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04.15.14

Links 15/4/2014: Lots of PCLinuxOS Releases, Ukraine Updates

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open platforms to reveal secrets of the human mind

    For the next ten years, scientists will be probing the human brain in software form. It could revolutionise mental health research and lead to machines learning like us…

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla in the Eye of the Storm

        Mozilla has begun putting the pieces together with the appointment of CMO Chris Beard to its board and to take the helm as interim CEO…

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Dell unloads slew of datacenter upgrades, teams with Red Hat on OpenStack

      Dell is bolstering its cloud and datacenter portfolios, first and foremost through a series of collaborative efforts with Red Hat.

      Announced amid the Dell Enterprise Forum EMEA in Frankfurt, Germany and the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco this week, the tech giants are working off the venerable open source cloud platform OpenStack, aiming to serve IT priorities around non-business critical apps. That includes better support of developer test environments for mobile, social, and analytics apps.c

    • More evidence that the Linux wars have moved to OpenStack

      It’s sort of funny that the press release announcing the new Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS release seems as focused on Ubuntu OpenStack as on Linux per se. It’s studded with partner testimonials from Cisco, Mellanox, NTT Software, Brocade lauding Ubuntu OpenStack. But then again, that makes sense given that the vendor battlefield has shifted from core operating system to core cloud infrastructure, where Canonical OpenStack has gained traction with Hewlett Packard and other big cloud providers.

  • Education

    • Open source library system Evergreen rewards the community

      As a systems librarian at an academic institution, I am a conduit between those who want to access the resources our library offers and my colleagues who describe the resources on behalf of researchers. I direct our limited development resources so that our systems can best meet the needs of all of our users. In their paper, Schwarz and Takhteyev claim that software freedom makes “it possible for the modifications to be done by those actors who have the best information about their value [and] are best equipped to carry them out.”

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • wdiff 1.2.2 released

      Over a year after ist predecessor, this release updates the build system. One may hope that this will help building wdiff on more recent architectures.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Google Releases An AutoFDO Converter For Perf In LLVM

      AutoFDO is short for the Automatic Feedback Directed Optimizer that uses the Linux kernel’s perf to collect sample profiles and to then pass that translated profile data back into the compiler so it’s able to better optimize code generation of the targeted perf’ed binary to yield better performance. AutoFDO was originally written for GCC and can be found via gcc.gnu.org.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Marijuana Vending Machine Unveiled In Colorado

      An automated pot-selling machine was unveiled at an event held at an Avon, Colo., restaurant Saturday, promising a potential new era of selling marijuana and pot-infused snacks from vending machines directly to customers.

      Its creators say the machine, called the ZaZZZ, uses biometrics to verify a customer’s age. The machine is climate-controlled to keep its product fresh.

  • Security

    • Forward Secrecy Encryption for Apache

      The basic need to encrypt digital communication seems to be becoming common sense lately. It probably results from increased public awareness about the number of parties involved in providing the systems required (ISPs, backbone providers, carriers, sysadmins) and the number of parties these days taking an interest in digital communications and activities (advertisers, criminals, state authorities, voyeurs, …). How much to encrypt and to what extend seems to be harder to grasp though.

    • TrueCrypt audit finds “no evidence of backdoors” or malicious code

      Since September 2013, a handful of cryptographers have been discussing new problems and alternatives to the popular security application. By February 2014, the Open Crypto Audit Project—a new organization based in North Carolina that seeks formal 501(c)3 non-profit status—raised around $80,000 towards this goal on various online fundraising sites.

      “[The results] don’t panic me,” Matthew Green, a Johns Hopkins cryptography professor who has been one of the people leading this effort, told Ars. “I think the code quality is not as high as it should be, but on the other hand, nothing terrible is in there, so that’s reassuring”

    • Would you be on Project Insight kill list from ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’?

      There were decent indicators of the flick’s themes after directors Joe and Anthony Russo were interviewed by the Washington Post. When asked if they knew how timely the movie’s theme would be, Anthony Russo replied:

      The Edward Snowden thing did happen while we were shooting, but that was sort of the tip of the iceberg. All the stuff was in the ether before that. I remember right before we started our first pass on the script with the writers that’s when the New York Times article broke about the “kill list.” And it was just, wow, a Democratic president of the United States sits down with his advisers on a Tuesday morning and goes through a “kill list” and decides who they’re going to kill; then they strike that person with drones, and sometimes they kill their family, too. It’s just like, “Whoa, that’s the good guy in this world.” That was very much a very jumping off point for the moral complexity about where we are, with what the relationship between security and freedom is, where the line is drawn.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Press once again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism

      If the person accused of the shootings at Jewish facilities is guilty, he was certainly trying to intimidate a civilian population! And the Nevada cattle grazing extremists, if their behavior is being accurately described in the press, are trying to affect the conduct of government with threatened violence.

