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11.16.14

Links 16/11/2014: Xfdesktop 4.10.3, GNU Hello 2.10

Posted in News Roundup at 5:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Japan: Train fans experience super-fast maglev speed

      One hundred passengers whizzed along a 42.8km (27 mile) route between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki, reaching speeds of up to 500km/h (311mph), The Asahi Shimbun website reports. The Central Japan Railway Company is running eight days of testing for the experimental maglev Shinkansen train on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. In total, 2,400 people will take part in the tests after winning tickets in a raffle. They represent a lucky minority – there had been more than 100 times that number of applications, the report says. “I applied for my nephew who is a big railway fan, but now I am more excited than he is,” one passenger, who was travelling with his parents and two young nephews, tells the website.

    • Stunning fossil shows pregnant mare and fetus

      Forty-seven million years ago, a pregnant mare and its unborn foal lost their lives, perhaps chased into a lake, where they drowned. Where they died, however, was a stroke of luck for 21st century paleontologists. Their fossilized remains were discovered in the Messel Pit, a former coal and oil shale mine near Frankfurt, Germany, that is famous for its exquisitely preserved fossils. The mare and her fetus are now giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse into the anatomy and reproduction of this early horse species, Eurohippus messelensis. Like other early horses, the mare was small, only about the size of a fox terrier, says Jens Franzen, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, who presented the prepared fossil for the first time yesterday at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting here.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dutch authorities identify highly contagious bird flu strain

      Dutch authorities said on Sunday they had found a highly contagious strain of bird flu at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands and set about destroying 150,000 chickens.

      The strain, H5N8, has never been detected in humans, but an outbreak in South Korea meant millions of farm birds had to be slaughtered to contain the outbreak. Cases have also been reported in China and Japan, although the strain was first reported in Europe, on a German farm, in early November.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Massachusetts School Installs Military-Style Shooter-Detection System

      A technology adapted from a U.S. military “smoke alarm for gunfire” was installed recently in a Massachusetts school, a protective measure implemented weeks after a deadly high school shooting in Washington State.

    • Selling Fear: The First US School Installs A Shooting Detection System

      Congratulations, America. A defense contractor tried to sell you on the idea that our schools are war zones and you bit like a musky on a minnow. The manufacturer’s website, along with most of the accompanying news articles, are filled with statistics all about how school and mass shootings are on the rise. Obviously this serves as evidence that such shooter detection systems are needed. That way, the $100k per school systems can alert authorities when these increasingly common shootings occur. The most common figure you’ll hear from these contractors and in the news is the same one authorities used in buying this detection system: there have been 88 school shootings in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. The claim comes from Everytown.org, an organization dedicated to gun control and safety. And if that statistic sounds shocking to you, there’s a very good reason for that: it’s complete bullshit.

    • Obama administration considering ramping up CIA’s role in training Syria rebel fighters: report

      The CIA currently vets and trains about 400 fighters a month, the same number expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches capacity by late next year, The Post reported.

    • Present at the creation: ‘America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East’

      The period in question is the end of World War II until the Kennedy administration was, to say the least, formative and what happened then is clearly relevant to the circumstances in which the United States finds itself now.

      Current tensions foreshadowed in the 1950’s include the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio, unrest in cornerstone Egypt, monarchic rule in Saudi Arabia, and perhaps most important of all, the role of Persian, Shiite Muslim Iran in the region.

    • Could relationship between CIA, military be at risk?

      He said the CIA and military started working together after 9/11. Before that, there was little partnership between the two. Because of budget cuts, both are at risk of losing the progress they have made, said Oakley (pictured), who is working on his doctorate in security studies from Kansas State University.

    • The CIA Won the Midterms

      Incoming intel committee chair Richard Burr will end any hope of holding out of control spy agencies accountable.

    • Ex-US officials criticise Obama ‘micromanagement’

      He compared the Obama administration to that of Lyndon Johnson, who personally chose military targets in the Vietnam war. “It was the micromanagement that drove me crazy,” Gates said. The former defence chief said that Obama’s administration stands in contrast to both Bush administrations, where once a decision was made, there was no micromanagement.

    • Germany regrets diplomat’s expulsion from Moscow

      A German diplomat working in Moscow has been expelled, a German government official said, shortly after a Russian diplomat working in Bonn was expelled amid media reports he was a spy.

      “We regret this unjustified action and expressed that to the Russian government,” a German official said in a statement late on Saturday after Der Spiegel magazine reported the German was expelled in retaliation for the Russian’s explusion.

    • Former navy Seal says public has right to know how he killed Osama bin Laden

      After helicoptering to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, assaulting the house and killing three men and a woman, some of the Seals reached the third floor, where a CIA analyst had told O’Neill that Bin Laden would be. O’Neill followed an unnamed point man into Bin Laden’s bedroom, he told the AP, and the point man tackled two women, believing they had a bomb, in what O’Neill calls an incredibly selfless act.

    • Contras and drugs, three decades later

      …Reagan administration had illegally aided a stateless army known as the Contras in Central America.

    • Historic photos of dead Che Guevara resurface in Spain

      Hunted by the CIA, he was captured by the military in Bolivia on October 8, 1967, and executed the following day.

    • Looming US Ground Wars in Iraq and Syria

      Thirteen years post-9/11, out-of-control violence replaced regional stability. Prospects ahead look worse, not better.

    • THE WORLD GETS THE WARS AMERICANS DESERVE

      But the primary thing the U.S. government does is wage wars, and it wages them against other people who had no say in the matter. Of course I don’t want wars waged against Americans either, but the general impression one gets from traveling around and speaking and answering questions at public events in the United States is not so much that people are indifferent to the destruction of the globe as long as they don’t miss their favorite television show, as that people are unclear on what destruction means and can’t identify a globe when it’s placed in a lineup with six watermelons.

    • Obama Has No Good Options for Ending the War in Syria

      The US has also faced criticism from Turkey and Gulf states because of its focus on fighting Islamist militias rather than Assad.

    • What Dick Cheney’s lies on 9/11 has cost the US and impacted the world

      In a documentary The World According to Dick Cheney,” Dick Cheney then Vice-President of the USA admits that it was he and not President Bush who ordered the shooting down of the plane that fell into a field in Pennsylvania in September 2001. He also admits that he falsely linked Iraq with 9/11 and influenced Justice Department to legalize torture. He admits too that he used 9/11 to enable spying on Americans, start the Afghan and Iraq war and the ‘war on terror’ which were all planned before 9/11 which in other words has to leave us to deduce that 9/11 itself was pre-planned as well!

    • Delimiting presidential war powers

      The Constitution strongly disfavors war except in self-defense because it bloats executive power, cripples liberty, celebrates secrecy and risks blowback. Mr. Obama’s current war against IS is many things, but it is not self-defense. The tighter the limits of any new AUMF, the less the U.S. Constitution will be wrenched and challenged.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • The Siege of Julian Assange is a Farce

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would “actively welcome” the Swedish prosecutor in London and “we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that.” The tone was impatient.

    • A guy walks into the Ecuadorian embassy … Assange inspires new BBC comedy
    • Novak in Assange-inspired comedy

      The BBC4 show, called Asylum, is described as “a satirical comedy about a government whistle-blower and a millionaire internet entrepreneur trapped together in a London embassy”.

    • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inspires new comedy show

      The comedy is one of a string of shows created to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta which was one of the first attempts to limit the powers of the monarchy and develop a functioning legal system and parliamentary democracy.

    • Russell Brand, PJ Harvey, Susan Sarandon & dozens of A-listers support Snowden, Manning

      Dozens of celebrities, including musicians, filmmakers, actors and intellectuals have signed their names to a statement of support published Monday to show solidarity for Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond.

