawling network of U.S. military outposts in Africa, including previously undisclosed or unconfirmed sites in hotspots like Libya, Niger, and Somalia. The Pentagon has also told The Intercept that troop reductions in Africa will be modest and phased-in over several years and that no outposts are expected to close as a result of the personnel cuts.

    • US Airstrike Kills 11 Qaeda Terrorists in South Libya

      At least 11 terrorists were killed in an air strike carried out this week by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) near al-Uwaynat desert in Libya.

    • US army airstrikes kill 9 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia
    • Trump ramps up airstrikes as Taliban peace talks remain elusive

      The Trump administration has ratcheted up its bombing campaign in Afghanistan in an effort to pressure the Taliban to engage in peace talks, but a deal to end the 17-year war remains elusive.

      Manned and unmanned aircraft have dropped more than 10,300 bombs over Afghanistan during President Trump’s first two years in office, including 4,361 in 2017 and a record 5,982 weapons as of Oct. 31.

    • Why Are We Talking About Khashoggi Murder When US Drones Kill Thousands?

      Democrats and neocons in Washington screaming about Trump’s apparent lack of concern over the Saudi crown prince’s alleged murder of a journalist are themselves silent over the not one, but thousands of civilians killed by US drone strikes. It is not war or savagery that they are opposing.

    • AFRICOM is More about Natural Resources than Fighting Terrorism

      First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

      Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

    • US reopens permanent diplomatic facility in Somalia after nearly 28 years

      The U.S. reopened a permanent diplomatic facility in Somalia on Sunday, nearly 28 years after shuttering its embassy in Mogadishu as the country collapsed into civil war.

      The State Department heralded the announcement as a historic event that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years. It comes amid a challenging security environment, as the fragile Somali government continues to fight off the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabab and assert its control of the whole country.

      While American staffers will officially move to Mogadishu for the first time in nearly three decades, it will not be a full U.S. embassy.

    • NYPD to Deploy Fleet of Drones

      The New York Police Department announced it will begin using drones. The NYPD says the drones will be used for search and rescue missions, to investigate hazardous materials and to access crime scenes in tall buildings. The New York Civil Liberties Union said in response, “The NYPD’s drone policy places no meaningful restrictions on police deployment of drones in New York City and opens the door to the police department building a permanent archive of drone footage of political activity and intimate private behavior visible only from the sky.”

    • “30 seconds to live”: A glimpse inside the secretive world of the killer-drones

      To many, modern warfare, and particularly drone warfare, can seem like a video game. Successive waves of war movies and video games have managed to replicate the images of the modern battlefield. Images, however, are just that: visual interpretations of events. They don’t show the impact, physical or mental, that the participants experience. Dr Peter Lee, a British academic and former Royal Air Force (RAF) chaplain, is trying to explain the feeling behind the images of drone warfare.

      As a chaplain, Dr Lee had extensive access to the RAF’s Reaper crews and their U.S. partners both in Britain and the U.S. (he specifically spent a lot of time at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and RAF Waddington base in Lincolnshire). Having completed his service with the RAF, Dr Lee published a book describing his experiences with the Reaper Force.

    • UN: respect for human rights is critical for peace, justice and inclusive society in Ukraine

      Systemic impunity for human rights violations and lack of effective remedy for civilian victims of the armed conflict hinder prospects for peace and stability, says a report published today by the United Nations Human Rights Office.

      The report covers the period between 16 August and 15 November 2018 and details violations committed in Ukraine, including on both sides of the contact line and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, occupied by the Russian Federation. Within this period, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented 242 violations.* The Government of Ukraine was responsible for 147 violations of those recorded, while 28 violations were attributed to the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’. The Russian Federation was responsible for 32

    • New global guidelines coming regarding first responders and drones

      INTERPOL held a Drone Expert Forum in late August as part of their Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore. The event, which was supported by the FBI and the Netherlands Police was deemed a “first step towards developing the global capacity to deal with the emerging threat posed by ‘unmanned aerial systems’ known as drones.”

