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04.18.14

Links 18/4/2014: New KDE, Kubuntu, and More

Posted in News Roundup at 5:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Amnesty Responds to Comments on CIA torture by Dr James Mitchell
    • John Pilger: Obama’s coup in Ukraine has ignited a civil war and lured Putin into a trap

      Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato enlargement project. Reneging on the Reagan administration’s promise to the Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has all but taken over eastern Europe. In the former Soviet caucuses, Nato’s military build-up is the most extensive since the second world war.

    • Why Allende had to die

      The truck owners’ strike was the final blow. Because of the wild geography of the country, the Chilean economy is at the mercy of its transport. To paralyse trucking is to paralyse the country. It was easy for the opposition to co-ordinate the strike, for the truckers’ guild was one of the groups most affected by the scarcity of replacement parts and, in addition, it found itself threatened by the government’s small pilot programme for providing adequate state trucking services in the extreme south of the nation. The stoppage lasted until the very end without a single moment of relief because it was financed with cash from outside. “The CIA flooded the country with dollars to support the strike by the bosses and . . . foreign capital found its way down into the formation of a black market,” Pablo Neruda wrote to a friend in Europe. One week before the coup, oil, milk and bread had run out.

    • In War, Truth Is the First Casualty

      Thank God we live in America, where this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

    • Greece’s Golden Dawn party describes Hitler as ‘great personality’
    • The criminalisation of anti-fascist protest

      Tomorrow, 14 April, the Metropolitan police and CPS will prosecute five anti-fascists arrested on 1 June 2013 while trying to stop the British National party from marching on the Cenotaph. Police decided the anti-fascist protest was a “threat to public safety” and imposed a dispersal order under section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986; 59 people were arrested. A few months later 286 protesters against the English Defence League, which had declared its intention to march on a park named after Altab Ali, who was murdered in a racist attack, were arrested in Tower Hamlets.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Seattle’s Elite Begin Their Counter Attack

      Seattle’s corporations were blindsided, it all happened so fast. Socialist candidate Kshama Sawant’s successful City Council campaign tore through Seattle politics like a tornado, leaving the 1% devastated, unable to cope with a storm they didn’t see coming. The Seattle elite had no way to counter her arguments, silence her supporters, or keep her from gathering a tidal wave of support for the $15 campaign. The establishment was paralyzed, powerless.

    • Caring too much. That’s the curse of the working classes

      “What I can’t understand is, why aren’t people rioting in the streets?” I hear this, now and then, from people of wealthy and powerful backgrounds. There is a kind of incredulity. “After all,” the subtext seems to read, “we scream bloody murder when anyone so much as threatens our tax shelters; if someone were to go after my access to food or shelter, I’d sure as hell be burning banks and storming parliament. What’s wrong with these people?”

      It’s a good question. One would think a government that has inflicted such suffering on those with the least resources to resist, without even turning the economy around, would have been at risk of political suicide. Instead, the basic logic of austerity has been accepted by almost everyone. Why? Why do politicians promising continued suffering win any working-class acquiescence, let alone support, at all?

      I think the very incredulity with which I began provides a partial answer. Working-class people may be, as we’re ceaselessly reminded, less meticulous about matters of law and propriety than their “betters”, but they’re also much less self-obsessed. They care more about their friends, families and communities. In aggregate, at least, they’re just fundamentally nicer.

    • Matt Taibbi: America Has A ‘Profound Hatred Of The Weak And The Poor’

      Living in America has taught Matt Taibbi that we as a society have “a profound hatred of the weak and the poor.”

      That’s one claim the former Rolling Stone writer makes in his new book, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.” Taibbi defended this statement in a HuffPost Live interview on Tuesday.

    • Happy Tax Day, and Why the Top 1% Pay a Much Lower Tax Rate Than You

      It’s tax time again, April 15, when our minds turn toward paying the taxes we owe or possibly getting a tax refund. But what we don’t think about enough is whether our tax system is fair. The richest 1 percent of Americans are now getting the largest percent of total national income in almost a century. So you might think they’d pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else.

    • New study finds US to be ruled by oligarchic elite

      Political scientists show that average American has “near-zero” influence on policy outcomes, but their groundbreaking study is not without problems.

      It’s not every day that an academic article in the arcane world of American political science makes headlines around the world, but then again, these aren’t normal days either. On Wednesday, various mainstream media outlets — including even the conservative British daily The Telegraph — ran a series of articles with essentially the same title: “Study finds that US is an oligarchy.” Or, as the Washington Post summed up: “Rich people rule!” The paper, according to the review in the Post, “should reshape how we think about American democracy.”

    • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

      • The Corruption of Mainstream Media

        America’s mainstream media still pretends it is the custodian of “serious journalism,” but that claim continues to erode as the corporate press shies away from its duty to challenge propaganda emanating from various parts of the U.S. government, as Danny Schechter describes.

    • Censorship

      • Censorship on the rise: CPJ

        According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the latest report documents 52 instances of censorship during the first three months of 2014 compared with 45 during the same period last year. The most notable example is the abrupt blackout of a live telecast on the final moments of parliamentary deliberations and voting on a controversial bill to create the new state of Telangana. While the government claims the blackout was due to a technical glitch, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) insists it was a tactical move by the ruling Congress party to ram through the vote to shore up support during an election in which its prospects look grim. Other parties also slammed the blackout as “undemocratic.”

      • Oliver Stone: China’s film-makers need to confront country’s past

        Hollywood’s habit of allowing Chinese censors to cut offending material from blockbuster movies has led to accusations of artistic surrender from some critics. But at least one US film-maker has clearly not been reading the script: Oliver Stone has told an audience in Beijing that the world’s most populous nation desperately needs to confront its past on the big screen if its burgeoning film industry is to be taken seriously.

      • Weibo Warns Censorship Could Hit Future Earnings
      • Turkey to censor tweets with ‘malicious’ content

        Twitter might not be banned in Turkey anymore, but the country’s government isn’t quite done putting it through the censorship wringer yet. In fact, Turkish Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan just released a written statement that says: “We [Twitter and Turkey] have reached a consensus to ‘neutralize’ malicious content that is the object of court decisions by pixelating.” He didn’t expound on what he means by “pixelating,” but it’s typically associated with the mosaic-like classic approach to censorship. If Turkish authorities can indeed blur out tweets, then this saga might have taken an even crazier turn. Since that’s bordering on the absurd, though, it’s possible that “pixelating” might have just been the term Lütfi used for Twitter’s Country Withheld Tool, which the website uses to hide tweets and accounts from a whole nation.

