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Links 2/12/2017: Linux Mint KDE and End of Linux Journal

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux Journal Ceases Publication

    It looks like we’re at the end, folks. If all goes according to a plan we’d rather not have, the November issue of Linux Journal was our last.

    The simple fact is that we’ve run out of money, and options along with it. We never had a wealthy corporate parent or deep pockets of our own, and that made us an anomaly among publishers, from start to finish. While we got to be good at flying close to the ground for a long time, we lost what little elevation we had in November, when the scale finally tipped irrevocably to the negative.

  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Bash
  • Houston-based Linux Journal ceasing publication

    In a letter posted to the Linux Journal website and Facebook page, Publisher Carlie Fairchild said the magazine had run out of money and the November issue would be its last:

    The simple fact is that we’ve run out of money, and options along with it. We never had a wealthy corporate parent or deep pockets of our own, and that made us an anomaly among publishers, from start to finish. While we got to be good at flying close to the ground for a long time, we lost what little elevation we had in November, when the scale finally tipped irrevocably to the negative.

  • Years and Years of Linux Journal…

    I remember early on (1996?) they were based in Seattle… and it just so happened that my family and I would periodically visit Seattle for days and sometimes weeks at a time because my first son was born with kidney problems and the Seattle Children’s Hospital was his regional pediatric care facility. Staying in Seattle for periods of time you look for stuff to do… and I decided to find their offices and pay them a visit. In those days it wasn’t too far from the University district. On my first visit I was able to buy most all of the back issues that came out before I was a subscriber going back to issue #2. They had long sold out of issue #1 (dated March 1994) as it obviously had the lowest print run anyway… so I never actually saw a physical issue #1… but I saw all of the rest of them. I believe I visited their Seattle office at least 3 times. They had tee-shirts and various other branded items one could buy. I do remember getting one or two tee-shirts.

  • Desktop

    • System76 is disabling Intel’s flawed Management Engine on its Linux laptops

      LINUX PC FLOGGER System76 has announced that it’ll be disabling Intel’s flawed Management Engine on all its laptops.

      Earlier this month, Intel posted a security advisory warning manufacturers and users of its Management Engine of a number of firmware-level vulnerabilities and bugs found, which were also present in its Server Platform Services and the Trusted Execution Engine.

    • System76 Continues Refining Their Pop!_OS

      Besides working on disabling ME in all their laptops, the System76 team has also been busy working on their new Ubuntu-derived Pop!_OS operating system.

    • UX Updates and HiDPI! Aww yeah!

      Greetings Pop!_OS Fans! I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday for those in the U.S., we here at System76 each had a wonderful time. Yours truly took the opportunity to visit his family and got appropriately spoiled!

  • Server

    • Find the Perfect Kubernetes Distribution

      There are many different types of Kubernetes distributions in the container orchestration realm. They range from fully community produced to fully commercial and vary according to the tools and features they offer, as well as the levels of abstraction and control the provide. So which Kubernetes distribution is right for your organization?

      Your needs as a user — including the working environment, the availability of expertise, and the specific use case you’re dealing with — determine whether Containers as a Service (CaaS) or an abstracted platform is the right choice. No single, straightforward framework exists to guarantee a perfect decision. Still, the two charts we present below may be a start.

  • Kernel Space

    • Systemd 236 Is Being Prepped For Release This Month With Many Changes

      Lennart Poettering has begun his release wrangling process in getting systemd 236 ready for release this month.

    • Intel Releases New Linux Media Driver For VA-API

      While Intel has been supporting VA-API for years, basically since X-Video/XvMC became irrelevant, as its primary video API for video acceleration, they are now rolling out a new media driver.


      Details and motivation on writing this new “Intel Media Driver” for Linux remain light and I have yet to see any official announcement out of Intel, but the code is available via intel/media-driver on GitHub with the initial public code drop having just occurred yesterday.

    • Intel Sends In The First Set Of Changes For Linux 4.16 i915 DRM
    • AMDGPU’s Scheduler Might Get Picked Up By Other DRM Drivers

      One of the benefits of open-source software is the ability for code re-use by other projects and that may now happen with the AMDGPU kernel driver’s scheduler.

      Prominent Etnaviv driver developer Lucas Stach who has long been working on this open-source reverse-engineered Vivante graphics driver is looking to make use of the AMDGPU DRM scheduler. This scheduler is responsible for scheduling command submissions, supports scheduling priorities, and other related functionality.

    • AMD Publishes More DC Patches, Disables FreeSync By Default

      If you have encountered some early fallout from using the AMDGPU DC display stack or just want to help in testing patches likely to be queued for Linux 4.16, AMD has sent out another patch of DC patches.

      Harry Wentland of AMD kicked off his Friday morning by sending out another 20 patches for this big display code-base.

    • Graphics Stack

      • XDG-Shell Promoted To Stable In Wayland-Protocols 1.12

        Jonas Ådahl of Red Hat has released a new version of Wayland-Protocols, the collection of protocols that extends/introduces new functionality not part of the core Wayland protocol.

        Wayland-Protocols 1.12 is the new release and promotes the latest work on the XDG-Shell protocol from unstable to stable. XDG-Shell is the Wayland protocol extension for defining more functionality around traditional Linux desktop environments that isn’t part of the core Wayland protocol. This includes work around window resizing/stacking/dragging and other functionality. Most (all?) Wayland desktop compositors now support XDG-Shell.

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 WSL vs. Docker on Windows 10 vs. Bare Metal Linux Performance

        With the recent Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update there were some improvements to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) particularly around boosting the I/O performance (though further WSL performance work is coming), so this week I’ve been carrying out some fresh benchmarks of Windows 10 WSL with its openSUSE and Fedora options. For additional perspective I also compared the performance to running benchmarks with Linux containers on Docker under Windows 10 and lastly the “bare metal” Linux performance.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 17.12 Linux Software Suite Up to RC State, Final in Two Weeks

        The KDE Applications 17.12 RC development snapshot is here two weeks after the Beta version and promises to further polish various of the applications included in the software suite, which are used on GNU/Linux distributions using the acclaimed KDE Plasma desktop environment, as well as other Open Source projects.

        “The KDE Applications 17.12 releases need a thorough testing in order to maintain and improve the quality and user experience. Actual users are critical to maintaining high KDE quality, because developers simply cannot test every possible configuration,” reads today’s announcement.

      • Sharing Files on Android or iOS from your Qt App

        It‘s a common usecase to share Files or Content from native Android or iOS Apps with other Apps on your phone. So I thought this would be an easy task to add sharing to my mobile Apps built with QtQuickControls2.

        Found the Blog from Eskil Abrahamsen Blomfeld about Intents with Qt for Android, part 1. Please read that Blog to learn about Android Intents, Qt Android Extras, JNI and HowTo use it from Qt. All of this was new to me – never did JNI before. Also I‘m not an experienced native developer for Android or iOS – that‘s the reason why I‘m using Qt for mobile App development.

        I also found Share on iOS and Android using QML, where I learned HowTo share Text and a URL and HowTo structure a QtCreator project for Android and iOS with native code integration.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK4 Lands More Vulkan, HTML5 Broadway & Win32 Improvements

        It’s been another busy week of development on the GTK4 tool-kit.

        Last week I wrote about GTK4 Broadway improvements with work on this HTML5 back-end to GTK+ being revived for allowing GTK applications to be rendered within modern web browsers via HTML5/canvas. The work on Broadway continued this past week.

        Broadway changes this week includes improved logging, introducing a texture cache, improved logging, and other changes by Alexander Larsson.

      • Product review: WASD V2 Keyboard

        I, too, bought a custom keyboard from WASD. It is quite nice to be able to customize the printing using an SVG file. Yes, my keyboard has GNOME feet on the super keys, and a Dvorak layout, and, oh yes, Cantarell font. Yes, Cantarell was silly, and yes, it means bad kerning, but it is kind of cool to know I’m probably the only person on the planet to have a Cantarell keyboard.

        It was nice for a little under one year. Then I noticed that the UV printing on some of the keys was beginning to wear off. WASD lets you purchase individual keycaps at a reasonable price, and I availed myself of that option for a couple keys that needed it, and then a couple more. But now some of the replacement keycaps need to be replaced, and I’ve owned the keyboard for just over a year and a half. It only makes sense to purchase a product this expensive if it’s going to last.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • What does Linux’s 26 year journey means to Open source firm SUSE?

        Open source projects, according to Giacomo, can only be viable, if some of these projects turn into successful products and some companies can make profits out of it and then they can reinvest in the (Open source) communities.

        However, such engagements and involvements also comes with some amount of risks, which could dilute and impact the culture and values of Open source to an extent that the future ways of doing things might get bit changed.

        Having said that, such risks actually are quiet far from becoming any reality – all because of the number of Linux foundations or groups that are today like the Linux Foundation, the Apache Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation and others. They actually try to work on collaborative, collective agendas and decisions that would drive the future direction of Open source technologies.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • distribution-wide projects in Debian

        Assuming that there was Debian-wide consensus that this was a good idea, in theory it could be achieved. The main problem would be that many of the upstream authors of the software we package would not accept the change. Consequently, Debian would be left carrying the patches.

        We generally try to remain as close to upstream’s code as possible and shy away from carrying too many patches in too many packages. The ideal lifecycle for a patch is for it to be accepted upstream. Patches are a burden for packagers, and we don’t have enough packagers or packager time (or both).

      • Free software activities in November 2017
      • November 2017 report: LTS, standard disclosure, Monkeysphere in Python, flash fraud and Goodbye Drupal
      • Monthly FLOSS activity – 2017/11 edition
      • LOSS Activities November 2017
      • Debian LTS work, November 2017

        I was assigned 13 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 14 hours from September. I worked all 17 hours.

      • Mini-DebConf Cambridge 2017

        Last week I attended Cambridge’s annual mini-DebConf. It’s slightly strange to visit a place one has lived in for a long time but which is no longer home. I joined Nattie in the ‘video team house’ which was rented for the whole week; I only went for four days.

      • Derivatives

        • First Raspberry Pi Desktop Release Based on Debian Stretch Is Out for PCs & Macs

          The company kicked off the month of December with a big announcement today, announcing that they’ve managed to rebase the Raspberry Pi Desktop OS for PCs and Macs on the latest stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, as well as to release a new version of the Raspbian Stretch distro for Raspberry Pi.

          “Today, we are launching the first Debian Stretch release of the Raspberry Pi Desktop for PCs and Macs,” said Simon Long, UX engineer at Raspberry Pi Foundation. “We’re also pleased to announce that we are releasing the latest version of Raspbian Stretch for your Pi today.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Big Unity Desktop Update Coming to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            A sled load of Unity desktop bug fixes are on their way to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

            Ubuntu may have ditched Unity as its default desktop of choice but Canonical is committed to maintaining the desktop (and its related technology stack) for the duration of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

            And as proof of that commitment they are currently preparing to a sizeable stable release update (SRU) for Xenial desktops, which should roll out to all users well before Christmas is upon us.

          • Ubuntu Unity Remix? Are We Going To Get A New Ubuntu “Unity” Flavor In Future?

            With Ubuntu 17.10 release, Canonical made a move from Unity desktop environment to GNOME. Canonical tried to keep some Unity feel and gave the new GNOME edition a makeover. While many welcomed this step, many people expressed their concerns and support for Ubuntu Unity.

            It looks like some members of the Ubuntu family are making efforts to turn Ubuntu Unity into an official LTS distribution of Unity. Spotted by OMG Ubuntu, this proposal has already the backing of a former Compiz/Unity dev. Also, many Canonical employees are offering their support to the same.

          • Ubuntu Desktop Weekly Update: December 1, 2017

            GNOME Disk Utility If you have snaps installed and open the Disks utility, your snaps appear as loop devices. We found this to be confusing and a bit messy, so we have proposed a fix upstream and this should be merged soon.

          • Ubuntu Podcast: S10E39 – Hysterical Daffy Furniture
          • Ubuntu 17.10 Brings Back GNOME Desktop Environment

            Ubuntu is one of the most popular Debian-based Linux distributions, and it’s undergone a lot of changes. Most recently, Canonical, the developer collective behind Ubuntu, switched from the GNOME desktop environment to an in-house alternative called Unity. But the most recent version of Ubuntu, 17.10, brings back GNOME 3.26.

            With GNOME comes GDM (GNOME Display Manager), a tweakable settings menu that replaces Unity’s LightDM. GNOME’s ecosystem makes it arguably easier to customize than the latter — unlike previous versions of Ubuntu, for example, you can change the location of the Windows control buttons (minimise, fullscreen and close) in just a few button presses.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” KDE and Xfce Beta Editions Now Available to Download

              Incorporating pretty much the same improvements that the Linux Mint devs implemented in the final releases of the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” earlier this week, today’s KDE and Xfce flavors are based on Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and powered by the Linux 4.10 kernel.

              “Linux Mint 18.3 is a long-term support release which will be supported until 2021. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop experience more comfortable to use,” read the release announcements for Linux Mint 18.3 KDE and Xfce Editions.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 ‘Sylvia’ KDE and Xfce betas available for download, but don’t bother

              Linux Mint is a great operating system that I recommend highly. It is based on the rock-solid Ubuntu 16.04, meaning it is stable and compatible with many packages. For Windows converts in particular, Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop environment can be a very inviting first-time distribution that should offer a positive experience. The Mate DE variant is a solid choice too — if your hardware is a bit anemic, that is.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache Impala gets top-level status as open source Hadoop tool

    Born at Cloudera, an MPP query engine now known as Apache Impala just became a top-level project. One of its objectives is to bring SQL-style interactivity to big data analytics.

  • Nutanix CEO Turns to Open Source Software for Hybrid Cloud Stack

    After announcing a new software-centric approach on an earnings call with investors, Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey told SDxCentral that open source code will be a major piece of the company’s pure software play.

    Pandey said Nutanix will further embrace Apache Software Foundation open source tools in 2018, 2019, and beyond as the company attempts to deliver consumer grade developer building blocks in Xi. Xi refers to the company’s public cloud service that allows customers to move on-premise workloads to Google’s public cloud. It is slated for release in 2018.

