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03.29.15

Techrights Cited by European Politicians in Support of EPO Staff’s Causes

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amsterdam

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s right-hand man is charaterised as suspected of corruption in European Parliament questions

THREE WEEKS ago, while I was still in southeast Asia, several people in Twitter and via E-mail told me that Techrights had been cited by European Parliament.

A link to a European Parliament question from MEP Dennis de Jong indeed cited Techrights. “For your information,” told us one person (among more who told us about it, including Florian Müller), “Techrights is referenced in footnote no. 2″ (see below).

Titled “Rights of staff and ethical standards at the European Patent Office,” the list of questions to the European Commission from MEP Dennis de Jong (whom we mentioned here before) could very well address some core issues; these need to be answered. “The footnotes contain a reference to an article by Techrights,” told us a source, noting that Benoît Battistelli’s right-hand man is “suspected of corruption” (Dennis de Jong’s words). Here is the English version of the questions:

E-002507/2015

Parliamentary questions

16 February 2015

Question for written answer to the Commission

Rule 130

Dennis de Jong (GUE/NGL)

Subject:
Rights of staff and ethical standards at the European Patent Office

Reports are emerging of an unpleasant working environment and staff intimidation at the European Patent Office (EPO). Further information can be found on the EPO Staff Union website[1]. Because of the importance of the EPO for EU patents legislation, the Commission cannot afford to ignore the problem.

1. Does the Commission still intend to work together with the EPO on the single European patent?

2. If so, what guarantees have been or will be given to the Commission regarding respect for the trade union and other rights of EPO staff?

In addition to the rights of staff members, a number of ethical issues are also arising within the EPO, including the recruitment and dismissal of senior officials. For example EPO President, Benoît Battistelli, has succeeded in dissolving the Audit Committee and replacing a number of executives with a team of his own choice that is suspected of corruption[2].

3. What guarantees has the Commission obtained to satisfy it regarding the integrity of the EPO?

_____________
[1] http://www.suepo.org/public/news

[2] See for example the ZAMP affair and controversies surrounding other questionable practices

http://techrights.org/2015/02/11/zeljko-topic-kopcic-and-sanader

For justice to be upheld corrupt officials need to he held accountable and staff needs to have its rights restored, then protected.

When the EPO Came Under Fire From the Netherlands and Before Systemic Corruption Was Revealed

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dutch landscape

Summary: Questions that targeted the Dutch Minister of Justice amidst EPO abuses against staff and a shameful failure to enforce a court’s decision

WE HAVE MISSED some very important developments due to absence (holiday), but fortunately enough we have loyal readers who sent us material in the interim, chronicling the earlier stages of the Dutch scandal which Battistelli had stepped into.

“For your information,” said one source, “[f]ollowing the attempt of the Netherlands Justice Minister to prevent execution of the recent judgment against the EPO, two members of the national parliament (Tweede Kamer) have now put a series of questions to the Minister (see here). The European Patent Office (EPO) sure paid attention to the following questions, put forth to the Netherlands’ Minister of Justice by Members of Parliament. As we shall soon find out (or at least cover later this week), there was a cover-up supported by crooks.

“An approximate translation,” said our source, “is given below.

“Both members are from the Labour Party (PvdA) that currently forms a coalition government with the Liberal Party (VVD).”

For context, based on our source (see the original PDF which is in Dutch): “In July 2014 they posed the earlier questions referred to in Question 2 which were answered in August. On that occasion, the answers mainly referred to the EPO’s immunity and the possibility for its employees to appeal to the ILOAT. Interestingly, the minister of social affairs answering those questions did seem to agree, referring to Art. 20 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, that the EPO should comply with relevant Dutch legislation. However, the Dutch labour inspection could do nothing without permission of the EPO’s president.”

Here are the questions put to the Netherlands Minister of Justice by Members of Parliament:


Question 1. Are you aware of the article “Opstelten: Judicial ruling does not apply to European institution” ? (Volkskrant – 26 February 2015)

http://www.volkskrant.nl/politiek/opstelten-bureau-mag-vakbond-weren~a3873491/

Question 2. Do you remember the earlier questions regarding the working conditions at the EPO? Is it true that the tense situation continues to exist, including the restriction of the right to strike?

Question 3. Is it true that the EPO refuses to revoke the controversial measures in accordance with the appeal court’s judgment? If yes, what are the reasons therefor?

Question 4. Is it true that you are not willing to enable the judgment’s execution as is usual in The Netherlands? If yes, can you explain your position? What is the legal basis of your power to prevent the judgment’s execution? How often have you made use of this power in the last five years?

Question 5. On which legislation and international treaties does your decision to block the judgment’s execution rely? Have you considered a more dynamic application of the existing legislation?

Question 6. Can you give an overview of recent European and Dutch jurisprudence relating to conflicts between immunity of international organisations and judgments of domestic courts?

Question 7. What is your reaction to the opinion of experts that your position is at odds with the rule of law and that you prioritise immunity over human rights? What is your reaction to the statement that this erodes the authority of the courts? What is your reaction to the statement that this leads to a further worsening of the existing problem of international organisations that place themselves above the law?

Question 8. What do you mean when you say that the matter has “our attention” and “that of other member states”? What does this attention consist of and what is it aimed at?

Question 9. Is it possible that one of the parties appeals to the Hoge Raad (Dutch Supreme Court) or that “cassation in the interest of the law” is requested? Do you intend to request cassation in the interest of the law?

Question 10. Have you taken note of the recent ILO agreement between employers and employees regarding the right to strike and ILO Convention 87? Can you explain how the situation at the EPO relates to ILO Convention 87?


“Battistelli’s reaction to the Dutch court decision,” jokes our source (“just for fun”), would be something like the following:

  • “Je m’en fous!” which means “I don’t give a damn!”
  • “L’Office c’est Moi” which means “The Office, that’s ME.”

We eagerly wait to share some press articles (translations take time to produce and process) about embarrassing news that led the Battistelli and the EPO to a frantic retreat. Probably as means of saving face only — for we have no evidence of practical changes — they now acknowledge of some staff rights, at least the very least a right to organise. It wouldn’t have happened without political involvements across Europe.

Links 29/3/2015: Red Hat’s Stock Soars, Kodi 14.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • When you look at the science behind vaccination it all adds up to one conclusion … even at 21

      What did concern the young student was the amount of misinformation available on the internet, most of which he believes is fear-based and inaccurate.

      “For someone that doesn’t have a science background they would have a hard time vaccinating because there’s a lot of scary information. It’s fear mongering, no other way to put it and I’ll believe in vaccination while the weight of evidence is in favour of it, or someone proves otherwise,” he said.

    • CIA and drug running

      Webb reported that tons of cocaine were being shipped into San Francisco by supporters of the CIA backed Contras, then distributed down to LA to a Nicaraguan, who then on sold it to street vendors. He also alleged this epidemic was having a disproportionate affect on African Americans.

      Gary Webb’s career was destroyed as a result of these investigations, and is now the subject of a new DVD called “Kill the Messenger’.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • How to tell if you’ve been hacked

      Worried that you might get compromised by hackers? The bad news is that the rest of the internet might know before you do

    • Cyber Armageddon is a Myth

      Over the past several years mainstream news outlets have conveyed a litany of cyber doomsday scenarios…

    • More Than 1/3 of Americans Leave Phones Unlocked

      It turns out that American smartphone owners are not great at protecting their privacy. In a new report from security firm Lookout, 34 percent of American mobile users who claimed to be the most aware of privacy risks didn’t even set a pin or passcode on their phone. Another 35 percent downloaded apps from unofficial marketplaces, which is a great way to get malware on your phone. The results come from 1,012 U.S. respondents found through an online surve

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • New York Times Accidentally Undermines John Bolton “Bomb Iran” Op-Ed in Own Pages

      U.S. and Israeli politicians often claim that Israel’s bombing of Iraq in 1981 significantly set back an already-existing Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The truth is almost exactly the opposite. Harvard Physics Professor Richard Wilson, who visited the ruins of Osirak in 1982 and followed the issue closely, has said the available evidence “suggests that the bombing did not delay the Iraqi nuclear-weapons program but started it.” This evidence includes the design of the Osirak reactor, which made it unsuitable for weapons production, and statements by Iraqi nuclear scientists that Saddam Hussein ordered them to begin a serious nuclear weapons program in response to the Israeli attack.

    • Fear of Terrorism is Making Us Crazy, Especially in the US

      When I lived in China, there was a story going around about a China Airlines flight in which both the pilot and the co-pilot had left the cockpit and then, on their return, found the door locked. They reportedly got a fire ax, and with the whole planeload of freaked out passengers watching in horror, started wailing in the metal door. The co-pilot then turned, and seeing the panic developing, calmly drew the curtain across the aisle, hiding their work from view. The axe’s bashing continued until they broke the latch and got back to the controls.

    • US to Send Weapons to Kiev if Minsk Agreements Fail – Psaki

      The United States could supply Kiev with ‘not offensive’ weapons if the Minsk agreements on Ukrainian reconciliation fail, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

    • Brazil’s Weapons Industry – Analysis

      Latin America does not depend solely on exports from extra-regional powers for military equipment. On the contrary, the region boasts its own thriving domestic weapons industry. The crown jewel of Latin America’s defense industries is arguably Brazil’s, which has made a name for itself by domestically producing military equipment for export. Case in point is the Super Tucano, a light military aircraft that can be utilized for either training or combat operations, which is produced by the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica (EMBRAER) and enjoys significant prominence in the field. According to the latest headlines, the Portuguese-speaking nation is predicted to have a good year in weapon sales, bolstering Brazil and Latin America in terms of capital and relevancy in the global arms market.

    • Immorality of drone warfare

      Almost all wars that are currently under way in the world are targeting Muslims. Just about every bomb, every drone, every prison, every cage, every orange jumpsuit are produced for Muslims. Look around carefully; all the world’s intelligence services target Muslims. Even more, Muslims are driven to war and destruction at the hands of other Muslims.

    • CIA’s Notorious Father of Drone Strikes Strategy Removed From Post
    • Architect of CIA’s drone campaign to leave post

      The head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, who presided over the agency’s drone campaign and directed the hunt for Osama bin Laden, is being removed from his post, officials said, a watershed moment as the CIA turns its focus to a new generation of extremist threats.

    • How Yemen’s US-backed ex-dictator is tearing his country apart

      For years, the Americans saw President Ali Abdullah Saleh a key ally in the fight against al-Qaeda. He allowed his air bases to be used by US drones to strike at the movement’s operatives, and gladly received Western aid in development cash and arms supplies.

      Yet according to claims in a United Nations report last month, one of the first things Mr Saleh did when his three-decade rule was threatened by the 2011 Arab Spring was strike a secret deal to give an entire southern province to al-Qaeda. The more he could portray Yemen as falling into militant hands, he calculated, the more the West want to keep him in office at all costs.

    • How Much Money Is Too Much for the Pentagon?

      General Dempsey and his colleagues may be right. Current levels of Pentagon spending may not be able to support current defense strategy. The answer to this problem is right before our eyes: cut the money and change the strategy. That would be acting in the name of a conception of national security that was truly strategic.

    • Trusting High-Tech Weapons of War

      The U.S. military insists its drones and other high-tech gadgets can kill “bad guys” with an unmatched precision. But these assassination weapons may just be the latest example of putting too much faith in the murderous technology of war, as Andrew Cockburn explains in a new book reviewed by Chuck Spinney.

    • Kill Chain: The Rise of the High Tech Assassins

      Bombs dropped by unmanned remote-controlled drones have become routine forms of warfare, allowing the US to pick off people it deems unworthy of life within a complex and secretive chain of command that has almost no public accountability. The ACLU just sued the Obama Administration to reveal the details of how and why people are targeted by drones. Particularly since some of those people are US citizens.

    • How does it feel to be a Muslim?

      I dread the morning news for it is as sure as the rising sun that the Muslim subject is everywhere: dead, maimed, bombed and bloody. Muslims are keeping the journalistic enterprise afloat by sheer madness of actions committed in the name of Islam. No news day is a good day but these are rare and far between for if it bleeds it leads and daily the Muslim wound is deepening and gushing profusely.

    • How the US Government and US Military Became Murder, Inc.

      The US military no longer does war. It does assassinations, usually of the wrong people. The main victims of the US assassination policy are women, children, village elders, weddings, funerals, and occasionally US soldiers mistaken for Taliban by US surveillance operating with the visual acuity of the definition of legal blindness.

    • ‘Graveyard of Empires’ looks at war by remote control

      It seems like a no-brainer: If we could win a war by having an engineer in the United States simply push a button rather than by putting thousands of troops in harm’s way, we should embrace the new technology, right? But in Elaine Romero’s drama “Graveyard of Empires,” the answer is more complicated than a simple affirmative.