    • Brand and Žižek lead celebrity call for greater whistleblower protections

      It also comes at a moment where the US government is perceived to be taking a particularly aggressive approach to official leakers. Including Snowden and Manning, there have been a total of eight prosecutions by the Obama administration relating to leaks under the 1917 Espionage Act – more than those that were brought by all previous presidents combined.

      [...]

      The list of those who have backed the whistleblower statement also includes movie directors Alfonso Cuarón, Terry Gilliam and Ken Loach; musicians Robbie Charter of the Avalanches, PJ Harvey and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth; and writers Roddy Doyle and Hanif Kureishi.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Shale fail

      ON NOVEMBER 25th, fracking experts from across the continent will convene in Warsaw for the Shale Gas World Europe conference. The gathering is a reminder of the heady days, just a few years back, when the Polish government promised to wean the country from dependence on Russian fossil fuels by imitating America’s successful exploitation of shale. Poland would become “a second Norway”, as Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister, put it in 2010. All that was needed was to open the country to foreign drilling firms, set up a regulatory and profit-sharing structure, open the taps, and watch the methane (and the dollars) flow.

      [...]

      Perversely, Moscow may now hold the key to galvanising the Polish shale industry. While Russian gas continues to flow cheaply, exploring for Polish shale gas is risky and expensive. But with the risk of renewed military conflict in Ukraine rising, the situation could change. “There is certainly gas in Poland, but is the current system able to extract it? I don’t think so.” says Grzegorz Pytel, an energy expert with the Sobieski Institute, a think tank. “However, if Russia cuts off gas exports that would revive shale. The hope is in Moscow.” Shale enthusiasts who once hoped to free Poland from Russian gas have been reduced to hoping that Russia will turn off the gas, or raise prices sharply, to make Polish shale viable.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • ISPs criticised over deal to filter extremist material online

      British internet service providers have been accused of rushing into an ill-thought-out attempt to block political material online, after agreeing with the government on a system of filters for websites espousing extremist views.

      The four largest ISPs have independently agreed with the government to implement a system of blocks, similar to that used to keep child abuse material off the net. But civil liberties campaigners expressed fears that the move opened up a risk of political censorship.

      Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said: “We need transparency whenever political content is blocked, even when we are talking about websites that espouse extremist views. The government must be clear about what sites they think should be blocked, why they are blocking them and whether there will be redress for site owners who believe that their website has been blocked incorrectly.”

  • Privacy

    • Justice Department Admits It Lied To Appeals Court Concerning Companies’ Ability To Talk About National Security Letters

      Back in October, we wrote about the appeal on the legality of National Security Letters (NSLs), which are secretive filings from law enforcement demanding information with a perpetual gag order. In 2013, a district court had declared that NSLs were unconstitutional, but stayed that decision pending appeal. While the appeals court judges seemed skeptical, it still wasn’t clear how they would rule. So it’s interesting to see that the Justice Department has just admitted that it misled the court on some rather important points during the oral arguments.

    • Unsealed Filing Shows DOJ Misled Appeals Court About National Security Letter Gag Orders

      A court filing unsealed late Wednesday shows that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made a highly misleading argument to an appeals court in October during a hearing on the constitutionality of National Security Letters (NSLs).

    • Major hurdles await NSA reform bid

      Yet Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) — the two leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee — have both expressed reservations, worrying that it would go too far.

    • Data retention: Divining the metadata of the Govt’s true intention

      Data retention is a hot topic, so much so that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has included several pages examining the proposed legislation in its fifteenth report of the 44th Parliament. Suggestions put forward are that TIA Amendment Data Retention bill invades privacy, doesn’t properly define data, goes too far and needs further amendment.

    • Facebook: You post it, we can see it, and that’s that

      Facebook lets its users control whether other people can see the information they post, but when it comes to controlling what Facebook itself gets to see, privacy-conscious users are out of luck.

    • British Spying Is Our Problem, Too

      We learned last week that GCHQ – the U.K. equivalent of the NSA – permits its employees to target the communications of journalists and lawyers. That revelation has serious implications for the work of both groups.

    • The sci-fi future of lamp-posts

      Street lighting has always been a form of social control. As ‘smart’ lamp-posts start to adapt to our needs, are we entering a brave new world of big city lights?

    • UN to investigate claims that UK spies infiltrated climate talks

      Reports that GCHQ snooped on other countries at two climate summits will be investigated, says UN secretary general

    • Ambassador thrown out of Ecuador after WikiLeaks scandal will talk about her life and times at Kirtland event

      The fascinating background of being the only U.S. ambassador expelled during the global WikiLeaks scandal will be a large part of her presentation to the Nov. 16 Millennium Salon set for East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland. The salon, part of the church’s social justice committee, presents topics that examine various issues and discuss their impact on society.

    • Phone and web data plan under fire for interfering with privacy

      Human rights committee finds the plan to retain data for two years could have a ‘chilling effect’ on journalists

    • USPS Bemoans Massive Data Breach But Continues Surveillance Program

      While such data breaches are lamentable, it is a bit ironic that an agency that has been carrying out an extensive secret surveillance operation for years would be so vigorous in its vendetta against the alleged hackers who exposed sensitive data of employees and customers.

    • Consciousness in the Age of Digital Dystopia

      It’s Monday morning and you’re preparing your first cup of coffee when the tanks roll into your neighborhood. Phone lines are cut, curfew is activated and doors are broken down.

      You sigh. It’s another “cleanout day” in the not-too-distant future.

      The War on Terror has infiltrated every layer of society. Internet sites track the spread of extremism like the CDC tracks a lethal virus. The threat is pandemic and online news sources agree: In order to keep you safe, weekly cleanout campaigns must ramp up all across the nation – yet again.

      Today you just happen to be in the red zone.

      The main annoyance about being in a red zone is usually the loss of your phone signal. But today is different.

    • AT&T stops adding Web tracking codes on cellphones, Verizon says it still uses ‘super cookies’

      AT&T Mobility, the nation’s second-largest cellular provider, says it’s no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users’ smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers’ identities online.

    • Amnesia: A mad Aussie dash through history, hacking and the CIA

      Never has the long shadow of America across the world been so ominous and so ephemeral as it is in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations and Wikileaks. Data surveillance and the huge US presence in the tech and internet worlds have contributed to a sense of America as the omnipresent, unseen superpower in a way that no world leading country has ever been before.

      This ownership of the web is what lets the US suggest, with no apparent sense of irony, that people like Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, are “traitors”, though what patriotism or loyalty they owe a country they have nothing to do with is unclear.

      It is this long shadow that Peter Carey takes to task in his hacker conspiracy thriller Amnesia.

    • First Snowden. Then tracking you on wheels. Now spies on a plane. Yes, surveillance is everywhere

      US government-owned airplanes that can cover most of the continental United States are covertly flying around the country, spying on tens of thousands of innocent people’s cellphones. It sounds like a movie plot, but in a remarkable report published on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal exposed that these spy planes are part of an actual mass surveillance program overseen by the Justice Department (DOJ). And it’s been kept secret from the public for years.

    • U.S. government set to use airplanes to collect information
    • Mobile Phones Data Intercepted by U.S. Marshals
  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Hey UK: Jailing File-Sharers for Years is Shameful

        Admins and uploaders know the risks, but when otherwise good citizens go to jail for sharing files it’s a horrible moment for all involved. This week two young men from the UK were locked up for years, one for his acts as a teenager several years ago. What a complete and utter waste of life.

      • Mega Terminates Kim Dotcom’s Account For Repeat Infringements

        Dotcom has been using Mega to share his first music album “Good Times” with everyone who wants to give it a spin. While he holds all the rights, several prominent music labels kept informing Mega that the album was “infringing.”