  • Launching an Open Source Project: A Free Guide

    Increasingly, as open source programs become more pervasive at organizations of all sizes, tech and DevOps workers are choosing to or being asked to launch their own open source projects. From Google to Netflix to Facebook, companies are also releasing their open source creations to the community. It’s become common for open source projects to start from scratch internally, after which they benefit from collaboration involving external developers.

    Launching a project and then rallying community support can be more complicated than you think, however. A little up-front work can help things go smoothly, and that’s exactly where the new guide to Starting an Open Source Project comes in.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • State of Mozilla 2016: Annual Report

        Mozilla is not your average company. Mozilla was founded nearly 20 years ago with the mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource that is open and accessible to all and the principles of the Mozilla Manifesto still guide our work today. Mozilla exists to protect the health of the internet and maintain the critical balance between commercial profit and public benefit.

        Today, we remain dedicated to the mission in all the work we do, products we develop, and the partnerships, allies, and investments we make.

        In a world with new and evolving threats to the open internet, innovation, user control, and our privacy and security, the Mozilla mission is more important now than ever before. There are billions of people online today who face these risks and every day thousands of Mozillians (employees, allies, volunteers, donors, supporters) fight to promote openness, innovation and opportunity online. We are proudly taking our place in the world to protect the free and open and open internet at a time when the fight needs a leader more than ever.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD


    • The origin of Open source

      Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary which uncovers the realities of the software industry. It tells you a true tale of how once upon a time software that was free for all became a privilege for a few. It tells you about Richard Stallman who is the founder of free software movement and the history of GNU project. How through the GNU project and Free Source Foundation(FSF) led to the development of Linux and open source definition. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs and hackers-cum-entrepreneurs, that included Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • FFAR awards $1 million grant to create open source technology for gene discovery in plants

      The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions grant to University of California, Davis to study the genetics of rice plants. Together with researchers at the University of North Carolina and collaborators, the team will develop and implement a chemistry-driven gene discovery approach to identify genes that modulate root traits. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, the Structural Genomics Consortium, AgBiome, and Promega for a total $2.3 million investment.

    • Paying it forward at Finland’s Aalto Fablab

      Originating at MIT, a fab lab is a technology prototyping platform where learning, experimentation, innovation, and invention are encouraged through curiosity, creativity, hands-on making, and most critically, open knowledge sharing. Each fab lab provides a common set of tools (including digital fabrication tools like laser cutters, CNC mills, and 3D printers) and processes, so you can learn how to work in a fab lab anywhere and use those skills at any of the 1,000+ fab labs across the globe. There is probably a fab lab near you.

  • Programming/Development

    • PHPUnit 6.5

      RPM of PHPUnit version 6.5 are available in remi repository for Fedora ≥ 24 and for Enterprise Linux (CentOS, RHEL…).


  • Home surveillance video shows Amazon contractor pooping in gutter

    Nemy Bautista said it happened around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

    Bautista got home to find what he thought was dog poop and checked his home surveillance to see if he could find the dog’s owner. Instead, Bautista says a woman driving a U-Haul van, delivering packages for Amazon, did the deed.

    Bautista told KTXL he contacted Amazon and a representative came to his home around 8:30 that evening. He said the Amazon representative was unprepared to clean up the mess and had to borrow a bag.

  • Science

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dairy farming is polluting New Zealand’s water

      Government data suggests that 60% of rivers and lakes are unswimmable

    • NHS makes undisclosed settlement to Richard Branson’s Virgin Care after legal dispute

      The NHS has settled a legal dispute with private healthcare group Virgin Care for an undisclosed amount.

      The Labour Party said it was “scandalous” that the NHS had to defend a legal battle with the company, which is part of Richard Branson’s business empire. It also called on the Department of Health to disclose details of the settlement.

      Virgin Care sued the NHS last year after it lost out on an £82m contract to provide children’s health services across Surrey, citing concerns over “serious flaws” in the way the contract was awarded.

      The company filed proceedings at the UK High Court naming the six local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Surrey, as well as Surrey County Council and NHS England.

    • VACC: Controversial anti-dengue program is worse than any heinous crime

      A group of anticorruption advocates appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch an investigation into the government’s dengue immunization program that has potentially exposed children to a more serious health risk.

      The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said on Saturday that they would file a request to urge the DOJ to mobilize the National Bureau of Investigation in looking into the health issue.

      On Wednesday, pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur disclosed that children who have not yet been afflicted with dengue and have received the vaccine Dengvaxia are exposed to “more cases of severe disease.”

    • More States Hatch Plans to Recycle Drugs Being Wasted in Nursing Homes

      Other states, including Vermont, are exploring the idea as well.

      “All that medicine is perfectly good and perfectly safe,” said Rep. Nicholas Duran, D-Miami, who co-sponsored a bill in Florida modeled on the Iowa program. “Rather than being burned up, it could be put back to some great use.”

      ProPublica’s story detailed how the nursing home industry dispenses medication a month at a time, but then is forced to destroy it after patients pass away, stop using it or move out. Some send the drugs to massive regional incinerators or flush them down the toilet, creating environmental concerns.

      In Iowa, a program called SafeNetRx retrieves the excess medication, inspects it and dispenses it for free to needy patients. Almost 80,000 Iowans have used SafeNetRx to obtain medication — from cheap antibiotics to cancer drugs worth thousands of dollars per month.

    • Real wish or drunken regret? A “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo throws doctors

      The patient, who had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, and atrial fibrillation, continued to decline in health throughout the night. He died without further efforts of resuscitation, as requested.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Hacking suspect Lauri Love waits for extradition decision

      igh Court judges have said they will “take time” to decide whether an alleged computer hacker should be extradited from Britain to stand trial in the US.
      Lauri Love, 32, from Stradishall, Suffolk, is suspected of hacking into FBI, US Central Bank and Nasa systems.
      His lawyers are appealing against an earlier UK court decision that he should be extradited.
      The High Court judgement has been reserved until a date yet to be fixed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • New study uncovers the ‘keystone domino’ strategy of climate denial

      Basically, if these bloggers can create the perception that the science underlying polar bear or Arctic sea ice vulnerability to climate change is incorrect, their readers will assume that all of climate science is fatally flawed. And blogs can be relatively influential – surveys have shown that blog readers trust them more than traditional news and information sources.

    • This Ingredient in Your Halloween Chocolate Could Be Linked to Deforestation

      Most of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia, where oil palm fruits are harvested to extract the oil. To make room for plantations, rain forests are cleared, often displacing communities from their homes and destroying habitats for tigers, elephants and rhinos.

    • New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

      Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top two producers of palm oil. Their area of industrial plantations more than quadrupled in extent from 1990 to 2015. Over the same period, regional rates of forest loss rose to among the world’s highest. Forest clearance is driven by a number of factors — establishing plantations is one factor. The development of mills and associated infrastructure to extract and transport palm oil also impacts forests.

    • Toxic glowing organism poses new threat to Baltic Sea

      The Natural Resources Institute is developing new ways to combat Alexandrium ostenfeldii, a toxic organism now thriving due to climate change.

    • Cities at Crossroads: Perils of plastics waste

      The plastic menace for Indian cities is compounded because of their generally poor state of solid waste management and the poor infrastructure for sewerage and stormwater drainage. Developing eco-friendly consumption habits such as avoiding disposable catering items and using washable cups and plates instead, will make a difference, but plastics will continue to play an important role in our lives. A sustainable way forward is to minimise consumption of disposable/single use plastic items, create awareness about the use of appropriate grade of plastic for different purposes, and emphasise the importance of recycling and reusing plastic.

    • The ‘lost 99%’ of microplastic ocean pollutants can now be identified

      The Warwick team has come up with a kind of dye that lights up plastics, making it easier for analysts to spot even the smallest piece of plastic in ocean waters. The scientists then proceeded to check waters using their new method and found a lot more particles than what was previously estimated.

    • Light pollution: Night being lost in many countries
    • Pigs to debut at new zoo in the Muslim-majority north

      However, an armed insurgency has plagued the state since 1990. There has been a major upswing of violence since the PDP-BJP coalition came to power. Struggling to overcome recent spells of deadly violence, the government has sought to use multiple resources to restore peace and prosperity.

    • Rohingya Influx Brings ‘Environmental Catastrophe’: Bangladesh Officials

      As many as seven reserve forests, totaling about 2,500 acres, have been wiped out in just over two months in Cox’s Bazar district as incoming Rohingya refugees cut down trees for firewood and to construct makeshift shelters, area forest officer Ali Kabir said.

    • Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime in the Danube-Carpathian Region

      Environmental crime is not a niche problem. It is now the fourth largest type of criminal activity in the world, and valued at anywhere between 91 and 258 billion USD every year. This colossal sum fuels organized crime, undermines the rule of law and robs us of the natural resources and ecosystems we need to survive.

    • Malaysia, Indonesia say EU palm resolution will affect millions

      In April, the European Parliament backed a call for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils used in biofuels to prevent the European Union’s renewable transport targets for post-2020 leading to deforestation.

    • What they don’t tell you about climate change

      Fully 101 of the 116 models the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses to chart what lies ahead assume that carbon will be taken out of the air in order for the world to have a good chance of meeting the 2°C target.

    • Don’t sneak Arctic oil drilling into tax bill

      Like a small tumor, the Arctic Refuge oil drilling provision needs to be immediately cut from the tax bill by amendment. The 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is widely recognized as the biological heart of the refuge and is as important to our nation’s natural heritage as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

    • 200,000 Gallons of Oil Spill From the Keystone Pipeline

      The Keystone pipeline was temporarily shut down on Thursday, after leaking about 210,000 gallons of oil into Marshall County, South Dakota*, during an early-morning spill.

    • One photo shows how the Keystone pipeline is living up to activists’ biggest fears

      The Keystone pipeline has leaked far more oil than the Canadian company that operates the project initially predicted to regulators.

    • The Fight Over The Dakota Access Pipeline Continues!

      The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux have filed court documents urging a federal judge to reject the recent arguments of federal officials and the pipeline developer that the tribes’ proposals aren’t needed.

    • Keystone oil pipeline leaks in South Dakota, as Nebraska weighs XL

      Opponents of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline seized on the spill, saying it highlighted the risks posed by the XL project – which has become a symbol for environmentalists of fossil-fuel pollution and global warming.

    • Nebraska Approves Route for Keystone XL Pipeline

      On Monday, Nebraska officials approved a route for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, an expansion of the existing, 2,600-mile Keystone pipeline. The decision comes less than a week after a massive oil leak in the existing pipeline — which transmits oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Texas — leaked 210,000 gallons of crude oil in eastern South Dakota.

    • Even a tiny oil spill spells bad news for birds

      Ingesting even small amounts of oil can interfere with the animals’ normal behavior, researchers reported November 15 at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America. Birds can take in these smaller doses by preening slightly greasy feathers or eating contaminated food, for example.

    • State Department reviewing Keystone XL approval after Nebraska decision

      The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 on Monday to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. But the commission will not allow developer TransCanada to build along its preferred path, instead rerouting the pipeline through an alternative corridor.

    • The Keystone XL Pipeline Fight Is Not Over Yet

      Today’s hearing represented the first time the PSC had used its new powers to regulate a pipeline, a right that TransCanada has repeatedly challenged. (Jim Smith, a state senator widely known as a TransCanada ally, proposed legislation earlier this year stripping the commissioners’ salaries.) The body’s decision was confusing, seeming to hand victories to both sides: The Canadian company had come before the commissioners with a specific route in mind, which tracks diagonally through the middle of the state, skirting the edge of the remote and vulnerable Nebraska Sandhills. This route, the company had argued was essential to completing the Keystone XL. The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve TransCanada for an entirely different route – offering them instead one which enters and exits the state in the same place as the company’s proposed route, but tracks many miles east along the existing Keystone One pipeline, an area for which they had not applied, and presumably do not control the leases on.

    • Albert Bender: The original genocide continues with the Dakota Access Pipeline

      The decision of this one rogue judge to let the oil continue to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer drags out a supplemental environmental analysis is nothing short of destroying the health of and robbing the livelihoods of the Standing Rock Sioux people. This is in keeping with a legacy connected to genocide that began 500 years ago against the Indigenous of this hemisphere.

    • Detroit kids’ lead poisoning rates higher than Flint

      Detroit had Michigan’s highest proportion of children test positive for lead poisoning in 2016 — 8.8 percent of kids tested — including one ZIP code where 22 percent were found to have lead poisoning.

    • Flint Water Committee Cancels Its Fourth Straight Meeting, Saying They Have Absolutely Nothing to Discuss

      The Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, which Snyder formed in in the wake of the city’s lead-poisoned water crisis, has only met twice since March. On Monday, a notice sent to committee members announced the meeting scheduled for this Friday was canceled “due to no agenda items being received from FWICC members as of (Monday, Nov. 13).”

    • Flint council narrowly OKs 30-year water deal
    • What Thanksgiving looks like for Flint, the city without safe drinking water

      Thanksgiving Day will be the 1,308th day of the Flint water crisis. For residents, that’s 1,308 days without being able to drink from the tap. Flint’s presence has waned in the news, but it remains a very real crisis for those in the city that still stack pallets of water bottles in the corner of their kitchen and can’t turn on the faucet for a glass of water.

    • Miles From Flint, Residents Turn Off Taps in New Water Crisis

      Decades ago, Wolverine dumped sludge and leather from its tannery in the woods around here. For years, the company and the government stayed mostly silent about the trash piles, even as developers built houses and a golf course near them and even as researchers documented serious health risks from chemicals in the sludge.

    • Climate Crisis, ‘Smart’ Growth and the Logic of Calamity

      A few years back at a Leftish gathering a group of self-described Marxist economists channeled liberal Democrat Paul Krugman’s explanation of the Great Recession without apparently knowing of Mr. Krugman’s thesis. Basically, a self-perpetuating recession had a grip on the economy, Wall Street was a catalyst of the crisis but ultimately only a bit player, money is economically ‘neutral,’ and government spending could raise demand and end the recession.

      This is all standard fare in liberal economics. Within the circular logic of the genre, it circles just fine. What was odd was hearing it from self-described Marxists. Since Wall Street created the money that fueled the housing bubble and bust through predatory lending, how was its role not (1) pivotal and (2) political? If money is ‘neutral,’ why have financial asset prices responded so favorably (for their owners) to asset purchases by global central banks? And finally, where is the class analysis?