    • Privacy

    • Civil Rights

      • Answers and Questions About Military, Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agency Chatbots

        Sgt. Star is the U.S. Army’s dedicated marketing and recruitment chatbot, and he isn’t going to turn whistleblower any time soon. There’s no use threatening him for answers either—he’s programmed to report that kind of hostility to the Army Criminal Investigation Division.

      • Army comes clean about its recruitment AI, accidentally discloses info about pedophile- and terrorist-catching chatbots that roam the net

        Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, “Not too long ago, Boing Boing covered EFF’s (at the time) unsuccessful attempt to retreive records about Sgt. Star (the Army’s recruiter-bot) using the Freedom of Information Act. We’ve now received the files and compiled our research: It turns out Sgt. Star isn’t the only government chatbot — the FBI and CIA had them first.

      • US Has A ‘Secret Exception’ To Reasonable Suspicion For Putting People On The No Fly List

        Over the past few months, we covered the bizarre trial concerning Rahinah Ibrahim and her attempt to get off the no fly list. In January, there was an indication that the court had ordered her removed from the list, but without details. In February, a redacted version of the ruling revealed that the whole mess was because an FBI agent read the instructions wrong on a form and accidentally placed her on the no fly list, though we noted that some of the redactions were quite odd.

      • Outside counsel to probe FBI’s action in Guantánamo 9/11 case

        A four-day hearing meant to edge legal arguments closer to an actual 9/11 trial ended in uncertainty Thursday as the war crimes prosecutor named a special outside counsel to probe for possible FBI spying on defense lawyers.

      • Iranian woman pardons son’s killer — after slapping him at the gallows — moments before his scheduled execution

        But at the last minute, Hosseinzadeh’s mother, Samereh Alinejad, forgave him, after giving a speech to the crowd and then slapping Bilal in the face. Hosseinzadeh’s father helped take the noose off of Bilal, whose weeping mother hugged Alinejad in thanks, as seen in the photos.

      • Arundhati Roy: Another World Is Not Only Possible, She Is on Her Way

        Speech to the People’s University of the Occupy Movement

        Yesterday morning the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We’re not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for Justice. Justice, not just for the people of the United States, but for everybody. What you have achieved since September 17, when the Occupy Movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language, into the heart of Empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment. As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. I cannot thank you enough.

      • Bay Area transit police conduct militarized training exercises with TSA

        Among the problems that got us here is that the federal government asserts we have no Fourth Amendment rights at the border, and claims that the border extends a full 100 miles inside the country. That extremely broad definition of “the border” means two-thirds of Americans live in the Constitution Free Zone. To give you a sense of the magnitude of this assertion, consider that both the Bay Area and the entire state of Massachusetts fall within this 100-mile rights-swallowing vortex.

    • DRM

      • Kill-switch coming to smartphones

        CTIA and participating wireless companies today announced the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment,” which is the most recent effort by the industry to deter smartphone thefts in the U.S. The safety and security of wireless users remain the wireless industry’s top priority, and is why this commitment will continue to protect consumers while recognizing the companies’ need to retain flexibility so they may constantly innovate, which is key to stopping smartphone theft.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Grand majority of Parliament votes in favour of a regulation on investor-state lawsuits – Greens sharply criticise the result

        Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) has come into the focus of critics since the start of negotiations on a free trade agreement with the US (TTIP). ISDS means that foreign investors can sue the states hosting their investments in front of international courts when they see their rights and profit expectations violated. Often it is environmental or social legislation of a state which investors claim to be in violation of their investment expectations. Currently, for example, Vattenfall is suing the German federal government for 3 billion euros because of the German nuclear phase-out. Since Lisbon, the EU has gained the competence on investment policy, and thus also on ISDS policy. This Regulation establishes rules on whether EU or Member States act as a defendant in ISDS proceedings and who pays in the case of successful investor claims.

      • Copyrights

Some Perspective on Heartbleed®

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 8:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Looking through the tube

Summary: Our views on the whole Heartbleed® bonanza, which seems like partly a PR stunt (for multiple stakeholders)

A LOT has been said about Heartbleed® since the firm of Microsoft's 'former' security chief (who had worked with the FBI, the NSA’s more evil twin) irresponsibly 'leaked' the flaw, and did so at the very same moment that Windows XP users rushed to GNU/Linux for security reasons. I know of such users (even corporations I deal with) and I saw their reaction to this unforeseen ‘leak’. Funny timing.

In this post we outline some key facts (carefully and patiently studied over the past 10 days). As my doctoral degree is not far from cryptography and I have consulted people who do security for a living, I can assure readers that we do grasp the technical details, unlike many so-called ‘journalists’ with degrees in English or history. We are not going to delve into less plausible theories like a connection between the flaw and the NSA although there are circumstantial connections, an NSA program specifically designated to this (NSA operation ORCHESTRA), and we already know that Red Hat relays non-SELinux code directly from the NSA to Torvalds, as we covered earlier this year (meaning that only a developer in the middle knows where the code originally came from). In this particular post we are going to focus on other important points that ought to be made now that Heartbleed® is mostly out of the headlines and little new information will come out during Easter. This post is based on assessment of about 100 reports and subsequent research lasting many hours.

A little and slightly old tidbit shared with us by iophk (a network security professional) said that even the NSA and its circles are negatively affected by Heartbleed®. This article states: “”I am waiting for a patch,” said Jeff Moss, a security adviser to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and founder of the Def Con hacking conference.”

There are reasons to believe that the NSA was not aware of this flaw or had not exploited it. For instance, the government’s demands from Lavabit may suggest that OpenSSL back doors were not known at that time (2013). Also, reading all about the personal background of the man behind the bug, it’s nearly impossible to find any connection to the NSA and its ilk. The guy is German, but another German Danish developer (Poul-Henning Kamp, a FreeBSD and Varnish developer) spoke only some months ago about a US program of introducing bugs into FOSS (see “NSA operation ORCHESTRA” above).

iophk responds to the article about firewalls woes by asking: “Why the hell is he not running one based on Linux or BSD? Something’s not right. Proprietary “solutions” have no place in infrastructure for just these kinds of reasons.”