      A specific date for the publishing and distribution of the INTERPOL Drone Response and Forensic Guidelines was not stated.

    • America’s year in war: All the places US armed forces took or gave fire in 2018

      The US military gave or took fire in some form or another in at least seven countries in 2018: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.

    • The United States at War in Somalia

      The battle famously depicted in the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’ (based on Mark Bowden’s book) took place 25 years ago (October 1993) and the U.S. remains engaged in a conflict in Somalia now—in 2018—and likely for the foreseeable future. The warlords remain, to a lesser degree, and the government is still unable to provide consistent services and security. Al-Qaeda has long been a meaningful player in Somalia, from the earliest days of the group, and is now represented there through its affiliate al-Shabab. Al-Shabab, or “the Youth,” has proven to be a well-entrenched insurgent organization capable of launching spectacular terrorist attacks while withstanding a steady campaign of U.S. and African Union-supported military operations over the past decade. The counterterrorism campaign in Somalia is among the most intractable and difficult of the many theatres where the U.S. military has remained active in the post-9/11 era.

    • In Afghanistan, ignorance has become a crucial part of the War on Terror

      Away from the media glare, the war on Afghan civilians at the hands of America and its local allies continues to take a toll on everyday life, with hundreds killed as a result.

    • The United States Is First in War, But Trailing in Crucial Aspects of Modern Civilization

      Maybe those delirious crowds chanting “USA, USA” have got something. When it comes to military power, the United States reigns supreme. Newsweek reported in March 2018: “The United States has the strongest military in the world,” with over 2 million military personnel and vast numbers of the most advanced nuclear missiles, military aircraft, warships, tanks, and other modern weapons of war. Furthermore, as the New York Times noted, “the United States also has a global presence unlike any other nation, with about 200,000 active duty troops deployed in more than 170 countries.” This presence includes some 800 overseas U.S. military bases.

    • A Top 2018 Story: Sudan’s Mercenary child-soldiers in Yemen (NYT)

      David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times caused an international stir by estimating that 20 percent of Sudanese fighters in Yemen may be 13-17, i.e. child soldiers. The percentage may be as high as 40%.

      That these child soldiers appear to have been paid for by Saudi Arabia at a time when, because of the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia is in bad odor anyway, contributed to the sensation. Virtually every Arabic newspaper and news site is leading with the Times story.

    • Do We Care About Drones Now?

      The US drone killing programme massively expanded under President Barack Obama. Responding to evolving militant threats and the greater availability of remote piloting technology, Obama ordered ten times more “counter-terror” strikes than his predecessor George W Bush over the course of his term. Thousands of strikes have been carried out in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, carried out by the highly secretive Central Intelligence Agency and Joint Special Operations Command at the Pentagon.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Test of western democracy

      THIS has been the seventh year that WikiLeaksfounder Julian Assange spent Christmas in confinement inside Ecuador’s London embassy. For nearly a decade, the US government’s aggressive witch-hunt of truthtellers has trapped him in the UK.
      Assange claimed political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to mitigate the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his publishing activities. He has been unlawfully held by the UK government without charge, being denied access to medical treatment, fresh air, sunlight and adequate space to exercise. In December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange was being ‘arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.’ Yet the UK government’s refusal to comply with the UN finding has allowed this unlawful detention to continue.
      This cruel persecution of Assange represents a deep crisis of western democracy. As injustice against this western journalist prevails, the legitimacy of traditional institutions has weakened. The benevolent democracy that many were taught to believe in has been shown to be an illusion. It has been revealed as a system of control, lacking enforcement mechanisms in law to deal with real offenders of human rights violations, who for example illegally invade countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Under this managed democracy, the premise of ‘no person is above laws’ is made into a pretense that elites use to escape democratic accountability. Media has become the ‘Guardian’ of ruling elites that engage in propaganda to distort truth.