  • Finance

    • I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

      “There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

      That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

      Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

    • A hated tax but a fair one

      The case for taxing inherited assets is strong

    • PM Sipilä: Finland can’t afford for healthcare reform [sic] to fail

      The vision is in jeopardy after four municipalities in the south of Lapland, three of them controlled by the Centre Party, signed a long-term deal with the private firm Mehiläinen to outsource the Länsi Pohja hospital.

      That deal would tie the hands of an incoming Lapland provincial government—one of 18 regional bodies slated to take over responsibility for care services under the reform. The contract carries a 100 million euro penalty clause if the public sector backs out of the agreement.

    • The Link Between Non-Choosy Immigration Policies And Child Poverty

      No other country taking part in PISA has seen a steeper fall.

    • Financial Tyranny: “We The People” Are The New Permanent Underclass In America

      They can’t afford to live, and now they can’t afford to get sick or die, either.

    • Bitcoin loses over a fifth of its value in less than 24 hours

      Bitcoin slid to as low as $9,000 in volatile trade on Thursday, having lost more than a fifth of its value since hitting an all-time high of $11,395 on Wednesday. BTC=BTSP.

    • Senate Republicans are cutting health care to pay for a corporate tax cut

      Under the proposed changes, the bill’s tax cuts and benefits for individual Americans would almost all sunset by December 31, 2025. That includes the increased child tax credit, the doubled standard deduction, the estate tax cut, repeal of the alternative minimum tax, and even the tax break for pass-through business income. Some revenue raisers on the individual side, like abolition of deductions for state and local taxes and the elimination of personal exemptions, would expire at the end of that year too.

    • Bitcoin will hit $40,000 in a year! But beware, have small exposure
    • Get ready for a wave of Bitcoin forks

      On August 1, a dissident faction of the Bitcoin community created a new payment network called Bitcoin Cash. There are lots of Bitcoin-derived spinoff currencies, of course, but this was unusual because it branched off from the existing Bitcoin blockchain. The result was the cryptocurrency equivalent of a stock split: everyone who owned one bitcoin before the split suddenly owned a “cash” bitcoin after the split.

      Today, the value of Bitcoin Cash in circulation is about $20 billion. That makes it the third most valuable currency, after only the original Bitcoin and Ethereum. And this appears to be newly created wealth. The value of vanilla bitcoins didn’t fall significantly on the day of the split, and it has since zoomed upwards so that the value of all conventional bitcoins is now around $150 billion.

    • The first blockchain smartphone will come preloaded with mobile Ethereum client Status

      Blockchain technologies aren’t limited to the virtual world. The foundation of decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is also being applied to hardware products.

      Sirin Labs — the company that created the $14,000 Solarin smartphone — earlier this year announced a smartphone named Finney, which it claims is the only smartphone in the world that’s entirely secure. That means it is safe enough to hold cryptographic coins.

    • There will soon not be enough time for a further referendum before 29 March 2019

      Here is some downbeat information for those who want a further referendum on Brexit before 29 March 2019, the day on which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union by automatic operation of law (unless something exceptional and not currently in view happens).

      There will soon not be enough time to get legislation in place.

      A further referendum, like the last one, would require its own legislation. There would also need to be a period for implementing regulations and (of course) for a campaign.

      The legislation for the last referendum was the European Union Referendum Act 2015.

      A look at its parliamentary stages shows that it took from May to December 2015 to get through parliament: seven months.

    • U.S. consumer financial watchdog official defies Trump from within agency

      Two days after a federal court endorsed President Donald Trump’s deregulatory pick for a consumer watchdog, a rival official was encouraging agency staff to keep up the pressure on the lending industry, several current and former officials said on Friday.

    • Guillotine watch: The executives who bankrupted Toys R Us this year want $16M-$32M in bonuses for their performance

      Toys R Us was taken over in a debt-loading act of financial engineering in 2005; over the years, despite turning a profit, the service on that debt dragged Toys R Us lower and lower until the management team picked by the financial engineers finally bankrupted the company.

      The top 17 execs at the company received $8.2 million in “retention bonuses” mere days before they took the company into bankruptcy. Now they want millions more — $16M-$32M just to stay with the company while it “restructures.”

    • Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump: Joseph Stiglitz on Shared Prosperity Without Protectionism

      In the updated edition of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s new book, “Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump,” he argues that when Trump became president, he “threw a hand grenade into the global economic order.” We speak with Stiglitz about the impact of free trade agreements that Trump has criticized.

    • Don’t be a stranger: offshore finance and the UK’s balance of payments

      There are also a group of smaller central American countries who own £549bn of assets in the UK and a group of smaller non-EU European countries who hold £452bn — which collectively includes the UK’s crown dependencies like the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.


      Of the £764.4bn of FDI into the UK during 2015, £82.8bn was originally from UK companies, according to this analysis. That’s about 11 per cent of the total and is likely an underestimate as the ONS also found that the ultimate controlling parent companies of many of the companies investing in the UK through Luxembourg include Gibraltar, Panama and the Cayman Islands, who may themselves be pass-throughs for UK investors.

      Foreign direct investment is not the only kind of investment made into the UK. Much of the investment, from Ireland and Luxembourg in particular, comes in the form of portfolio investment, the name for purchases of shares and securities. After the US they are the two biggest sources of portfolio investment into the UK.

    • Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham

      Donald Trump isn’t exactly shy when it comes to denouncing things he doesn’t like. And there’s one particular part of the tax code that he denounced over and over both during the campaign and after taking office.

      He said that the people benefiting from this portion of the code were “getting away with murder.”

      So you’d think that the tax bill being pushed through Congress with Trump’s eager backing would be closing this loophole. But you’d be wrong. As you’ll see in a bit, talking about closing the loophole isn’t the same as closing it.

      The loophole is called “carried interest.” That’s tax jargon for the share of investors’ profits that goes to the managers of private equity funds, venture capital funds and hedge funds. The standard rate is 20 percent of a fund’s profits, although there’s wide variation, both up and down.

    • On Shame and Rot

      At the end of a freakish day in D.C., Democratic lawmakers received and furiously savaged the most freakish indignity of so many: Finally, a copy of the multi-billion-dollar GOP tax scam for the rich, all 479 pages of it, complete with scribbled, last-minute, hand-written goofs and adds and changes – this, a scandalous couple of hours before the scheduled vote on a bill that could cost millions of Americans massive pain and loss, making it virtually impossible for them to even read the friggin’ thing. Virginia’s Mark Warner on the chicken-scratch muddle inflicted on them and us: “This is how we’re writing legislation now?” See a livid, incredulous Elizabeth Warren, trying to decipher the mess, echo and answer him: “This is how the Republicans make tax policy.” Robert Reich: “Never before in history has Congress worked so quickly, affecting so much of the economy and so many of our people, with so little deliberation. This is a travesty of democracy.” That travesty, notes Paul Krugman, reflects “the outright lies” and the moral rot that “spreads wide and runs deep” of the entire Republican Party, which has exhibited “a level of bad faith we haven’t seen in U.S. politics since the days when defenders of slavery physically assaulted their political foes on the Senate floor.” The solution: Get ‘em all out.

    • Why we can no longer worship at GDP’s altar

      Larry Elliott (Opinion, 30 November) is absolutely right to question a fixation on growth at all costs. We know that infinite economic growth simply isn’t compatible with a planet of finite resources, and we also know that the treatment of environmental concerns as “externalities” in pursuit of never-ending GDP increases is incredibly damaging. So if we know that growth is environmentally damaging, and not a guarantee of increased wellbeing, how do we shift our focus towards a new measure of a good society?

      We need a new set of indicators that better reflect genuine wellbeing. For a start I would suggest we should aim to share out paid work more widely and evenly, and increase the amount of positive leisure time people have, giving them more choice about time with their communities, friends and family. The Green party’s calls for a shorter working week are often attacked as being anti-growth, but that misses the point of policymaking that should surely be to serve people rather than worship at the altar of GDP.

    • What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

      The technology-driven world in which we live is a world filled with promise but also challenges. Cars that drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries are all manifestations of powerful new forms of automation. Yet even as these technologies increase productivity and improve our lives, their use will substitute for some work activities humans currently perform—a development that has sparked much public concern.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • England’s top religious authority says he doesn’t understand Christian support for Trump

      “I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from,” he said of Trump’s support among Christian [sic] fundamentalists.

    • Susan Sarandon: ‘I thought Hillary was very dangerous. If she’d won, we’d be at war’

      But it’s upsetting that they’re still feeding the same misinformation to people. When Obama got the nomination, 25% of [Hillary’s] people didn’t vote for him. Only 12% of Bernie’s people didn’t vote for her.”

    • Why Can’t We Just Burn Gerrymandering To The Ground?
    • Citing Trump, Philippines dictator declares himself to be a “fascist” and vows to persecute peaceful left-wing opposition groups

      Duterte attributed his embrace of fascism to Trump and the shift in US politics, stating “I will follow America, since they say that I am an American boy. OK, granted, I will admit that I am a fascist. I will categorize you already as a terrorist.”

    • Philippines: March on Presidential Palace Condemns Duterte “Dictatorship”

      And in the Philippines capital Manila, police opened fire with water cannons on more than 1,000 activists Thursday as they marched to the presidential palace demanding the resignation of President Rodrigo Duterte. The activists blasted Duterte for welcoming President Trump to the Philippines last month, saying he’s presided over a bloody so-called war on drugs that’s seen police and vigilantes carry out more than 7,000 extrajudicial killings. This is protester Vencer Crisostomo.

    • Duterte Admits ‘Fascism,’ Ends Peace Talks With Communists and Vows Crackdown on Left

      “The threat of a terrorist listing may also be used by Duterte to force the revolutionary forces to surrender, but that won’t likely happen. In any case, if he does push through with it, it has the effect of terminating talks.”

    • David Davis threatens to quit if Damian Green is sacked unfairly

      David Davis has come to the defence of Damian Green, indicating that he may resign if the first secretary of state is forced to quit as a result of the Cabinet Office investigation into inappropriate behaviour.

      The Brexit secretary believes his cabinet colleague is the victim of a police vendetta and made it clear to Theresa May that he would be willing to leave the government if he felt Green had been unfairly treated.

      The threat emerged only hours after a former Metropolitan police detective came forward with fresh claims implying that Green himself had been viewing pornography found on his workplace computer when police raided his Commons office in November 2008.

    • Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty To Lying In The Russia Investigation And Will Cooperate With Prosecutors

      Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation and has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

      Flynn entered his guilty plea at federal court in Washington, DC, on Friday morning, becoming the fourth person charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe.

      Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team as part of a plea deal. If prosecutors conclude Flynn provided “substantial assistance,” they’ve agreed to ask the judge to reduce his sentence. The single count of making false statements carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but according to court filings he likely faces an estimated range of zero to six months.

      No sentencing date was set at his hearing. Prosecutors will file an update with the court in three months, by Feb. 1. Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller’s team could include interviews, providing sworn written statements, taking a polygraph exam, and “participating in covert law enforcement activities,” according to the plea agreement.

    • Mueller Socks It To Trump

      The news of the day, besides the wallowing tax bill in the Senate of the USA, is that Michael Flint has made a deal with Mueller and that he was doing all this Russian work for the campaign. Chuckle. Now, Trump is trying to back the bus up over Flint saying Flint was acting on his own… Oh, yes. I have a bridge I’d like to sell too…

    • Stocks fall on report that Michael Flynn was directed by Trump to talk to Russians

      Stocks fell Friday on a report that Michael Flynn was directed by President Trump to talk to Russians.

      ABC News reported that Flynn, the former national security adviser, would testify that he was directed to make contact with Russians during the presidential campaign in 2016. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his postelection contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

    • Why Is There No “Saudi-Gate”?

      Imagine if Russia — instead of doing what it has been accused of doing last year — had funded and facilitated an attack on US soil that killed thousands of Americans. Then imagine that US policymakers, rather than punish the Kremlin by cutting diplomatic ties, imposing sanctions, seeking legal recourse, or all of the above, covered up its involvement in the attack and continued to treat it as a loyal ally.

      Imagine if the president who presided over that attack had decades of intimate personal and financial ties to members of the Russian elite and subsequently spirited dozens of Russian nationals out of the country before law enforcement could interrogate them.

      Imagine if, despite full knowledge of the Kremlin’s once and ongoing anti-American activities, successive presidents heaped praise on Russia’s authoritarian government, sold it weapons, and made regular pilgrimages to wine and dine with its leaders.

      Imagine if an army of Russian lobbyists operated on Capitol Hill to ensure Washington’s pro-Kremlin line, eventually pressuring American leadership into actively assisting it in carrying out one of this decade’s worst war crimes.

    • Don’t Stop the Presses! When Local News Struggles, Democracy Withers

      Thomas Peele’s friend keeps bugging him. “Are you going to win?” the friend writes over Facebook. “I think you’re going to win.” “What are you going to do when you win?” “Shut up,” Peele thinks. He’s an old-school watchdog reporter. Blue eyes that bore into you. Fewer words, better.

      It’s a Monday in April, and Peele and his colleagues at the East Bay Times, a newspaper in Oakland, California, are waiting to find out whether they’ve won the biggest award in journalism. For five months the paper has been reporting on the fallout of a fire that killed 36 people when it ripped through an Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. Illegally converted into artist residences, the building had a tangled layout that made it hard to escape. The Times’ coverage has painted the tragedy—Oakland’s deadliest fire—as symptomatic of the city’s lax fire-code enforcement and its affordable-housing crisis.

      Peele wonders if he should have bought a case of champagne; he saw a sale at the grocery store over the weekend. No, best he didn’t. You don’t want to jinx these things. They probably won’t win anyway. He tells himself the newsroom would have gotten a heads-up, right? While he sits in his cubicle, psyching himself down for defeat, two colleagues, David DeBolt and Matthias Gafni, busy themselves with a story about another fire, one that killed four people.