    • Media, education the next victims in the U.S.-Russian political face-off

      The U.S.-Russia relationship is facing another setback as Russia has turned off the Voice of America and the American Councils, a U.S. education NGO, has been ordered to suspend its activity in Russia.

    • I’m confused, can anyone help me?

      I’m confused. A few weeks ago we were told in the West that people occupying government buildings in Ukraine was a very good thing. These people, we were told by our political leaders and elite media commentators, were ‘pro-democracy protestors’.

    • Russia wants explanation of report CIA chief visited Kiev

      Moscow: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said Moscow would like Washington to explain reports in the Russian media that CIA director John Brennan visited the Ukrainian capital at the weekend.

    • U.S. Sent CIA Director as Ambassador to Tehran After CIA Overthrew Iran’s Democratic Government

      The decision of the Obama administration and the resolution passed by Congress barring entry to Iran’s designated ambassador to the United Nations has angered Tehran and provoked demonstrations in Iran. Hamid Aboutalebi has served as ambassador to several European countries. He is accused by Washington politicians of having participated in the taking of US diplomats hostage in 1979-81. Aboutalebi says that he was not among the militants who took the hostages, but rather later on agreed to serve as a translator for the group.

      The hostage-taking in revolutionary Iran is a deeply distasteful episode that contravened international law as well as Shiite Islamic law (which recognizes the immunity of diplomats). I have friends among the surviving diplomats, and don’t forgive the criminals who terrorized them.

    • White House confirms CIA director visited Ukraine over weekend

      Previously, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich accused Brennan of ordering a crackdown on pro-Russian activists in the east of the country.

    • Vilifying Putin’s Russia

      The media coverage of Russian integration with Crimea has been shameful, irresponsible and misleading.

    • Associated Press: Yanukovych puts blame on CIA

      Ukraine’s ousted president has accused the CIA of being behind the new Ukrainian government’s decision to deploy armed forces to quash an increasingly brazen pro-Russian insurgency. Speaking late Sunday on Russian state television, Viktor Yanukovych claimed that CIA director John Brennan had met with Ukraine’s new leadership and “in fact sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed.”

    • CIA director in Ukraine as Washington steps up threats against Russia
    • ANALYSIS: US sent CIA to Ukraine to initiate protest suppression campaign

      CIA Director John Brennan was sent to Ukraine over the weekend to launch a military suppression of pro-federalization protests in the southeastern part of the country, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

      “The CIA director was sent to Kiev to launch a military suppression [campaign] in eastern and southern Ukraine, former Russian territories for the most part that were foolishly attached to Ukraine in the early years of Soviet rule,” Roberts said.

    • Ukraine Started Armed Suppression Operation After CIA ‘Go-Ahead’
    • Washington Drives The World To War. CIA Intervention in Eastern Ukraine

      Washington’s plan to grab Ukraine overlooked that the Russian and Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine were not likely to go along with their insertion into the EU and NATO while submitting to the persecution of Russian speaking peoples. Washington has lost Crimea, from which Washington intended to eject Russia from its Black Sea naval base. Instead of admitting that its plan for grabbing Ukraine has gone amiss, Washington is unable to admit a mistake and, therefore, is pushing the crisis to more dangerous levels.

    • US considers offering military help to Ukraine – Kerry advisor

      An advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the United States may decide to send arms to eastern Ukraine as tensions continue to worsen there between pro-Russian protesters and supporters of the country’s interim government.

      Reuters reported on Monday that US State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon — a senior diplomat and member of Sec. Kerry’s inner circle — said the possibility of providing arms to Ukrainian forces is indeed currently on the table.

    • White House confirms CIA director’s trip to Kiev
    • CIA Involvement in Repressive Ukraine Operation Denounced
    • CIA chief visits Kiev as Ukraine threatens force against protests
    • What’s the Matter with John Kerry?

      After all, Kerry personally experienced the horrors of a war fought on false pretenses as a young Navy officer patrolling the rivers of South Vietnam. After winning the Silver Star, he returned home from the war and spoke eloquently against it, making his first significant mark as a public figure.