Well, with Windows, for example, the NSA perhaps assumes a monopoly on back doors. It’s a form of total control.

The BSD community, which is also behind OpenSSH, has begun doing some commendable things [1,2] short of throwing away OpenSSL [3]. There is a new release of GnuTLS [4], for example, but we cannot be 100% certain that GnuTLS is immune to “bug doors”, as Julian Assange recently called them. “GnuTLS was immune to the OpenSSL bug,” writes iophk, “but in regards to the latter was ‘responsible disclosure’ followed? I got the feeling that it wasn’t and that the web site was set up and publicized before even the OpenSSL team was informed. Where can I find a detailed timeline of events?”

Well, a deceiving timeline was later published by the Australian press. Security gurus have widely chastised this form of ‘responsible’ disclosure of Heartbleed®; even the project site of OpenSSL hadn’t been patched before the disclosure. The same goes for the FBI, which again helps validate claims that the government was not fully aware of the issue.

OpenSSL was having limited resources and some articles covered it [5-7]. Regardless, it’s now claimed NSA knew about the bug for 2 years and we should always remember that Microsoft’s Howard Schmidt was connected to FBI before his firm published Heartbleed® for fame, fun, and profit. It’s not just Microsoft that makes his motives a tad suspicious. The whole Heartbleed® thing “has a very media friendly name and a cute logo,” as a British FOSS professional put it. It’s like a branding exercise. Also see this post titled “What Heartbleed Can Teach The OSS Community About Marketing”. “Ties in a bit with what you’ve posted,” iophk told me after I had noted the marketing angle.

As a recap, Heartbleed® was pretty much branded and released like a product by a firm headed by a Microsoft (and FBI) veteran. This firm also works with Microsoft, so the disclosure on Windows XP’s EOL date is too hard to ignore, If this was already known about by the NSA for years, then one may wonder if the disclosure came through whispers rather than research. Glyn Moody was told by Wikileaks (Twitter account seemingly run only by Julian Assange) that “Assange spoke about vulnerability of OS’s to bribes and bugdoors in upstream components.”

Howard Schmidt (chairman of board of company that marketed Heartbleed®) worked with the FBI and another NSA partner/PRISM pioneer (Microsoft). If the NSA knew about the bug, then one wonders what role Schmidt may have played. The last thing that the NSA wants is people (especially outside the US) adopting Free software and GNU/Linux because Microsoft is where back doors are; by design, not by accident. Heartbleed® was reportedly known to the NSA for years (every article that claims this cites Bloomberg, which is notable corporate press and usually a bit dubious when it comes to agenda). If true, this was the type of bug that Edward Snowden’s leaks had alluded to (bug doors, not back doors). Schmidt et al. might be trying to exploit it for FUD and profit, by opportunistically divulging it as soon as mass migration to GNU/Linux in enterprises and homes begins. A decade ago it seemed like a back door had been put inside Linux by the NSA, but the developers caught the intrusion and removed it. There were numerous reports last year saying that the NSA had approached Torvalds, asking him for back doors in Linux, so what Seggelmann did in OpenSSL should not be treated too lightly. The time of the committal is a little suspicious [8] (people away from home to celebrate New Year) and the reputation of OpenSSL is now thoroughly destroyed, which will help its competitors (including proprietary) [9]. There is now a lot of FUD out there about FOSS (the only one we’re willing to cite is [10] because it’s not too malicious), sometimes coming from the mouths of Microsoft boosters or challenging Torvalds’ famous “law” [11,12]. I even get taunted over this in Twitter. The old FUD is back, never mind Coverity’s latest report which again contradicts such FUD.

Mind the article “Heartbleed security flaw may not be as dangerous as thought” [13], which sheds some light on who’s able to exploit and who’s not able to exploit Heartbleed® given the resource limitations (the thing about crackers of the NSA and GCHQ is that they have supercomputers to have a crack at it, and the same is probably true when it comes to the FBI, which is in many ways worse and more aggressive than the NSA; the FBI infiltrates Windows with CIPAV). If the widely-cited reports are true and the NSA knew Heartbleed® (and used it for two years) [14-17], then it’s a massive revelation (the NSA denies this, but denials from the NSA are worthless given its track record when it comes to truth-telling).

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the story is, the NSA may have discovered Heartbleed® years ago (if not made it, which sounds unlikely [18]) and the firm of Microsoft’s ‘former’ security chief is making a profit from this [19] (the Heartbleed® bounty is partly paid by Microsoft and the partly Microsoft-owned Facebook). A bunch of opportunists got paid for irresponsible disclosure that damaged the Internet [20,21] and harmed many people’s privacy (potentially leading to some people’s deaths).

The GNU/Linux brand is profoundly damaged by this (many GNU/Linux sites mentioned it [22-24]) even though the bug also affects Windows and Apple operating systems. To us it will always seem like marketing campaign coordinated to take place at a strategic date (Windows XP EOL).

Has Microsoft’s Howard Schmidt decided to ‘leak’ it to distract from XP EOL (which means insecurity by policy)? Perhaps. Schmidt had worked with the FBI, so he could have some inside knowledge. He might have former colleagues who could tell him about this (even leak it to him) before he would hype it up, give it a scary name, make a dot com web site, a logo, et cetera, essentially ‘merchandising’ the FUD.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL
  2. OpenBSD has started a massive strip-down and cleanup of OpenSSL
  3. Please Put OpenSSL Out of Its Misery
  4. GNUtls: GnuTLS 3.3.0
  5. How to stop the next Heartbleed bug: pay open-source coders to protect us
  6. Will Open-Source Money Prevent the Next Heartbleed?
  7. 3 big lessons to learn from Heartbleed

    The devastating OpenSSL vulnerability proves the importance of data center orchestration, the wisdom of running older versions, and the need to give back to the OpenSSL project

  8. Heartbleed: developer who introduced the error regrets ‘oversight’

    Submitted just seconds before new year in 2012, the bug ‘slipped through’ – but discovery ‘validates’ open source

  9. After Heartbleed: 4 OpenSSL alternatives that work
  10. Heartbleed: Open source’s worst hour”>Heartbleed: Open source’s worst hour
  11. Does the Heartbleed bug refute Linus’s Law?