    • Extending the mission into Syria
    • 10 Reasons Why Obama Should NOT Travel to Armenia on April 24
    • License To Kill

      Imagine a future in which a competitor assassinates you via a robotic spider. That’s one way to see new technology’s potential.

    • Will You Be Murdered By a Robot?

      Frightening but never fear-mongering, the information supplied by the authors of The Future of Violence posits a tomorrow full of techno-threats demanding discerning vigilance.

    • Making Enemies by Droning On and On

      Nowhere can I find any article in the corporate news media asking what role the US’s massively unpopular campaign of bombings and drone-fired missile attacks on alleged terrorists — attacks that have killed countless civilians, and that have also included wholly erroneous massacres of innocents such as wedding caravans — has played in the creation of a situation that is likely to become a bloody civil war. This in a country that already endured one such catastrophe lasting from roughly 1964 – 1994. We’re talking about a generation’s worth of bloodletting, both between tribes, and between a north dominated by the US-puppet Saudi monarchy, and a south supported by the Soviet Union and, for many years, its alley, Egypt. The idea that the US would casually take actions that could re-ignite such a horror in a place that had to be seen as a tinderbox is simply appalling.

    • U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen collapses as country descends into chaos

      Once hailed by President Barack Obama as a model for fighting extremism, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen has all but collapsed as the country descends into chaos, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials.

    • Chaos in Yemen undercuts US war against AQAP

      Yemen’s descent into chaos has undermined the US campaign against Al-Qaeda there, forcing Washington to abandon a strategy once touted as a model for counter-terrorism efforts.

    • My Lai Revisited: 47 Years Later, Seymour Hersh Travels to Vietnam Site of U.S. Massacre He Exposed

      Fifty years after the U.S. ground invasion of Vietnam began, we look back at the 1968 My Lai massacre, when American troops killed hundreds of civilians. Journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story of the massacre and cover-up, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his work. But Hersh never actually went there — he interviewed soldiers stateside. Forty-seven years later, he recently traveled to My Lai for the first time, which he documents in a new article for The New Yorker, “The Scene of the Crime: A Reporter’s Journey to My Lai and the Secrets of the Past.” Hersh joins us to discuss how he exposed the massacre nearly five decades ago and what it was like to visit My Lai for the first time.

    • Ignorance Is Bliss

      Factual information is out of fashion. American society now devalues it.

    • From Washington to Riyadh, Britain is on bended knee

      Britain became known as America’s poodle.

    • A Liberal Lawyer Gives Up On Preventing Murder

      Rosa Brooks’ article in Foreign Policy is called “There is no such thing as peacetime.” Brooks is a law professor who has testified before Congress to the effect that if a drone war is labeled a proper war then blowing children apart with missiles is legal, but that if it’s not properly a war then the same action is murder.

      Rosa Brooks has apparently come to see the problem with that distinction. How can a secret presidential memo in a drawer somewhere, that she and her colleagues have empowered to determine whether of not an action is part of a war, actually decide on the legitimacy of sending hellfire missiles into houses and restaurants, the behavior of futuristic gangsters on steroids?

    • US to delay troops pullout from Afghanistan to aid drone strikes: NYT

      President Barack Obama’s decision to maintain troop levels in Afghanistan through 2015 is partly to bolster counterterrorism efforts in that war-torn country, including the CIA’s ability to conduct drone strikes, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

    • U.S. Delays Afghan Withdrawal Through Year’s End; Drone War to Continue

      President Obama has again delayed the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Obama had vowed to remove half of the 10,000 troops currently in Afghanistan in the coming months. But following a request from visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Obama announced he will leave 9,800 soldiers at least through the end of 2015. Obama said the United States will still meet its goal to consolidate forces in Kabul and remove all but 1,000 forces by the end of his term in early 2017.

    • U.S. to Delay Pullout of Troops From Afghanistan to Aid Strikes
    • The war in Yemen and the American drive for global domination
    • Protests decry 12 years of U.S. wars abroad

      Antiwar actions called Spring Rising, focusing on the 12th anniversary of the criminal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and continued war in Afghanistan, were held in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other cities around the United States. Spring Rising was initiated by Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist and mother of U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq.

    • Militarism Abroad and Police Violence at Home

      Although most news outlets sanitize it, the United States is, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1967, the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. This is manifested by drone strikes, which in the last ten years have killed at least 5,000 people, only an estimated 150 of whom were the actual targets; the remainder were ‘collateral damage’; by the bombing of suspected ISIS sites in Iraq; bombing of Syria; financial and military support for the apartheid regime of Israel; continued war against Afghanistan, and several other examples. Nothing has changed in decades; the statement about violence was true when Dr. King said it, it had been true for years before and it remains true today.

    • Home front

      A number of recent studies have questioned the wisdom and effectiveness of drone strikes, yet the targeted bombings remain one of the central tools of the U.S. war on terrorism.

      The U.S. has recently shifted focus towards radical hotspots such as Yemen, but the vast majority of drone strikes have taken place in North Waziristan, a mountainous region on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

      A Stanford University study in 2012 undertook a thorough examination of the effect of drone strikes on the local population and found that, rather than reducing terrorist ranks by taking out top Taliban and al-Qaida leaders, drones tended to serve as a recruitment tool.

      In many cases, it turned neutral citizens into radicals.

      “Before the drone attacks, we didn’t know (anything) about America,” one Waziri told researchers. “Now everybody has come to understand and know about America. … Almost all people hate America.”

    • Stop Smoking the Democrack

      The top risk from war is nuclear holocaust. That danger continues to grow with active U.S. assistance. The second worst thing a U.S. president can do about war is grab more war powers and pass them on to all future presidents. In that regard, President Obama has outdone President Bush. Lying to Congress is now totally routine: Congress and the United Nations can simply be ignored. Secrecy has mushroomed. President Obama picks out men, women, and children to murder from a list on Tuesdays. The public, the Congress, and the courts have no say and often no knowledge. President Obama has dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales abroad — the U.S. being far and away the top supplier of weapons to regions that the U.S. public thinks of as inherently violent.

    • What the Amnesty International Report on Palestinian Violations in Gaza Tells Us

      If Amnesty International is seen as one of the “most prestigious” international NGOs, it is also thought to harbor “a consistent institutionalized bias against Israel.” It is particularly interesting, then, that Amnesty this week released a report blaming Palestinians for a much-publicized incident that resulted in the deaths of Palestinian children and other civilians during last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel.

    • Endless War: As U.S. Strikes Tikrit & Delays Afghan Pullout, “War on Terror” Toll Tops 1.3 Million

      As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about one million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The investigators found “the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around one million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. … And this is only a conservative estimate.” The true tally, they add, could be more than two million. We are joined by two guests who worked on the report: Hans von Sponeck, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who in 2000 resigned his post in protest of the U.S.-led sanctions regime; and Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    • Nobel Prize-Winning NGO: US Wars in Last Decade Killed Estimated 2 Million

      Only days after President Obama announced that troops would remain in Afghanistan through 2015, a new study reveals the massive cost of war. Through its campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the US may be responsible for the deaths of millions.

    • Saudi bombs in Yemen kill 39 civilians, inflaming tensions

      Arab coalition warplanes bombed rebel camps in Yemen today in a second straight day of strikes led by Saudi Arabia, which accused Iran of “aggression” across the region.

    • The Vicious Circle of U.S. Military Involvement in Africa

      It seems that a day rarely passes without news of a new atrocity committed by an increasingly notorious terrorist group. And, without fail, this news is accompanied by an increase in U.S. military interventions around the world.

    • White House claims Yemen still a ‘template’ for counterterrorism success

      White House spokesman Josh Earnest told the press gaggle yesterday that the administration still considers Yemen a “template” for the success of its counterterrorism efforts.

    • Veteran suicides tell the truth

      Yet chief among the factors must be the mental flashbacks to some ghastly horror, perhaps long ago, and the question arises as to how the individual veterans view their participation in the horror.

    • Paying tribute without creating war narratives

      This is, unfortunately, the very goal of much spin and propaganda. We rightly hold public parades to honour those who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and to remember the dead and their families but ignore the plight of those who fled our enemies – on whose behalf our troops were supposedly there. Many of the children in detention whose plight was highlighted in the report of the Human Rights Commission, The Forgotten Children, were doubly victimised – once at the hands of our enemies the Taliban and again when they fled to us for safety.

      It should also be remembered that war has its victims on both sides. Whatever we think of the Taliban and their ethics, they suffer and bleed as we do. Afghan mothers will miss their sons and Afghan lovers be torn apart by lives tragically cut short in just the same way as American and Australian ones.

    • Killing With Military Equipment Disguised as Civilian Objects is Perfidy, Part II

      On Friday, I concluded that modifying a civilian-looking vehicle into a military object to attack an adversary could indeed amount to perfidy during an international armed conflict. This question was triggered by Ryan Goodman and Sarah Knuckey’s post on the 2008 killing of Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyah by the US and Israel where, among other things, they ask how using a car bomb differs from certain other means and methods of surprise attacks. I will briefly address them below.

    • U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq
    • Can the US figure out which groups to support in Syria? Not easily

      As the US grapples with whether it should pursue a larger role in the Syrian War – and just how much military aid to give Iraqi troops battling the Islamic State – it is also trying to figure out how to avoid one of the most basic and nettlesome blunders of all: inadvertently creating a Frankenstein’s monster in the form of corrupt local power brokers.

    • Book Review – “This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since”

      There is no historical controversy as contentious or long-lasting as the North Korean and Chinese charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War. For those who believe the charges to be false — and that includes much of American academia, but not all — they must assume the burden of explaining why the North Koreans or Chinese made up any bogus claims to attack the credibility of U.S. forces. Because they had no reason to do that.

      It is a historical fact that the United States carpet-bombed and napalmed North Korea, killing nearly 3 million civilians thereby.

      In other words, massive war crimes are already self-evident, and if there is any mystery, it is how historical amnesia and/or callous disregard for crimes such as those committed by the U.S. and its allies in Korea, or the millions killed by the U.S. in Southeast Asia, can go ignored today.

    • Exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky was murdered because he was about to hand Putin evidence of a coup plot, claims former head of security

      Sergei Sokolov says he doesn’t believe Russian tycoon took his own life

      The 67-year-old was found hanging at ex-wife’s Berkshire home in 2013

      Berezovsky had evidence of plot to topple President Putin, it is alleged

      Sokolov claims Russian tycoon was killed by Western security services

      An outspoken critic of Putin, Berezovsky had sent him ‘repentance’ letter

    • C.I.A. Officers and F.B.I. Agents, Meet Your New Partner: The Analyst

      Call it the revenge of the nerds, Washington-style. The gun-toting F.B.I. agent and the swashbuckling C.I.A. undercover officer are being increasingly called upon to share their clout, their budgets and even their Hollywood glamour with the humble, deskbound intelligence analyst.

    • FBI plays nice with other spooks, but needs to spy smarter – report

      FBI’s cooperation with the CIA and NSA is better than ever, but more is needed to make the Bureau a truly global intelligence and investigative agency, says a newly released US government report on agency’s post-9/11 transformation.

    • Ecuadorian President Says The CIA Is Attempting To Overthrow His Government

      The CIA has a history of contributing to coups in Ecuador. Back in 1963, the CIA led a coup which deposed President Carlos Julio Arosemena because he criticized the United States and supported Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba.

    • A CIA Spy’s Fantasy About Kurdistan!

      I don’t believe Kurdistan is a pipedream, but a real-life dream that can come true, and bring freedom to 40 million Kurds—just as the implosion of the Soviet Union ushered in freedom for fifteen nations. The Middle East is now imploding, and the possibility of a free Kurdistan looms even greater—to the chagrin of our well-meaning author, Graham Fuller, and his beloved Turkish friends.

    • CIA Refuses to Share Updated Intelligence on MH17 Crash – US Journalist

      The US Central Intelligence Agency will not release an updated assessment of the Malaysia MH17 flight crash because it would exonerate the Russian government from involvement, US journalist Robert Parry, known for helping expose the Iran-Contra affair, told Sputnik.

    • More on Menendez and the Mideast madmen – and other fun stuff on the nutty neocons

      Wow, they really think you’re stupid.

      I’m talking about all of those bought-and-paid-for radio talkers as well as the neocon nincompoops posing as conservative pundits.

      They’re trying to convince you that for some reason the Saudis – you know, those people who execute apostates and who funded the 9/11 attacks – are now our allies in the fight against the Houthis in Yemen.

      Do you even know who the Houthis are? Do you know where Yemen is?