    • US embassy in Helsinki

      Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of kilograms of cargo sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

      A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

      The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks’ database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Wolf Killing is an Unfair and Destructive Subsidy

      The killing of a wolf pup near Corral Creek outside Sun Valley, Idaho was done to protect John Peavy’s business, Flat Top Sheep Company. Once again this raises the question of why public wildlife should be killed to increase the profitability of private enterprises operating on our public lands.

      It is especially disconcerting that Peavy did not implement minimum measures to protect his own sheep, instead, used a taxpayer-funded “hired gun,” i.e., USDA Wildlife Services to kill our wolves.

      Grazing on public lands is a privilege, not a right. Why should Peavy sheep, and his business interests be allowed to jeopardize, harass and kill public wildlife? If I were to harass his sheep when I discovered them polluting our streams or otherwise damaging our public lands, I would be arrested.

    • Robots to the Rescue on the Great Barrier Reef

      “On healthy reefs, you would never bother intervening because the reef is doing a fantastic job restoring itself,” says Harrison, whose pioneering research in “larval reseeding,” or “coral IVF,” has set the stage for the current restoration. But on the Great Barrier Reef, and on most reefs around the world, sexually reproductive corals are dwindling. “If we don’t [intervene], there simply won’t be enough larvae naturally produced to enable recovery,” Harrison adds.

      With that reality in mind, researchers have been working fast to harvest millions of coral eggs and sperm released at Moore Reef, a healthier system located an hour and a half by boat from Cairns. Once collected, the spawn bundles are transferred from giant nets to floating reef enclosures as large as swimming pools, where embryos are reared into larvae, or “baby corals.” This week, when the larvae are mature enough to resettle, they’ll get loaded into autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) developed by Dunbabin, then sprinkled onto damaged reefs nearby at the touch of a button.

    • Australia’s horses and cows are killing more people than its snakes and spiders

      Australia — while a very popular destination for backpacking, students, business trips, and travelling — is well known for its horror stories about snake bites, hornet stings, and tarantulas lurking in toilets.

      As ABC Science recently reported, however, the animals we’re most afraid of may actually not be the most deadly.

      In fact, you might find some of them pretty locally.

    • Feeling Blue About Climate Change? You’re Not Alone.

      It’s been a tough year for those of us in the climate change community. Each week has seemed to bring either a fresh report reminding us of how precious little time we have left to try to turn this ship around or a disaster that has climate change’s fingerprints all over it. Friends, family, colleagues, and reporters have all asked whether I’m optimistic or hopeful about our ability to limit the severity of future climate change. And I’ll be honest: I’m not. But that doesn’t mean we should give up—in fact that would be among the worst things we could do. Rather, we need to hold fiercely to a vision of the future we want to see and work like hell to make it a reality.

    • Far More Is Needed, Say Green Groups, But Hour-Long Sunday Show Segment on Climate Crisis a ‘Huge’ Testament to Grassroots Pressure

      Described by one observer as the first of its kind, NBC’s segment was viewed by youth climate leaders as a major testament to the power of persistent grassroots organizing to bring a life-or-death issue like the global climate crisis to the center of national attention.

      “Glad that ‘Meet the Press’ devoted a full hour to climate change—that’s huge and shows how grassroots organizing is making climate change a top issue in our country,” declared the youth-led Sunrise Movement on Twitter. “Next time we’d love to see Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) plus a young person from the Sunrise Movement on to talk about the Green New Deal.”

  • Finance

    • Gen X bought the most homes, but debt killed their American Dream

      When they were the age of millennials, Gen Xers had far more financial assets than Boomers.

    • Marriott Hotel Strikers Set a New Industry Standard

      After two months of strikes, workers at the largest hotel company in the world have won their biggest demands and set a new pattern for the hospitality industry.

      The seven UNITE HERE locals in Hawaii, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Detroit, and Boston bargained separately, but similar contract expiration dates allowed 7,700 workers to strike Marriott at the same time.