    The mistake being made here is a classic example of Frederic Bastiat’s “things seen versus things unseen”. Critics of Linus’s Law overweight the bug they can see and underweight the high probability that equivalently positioned closed-source security flaws they can’t see are actually far worse, just so far undiscovered.

  12. Heartbleed: Is Linus Torvald’s law invalid?

    How much data was compromised? How many billions lost? None that we know of. How much does the world loses every year because of Microsoft’s proprietary technologies? Billions of dollars are lost; nations’ securities are compromised and people lives are exposed to risks.

    A majority of NSA attacks won’t be possible without bugs in Microsoft products which the company reportedly shares with the agency so that it can be exploited to hack into computers that NSA can spy on. Microsoft bugs allowed USA to take down nuclear programs of countries like Iran, Microsoft bugs enabled NSA to spy on French president. Microsoft bugs allowed ‘alleged’ Chinese crackers to run a massive scale espionage against human rights activists in the US. In addition there are unaccounted thousands of cases every year where people and businesses lose millions due to security holes in Microsoft products.

  13. Heartbleed security flaw may not be as dangerous as thought

    But today, the content distribution network CloudFlare has announced Heartbleed may not allow access to those private keys after all. In two weeks of testing, the company has been unable to successfully access private keys with Heartbleed, suggesting the attack may not be possible at all. “If it is possible, it is at a minimum very hard,” researcher Nick Sullivan writes. “And we have reason to believe… that it may in fact be impossible.” If true, it makes Heartbleed much less dangerous than many had feared, offering a saving grace for compromised sites. Sullivan acknowledged that, in security tests, some private keys had been revealed by first requests to Apache servers, but he linked this to the process of restarting the server, which would severely limit the exposure to outside actors. Methods have also surfaced to help services tell if attackers have hit their servers using the bug. “Heartbleed still is extremely dangerous,” says CEO Matthew Prince, “but some of the worst fears about it having been used by organizations like the NSA to hoover up everyone’s private SSL keys look pretty unlikely to us based on this testing.”

  14. NSA has been exploiting Heartbleed for two years, leaving Americans exposed to cyber criminals: report [updated]

    As people were wondering NSA’s role in Heartbleed, it turned out that the agency was reportedly aware of the bug, as Bloomberg reports, for the last two years and has been exploiting it to spy on people. If the reports are true and NSA was aware of the bug and instead of getting it fixed it let extremely critical info of US citizens exposed to cyber criminals then NSA does need more oversight from the government.

    Heartbleed was not some minor bug, it affected almost every major web-service including Gmail, Amazon, Yahoo! and many more – holding the potential of exposing sensitive data to criminals. However, as soon as the bug was discovered the Open Source community immediately responded, patched the bug and start pushing the updates.

    While the Americans and the people from around the globe were exposed to cybercriminals, NSA was supposedly busy harvesting passwords and other critical to add it to already massive database.

    Bloomberg quotes Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer, “It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first. They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

  15. NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years
  16. Bloomberg: NSA Knew About, Exploited Open Source Heartbleed Bug for Years
  17. The NSA has exploited Heartbleed bug for years, Bloomberg reports
  18. Heartbleed coder admits ‘oversight’ but backs open source

    Seggelmann submitted the code at 11:59pm on New Year’s Eve 2011, but claims the timing had nothing to do with the mistake. Although the bug was also missed by the review process for OpenSSL, an open source project written and reviewed by volunteers, Seggelmann told British newspaper The Guardian that the bug’s eventual discovery shows the value of publically available open source code.

  19. Why a hacker got paid for finding the Heartbleed bug

    Microsoft and Facebook have also provided financial backing to Internet Bug Bounty, out of which Mehta’s prize money came, after running their own internal bug bounties that were very successful. Their money is benefiting the internet as a whole, but they don’t decide what money goes where.

  20. The Internet’s Telltale Heartbleed
  21. Heartbleed developer explains OpenSSL mistake that put Web at risk
  22. SteamOS Affected by Heartbleed Bug, Valve Hasn’t Updated the OS Yet
  23. Linux Foundation Responds to the Heartbleed Bug

    It’s nearly impossible to know for sure, due to the nature of the vulnerability, how much the Heartbleed vulnerability was used to snoop on secure data. We recommend for our sites the same as for other sites: first, watch for a statement to come out from your financial institutions, email providers, and others, which shares whether they were affected. Start changing your passwords. Use different passwords on different sites and store them in a password safe like KeePass, LastPass or 1Password. That way, if any sites that remain vulnerable leak your password, it won’t affect any other sites. Check back on sites that post statements after you changed the password, and then change the passwords again if needed.

  24. Working Out “Serious Security Flaws” In DRM Drivers

    While many are still busy working through fallout of the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug within organizations, on a separate but security related note, kernel developers specializing in the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) graphics drivers are working to beef up their own driver security.

Microsoft is Leaving Windows — Including Vista 8.1 — Vulnerable to Non-Government Crackers, Not Only to NSA

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Install the latest back doors or be left vulnerable to crackers other than the NSA

Back doors

Summary: Microsoft makes it ever more evident that securing users of Windows is not at all a priority, and perhaps not even a desire

MICROSOFT WILL never brag about it to the public (only to the government), but Windows, including Vista 8, contains back doors for the NSA. While FOSS developers work hard to ensure security of their programs, with Microsoft any such concerns are irrelevant because security is not even a goal.

It was rather amusing to see this report which says “Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched; users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches” (the report is titled “Microsoft confirms it’s dropping Windows 8.1 support” and it was published by the Microsoft-affiliated IDG).

But wait, it gets worse than abandonment of users and NSA back doors. According to this: “If you still have XP and use Microsoft Security Essentials you will have problems today.. You will get errors relating to MsMpEng.exe when trying to go into windows and windows will slow down to a crawl mimicking a virus.. You need to boot into safe mode and disable the Microsoft Antimalware Service in your services then boot into your normal profile and uninstall the program.”

“Microsoft makes shutdown of their meaningless “security” application cripple XP,” wrote Will Hill. “I’m surprised that I have not gotten any calls about this. Oh yeah, no one is at work yet. I don’t think the treatment planning computers use this, but I’m going to sent a heads up.”

So Microsoft goes further in making Windows XP users less secure from non-government crackers. Wonderful!