    • Roy Moore is still in the running because “values voters” would support Satan himself if he was anti-abortion and homophobic

      The term “values voter” is taken to mean someone who votes for politicians on the basis of their personal integrity and values; in reality, polls and studies show that evangelicals who identify as “values voters” support candidates they know to be repugnant or even monstrous, if they believe that those politicians will promise to take away abortion rights and persecute queers.

    • Trump Called Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ at an Event Honoring Navajo Code Talkers

      On November 27, the president of the United States made a racist comment at an event intended to honor Native American veterans.

      During a ceremony at the White House, President Donald Trump met with three Navajo code talkers who served in World War II to thank them for their service, but added a familiar jab at Senator Elizabeth Warren in his comments. “You were here long before any of us were here,” he said to the veterans, according to NBC. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.” He made the remark in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, a law that enabled the forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands, resulting in thousands of deaths during resettlement.

    • White House Defends Trump ‘Pocahontas’ Comment

      The White House is denying President Donald Trump uttered a racial slur during an Oval Office event Monday honoring some Native American military veterans.

      “I don’t think that it is and that certainly not was the president’s intent,” replied Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when asked about Trump again referring to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” the name of the famous reputed daughter of an early 17th century tribal chief.

    • The One Good Thing That Could Come From The NYT Nazi Piece

      The New York Times wrote an article profiling a Nazi this weekend, and man, did that not go over well. Seems like when you share little anecdotes about muffin trays and lunch at Panera Bread with a guy who described Hitler as “kind of chill” in regards to his desire to kill homosexuals and Slavs, a lot of people will dislike it.

    • What a moment to cut ourselves off from friends in Europe

      Theresa May is reviled for her weakness. But, as so often, cliches deceive. No British prime minister has found the strength to condemn an American president as she condemned Donald Trump since the Anglo-American alliance began in the Second World War. Anthony Eden maintained a public silence as Eisenhower destroyed his premiership, and Britain’s imperial pretensions, when he stopped the Suez adventure of 1956.

      Harold Wilson ignored Lyndon Johnson’s pleas to send British troops to Vietnam. But he infuriated the radicals of the 1968 generation by diplomatically refusing to speak out against the war. Thatcher and Reagan, Major and Clinton had their private arguments about Grenada and the IRA. Nothing they said matches the forcefulness of May’s out, loud and proud denunciation of Trump for sharing the “hateful narratives” of British fascists.

    • Stop romanticising the royal family

      It’s hard to write about the British royal family and its affairs without feeling a sense of despair. I mean, we’re told that this is the motherland of liberal democracy, of parliamentarianism as we know it. So how can it be, that in 2017, when this country is under the grip of a shambolic government, and on the verge of a constitutional crisis following Brexit, the front pages of every single mainstream newspaper today were taken over by pictures of two wealthy individuals announcing their upcoming nuptials? Indeed, how can it be that the British taxpayer is footing the bill for this sort of nonsense? Her income has just been raised to £82 million to cover the cost of refurbishing the palace – all whilst the NHS is starved of cash. Not only that, but their right to cream cash off their subjects includes ownership of some of the most expensive real estate in Europe. The Crown Estate owns most of Regent Street and large tracts of St James’s, not to mention thousands of acres of countryside. Last year up to march, they made £328.8 million profit. All because their ancestors’ were squeezed out of the right womb. All because they could curry feudal favours and kick peasants off the land.

    • Trump Tweets He Knew Flynn Lied to FBI When He Asked Comey to ‘Let Flynn Go’

      A day after Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Trump team’s alleged ties to the Kremlin, Trump tweeted about Flynn:

      “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

      Whether the president remembered it or not, he has never before stated that Flynn lied to the FBI. Whether the president realized it or not, conceding that he knew about Flynn’s FBI lie – to which Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday – opens Trump up to a world of legal hurt. Trump had asked James Comey, the former director of the FBI, to drop an inquiry into a man Trump now says he knew lied to the bureau.

    • Trump Tweet About Surveillance Undercuts FBI’s Glomar Responses In FOIA Lawsuits

      There’s no precedent for the volatility of our current president. That seems to be working out just fine for many, many plaintiffs engaged in lawsuits against the government. Attorney Brad Moss, currently suing the FBI over denied FOIA requests related domestic surveillance of Trump administration personnel, just had a 276-character gift dropped in his lap by the Commander-in-Chief.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russia warns of retaliation over RT credential withdrawal

      The move came days after Putin signed off on a law allowing Russian authorities to label non-Russian media outlets as “foreign agents” — a measure intended as retaliation for the U.S. making RT register as such.

    • Israel and US Hide Names of Companies Supporting Israeli Settlements

      In December 2016 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution reaffirming that Israel’s Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal and calling on Israel to stop settlement activities in the OPT. Resolution 2334 says the settlements have “no legal validity,” calls them “a flagrant violation under international law,” and demands Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities.”

      Nine months earlier, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), in Resolution 31/36, had ordered the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to “produce a database of all business enterprises” that “directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements.”

      The database was scheduled for release in December 2017. Meanwhile, the Israeli and US governments have been trying to prevent that list — which reportedly includes at least 150 local and international companies — from becoming public. “We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon told The Associated Press. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, “We just view that type of blacklist as counterproductive.”

    • Censorship of scientists is ramping up, but hostility is nothing new

      It’s been well-chronicled how federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are taking unprecedented steps to silence climate scientists — preventing researchers from speaking, burying some climate research, and ignoring or minimizing other research.

      But, as Professor of Geology Mike Retelle points out, hostility to climate science is nothing new.

      Last month, Retelle joined Professor of Geology Beverly Johnson, Associate Professor of History Joseph Hall, and Professor of Physics John Smedley for a current-events discussion in Pettengill Hall, and he described the travails of climate researchers such as Jim Hansen.

    • ACLU Joins Facebook Censorship Lawsuit Against Loudoun Supervisors

      The American Civil Liberties Union has filed arguments in Brian Davison’s lawsuit against county Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and asked to make oral arguments.

      Davison and Randall have both appealed a federal court decision ruling that Randall violated Davison’s First Amendment protections under the U.S. Constitution by temporarily blocking him on Facebook.

    • Starting this weekend, China celebrates its “open” internet after a year of unprecedented censorship

      On Dec. 3, researchers, business leaders, and government officials from all over the world will head to the scenic town of Wuzhen in east China for the three-day World Internet Conference. Past attendees include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook vice president Vaughan Smith—and high-level officials from Russia, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

      Despite its global implications, the name “World Internet Conference” is a bit of a misnomer—the event will showcase the internet not as the world sees it, but as China and its ideological peers see it. And while representatives from China’s government will likely hail the “openness” of the country’s internet, the past year made it all too clear that China’s cyberspace is more restricted than ever.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Here’s the NSA Agent Who Inexplicably Exposed Critical Secrets

      A series of leaks has rocked the National Security Agency over the past few years, resulting in digital spy tools strewn across the web that have caused real damage both inside and outside the agency. Many of the breaches have been relatively simple to carry out, often by contractors like the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who employed just a USB drive and some chutzpah. But the most recently revealed breach, which resulted in state secrets reportedly being stolen by Russian spies, was caused by an NSA employee who pleaded guilty Friday to bringing classified information to his home, exposing it in the process. And all, reportedly, to update his resume.

    • NSA employee pleads guilty of taking classified info that was later stolen by hackers

      Former National Security Agency employee Nghia H. Pho said in a Baltimore courtroom today he’d illegally taken home classified documents from NSA that are understood to have later “been stolen from his home computer by hackers working for Russian intelligence,” the NYT reports.

    • Former NSA employee pleads guilty to taking sensitive information

      A former National Security Agency employee pleaded guilty Friday to taking sensitive national defense information from his workplace and storing it at his residence.

    • Guilty: NSA bloke who took home exploits at the heart of Kaspersky antivirus slurp row
    • Former NSA employee kept top secret information at home
    • Former N.S.A. Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information
    • Ex-U.S. NSA employee pleads guilty to taking classified documents
    • NSA employee pleads guilty after stolen classified data landed in Russian hands
    • NSA employee pleads guilty to removing classified information
    • Leaked NSA Ragtime files hint at spying on U.S. citizens

      Exposed data included new information on the NSA Ragtime intelligence gathering program, but it is unclear if the evidence proves Americans were targeted.

    • Seattle Newspaper Files Petition To Peel Back Layers Of Court-Aided Surveillance Secrecy

      A Seattle newspaper is looking to bring some more transparency to law enforcement surveillance tactics. Working with the EFF, The Stranger is making a First Amendment argument about sealed court dockets. The government loves to seal dockets related to criminal cases, especially if agencies have deployed certain surveillance tech or have issued warrants to compel tech company assistance under the Stored Communications Act. (It also loves to shut tech companies up by appending indefinite gag orders to warrants and subpoenas.)

    • Deep Dive: DHS and CBP Nominees’ Unsatisfying Responses to Senators’ Questions on Border Device Searches

      Two of President Trump’s top homeland security nominees faced tough questioning from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) about the civil liberties implications of border searches of digital devices during their confirmation processes. In this deep-dive legal analysis, we dissect the written responses of Kirstjen Nielsen and Kevin McAleenan to “questions for the record” submitted by Sens. Wyden and Paul.

    • EFF Supports the Adoption of Berkeley’s Surveillance Technology Use and Community Safety Ordinance

      Across the nation, much of the American public remains unaware of the risks to privacy and freedom of expression posed by steadily advancing surveillance technologies. Automated license plate readers, cell-site simulators, and face recognition equipment—once confined to the imagination of science fiction authors—have all become common tools for police surveillance. Spy tech is often marketed to local law enforcement agencies with claims (often unsubstantiated) of enabling crime reduction without the need to expand police department personnel. However, the adoption of this equipment and failure to establish critical policies regarding its use presents substantial risks to privacy, as well as civil rights.

      Since 2016, we’ve worked with a range of local and national partners on empowering communities to take control of surveillance equipment policy and acquisition. These coalitions have supported cities across the United States in proposing ordinances that would provide consistent transparency, accountability and oversight measures.

    • House panel advances NSA surveillance bill as parties feud

      The House Intelligence Committee passed a bill Friday to restrain the government’s access to data collected under a powerful authority to collect foreign intelligence on U.S. soil, weighing in on what has become a wide-ranging debate, just days before Congress must act to keep the surveillance program from expiring.

    • House Intel Panel Advances NSA Spying Bill Despite Privacy Concerns

      The House Intelligence Committee on Friday approved legislation that would renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, despite objections from Democrats and civil liberties groups over inadequate privacy protection.

    • Navy Officer Working For The NSA Caught Trying To Search Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      The NSA discovered the violation during an audit and reported it. This is good, but it’s also limited to what the NSA chooses to report.

      The Inspector General has noted in the past it is limited in its oversight abilities by the NSA and its reporting systems. The IG often has trouble compiling the information needed to make a determination about potential violations and there have been times where the NSA has actually destroyed information the IG has needed for investigations.

      Much of what we know about the NSA’s violations is self-reported. But this relies on the agency being forthcoming — something it’s not particularly known for. The gap between what’s discovered and what’s handed over by the agency has been noticed by its Congressional oversight and the FISA court. The latter, in particular, has noted the agency often delivers notification of violations months or years after the violations occur and has been routinely unwilling to clarify technical issues when discussing violations with the court.

    • NSA Surveillance Bill Sparks Lawmaker Debate Over ‘Unmasking’

      Legislation to extend a major U.S. surveillance program that’s about to expire became a forum Friday for partisan debate over President Donald Trump’s allegation that the Obama administration “wiretapped” Trump Tower last year.

      The House Intelligence Committee ultimately approved along party lines its version of a bill to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for four years. The program, which is set to lapse at the end of this month, lets the National Security Agency intercept calls or emails from suspected foreign terrorists outside of the U.S.

    • U.S. House intel panel advances NSA spying bill despite privacy objections

      A U.S. House panel on Friday approved legislation that would renew the National Security Agency´s warrantless internet surveillance program, despite objections from the technology sector and civil liberties groups over inadequate privacy protection.

    • House Intelligence Committee Advances a Deeply Flawed NSA Surveillance Bill

      A bill to extend one of the NSA’s most powerful surveillance tools, and further peel back American civil liberties, was approved today by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in a strict party line vote (12-8), with Republican members voting in the majority.

      The committee and the public had less than 48 hours to read and discuss the bill. Democratic committee members openly criticized the short timeframe, amongst other problems.

      “This bill was shared with my office less than 24 hours ago, and here we are marking up legislation that has incredibly profound constitutional implications for all Americans,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). She continued: “We could be sitting here, thoughtfully debating the precarious balance between security and civil liberties and the best path forward, but instead, the majority has decided to do otherwise.”

      The bill is the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, and it was introduced on the evening of November 30 by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA). It is the latest legislative attempt to reauthorize Section 702, one of the NSA’s most powerful surveillance authorities that allows for the targeting and collection of communications of non-U.S. persons not living in the United States. The NSA also uses Section 702 to justify the “incidental” collection of American communications that are predictably swept up during foreign intelligence surveillance, too.

    • Australian government upholds dismissal of sneaky golfer who shielded his employer-issued tracking device in a chip-bag

      Tom Colella worked for 20 years as an Instrument Electrical Tradesperson for Aroona Alliance in Western Australia, until he was fired in on Sept 20, 2016 for sneaking off to play golf every Wednesday afternoon and hiding his absences from his employer by putting the PDA that he was obliged to carry — in order to track his movements — in a mylar potato-chip bag that acted as a Faraday cage and prevented it from receiving GPS signals and other location-identifying beacons and storing or communicating his location for his employer.

    • Former N.S.A. Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information
    • Activist Max Schrems sets up non-profit to defend individual privacy under GDPR

      Schrems, whose complaint against Facebook’s practices of transferring European citizens’ personal data to the US led to the downfall of the Safe Harbour agreement, is seeking to take advantage of the strengthened enforcement mechanisms that are written into the EU GDPR data protection legislation, which allows non-profit organisations to defend individual’s privacy rights in the courts.

      The new organisation is called NOYB (none of your business) and describes itself as a ‘European privacy enforcement organisation that enforces your rights in a systematic and effective way’.

      While it is the job of the Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) such as the UK’s Information Commissioners Office to enforce privacy rights, in practice the website says “there are legal, political and factual reasons (e.g. limited resources) that limit the desire and ability of DPAs to do their job”.