      Their common demands focused on three areas—job security, workload, and wages and benefits—and the slogan, “One Job Should Be Enough.”

      Employees stopped Marriott from making them choose between wages and benefits. Details varied local by local, but across the country they won on both.

      In San Francisco and Hawaii, workers won $4 raises over the four-year contract. San Diego workers got a 40 percent increase. In Boston, they got 20 percent. Boston, Hawaii, and San Francisco also won increased pension contributions and maintained or improved their health care.

    • 2018 Was the Year of the Labor Strike

      For US workers, 2018 was the year of the strike.

      It may seem incongruent for workers to have gotten more militant in making demands of their employers in an economy with such low unemployment. The unemployment rate has hovered around 4 percent or less this year. If so many people can find work, what’s the problem?

      Even as many of us have gone back to work in the years since the Great Recession, we’re not being rewarded for our labor. Wage growth has just recently started to show signs of increasing — it was up 3.1 percent over the last year, as of the most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but it’s still lagging behind where it was before the recession and where you’d expect it to be, given the low unemployment rate. Four in ten adults in the US say they don’t have the money to cover an unexpected $400 emergency and more than a fifth can’t pay all of their monthly bills in full.

    • Los Angeles Hires Substitutes in Preparation for Teacher Strike

      The Los Angeles Unified School District has reportedly hired about 400 substitute teachers to work while teachers are on strike for better pay and classroom resources. Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), said that after 20 months of bargaining, the union’s 34,000 members are prepared to strike beginning Jan. 10.

      “We have hired substitutes,” Austin Beutner, the district superintendent, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “We have made plans as to alternate curriculums for days that there is a strike but our goal is to make sure schools are safe and open so kids continue to learn. My concern first and foremost is the safety and well being of our students.”

      The union struck back at Beutner—a former investment banker with no experience in education leadership prior to his hiring in May—for failing to offer teachers a contract that met their requests. “It is outrageously irresponsible for Supt. Austin Beutner to force this strike when the district holds $1.9 billion in reserves and it is even more irresponsible to think that 400 substitutes can educate more than 600,000 students,” UTLA said in a statement Friday.

    • End of year crypto roundup: How did Ethereum perform in 2018?

      Ethereum ETH is an open-source blockchain platform which lets anyone create and deploy decentralized applications (DApps). The project was first proposed in a white paper in 2013 by a 19 years old Vitalik Buterin.

      Buterin’s purpose was clear. Instead of targeting and building every single use-case over blockchain, he wanted to create something that could be used to create anything over blockchain — whether it is custom cryptocurrencies, financial instruments, smart property, decentralized storage systems, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), non-fungible assets, identity management solutions, or whatever else you could think of. And, he wanted the users to be able to do this by ‘writing up the logic in a few lines of code.’

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How This Year’s Struggles Set Us Up for a Bold, Hopeful 2019

      Those of us constantly assessing the national political scene could be forgiven for looking at the coming year with more than a bit of trepidation. True, new Democratic control of the House of Representatives means we might get the investigations of President Trump that Republicans have refused to do.

      And as a fairly bleak 2018 comes to a close, we’re getting a taste of what might be more to come: a continuing shutdown of the federal government over funding for a border wall, simmering international crises that threaten to drag in the U.S. and an administration untested by a major crisis, and partisan monkey business in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, where Republicans are moving to strip power from offices won by incoming Democrats.

      The big unknown is special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign, administration, and businesses and their connections to Russia—and how the president might react to each new drip of information to trickle out of the locked grand jury courtrooms.

    • Trump’s tweets: Judges in government secrecy cases say they are ‘speculation’ and not ‘pure fact’

      “Speculation.” “Unofficial information.” “Political statements rather than assertions of pure fact.”

      Those are words federal judges have used to describe President Donald Trump’s tweets while guarding the secrecy of ongoing investigations that have shadowed his presidency.