    • The Irish Brigadista

      In Ireland there is a place called Morley’s Bridge and it is located on the border between County Cork and Kerry. At this remote spot there is a plaque in memory of a local man.

    • Dangers of warped patriotism
    • Once It was Anarchists Throwing Bombs …

      CIA director John Brennan said on March 13 that the US did not want the Assad regime to collapse. Three days later, secretary of state John Kerry called for discussions with Mr Al Assad rather than, as in the past, his resignation. This was anathema until the fanatics of ISIS unleashed their terror on the region. Apart from setting most of the world against it and bringing succour to the regimes in Damascus and Baghdad that ISIS wanted to destroy, ISIS provided a haven for insane youth from much of the world. If ISIS falls, where will they go?

    • Ron Paul: We Need to March Our Troops Home

      “Before the attack I was accused of exaggerating the potential costs of the war when I warned that it could end up costing as much as $100 billion,” Paul writes. Despite that criticism, Paul may have even been lowballing the total cost. Last March, Reuters estimated that the war continues to cost in excess of $1.7 trillion. And that’s not including the War in Afghanistan.

    • US Imperialism in Haiti. Criminality of the Michel Martelly Regime

      Eleven years after the UN mission began in Haiti, it brought dictatorship, a virulent cholera epidemic, tens of thousands of deaths, rapes of women, men and children and more jails than ever before in Haiti’s 200 year old history.

    • Yes There’s a Bush and a Clinton, but the 2016 Elections Represent Something Scary and New

      Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

      And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

    • Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967

      Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, a UN report has said.

    • Muslim Convert Who Helped Find Bin Laden Leaves Top CIA Terror Job

      The director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, a dark-suited, anonymous figure known as “Roger,” is leaving the post he has held since 2006.

      [...]

      He led the agency’s signature program, a relentless series of drone strikes against al-Qaida whose occasional imprecision and lack of legal transparency angered many civilians in the Muslim world. But Roger himself is, by all accounts, a practicing convert to Islam, a religion he embraced upon marrying his Muslim wife.

    • Leader of Iranian force fighting Isis is complicating US efforts, says CIA chief

      The role of the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force in directing Iraqi forces against the Islamic State is complicating the US mission against terrorism and contributing to destabilization in Iraq, the director of the CIA said Sunday.

    • A Conversation With CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou

      But a journalist must be careful too, and I wondered if Kiriakou still felt a romantic attachment to the CIA. In a recent interview with Ken Klippenstein, he acknowledged that the war on terror is as much a war of revenge as it is a paramilitary police and espionage action designed to protect Americans from harm. He acknowledged that drone strikes have killed “dozens” of innocent people at wedding celebrations and “do more to help recruitment for groups like al-Qaeda or ISIS than anything they could do.” He even equated the Al Qaeda fighters he captured with the average American prisoner or soldier – functionally illiterate, lacking job skills, propagandized and manipulated. “So these were not hardened terrorists,” he told Klippenstein, “these were just confused young men.”

    • CIA Document Reveals Ecuador Part of Operation Condor

      The office of the attorney general in Ecuador is investigating if the death of former President Jaime Roldos was an assassination of Operation Condor.

    • CIA report demonstrates the falsehoods propounded over Iraq

      AS we wait for the publication of the Chilcott Inquiry into our involvement in the illegal invasion of Iraq it would appear that events in the United States have provided the evidence that George W Bush and Tony Blair made statements to justify the invasion knowing they were false.

    • George W. Bush gets intelligence group award
    • Ecuador’s Correa Refutes AFP on CIA-Opposition Protest Link

      “If the opposition marches had been organized by the CIA, they wouldn’t have been such colossal failures,” Ecuador’s president said.

    • Ecuador’s Government Accuses AFP of Lying Regarding CIA Protest Link

      Ecuadorean government officials charged the AFP with taking President Rafael Correa’s remarks out of context and publishing a story based on lies.

    • Ecuador denies blaming US for ‘attrition campaign’

      Ecuador has denied that leftist president Rafael Correa had accused the United States of trying to destabilise his government by infiltrating it with spies, according to an official statement.

      Correa had said the US Central Intelligence Agency was trying to “wear down the government” and accused it of helping to organise opposition protests.

    • Ecuador’s President accuses the CIA of plotting against him
    • Correa accuses US of bid to destabilise govt
    • US ‘infiltrating’ Ecuador with spies
    • Agent Orange Funding Opens Door To US Militarism And Covert Action In Vietnam

      The use of Agent Orange constitutes a war crime with devastating effects on the people in Vietnam not only during the war but even today. The U.S. military knew that its use of Agent Orange would be damaging, but, as an Air Force scientist wrote to Congress “because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned.”

      Ecocide was committed when “the U.S. military sprayed 79 million liters of herbicides and defoliants over about one-seventh of the land area of southern Vietnam.” The 2008-2009 President’s Cancer Panel Report found that nearly five million Vietnamese were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in “400,000 deaths and disabilities and a half million children born with birth defects.”

    • Poroshenko Still at Risk? US Could Hedge Bets on Its Choice of Oligarchs

      While the majority of the internet media presume that the US had already made its choice of oligarchs in Ukraine and has opted to support the head of state, Petro Poroshenko, the German online newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten believes that Washington might still change its mind and shift the balance of power in favor of Ihor Kolomoiskyi.

    • ‘Why Do They Hate Us?’

      We can take this terrible example as a metaphor for the whole “war on terror,” which has created a self-serving political culture that allows us to silently evade our national responsibility while loudly projecting collective blame onto abstract “others.” If we want a better, saner, more just future, then the “war on terror” must come to an end—and for that to happen, we must become more critical and discerning about the full spectrum of horrors that have occurred (and are still taking place) during this war. “It is part of the mechanism of domination to forbid recognition of the suffering it produces,” the German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote. Only when we face up to our delusions and actions and stop torturing others into silence will we be able to keep ourselves out of the darkness.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Federal CIO Council Named ‘Worst’ in Open Government

      The Federal Chief Information Officers Council is taking home this year’s Rosemary Award for giving the “worst open government performance of 2014.”

    • Secrecy And Democracy Are Incompatible

      It is obvious, almost by definition, that excessive governmental secrecy and true democracy are incompatible. If the people of a country have no idea what their government is doing, they cannot possibly have the influence on decisions that the word “democracy” implies.

    • White House least transparent in 50 years – Former CIA analyst

      McGovern was commenting on the Obama administration’s recent decision to cease accepting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which stands in stark contrast to the progressive platform Obama ran on as a candidate.

    • US Defends Anti-Iran Group in Defamation Suit, Citing State Secrets

      In a bizarre, first-of-its-kind decision, a US court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit between a Greek shipping magnate and an advocacy group against a “Nuclear Iran.” The reason? Despite the fact that the case involves no government agencies, an unknown official convinced the judge that a trial could reveal critical state secrets.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Slight of Slights: US Neocons Try to Rewrite History of WWII

      While NATO puppets in eastern and central Europe are involved in a propaganda war against Russia and its May 9 Victory Day event, three US ex-ambassadors to Ukraine – Steven Pifer, John Herbst, and William Taylor – have demanded that the leaders of the UK, Germany and France should participate in a WWII Victory in Europe ceremony in Kiev, “a city where neo-Nazis and skinhead mercenaries from around Europe enjoy political and military power,” the author stressed.

    • Clinton talks about a new relationship with the media

      Hillary Clinton has always had a tenuous relationship with the media. But that didn’t stop her from headlining a journalism awards ceremony Monday night.

      “Some of you may be a little surprised to see me here tonight,” Clinton acknowledged. “You know my relationship with the press has been at times, shall we say, complicated.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Are Today’s Spy Tools Tomorrow’s Privacy Invaders?

      The newest toy for children from Mattel is called Hello Barbie and it can converse with your child and record the answers in real time via wifi. It saves that information in the cloud.

    • Op-Ed: CIA-linked Haftar will probably sabotage any Libyan peace deal

      UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, proposed a unity government composed of a three-person presidential council but it also would incorporate the House of Representatives of the Tobruk-based internationally recognized government.

    • CIA Releases More Info on Project Corona

      In 1958, at the height of the Cold War and long before satellite photo reconnaissance was thought possible, President Dwight Eisenhower endorsed a project called Corona.

    • Senators raise new concerns about CIA-aided cellphone tracking

      A powerful bipartisan pair of senators is pressing the Obama administration over the development of spy tools that mimic cell towers in order to track people’s cellphones.

    • Senate Panel Concerned Over CIA Role in Domestic Cellphone Scanning

      The top two lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pressing the Justice Department with concerns the Central Intelligence Agency helped domestic law enforcement develop technology to scan U.S. cellphones.

    • One Does Not Simply Send An Email

      Getting one from Index On Censorship was different. This is a group people trust. They’re establishing norms for how we should all behave in the increasingly complicated and networked world of free expression. So I took them to task in a one-sided conversation for having such terrible security norms and endangering their users. They ignored me, which didn’t shock me. When you work in internet security you get used to the world ignoring you. But I figured, the least I owe Index On Censorship, and the many other NGO, newsrooms, small companies, freelancers, and people at home is some ideas on how to improve their security practices.

    • Hotel Wi-Fi not only hideously expensive – it’s horribly insecure

      A major security flaw in a network gateway popular among hoteliers can be exploited by hackers to launch attacks against guests by injecting malware into their downloads over unencrypted connections. Compromised gateways can also be used to infiltrate sensitive areas of a hotel’s network, such as its reservation systems, it’s claimed.

    • No Copies of Clinton Emails on Server, Lawyer Says

      An examination of the server that housed the personal email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used exclusively when she was secretary of state showed that there are no copies of any emails she sent during her time in office, her lawyer told a congressional committee on Friday.

      After her representatives determined which emails were government-related and which were private, a setting on the account was changed to retain only emails sent in the previous 60 days, her lawyer, David Kendall, said. He said the setting was altered after she gave the records to the government.

    • PATRIOT Act axed, NSA spying halted … wake up, Neo, it’s just a dream in the US House of Reps

      A law bill introduced in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday seeks to abolish the Patriot Act, ban Uncle Sam from forcing backdoors into technology, and safeguard whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

      Ever since Snowden leaked top-secret files detailing the NSA and GCHQ’s global surveillance of innocent people, there have been calls for reforms – which have sparked little more than tinkering at the edges of the laws enabling the blanket snooping.

    • Silicon Valley spars with Obama over ‘backdoor’ surveillance

      One would be installing so-called “backdoors” in encryption — an access point known only to law enforcement agencies. Security experts find this concept abhorrent, since cyber crooks or foreign intelligence agencies would likely exploit it.

    • Tech Giants Call For “Clear, Strong And Effective End” To NSA’s Phone Metadata Surveillance
    • Tech giants demand end to NSA spying, as Patriot Act is set to expire

      A technology coalition headed by Apple, Microsoft, and Google urged President Barack Obama and other government officials to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone call “metadata.” In a letter addressed to the President and other key figures, the coalition, made up of privacy advocates, technology firms, and trade companies, called the NSA program “untenable,” and urged the House to move forward with reforms.

    • “The authorised information available on this building could be published in a single tweet”

      Under a programme called “Prism” they are keeping records of your phone’s geolocation, harvesting your metadata and tracking your browser history. They are filing and documenting your most intimate details, and as we know from whistleblower Edward Snowden, NSA workers routinely share your nude photos with their colleagues (in an office culture apparently closer to fraternity “bros” than intelligence specialists).

    • The Architects of the NSA’s Top Secret Headquarters Have Been Revealed
    • Quit Facebook to prevent NSA snooping, says EU attorney

      The Commission has also conceded before the European Court of Justice that the Harbour framework can’t ensure the data privacy of European citizens.

    • Lawyer at the European Court Say Facebook & NSA Work Together

      The European Commission Attorney Bernhard Schima has told the Court Of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) the US-EU Safe Harbor framework doesn’t work.

    • Don’t Use Facebook If You’re Worried About NSA Snooping

      “You might consider closing your Facebook account, if you have one,” European Commission attorney Bernhard Schima told attorney-general Yves Bot at the CJEU on Tuesday, suggesting that personal data transferred from Europe to the U.S. isn’t necessarily protected under the U.S.-EU pact, even though the Framework should ensure data privacy and security.

    • Quit Facebook to prevent NSA snooping, says EU attorney
    • Why Wikimedia Just Might Win Its Lawsuit Over NSA Surveillance

      Juliet Barbara, the senior communications manager for Wikimedia, agrees.

      “Mass surveillance is a threat to intellectual freedom and a spirit of inquiry, two of the driving forces behind Wikimedia,” she told Truthdig. “Wikipedia is written by people from around the world who often tackle difficult subjects. Very frequently they choose to remain anonymous, or pseudonymous. This allows them to freely create, contribute and discover without fear of reprisal. Surveillance might be used to reveal sensitive information, create a chilling effect to deter participation, or in extreme instances, identify individual users.”