04.17.14

Links 17/4/2014: Android RDP, New Ubuntu, RHEL 7 Milestone

Posted in News Roundup at 4:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Witnesses Report a ‘Loud Noise’ Before Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast

    It’s not clear what caused the multi-story vessel to list and sink, but witnesses reported an impact and loud noise just before the ship began to roll over in the water.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World

      Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation

      Fear replaced communal atmosphere in Donetsk’s Jewish community as armed men handed out a leaflet Passover eve calling on Jews register their religion and property with the interim pro-Russian government or face deportation and loss of citizenship.

    • “We Are Not Beginning a New Cold War, We are Well into It”: Stephen Cohen on Russia-Ukraine Crisis

      As negotiations over the crisis in Ukraine begin in Geneva, tension is rising in the Ukrainian east after security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in the city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials said the pro-Russian separatists had attempted to storm a military base. The killings came just after the unraveling of a Ukrainian operation to retake government buildings from pro-Russian separatists. Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an “abyss” and refused to rule out sending forces into Ukraine. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced a series of steps to reinforce its presence in eastern Europe. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land,” Rasmussen said. We are joined by Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. “We are not at the beginning of a new Cold War, we are well into it,” Cohen says, “which alerts us to the fact ‘hot war’ is imaginable now. It’s unlikely, but it’s conceivable — and if it’s conceivable, something has to be done about it.”

    • Putin reveals NATO chief secretly recorded their talk, leaked it to media

      Vladimir Putin says that current NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen secretly recorded and leaked a private conversation with him, when he was the head of the Danish government.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Thousands of China workers on strike

      Labour disputes pop up regularly in China, but one strike in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan is attracting attention because of its size.

    • The Neoliberal Theory of Society: The Ideological Foundations of Neo-liberalism

      Neoliberalism presents itself as a doctrine based on the inexorable truths of modern economics. However, despite its scientific trappings, modern economics is not a scientific discipline but the rigorous elaboration of a very specific social theory, which has become so deeply embedded in western thought as to have established itself as no more than common sense, despite the fact that its fundamental assumptions are patently absurd. The foundations of modern economics, and of the ideology of neoliberalism, go back to Adam Smith and his great work, The Wealth of Nations. Over the past two centuries Smith’s arguments have been formalised and developed with greater analytical rigour, but the fundamental assumptions underpinning neoliberalism remain those proposed by Adam Smith.

    • Markets Are the Problem (Not the Solution)

      As might be expected, underlying this monument to excess is an army of laborers from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. These desperate souls arrive heavily indebted to recruiters and those who pay their passage, only to be brutally exploited by sponsoring employers, who confiscate their passports. It is a system of semi-slave labor; workers are not free to leave, even if they have not been paid.

    • Nearly one million people relying on food handouts in UK

      One of Britain’s largest food charities says that more than 900,000 people visited its food banks last year. The Wednesday report comes as 600 religious leaders urge the government to take action against the country’s growing hunger problem.

      The new information shows the shocking number of people reliant on food handouts in the UK, largely because of harsh new benefits sanctions.

      According to The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank charity, 913,138 people received emergency food aid from the organization in 2013-2014, compared to just 346,992 in 2012-2013 – marking an increase of 163 percent.

  • Censorship

    • Did You Retweet The USAir Pornographic Tweet? You May Have Violated New Jersey’s Revenge Porn Law

      We’ve pointed out for a while how the various attempts at creating revenge porn bills will have serious unintended consequences and raise serious First Amendment issues. This is not to minimize the problems of revenge porn (or to absolve the sick and depraved individuals who put together, submit to or regularly visit such sites). However, it’s to point out that pretty much any way you try to legislate such actions as criminal likely will create other problems. For example, I’m sure many of you heard the story recently about US Airways… um… unfortunate pornographic tweet. It was the story of the internet a few days ago, in which a United Air social media employee did a very unfortunate cut and paste error, tweeting out a very graphic image that involved a naked woman and a plane where it… doesn’t quite belong (for slightly lighter fare, I highly recommend reading some of the of the funny replies to that tweet). For what it’s worth, US Air has said that it was an honest mistake and it’s not even firing the person responsible.

    • US Airways Tweeted An Extreme Pornographic Image And Left It Up For A Long Time

      The photo shows a completely nude woman on her back with a plane inserted into her vagina.

  • Privacy

    • Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked with glue mould

      The fingerprint sensor on Samsung’s Galaxy S5 handset has been hacked less than a week after the device went on sale.

      Berlin-based Security Research Labs fooled the equipment using a mould it had previously created to spoof the sensor on Apple’s iPhone 5S.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Racing to 1984: Mass Surveillance, Cracking, ‘Targeted’ Assassinations, and Illegal Torture

Posted in News Roundup at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pulitzer

  • Exposing the NSA: A Public Service Worthy of a Pulitzer Prize

    Earlier this week, journalism’s most prestigious award, the Pulitzer Prize for public serice, was given to two newspapers for their exposés of mass surveillance by the U.S. government. The award citation praised the Washington Post for “its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.” The Guardian was recognized for “aggressive reporting” that helped “to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.”

  • Pulitzer Prize Winners 2014: Edward Snowden NSA Leaks, Boston Marathon Coverage Win Awards

Cracking

Lavaboom and Lavabit

  • Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches

    Lavaboom, a German-based and supposedly NSA-proof email service, will go into private beta this week. Its mission is to spread the Edward Snowden gospel by making encrypted email accessible to all.

  • ‘Zero knowledge privacy’: NSA-proof email service goes online

    A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping.

    Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it shut down its operations in August last year. The service pioneers a new system called “zero-knowledge privacy”, which allows users to personally encrypt and decrypt their mail from their browsers using JavaScript codes.

  • Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over Edward Snowden encryption keys

    Court ruled against Lavabit for refusing to hand over encryption keys to government investigation into NSA whistleblower

  • Edward Snowden Email Firm Loses Appeal On Contempt Charge
  • Here’s the software that helps Edward Snowden avoid the NSA

    Edward Snowden hasn’t escaped the NSA’s watchful eyes purely by exploiting lax security — he also uses the right software. He communicates with the media using Tails, a customized version of Linux that makes it easy to use Tor’s anonymity network and other tools that keep data private. The software loads from external drives and doesn’t store anything locally, so it’s relatively trivial for Snowden and his contacts to discuss leaks without leaving a trace.