    • Ex-NSA Hackers Worry China And Russia Will Try to Arrest Them

      Earlier this week, US prosecutors charged three Chinese nationals for allegedly hacking into several companies in the span of six years. The three hackers worked for a Chinese cybersecurity company and their alleged crimes were not apparently part of a government operation, according to the US Department of Justice. But two anonymous US government officials told Reuters that the company the hackers worked for is affiliated with the Chinese military’s hacking unit, and that “most if not all its hacking operations are state-sponsored and directed.”

      In light of this latest round of indictments against foreign hackers some ex-NSA hackers are starting to worry they might get the same treatment from China or Russia in the future.

      “It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when and how bad,” Jake Williams, a cybersecurity consultant who used to work at the NSA’s elite hacking unit Tailored Access Operations (TAO), told Motherboard in a phone call. “What goes around comes around.”

    • NSA Breach Spills Over 100GB Of Top Secret Data

      Earlier this week it was reported that NSA suffered a breach that revealed top secret data. A virtual disk image belonging to the NSA — essentially the contents of a hard drive — was left exposed on a public Amazon Web Services storage server. The server contained more than 100 gigabytes of data from an Army intelligence project codenamed “Red Disk”. Leo Taddeo, Chief Information Security Officer at Cyxtera commented below.

    • Once again: If you carry a sensor of any kind, you must assume it to be active and collecting data, you can’t trust pinky promises

      As Quartz revealed, Google has been tracking your location since the start of 2017. At this point, the story should not be about why Google did this, but why, with all the experience at hand, anybody expected otherwise. Privacy is your own responsibility today.

    • UK gov’s plans to restrict police snooping powers slammed as ‘half-baked’

      “Half-baked concessions dressed up as a public consultation cannot fix a law that fundamentally undermines free speech, our free press and everybody’s privacy.

      “This is window dressing for indiscriminate surveillance of the public, when ministers should be getting on with changing the law.”

    • Unprivate Ryan

      Contrary to your girlfriend’s notion that “relationship” is just another way of saying “two-person surveillance state,” you have a right to privacy. This is a fundamental human right, explained Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, and it comes out of our right to be left alone. So, yes, you are entitled to pick the “privacy settings” on your own life, because the information about your thoughts, emotions, and romantic interactions belongs to you. Nobody gets to dispense that info publicly without your permission — even if this means they have to keep part of their life (the part with you) under wraps.

    • Growing private sector use of facial scanners worries privacy advocates

      Schwartz and other privacy advocates worry that the increased collection of biometric data, especially through facial recognition software, poses a danger to the public.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Eliminating Police Bias When Handling Drug-Sniffing Dogs

      Seven years ago, a researcher named Lisa Lit published a study that she now calls “a real career-ender.”

      On the surface, the study tested the abilities of fourteen certified sniffer dogs to find hidden “targets.” In reality, the dogs’ human handlers were also under the magnifying glass. They were led to believe there were hidden target scents present, when in fact there were none. Nevertheless, the dogs “alerted” to the scents multiple times — especially in locations where researchers had indicated a scent was likely.

    • Drug Dog Testing Process Eliminates Handler Bias. Unsurprisingly, Cops Don’t Like it.

      When a cop needs an excuse to search something (but can’t manage to talk the citizen into consenting) there’s almost always a four-legged cop waiting in the wings to give the cop permission to do what he wanted to do anyway. You will rarely hear testimony given in any court case where a K9 hasn’t “alerted” to the smell of drugs. Once this “alert” is delivered, officers are free to override objections to warrantless searches under the theory that a dog’s permission is all that’s needed.

      What’s willfully ignored by law enforcement officers is the nature of the beasts they deploy: dogs like pleasing handlers and will react to unconscious cues and/or do the thing they’re expected to do: “find drugs.” If the dog knows it can perform an act for a reward, it will perform that act, whether or not drugs are present. Unfortunately, there’s a deliberate dearth of data when it comes to drug-sniffing dog fallibility. Tracking this data would undercut the dogs’ raison d’etre: to act as probable cause for warrantless searches. This lack of data makes challenging drug dog “alerts” in court almost impossible.

    • Finnish hacker [sic] Lauri Love appeals against extradition to US

      A verdict in the case is expected early next year.


      The electrical engineering student’s previous extradition order was overturned by then-Minister of the Interior, Theresa May in 2012.

    • “Believe All Women”? No. Believe In Due Process To Sort Things Out — If They Are Sortable

      We may not always be able to punish the guilty, but that is the cost of having a society where we take great care to avoid punishing the innocent, with laws supporting due process.

    • 6 Things You Learn After Shooting A Cop (In Self-Defense)

      The home, they condemned the home and then sold it. The city sold it. This is his family home. And it’s by no means beautiful, but it’s what they owned. I think they got, like, $17k for the family home.”

    • Police commissioner: Slain Baltimore detective was to testify in case of indicted officers

      The revelation brings together two cases that have sent shock waves through the Police Department and the city as a whole: the federal prosecutions of eight members of the department’s elite gun task force, who are accused of shaking down citizens and conspiring with drug dealers, and the killing of Suiter last week in West Baltimore, the first of an on-duty officer by a suspect in 10 years.

    • Closing down a country: the Islamabad stand-off

      The Islamabad High Court in its proceedings on Monday morning criticised the Interior Minister for giving the military the role of “mediator”, especially since the military had turned down the civilian government’s request to intervene earlier. The judge asked: “Where does the law assign this role to a general?” The rather brave judge said that this was “proof of the military’s involvement”.

      Even this tiny incident in Islamabad allows one to make a number of observations about the political economy of Pakistan: religious groups and parties are far better organised and committed than their liberal cousins, and civil society;

    • U.S. Coast Guard operating secret floating prisons in Pacific Ocean

      In an effort to staunch the flow of cocaine and other hard drugs from South America to Central America and points north, Coast Guard cutters have been deployed farther and farther from the shore in the Pacific Ocean. When these cutters capture a boat carrying drugs, the smugglers are brought onto the ships and kept shackled to the deck, sometimes outside in the elements, until the Coast Guard makes arrangements for them to be transported back to the U.S. for trial.

    • The disappeared

      The men, who CNN spoke to in detail over the course of the last 12 months, describe being forcibly taken from their homes, detained for weeks, sometimes months, in secret prisons, denied communication with family and legal representation, strong-armed into making videotaped confessions, and ultimately released without being convicted of a single crime.

    • 3 Muslim clerics with human parts arrested in Oyo
    • Female Genital Mutilation Happening to an Alarming Number of U.S. Girls
    • Butter knife or sharp blade? Either way, FGM survivors in Sri Lanka want it to stop
    • Should Americans excuse FGM as a minority cultural practice?
    • Survivors’ group writes to Modi seeking ban on FGM

      Mumbai: We Speak Out, a group of female genital mutilation (FGM) survivors, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to declare FGM as illegal in India. The group said their plea is in keeping with the United Nation’s sustainable development goal of eradicating FGM in all countries by 2030.

    • Mosque gives University of Cincinnati $1M to teach more about Islam
    • Beating wives if they refuse sex is OK, according to books in Britain’s Islamic schools
    • It’s OK to beat your wife, says Islamic school book
    • Pakistan Islamists claim victory after law minister resigns

      Under the deal, the Islamists also agreed not to issue a fatwa, or Muslim edict that could endanger Hamid. The minister’s home in eastern Punjab province was twice attacked by Islamists in recent days though he was not there at the time.

    • Army, religious extremists return to centre in Pakistan

      Leave alone the minorities in Pakistan, this deal firmly puts an end to any wayward hopes the Ahmadiya Muslim community in Pakistan may have begun to entertain of being equal to their fellow Muslims.

    • Pakistan army negotiates deal with mullah brigade, undermines govt

      It was the beginning of the end of the Pakistani state as we know it this weekend, as the mullah brigade and the Army joined hands to assert their power over the state.

    • Pakistan army called on to stop ‘blasphemy’ clashes in Islamabad

      The protesters have been blocking the highway for several weeks, demanding the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid whom they accuse of blasphemy.


      The protesting Islamists, from the hardline Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Party, want the law minister to be sacked for omitting a reference to the Prophet Muhammad in a new version of the electoral oath.

    • Amnesty Decries ‘Gruesome’ Torture Tool Find at Paris Fair

      Human rights group Amnesty International says its staff have found torture equipment for sale at a military and police trade fair in Paris in contravention of European Union laws.

    • Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for same crimes: study

      The group’s analysis of sentencing data for whites and blacks between the years 2008 and 2016 revealed that black men serve sentences that are on average 19.1 percent longer than the average length of sentences for white men.

    • Islamic radical protesters take to the street: “Put Asia Bibi to death”
    • Swedish city of Oskarshamn, now offers armed police to escort joggers after dark
    • Swedish Minister of Justice: Men rape – not immigrants

      A report released by BRÅ in 1996 showed that people from certain immigrant groups, especially from the Arab world, are very over-represented as perpetrators in rapes. Some of them have an over-representation of 20. The number of men with a background in the Arab world has risen sharply in Sweden in recent decades – but the issue has become taboo and BRÅ has since the 1990s chosen not to follow up the connection between ethnic background and the inclination to rape.

    • Men are not a different species

      Yet gender determinism is curiously back in fashion (as is racial determinism, with the rhetoric about the ‘problem with whiteness’). It has become normal to talk of ‘men’ as a problematic category, as if all ‘men’ are potential or actual sexual predators, as if we are a coherent category of automatons, confined by those inverted commas. When Caitlin Moran concluded her Times column on Saturday speaking about ‘the problem of men’, she summed up a mainstream sentiment. It’s astonishing that it needs saying these days that this is no different to talking about the ‘problem of women’ or the problem of ‘the blacks’.

    • Crimes reach record high in Sweden years after refugee crisis – report

      The 2016 crime rate is said to be the highest one recorded since the Bra started conducting its annual crime surveys. The report went on to say that the number of harassment, sexual offenses and fraud cases saw the biggest increase over recent years.
      Out of six types of offenses mentioned in the survey, five rose to their highest level on record in 2016. The number of assault cases reached its second-highest level over a decade, the report shows.

    • Many cybercrime cases not investigated

      Illegal gain (5,987 incidents) and revenge (1,056) were the two top motives that accounted for cybercrimes. Sexual exploitation (686), insulting the modesty of women (569) and causing disrepute (448) constituted 13% of the crimes.


      There were 6,818 cases registered under various sections of the Information Technology Act that pertains to sending offensive and false information.

    • Video Reveals Alleged Slave Market in Libya
    • People for sale: Where lives are auctioned for $400

      “They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it,” Hazam says. “(The smuggler) does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea.”

    • ‘We are going to kill you’: Villagers in Burma recount violence by Rohingya Muslim militants

      Shortly thereafter, a group of Saudi-based Rohingya expatriates formed the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, according to a December report from the International Crisis Group. Its leaders eventually traveled to the area to recruit and surreptitiously train villagers in guerrilla war tactics, the report said.

    • In Saudi Arabia a man was arrested for talking to a woman
    • Gangs ‘using TASERS on schoolgirl rape victims as Birmingham faces tsunami of child sexual exploitation’
    • Child rapes up 82% in 2016, UP records a 400% jump
    • Nine-year-old girls in Iraq could be forced to marry under new Muslim laws

      Human rights activists are warning that a new Iraqi law could legalise marriage for children as young as nine and set women’s rights back 50 years.

    • Indonesia’s Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith

      This clash of cultures began in the 1980s, when then-President Suharto gave land and incentives to migrants from overcrowded Java to move and open up the jungles of Sumatra.

    • Writing to survive: Baha’i woman’s poetry was her best friend in Iranian jail

      Iranian authorities released Sabet from her jail cell a day ahead of schedule at a little after 5 p.m., the deadline for prisoners to make their last phone calls of the day. The move was deliberate, she believes, to keep her homecoming quiet and largely removed from media glare. She had become, after all, internationally known.

    • French academic: ‘Introduce Sharia law, create Muslim state to avoid civil war’
    • Germany, Austria: Imams Warn Muslims Not to Integrate

      “While outside the mosque there is constant talk of integration, the opposite is preached inside. Only in rare instances are parts of the sermon — or even more rarely, all of the sermon — translated into German…” — Constantin Schreiber, author of Inside Islam: What Is Being Preached in Germany’s Mosques.

    • Interrogators Blast Trump’s ‘Clueless’ CIA Pick Tom Cotton

      The Central Intelligence Agency is set to receive an advocate of waterboarding, sweeping surveillance powers, jailing journalists, and conflict with Iran as its next director.

      A combat veteran and first-term Arkansas GOP senator, Tom Cotton has wasted little time building his twin reputations as one of the Senate’s hardest hardliners and friendliest Donald Trump allies. In one of his earliest Senate soundbites, he rebuked a Pentagon official in 2015 for the failed plan to close Guantanamo Bay, saying its detainees should “rot in hell.”

    • Arizona: Border Patrol Kills Migrant on Tohono O’odham Reservation

      In Arizona, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed an undocumented migrant in a remote mountainous region on the Tohono O’odham Nation on Wednesday. The shooting occurred about 20 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. The Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson sector is claiming, without evidence, that the shooting occurred after the man grabbed the gun of one of the agents. Migrant justice groups are demanding the killing be investigated.

    • ‘We never thought we’d be believed’

      For the last several years, Morgan Marquis-Boire was widely considered a rock star of the cybersecurity world. He was known as one of the “good guys,” an activist committed to progressive causes and the protection of digital privacy and human rights. Within the goth scene in Auckland, New Zealand, he DJed at goth events, where his bombastic personality and good looks earned him popularity and notoriety within a small and insular subculture.

      But for me, and for many people in that scene, he also had a very different reputation: as a man who liked to sexually assault young women.

    • Garrison Keillor: ‘I put my hand on a woman’s bare back’

      Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) said a colleague on Keillor’s former show, A Prairie Home Companion, had accused him of inappropriate behaviour.
      Mr Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the claim stems from an occasion when he put his hand on a woman’s bare back to console her.
      The station said it did not know of any allegations involving any other staff.