    • Drone Pilots Say the CIA Has the Air Force Doing Its Dirty Work

      That’s according to multiple former drone pilots featured in a new Norwegian documentary, aptly titled Drone, which cites both on- and off-the-record interviews with one-time operators of the Pentagon’s Predator and Reaper drone. In the film, the whistleblowers allege that regular Air Force pilots, not the CIA proper, are doing the heavy lifting in the CIA’s shadow wars over Pakistan.

    • Aussies killed in US drone strike in Yemen

      TWO Australian citizens have been killed in a US airstrike in Yemen in what is the first known example of Australian extremists dying as a result of Washington’s highly controversial use of predator drones.

    • Death From Above: How American Drone Strikes Are Devastating Yemen

      On the ground in a country where unmanned missile attacks are a terrifyingly regular occurrence

    • Feds can hide rationale for killing U.S. citizen, judge rules

      A Bay Area federal judge says the Obama administration can keep secret a memo spelling out the legal rationale for a 2011 drone attack in Yemen that killed a U.S. citizen and alleged terrorist mastermind.

    • US Air Force flew killer drone missions in Pakistan: Report

      The film identifies the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron as the unit which has been conducting CIA-led strikes in the tribal areas. They operate from a secure compound in a corner of Creech air force base, 45 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert.

    • CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

      A regular US air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike programme in Pakistan, according to a new documentary to be released on Tuesday.

    • US airstrike kills woman, two children in E. Afghanistan

      Local Afghan officials say at least three civilians– including a woman and two children — have been killed in a US-led airstrike in the country’s troubled east.

    • Pay your Taxes, Go to Gitmo?

      Title 18′s Article 2339B further states that: “whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

      Any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian” — that stands as a perfectly legitimate definition of terrorism. President Barack Obama offered an equally straightforward definition of terrorism on the eve of the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings when he stated: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”

      My concern is that my government has a long and abiding history of engaging in acts that clearly meet all-of-the-above definitions of terrorism.

    • Ind. group protests use of military drones

      Fort Wayne for Peace organized an event at Headwaters Park Sunday afternoon focused on the use of military drones in the Middle East.

      Dozens of people of all ages showed up to the “Fly Kites, Not Drones” event in an effort to raise awareness towards U.S. foreign policy practices as well as fly kites with a message. Kite flying is a popular tradition in Afghanistan, but the pastime was banned during the Taliban reign.

    • Fort Wayne For Peace Protest Use Of Drones

      Fort Wayne for Peace, as part of April Days of Action Against Drones, hosted an event Sunday afternoon at Headwaters Park, called, “Fly Kites, Not Drones.”

    • Military drones cause unnecessary casualties

      Something seems all-around perverse to me when innocent people are killed. I understand that accidents happen and innocent people die for no apparent reason sometimes, especially in war, yet when planned attacks are carried out to eradicate whole families due to the suspicion that they might be harboring a terrorist, something is downright wrong. It is absolutely reprehensible that families are being wiped out with a single missile—a missile whose total cost to build and deploy is more than what that family has or will ever earn in their entire lifetime. Can you seriously see soldiers earning medals for valor, courage, and honor for conducting such video game-like warfare? There is no honor in drone warfare.

    • On Dirty Wars, NSA Spying, and Independent Media: A Conversation with Jeremy Scahill
    • The Obama Administration Is Setting a Dangerous Precedent about Due Process

      But in reaching that conclusion, the court also found it “plausible” that Awlaki’s Fifth Amendment due-process rights were violated. Ultimately, the judge decided, there was no remedy available, so the lawsuit was dismissed. But this sets a dangerous precedent for the targeted-killing program. And the problem began with the Obama administration itself – several key members of which are defendants in this case — which argued several years ago that the determination to target Awlaki complied with due process.

    • CIA, MI6 and Turkey’s rogue game in Syria: New claims say Ankara worked with the US and Britain to smuggle Gaddafi’s guns to rebel groups

      The US’s Secretary of State John Kerry and its UN ambassador, Samantha Power have been pushing for more assistance to be given to the Syrian rebels.

    • U.S. Efforts to Arm Jihadis in Syria: The Scandal Behind the Benghazi Undercover CIA Facility

      In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up.

    • Rebel videos show first US-made rockets in Syria

      Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be US anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country’s civil war.