    • This Is How NSA Spying Screws US Businesses

      According to a filing published by the World Trade Organization Thursday, the United States is outraged by China’s proposed restrictions on US-made information technology in the banking sector – by all accounts a reaction to the disclosure of secret documents by former NSA contractor Edwards Snowden.

    • New documents expose New Zealand surveillance of Solomon Islands
    • New Zealand used NSA data to spy on rival trade leader candidates

      Want to understand why far-reaching, poorly scrutinized spying programs are dangerous? Here’s why. The Intercept and the New Zealand Herald have obtained a document showing that New Zealand used the US National Security Agency’s XKeyscore surveillance system to spy on other countries’ candidates for the World Trade Organization’s director general role. The 2013 snooping campaign searched for keywords in communications that referenced New Zealand’s own candidate (Minister of Trade Tim Groser, above), the competition and the WTO itself. Any relevant results were passed on to a “trade team” within the country’s surveillance agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, which is rather alarming when the leadership run had nothing to do with national security.

    • Texas Action Alert: No Resources for NSA Spying, Support HB3916

      Texas is home to a massive physical NSA facility that relies on the independent Texas power grid to operate. That power is provided by the country’s largest public utility, and Texas can turn it off by passing HB3916. (learn more here) It has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.

    • Which Apps Expose Your Data to the NSA’s Spying?

      A recent Pew Research Center report found that some Internet users have changed their use of social networking services, apps, email, and even search engines as a result of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the government’s pervasive online surveillance. So how does your smartphone — the device that many of us find indispensable in our day-to-day lives — have the potential to expose your personal data and your online activity to government snooping? How does your mobile device protect your anonymity, and how does it leave your communications vulnerable to interception by the NSA and other intelligence agencies?

    • Rights groups call foul as French snooping bill gives state NSA-like powers

      The new law would give French spy agencies the power to hack into computers and spy on anyone linked to a “terrorist” inquiry – without having to obtain a judicial warrant first.

    • Key Democrat: Congress Won’t Tackle NSA Reform Before Cybersecurity

      “High-level” discussions on surveillance overhaul aren’t taking place, Rep. Adam Schiff said.

    • NSA and British Intelligence Squad Monitor Cell Phones for Data Hacking

      Of late, American and British hackers have maximized crime by encroaching to hack database of the largest SIM card selling company. They have collected million tons of data from these SIM cards and they distorted the facts. It is a well fabricated crime and it is also heinous. On the other hand, NSA and GCHQ agencies have upgraded an encrypted key to break the privacy of people. They collected the configuration of privacy codes used by Gemalto to upgrade the chips of mobile phones. So it is now easier for NSA to steal valuable information from people.

    • Austrian Lawmakers ‘Terminate Silence’ Over NSA Spying (Der Standard, Austria)

      “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned of how U.S. intelligence works with a number of E.U. countries that filter out traffic belonging to their own citizens. However, because of the number of collaborating countries, the U.S. is ultimately able to obtain data on all E.U. citizens. … Parliament members are in broad agreement that it is unacceptable for foreign intelligence services to conduct legally baseless large-scale interception, storage and monitoring of the communications data of Austrian and European citizens. To prevent this from continuing, all legal and diplomatic measures will be taken.”

    • UN To Establish Rapporteur Role To Monitor Privacy Concerns In Wake Of Edward Snowden Leaks

      The United Nations human rights council said it will establish a special rapporteur position to cover privacy-related issues, a move that comes in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance programs by U.S. and U.K. agencies. The resolution, which was passed by the Geneva-based council on Thursday, was championed by Germany and Brazil, two of the countries that were allegedly most aggressively monitored by foreign espionage services.

    • UN sets up privacy watchdog

      The United Nations has agreed to set up a privacy watchdog in response to the growing concerns of the effects of digital technology on human rights.

      In a debate yesterday, the Human Rights Council adopted four resolutions to create the mandate for a special reporter for the next three year, as well as calling on all members of the UN to support the initiative and comply with requests for information and visits.

    • Cisco’s postal service needs some work

      Exact details about how this works in practice are thin on the ground, but we’re assuming Cisco briefs its customers about its delivery plans beforehand. At least you’d hope.

      It’s also not clear if other tech firms are following Cisco’s lead on this, but we have a sneaky suspicion Royal Mail might be, given how haphazard their deliveries seem to be these days.

    • Metadata and Privacy: Are We Letting the Terrorists Win?

      It is often argued that data retention is necessary to combat terrorism. However, data retention cannot prevent any terrorist attacks. At best it may, as its proponents claim, assist the police to find the culprits and their accomplices after an attack has already taken place.

    • Australia passes controversial new metadata law

      Australia has passed a controversial security law that will require its internet and mobile phone providers to store customer data for two years.

    • Not so simple to protect secret sources under data retention laws
    • Keen to evade data retention? Here’s how to choose a VPN
    • Your guide to the data retention debate: what it is and why it’s bad

      Crikey has been covering data retention for several years, and we’ve written tens of thousands of words in that time explaining what it is, why it’s important and the threat it poses to Australians. We know that a lot of people, especially in the media, have only started to focus on the issue in recent days, so we’ve further expanded this Q&A we prepared last year to take into account recent developments and give you a one-stop document for what will be Australia’s biggest ever mass surveillance regime.

    • Spookception: US spied on Israel spying on US-Iran nuke talks

      Israel spied on the recent US-Iran nuclear talks, alleges America. And the US knows enough about it to say it publicly because the NSA is spying on Israel, along with everyone else.

    • Allies spy on allies all the time. Did Israel do something worse?

      On some level, the reports that Israel spied on Iran-U.S. nuclear talks don’t come as a shock. Just last year, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that Israel had eavesdropped on Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace talks. Jonathan Pollard, who was arrested in November 1985 after passing secret documents to Israel while working as a civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy, has become a cause celebre among some Israelis.

    • Security Conundrum lecture series to end with view from Congress and the courts

      Former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall gained notoriety for his vocal opposition to National Security Agency surveillance programs in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures of June 2013.

    • Privacy Critics Go 0-2 With Congress’ Cybersecurity Bills

      Over the last month, privacy advocates have slammed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, arguing that it’s surveillance legislation hidden in a security bill’s clothing. But those protests didn’t stop a Senate committee from passing the bill by a vote of 14-1. And now they haven’t stopped the House’s intelligence committee from following in the Senate’s surveillance-friendly footsteps.

    • Why Doesn’t the Intelligence Community Care Whether Its Surveillance Programs Work?

      The House and Senate Intelligence Committee just passed a cybersecurity bill that critics argue isn’t likely to improve cybersecurity. In fact, because it undermines the privacy of electronic communications by encouraging companies to broadly share private data with the government and each other, it may actually damage cybersecurity.

    • Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics

      Canada’s electronic surveillance agency has secretly developed an arsenal of cyberweapons capable of stealing data and destroying adversaries’ infrastructure, according to newly revealed classified documents.

      Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, has also covertly hacked into computers across the world to gather intelligence, breaking into networks in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and North Africa, the documents show.

    • Snowden dump details Canadian spies running false flag ops online

      While the NSA headlines most of Ed Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance, the latest leaked documents reveal the Canadians are a dab hand at cyber-stuff, both defensive and offensive.

      Top-secret files, published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The Intercept, show that Canuck intelligence has developed its own technology to keep government servers secure. The EONBLUE system uses a mix of malware signatures and heuristics to identify network threats and maintain communications security.

      [...]

      Using its own infrastructure, the CSE claims it has the ability to process 125GB of internet communications metadata per hour for intelligence, and store 300TB at a time. In 2009 it collected an average of 112,794 blobs of interesting network traffic every day, in association with “allied sources.”

    • Sharing secrets: Britain & Israel launch £1.2mn cybersecurity project

      A group of British and Israeli academics are set to participate in a £1.2 million cyber security research venture as part of the government’s “long-term economic plan,” the Cabinet Office announced on Tuesday.

      The bilateral project will consist of three cross-border partnerships linking Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv with the University of Bristol and University College London, and Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology with the University of Kent.

    • NSA Phone Surveillance to End Unless Congress Acts
    • FBI Pleads For Crypto Subversion in Congressional Budget Hearing

      In a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing this morning on the FBI budget for the upcoming fiscal year, FBI Director James Comey was again critical of new encryption features from Apple and Google that he claims would make it impossible for law enforcement to access the contents of mobile device communications.

    • FBI told its cyber surveillance programs have actually not gone far enough

      An in-house review of the FBI has found the agency failing to go far enough in its expansion of physical and cyber surveillance programs, urging the bureau to recruit deeper networks of informants and bring its technological abilities up to pace with other intelligence agencies.

    • US Invites Brazil President to Reschedule Cancelled Visit

      Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s office says she has again been invited to make a state visit to Washington, two years after she declined a similar invitation to protest an American spy program.

    • Obama and Rousseff look to improved relations with a visit to the White House

      Rousseff had originally been scheduled to make a state visit, which involves a black-tie dinner at the White House and is considered the strongest expression of friendly ties between allies, in October 2013.

    • EXPOSED: Google, Obama caught doing it once a week

      Google and the White House manage to hook up more than the majority of married couples, having met up once a week for the past five years.

    • The State Is Spying On You Right Now. Where’s The Outrage?

      When Hillary Clinton learned that a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had subpoenaed her emails as secretary of state and she promptly destroyed half of them—about 33,000—how did she know she could get away with it? Destruction of evidence, particularly government records, constitutes the crime of obstruction of justice.

    • Snowden under siege

      Citizenfour is a portrait of a one person who has chosen to resist the strong arm of the state

    • Robert Unger: Watch ‘Citizenfour’

      Being in the latter part of my life, I surmise that the consequences of my views will be minimally felt if at all. I worry, however, for the future of my two sons, both in their late 20s, as technology employed by the NSA and other government agencies tightens the grip on their every thought and action. As we know from history, increasing monitoring of its citizens (under the banner of security) is virtually always prelude to the establishment of a totalitarian state.

    • In Washington, the Real Power Lies With the Spooks, Eavesdroppers and Assassins

      There are two governments — a double government — operating today in the realm of national security. There’s the one the voting public thinks they control when they go to the polls — what Glennon refers to as the “Madisonian institutions.” Congress, the courts and the presidency.

      And there’s the “Trumanite network,” the labyrinthine national security apparatus that encompasses the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities that Pres. Harry Truman created when he signed the National Security Act of 1947.

    • NZ ambassador hauled before Brazilian foreign minister

      New Zealand’s ambassador to Brazil, Caroline Bilkey, has been called upon to explain leaked documents showing New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spied on rival candidates for the top job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

    • Brazil demands an explanation from NZ

      Brazil has demanded an explanation from New Zealand after reports New Zealand’s foreign intelligence agency the GCSB spied on its campaign to get Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevedo elected as Secretary General of the World Trade Organisation in 2013 – successfully.

      Brazil media have reported that New Zealand’s ambassador in Sao Paulo, Caroline Bilkey, was summoned by the Secretary General of Brazil’s foreign ministry (MRE), Sergio Danese, to explain.

    • Korean Media Uninterested in New Zealand Spying Revelations

      On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wrapped up a three-day visit to South Korea during which he signed a free trade agreement. As might be expected, the South Korean media covered the visit, focusing mainly on the removal of tariffs and New Zealand’s cooperation in denuclearizing North Korea.

    • ‘We The People Have A Lot Of Work To Do’ Says Schneier In A Must-Read Book On Security And Privacy

      An expert on computer security, Schneier has written over a dozen books in the last 20 years on the subject, some highly technical, but this one is a call to action addressed to a mainstream audience. The impetus for writing such a book, it seems, were the 2013 revelations of the NSA mass surveillance. Schneier worked with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, helping in the analysis of some of the more technical documents that were leaked by Edward Snowden.

    • From Big Brother to lots of Little Brothers

      Today the bigger threat is from lots of “Little Brothers,” a multitude of corporations, companies, and online mechanisms that want to track your every move.

    • Human rights left out of sight in UK’s new surveillance guidelines

      On Friday, Access and a coalition of civil society organizations, including the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and New America’s Open Technology Institute, called on the Home Office of the United Kingdom to address questions about the lack of human rights protections found in its surveillance authorities.

    • To protect our privacy, make the FISA court act like a real court

      When it comes to the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, however, the FISA court is not acting like a court at all. Originally created to provide a check on the executive branch, the court today behaves more like an adjunct to the intelligence establishment, giving its blanket blessing to mammoth covert programs. The court’s changed role undermines its constitutional underpinnings and raises questions about its ability to exercise meaningful oversight.