    • French Secularists Push Back: Street Prayer Confrontations Are Growing

      In fact, things are getting so testy that Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has intervened. In a move meant to quell secularist anger over religion creeping into society, France announced an immediate halt to street prayer in the Paris suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne. “They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying,” Collomb told Questions Politics. (Source: French Muslims in Paris suburb left with nowhere to pray as street worshipping is banned, The National, November 20, 2017.)

    • Islam: A giant step backwards for humanity
    • Hadiya Is No Longer A Person, But An Issue: ‘Political Hindus Vs Political Muslims’

      Hadiya’s win is definitely a win for herself and a victory of constitutional rights; but the unfortunate aspect is that it is also a victory of Islamic fundamentalists as well as the Hindutva forces.

    • Towards Nazi Australia

      The international trend in first world countries towards right wing populist politics is symptomatic of rising insecurity and inequality. Each context has its own specific topography whilst there are underlying dynamics that seem common to all. It may surprise you to learn how far down this trajectory Australia has gone this century. Observers of international human rights know about this, as do figures like Donald Trump who looks on Australia’s inhumane treatment of “illegal” refugees with envy. Alas, the story needs to be told such that hopefully Australians will develop a conscience and the rest of the world might be warned.

      The title I gave this piece – Nazi Australia – was deliberately provocative. This is a function of desperation, but, alas, also of reality. For there are hundreds of men on Manus Island (PNG) whom the Australian government has placed in interminable limbo, and psychological and physical danger, so as to maintain an absolute deterrence against “illegal” asylum seekers. The Australian government simply stonewalls all calls by outraged citizens for humane action. So, there is need to call out this stonewalling in very shrill terms. Even so, the claims I am making are very serious, and this will require me to set the argument up carefully.

    • Facebook Can’t Clean Up Ad Discrimination on Its Own

      Facebook has admitted a serious problem with the platform’s advertising function that is allowing racial discrimination on its site. But there is a way to fix it — if the company is willing.

      In the spring of 2016, Facebook rolled out its “ethnic affinity” feature, which allowed advertisers to target Facebook users labeled as African American, Latino, or Asian American based upon their behavior on Facebook. Advertisers could opt to include or to exclude users in these categories. Facebook said that these labels were not equivalent to race because they were based not on users’ actual racial identities, but on whether they engaged with Facebook pages associated with those racial communities. Nonetheless, it identified the categories as “demographics” in its options for advertisers.

      The system made it easy to exclude users marked as African American from seeing ads for anything, including job postings and credit or housing opportunities. Yet civil rights laws like the Fair Housing Act make this kind of discriminatory advertising illegal.

      In October 2016, ProPublica was able to place a housing-related ad that targeted house hunters and those likely to move, excluding users marked as African American, Asian American, or Hispanic. The story prompted an immediate outcry. The Congressional Black Caucus contacted Facebook, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which enforces fair housing laws, said the revelations raised “serious concerns.”

      Make no mistake, this is not simply an advertising problem — this is a civil rights problem made all the more dangerous by social media’s technological advances. Online personalization opens up significant possibilities for discrimination against marginalized communities, including people of color and other members of protected classes. In the offline world, we have thankfully moved past the era of housing advertisements that explicitly stated that people of certain races, religions, or ethnicities could not apply. But with behavioral targeting online, discrimination no longer requires that kind of explicit statement. Instead, a property manager can simply display ads for housing only to white people, or Christians, or those without disabilities.

    • The Trump Administration Just Admitted a Secretly Detained American Has Asked for a Lawyer – But It Won’t Give Him One

      An American being held without charges by the U.S. military in Iraq has asked for an attorney, the ACLU finally learned last night following an extraordinary court hearing. The government is resisting our efforts to make contact with the man so he can challenge his detention, in an outrageous violation of the basic rights guaranteed to every American by the Constitution.

      The military has held the “unnamed detainee” — as the government refers to him in its filings — somewhere in Iraq since mid-September as an “enemy combatant” for allegedly fighting in Syria with ISIS (although the government hasn’t presented any evidence of that). The Pentagon and Justice Department ignored our initial request to offer him legal assistance. We then filed a habeas corpus petition on his behalf in court in Washington, demanding that the government justify the man’s detention.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ISPs Are Already Using The FCC’s Planned Net Neutrality Repeal To Harm Consumers

      So if you’ve been reading Techdirt, you know that the FCC’s myopic assault on net neutrality is just a small part of a massive, paradigm-shifting handout to the uncompetitive telecom sector that could have a profoundly negative impact on competition, innovation, privacy, and consumer welfare for the next decade.
      The government telecom industry’s plan goes something like this: gut nearly all FCC oversight of giant ISPs (including the modest privacy protections killed earlier this year), then shovel any dwindling remaining authority to an FTC that lacks the authority or resources to actually protect competition, businesses and consumers. If any states get the crazy idea to step in and try to fill in the consumer protection gaps, the FCC (again, at Comcast and Verizon’s lobbying behest) has clearly stated it will try and use federal authority to slap them down (so much for that dedication to “states rights” applied only when convenient).
      You should, hopefully, see how this could pose problems for anybody other than Charter, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. In fact, Charter lawyers this week are already providing us with a look at precisely what this is going to look like in practice.
      You might recall that earlier this year, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Charter for effectively ripping off consumers. Among the numerous charges levied in the complaint (pdf) was the fact that Charter falsely advertised speeds it couldn’t deliver, used all manner of misleading fees to jack up the cost of advertised services (something it’s facing other lawsuits over), and may have manipulated peering point capacity to force content and transit operators into paying more money.

    • Bogus Emails and Bee Movie: Digging Into the FCC’s Broken Net Neutrality Comments

      The Pew researchers detected other unusual behavior, like the fact that on June 19, nearly 500,000 comments were submitted in a single second. In that case, nearly all were identical and associated with battleforthenet.com, suggesting its organizers bulk-uploaded all of the comments to the FCC’s site at that time. But on May 24, they found more than 86,000 comments submitted in a single second. They all conveyed the same sentiment, but this time, the language different slightly, following a pattern that other researchers recently told WIRED may have been generated by bots.

    • How to Make Sense of Net Neutrality and Telecom Under Trump
    • Net Neutrality Needs You as Much as You Need It

      The battle for net neutrality is ramping into high gear, as we anticipate an FCC vote on December 14 to either confirm or reject Chairman Pai’s draft order to undermine the 2015 Open Internet Order. With the future of the Internet, its capacity to continue fostering innovation, and freedom of expression online hanging in the balance, EFF encourages Internet users to speak out–both online and in the streets–to defend net neutrality.

    • AT&T wants you to forget that it blocked FaceTime over cellular in 2012

      AT&T’s push to end net neutrality rules continued yesterday in a blog post that says the company has never blocked third-party applications and that it won’t do so even after the rules are gone.

    • Net neutrality activists just took over Reddit with protest posts

      If you visit the reddit.com home page today expecting to see the usual mix of news stories and entertaining cat memes, you’re likely to see something very different: a wall of posts naming and shaming members of Congress—mostly Republicans—who have taken money from the telecommunications industry.

      “This is my Senator, Ron Johnson,” reads the headline for the top post when we checked reddit.com on Friday afternoon. “He sold me, my fellow Wisconsinites, and this nation, to the telecom lobby for the price of $123,652.”

      Posts further down shame John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN), and other members of Congress using virtually identical language.

    • Comcast to customers: Just trust us about changed net neutrality pledges

      Comcast is defending its changed net neutrality pledges in the face of criticism from Internet users.

      The deletion of a net neutrality promise immediately after the Federal Communications Commission started repealing its net neutrality rules is just a “language” change, the company says. Comcast is telling customers that it still has no plans to institute paid prioritization—while avoiding a promise that it won’t do so in the future.

      We wrote a story Monday about recent changes to Comcast’s net neutrality promises and followed up on Wednesday with further details.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Epic Sues 14 Year Old It Accuses Of Cheating In Videogames After He Counternotices a DMCA On His YouTube Video

        We called it. When Blizzard decided several years ago to try to twist copyright law into one hell of a pretzel in the name of going after video game cheaters, we said it was going to open the the door to other developers and publishers abusing the law in the same way. Blizzard’s theory is that using a cheat in its games, particularly in its multiplayer games, was a violation of the EULA and created a copyright violation when the cheater continued to play the game he or she only “licensed.” A deep dive into the actual substance of the copyright claims reveals them to be laughable, except Blizzard is rarely joined in court by its defendants, so no challenge to its pretzel-theory of copyright is ever put forward. Shortly after all of this, Riot Games joined in on this fun, deciding to apply the well-salted pretzel copyright logic to groups making cheats for League of Legends.

      • Europe Needs to Save Itself From Internet Upload Filters

        Upload filters would chip away at the internet’s role as a public space for everyone. The internet would increasingly come to resemble cable TV, where it’s up to a few big companies to decide what goes on air.

        It’s time to speak up against these plans—while we can still do so unfiltered.

      • Seven Years of Hadopi: Nine Million Piracy Warnings, 189 Convictions

        French anti-piracy agency Hadopi has just released its latest results revealing that since its inception, nine million piracy warnings have been sent to citizens. Since the launch of the graduated response regime in 2010, more than 2,000 cases have been referred to prosecutors, resulting in 189 criminal convictions. But with new forms of piracy under the spotlight, there’s still plenty to be done.

      • European Commission Steps Up Fight Against Online Piracy

        The European Commission is determined to step up the fight against online piracy and counterfeiting. To achieve this, it will support voluntary agreements to cut off revenue to piracy sites, while also exploring new blockchain-based anti-piracy technologies. In addition, the Commission provides detailed guidance on how current legislation should be interpreted.

      • YouTube Begins Blocking Music in Finland Due to Licensing Failure (Updated)

        Internet users in Finland are waking up to a degraded YouTube experience this morning, with many videos displaying a message explaining that they cannot be played in the country. According to YouTube, this is because the company couldn’t reach a licensing deal with local performance rights organization Teosto.


        Like other groups in the same position, Teosto is looking to obtain more revenue for its members. That seems to be the basis for the dispute with YouTube


Links 1/12/2017: Qt 3D Studio 1.0, KDE’s Goals for 2018 and Beyond, Alpine Linux 3.7

Posted in News Roundup at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • System76 will disable Intel Management engine on its Linux laptops

      System76 is one a handful of companies that sells computers that run Linux software out of the box. But like most PCs that have shipped with Intel’s Core processors in the past few years, System76 laptops include Intel’s Management Engine firmware.

      Intel recently confirmed a major security vulnerability affecting those chips and it’s working with PC makers to patch that vulnerability.

      But System76 is taking another approach: it’s going to roll out a firmware update for its recent laptops that disables the Intel Management Engine altogether.

    • System76 Will Begin Disabling Intel ME In Their Linux Laptops

      Following the recent Intel Management Engine (ME) vulnerabilities combined with some engineering work the past few months on their end, System76 will begin disabling ME on their laptops.

    • Linux hardware vendor outlines Intel Management Engine firmware plan

      The Linux-equipped computer maker, System76, has detailed plans to update the Intel Management Engine (ME) firmware on its computers in line with Intel’s November 20th vulnerability announcement. In July, System76 began work on a project to automatically deliver firmware to System76 laptops which works in a similar fashion to how software is usually delivered through the operating system.

    • System76 to disable Intel Management Engine on its notebooks

      Intel has recently confirmed the earlier findings of third parties who revealed that its Management Engine firmware has some serious security issues. Since we talked about this recently, we should now move to System76′s approach in handling this situation.

  • Server

    • Docker for Data Science

      Docker is a tool that simplifies the installation process for software engineers. Coming from a statistics background I used to care very little about how to install software and would occasionally spend a few days trying to resolve system configuration issues. Enter the god-send Docker almighty.

      Think of Docker as a light virtual machine (I apologise to the Docker gurus for using that term). Generally someone writes a *Dockerfile* that builds a *Docker Image* which contains most of the tools and libraries that you need for a project. You can use this as a base and add any other dependencies that are required for your project. Its underlying philosophy is that if it works on my machine it will work on yours.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.14.3
    • Linux 4.9.66
    • Linux 4.4.103
    • Linux 3.18.85
    • Four new stable kernels

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the 4.14.3, 4.9.66, 4.4.103, and 3.18.85 stable kernels. As usual, they contain fixes throughout the tree; users of those series should upgrade.

    • A Closed-Source Apple File-System APFS Driver For Linux Announced

      With macOS High Sierra finally ditching the HFS+ file-system and switching all macOS users over to Apple’s new file-system, APFS, you may find the need to read a APFS file-system from another non-macOS device. Now it’s possible with an APFS Linux file-system driver, but it’s closed-source and doesn’t yet have write capabilities.

      Paragon Software who has also developed a commercial Microsoft ReFS Linux file-system driver as well as an EXT4 driver for Windows has now developed an Apple File-System (APFS) driver for Linux systems.

    • Linux Foundation

      • What OPNFV Makes Possible in Open Source

        OPNFV provides both tangible and intangible benefits to end users. Tangible benefits include those that directly impact business metrics, whereas the intangibles include benefits that speed up the overall NFV transformation journey but are harder to measure. The nature of the OPNFV project, where it primarily focuses on integration and testing of upstream projects and adds carrier-grade features to these upstream projects, can make it difficult to understand these benefits.

        To understand this more clearly, let’s go back to the era before OPNFV. Open source projects do not, as a matter of routine, perform integration and testing with other open source projects. So, the burden of taking multiple disparate projects and making the stack work for NFV primarily fell on Communications Service Providers (CSPs), although in some cases vendors shouldered part of the burden. For CSPs or vendors to do the same integration and testing didn’t make sense.

      • The Evolving Developer Advocate Role — A Conversation with Google’s Kim Bannerman

        At this year’s Cloud Foundry Summit Europe, the story was about developers as the heroes. They’re the ones who make the platforms. They are akin to the engineers who played such a pivotal role in designing the railroads, or in modern times made the smartphone possible. This means a more important role for developer advocates who, at organizations such as Google, are spending a lot more time with customers. These are the subject matter experts helping developers build out their platforms. They are gathering data to develop feedback loops that flow back into open source communities for ongoing development.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Confirms Linux Driver Performance Regression, To Be Fixed In 390 Series

        If you think recent NVIDIA Linux driver releases have been slowing down your games, you are not alone, especially if you are running with a GeForce graphics card having a more conservative vRAM capacity by today’s standards.