      They would signal a further internationalisation of the conflict, with new rockets suspected from Russia and drones from Iran also spotted in the forces of President Bashar Al Assad. None of that equipment, however, is seen as enough to turn the tide of battle in a now broadly stalemated war, with Al Assad dominant in Syria’s central cities and along the Mediterranean coast and the rebels in the interior north and east.

    • Washington Fights Fire With Fire in Libya: How Not to End Violence in a War-Torn Land

      Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? And if not, are they planning to?

    • Fury at school ‘anti-terror’ probe

      The Education Secretary announced that Peter Clarke, who served as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, is to become education commissioner, with responsibility to investigate the allegations.

    • Two Nations, Related by Fear

      Since the “war on terror” began, various policies have been adopted on both sides of the Atlantic that have played on, or exacerbated, our fear of the “Islamic extremist.” Perhaps none has been more pernicious than the recent British practice of stripping citizenship from dozens of people who were considered possible terrorism suspects, as soon as they traveled abroad — which then made it less politically complicated for American agents to hunt them down as dangers.

    • Torture is Mainstream Now

      Fifteen years ago, it was possible to pretend the U.S. government opposed torture. Then it became widely known that the government tortured. And it was believed (with whatever accuracy) that officials had tried to keep the torturing secret. Next it became clear that nobody would be punished, that, in fact, top officials responsible for torture would be permitted to openly defend what they had done as good and noble.

    • More leaked from CIA torture report
    • Comment of the day: CIA torturers are the moral equivalent of the North Vietnamese jailkeepers who tortured American pilots
    • Senators Urge Partial Declassification of CIA Torture Report, Keep Vast Majority Secret

      It’s hard for me to pin down just when “admitting wrongdoing and learning from mistakes” was a “practice” in American government, but I digress. Ever since the completion of this report, its authors in the Senate intelligence committee have urged its release. But after Feinstein went to the Senate floor last month to accuse the CIA of illegally trying to stonewall the investigation and block its release, Feinstein seemed to have changed her mind. Now the demand is not to have all 6,300+ pages released to the public, but to have approximately 500 pages of an executive summary submitted for declassification review.

    • CIA may have enlisted member of defense team at Guantanamo

      A military tribunal trail was thrown into confusion when it was revealed that a member of a defense team may have had a contract with the CIA.

    • CIA “black site” outed in British press reports

      A human rights group is demanding the United Kingdom to “come clean” over allegations that it gave permission for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to run a “black site” detention facility on British soil.

    • Pressure mounts on UK over CIA’s ‘black site’ jail in Indian Ocean

      A human rights group is urging Britain’s Foreign office to “come clean” over claims that a British-administered island in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, was used as a secret “black site” detention center by the CIA.

    • Public should see the report on shameful CIA abuses

      President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. President Franklin Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Is the WikiLeaks model being threatened by subsumption into the culture industry?

      The appropriation of culture into the so-called culture industry – the mass production of cultural products – brought forth the homogenization of human expression, and a new control over human knowledge, a topic explored by Adorno and Horkheimer, of enlightenment as the deception of the masses. “The step from the telephone to the radio,” they write “has clearly distinguished the roles. The former still allowed the subscriber to play the role of subject, and was liberal. The latter is democratic: it turns all participants into listeners and authoritatively subjects them to broadcast programs which are all exactly the same” (pp.121, 122). The television was the continuation and perfection of the same idea, and at the time, no mention was made “of the fact that the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest” (p. 121). The mass deception is achieved by the control and vetting of knowledge within this new technological context of enlightenment, and so it becomes an ideological machine of tremendous power. “Tragedy is reduced to the threat to destroy anyone who does not cooperate, whereas its paradoxical significance once lay in a hopeless resistance to mythic destiny. Tragic fate becomes just punishment, which is what bourgeois aesthetics always tried to turn it into. The morality of mass culture is the cheap form of yesterday’s children’s books” (p. 152) Then came the Internet, and from it was constructed a model of industrial culture as well as an appropriation of the knowledge of the Internet using individuals; mass surveillance. It is not a coincidence that the motto of the Information Awareness Office was also “scientia est potentia” – knowledge is power. Then came WikiLeaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Mega-polluter posts net profit of $765 million

      Poisons from the chimneys kill nature in the borderland to Norway, but Russia’s Norilsk-Nickel is a river of cash flow for its owners.

    • If you were watching “Game of Thrones” last night, you missed Neil Tyson’s solution to global warming

      Plants, after all, are the reigning global masters of clean energy. They use 100-percent solar power: The chloroplast, the so-called “powerhouse” of a plant cell, is a “3-billion-year-old solar energy collector” and a “submicroscopic solar battery,” as Tyson put it. Basically, chloroplasts use sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to store energy in sugars, and give off oxygen as a byproduct. And without this fundamental green energy technology, life on this planet as we know it wouldn’t exist.