    • Cisco small business phones open to remote eavesdropping, calling

      You don’t need to be the NSA to tap calls on Cisco’s SPA 300 and 500 IP phones: An authentication flaw allows potential attackers to do that by default.

      An unpatched vulnerability in the firmware of the SPA 300 and 500 series IP phones, typically used by small businesses, could allow eavesdropping on calls.

    • Edward Snowden’s Smashed Laptop Displayed at the V&A

      Edward Snowden’s laptop and hard drive were destroyed by Guardian editors under pressure from the UK government’s secret services GCHQ

    • US Policies Divorced From Reality Since 9/11 – Edward Snowden
    • US spies feel ‘comfortable’ in Switzerland, afraid of nothing – Snowden

      US spies operate in Switzerland without much fear of being unmasked, because Swiss intelligence, though knowledgeable and very professional, poses no threat to them, former NSA contributor Edward Snowden told Swiss TV.

    • Snowden attorney warns of loss of privacy as law lags

      Wizner said the growth of technology has outpaced the creation of laws to regulate how the government protects the privacy of citizens. He said people don’t realize how much data they create each day when they send text messages, make phone calls, read news online or shop online.

    • ‘US threats’ either typical bullying or Berlin’s excuse not to give Snowden asylum

      Washington’s threat to stop sharing intelligence with Berlin if it offers asylum to Snowden is either US bullying, or a convenient excuse on Berlin’s part to shift the blame for not allowing him to go onto the US, believes former MI5 agent Annie Machon.

    • Snowden Urges Cloud Providers to Take Action Against Mass Surveillance

      If you attended the WHD.global 2015 keynote with former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden on Wednesday morning, it is very likely that you were being watched.

      “Unfortunately in many ways I am the X,” Snowden told the packed conference room at WHD.global. “I expect and accept that at this point I’m going to be scrutinized by every government and every bad actor in the world.”

    • Prince William makes secret trip to GCHQ spy base amid hacking fears

      The second in line to the throne was flown by helicopter to the headquarters of Britain’s elite spy agency for a secret visit amid fears members of the royal family could have their emails and social media hacked by spies.

    • As the Snowden leaks began, there was “fear and panic” in Congress
    • Welcome To Privacy Hell, Also Known As The Internet Of Things

      “There are more devices and more types of devices, so this just gives you more ways for people to track you or hurt you,” Corman, a long-time security expert and cofounder of I Am The Cavalry, says. “What we’ve done is blindly assume that [adding software and connectivity] is always good. And we’re making really horrible, horrible choices.”

    • HP near deal to sell 51% of Chinese networking unit

      HP (NYSE:HPQ) is close to selling a 51% stake in its H3C Technologies Chinese networking hardware unit to state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup, the WSJ reports. Echoing an October report about HP’s sale efforts, the paper states H3C is “worth roughly $5 billion in total.”

    • The Precise (and Narrow) Limits On U.S. Economic Espionage

      The United States’ limits itself in one very narrow context. After acknowledging that the United States engages in economic espionage, DNI Clapper said in 2013: “What we do not do . . . is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.” This very carefully worded statement is the only admitted U.S. limit on economic espionage. Note what it permits. It permits economic espionage of foreign governments and institutions. It even permits theft of trade secrets from foreign firms. It just doesn’t allow such theft “on behalf of” U.S. firms, and it doesn’t permit the government to give the stolen information to U.S. firms.

    • Is the GCSB ‘trade team’ spying on NZ’s TPPA ‘partners’?

      ‘The latest revelations about the GCSB pose a stark question: is the GCSB’s “trade team” spying on governments with whom New Zealand is negotiating international deals, especially th
      e Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)?’, asked University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.

    • New Zealanders part of global opposition to USA big brother mass surveillance

      The United States’ mass surveillance of internet and phone use flies in the face of global public opinion, says Amnesty International as it published a major poll to launch its worldwide #UnfollowMecampaign.

      The poll, which questioned 15,000 people from 13 countries across every continent, including New Zealand, found that 71% of respondents were strongly opposed to the United States monitoring their internet use.

    • Can the U.S. – EU Safe Harbor Weather the Storm?

      On 24 March, the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) heard argument on a case that could significantly impact, if not invalidate altogether, the Safe Harbor framework that facilitates the flow of personal data from the European Union (EU) to the US.

  • Civil Rights

    • Guantánamo’s Charade of Justice

      About 85 percent of the 779 men ever held at Guantánamo are no longer there. Most left during the Bush administration. While the number of transfers has been much smaller under the Obama administration, the pace accelerated in the latter part of 2014.

    • Exclusive: TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists

      Fidgeting, whistling, sweaty palms. Add one point each. Arrogance, a cold penetrating stare, and rigid posture, two points.

      These are just a few of the suspicious signs that the Transportation Security Administration directs its officers to look out for — and score — in airport travelers, according to a confidential TSA document obtained exclusively by The Intercept.

    • Digital Citizenship: from liberal privilege to democratic emancipation

      Enshrined in both national constitutions and international treaties, these democratic precepts ensure that individual citizens can express their views and campaign for causes without fear of persecution or discrimination. Yet, when they were first codified during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’ modernising revolutions which overthrew aristocratic and priestly despotism in western Europe and North America, these fundamental freedoms were initially restricted to a minority of the population: white male property-owners.

      [...]

      The recent revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistle-blowers about the American empire’s megalomaniac scheme to spy upon every inhabitant of the planet have discredited ‘the West’s’ self-identification as the global champion of human rights.

    • Whistleblowers and the prosecution loophole

      According to media reports Petraeus plead guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material for which he may face up to a year in prison. His paltry sentence is a far cry from the many years of prison time that many whistleblowers face when they disclose protected information in an attempt to further the public interest. Petraeus claimed no such motive. He seems only to have wanted to help his mistress and biographer, and Panetta and Vickers shared it with a producer from Hollywood – the common thread between the three stories is that these men both leaked information for purely personal gain and each received little more than a slap on the wrist.

    • Whistleblowers and the Press Heavyweights

      Following the late January guilty verdicts in the espionage trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, more proof emerged — if any more were needed — that many elite mainstream journalists abhor whistleblowers and think they should go to prison when they divulge classified information.

    • Are Leaked Docs Safe With Canadian Reporters?

      Thousands of people in Canada have access to top secret government documents, but if any of them are considering following in the footsteps of Edward Snowden and leaking records to journalists, they will find comparatively few reporters in this country who are capable of protecting them.

      Snowden, an NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower, leaked a massive trove of documents that revealed potentially illegal surveillance programs throughout the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Intelligence agencies in these countries not only monitor the communications of terrorists and foreign states, they also collect private and potentially compromising information from journalists and the public at large.

      However, since the Snowden leaks were made public, only a handful of reporters in Canada have taken steps to secure themselves and their sources. Many investigative reporters and even some national security reporters in Canada are not equipped with email encryption.

    • Beyond Homan Square: US History Is Steeped in Torture

      The fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of White police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, not only sparked a nationwide social movement challenging police brutality, but it also amplified media scrutiny of the US legal system. One example is the recent Guardian investigation of a detention facility in Chicago’s Homan Square, where police take people for harsh, off-the-book interrogations without reading them their rights and denying access to attorneys. The facility is deemed “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site” since suspects are effectively “disappeared.” While this is the first time Homan Square has been discussed in the mainstream press, it hardly represents anything new or unique in Chicago, or in the United States as a whole. If anything, Homan Square reflects a norm rather than a deviation from US legal and national security policy.

    • N.J. First State to Ban Police Militarization Without Local OK

      Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into a law a bill (passed unanimously by both houses) that made his state the first to require local approval before any local law-enforcement agency can accept military equipment from the U.S. government. It won’t be the last.

      Even stronger bills banning the practice, under the so-called “1033 Program” of local law-enforcement agencies dealing directly with the Department of Defense for free military equipment, are pending in Montana, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

    • The Frank Church Committee: A Fading Legacy

      The Church Committee’s investigation revealed more about the secret, sometimes illegal, work of the nation’s top intelligence agencies than any comparable effort before or since. And it led to reforms meant to rein in the agencies and protect civil liberties, though many of those reforms were weakened in the years following the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

    • A Look at What’s Been Lost to History

      In June 2005, a federal judge ordered the Bush administration to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.” Five months later, the CIA destroyed hundreds of hours of interrogation videos of suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who were being held overseas in a network of secret CIA prisons. By the time President George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of those prisons and the prisoners were transferred to Guantanamo, the tapes were long gone.

    • Amy Goodman on Moving from Assessment to Accountability for “The Bush Doctrine” on Terrorism

      “If we really care about national security and being a model for the world of justice,” Goodman says of the George W. Bush administration’s actions after 9/11, we have “to move from assessment to an accounting and to accountability.” She also elicits responses from her fellow forum participants Porter Goss, former CIA director, and John Negroponte, former director of national intelligence, about the U.S.-led Iraq War, and its use of torture.

    • France should fully investigate Guantánamo torture claims

      On March 5, the New York–based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) urged a French Appeals Court to fully investigate claims by three French nationals that they were sexually and physically tortured during their detention at the Guantánamo Bay prison in 2002. But a lack of cooperation from U.S. authorities has stymied the French investigation.

    • Cuba: Not a Terrorist Threat

      As the Obama administration and Cuban negotiators examine the 54-year-old unilateral embargo (or “blockade” as the Cubans refer to it), one obstacle—particularly painful for Cubans and extremely important to American interests—must be addressed: Cuba’s continued presence on the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

    • Remembering a Tragic Anniversary: Viola Liuzzo

      Fifty years ago tonight, following the end of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Viola Liuzzo, a 39-year-old Detroit homemaker and mother of five, was shot and killed by a carload of Ku Klux Klansmen. She was the only white woman to lose her life working for the civil rights movement. Her murder helped accelerate passage of the historic Voting Rights Act.

    • Where will anti-terrorism bill lead Canada?

      In the March 2015 edition of Harper’s, a U.S. magazine, Adam Hochschild reviews a book by Karen M. Pate in which she presents her research into the CIA’s secret infiltration of the National Student Association during the 1960s and ’70s.

      Hochschild, a staff writer with Ramparts at the time, became somewhat involved and confirms in his review Pate’s allegations of CIA’s involvement in the National Student Association.

    • Barack Obama to meet with Iraqi prime minister in April

      President Barack Obama will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on April 14, the administration announced Monday.

      Al-Abadi has expressed frustration in what he called “slowness” of the U.S.-led international coalition in providing military support against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

    • How crashing drones are exposing secrets about U.S. war operations

      A surveillance mission was exposed last week when a Predator drone crashed in northwest Syria while spying on the home turf of President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. officials believe the drone was shot down, but they haven’t ruled out mechanical failure. Regardless, the wreckage offered the first hard evidence of a U.S. confrontation with Assad’s forces.

    • Some Disturbingly Relevant Legacies of Anticommunism

      The impact of Cold War anticommunism on our national life has been so profound that we no longer recognize how much we’ve lost.

    • Obama to welcome Japanese prime minister for state visit

      The leaders will celebrate the relationship between the nations developed during the 70 years since the end of World War II, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

    • U.S. offers Lebanon security training, equipment: Machnouk

      The U.S. is ready to provide Lebanese security services with equipment and training to help them fight terrorism, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said after holding talks with CIA director John O. Brennan.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • CIA director neither confirms nor denies U.S. role in N. Korea’s Internet outage

      CIA Director John Brennan declined Sunday to confirm or deny reports that the United States disrupted North Korea’s Internet system in December in retaliation for Pyongyang’s hack on Sony Entertainment.

      North Korea’s Internet connections suffered outages for a few days in late December after U.S. President Barack Obama blamed the communist nation for the massive hack on Sony and promised a “proportional response.”

03.28.15

Speculations That Microsoft is About to Buy Cyanogen (or at Least Officially Partner) to Attack Google’s Android/Linux, Replacing Everything With Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 2:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Embrace and extend” manoeuvre in action

MS-CM
Image credit: Linux Veda

Summary: Articles in the corporate media and some analysis from smaller media sites serve to highlight the role which Microsoft plays in Cyanogen

THIS topic was covered here before (to some degree), but the severity could not be emphasised strongly enough because Microsoft is in the “extend” phase of its infamous “embrace, extend, extinguish” (EEE) manoeuvre and this time it targets Android.

In our previous posts about Cyanogen (almost a dozen of them) we highlighted Microsoft’s offers of funding to Cyanogen and Microsoft-friendly sources of financing to Cyanogen. Rupert Murdoch aside (a friend of Bill Gates and sworn enemy of Google), Twitter reportedly helps fund the Microsoft-serving actor known as Cyanogen; it is worth noting that Twitter partnered with Microsoft on translations, ads, etc.