        A few weeks ago we learned that the takedown requests were all inaccurate, and triggered by a prankster. However, that apparently didn’t stop them from coming in and as a result Dotcom has now had his Mega account terminated for repeatedly violating the terms of service.

      • Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

        Rightscorp, a prominent piracy monitoring firm that sends settlement requests for Warner Bros. and other copyright holders, may soon go out of business. The publicly listed company is losing millions of dollars per year and says it desperately needs a fresh cash injection to survive.

Microsoft is Going Into the Anti-Whistleblowing Business, Dodges Criticism Over 19-Year Bug Door in Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edward Snowden

Summary: With Aorato acquisition Microsoft helps protect the criminals (from whistleblowers) and with lies about .NET Microsoft distracts from a bug that has facilitated remote access into Windows (by those in the know) for nearly two decades

MICROSOFT IS A company of liars, centred around media manipulation. This is why not enough people know about the company’s sheer levels of malice, crimes, and disregard for people.

Microsoft keeps throwing money around for favourable publicity, so not enough criticism is published where it’s well overdue. Today we’ll tackle several stories that deserve more attention from an appropriate angle, not a promotional (marketing) angle.

A few days ago Microsoft decided to buy a military-connected (IDF/Israel) anti-whistleblowing ‘software’ company. What a lot of shallow coverage failed to mention was the real purpose of the software (not often marketed as such). To quote one report: ‘“Snowden reportedly used colleagues’ passwords to access sensitive docs,” he told me. “Even if the user activity seems legitimate, the same account would actually present suspicious or abnormal behavior behind the scenes which Aorato would detect.”’

Actually, to keep the facts in tact, the NSA leaks were made possible by GNU WGet on the leakers’ side (same as Bradley/Chelsea Manning) and that horrible Microsoft SharePoint on the leaked side (NSA). It means that Microsoft itself was the problem which it claims to be trying to solve. We mentioned the role of SharePoint several times before. The acquisition by Microsoft seems to be geared towards stopping whistleblowing and hence defending corruption (so that Microsoft, for instance, can defend the NSA). How ethical a move, eh? So much for a ‘champion’ of privacy as it purports to be.

Anyway, there is a 19-year bug door in Microsoft Windows (almost no version is exempted from remotely-invoked full capture), but the press hardly covers it. We must give some credit to the BBC for covering it (for a change) and "calling out Windows". Other British press covered other inherent issues in Windows (compromising Tor) [1] and it looks like Dan Goodin is finally covering some security problems in proprietary software [2] rather than always picking on FOSS, then hyping it up with ugly imagery and exaggeration.

A reader of ours suspects that the .NET announcement was designed to distract from horrible security-related news. The .NET announcement is nonsense because it’s false (we wrote two posts about the .NET PR nonsense) and it also predicts future events like Visual Studio going cross-platform although the latest version of Visual Studio (proprietary) already runs under GNU/Linux using Wine, i.e. the Windows build works under GNU/Linux as it’s fully compatible anyway, for those foolish enough to want it. This is not news and the same goes for Office and other well-known Microsoft software. Xamarin staff keeps trying hard to infect GNU/Linux with .NET (that’s what they do) and as this very stupid article about .NET shows, the .NET nonsense did indeed help bury the news about the bug door. This disgusting article even gives credit to Microsoft for having fixed massive 19-year-old bug (only after IBM had found it). When bash or openssl have a bug, then FOSS is all bad, apparently. When Microsoft has a bug door for 19 years, the media says well done to Microsoft (for fixing it after another company forced it to). One has to wonder if this flaw (voluntary or involuntary) is part of Microsoft’s collaboration with the NSA, which made Stuxnet and has made yet another piece of Windows malware together with Israel. Here is a new article from The Intercept:

The Digital Hunt for Duqu, a Dangerous and Cunning U.S.-Israeli Spy Virus

Boldizsár Bencsáth took a bite from his sandwich and stared at his computer screen. The software he was trying to install on his machine was taking forever to load, and he still had a dozen things to do before the Fall 2011 semester began at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, where he taught computer science. Despite the long to-do list, however, he was feeling happy and relaxed. It was the first day of September and was one of those perfect, late-summer afternoons when the warm air and clear skies made you forget that cold autumn weather was lurking around the corner.

Bencsáth, known to his friends as Boldi, was sitting at his desk in the university’s Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, a.k.a. CrySyS Lab, when the telephone interrupted his lunch. It was Jóska Bartos, CEO of a company for which the lab sometimes did consulting work (“Jóska Bartos” is a pseudonym).

“Boldi, do you have time to do something for us?” Bartos asked.

“Is this related to what we talked about before?” Bencsáth said, referring to a previous discussion they’d had about testing new services the company planned to offer customers.

“No, something else,” Bartos said. “Can you come now? It’s important. But don’t tell anyone where you’re going.”

Bencsáth wolfed down the rest of his lunch and told his colleagues in the lab that he had a “red alert” and had to go. “Don’t ask,” he said as he ran out the door.

A while later, he was at Bartos’ office, where a triage team had been assembled to address the problem they wanted to discuss. “We think we’ve been hacked,” Bartos said.

They found a suspicious file on a developer’s machine that had been created late at night when no one was working. The file was encrypted and compressed so they had no idea what was inside, but they suspected it was data the attackers had copied from the machine and planned to retrieve later. A search of the company’s network found a few more machines that had been infected as well. The triage team felt confident they had contained the attack but wanted Bencsáth’s help determining how the intruders had broken in and what they were after. The company had all the right protections in place—firewalls, antivirus, intrusion-detection and -prevention systems—and still the attackers got in.

The ability to keep people’s rights away and keep the population down depends on passivity and conformity, including the use of Windows. Avoiding Microsoft Windows is imperative for those not wishing to be controlled remotely. As Microsoft’s collaborations with the NSA serve to show, mass surveillance on the whole world is practically contingent upon not just innovation but sabotage and social engineering with corporate buddies. Eradication of Microsoft software isn’t about competition only; it’s about justice.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Advanced persistent threats found in the TOR network

    There are suggestions that the malware code has been around for a while, and has predecessors, and F-Secure warned internet users, anonymous or otherwise, to tread carefully when they download.

    “However, it would seem that the OnionDuke family is much older, based on older compilation timestamps and on the fact that some of the embedded configuration data makes reference to an apparent version number of four, suggesting that at least three earlier versions of the family exist,” the firm added.

    “In any case, although much is still shrouded in mystery and speculation, one thing is certain: while using Tor may help you stay anonymous, it does at the same time paint a huge target on your back.

    “It’s never a good idea to download binaries via Tor (or anything else) without encryption.”

  2. For a year, gang operating rogue Tor node infected Windows executables

    Three weeks ago, a security researcher uncovered a Tor exit node that added malware to uncompressed Windows executables passing through it. Officials with the privacy service promptly shut down the Russia-based node, but according to new research, the group behind the node had likely been infecting files for more than a year by that time, causing careless users to install a backdoor that gave attackers full control of their systems.

Reaffirming Microsoft’s Long-Known Hostility Towards Net Neutrality, Microsoft Crashed Juniper

Posted in Microsoft at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Steve Ballmer is ranting against net neutrality and Juniper’s business is in trouble after a lot of executives from Microsoft took over most top positions there

Microsoft is once again shown publicly for what it really is; it can be easily seen as anti-net neutrality, thanks for the most part to its longtime CEO (who is now replaced for PR purposes). Microsoft’s record of hostility towards net neutrality must not to be forgotten as we covered it several times before and provided examples.

Well, speaking of networking, a reader tells us that the person who replaced the Microsoft veteran who had run Juniper for years has just resigned. “He joined from Barclays Plc,” told us this reader, “but I have yet to find out what kind of ‘technology’ he was involved with there.