      And in an unusual twist, these rulings mark victories for Trump’s own Justice Department, which has argued repeatedly that the president’s comments on the probes are not always to be taken literally, or to be trusted.

    • BBC complains to Russia over leaked staff data that was ‘shared with authorities’

      The BBC has gone out of its way to voice concern over the personal details of its staff in Russia appearing on social media and on a news site, not long after staying puzzlingly silent when UK media doxxed Sputnik staff in the UK.

      A list featuring 44 names of BBC employees – with their pictures – published on a couple of Russian social media platforms and a news website did not sit well with the British broadcaster, which lamented “the groundless publication of our Moscow team’s details” and then requested that Russian authorities investigate the matter.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Google wins dismissal of facial recognition lawsuit over biometric privacy act

      In the original suit, the woman sued Google for allegedly uploading her data to Google Photos and scanning it to create a template of her face without her permission. The Google lawsuit is one of three cases aimed at prominent tech companies that have allegedly violated the United States’ toughest biometric privacy law and it’s the first one to get dismissed.

    • Google Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Facial Recognition Software

      U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang in Chicago cited a lack of “concrete injuries” to the plaintiffs. The suit, initially filed in March 2016, alleged Alphabet Inc.’s Google collected and stored biometric data from photographs using facial recognition software, running afoul of a unique Illinois law against using a person’s image without permission.

    • Many Popular Apps Still Send Data To Facebook Without Users’ Consent

      Now, the Privacy International study has found many popular apps – at least 20 out of 34 – are still sending data to Facebook without user’s consent. To put it in other words, Facebook gets hold of your data even if you are not part of the social media platform, or logged out of it.

    • Where Governments Hack Their Own People and People Fight Back: 2018 in Review
    • State-backed hackers switch to inferior tactics to avoid being fingered for attacks

      State-sponsored hackers from China and elsewhere are switching to less effective hacking tools so that they can “blend in with the noise” and avoid taking the blame for their actions.

      This is according to former top US National Security official Priscilla Moriuchi, who headed up the NSA’s East Asia and Pacific cyber threats office prior to moving to the private sector.

      She said that US indictments against named officials in the Chinese military, Russian military intelligence, and Iranian hackers are having an impact.

      China’s willingness to avoid a digital paper trail is also forcing a switch up in tactics.

      “China, for example, realised the amount of data you generate when you do an intense cyber operation,” Moriuchi told The Daily Swig.

      Data from domain registration and payments, as well as the use of RATs and malware that are synonymous with Chinese operations, has allowed experts to attribute cyber campaigns to agents of the state, such as the Ministry of State Security (MSS) and the Peoples Liberation Army – undesirable from a Chinese perspective.

    • With Surveillance Limits Ending, ACLU Sues Everyone

      A civil rights group has sued the US government, saying it needs more information about surveillance of Americans’ phone and financial records to guide the public debate over what will happen when the law that regulates the scrutiny expires next year, the AP reports. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the National Security Agency, the director of national intelligence, the CIA, and the Justice Department on Friday in Manhattan federal court, seeking information about a program that collects records during investigations into terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. According to the lawsuit, the government has not responded to requests made last month for information about its surveillance of Americans under a 2015 law.

    • Memo shows the CIA was offered PROMIS software in 1981

      Agency’s claim of a thorough search for records related to stolen software is undercut by evidence they didn’t check their own software requisition records

    • German cybersecurity chief: Anyone have any evidence of Huawei naughtiness?

      Germany’s top cybersecurity official has said he hasn’t seen any evidence for the espionage allegations against Huawei.

      Arne Schönbohm, president of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), the nation’s cyber-risk assessment agency in Bonn, told Der Spiegel that there is “currently no reliable evidence” of a risk from Huawei.

      “For such serious decisions such as a ban, you need evidence,” Schönbohm said. Should that change, the BSI will “actively approach German industry” he assured the paper.