Europe

US

  • NSA whistleblowers to speak at WCU

    Bill Binney and Thomas Drake, both former executives with that agency, plan to discuss their views on the collection of personal data by the NSA as well as the risk taken by those who expose wrongdoings and violations of the law, according to a release from the university.

  • NSA has ‘piggybacked’ on corporate surveillance efforts

    As online providers thrive on offering free products and services in exchange for marketing data, government has started piggybacking on these surveillance mechanisms.

  • The IRS is Taking a Page From the NSA’s Playbook and Snooping on Social Media

    According to Marketplace the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which loses an estimated $300 billion due to tax evasion every year, is using data from social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in order to investigate those who don’t file taxes or file suspicious returns.

  • Is the NSA out of control?

    An attorney and specialist on Constitutional Law, Shahid Buttar, was the third panel member. He is the Executive Director of the “Bill of Rights Defense Committee.” Buttar traced the history of government-sanctioned spying and warned that the NSA’s egregious conduct has currently reached Orwellian proportions and is a serious threat to “Freedom of Thought”

Drones

Militarism

  • 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.

  • America’s Great Leap towards Global Tyranny

    Not only is there a quantitative difference now, there is a new qualitative difference. After the holocaust of Vietnam (3 million dead Vietnamese justify the term), the United States military realized that it could no longer depend upon citizen-soldiers in its colonial wars. It also realized that that it could no longer tolerate even a moderately free press nosing around its battlegrounds, thus was born the idea of an imbedded press in a professional army. Of course, in the intervening years, America’s press itself changed, becoming an intensely concentrated corporate industry whose editorial policies are invariably in lock-step over colonial wars and interventions and coups, almost as though it were an unofficial department of government. In addition, this corporatized press has abandoned traditional responsibilities of explaining even modestly world affairs, reportage resources having been slashed by merged corporate interests as well as by new economic pressures on advertising revenue, the result of changing technologies.

  • Why isn’t the K.C. shooting suspect a ‘terrorist?’

    Frazier Glenn Cross is a former KKK leader with political ambitions accused of killing three people outside Jewish centers. The shooting seems to fit the Justice Department’s definition of terrorism: 1) premeditated, 2) political, 3) aimed at civilians, 4) and not carried out by another nation. And yet, this has been classified as a hate crime.

  • US Air Strike Kills Three Civilians in Eastern Afghanistan

    An overnight US air strike against the Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan has killed three civilians, a woman and her two children. It also injured the father of the children.

  • Militias and mayhem: The truth about American military assistance in Libya

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

    That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email. “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.”

    As it happens, mention of this shadowy mission on the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa was revealed in an official briefing prepared for AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez in the fall of 2013. In the months since, the plan may have been permanently shelved in favor of a training mission carried out entirely in Bulgaria. The document nonetheless highlights the U.S. military’s penchant for simple solutions to complex problems — with a well-documented potential for blowback in Africa and beyond. It also raises serious questions about the recurring methods employed by the U.S. to stop the violence its actions helped spark in the first place.

  • Too High A Price

    Why we need to #movethemoney out of the military and into healing people and the planet

  • Putin Jokes on Possible Reunification of Alaska with Russia: Who Needs It?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin jokingly commented on a suggestion of unifying Alaska with Russia the same way as with Crimea.
    Alaska was part of Russia until 1867 and was sold to the United States for $7.2 million in gold.

  • Why CIA Director Brennan Visited Kiev: In Ukraine The Covert War Has Begun

    Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, Vladimir Putin has said, and he should know because the country is already in the midst of a covert intelligence war. Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine’s communications systems – and Washington isn’t about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.

  • CIA Directs Kiev Proxy Regime to Launch Military Assault against Rebels in Eastern Ukraine
  • CIA director in Kiev searching for missing mercenaries

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed that CIA director John Brennan was in Kiev last weekend. One of his advisors told the newspaper Vzgliad that Brennan had not come to oversee the “anti-terrorist” operations conducted by the Ukrainian authorities, but to seek information and rescue twenty Greystone Ltd mercenaries of whom there has been no news.

  • CIA presence in Ukraine gives the wrong impression, senator warns

    CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev this weekend as pro-Russian militants seized control of a police station in eastern Ukraine. The reason for Brennan’s visit is still unknown.

Torture

04.16.14

More Microsoft Subsidies to Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 3:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent sharks still collaborate

Bill and Nathan

Summary: Microsoft hands money to Bill Gates’ close friend who is the world’s largest patent troll

WE recently explained that Apple and Microsoft were helping trolls and preventing patent reform in the United State. Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll (funded in part by Microsoft and Bill Gates) was having financial difficulties, so guess who’s stepping in to the rescue, essentially subsidising trolling? Intellectual Ventures is said to have “persuaded Microsoft and Sony to invest in its latest acquisition fund” (of patents). Once again, as in Rockstar, Microsoft and Sony align in patent agenda and as Masnick puts it, “while many of the companies have indeed avoided giving IV any more money, it appears that Microsoft and Sony were quite happy to dump a lot more cash into IV, which has now ramped up its patent buying efforts again (as well as its lobbying and political contributions in an effort to kill off patent reform). Microsoft, of course, has always been close to IV, seeing as it was started by the company’s former CTO, Nathan Myhrvold, who is also a close friend of Bill Gates (who has directly helped IV get some patents). Similarly, Microsoft has become one of the most aggressive patent abusers over the last decade, increasingly relying on its stock of patents to make money from other people’s innovations, rather than innovating on its own.”

“This is racketeering by proxy.”Masnick correctly concludes that “via Intellectual Ventures and its own patent holdings, Microsoft seems to be trying to make sure Gates’ prediction is a reality. It all fits in to the same paradigm we’ve observed for years. When you’re young, you innovate. When you’re old, you litigate. Microsoft appears to have given up on innovation, but is ramping up on litigation, and re-investing in patent trolling via Intellectual Ventures is merely the latest step.”

This is racketeering by proxy. It’s part of the patent-stacking strategy which includes even Nokia and Apple. Bill Gates, which is a close partner of the world’s largest troll, has a lot to do with it. In a system where billionaires enjoy zero accountability jails are reserved only for petty ‘crimes’.