“How much ongoing damage has been caused by the influx of softers like now-gone Kevin Johnson and how many people and their legacy are still there that he brought in? Softers would not be a good match for the core technologies the company brings in its money with” because it contributed to BSD.

“The incoming CEO, Rami Rahim,” adds the reader, “has been with Juniper 17 years, so that is promising since they use FOSS (OSS) in-house at least in the devices they sell. However, that is just an uniformed guess, who knows the internal politics. The CRN article (not linked to) blathers about being on-message and sales teams rather than technology and function.

“Then there’s this:

Juniper’s decline has been linked by some industry-watchers to the management changes that have taken place in recent years, including the influx of staff who previously worked at Microsoft, but Brooks – himself a former employee with the software {sic} giant

This one has a lot of links. One thing to remember is that these boxes are going to be tap points for surveillance.”

The same has been revealed to be the case last week when it comes to Cisco routers (used against anonymity). We shared links about that yesterday.

In addition, what would be the impact of having Juniper filled with executives from a net neutrality-hostile company?

Another Massive Step Towards Elimination of Software Patents as Even CAFC Rules Against Them

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CAFC may finally be seen as regaining some sanity

Daniel Mortimer Friedman

Summary: After SCOTUS gets involved in the Ultramercial case, the CAFC finally decides to actually serve justice rather than dogma

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has been by far the most zealously pro-software patents court, perhaps in the entire world. It’s where software patents originally came from.

Dennis Crouch, who is himself somewhat of a patents booster, sees the significance of a new ruling from CAFC. See his article titled “Federal Circuit: Novelty in Implementation of an Abstract Idea Insufficient to Overcome Alice”. This actually relates to a ruling from SCOTUS then (‘Alice’ to be specific), overriding a previous ruling from CAFC.

This is potentially a to-be-widely-cited decision that can be huge for software patents (or against them rather). There is lots of coverage in the press about it [1, 2, 3]. Here is one introduction to the case:

In tech, patent trolls do not settle for small victories; they tend to go big, claiming that their one vague patent gives them the rights over gigantic swaths of the digital world. One troll insists that it owns the patent that covers all podcasting. Another claims it can lord over the maker of any app that asks users to submit data. And a particularly bold troll has spent years claiming it owns the rights to the very concept of playing advertisements before a free online videos—and it has tried shaking down YouTube and Hulu for royalty payments.

As the EFF put it:

On September 9, 2009, a patent troll called Ultramercial sued a bunch of Internet companies alleging infringement of U.S. Patent 7,346,545. This patent claims a method for allowing Internet users to view copyrighted material free of charge in exchange for watching certain advertisements. Yes, you read that correctly. Ultramercial believed that it owned the idea of showing an ad before content on the Internet.

TechDirt did the best kind of coverage by being bluntly honest. “It looks like the Ultramercial saga may finally be ending,” it said. “As we’ve been covering for many years, Ultramercial held a patent (7,346,545) on watching an ad to get access to content, and it sued lots of companies. While a lower court rejected the patent, CAFC (the appeals court for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent cases) overturned that ruling. The key issue: is something patentable if you take a common idea and just add “on the internet.” CAFC said yes. The Supreme Court asked CAFC to try again following its own ruling in the Mayo case (which said you couldn’t patent medical diagnostics). But CAFC still found the patent to be valid. Finally, earlier this year, following the Alice ruling, the Supreme Court gave CAFC a third try to get it right.”

It’s actually SCOTUS which deserves some credit here. The Ultramercial-friendly CAFC has ultimately wasted so much money of innocent people and businesses, showing the great harm of software patents. It’s only when Ultramercial faced the wrath of SCOTUS that the CAFC had to rule based on actual law, which to CAFC would be the exception (it is a very corrupt court in general, with plenty to show for it).

The GOP’s Patent Reform Plan Not Effective Enough to Stop Massive Patent Trolls Like Microsoft/Nokia

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GOP

Summary: The corporations-serving GOP says that it wants a patent reform, but another reminder is needed of the futility of the suggested changes

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, a GOP-leaning News Corp-owned paper, says that “Leading GOP Senator Says More Patent Reform on the Horizon”, but as we explained before, this is not an effective reform. Being on the GOP’s agenda, one can expect it to serve large corporations rather than public interests (which GOP is neither sympathetic nor apathetic towards because public interests often conflict with business/rich people’s interests). “The bill,” says the paper, “will likely add new responsibilities on plaintiffs filing patent-infringement suits. Among the possible additions: a provision requiring plaintiffs who lose their infringement lawsuits to pay the defendants’ litigation costs.”

This would be effective in preventing poor people or small businesses from suing, irrespective of their nature (e.g. trolls, startups, individuals). It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.

“It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.”This is of course better than no amendments to existing laws, but does it go far enough? It might not be enough to discourage big trolls like Nokia, which the paper above indicates is likely to use software patents for profit (article behind paywall). Nokia is already patent-trolling, with Microsoft’s help, by proxy, e.g. through MOSAID (now renamed “Conversant” because of its bad reputation). The European authorities have already been made aware of this and they warned Nokia.

Nokia seems to be following the footsteps of companies like Qualcomm, which got the attention of some pro-software patents the other day.

How the EPO’s Executive Branch (Battistelli and Topić) Banned Scrutiny and Created Authoritarian Model of Control: Part X

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: A look at highly dubious moves by EPO President Battistelli and his right-hand man Topić, whose abuses are becoming hard to oversee or even report

EARLIER this month we asked European readers lodge complaints about EPO management that continues a long tradition of abuse. Some new sources have since come forward and provided us with more information about corruption, so this series will go on and on, lasting until next year. We welcome more whistle-blowers and informed sources to come forward if they know something that we have not yet covered and we, in return, promise anonymity.

Staff that has been involved in rogue practices would obviously like to prevent colleagues (and the public) from finding out about it. Today we would like to present Topić’s letter regarding data protection [PDF] and the accompanying body of text [PDF], signed by Benoît Battistelli, who himself has a lot to hide (for reasons we covered beforein numerous parts). An annotated document [PDF] is added, with highlighted text that reveals how Topić and Battistelli worked to prevent investigation of the EPO, essentially banning people from speaking to the press, conducting an audit, investigation, etc. Clearly, the Data Protection Guidelines at the EPO are of interest if one wishes to understand the lack of scrutiny and the lack of communication with the press. The corporate media largely abstained from covering very serious issues that are known but nobody really wishes to talk about. The EPO is corrupt. It’s a secretive institute, by design. Staff are actively discouraged from informing the public. Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all a little bit of legal background.

Under Article 33(2)(b) EPC, the legislative competence to amend the EPO Service Regulations (i.e. the set of rules governing conditions of employment etc.) lies with the Administrative Council (AC). To quote The European Patent Convention: “The Administrative Council shall be competent, in conformity with this Convention, to adopt or amend: [...] (b)the Service Regulations for permanent employees and the conditions of employment of other employees of the European Patent Office, the salary scales of the said permanent and other employees, and also the nature of any supplementary benefits and the rules for granting them”

In plain English, this means that any changes to the Service Regulations are supposed to be subject to the oversight and scrutiny of the AC.

What Battistelli has done during his presidency is an introduction of certain wide-ranging internal measures by means of “Circulars” which are basically unilaterally-enacted Presidential decrees that have never been subject to any scrutiny or oversight by the AC. Not surprisingly, Battistelli is again imposing an authoritarian code of conduct inside the EPO.

One of these measures was Circular No. 342, the so-called “Investigation Guidelines” which effectively give the EPO President dictatorial powers to unilaterally initiate so-called “investigative processes”. He can even initiate “investigative processes” against senior EPO employees who have been appointed by the AC under Article 11 EPC.

Refer to the European Patent Convention which covers this in more details. In such cases he doesn’t even have to inform the individual concerned or the appointing authority (i.e. the AC) that an investigation has been initiated.