    • In Small Canadian Town Democracy Wins, Tar Sands Loses

      In a vote cheered as a victory for democracy, one community in British Columbia has given a flat rejection to a proposed tar sands pipeline.

      Over 58 percent of voters who headed to the polls in the North Coast municipality of Kitimat on Saturday said “no” to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.

    • Canadian Corporation Plans Tar Sands Strip Mining in Trinidad and Tobago

      ‘Mining tar sand will destroy Govt’ read the headline in April of 2012. The statement was made to Trinidad and Tobago’s Express newspaper by well-known environmental campaigner Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh to the news that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had made statements about working with Canada’s Harper Government to start development of tar sands for oil in Trinidad’s southwest peninsula. If anyone could make such a bold statement stick in Trinidad and Tobago, it would be Kublalsingh, a veteran of multiple struggles against what he and community members believe to be ill-advised industrial projects.

  • Finance

    • EU “has the power” to put in place a universal basic income

      From Martin Luther King to Erich Fromm, the universal – or unconditional – basic income (UBI) has always had its supporters. The idea is not new. But the economic crisis has brought it back to the forefront “as a solution” to the most pressing issues facing the EU today.

    • Privacy

      • Encrypting Your Cat Photos

        The truth is, I really don’t have anything on my hard drive that I would be upset over someone seeing. I have some cat photos. I have a few text files with ideas for future books and/or short stories, and a couple half-written starts to NaNoWriMo novels. It would be easy to say that there’s no point encrypting my hard drive, because I have nothing to hide. The problem is, we wrongly correlate a “desire for privacy” with “having something to hide”. I think where I live, in America, we’ve taken our rights to privacy for granted. Rather than the traditional “he must be hiding porn or bombs”, think about something a little more mundane.

      • Google outlines email scanning practices

        Google has updated its terms of service, informing users that their emails are scanned by software to deliver targeted advertising.

        The new terms explicitly state that “automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection”.

      • Google Hints it May Begin Favoring Encrypted Sites in Searches

        The search giant is considering giving a boost to encrypted sites in its results, one of its top engineers has hinted. The move is to encourage better security across the web in the wake of the Heartbleed bug causing widespread concern among Netizens

      • There’ll be no escape from the FBI’s new facial recognition system

        If you thought that the NSA wanted too much personal information, just wait a few months. The EFF is reporting that the FBI’s new facial recognition database, containing data for almost a third of the US population, will be ready to launch this summer. Codenamed NGI, the system combines the bureau’s 100 million-strong fingerprint database with palm prints, iris scans and mugshots. Naturally, this has alarmed privacy advocates, since it’s not just felons whose images are added, but anyone who has supplied a photo ID for a government job or background check. According to the EFF’s documents, the system will be capable of adding 55,000 images per day, and could have the facial data for anything up to 52 million people by next year. Let’s just hope that no-one tells the Feds about Facebook, or we’re all in serious trouble.

      • British spy agency’s hometown gets tagged with Banksy-style mural

        GCHQ: “This is the first time we have ever been asked to comment on art.”

      • Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations
      • The Guardian takes a Pulitzer prize, Britain’s first, for Snowden NSA story

        The Guardian is the first British paper to win one of America’s famed Pulitzer prizes, albeit for its American edition as papers outside the US technically can’t win.

      • Pakistan mulls cyber security bill to keep NSA at bay

        Pakistan’s Upper House this week began debating a new bill seeking to establish a National Cyber Security Council, an agency the nation feels is needed in the wake of Edward Snowden’s myriad revelations about NSA surveillance.

      • Dropbox users are angry that NSA-loving Condoleezza Rice has been appointed to its board

        The former US secretary of state, who supported the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping programme, is seen as a terrible choice to sit on the board of the cloud storage company.

      • Laura Poitras wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize for NSA coverage

        Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (pictured) is among the team of reporters to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism.

      • Greenwald, Poitras, Gellman, MacAskill: key in NSA coverage
      • AT&T collaborating with NSA disappointing: Kurt Opsahl

        US-based civil society organisation Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took US telecom AT&T to court for willingly sharing material with the NSA to help its surveillance regime. The case forced the Bush administration to pass a law to give retroactive protection to the telecom companies for cooperating with the NSA.