        Long time ago Nouveau contributor turned NVIDIA Linux engineer Arthur Huillet confirmed there is a bug in their memory management introduced since their 378 driver series that is still present in the latest 387 releases.

      • NVIDIA has confirmed a driver bug resulting in a loss of performance on Linux

        It seems there’s a performance bug in recent NVIDIA drivers that has been causing a loss of performance across likely all GPUs. Not only that, but it seems to end up using more VRAM than previous drivers too.

        User HeavyHDx started a thread on the official NVIDIA forum, to describe quite a big drop in performance since the 375 driver series. So all driver updates since then would have been affected by this.

      • NVIDIA’s New Memory Allocator Project To Be Standalone, Undecided On Name

        Following NVIDIA’s call for feedback on their effort to create a new device memory allocator API that would be of equal use to the upstream open-source drivers and potentially replace (or indirectly used by) the Wayland compositors in place of the existing GBM API and NVIDIA’s failed EGLStreams Wayland push, their next steps continue to be formulated.

      • NVIDIA’s Current Linux Driver Is Hungry For vRAM This Holiday

        With a NVIDIA Linux developer having confirmed a current driver performance regression affecting driver releases since the 378 series and not being worked around until the yet-to-be-released 390.xx beta driver, I decided to carry out some tests.

      • Nvidia Driver Problems: Bug Causes Performance Loss For Linux Users

        Graphics card maker Nvidia confirmed what gamers have suspected for some time: the company’s products experience a significant loss in performance on Linux operating systems, and Nvidia drivers appear to be the culprit.

      • AMD Announces The Radeon Software Adrenalin Driver

        AMD’s embargo has just expired over the name of their new driver.

        This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but AMD has been pushing out big annual updates to their “Radeon Software” graphics driver the past few years. In December they will be shipping the successor to Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 3D Studio 1.0 Released

        We are happy to announce that Qt 3D Studio 1.0 has now been released. Qt 3D Studio provides a 3D user interface authoring system that caters for both software developers and graphic designers.

      • Qt 3D Studio 1.0 Released, Powered By NVIDIA’s Open-Source Code

        The Qt Company is today shipping Qt 3D Studio, its new 3D user-interface authoring system for both developers and designers.

        Qt 3D Studio 1.0 has a Studio Editor for creating interactive 3D presentations and applications, the Qt 3D Studio Viewer for testing new 3D designs in action, and is supported across Windows / macOS / Linux.

        Of course, this new 3D Studio is powered by the Qt5 tool-kit. This new software package is made possible and based upon NVIDIA’s huge code contribution to Qt earlier this year of opening the NVIDIA DRIVE Design Studio that became the basis for Qt 3D Studio.

      • KDE’s Goals for 2018 and Beyond
      • KDE’s Goals for 2018 and Beyond

        The KDE community has spoken and it has chosen the proposals which will define the general direction of the KDE project over the next three or four years.

        How does the KDE community decide where it wants to take the project? Well, every once in a while, we hold a Request for Proposals, if you will. All members of the community are encouraged to submit their grand ideas which will lay out long-term targets. Proposals are voted on democratically, again, by the community. This ensures it is truly the community that guides the KDE project to wherever the community wants it to go.

      • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa

        Elisa project has now an official mailing list hosted by kde (Elisa mailing list). Alexander Stippich is now a regular KDE developer and we felt a list was good to coordinate work on Elisa. I am also very happy, to nine years after I joined KDE, to have the honor to recommend somebody. I still remember how excited I was at that time.

        Following blog post from Kevin Funk on binary-factory service (KDE binary factory), Elisa windows installers are regularly built. Thanks a lot to the KDE windows contributors. They do a lot of work to help projects like mine.
        2017-11-30 14_28_43-

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Announcing FreeRTOS Kernel Version 10

    The number of connected IoT devices worldwide is in the billions and growing rapidly. Many of these edge devices – from fitness trackers to sensors to washing machines to automotive transmissions – use low-cost, low-powered microcontrollers with extremely limited memory and compute capability. For some IoT use cases, very predictable response times can also be critical (think: automotive). A standard operating system won’t work here: you need a real-time operating system (RTOS) that works in very constrained systems.

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 17.11

    In contrast to most releases, which are focused on one or two major themes, the development during the release cycle of version 17.11 was almost entirely driven by the practical use of Genode as a day-to-day OS by the entire staff of Genode Labs. The basis of this endeavor is an evolving general-purpose system scenario – dubbed “sculpt” – that is planned as an official feature for the next release 18.02. The name “sculpt” hints at the approach to start with a minimalistic generic live system that can be interactively shaped into a desktop scenario by the user without any reboot. This is made possible by combining Genode’s unique dynamic reconfiguration concept with the recently introduced package management, our custom GUI stack, and the many ready-to-use device-driver components that we developed over the past years.

  • Genode OS 17.11 Reworks Its “Nitpicker” GUI Server

    Genode is the open-source operating system framework designed for “highly secure” special-purpose operating systems from embedded platforms to desktops while subscribing to a Unix philosophy and going for an L4 micro-kernel approach. The Genode OS 17.11 represents another quarter’s worth of changes.

    A lot of the work represented by Genode OS 17.11 is on beating the operating system platform into shape to be a day-to-day OS. Among the changes to find is its GUI stack being reworked, scroll-wheel emulation and pointer acceleration finally, other input handling improvements, all x86 micro-kernels now using the GRUB2 boot-loader, Nim programming language usage, and more.

  • How Open Source Will Enable Smart Cities

    Go back a hundred years and services like electricity and running water — let alone phones — would have all been considered luxuries. Now, we see these services as critical infrastructure that could cause a serious threat to life and societal order if they were to break down.

    As the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a bigger part of our world, creating a marriage of software and hardware that ranges from the exceedingly useful to the overly creepy, it is also finding its way into many of the utilities that we depend on for modern living.

    What we define as infrastructure is being rapidly altered by the growth of IoT and the move towards smart cities. We depend on traffic lights, security cameras and garbage removal to keep our cities livable, and we would quickly take notice if these services faltered.

    As these devices and systems start to get brains, they become vulnerable to attacks like Mirai or the one that targeted the Ukrainian power grid. There is the added challenge of how to protect smart infrastructure, recognizing that it has major differences from the way that we defend power plants.

    Historically, critical infrastructure projects have been tougher targets for hackers as their operational technologies (OT) relied on legacy systems that were not widely connected to the internet. As cases such as Stuxnet and more recent cyberattacks on electrical power systems have shown, these systems are vulnerable to external hackers, despite their supposedly high level of security and regulation.

  • Giving the gift of a pull request to an open source project in need

    On December 1st, 24 Pull Requests will be opening its virtual doors once again, asking you to give the gift of a pull request to an open source project in need. Six years ago, inspired by 24 Ways (an advent calendar for web geeks), I decided an advent calendar was a great way to motivate people to contribute to projects. Last year more than 16,000 pull requests were made by nearly 3,000 contributors through the site. And they’re not all by programmers.

    Often the contribution with the most impact might be an improvement to technical documentation, some tests, or even better—guidance for other contributors. The 24 Pull Requests website, for example, started off as a single html page and has received almost 900 pull requests over the years to turn it into the site it is today.

  • NCSA SPIN Intern Daniel Johnson Develops Open Source HPC Python Package

    At the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), undergraduate SPIN (Students Pushing INnovation) intern Daniel Johnson joined NCSA’s Gravity Group to study Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, specifically numerical relativity. Daniel has used the open source, numerical relativity software, the Einstein Toolkit on the Blue Waters supercomputer to numerically solve Einstein’s general relativity equations to study the collision of black holes, and the emission of gravitational waves from these astrophysical events. During his SPIN internship, Daniel developed an open source, Python package to streamline these numerical analyses in high performance computing (HPC) environments.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla releases dataset and model to lower voice-recognition barriers

        Mozilla has released its Common Voice collection, which contains almost 400,000 recordings from 20,000 people, and is claimed to be the second-largest voice dataset publicly available.

        The voice samples in the collection were obtained from Mozilla’s Common Voice project, which allowed users via an iOS app or website to donate their utterances. It is hoped that creating a large public dataset will allow for better voice-enabled applications.

      • Mozilla’s open source voice recognition tool nears human-like accuracy

        Mozilla has released an open source voice recognition tool that it says is “close to human level performance,” and free for developers to plug into their projects.

        The free-software company also on Wednesday released a first set of crowdsourced recordings under its Common Voice project, designed to let anyone train and test machine learning algorithms to recognize speech. The dataset includes almost 400,000 downloadable samples, adding up to 500 hours of speech. More than 20,000 people from around the world have contributed to a call for recordings, which Mozilla hopes will help future voice-powered systems fluently understand a wide variety of accents and types of speech. “We at Mozilla believe technology should be open and accessible to all, and that includes voice,” Mozilla chief executive Sean White wrote in a blog post.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Huge tech leaders come together for open source licensing initiative

      Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM have announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      Red Hat says the move reflects a commitment to providing a fair cure period to correct license compliance issues for GPLv2 software.

      Michael Cunningham, Red Hat executive vice president and general counsel says, “We believe in promoting greater fairness and predictability in license enforcement and the growth of participation in the open source community.

      “We encourage other GPLv2 copyright holders to follow our lead.”

    • Major Players Roll Up Sleeves to Solve Open Source Licensing Problems

      Four big tech players this week moved to improve their handling of open source software licensing violations.

      Red Hat, Google, Facebook and IBM said they would apply error standards in the most recent GNU General Public License agreement, GPLv3, to all of their open source licensing, even licenses granted under older GPL agreements.

      “There is no procedure in the older GPLs that allowed a licensee to correct his mistakes,” said Lawrence Rosen, an intellectual property attorney at Rosenlaw & Einschlag and former general counsel for the Open Source Initiative.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Managing the Global Commons: Open Source Tools to Support Sustainable Agriculture and Use of the World’s Land and Water Resources in the 21st Century

      Eight of the 17 SDGs are closely tied to food, land and water. Yet these natural resources are already under intense pressure from growing population and rising per capita incomes. Can the future demands for food, fuel, clean water, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and poverty reduction be reconciled? Are we counting on the same hectare of land to satisfy conflicting SDGs? What are the trade-offs of favoring one goal over others? Are there win-win scenarios under which attainment of one SDG will also benefit others? The sustainable development challenge is a particularly ‘wicked’ problem since sustainability is fundamentally a local concept, requiring fine-scale analysis, yet sustainability stresses are often driven by global forces. Furthermore, aggressive pursuit of the SDGs will itself have consequences for global markets.

    • Researchers release open-source dataset offering instructions to build smartphone microscope

      Add one more thing to the list of tasks your smartphone can perform. University of Houston researchers have released an open-source dataset offering instructions to people interested in building their own smartphone microscope.


      The work was partially funded with a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s citizen science initiative, which encourages scientists to find ways to expand knowledge of and access to research.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Mathieu Stephan : The Making of a Secure Open Source Hardware Password Keeper

        Mathieu Stephan is an open source hardware developer, a Tindie seller who always has inventory, a former Hackaday writer, and an awesome all-around guy. One of his biggest projects for the last few years has been the Mooltipass, an offline password keeper built around smart cards and a USB interface. It’s the solution to Post-It notes stuck to your monitor and using the same password for all your accounts around the Internet.

        The Mooltipass is an extremely successful product, and last year Mathieu launched the Mooltipass Mini. No, it doesn’t have the sweet illuminated touch-sensitive buttons, but it is a bit cheaper than its big brother and a bit more resistant to physical attacks — something you want in a device that keeps all your passwords secure.

  • Programming/Development

    • Kotlin 1.2 Released: Sharing Code between Platforms

      Today we’re releasing Kotlin 1.2. This is a major new release and a big step on our road towards enabling the use of Kotlin across all components of a modern application.

      In Kotlin 1.1, we officially released the JavaScript target, allowing you to compile Kotlin code to JS and to run it in your browser. In Kotlin 1.2, we’re adding the possibility to reuse code between the JVM and JavaScript. Now you can write the business logic of your application once, and reuse it across all tiers of your application – the backend, the browser frontend and the Android mobile app. We’re also working on libraries to help you reuse more of the code, such as a cross-platform serialization library.

    • PHP 7.2 And Kotlin 1.2 Programming Languages Released

      Kotlin 1.2 Moving to Kotlin–the latest programming language to get official Android support. JetBrains announced Kotlin 1.2 and called it a major release which will let the devs reuse code between JVM and JS.

    • Rcpp now used by 1250 CRAN packages


  • Microsoft is killing off its Office Viewer apps next Spring

    The services, which allow users to read Excel and Powerpoint documents without buying the Office suite, were last updated for the 2007 edition, but are still available now from the Microsoft website.

  • Science

    • Researchers find oddities in high-profile gender studies

      Psychologist Nicolas Guéguen publishes studies that create irresistible headlines. His research investigating the effects of wearing high heels made it into Time: “Science Proves It: Men Really Do Find High Heels Sexier.” The Atlantic has cited his finding that men consider women wearing red to be more attractive. Even The New York Times has covered his work.

      Guéguen’s large body of research is the kind of social psychology that demonstrates, and likely fuels, the Mars vs. Venus model of gender interactions. But it seems that at least some of his conclusions are resting on shaky ground. Since 2015, a pair of scientists, James Heathers and Nick Brown, has been looking closely at the results in Guéguen’s work. What they’ve found raises a litany of questions about statistical and ethical problems. In some cases, the data is too perfectly regular or full of oddities, making it difficult to understand how it could have been generated by the experiment described by Guéguen.

    • This week’s failed Russian rocket had a pretty bad programming error

      On Tuesday morning, a Russian rocket failed to properly deploy the 19 satellites it was carrying into orbit. Instead of boosting its payload, the Soyuz 2.1b rocket’s Fregat upper stage fired in the wrong direction, sending the statellites on a suborbital trajectory instead, burning them up in Earth’s atmosphere.