    • Information warfare: the NSA, there are the trolls

      duration: : First Twitter activities of the IRA in the United States are dated by the Oxford researchers in the year 2012, in the other report 2013. In 2018 the alleged IRA were locked-account Twitter and Facebook. The disinformation campaign is thus established permanently and was by no means limited to the presidential election of 2016.

      This corresponds to the approach of the Western intelligence services, for as long as possible access networks to set up and analyze data streams over the years.

    • The NSA and China feuded in cyberspace in 2014. Will they again?

      The Trump administration is accusing the Chinese government of masterminding a slew of state-sponsored cyberattacks against private sector and defense firms. American officials describe the hacks as an effort to gobble up sensitive defense information and valuable intellectual property.

      “China’s strategy is the same: rob, replicate and replace,” John Demers, the U.S. Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general, told lawmakers Dec. 12. “Rob the American company of its intellectual property, replicate the technology, and replace the American company in the Chinese market and, one day, the global market.”

    • China Is Now the Greatest Threat to Americans’ Privacy
    • Australia Becomes First Western Nation to Ban Secure Encryption

      Australia is now the first Western nation to ban security, following a decision by its parliament to pass a bill forcing companies to hand over encrypted data to police upon demand. The government will be allowed to demand this without judicial review or oversight of any kind, beyond the requirement to get a warrant in the first place. Furthermore, the law requires corporations to build tools to give them the ability to intercept data sought by police when such tools do not already exist. While the bill has only passed Australia’s lower chamber, the upper chamber has indicated it will pass the legislation provided there are later votes on unspecified amendments to the current bill.

    • Australia is a battleground for encrypted apps

      Ever since encryption seeped out of spy agencies and into the commercial world, government watchdogs have been trying to contain its spread. One of the latest battles is in Australia, where politicians are cracking down on technology firms and requiring them to allow “back door” access to encrypted messaging.

      Signal, a messaging app with end-to-end encryption, indicated that it’s unable to—and won’t—comply with the requirements. The app service said in a blog post that it doesn’t keep a record of contacts, locations, group memberships, and other data, and the contents of messages and calls are protected by encryption keys it can’t access. “We remain committed to fighting mass surveillance worldwide,” Signal said.

    • Opinion: A European perspective on the arrest of Huawei’s CFO
    • The US is worried about China spying via Huawei because it did the same

      The US is again warning its allies about the risks of using telecom equipment made by China’s Huawei. American officials have briefed their counterparts in countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan about what they argue are potential cybersecurity risks, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). This follows previous warnings, such as a claim earlier this year that American citizens shouldn’t use Huawei’s phones.

      The US may be concerned about Chinese government influence embedded in Huawei’s technology because America’s spy agencies have done the same thing in the past.

      Western governments have long been wary of Huawei, which was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier. (The recent arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is Zhengfei’s daughter, over allegations of violating of Iran trade sanctions is apparently separate to concerns about cyber espionage.)

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Journalist Jailed Under NSA for Criticising BJP-Led Manipur Govt

      Imphal-based journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who was taken into custody by the state police under the National Security Act (NSA) on November 26, has been sentenced to a 12-month jail term – the maximum period of detention allowed under the Act.

      The advisory board of NSA, set up under Section 9 of the Act to look into the allegations brought by the state government against the journalist, met on December 11 and conducted hearings on the matter. On December 13, the board submitted its report to the authorities approving his detention under the NSA.

    • ‘Absolutely Disgusting’: In First Comment on Deaths of Two Young Kids in US Custody, Trump Falsely Blames Democrats and Child’s Father

      In his first public comments on the deaths of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump on Saturday falsely blamed the Democratic Party and Caal’s father—rather than his own inhumane anti-immigrant policy agenda—in an attempt to score political points amid the ongoing government shutdown.

      “Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!” Trump wrote. “The two children in question were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol. The father of the young girl said it was not their fault, he hadn’t given her water in days.”