To avoid us having to recapitulate and repeat the broad evidence connecting Microsoft and Cyanogen, consider reading articles such as:

For those who still believe that Microsoft is trying to be ‘nice’ here, see what we wrote exactly one week ago; it’s a 6-part series:

There is a new article from Jack Germain and the article is titled “Big Money Helps Cyanogen Go for Android’s Jugular”.

ECT’s Germain foolishly (if not foolishly, then it’s malicious) quotes Microsoft mouthpiece Rob Enderle regarding this Microsoft proxy, Cyanogen. It is not surprising that he comes up with phrases like: “In some developer communities, negative reactions toward Google rival the disdain usually reserved for Microsoft.”

That’s actually not true. Many developers love Google or at least accept it much more openly than they accept Apple for example. Google not only funds many FOSS projects but also runs many of its own. This article not only relays Enderle’s Microsoft-inspired talking points but neglects to mention ECT also gave Enderle its platform for a pay in the past. Very irresponsible ‘journalism’. See part 6 of the 6-parts series above. Microsoft relies on such media distortion to distract from its crimes and abuses.

“Many developers love Google or at least accept it much more openly than they accept Apple for example.”A much better article has just come from Eric Brown, who explained Cyanogen’s connection to Microsoft. He correctly noted that Samsung’s Microsoft ‘deal’ came just one “month after Microsoft and Samsung settled a longstanding royalties lawsuit” (there is a connection there).

“An acquisition,” he explains, “also remains a possibility. Like Microsoft, most of Cyanogen’s employees are based in Seattle.” It would not be shocking if some of the staff is former Microsoft staff trying to disrupt Google.

Cyanogen and Microsoft are “close to finalizing a wide-ranging partnership,” he added, citing seemingly reliable sources.

Brown’s article, “Are Cyanogen and Microsoft Ready to Stick it to Google?”, is a good and comprehensive roundup of many things we have covered. It says: “The rumor of a Cyanogen partnership with Microsoft emerged in January in a Wall Street Journal report that Microsoft would be a minority investor in the fast growing software firm. The Forbes story reports that the rumored $80 million funding round has just been completed, but did not include Microsoft. An investment may well be part of the bundling deal expected later this year, however.”

Brown also explains that “many of CyanogenMod’s 50 million users purchase Google Apps, even if they’ve just flashed it from their Android phone in order to load CyanogenMod. The open source Android clone has gained its huge following, including some 9,000 open source developer volunteers, due to its up-to-date, open source, bloatware-free Android code. Also popular are its extensive customization opportunities, better battery life, and often faster performance. The project was launched in 2009 by hacker extraordinaire Steve Kondik, who continues on as Cyanogen’s CTO.

“Mobile device vendors who pay big money to Google to pre-install the popular Google Apps have long chafed at the relationship. Google has reportedly used the apps as leverage to ensure greater control over Android or sell other Google services. Samsung’s backing of the Linux-based Tizen platform was seen as a response to Google’s app domination, although the company now appears to have slowed its push for Tizen on phones even as it continues to deploy it elsewhere.”

“Bribes and extortion don’t make Microsoft ‘nice’; they make it more evil (and arguably more dangerous) than ever before.”Cyanogen as a Microsoft proxy does not require unsound hypotheses. It’s not far-fetched at all given all the evidence, including patent extortion against Samsung and OEM partners like Dell (now directly connected to Microsoft). “A month after Microsoft and Samsung settled a longstanding royalties lawsuit,” Brown explains, “the companies expanded a partnership this week that was announced at Mobile World Congress. In addition to pre-installing Microsoft OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on Samsung’s new Galaxy 6 phones, Samsung says it will soon bundle those apps, along with Android-optimized Office apps (Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), on selected Samsung Android tablets. Microsoft also announced it has signed similar deals with Dell, as well as 10 other lesser known hardware partners.”

Those other hardware partners were always — as far as we can tell — subjected to patent extortion from Microsoft. Brown concludes: “It’s unclear whether that bullet may someday ride in on a deal with Microsoft that goes beyond apps to include a version of Windows Phone based on Cyanogen OS. An acquisition also remains a possibility. Like Microsoft, most of Cyanogen’s employees are based in Seattle.”

Brown does not omit context such as Microsoft’s hatred of GNU/Linux. He additionally notes: “The ironies are thick here, considering that for many years Microsoft strong-armed PC vendors into pre-installing Office, or pressured them into loading Windows on netbooks instead of Linux. Now, after Google ruined its plans to establish Windows Phone as the rival mobile platform to Apple’s iOS, Microsoft is playing the underdog game while increasingly cozying up to open source projects, including the Raspberry Pi Foundation and perhaps Cyanogen.”

We have already chastised the Raspberry Pi Foundation over this. Its response to us was sarcastic, not factual, which does make one wonder if Microsoft is indeed paying the Raspberry Pi Foundation a lot of money to do this. Bribes and extortion don’t make Microsoft ‘nice’; they make it more evil (and arguably more dangerous) than ever before.

Links 28/3/2015: FoundationDB FOSS Shut Down by Apple, European Commission Support for Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 6:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 28/3/2015: FoundationDB OSS Shut Down by Apple, European Commission Support for Free Software

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The state of open source security

    If there’s a poster child for the challenges facing open source security, it may be Werner Koch, the German developer who wrote and for the last 18 years has toiled to maintain Gnu Privacy Guard (GnuPG), a pillar of the open source software ecosystem.

    Since its first production release in 1999, GnuPG has become one of the most widely used open source security tools in the world, protecting the email communication of everyone from government officials to Edward Snowden.

  • A Data-Driven Look at the Open Source E-Commerce Market

    Compared to Q4 2013, last quarter’s US online sales rose 14.6 percent to a staggering $79.6 billion dollars. This accounted for 6.7 percent of the total US retail sales market. Major trends fueling this growth include the proliferation of mobile devices, faster online checkout flows and improved fulfillment practices.

  • Apple Acquires FoundationDB

    Allegedly, Apple has recently acquired FoundationDB, a company specialized in fast and cost-effective database software.

  • Don’t Let Apple Scare You Away From Open Source

    Earlier this week, Ben Kepes reported here on Forbes that Apple acquired enterprise database startup FoundationDB. As often happens in these situations, FoundationDB stopped accepting new customers for its paid services. But the company’s code repository was also emptied or made private, leaving third party developers dependent upon open source code associated with this database with no official place to get it. Some have been quick to suggest this is a good reason not to build products or services that rely upon open source software. It would be a mistake to believe them.

  • What Happens When Apple Buys a Company You Depend On

    Travis Jeffery is a software developer who’s been using a database system called FoundationDB for a project at his startup. Earlier this week, he noticed that the software had been pulled from the web. He soon received a terse email confirming that the software had been taken down intentionally, but little else. “We have made the decision to evolve our company mission,” it read. “And as of today, we will no longer offer downloads.”

  • The dark side of commercial open source

    Apple’s acquisition of FoundationDB is a warning to all: contribute to the open-source projects you love, or risk losing them.

  • Bazel: Google Build Tool is now Open Source

    Bazel, the tool that Google uses to build the majority of its software has been partially open sourced. According to Google, Bazel is aimed to build “code quickly and reliably” and is “critical to Google’s ability to continue to scale its software development practices as the company grows.”

  • Events

    • Qt Developer Days Videos and passing the torch

      For the past three years, KDAB has had the honor and pleasure to bring you the European Qt Developer Days Conference in Berlin.

    • Linux Seeks Security, Unity

      Linux is expanding its reach, promising to play a significant role in the Internet of Things. But the open source software needs more attention to interoperability, security and its kernel, according to experts at the Embedded Linux Conference here.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Calling Out OkCupid

        Anyways, to the point, I hate to open a can of worms but when I heard this news I thought back to this same time last year and remembered how gung ho OkCupid was over Mozilla’s appointment of Brendan Eich because of his personal beliefs and that they ultimately decided to block all Firefox users.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Red Hat’s Bet on OpenStack, OpenShift Shows Progress

      Yesterday, I reported on Red Hat delivering its fourth quarter and year-end financial results, which were strong. There were some interesting forces driving the numbers, though. In particular, Red Hat is now a couple of years into a strategic shift toward facilitating OpenStack cloud computing for enterprises, and CEO Jim Whitehurst pointed to that fork in the road as beginning to pay off. Here are some more detailed glimpses into Red Hat’s increasingly significant cloud business.

    • OpenStack Kilo Now at Feature Freeze

      We’re now in the stretch run for the OpenStack Kilo platform release.

    • Hadoop Security Still Evolving

      When it comes to security, what does it take to make Hadoop “enterprise ready?”

    • Open Source Cloud Firm GreenQloud to Stop Offering IaaS

      Icelandic cloud provider GreenQloud, which has been a major open source cloud supporter, has informed customers it is closing its public cloud service. The company will go on focusing on selling Apache CloudStack cloud called QStack to be managed by others. The public compute and and storage services are ending in October 2015.

  • Databases

    • Q&A: Databases, Open Source & Virtualisation with CEO Vinay Joosery

      Adding PostgreSQL coverage to the solution has enabled IT operators to manage the three most popular open source databases – MySQL, MongoDB and PostgreSQL – from one ClusterControl platform. The upgrade also boosts increased monitoring capabilities and encryption between MySQL and MariaDB to protect costumers from losing sensitive data.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 4 keys to success for LibreOffice as a service

      The announcement of LibreOffice Online this week came as welcome news to many people concerned about the paucity of online options for those who want software freedom with their online document solutions. But can open source SaaS succeed?

      The open source community needs a truly open alternative to current mainstream online document collaboration solutions, all of which are compromised by lock-in. LibreOffice Online will offer the full flexibility to deploy in-house or hosted cloud instances while using true open standards for its documents.

    • What will it take to merge LibreOffice and OpenOffice?

      Ordinarily, I’m all for diversity in free software projects. However, I make an exception in the case of LibreOffice and OpenOffice. The sooner they become a single project, the better.

      In other cases, I’m slow to accept arguments against duplication of projects. Combining projects does not automatically make for greater efficiency or quicker development; especially in the beginning, personalities can sabotage or even reverse any gains.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free Software’s Fifth Freedom

      So the next time you’re trying to convince someone of the important of free and open software, and they chime in with the fact that don’t want to change it, try pointing out that by using proprietary code they’re limiting their options for getting it fixed when it inevitably breaks.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Govt wants Open Source Software in all its departments

      The Government of India is soon coming out with an “Open software policy” according to Union Minister for Telecommunications and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad. Speaking at the 3rd Web Ratna Awards ceremony, the Minister mentioned that under the new policy, all proposals for e-governance projects will include a mandatory clause for considering open source software as a preferred option.

    • Microsoft and Oracle are ‘not your trusted friends’, public sector bods

      Software providers such as Microsoft and Oracle are aggressively targeting public sector customers with licence “audit reviews” in a bid to plug falling subscription revenue, according to research.

      Over one-third of the 436 councils surveyed across the UK have been subject to at least one software licence review in the last 20 months, according to a report from software licensing costs advice company Cerno.

    • eGoverment in the Netherlands

      Just a few days ago it was anounced publicly that not only is the Pleio community is hard at work on improving the platform to raise the bar yet again, but that Kolab will be a part of that. A joint development project has been agreed to and is now underway as part of a new Pleio pilot project.

    • EC to create level playing field for open source

      The European Commission will create a level playing field for open source software when procuring new software solutions, it announced on 27 March. Evaluation of open source and proprietary software will take into account their total cost of ownership and exit costs.

    • European Commission Open Source Software Strategy 2014-2017

      Equal treatment in procurement

      Contribution to communities

      Clarification of legal aspects

      Open-source and interoperable Commission-developed software

      Transparency and better communication

    • NHS rolls out Vendor Neutral Archive initiative to open source records

      NHS ENGLAND HAS been talking about the latest strand of its move toward open digital solutions to provide interoperability between the myriad departmental systems that are proprietary, incompatible or just plain disparate.

      The organisation is to adopt Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) as a standard format to store everything from X-rays to scanned letters and patient notes, in order to avoid lock-in with proprietary systems and allow easy sharing of data across the NHS.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Prosecutors: Germanwings co-pilot hid illness from employers before crashing passenger flight

    Investigators didn’t find a suicide note or claim of responsibility at the home of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, but they did find a torn-up sick note from the day of the plane crash, German authorities said Friday.

  • Andreas Lubitz: Evidence He ‘Hid Illness From His Employer’ In Germanwings Co-Pilot’s Dusseldorf Flat

    The object will now be tested to see if it will illuminate why Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and engaged and reset the autopilot to take the doomed plane from 38,000 feet to just 100ft.