      • Former NSA head to speak at Norwich commencement
      • Controversial Former NSA Director To Speak At Norwich Commencement
      • Goofing on the NSA

        Should private citizens be permitted to make fun of an agency of the federal government? You bet they should! But when the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security found themselves the butts of such humor, they tried to shut down the jokester and those selling his merchandise.

      • What the Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn’t Do

        Ten months after Edward Snowden’s first disclosures, three main legislative proposals have emerged for surveillance reform: one from President Obama, one from the House Intelligence Committee, and one proposal favored by civil libertarians.

    • Civil Rights

      • Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave

        A man facing deportation from Sweden has been granted a temporary reprieve after fellow passengers aboard his flight to Iran prevented it from taking off by refusing to fasten their seat belts.

        A Kurd fearing persecution in his home country of Iran, Ghader Ghalamere fled the country years ago and now has two young children with his wife Fatemeh, a Swedish resident.

        As a result he qualifies for a residence permit himself – yet because of a quirk in immigration laws he is required to apply for it from outside Sweden.

    • DRM

      • Square Enix: DRM Boosts Profits and It’s Here to Stay

        One of the world’s largest games companies says that DRM is a necessary part of doing business and isn’t going away anytime soon. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Square Enix says that while it understands that DRM shouldn’t interfere with gaming and there is currently no perfect solution, profit dictates that the controversial practice remains.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Clinical trials and tribulations: a role for Europe

        One instance of this conflict is the pharma companies’ vice-like grip, via patents, on the production of newly-developed drugs. This can put heavy financial pressure on health services, particularly in developing countries. Another conflict, which is the focus of this article, involves the publication of clinical trial data. Clinical trials are carried out on a massive scale as part of the process of bringing a new drug onto the market: the trials are meant to determine whether the drug is effective and safe, and whether patients would benefit from being prescribed it.

Apple and Microsoft Actively Lobbying Against Patent Reform in the US

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple and Microsoft are reportedly intervening/interfering with US law in order to ensure that the law is Free/libre software-hostile

HALF A DECADE after the Bilski case, where SCOTUS helped legitimise software patents by not striking them out, SCOTUS gets another chance to kill software patents in their country of origin.

The SFLC wrote about its role a few days ago, noting: “In each Supreme Court brief that SFLC has filed over the years we have included a little note on the first page declaring that the brief was made using only free software. This point was particularly important in our most recent brief, for a case named Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank, which was argued in front of the court last week. Our use of free software was particularly important this time because we argue in our brief that free software has been responsible for the major software innovations of the modern era. In partial support of that claim I want to show you our document creation process and tell you about the free software we use to take text from an email and turn it into a camera-ready Supreme Court brief, then a website, then an eBook.”

Watch how Microsoft and Apple work to eliminate the possibility that software patents or even patent trolls will be eliminated. As TechDirt put it some days ago: “Back in December, we noted that the House Judiciary Committee had approved an unfortunately watered-down, anti-patent troll bill. It was better than nothing, but we hoped that the Senate would approve a much stronger version. For a while it seemed like that was likely to happen, but… those who abuse patents are pretty damn powerful. Even those who have been hit by patent trolls in the past, like Apple and Microsoft, have decided to join forces in lobbying against meaningful patent reform. They’ve been pushing to water down the Senate’s bill, taking out nearly everything that would make the bill useful — and it appears that they’re succeeding.”

Lawsuit by Microsoft Shareholder Targets Fine for Crimes Rather Than the Crimes Themselves

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Courtroom, Microsoft at 10:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A new lawsuit by a Microsoft shareholder shows everything that’s wrong with today’s model of accountability, where those who are responsible for crimes are accused of not avoiding fines rather than committing the crimes

THE MENTALITY OF greedy investors, and more so investors who put their money in a criminal enterprise, is worth noting. Microsoft has a long history of crime and the investors occasionally sue not because the act of committing crime is bad but because Microsoft fails to dodge the fines (i.e. there is conviction for the crimes).

Here we have a new example of an investor in a criminal company complaining about the wrong thing. To quote the Indian press: “The lawsuit, brought by shareholder Kim Barovic in federal court in Seattle on Friday, charges that directors and executives, including founder Bill Gates and former chief executive officer Steve Ballmer, failed to manage the company properly and that the board’s investigation was insufficient into how the miscue occurred.”