Aiding Microsoft Under the Disguise of ‘Pro-FOSS’

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Mono at 2:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Not everything which is FOSS necessary becomes, by virtue of existence, a positive contribution, as we are constantly reminded by projects that help proprietary software and/or restrictions get a strong grip on FOSS

THE word is out that Mono booster Seif Lotfy has just joined the Microsoft Trojan horse best known as Ximian/Novell/Xamarin — the company where Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza uses financial support from Microsoft to infect everything (not just FOSS) with .NET. This is yet another recruitment which helps reinforce our suspicions about the goals of Xamarin.

Meanwhile, suggests this post from a UEFI ‘secure’ boot apologist, “a significant proportion of existing systems can probably have their Secure Boot implementation circumvented.”

So why support them in the first place? We have already shown several ways of breaking ‘secure’ boot and even remotely vendalising entire motherboards using ‘secure’ boot. Both Mono and ‘secure’ boot deserve to be dropped into the digital wastebasket. Their outcome is harm to FOSS and to computing in general.

Links 16/4/2014: Red Hat PR, Ubuntu LTS Imminent

Posted in News Roundup at 2:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Code Has Fewer Defects Than Proprietary Software

    The latest Coverity Scan Open Source Report suggests that the quality of programming in free C and C++ projects is improving

  • Coverity finds open source software quality better than proprietary code
  • Web Browsers

    • Tor Browser: An Ultimate Web Browser for Anonymous Web Browsing in Linux

      Most of us give a considerable time of ours to Internet. The primary Application we require to perform our internet activity is a browser, a web browser to be more perfect. Over Internet most of our’s activity is logged to Server/Client machine which includes IP address, Geographical Location, search/activity trends and a whole lots of Information which can potentially be very harmful, if used intentionally the other way.

    • Mozilla

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • IBM Debuts New Big Data Software-Defined Storage Platform for the Cloud

      Big Data is placing new storage demands on enterprises, and IBM is aiming to address their needs with a new software-defined storage platform for the cloud called SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center (VSC).

    • Dell and Red Hat’s OpenStack Partnership Deepens

      Dell has unveiled a series of upgrades and announcements focused on the datacenter this week, and is deepening its cloud computing ties with Red Hat, as the firms focus on OpenStack. Dell and Red Hat recently announced that Dell will effectively become an OEM for Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform by selling systems that run the platform. Dell has also joined the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network as an Alliance Partner.

    • Giving rise to the cloud with OpenStack Heat

      Setting up an application server in the cloud isn’t that hard if you’re familiar with the tools and your application’s requirements. But what if you needed to do it dozens or hundreds of times, maybe even in one day? Enter Heat, the OpenStack Orchestration project. Heat provides a templating system for rolling out infrastructure within OpenStack to automate the process and attach the right resources to each new instance of your application.

    • Leading Linux Players Rapidly Shift Their Emphasis to the Cloud

      This week, not only is Red Hat touting its success at getting a number of notable enterprises to choose its Linux platform and OpenStack offering for deployments, but Canonical is rolling out Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and highlighting it as the best way to build out an OpenStack cloud environment. These efforts underscore that leading Linux platforms and cloud computing are going to be joined at the hip going forward, and the players behind them will need to offer top-notch support and compatibility. .

  • Education

  • Business

    • Open Source Big Data Vendor Talend Adds SaaS Analytics Partner

      Talend and Blue Yonder have partnered on a new solution for streamlining Big Data analytics using SaaS and open source software.

    • Box launches Box Open Source

      In a tweet, chief Executive Aaron Levie announced the project. “Box couldn’t exist without open source projects. We’re announcing Box Open Source to now give back our own,” he said. The firm also detailed the project in a blog post.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 4.9.0 release candidate available

      GCC 4.9.0 Release Candidate available from gcc.gnu.org

    • Financial transparency: where your money goes with MediaGoblin

      Okay! Now that’s a bit easier to read. From the chart it’s easy to see that the vast majority of money went toward development itself. Actually, if you combine this with travel (ie, reimbursement for myself and another contributor speaking about MediaGoblin or participating in MediaGoblin hackfests), that’s over 80% of the budget right there directly to the most important part of the project… developing the project itself! (We’ll come back to the development section in a moment… but first let’s get the smaller slices of the chart out of the way.)

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU countries ‘prefer open specifications’

      The EU member states that are working on interoperability and alignment of e-government services say open specifications are crucial to building European public services. Open specifications allow the EU’s public administrations to align their approaches to interoperability, according to an analysis of the interoperability programmes in 19 member states. The study flags the need to monitor the use of open technical specification and standards.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Open data hackathon tackles cultural preservation

        More and more galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) are digitizing their collections to make them accessible online and to preserve our heritage for future generations. By January 2014, over 30 million objects have been made available via Europeana—among which over 4.5 million records were contributed from German institutions.

  • Programming

    • April 2014 Project of the Month, Free Pascal

      For our April Community Choice Project of the Month, our community has selected Free Pascal, an advanced open source compiler for Pascal and Object Pascal. The project founder, Florian Klaempfl, tells us about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

    • Lightweight Virtual Environments in Python 3.4

      Customizing Python’s virtual environments for projects with conflicting library requirements or different Python versions is now easy in Python 3.3 and 3.4.

Leftovers

  • These Abandoned, Half-Demolished Towers Look Too Pretty to Destroy

    This colorful scene isn’t a view of a new luxury loft. It’s Rabot Towers, an abandoned public housing project in Ghent, Belgium. When the first stage of demolition removed the building’s exterior walls, the former blight became an unexpected beauty, captured here by photographer Pieter Lozie.

  • Hardware

    • Wintel Sinks Further

      As expected, Intel has raised prices in an attempt to maintain profits as long as possible rather than trusting the market to yield them a reasonable living. This will hasten the demise of Wintel as consumers see greater advantages to switching to */Linux on ARM.

  • Security

    • Akamai Admits Its Heartbleed Patch Was Faulty, Has To Reissue All SSL Certs And Keys

      The web is a dangerous place these days. Akamai, which many large companies rely on for hosting as a CDN, has admitted that its Heartbleed patch was faulty, meaning that it was possible that the SSL keys “could have been exposed to an adversary exploiting the Heartbleed vulnerability.” Akamai had already noted that it was more protected against Heartbleed than others, because of custom code it had used for its own OpenSSL deployment. However, as researchers looked through that custom code, they found some significant defects in it. Some people have been arguing that the Heartbleed bug highlights a weakness in open source software — but that’s not necessarily true. Pretty much all software has vulnerabilities. And, sometimes, by open sourcing stuff you can find those vulnerabilities faster.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The Attack on Russia is Mounting

      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.