  • Science

    • Silicon Valley gender gap is widening

      Najla Bulous wants to change the face of Silicon Valley.

      The daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Egypt, Bulous is a Harvey Mudd College-trained software engineer. After graduation in May, she’s starting a new job at a Silicon Valley technology giant.

      Bulous knows she isn’t the stereotypical Silicon Valley geek. She didn’t study computer science until college and never intended to major in it. But after just one introductory course, Bulous was hooked on the challenge of mastering problems with lines of code.

      Now this 21-year-old is not just planning a career in technology. She wants a hand in re-engineering the culture of Silicon Valley to be more inclusive of women and people from underrepresented groups.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Confused about the Middle East? So Is the United States

      Since the Arab Spring, many Middle Eastern countries have fallen into political chaos like dominoes. This week’s explosion of conflict in Yemen is just the most recent example. Though many of these conflicts are based on local grievances, they are being exacerbated by the involvement of the region’s larger states, and by the United States.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • What Have Whistleblowers Done for Elite Journalists Lately?

      This attitude is documented and questioned in a piece by John Hanrahan, a former Washington Post reporter who later headed the Fund for Investigative Journalism, that appeared on the pro-whistleblower Expose Facts site (3/24/15) and was reposted as “Journalists Who Hate Whistleblowers” by Consortium News (3/25/15).

  • Privacy

    • Tech Companies, Privacy Advocates Call for NSA Reform

      A group of technology companies, non-profits and privacy and human rights organizations have sent a letter to President Barack Obama, the director of national intelligence and a wide range of Congressional leaders, calling for an end to the bulk collection of phone metadata under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    • Bankrupt RadioShack wants to sell off user data. But the bigger risk is if a Facebook or Google goes bust.

      The demise of RadioShack left techies with one less place to congregate and buy obscure batteries and soldering equipment. And if that wasn’t bad enough, now the bankrupt company is trying to sell off the devotees’ data.

    • New data world order: government can read every Australian like an open book

      The story of your life in metadata is an open book. It paints a picture of where you went, who you spoke with, how long you were there for. What were you doing talking on the phone to the sexually transmitted infections clinic? What were you doing on the street corner where the man was murdered last night?

    • Washington is coming for your personal data

      Little-noticed change to judicial rules gives the FBI greater powers to conduct remote searches, and the ‘zombie bill’ CISA is on the fast track to a Senate vote

    • This Newsletter Was Paranoid About the NSA in 1996, and It Was Eerily Correct

      ​Ever since Edward Snowden leaked thousands of top secret documents to journalists laying bare its most guarded secrets, the NSA, a government agency that was once known as the No Such ​Agency for its love for secrecy, has been thrown in the media limelight.

    • FBI director urges Congress to crack down on encryption

      Speaking before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey urged Congress to pass legislation requiring tech companies to install backdoors in their encryption programs. These backdoors would allow government agencies to easily intercept the electronic communications of American citizens, the District Sentinel reports.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison

      The goal of the Norwegian penal system is to get inmates out of it.

    • Why Should Bergdahl Suffer More Than Generals Who Did Far Worse?

      What punishment should Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl receive for allegedly deserting his post in Afghanistan? The answer comes by asking another question: What punishment has been handed out to American generals and politicians whose incompetence caused far more bloodshed and grief than anything Bergdahl did?

      A key thing about justice is that it should be fair — people should be punished no matter their rank or title. The problem with the bloodlust for more action against Bergdahl — beyond his five years of horrific suffering as a Taliban prisoner — is that inept generals, rather than being court-martialed or demoted or reprimanded, have been rewarded and celebrated despite their dereliction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Leaked Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy Network

      Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal’s account.

    • The Government’s Fixation on Spying and Lying

      When Hillary Clinton learned that a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had subpoenaed her emails as secretary of state and she promptly destroyed half of them – about 33,000 – how did she know she could get away with it? Destruction of evidence, particularly government records, constitutes the crime of obstruction of justice.

    • Government secrecy in the Obama White House

      As a candidate for president, Barack Obama promised that his would be the most “transparent” administration in American history. It hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, it may be the most secretive, threatening the very fabric of representative democracy, which depends upon the American people and their elected representatives in Congress knowing exactly what government is doingin our name and with our taxpayer dollars.

    • State Department Now Just Making It Up to Explain Away Clinton’s Excesses

      State Department spokesdrone Jen Psaki is now just straight out making things up to explain away the questions surrounding Clinton and her email, and the State Department’s complicity.

      Her “misstatements” can now be debunked with a click of a mouse, which we will do in a moment.

      The devil is in the details on these things, as no one expects to find a notarized document that reads “Yes, I did it all to hide embarrassing stuff from the Freedom of Information Act because dammit it is my turn to be president, signed, Hillary”).

      So let’s drill down.

    • Report: US troops exposed to chemical agents in Iraq are dying — and the Pentagon is covering it up
    • US troops fighting war on drugs got away with raping dozens of Colombian girls: report

      According to an independent report commissioned by the Colombian government and FARC rebels, United States soldiers and military contractors are responsible for sexually abusing at least 54 children between 2003 and 2007 — but they were not prosecuted because of immunity clauses in the American diplomatic treaties with the government.

    • FBI’s Preventative Role: Hygiene for Corporations, Spies for Muslims

      For what it’s worth, Muslim communities increasingly agree that the FBI — and the federal government generally — should not be in the business of CVE. But that’s largely because the government approaches it with the same view Comey does: by thinking immediately of his analysts thinking dark thoughts at Quantico. So if some agency that had credibility — if some agency had credibility — at diverting youth (of all faiths) who might otherwise get caught in an FBI sting, I could support it moving someplace else, but I’m skeptical DHS or any other existing federal agency is that agency right now.

      While the Review doesn’t say explicitly in this section what it wants the FBI to be doing instead of CVE, elsewhere it emphasizes that it wants the FBI to do more racial profiling (AKA “domain awareness”) and run more informants. Thus, I think it fair to argue that the Ed Meese-led panel thinks the FBI should spy on Muslims, not reach out to them. Occupation-style federal intelligence gathering, not community based.

    • Investigator: Inmates forced like gladiators to fight as deputies took bets

      At just 150 pounds, it was hardly fair to pit Ricardo Palikiko Garcia against an opponent well over twice his size. But Garcia had to fight him — or else he’d allegedly face torture.

      Running away was not an option for the inmate locked inside a San Francisco jail.

      Like the gladiators of old, Garcia and others were forced into pugilistic matches, local authorities said. Four sheriff’s deputies then placed bets on their bouts.

03.27.15

Microsoft Keeps Pretending to be ‘Open Source’, Despite Relentless Assaults on Open Source

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 8:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is ‘open’ like BP is ‘green’ (openwashing follows greenwashing tactics)

BP old logo

Summary: Microsoft’s charm offensives against Free/libre software are proving to be rather effective, despite them involving a gross distortion of facts and exploitation of corruptible elements in the corporate media

SIX days ago we published a series of six articles which are listed in order below:

The issue discussed in part 1 receives a lot of media attention, even from corporate media (in this case, GOP-leaning media). To quote one such report: “The feature we’re concerned with is called Secure Boot, and it’s designed to protect you: The installed OS becomes locked to the hardware itself, and if any other OS attempts to interfere (like a low-level malware app for example) then the system simply won’t start up. OEMs were ordered to make Secure Boot optional with Windows 8 but it looks like they are going to be given the opportunity to make it mandatory in Windows 10.”

“Microsoft is pretending to be Open Source because of new policies that require procuring Open Source software, e.g. in India.”What the corporate media gets wrong is the part about security. It’s not “designed to protect you”. In fact, much of the recent press coverage serves to show that UEFI reduces security in many cases. Some media sites/conglomerates such as IDG already explained (last year) how it can be used for remotely bricking PCs (pretty much at hardware level). We have covered several examples over the past 3 years, so evidence continues to mount. IDG’s Microsoft booster Andy Patrizio wrote: “I suspect if you are smart enough to use Linux, you are smart enough to shut off Secure Boot in the UEFI.”

That’s not an excuse. It also perpetuate myths about GNU/Linux being “hard to use”. “Still,” he continues, “it’s a PR hit for Microsoft, a company that has been earning a lot of goodwill lately.”

That’s utter nonsense as well. As pointed out in part 6 above, Microsoft just manipulates the media (or relies on boosters like Patrizio) to make it seem as though it changed its attitude. As we’ve pointed out in 3 recent articles, there are changes in tendering processes worldwide. Microsoft is pretending to be Open Source because of new policies that require procuring Open Source software, e.g. in India. Yesterday KV Kurmanath planted a Microsoft puff piece in The Hindu Business Line, relaying the bogus narrative of Microsoft as “Open Source”. People must react and counter these lies or else Microsoft will become indistinguishable from Free/libre software, based on a reality-distorting campaign. Microsoft already pretends that Windows, its common carrier, is 'Open Source' or something along these lines.

Željko Topić and Ivan Šimonović, Two Residues of Ivo Sanader’s Corrupt Regime, Seen as Indirectly Connected

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ivan Šimonović
MONUSCO/Myriam Asmani, CC BY-SA 2.0

Summary: Further exploration of the remnants of Sanader’s highly notorious record and those whom he had brought to power before he landed in jail

THE other day we wrote about Šimonović’s (Junior) role in the case of Rikard Frgačić, one of the many victims of Željko Topić.

“Despite Sanader being in prison, some of his cronies (like Topić) seem to be doing quite well, even abroad where people are unaware of Sanader’s crimes; their track record is hardly being questioned, let alone investigated.”Based on information acquired the other day from an anonymous source, our coverage of EPO scandals more or less leads to broader scandals (nepotism in appointment) implicating the UN.

“This article here about the UN appointment of Ivan Šimonović (Senior),” told us a source, shows that not only the European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President Željko Topić is connected to Ivo Sanader (white-collar criminal); Šimonović may be too. It’s like a large network of corrupt officials. Željko Topić still hides from EPO staff the criminal charges that he faces in Croatia.

“We read your recent articles based on the information provided by Rikard Frgacic,” said our source. “Doing some research of our own, we managed to find an interesting article here about the controversy surrounding the UN appointment of Ivan Šimonović (Senior).

According to Wikipedia, Šimonović was Minister for Justice in Croatia from 2008 to 2010 (under Prime Minister Ivo Sanader who also appointed Topić as Director of the DZIV).”

Despite Sanader being in prison, some of his cronies (like Topić) seem to be doing quite well, even abroad where people are unaware of Sanader’s crimes; their track record is hardly being questioned, let alone investigated. There are sham 'internal investigations', not real investigations. EPO staff should demand more scrutiny over the Topić appointment (by Benoît Battistelli) and also raise questions about Šimonović’s (Junior) involvement in cases that relate to Topić and SIPO. These crooks revel in two things: ignorance and apathy.

Links 27/3/2015: Ubuntu 15.04 Second Beta, Dart 1.9

Posted in News Roundup at 6:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • When SCO Was Cool

    SCO started out here in my neighborhood, essentially, in Santa Cruz, California. It was called The Santa Cruz Operation (hence, SCO). That manifestation of SCO was founded in 1979 by Larry and Doug Michels, a father and son, as a Unix porting and consulting company which, over time, developed its own brand of Unix. In his book “The Art of Unix Programming,” Eric Raymond calls SCO the “first Unix company.”

    As the story goes, the first SCO was sold to Caldera, a Linux company, in 2001 and rebranded The SCO Group, which moved it to Utah and made it a litigation company, and we pretty much know the rest of the story from there.

    [...]

    So pre-sale SCO –- the original SCO –- wasn’t the evil entity it is now, and by no means is this recollection an endorsement of what the current manifestation is doing in the courts. It just serves as a reminder that sometimes things –- good things –- can go south very quickly and become the complete opposite of what the original folks had in mind.

  • Germanwings: Andreas Lubitz breakdown six years ago offers clue

    In Andreas Lubitz’s home town in western Germany, the sense of disbelief was palpable. Everyone who had encountered the 27-year-old, who grew up dreaming of becoming a pilot, described him as quiet, polite and “normal”.

    Yet, in what German Chancellor Angela Merkel described as a “new, simply incomprehensible” dimension to the Germanwings air disaster, it appeared that Lubitz was responsible for the deaths of 149 people.

  • Hardware

    • Samsung Rumored to Be Eyeing AMD Acquisition

      Samsung may be interested in buying Advanced Micro Devices as it looks to boost its position against such chip-making rivals as Intel and Qualcomm, according to reports coming out of South Korea.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The US is Pushing The World Towards Nuclear War

      NATO countries are to all intents and purposes at war with Russia. The US knows it and Russia knows it too. Unfortunately, most of those living in NATO countries remain blissfully ignorant of this fact.