Circular 342 was never presented to the AC for approval. It was unilaterally enacted by Battistelli. This is again the hallmark of authoritarian reign. Of course this action on his part is completely illegal or “ultra vires” to use the appropriate legal jargon. The fact of the matter is that the AC no longer exercises any effective oversight over the President.

Whether this is due to stupidity or corruption, or maybe a combination of both, is an open question which we will not attempt to answer. Furthermore, challenges to these measures by EPO staff have to go to the ILOAT in Geneva which is completely clogged up. The current time required to process a case at the ILOAT has been estimated as 12-15 years. So staff can complain all they like about what Battistelli does but there is no longer any effective legal redress available to challenge unlawful acts by the EPO President.

The system of legal redress has become completely dysfunctional.

This state of affairs has led to some national courts starting to call the EPO’s jurisdictional immunity into question.

New DPGs at the EPO

Now let’s get back to the DPGs.

The most recent amendment of the EPO DPGs was announced by Mr. Topić on 2 April 2014 (see the PDF above). By a curious twist of irony, these Guidelines entered into force on 1 April 2014.

Although the EPO DGs pay lip-service to EU Data Protection Regulations, they are in fact much weaker. Under the EPO DPGs, all power is ultimately concentrated in the hands of the President.

For example look at Article 8, “Transmission to recipients outside the European Patent Organisation”. According to Article 8(4): “In cases of doubt, the President decides on the adequacy of the protection afforded by the relevant country or international organisation.”

According to the DPGs there is a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who enjoys “independence”. But this “independence is only nominal, i.e. it only exists on paper, because the DPO is a normal member of EPO staff appointed by the President and thus de facto under the control of the President.

There is no independent supervisory entity such as the European Data Protection Supervisor which exists under the EU Data Protection framework.

But there is an even more sinister aspect to the new DPGs which doesn’t get any mention in Topić’s announcement.

The new DPGs include a number of clauses which state that they do not apply in the case of “investigative processes”.

What this means in practice is the following:

  1. The President can at any time – unilaterally and subject to no oversight whatsoever – launch an “investigative process”.
  2. The practical effect of this is to override the DPGs.

In other words, the DPGs are subordinate to the “Investigation Guidelines”.

We think that this doesn’t require further comment or explanation on our part.

Credit: anonymous source.

11.15.14

Links 15/11/2014: Linux Mint 17.1 Release Candidate, Popcorn Time 0.3.5

Posted in News Roundup at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Continental Drift Continues

      While there are many hotspots in the GNU/Linux landscape, usage of GNU/Linux on the desktop is still spotty around the world. There are millions of GNU/Linux desktops but they are in clusters rather than widely spread.

  • Server

    • Docker-based Multi-Container Applications Run on AWS Cloud with Introduction of the EC2 Container Service

      It was great to have Werner Vogels up on stage talking about “why developers love containers.” That was a wonderful lead in to my Docker presentation in front of the 13,500+ person audience at AWS re:Invent listening to Werner’s keynote. That kind of visibility is inspiring, but the thing I’m most excited about today is what great news there is for Docker and AWS customers with the launch of the Amazon EC2 Container Service.

  • Kernel Space

    • Stable kernel updates

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has released three stable kernels; 3.17.3, 3.14.24, and 3.10.60. All of them contain lots of important fixes throughout the tree.

    • Why prominent ‘hobbyist’ operating systems face an existential crisis

      Do you think Linux is an alternative, hobbyist operating system? Ha! Linux is mainstream. If you’re looking for the next niche OS, you’ll need to dive deep into the cracks and crevices: passion projects worked on by a handful of developers in their spare time.

    • NVIDIA Adds “Nyan Blaze” To Coreboot

      NVIDIA has committed a new “nyan_blaze” motherboard for Coreboot.

    • Over-Volting Your GPU With The New NVIDIA Linux Driver

      Unlike the frequency overclocking done through the NVIDIA Settings GUI, the over-volting can only be done via the command-line interface. It’s not clear yet if this is just a temporary limitation if NVIDIA didn’t get around to exposing it via the GTK interface or they will keep it CLI-only in trying to discourage novice users from accidentally over-volting their system and causing potential damage, etc.

    • AMD’s “AMDKFD” HSA Driver Is Ready For Pulling In Linux 3.19

      Oded Gabbay of AMD sent out the pull request to David Airlie for trying to land the AMDKFD driver in Linux 3.19. The difference between this driver and AMDGPU is that it’s already been public for a while where we’re still waiting for the AMDGPU graphics driver to be published that’s the new DRM driver to be shared with the Catalyst Linux user-space for supporting the AMD Radeon R9 285 and newer GPUs.

      While the AMDKFD driver hasn’t yet been pulled by Airlie at the time of writing, this driver has already undergone review from upstream developers and in fact revised six times through the public process. Given that the drm-next merge window is still open for a few more days, this driver stands good chances of being merged then as a new Linux 3.19 driver. Friday’s sixth version contains just minor changes to the driver compared to last week.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • GeForce GTX 970/980 Linux Benchmarks With NVIDIA 346.16 Driver

        This week NVIDIA introduced the 346 Linux driver beta with a huge amount of changes and new features — from GPU over-volting to NVENC and VP8 support. Curiosity got the best of me so I’ve now ran some GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 Linux benchmarks to see if the performance of these new, high-end Maxwell GPUs have changed at all with this latest proprietary driver release.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Running XFCE on Chrome OS

      I know what you are thinking. Big deal. Folks have been running Crouton, Chrubuntu, and even Xubuntu for some time now on their Chromebooks. Yes, but what about running XFCE straight from the cloud itself. A webapp, if you may, without an offline mode.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • OpenGL Support Is Looking Good For GTK+ 3.16, But Help Is Needed

        For a few weeks now within mainline GTK+ has been native OpenGL support and as part of that a new GtkGLArea widget for allowing OpenGL drawing within GTK applications. Since that initial work landed, there’s been more GTK+ OpenGL code progressing that right now primarily benefits Linux X11 and Wayland users.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Trisquel 7.0 LTS Belenos

        I was very pleased with Trisquel 7.0 while I was using it. I found it to be incredibly stable and also very fast while I was opening and using applications. I did not experience any crashes or other overt indications of stability problems.

        For me Trisquel 7.0 is pretty much what a desktop Linux distribution should be in terms of usability, software selection and stability. I had pretty much everything I needed right after my install was completed. And I had the satisfaction of knowing that I was using free software the entire time I used Trisquel 7.0.

        I highly recommend that you check out Trisquel 7.0, even if you’re not a free software aficionado. It’s well worth a download. And once you get a taste of it, it may end up being your preferred desktop distribution.

      • CAINE Provides Sturdy Support for Forensic Specialists

        Eye candy and fancy screen effects have little place in the strictly business routine of forensic techs and IT pros. The CAINE and MATE combination contribute to the smooth interface and straightforward desktop. The default setting for full panel bar transparency blends it right into the desktop’s background. This further extends the uncluttered appearance of the desktop.

    • Screenshots

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: October 2014

        The council addressed a number of issues this month. The change with the biggest long-term significance was clearing the way to proceed with the git migration once infra is ready. This included removing changelogs from future git commits, removing cvs headers, and simplifying our news repository format. The infra and git migration projects will coordinate the actual migration hopefully in the not-so-distant future.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 21 Workstation Prerelease. Pure Awesomeness. Zero Exploitation.

          Why pay for recycled software bits when you can get it for free, every version release? That’s Zero Exploitation. Fedora continually refines its software technology as part of Red Hat’s R&D process and becomes part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux when mature.