The problem is not that they “failed to manage the company properly”; as we saw in court documents, the crimes go all the way to the top and include instructions from Bill Gates, who chose to break competition laws. This “Supreme Villain” is now spending his wealth on PR (distracting from his crimes), in order to gain yet more wealth while paying virtually nothing in tax.

Here is a new article about protests against Bill Gates profiteering from private prisons.

Criminals rarely change their spots, they just change how the public perceives them. Gates was personally responsible for many of Microsoft’s crimes (and we have the documents to prove it), but nowadays he is busy bribing much of the press and even blogs in order to paint a different picture while he keeps hoarding a lot more money (at everyone else’s expense). Historically there were people like Gates who used the same tactics to alter public opinion. What’s truly shameful is that the biggest (more expensive) crimes still lead to no jail sentence, especially when the government is funded and run by corporations.

Public Institutions Must Dump PRISM-Associated Software

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 9:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kick the NSA

Image by Will Hill

Summary: Another reminder that taxpayers-subsidised services should refuse, as a matter of principle, to pay anything for — let alone deploy — proprietary software with back doors

A FEW days ago we spoke about those who choose PRISM at taxpayers' expense, essentially choosing spyware at the expense of taxpayers who will suffer from it. Glyn Moody has published a good article about how it’s done to the British public [1], where the government pays Microsoft a lot of money because Microsoft’s own software is very insecure. This is a problem not just here in the UK.

Mr. Pogson links to IDG reports that say US “Tax collector has 58,000 PCs still running the aged XP; will spend $30M to upgrade to Windows 7″ (not even immediately). There is more about this in the British press [2] and it turns out not to be the exception.

What’s worth noting, however, is that NSA works with Microsoft, a US-based company, so the above behaviour is even more irresponsible when done outside the US. There is an interesting new petition at Avaaz titled “Computers in the post-Snowden era: choose before paying!”

To quote: “When you buy a computer, a telephone, a tablet-pc, etc., you make your choice first, and then you pay. But meanwhile, quite often you first pay the licence of an operating system (Microsoft Windows, MacOS, etc) which you then choose to use or to replace with another one. As a result, the vast majority of us all use the operating system that mainly beneficiates from this forced sale. Our addiction is so high that even those actors that should be neutral in principle help this situation continue: state, administration, school, city administration, etc. We are thus technologically very dependent, hence vulnerable. Thanks to Edward Snowden, it is now established that intelligence agencies modify hardware (computers, routers, firewalls, etc) and software (Microsoft Windows, probably all Apple operating systems, probably one GNU-Linux distribution, etc) to massively listen to communications and illegally penetrate into computers.”

It is time to publicly chastise government institutions — more so than private businesses which are only accountable to themselves and the law — over use of spyware such as Microsoft Windows.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Windows XP: End of an Era, End of an Error

    This is little more than polite blackmail: if you don’t upgrade, your systems will become infected, you will lose data, and your reputation may well be ruined as a result. The stakes are incredibly high: the Microsoft-sponsored study I wrote about last week puts the global cost of flaws in Microsoft’s software at around $500 billion for 2014 alone.

    And yet despite the astonishing magnitude of the threat, laid out by Microsoft itself again and again, in various ways, people still stick with Windows XP. Really, there is no greater condemnation of Windows XP’s successors than the fact that huge swathes of Microsoft’s user base simply don’t want to upgrade.

    Shockingly, that applies to the UK government, too. Of course, they at least realise that they can’t simply carry on using Windows XP without at least nominal protection, but the price they pay for their stubborn refusal to move off XP is high…

  2. US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support

    The April 15 deadline for Americans to pay their federal income taxes is fast approaching, but the US Internal Revenue Service has already missed an important deadline of its own – namely, Microsoft’s end-of-support date for Windows XP.

  3. Windows XP Alive & Well in ICS/SCADA Networks

    End-of-life for XP support not raising many red flags in critical infrastructure environments, where patching is the exception.

GNU/Linux News: The Opportunities Amid XP EOL

Posted in News Roundup at 9:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Gets Its Money’s Worth From Xamarin: PlayStation 4 Now Polluted by Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Mono at 4:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Trojan horse of Microsoft, Xamarin, is pushing .NET into Microsoft’s console competitor

EARLIER this month we learned about Xamarin signing deals with Microsoft after receiving funds from the firm of ‘former’ Microsoft executives. Those two entities not only collaborate on code inside Mono but they also collaborate on many other things, including, based on Phoronix, infecting the PlayStation 4 like they tried to infect Android for years. “For those wanting to work on console games in C#, Mono’s PlayStation 4 support work appears to be progressing well,” Phoronix explains, citing Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza, who has more to say.