      The US initiated economic sanctions against Russia, has attacked its currency and has manipulated oil prices to devastate the Russian economy. It was behind the coup in Ukraine and is now escalating tensions by placing troops in Europe and supporting a bunch of neo-fascists that it brought to power. Yet the bought and paid for corporate media in the West keeps the majority of the Western public in ignorance by depicting Russia as the aggressor.

    • A Few Words on the Least Surprising Op-Ed of 2015
    • Sensitive Military Gear Ended up on EBay, Craiglist

      The Pentagon lost track of sensitive equipment from a $750 million program to help U.S. soldiers spot roadside bombs — and some of it wound up for sale on eBay, Craigslist and other websites, according to a Navy intelligence document obtained by The Intercept.

    • Why Won’t the Post Name CIA Counterterrorism Chief Michael D’Andrea?

      The Washington Post reported this morning that, pursuant to CIA Director John Brennan’s vaunted re-organization plans, the chief of the agency’s counterterrorism center has been unceremoniously reassigned. The newspaper declined to report this name, however: Michael D’Andrea.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Court Accepts DOJ’s ‘State Secrets’ Claim to Protect Shadowy Neocons: a New Low

      A truly stunning debasement of the U.S. justice system just occurred through the joint efforts of the Obama Justice Department and a meek and frightened Obama-appointed federal judge, Edgardo Ramos, all in order to protect an extremist neocon front group from scrutiny and accountability. The details are crucial for understanding the magnitude of the abuse here.

  • Finance

    • Despite Leak Of TPP Text, Obama Officials Say Trade Deal Will Not Let Companies Overturn US Laws

      Less than three weeks after a classified draft of its proposed 12-nation trade pact included provisions that critics say empower foreign companies to overturn domestic regulations, the Obama administration explicitly declared that the deal would not permit such actions. The declaration came in an email challenging the veracity of a report about earlier leaks of language in the proposed agreement.

      The email challenged an International Business Times report noting the details of a 2013 draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That draft proposed to let foreign companies file lawsuits in international tribunals seeking payments for financial losses incurred by domestic laws — a power that critics say could ultimately compel governments to overturn those laws, for fear of facing even more lawsuits and damage payments.

    • TPP ISDS is rigged to advantage U.S.

      Wikileaks has released the “Investment Chapter” from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. It contains the highly controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), which makes it possible for multinational to sue states for international tribunals.

    • Corporate Sovereignty Provisions Of TPP Agreement Leaked Via Wikileaks: Would Massively Undermine Government Sovereignty

      For years now, we’ve been warning about the problematic “ISDS” — “investor state dispute settlement” mechanisms that are a large part of the big trade agreements that countries have been negotiating. As we’ve noted, the ISDS name is designed to be boring, in an effort to hide the true impact — but the reality is that these provisions provide corporate sovereignty, elevating the power of corporations to put them above the power of local governments. If you thought “corporate personhood” was a problem, corporate sovereignty takes things to a whole new level — letting companies take foreign governments to special private “tribunals” if they think that regulations passed in those countries are somehow unfair. Existing corporate sovereignty provisions have led to things like Big Tobacco threatening to sue small countries for considering anti-smoking legislation and pharma giant Eli Lilly demanding $500 million from Canada, because Canada dared to reject some of its patents noting (correctly) that the drugs didn’t appear to be any improvement over existing drugs.

    • CREDO: Leaked TPP chapter confirms our worst fears about disastrous trade agreement
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.

      An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

    • The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose

      The United States is in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries. Who will benefit from the TPP? American workers? Consumers? Small businesses? Taxpayers? Or the biggest multinational corporations in the world?

    • WikiLeaks Reveals TPP Proposal Allowing Corporations to Sue Nations
    • How The Leaked TPP ISDS Chapter Threatens Intellectual Property Limitations and Exceptions
    • New TPPA Investment Leak Confirms NZ Surrender to US

      The controversial investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has just been posted by Wikileaks, along with an analysis by Washington-based Public Citizen. Dated 20 January 2015, at the start of the negotiating round in New York, it clearly shows the governments has capitulated to US demands.

      ‘We haven’t seen a text since 2012’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey. ‘Today’s leaked text confirms all our worst fears.’

    • WikiLeaks reveals local health and environment rules under threat

      Australian health, environment and public welfare regulation, including plain tobacco packaging legislation, will be open for challenge from largely US-based corporations, if a new deal that is part of the Trans Pacific Partnership goes through.

      WikiLeaks has revealed that the Australian government is close to agreement on a wide-ranging trade deal that could allow multinational corporations to challenge these regulations as well as local food safety standards. The new TPP free trade agreement will cover approximately 40 per cent of the world economy.

      Intellectual property law expert, Australian National University Associate Professor Matthew Rimmer says the WikiLeaks publication is “a bombshell” that will “galvanise resistance and opposition to fast-tracking of this mega trade deal”.

    • Govt must be more transparent on investor state clauses

      The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson.

      “Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which includes well drafted ISDS provisions. We also support the FTA with South Korea.

    • TPP: Australia pushes against ISDS in trade agreement, WikiLeaks reveals

      Australia appears to be the lone holdout – for now – to a key section of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that details how multinational companies could take legal actions against governments over decisions they consider detrimental to their interests.

      WikiLeaks today revealed the controversial investment chapter of the TPP, which shows the intent of negotiating parties, led by the US, to create a supra-national court where foreign firms could sue states using investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses and overrule their national court systems.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • RT vs. MSM Propaganda in the New Cold War

      US government officials are calling to overhaul the state funded media apparatus and focus on counter-propaganda against hostile nations, according to a report seen by Reuters.

      The study was written by two former Western state funded news employees, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) governor and Radio France Europe/Radio Liberty vice president, who declared the US is losing the information war to adversaries. Despite its annual $730 million budget, the BBG is asking Congress for an additional $15 million to combat Russian media specifically.

  • Privacy

    • Bryce Edwards: The ramifications of the spying scandal

      How much longer can the GCSB spying scandal run? Nicky Hager recently told the radio station bFM that “in some respects we’re only just at the beginning of what people are going to find out”. This continued drip-feeding of information about what our spies have really been up to will not bring down the Government or lose National the Northland by-election, but the ongoing revelations might still seriously tarnish New Zealand’s international reputation, as well as erode the public’s faith in its surveillance institutions.

    • Govt accused of spying for political purposes

      Opposition parties have used Parliament’s question time to accuse the Government of using the country’s spy agencies for its own political purposes.

    • Inquiry into electronic surveillance agency launched

      An inquiry into the activities of New Zealand’s electronic surveillance agency has been launched by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security.

    • GCSB will be investigated over claims New Zealanders spied on in Pacific
    • New Zealand spooks face South Pacific dragnet probe

      New Zealand’s inspector-general of intelligence and security is launching an inquiry into allegations that the Government Communications Security Bureau intercepted the communications of New Zealanders in the South Pacific.

    • Inquiry Launched into New Zealand Mass Surveillance

      New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog is launching an investigation into the scope of the country’s secret surveillance operations following a series of reports from The Intercept and its partners.

      On Thursday, Cheryl Gwyn, New Zealand’s inspector-general of intelligence and security, announced that she would be opening an inquiry after receiving complaints about spying being conducted in the South Pacific by eavesdropping agency Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

      In a press release, Gwyn’s office said: “The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.”

      This month, The Intercept has shined a light on the GCSB’s surveillance with investigative reports produced in partnership with the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, and Sunday-Star-Times.

    • New Zealand’s XKEYSCORE Use

      For a while, I have believed that there are at least three leakers inside the Five Eyes intelligence community, plus another CIA leaker. What I have called Leaker #2 has previously revealed XKEYSCORE rules. Whether this new disclosure is from Leaker #2 or a new Leaker #5, I have no idea. I hope someone is keeping a list.

    • FBI director urges Congress to crack down on encryption

      Speaking before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey urged Congress to pass legislation requiring tech companies to install backdoors in their encryption programs. These backdoors would allow government agencies to easily intercept the electronic communications of American citizens, the District Sentinel reports.

    • Big Vulnerability in Hotel Wi-Fi Router Puts Guests at Risk

      Guests at hundreds of hotels around the world are susceptible to serious hacks because of routers that many hotel chains depend on for their Wi-Fi networks. Researchers have discovered a vulnerability in the systems, which would allow an attacker to distribute malware to guests, monitor and record data sent over the network, and even possibly gain access to the hotel’s reservation and keycard systems.

    • Special ops troops using flawed intel software

      Special operations troops heading to war zones are asking for commercial intelligence analysis software they say will help their missions. But their requests are languishing, and they are being ordered to use a flawed, in-house system preferred by the Pentagon, according to government records and interviews.

      Over the last four months, six Army special operations units about to be deployed into Afghanistan, Iraq and other hostile environments have requested intelligence software made by Palantir, a Silicon Valley company that has synthesized data for the CIA, the Navy SEALs and the country’s largest banks, among other government and private entities.

    • Passphrases That You Can Memorize — But That Even the NSA Can’t Guess

      It’s getting easier to secure your digital privacy. iPhones now encrypt a great deal of personal information; hard drives on Mac and Windows 8.1 computers are now automatically locked down; even Facebook, which made a fortune on open sharing, is providing end-to-end encryption in the chat tool WhatsApp. But none of this technology offers as much protection as you may think if you don’t know how to come up with a good passphrase.

    • Australia outlaws warrant canaries

      The exceptionally broad new surveillance bill lets the government do nearly unlimited warrantless mass surveillance, even of lawyer-client privileged communications, and bans warrant canaries, making it an offense to “disclose information about the existence or non-existence” of a warrant to spy on journalists.

    • NSA Doesn’t Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets

      Governments and corporations gather, store, and analyze the tremendous amount of data we chuff out as we move through our digitized lives. Often this is without our knowledge, and typically without our consent. Based on this data, they draw conclusions about us that we might disagree with or object to, and that can impact our lives in profound ways. We may not like to admit it, but we are under mass surveillance.

    • Police continued spying on Labour activists after their election as MPs

      Police conducted spying operations on a string of Labour politicians during the 1990s, covertly monitoring them even after they had been elected to the House of Commons, a whistleblower has revealed.

      Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer, said he read secret files on 10 MPs during his 11 years working for the Metropolitan police’s special branch. They include Labour’s current deputy leader, Harriet Harman, the former cabinet minister Peter Hain and the former home secretary Jack Straw.

    • As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices

      The FBI used to publish excellent advice about encrypting your devices to keep your data secure when your stuff is lost or stolen; this advice has been silently dropped now that FBI Director James Comey is trying to stop manufacturers from using crypto by default.

      The FBI has joined with others, like UK Prime Minister David Cameron in calls to end the use of effective cryptography because it makes it harder to spy on people.

    • Italy drops measure allowing remote computer searches

      The measure would have made Italy “the first European country that explicitly and broadly legalised and authorised the state to conduct remote computer searches and use spyware,” said lawmaker Stefano Quintarelli, a member of a small centrist party that supports the governing coalition.

  • Civil Rights

    • Ron Wyden, the Internet’s senator

      When Ron Wyden arrived in the U.S. Senate in 1996, he was determined to focus on more than just trees.

      In the mid-1990s, Oregon, Wyden’s home state, was best known for environmental industries, like forestry. But Wyden, a Democrat who had just won a special Senate election after serving eight terms in the House, wanted to expand his portfolio.

      “I said, ‘I am gonna be a fierce advocate for Oregon’s resource-dependent communities and jobs in forestry,’” Wyden told the Daily Dot during a recent interview, “and I made the judgment that we had to get into some additional areas.”

    • Student cleared of London terror charge after partially secret trial

      A man who faced accusations that he was plotting to mount an Islamic State-inspired gun or bomb attack on the streets of London has been acquitted after a highly secretive Old Bailey trial.

      Erol Incedal, 27, was cleared of preparation of acts of terrorism after a four-week retrial in which large parts of the evidence were heard inside a locked courtroom.

      Incedal broke down and wept as the jury returned a majority verdict after 27 hours of deliberation.

    • Report: DEA agents had ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes hired by drug cartels

      Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Convention on online advertising: increased circumvention of the law in the name of fighting piracy

        The Minister of Culture announced yesterday a plan of action for the fight against piracy and an agreement (fr) on online advertising negotiated between advertisers, advertising agencies and rightsholders under the supervision of the government. This agreement confirms the fears La Quadrature du Net has expressed over the last several months about the growing threat of repressive online policy (fr). It organises a system in which identifying “massively infringing sites” is relegated to advertising companies while circumventing the law, which alone should be authorised to decide about this in order to adequately guarantee freedom of expression and the right to information. This new development marks a step towards the creation of a private police force in the name of intellectual property rights.

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