        • Council Elections, Flock, Workstation Focus, Atomic, and Improving the Join Process

          We are in the “campaign season” (okay, “campaign week”) for the first general election for representatives for the new Fedora Council. (If you haven’t been following, see the Council charter on the Fedora Wiki. The “Coda” in that document should answer most of your questions, and if you have others, please feel free to ask them.)

        • FUDCon Managua 2014 Clousure

          Last day of FUDCon I tries to approach as many contributors to ask: What do you think was accomplished in this FUDCon? I used their input as part of the closure speech at the end of the convention. I improvised with a hand write notes. Here you have a more digested summary.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Governance: Empower It

            I was really saddened to see Jono Bacon’s post today because it really seems like he still doesn’t get the Ubuntu Community that he managed for years. In fact, the things he is talking about are problems that the Community Council and Governance Boards really have no influence over because Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth limit the Community’s ability to participate in those kind of issues.

            [...]

            Honestly, if this is the way Jono felt then I think he should have been going to bat for the Community and Ubuntu Governance when he was Community Manager because right now the Community and Governance cannot be inspirational leaders because Canonical controls the future of Ubuntu and the Community Council, Governance Boards and Ubuntu Members have very little say in the direction of the project.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.4

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.4, the fourth minor release of LibreOffice 4.3 “fresh” family, which is a stable release of the more advanced version of the software, and is targeted to users focusing on features. LibreOffice 4.3.4 contains over 60 bug fixes.

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • Pigs Flying, Popular Licenses, and LibreOffice 4.3.4

      Steve O’Grady today blogged about today’s popular Open Source licenses and how this has changed over time. According to his graphs borrowed from Black Duck, the various versions of GNU GPL is the most popular today. But O’Grady said Apache and MIT licenses have gained the most ground in the last five years because they are more permissive. He said, “What will be interesting to observe moving forward is whether these trends continue, or whether further corrections are in store.”

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Oculus VR’s mobile SDK, women in gaming, and more

      Hello, open gaming fans! In this week’s edition, we take a look at Gamebuino’s Arduino console, Oculus VR’s SDK for mobile release, women in gaming, and more!

    • The Open Science Peer Review Oath

      Open access is about making academic research more widely available, particularly when it is publicly funded. But there is a broader open science movement that seeks to make the entire scientific process — from initial experiments to the final dissemination of results — transparent, and thus reproducible. One crucial aspect of that complete process is peer review, whereby experts in a field provide advice about the quality of new research, either to editors prior to a paper being published in a journal, or more directly, by reviewing work publicly online.

  • Programming

    • The 15 Best JavaScript Charting Libraries

      It is practically impossible to imagine any dashboard without graphs and charts. They present complex statistics quickly and effectively. Additionally, a good graph also enhances the overall design of your website.

      In this article, I will show you some of the best JavaScript libraries for graphs / charts. These libraries will help you create beautiful and customisable charts for your future projects.

      While most of the libraries are free and open source, some of them provide a paid version with additional features.

    • DevAssistant 0.10.0 Released

      Dear friends of all things free software, DevAssistant is back with a new release! It has been over two months, and such a time would make you think that something big has been in the works. It has.

Leftovers

  • Boris Johnson’s Winston Churchill Looks an Awful Lot Like Boris Johnson

    Boris Johnson, as the subtitle of this book proclaims, is a firm believer in the “great man” theory of history. Not for him the subtleties of the complex interplay of historical forces and individual personalities. Subtlety is not Boris’s strong point. Winston Churchill alone, he writes, “saved our civilisation.” He “invented the RAF and the tank.” He founded the welfare state (although Boris gives David Lloyd George a bit of credit for this, as well). All of this, he argues, confounds what he sees as the fashion of the past few decades to write off “so-called great men and women” as “meretricious bubbles on the vast tides of social history.” The story of Winston Churchill “is a pretty withering retort to all that malarkey. He, and he alone, made the difference.”

  • Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam

    A boy from Coventry has become the youngest computer specialist in the world.

    Ayan Qureshi is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant’s exam when he was just five years old.

    Ayan, now six, whose father is an IT consultant, has set up his own computer network at home.

  • Science

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US mulls more CIA aid for Syrian rebels

      CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year

    • U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad
    • Obama Plans CIA Expansion On Anti-ISIS Covert Operations

      The Obama administration has been mulling plans to increase the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) involvement in providing support to moderate rebels in Syria, in an effort to boost U.S. anti-Islamic State operations, even as the Pentagon prepares to set up additional training facilities.

    • The Neocon Plan for War and More War

      A major test for President Obama is whether he will – in the face of the Republican midterm victories – submit to neocon demands for more wars in the Middle East and a costly Cold War with Russia or finally earn the Nobel Peace Prize that he got at the start of his presidency.

    • An Uprising Remembered: CIA Daughter on Anti-junta Polytechnic Anniversary

      On the occasion of the Athens Polytechnic Uprising against the Greek Junta, Leslie Absher, the daughter of a CIA operative stationed in Greece during the military dictatorship, remembers the events that brought down the regime forty one years ago Monday. Leslie arrived in Athens as a baby before the coup, brought there by her father, a young spy on his first mission. “There is much I’ll never know about his work in Greece but my love for him and Greece calls me to never forget this historic day,” she wrote to Greek Reporter describing her complicated relationship with Greece and her CIA dad.

    • Living in the shadow of the “angels of death”

      Last year a bomb dropped by an American drone hit the Rashid family’s pick-up truck in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar. Fourteen occupants, most of them women and children, were killed in the attack. Only four-year-old Aisha survived, losing a hand and sustaining severe injuries to her lower body, while nothing at all was left of her nose or eyes.

      When Aisha’s relatives learned of the attack, they rushed to the site – and found her there. A nearby hospital in Asadabad could however not do much for her. Aisha had lost not only her family, but also her face. At the time, NATO announced that only Taliban militants had been killed in the drone attack in Kunar. No mention was made of Aisha or her family.

      Civilian casualties branded as extremist perpetrators

      NATO’s statement came as no surprise. “Civilian casualties in remote areas of Afghanistan are not uncommonly described by the occupying forces as Taliban fighters. Incidents are often quickly forgotten,” says the Afghan journalist and political analyst Waheed Mozhdah.

      Ismael Zadran, an Afghan living in Germany, had to find this out the hard way. A few years ago his cousin Sadiq Rahim Jan, 21 years old at the time, was killed by a drone in the Afghan province of Paktia. Not only NATO, but also some Afghan mainstream media reported only a slain Taliban commander.

    • US drone strike kills 5 militants in Kunar province

      At least five militants were killed following a US drone strike in eastern Kunar province on Friday, local security officials said Saturday.

    • Can the World Avert a New Cold War?

      The West is charging off into a new Cold War with Russia under banners of hypocrisy, from charges of “expansionism” to complaints about disrespect for individual rights. This lack of balance could have grave consequences for the world, says former British intelligence officer Annie Machon.

    • War and Peace: Western Leaders Terrorizing the Mankind

      A “war of religion” is unfolding, with a view to justifying a global military crusade.

    • The Bases of War in the Middle East

      In the Persian Gulf alone, the U.S. has major bases…

    • Caught in conflict: women in Pakistan

      ‘We nearly died getting this story,” Alixandra Fazzina tells me calmly. The war artist turned award-winning photographer is flicking through the haunting images she took during her five years in Pakistan. Despite covering countries such as Somalia and Yemen – and being held hostage for four days by militiamen in Liberia – Fazzina says Pakistan is the most difficult place she has worked. And it is only now she has left that she can safely reveal many of the stories people told her.

    • In Rome’s Riots, Cries for Mussolini and Attacks on Refugees

      In Tor Sapienza, frustrated Italians are turning to urban warfare, attacking immigrants and police to push out the thousands of refugees streaming into their crumbling neighborhood.