    • 2018 Was The Year Donald Trump Declared Total War On Immigrants

      Donald Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do back when he kicked off his presidential campaign in 2015. In this, his second year of office, the president’s sick and deranged racist fantasies came to life through his xenophobic policies and the rise of his deportation force. And for immigrants, 2018 can be summed up in just one word: fear.

      (Of course, the president said and did plenty of other horrendous things to immigrants prior to 2018 ― e.g., the Muslim travel ban of 2017 ― but this year Trump’s racist policies became front and center on a whole new level.)

    • Let’s Remember the Social Justice Organizers We Lost in 2018

      There were thousands of organizers, activists and local social justice leaders around the world who died in 2018. People who may not have made the headlines, but did crucial work in their local communities. As we do every December, we bring you some of the voices and stories of our Fallen Heroes.

    • Outgoing Chief of Staff Kelly: Trump Backed Away From Wall Months Ago

      President Donald Trump long ago backed away from his campaign pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, his outgoing chief of staff said, as the president’s demand for “border security” funding triggered a partial government shutdown with no end in sight.

      John Kelly, who will leave his post Wednesday after a tumultuous 17 months in the job, said in an exit interview with the Los Angeles Times that Trump abandoned the notion of “a solid concrete wall early on in the administration.” It marked the starkest admission yet by the president’s inner circle that his signature campaign pledge, which sparked fervent chants of “build that wall” during Trump’s rallies and is now at the center of a budgetary standoff, would not be fulfilled as advertised.

      “To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly said, adding the mix of technological enhancements and “steel slat” barriers the president now wants along the border resulted from conversations with law enforcement professionals.

    • Quotation of the Day: C.I.A.-Led Afghan Forces Leave Grim Trail of Abuse

      “In their operations, most of the times the harm to civilians is direct. When they make arrests, there is usually torture involved, also.”

      SABRINA HAMIDI, an Afghan Human Rights Commission leader, referring to an Afghan strike force that is believed to be overseen by the C.I.A.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California Could Soon Have Its Own Version of the Internet

      Internet freedom advocates have worried that the [Internet] will fracture into multiple national “splinternets” since France banned Yahoo’s ecommerce users from selling Nazi paraphernalia in the country in 2000, whether due to state censorship or well-intentioned policies that alter the web experience. The Tor Project says at least a dozen countries, including Pakistan and Russia, censor the [Internet]. Meanwhile, search results within the European Union can differ from those elsewhere due to its right to be forgotten law, and web publishers around the world are still grappling with the effect of the sweeping EU privacy regulations that took effect this year.

      A series of laws passed in California this year raise a new possibility: that individual US states will splinter off into their own versions of the [Internet]. [...]

  • DRM

    • What Is Denuvo, and Why Do Gamers Hate It?

      Denuvo is a digital rights management (DRM) solution for game developers. They can license Denuvo and integrate it into their PC games. If they do, the Denuvo software provides anti-piracy protection. It’s designed to make it more difficult for people to “crack” games and distribute them for free. According to Denuvo, it “stops the reverse engineering and debugging” required to crack a game.

      No anti-piracy solution is perfect, but Denuvo promises the “longest crack-free release window.” In other words, game developers are hoping their games won’t be cracked for a while, forcing people who might otherwise pirate the game to buy it if they want to play the game without waiting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • At last, the sun rises: China will establish the National IP Appeals Court in 2019

      This 3+17 (regional) framework has brought IP protection in China to a new level, inter alia, in terms of harmonizing assessment criteria, promoting uniformity of the law, and improving the quality of decision making. Yet for long, there has been one key piece missing: a unitary court to handle IP appeals.

    • Copyrights

      • UK Police Arrest Man Over ‘Nintendo Switch’ Modding, Warn Game Pirates

        City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) arrested an alleged Nintendo Switch modder this month. The man was suspected of infringing Nintendo’s copyrights but got off with a caution. At the same time, PIPCU warned those who are considering buying modded consoles or download pirated games.

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