      If Ukraine dissolves into secession with the former Russian territories reverting to Russia, Washington will be embarrassed that the result of its coup in Kiev was to restore the Russian provinces of Ukraine to Russia. To avoid this embarrassment, Washington is pushing the crisis toward war.

    • How Native Americans were crucial to defeat the Nazis and Japan in WW2
  • Finance

    • Mt. Gox Files for Liquidation

      Mt. Gox’s website, on Feb 26, posted a statement showing that the company had gone offline.

    • Why No Sustained Protests (Yet)?

      True, little is gained from sterile debates over whether program or organization is the “more” important object for activists. The point is that disorganization is now a major weakness. The United States left fell victim to recurring repressive demonizations of programs, individuals and especially organizations with anti-business and anti-capitalist objectives. To revive left protest on a scale comparable to the 1930s would require rebuilding the multiple, complex layers of connection among diverse components of the left (including those with such objectives).

    • This is Not an ‘Economic Recovery’, This is Plunder

      Everything you need to know about Cameron’s idea of economic recovery was summed up by the front page the Mirror this morning. 1 million food parcels have been handed out to hungry Britons, in the world’s sixth largest economy, and at a time that the economy is growing. What price economic ‘recovery’?

    • Toronto Star hiring 8 digital journalists at “market-based salaries”

      The Toronto Star announced it will hire eight digital journalists who will be paid less than other journalists in the newsroom and it is considering another round of editorial buyouts. The newspaper also laid off 11 full-time page editors and eight staff in the circulation department.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Quiz your MEP candidates on digital rights

      Europe makes many of the laws that are shaping privacy and restricting surveillance. Data Protection, for instance, should guarantee that interception is lawful, rather than arbitrary.

    • Help us to re-start the debate about internet filters

      At times the campaign to prevent default internet filters has bordered on the surreal, such as when the Deputy Children’s Commissioner Sue Berelowitz said, ‘no one should be panicking – but why should there not be a moral panic?’ Or the time when Helen Goodman MP thought parents weren’t capable of switching in filters themselves because, ‘the minute you talk about downloading software, my brain goes bzzzz’. And who can forget Claire Perry MP dismissing overblocking as, ‘a load of cock’?

    • Free speech victory as Wonga backs down on parody copyright claim

      The Streisand effect occurs when an attempt to remove or cover up information leads to it gaining significantly more attention than it would have done otherwise.

    • Twitter bows to Turkey’s demands to silence accounts

      After weeks of political tussle, Twitter has agreed to close some accounts the Turkish government considers harmful and implement a system for investigating those accounts Turkish courts flag up in the future, a report in Reuters has said.

  • Privacy

    • FBI’s nationwide facial recognition system to have 52 million photos by 2015

      We first heard about the FBI’s national facial recognition system in 2012. The high-tech Next Generation Identification (NGI) program, as part of which surveillance images are checked out with photos of known criminals, is primarily aimed at transforming how the organization fights crime. The Bureau should be able to achieve a fully operational facial recognition database (including mug shots, iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification) this summer, says an EFF report.

    • Google may favor encrypted sites in its search ranking: Report

      Google is mulling over boosting search rank of websites that use encryption. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Google distinguished engineer Matt Cutts “hinted” at the possibility at a recently held conference.

    • La Quadrature Joins the Legal Struggle Against Mass Surveillance

      In October 2013, Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English Pen and Constanze Kurz launched a legal challenge1 to the UK’s internet surveillance activities before the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the unchecked surveillance through programmes such as PRISM and TEMPORA is a breach of our Right to Privacy. La Quadrature du Net joined a coalition formed to support this legal challenge.

    • Snowden’s Email Provider Loses Appeal Over Encryption Keys

      A federal appeals court has upheld a contempt citation against the founder of the defunct secure e-mail company Lavabit, finding that the weighty internet privacy issues he raised on appeal should have been brought up earlier in the legal process.

    • NETmundial: let’s get to work

      I will soon be travelling to Sao Paulo to attend NETmundial, the Multi-stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance. The purpose of NETmundial is to develop principles of Internet governance and a roadmap for the future development of this ecosystem.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Most Bizarre Response To The Pulitzers Yet, From The Guy Who Authorized CIA Torture

      So, the Guardian and the Washington Post won the Pulitzer for “public service” for their coverage of the NSA’s surveillance activities. We mentioned how this should really end the debate over whether or not Ed Snowden was a whistleblower or not, but knew that would never happen. We’d already covered Rep. Peter King’s incensed response, but an even more amusing response has to be the one from John Yoo. You may recall Yoo as the guy in the George W. Bush administration who basically shredded the Constitution in “authorizing” the CIA’s torture program. He’s weighed in a few times about the NSA stuff, arguing that the NSA shouldn’t have to obey the Constitution because it takes too long and insists that the courts have no role in determining if something violates the 4th Amendment.

    • Countries Where Journalists’ Killers Go Free

      Syria isn’t just the most deadly country for journalists — it’s also one of the countries where journalists’ murders are most likely to go unpunished, according to the Committee To Protect Journalists’ new study.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Apple, Samsung and Microsoft commit to anti-theft smartphone kill switch

      TECHNOLOGY GIANTS Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, among others, have committed to introducing anti-thief kill switches on smartphone devices, enabling users to easily lock and wipe a handset if it gets stolen.

      Starting in July 2015, all smartphones made by the companies onboard with the initiative – a list that also includes Google, Nokia, HTC and Huawei – will come with free anti-theft tools preloaded on the devices or ready to be downloaded, wireless association CTIA announced on Tuesday.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • High Court: Kim Dotcom Can Have His Cars, Millions in Cash Returned

        The High Court in New Zealand today ruled that police may not keep possession of assets seized in a 2012 raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion. This means that a potential appeal aside, Dotcom may soon be reunited with millions of dollars in cash, his luxury car collection, artwork, and other assets seized by the authorities.

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