    • Thailand’s refugees

      The Syrian crisis has taken crucial attention and resources from the Asia Pacific region, even as the number of unprotected refugees continues to grow.

    • Going to war: Not legal without Congress, but few seem to mind

      Few members of Congress seem to care that their own legal authority has been ignored. One who does, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) argues that President Obama must come to Congress to start a war and that he acted against ISIS without “true constitutional authority” since the country was not under attack at the time. ”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • There’s No Good Reason to Build Keystone XL

      No lasting jobs, no cheaper gas, and a chance to kill off one-fourth of U.S. farmland and maybe the planet. Why are both parties going all out to get such a crappy deal?

    • Climate change can’t be put on ice

      Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s assertion that he is “focusing on what we’re doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting” on growth and jobs, seems to play down the US-China agreement to take decisive action on CO₂ emissions warming the globe (“Climate: Abbott digs in”, November 14). That agreement clearly shows the Australian government is way, way short of what it has done so far and or proposes to do in the foreseeable future, with its piddling 5 per cent reduction of the 2000 CO₂ emission levels.

    • 7.1 quake hits Indonesia, causes small tsunami

      A strong undersea earthquake hit eastern Indonesia on Saturday, triggering a small tsunami and some panic but no casualties or major damage.

      The 7.1 quake occurred west of Halmahera island, which is about four hours’ flight from the capital, Jakarta.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • Appeals Court Finally Agrees To Rehear Horrible Ruling Over Actress’ Supposed Copyright In ‘Innocence Of Muslims’

      It’s been a while since we’d heard anything from the 9th Circuit appeals court concerning Garcia v. Google, the case in which actress Cindy Lee Garcia successfully went after Google for hosting the controversial Innocence of Muslims video on YouTube. Garcia is one of the actresses who claims she was tricked into appearing in the film, leading to death threats. Without doubt, her situation is not a great one to be in, but it doesn’t change the basics of copyright law, in which it has long been established that actors do not have a copyright interest in video and film projects they appear in… until Judge Alex Kozinski in the 9th Circuit appeals court suddenly reinterpreted decades of settled copyright law. Back in March, an unnamed judge on the court asked the court to reconsider the case, holding an “en banc” rehearing of the case with a full slate of judges (in most appeals courts en banc would be all judges, but the 9th circuit has so many judges that they limit it to Chief Judge Kozinski and 10 others). Back in April a bunch of folks — including us at Techdirt — filed amicus briefs asking the court to rehear.

    • China’s Porn Crackdown: No Extramarital Affairs or One-Night Stands

      The latest rules about pornographic content covers a bewildering array of sexual categories

    • Anti-Censorship Groups Tell Senate to Stop the ‘Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation’ Act

      A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act. The bill is allegedly aimed at thwarting human trafficking but in reality would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with clients, drive traffickers further underground, and potentially expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements.

    • Iran to have internet ‘smart filtering’

      Tehran already blocks access to popular websites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

    • As Indian govt plans a web filter, let’s see how Internet censorship works in Iran, China and Cuba

      The Internet censorship debate in India has been going on for some time now. But according to a latest report by Medianama, the Indian government is contemplating on using web filters to control the internet. One of the main triggers of this discussion on web filters is ban of pornographic websites and those sites which carry ‘objectionable’ content – a term which is open to interpretation.

    • Rubbing Out Internet Porn Won’t Be Easy for the Indian Government
  • Privacy

    • David Chavchavadze, CIA spy with Romanov roots, dies at 90

      He did much of his work in Berlin in the years after World War II and at the start of the Cold War. His assignments included recruitment of Soviet agents.

    • New NSA director rips critics, calls for ‘less simplistic’ national conversation about surveillance
    • Congress to tackle NSA reforms, government funding in waning days

      Although the GOP-controlled House and Senate elected earlier this month in the midterms is waiting in the wings, the 113th Congress is back from recess and still has the floor. The Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate will move on some critical agenda items and take up hot-button issues before it adjourns in December.

    • Rand Paul to oppose NSA reform bill

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won’t support an upcoming bill to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) without changes to strengthen it, an aide told The Hill on Friday.

    • Rand Paul Gives Thumbs Down to Weaker NSA Reform Bill

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) gave a strong signal today that he intends to try to keep surveillance and National Security Agency (NSA) reform in the news. His office has told beltway media that Paul will not support the Senate version of the USA Freedom Act, a legislative effort to scale back the massive expansion of surveillance against American citizens exposed by Edward Snowden. The problem is that the proposals have been watered down too much.

    • Rand Paul to oppose NSA surveillance reform bill
    • Cruz reiterates support for NSA reform bill

      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday reiterated his support for a National Security Agency reform bill slated to hit the Senate floor next week.

      Cruz is one of three Republican co-sponsors of the USA Freedom Act, which would end the government’s bulk collection of phone records. He called the legislation essential to rein in what he described as the Obama administration’s “extreme” position on U.S. privacy.

    • LA Times pushes NSA reform

      The Los Angeles Times is telling lawmakers in the Senate to get on board with the USA Freedom Act.

    • Freedom Act’s Advance Threatens NSA Court Cases

      Legal experts say passage of the bill, which would end the automatic bulk collection and in-house retention of phone records, may short-circuit lawsuits that claim the collection is illegal. That would deprive citizens not only the satisfaction of possible rulings that Obama and President George W. Bush ordered violations of their constitutional rights, but also head off Supreme Court review of a 35-year-old precedent the government says allows it to collect huge amounts of data provided by ordinary Americans to businesses.

    • 81% of Tor users can be de-anonymised by analysing router information, research indicates

      Research undertaken between 2008 and 2014 suggests that more than 81% of Tor clients can be ‘de-anonymised’ – their originating IP addresses revealed – by exploiting the ‘Netflow’ technology that Cisco has built into its router protocols, and similar traffic analysis software running by default in the hardware of other manufacturers.

    • AT&T stops adding Web tracking codes on cellphones

      AT&T Mobility, the nation’s second-largest cellular provider, said Friday it’s no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users’ smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers’ identities online.
      The change by AT&T essentially removes a hidden string of letters and numbers that are passed along to websites that a consumer visits. It can be used to track subscribers across the Internet, a lucrative data-mining opportunity for advertisers that could still reveal users’ identities based on their browsing habits.

    • First ruling on interception of legally privileged material awaited

      Following last week’s revelations at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) that intelligence agencies are intercepting the privileged communications between lawyer and client, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) is now considering whether intercepted legally privileged material has had a bearing on a sensitive and long-running case.

    • Make 2016 About Surveillance

      A lot has changed since Edward Snowden lifted the veil on the surveillance of millions of Americans. The NSA no longer enjoys an existence in the shadows, reform has been proposed in both houses of Congress, and public opinion overwhelmingly reflects a growing mistrust of the US government’s justifications for spying on its own citizens.

    • Privacy experts want UK national security boss to be honest, open

      “Given everything we’ve learned in the past 18 months, he chose not to address at all the very serious things that GCHQ stand accused of: blanket surveillance of the UK population with public knowledge and without parliamentary knowledge, [and] receiving warrantless bulk intercepts from the NSA on US and people around the world,” said Annie Machon, former MI5 intelligence officer and whistleblower.

    • Experts call for ‘return to human intelligence’ after Snowden

      The UK’s national security boss, Robert Hannigan, should come clean on surveillance and stop attacking technology companies, privacy experts have said.

      Intelligence agencies must use the debate sparked by Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations to overhaul their attitude to privacy and oversight, said the group speaking at Dublin’s Web Summit in November.