Never think that people who work for Microsoft will do anything other than promote Microsoft’s agenda. The firm Black Duck, created by a Microsoft manager (and now enjoying a special partnership with Microsoft), is still pretending to be a spokesperson for FOSS. How gross is that?

After Brendan Eich Comes Chris Beard

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brendan Eich
Photo by Darcy Padilla

Summary: Having removed Brendan Eich using bullying and blackmail tactics, his foes inside Mozilla achieved too little as we have yet another man (coming from inside Mozilla) acting as CEO

WE wrote a critical post immediately upon Eich's appointment, but it dealt with purely technical matters. Ever since then there has been no real discussion of Eich’s technical abilities and achievements (he is [cref very pro-Free software]. It has been just muck-raking, which was amplified by Microsoft's friends.

We have gathered some articles that help explain how the ousting was done [1], essentially trying to work around laws [2] by inducing resignation. Friends of mine have explained where bigotry really was [3] and it is clear that by stepping down Eich only let the bigots win [4], leaving the role to Chris Beard for now [5] (he might as well stay in this position because he is also good). Boycott are still being used [5], showing that this whole episode [6] is achieving nothing good (if lessons are to be learned [7]). Those from within Mozilla who started it all have essentially done huge damage to Mozilla, which is trying to move on [8,9] or have people speak about something technical and newsworthy.

As a vocal person (my Diaspora feed is a lot more vocal than Techrights), I was deeply disgusted to see how a personal opinion got used, opportunistically perhaps, to harm Eich’s career. I may not agree with his position, but I would go very far to defend the right to free speech. People inside Mozilla have just done a lot to harm free speech by promoting self-censorship. That’s basically making Mozilla look less like a freedom proponent. Perhaps those who are jealous of Chris Beard (inside Mozilla) can start going through the past decade’s activities and try hard to find something in his personal life with which to blackmail the organisation until he resigns. One reputable source said that opposition to Eich’s appointment was more to do with the company not hiring from the outside for CEO. Well, Beard — like Eich — is coming from inside Mozilla.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Brendan Eich’s ouster shows lynch mob at work

    Two of the communities that lay claim to being among the most tolerant and inclusive have shown intolerance of a very high order, acting like a lynch mob to ensure that a top technologist was forced to leave his job as chief executive of a well-known software group.

  2. Termination of Mozilla CEO Likely Violated California Law

    What these commentators seem to have overlooked, however, is that the California Labor Code has already resolved this debate. Under California law it is blatantly illegal to fire an employee because he has donated money to a political campaign.

  3. Brendan Eich, the bigots, and Software Freedom

    By now you may be wondering where I’m going with this. The point I feel very few people made in the controversy surrouding Brendan Eich is that Free Software does not care who you are voting for as an individual or even as an organization. What matters is respecting the license the software you are studying, using, modifyng and distributing is complied with, and to a broader extent, that the development community you are contributing to -if that is the case- is not deprived from its freedom. Now let’s take a few real, yet general cases of Free Software usage around the globe.

  4. Mozilla only made things worse by letting CEO Brandon Eich go
  5. Mozilla Names Former CMO Beard as Interim CEO

    After the short-lived tenure of Brendan Eich, a new interim CEO takes the helm at the open-source browser vendor—Greylock Partners’ Chris Beard.

  6. Caution Warranted on a Mozilla Boycott

    Regardless of how you feel about Eich’s departure and the reasons thereof, there is also a battle going on against unwanted online government, corporate, and other surveillance activities (much of which Edward Snowden brought to light). Mozilla is helping in this fight. Note that some calling for a Mozilla boycott are also the same ones who view Snowden as a traitor.

  7. Lessons Learned from Mozilla’s Edgy Eich Episode
  8. Brendan Eich’s Departure Will Mar Mozilla but Not Stop Its Innovation

    Brendan Eich’s resignation soon after being named Mozilla CEO will scar the company, but it won’t likely halt its major tech initiatives.

  9. North America Mozilla Reps Meetup

    This weekend, North America Mozilla Reps gathered in the not-so-sunny Portland, Oregon. We worked from the Portland Office during the weekend, where we collaborated on plans for North America for the next six month period. We also tackled a number of topics from websites and refined our priority cities which will help us be more successful in moving forward in our mission to grow contributors in North America.

Healthcare News: Free Software in Health, Humanitarian Causes

Posted in News Roundup at 3:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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