    • NY Times Urges News Sites To Embrace HTTPS/SSL… In An Article That Can’t Be Read Via HTTPS

      Earlier this year, Techdirt announced that it had gone over to HTTPS as a default to better protect everyone’s privacy on this site. As the Freedom of the Press Foundation recently pointed out, it appears that we’re one of only three media properties that do so, along with Muckrock and the Intercept. A few others have SSL, but not by default. But most don’t even have HTTPS at all.

    • The Snowden Effect on Privacy Attitudes

      More than 90 percent of the people who took part in the survey agree consumers have no control over their online information, and 88 percent understand it would be difficult to remove inaccurate information about them from the Internet. Eight out 10, the survey said, are aware of and concerned about advertisers and businesses taking advantage of what’s shared over social media.

    • Pierre Omidyar’s Weird Hiring Practices

      “To this day,” Glenn Greenwald told New York magazine recently, “I’ve never met Pierre in person.”

    • All Cameras Are Police Cameras

      The Sixth Wall will be made of intelligent dust which settles in the folds of your clothes and communicates your position and heart rate to orbiting satellites. London’s citizens will dream, and the images of their dreams will dance on the telescreens of Piccadilly Circus, and be found wanting.

  • Civil Rights

    • Ex-officer going to prison: ‘I’m the boogeyman’

      Darrell Beavers went to church with David Schofield, served on the Cincinnati Police Department and worked off-duty security jobs with him. Officer Beavers also patrolled the neighborhood where Schofield lives.

    • Sexual Relationship With A Minor, Theft Of Services And Destruction Of Evidence Nets Police Officer One-Year Prison Sentence
    • Cop Who Obtained Warrant To Take Photo Of Teen’s Erect Penis For Sexting Case Sues Teen’s Lawyer For Defamation

      One of the more remarkable intersections of law enforcement and sexting this year involved the Manassas City (VA) police department and a 17-year-old boy’s erect penis.

      Briefly: two teens — a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy — exchanged nude photos. Apparently, the boy went further, sending a nude video to the 15-year-old. The parents of the girl brought this to the police, who then sought to charge the 17-year-old with “possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography,” mainly because the law remains mostly “a ass” when it comes to teens sexting.

    • Mark Udall’s Open To Releasing CIA Torture Report Himself If Agreement Isn’t Reached Over Redactions

      As we were worried might happen, Senator Mark Udall lost his re-election campaign in Colorado, meaning that one of the few Senators who vocally pushed back against the surveillance state is about to leave the Senate. However, Trevor Timm pointed out that, now that there was effectively “nothing to lose,” Udall could go out with a bang and release the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report. The release of some of that report (a redacted version of the 400+ page “executive summary” — the full report is well over 6,000 pages) has been in limbo for months since the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to declassify it months ago. The CIA and the White House have been dragging out the process hoping to redact some of the most relevant info — perhaps hoping that a new, Republican-controlled Senate would just bury the report.

    • Doubt cast over US torture investigation as more CIA detainees come forward

      Lawyers for men allegedly tortured by the CIA say their clients were never interviewed as part of a major criminal investigation concluded in 2012

    • Sen. Mark Udall Contemplates Revealing CIA Torture Report
    • Los Angeles police using CIA software to track criminals, ex-cons

      New software used by the Los Angeles Police Department shows not only where crime is most likely to happen, but also tracks ex-cons and others likely to commit crimes. Civil rights groups are concerned over its use for entrapment and data collection.

    • LAPD’s CIA-developed computer fights crime, but not everybody’s happy about it

      Los Angeles police are increasingly relying on technology that not only tells patrol officers where crime is most likely to occur but also identifies and keeps track of ex-cons and other bad guys they believe are most likely to commit them.

      Police say the effort has already helped reduce crime in one of the city’s most notorious and historically gang-ridden neighborhoods.

    • FROSTED GLASS FALCONS AND OTHER GIFTS FOR YOUR FAVORITE CIA EMPLOYEE

      Qatar is the U.S.’ favorite rich relative, doling out 32 gifts worth a total of $100,568, mostly to the Air Force and the Defense Department. China gave 24 presents but it’s obviously cheap crap, adding up to just a measly $23,438. Afghanistan comes in third with 22, of which 16 are rugs. Iraq only gave the U.S. 8 things. Ingrates.

    • Is the U.S. really against torture? It can be hard to tell

      President Barack Obama brought the U.S. commitment against torture into sharper focus on Wednesday. For a president who prohibited torture as one of his first official acts, this shouldn’t be news. But it is.

      At issue is Washington’s interpretation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Seeking to exempt American abuse of detainees overseas, President George W. Bush had broken with his predecessors and claimed that the treaty didn’t apply outside the United States. This strained reading flew in the face of American values, the rule of law and the text of the 1987 treaty.

    • The US Says It Will Stop Using Torture … Mostly

      The Obama administration indicated on Wednesday that it will back away from a position held by the previous administration that claimed the United States is not obligated to abide by the UN Treaty Against Torture when operating on foreign soil. That’s the good news.

    • Philip Hammond: ‘UK could leave EU’ over renegotiations

      The UK must be ready to “stand up… and walk away” if it is unhappy with talks over its relationship with the European Union, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

      He told the Daily Telegraph agreement was possible on such issues as curbing EU migrant numbers into the UK.

    • Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

      The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

    • Hit and run is a crime in Florida — unless you’re a Florida State football player

      P. J. Williams totaled two cars and fled the scene. Cops gave him two tickets and didn’t ask if he’d been drinking

    • UK’s Home Secretary Says Terrorists Will Be The Real Winners If Country’s Cell Coverage Dead Zones Are Fixed

      The UK’s culture secretary wants to eradicate the nation’s patchy cell phone coverage. UK cell phone users aren’t able to switch towers on the fly — something residents of other EU countries (as well as the US) enjoy — but are forced to connect only with their provider’s towers.

    • Mexico: General Strike on November 20 for Missing Students

      The strike is scheduled to coincide with the national holiday commemorating the start of the Mexican Revolution.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Agrees With His Stance On Net Neutrality

      Comcast is one of two companies to have earned Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” title on more than one occasion (once in 2010 and again this year, 2014), and it looks like the company is lobbying for a third title. That is, unless there’s another explanation as to how the cable giant can claim (seemingly with straight face) that it’s in agreement with President Barack Obama for a free and open Internet.

      [...]

      Earlier this year, Netflix begrudgingly inked a multi-year deal with Comcast in which the streaming service agreed to pay a toll to ensure faster delivery into the homes of Comcast subscribers, who prior to the deal had been complaining of frequent buffering and video degradation when watching content on Netflix.

    • Behind Closed Doors, Ford, UPS, and Visa Push for Net Neutrality

      The corporate battle lines over the new federal rules for the Internet have been well established. Vocal technology startups have been leading the charge for muscular regulations for broadband access, and Internet service providers including Comcast (CMCSA) and Verizon (VZ) have been arguing loudly for more flexibility. Blue chip companies without obvious tech interests have kept a lower profile.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Perfect 10 Loses Yet Another Copyright Lawsuit, Once Again Losing To Giganews

        As we’ve noted in the past, Perfect 10 appears to be a company who’s entire reason for being is to set good precedents in copyright law, by filing ridiculous lawsuits and losing. So many important copyright precedents have come out of Perfect 10 cases, including ones on fair use and secondary liability. Some have argued (with fairly detailed explanations) how Perfect 10 is not a porn publisher at all, but rather a pure copyright troll that makes a living off of suing. While it seems to always lose in court, the problem is that some companies just pay up rather than fight. Back in 2011, we noted that Perfect 10 had sued Usenet provider Giganews. Earlier this year, the court smacked down Perfect 10 on a number of issues. And now, the court has done so again, handing a complete and total victory to Giganews.

IRC Proceedings: October 26th, 2014 – November 8th, 2014

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: October 26th – November 1st, 2014

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IRC Proceedings: November 2nd – November 8th, 2014

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