    • Prehistoric women worked so much their arms were stronger than today’s female rowers

      If you’re a hard-working lady, you probably already suspected what scientists have confirmed today: prehistoric women worked their butts off.

      The bones of 94 women who lived in farming communities in Central Europe from 5300 BCE to around 850 AD reveal that prehistoric women had stronger arms than living women, including semi-elite female rowers. That’s likely because these farming women from the past worked incredibly hard — tilling soil, harvesting, and grinding grain by hand. And they probably started at a very young age, according to a study published today in Science Advances.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Transgenerational Trauma Passed Down from WWII Evacuees

      The daughters of Finnish women separated from their parents as children during World War II have higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization than those born to women who had not been evacuated.

    • WTO General Council Agrees To 2-Year Extension For TRIPS Health Amendment Acceptance

      The World Trade Organization General Council today agreed to a two-year extension for countries to adopt an amendment to the agency’s intellectual property agreement intended to help small economies get affordable medical products. But a decision on non-violation complaints will be left to the December WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires.

    • EU-MERCOSUR FTA Puts At Risk Access To Medicines In Brazil, New Impact Assessment Study Finds

      The European Union (EU) is currently negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), which comprises a chapter on intellectual property rights (IPR). A new round of negotiations is taking place from November 29th to December 8th in Brussels[1]. Word is that they aim to announce the closure of the agreement at the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference that will be held from 10-13 of December in Buenos Aires and the clock is ticking to close all the chapters before that. As usual, the negotiations are taking place in secrecy, but the EU released a draft proposal of the IPR chapter in September last year, which has provided the general public some knowledge about what is been negotiated.

    • Trump’s $100K Salary Donation to Opioid Crisis Denounced As ‘Meaningless Gesture’

      At a White House press briefing on Thursday, officials praised President Donald Trump’s “extreme generosity” as they announced that he would be donating his third-quarter salary to help combat the opioid crisis—but critics raised questions about the gesture amid the scope of the epidemic as well as the president’s agenda which has shown little concern for generosity towards Americans who are most in need.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What’s Wrong with Talking to North Korea?

      Anyone who says talk is cheap hasn’t tried getting President Trump to talk with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un. Not even the specter of a war that could kill millions of people on the Korean peninsula, Japan and now even the continental United States seems sufficient to push the two leaders into negotiations. Both sides insist on unacceptable preconditions before they will even consider holding formal talks to reach a peaceful settlement.

    • Reporting Recipe: Bombs in Your Backyard

      For the past year, ProPublica has been documenting the state of toxic pollution left behind by the military across the U.S. As part of this investigation, we acquired a dataset of all facilities that the Department of Defense considers contaminated. Today we used the data to publish an interactive news application called Bombs in Your Backyard. Here’s how you can use it to find hazardous sites near you — and what, if anything, is being done to remedy the pollution.

      The data, which has never been released before, comes from the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, which the DOD administers to measure and document cleanup efforts at current and former military locations.

      There are a lot of great local investigative stories waiting to be done with the data. This reporting recipe is meant to help you find and report ones near you.

    • The Trump wars era

      A recent, low-profile Pentagon document gives a hint of the US’s current projection of military power:

      “The U.S. has 8,892 forces in Iraq, 15,298 troops in Afghanistan and 1,720 in Syria, for a total of 25,910 troops serving in the three war zones as of Sept. 30, according to DoD. The figures were released to the public Nov. 17 as part of DoD’s quarterly count of active duty, Reserve, Guard and civilian personnel assigned by country by the Defense Manpower Data Center” (see Tara Copp, “26,000 troops total..”, Military Times, 27 November 2017).

      The total figure alone is much higher than previous numbers. But by itself it is misleading in that the United States defense department normally excludes two further categories of troops: those rotating for short periods and, of far greater significance, many of the special forces. These are waging much of the combat in all three theatres – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. That means the true number is probably close to, or even over, 30,000. To this could be added troops involved in operations across the Sahel, Somalia or Yemen.

    • North Korea Tests Its Third ICBM: What’s Next?

      After 74 days of silence, North Korea test-fired its third and most successful intercontinental ballistic missile to date on Tuesday night, triggering another frenzied response from the US media and the usual bluster from Washington hawks pining for another pre-emptive war.

      Initially, the North’s explanation that its test marked the final completion of its plan to become a “rocket power” and a “full-fledged nuclear force,” combined with the subdued reaction from President Trump (“we will take care of it”), seemed to suggest that something may be afoot on the diplomatic front.

      “There is a considerable likelihood that North Korea will propose dialogue with the US while promising to do its duty in the international community as a nuclear power,” Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, told the liberal Hankyoreh in Seoul. He predicted a shift in Pyongyang “toward a peace offensive.”

    • Guns tend to empower white, financially unstable men—who oppose gun control

      In the wake of a mass shooting or fresh data on gun violence, pundits and the media often blame the US’ high rate of gun ownership and deaths on a deeply rooted “gun culture.” For many—particularly advertisers—this culture conjures ideas of morally strong, empowered, self-reliant, American patriots bearing arms. And it grazes notions of masculine heroes, protectors, and providers.

      But it’s difficult to define a single culture behind gun ownership and the opposition to gun control legislation that sometimes accompanies that. More importantly, blaming something as vague as “culture” isn’t exactly helpful for identifying ways to reduce the US’ high death toll.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Maine Government Agency Tries To Charge Public Records Requester $750 For Opening A PDF

      We’ve seen lots of ridiculous amounts tossed around by government agencies in response to public records requests. Most of the ridiculous amounts we’ve covered give the appearance that the agency making the demand feels requesters are also spending other people’s money. Like a Texas agency demanding $1 million for prison sexual assault records or the FBI wanting $270,000 to hand over files on defense contractor Booz Allen.

      Other demands are smaller, but no less of a deterrent to government transparency. In one infamous example, the Massachusetts State Police erected a $180 paywall around documents related to the agency’s marijuana enforcement efforts. Once the agency had the money in hand, it turned around and asked the state supervisor of public records to declare the requested records exempt from release. That was back in July. The MSP still has yet to release the records the requester paid for.

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin breaks the $10,000 barrier for first time

      The currency has experienced a great deal of growth in the last few months. Just a few days ago, it reached the $9,000 mark, despite being worth less than $1,000 at the start of 2017.

    • Bitcoin Recovers From Sudden Selloff as Large Swings Persist

      The digital currency climbed as high as $10,787.99 in Asian trading hours Thursday, after touching a nadir of $9,009.15, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The 21 percent slump on Wednesday, triggered in part by intermittent outages at cryptocurrency exchanges, came just hours after bitcoin had soared to a record.

    • Bitcoin bubble balloons to $11,000 – and even Katy Perry’s on board now

      Bitcoin has surged to $11,000 just 12 hours after passing the symbolic $10,000 mark, making one unit of the digital currency worth more than £8,200.

    • Bitcoin price soars above $11,000 as central bankers seek to calm fears
    • Sammy Wilson warns Brexit talks may jeopardise DUP-Tory deal

      DUP MP Sammy Wilson has warned that his party’s deal to support the Conservative government could be jeopardised by the Brexit negotiations.

      He said any attempt to “placate Dublin and the EU” could mean a withdrawal of DUP support at Westminster.

      He was responding to a Times newspaper report about a possible Brexit deal.

      It would involve devolving powers to Northern Ireland to enable customs convergence with the EU/Irish Republic on areas like agriculture and energy.

    • Uber’s crisis deepens with record quarterly loss

      Uber has logged another quarter of record-breaking losses, losing $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2017. For comparison, Uber lost $2.8 billion in all of 2016 and lost $1.1 billion in the second quarter of 2017.

      The worsening financial picture is not a surprise. Founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick resigned in June, leaving the company leaderless for much of the third quarter. Uber’s legal battle with Waymo has not been going well for Uber, and Uber is facing up to three federal investigations into the company’s practices.

      Uber’s money-losing business continues to grow, with gross bookings rising from $8.7 billion in the second quarter to $9.7 billion in the third quarter.

    • Don’t Say ‘Lowering Taxes’ When You Mean ‘Lowering Taxes for the Rich’

      The problem with this assertion is that the Republican plans actually raise taxes for close to half of middle-income families, as the New York Times has reported. Given the structure of this tax cut and prior Republican tax cuts, it would seem more accurate to say that cutting taxes for rich people is what makes a Republican a Republican.

    • The Best Way to Spur Growth? Help the Poor, Not the Rich

      To be sure, Mnuchin is gaffe-prone. He was last spotted on Nov. 15 happily gripping a big sheet of uncut dollar bills while his wife, actress Louise Linton, struck a Cruella de Vil pose beside him. As the journalist Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. And the truth is that Republicans have gone all in on the notion that if they pour tax cuts onto the very rich, the benefits will flow down to the mere rich, and from them to the middle class, and finally to the poor. Like a Champagne tower at a swanky wedding reception.

    • Millions of Households Face Tax Increase or No Tax Benefit Under Senate GOP Bill

      Millions of households would face tax increases or get little from the Senate tax bill – even before most of its individual income tax provisions would sunset in 2025, new Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates released yesterday show. Nevertheless, in expressing his support for the bill today, Senator John McCain claimed that the Senate bill “would directly benefit all Americans.” The JCT figures show that’s not the case.

    • Astonishing 197 NatWest and 62 RBS branches to close – the full list of branches shutting and your options if yours goes

      A total of 62 RBS branches and 197 NatWest outlets will be closed by the middle of next year costing 680 jobs.

      RBS told Mirror Money it was writing to customers of affected branches to highlight the alternative ways to bank in their area.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Anti-Populism, Smug Centrism and the Defense of Elitism

      Both the leadership of the Democratic Party and the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party seem obsessed with challenging Trumpism by calling for a return to a mythical political “center” and by elevating “elitism” as an antidote to “populism.” This while the political “center” under Trump means scapegoating our nation’s problems to Muslims, Mexicans and liberals while prosecuting leftists for confrontations against a rising tide of neo-fascism.

      I am an absolutist on free speech issues, and don’t support violence by anyone at any political demonstrations, but centrist elitism is encouraging a wave of political repression against so-called “extremists” by the federal government under Trump. So far the targets are anti-fascist anarchists and political leftists.

    • The man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account has revealed himself
    • Meet the man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account

      In fact, it appeared that Trump’s account was essentially protected from being deactivated over Terms of Service violations. In June, Twitter explained why: Some tweets that seemingly violate its terms of service are nevertheless “newsworthy” and therefore in the public interest to keep up.

      One takeaway from Twitter’s exemption for newsworthy tweets is that news and information trump judgment calls on the relative toxicity of the content, which is probably apt in our age of toxicity dressed up as “news.”

    • Former Twitter Worker Who Shut Down Trump’s Account: ‘It Was Just Random’

      “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything which I wasn’t authorized to do,” he said.

    • AT&T says it should be allowed to buy Time Warner because Comcast bought NBC

      AT&T is fighting back against the Trump administration’s attempt to block its proposed purchase of Time Warner Inc. One week after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the deal, AT&T filed its first answer to the lawsuit yesterday.

    • All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and the Spirit of I.F. Stone

      FAIR has kept fundraising at bay with only occasional pleas for help this year. Now the bank account is low and showing serious signs of stress. So FAIR is now officially launching its year-end fundraising campaign with a much-needed $50,000 goal.

      It’s been a tough year of beating back supposed “news” that distracts from the concrete concerns in our lives. With healthcare and Social Security under attack, EPA rules purged, voting rights eliminated, these real news stories, and more, need telling. FAIR breaks it down in our newsletter Extra!, our online articles and our weekly radio show CounterSpin.

    • Dasvidaniya, Donna Brazile, the Dismal Dollar Democrat

      You can’t tell a book by its advance press. Take Donna Brazile’s new 2016 campaign memoir Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House (released three weeks ago).

      To say that Brazile brings an insiders’ view to the 2016 election is an understatement. She was named interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair to replace the noxious Clintonite hack Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as the Democratic Party held its national convention two summers ago. Brazile stayed in that position through the Electoral College triumph of Boss Tweet, which left her “depressed” but determined to” heal [the nation’s] partisan divide” and “fight for my country.”

    • The Collapse of Media and What You Can Do About It

      When a system enters into the final stage of its deterioration – whether that is an institutional system, a state, an empire, or the human body – all the important information flows that support coherent communication breakdown. In this final stage, if this situation is not corrected the system will collapse and die.

      It has become obvious to nearly everyone that we have reached this stage on the planet and in our democratic institutions. We see how the absolute dysfunction of the global information architecture — represented in the intersection of mainstream media outlets, social technology platforms and giant digital aggregators — is generating widespread apathy, despair, insanity and madness at a scale that is terrifying.

      And we are right to be terrified, because this situation is paralyzing us from taking the action required to solve global and local challenges. While liberals fight conservatives and conservatives fight liberals we lose precious time.

      While progressives fight government, the corporations and the super-rich we drown in despair. While philanthropists, fueled by their own certainty and wealth, fight for justice or equality or for some poor hamlet in Africa we become apathetic and distracted from the real source of the problem. And while the president fights everyone and everyone fights the president, the collective goes mad.

    • Google Accused of Pushing Think Tank to Squash Critic of Corporate Power

      Zephyr Teachout, an Open Markets fellow and critic of money in politics, wrote in response to reports of New America’s move: “Google has too much power.”

      The organization’s decision to push out Lynn and the entire Open Markets team was a result of Google’s realization “that anti-monopoly critics are gaining popular support and must be squashed,” Teachout concluded. “Time for a national anti-monopoly movement! Time to start enforcing antitrust again!”

      Others similarly argued that the New America story is part of a much broader problem of excessive corporate concentration and influence.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Kansas Doesn’t Even Try to Defend Its Israel Anti-Boycott Law

      The state’s response to the ACLU’s First Amendment challenge doesn’t mention the First Amendment once.

      Kansas officials are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow to defend a state law designed to suppress boycotts of Israel. There’s just one problem: The state quite literally has no defense for the law’s First Amendment violations.

      The ACLU filed a lawsuit in October against a law requiring anyone contracting with the state to sign a statement affirming that they don’t boycott Israel or its settlements. We represent Esther Koontz, a math teacher who was hired by the state to train other teachers. Together with members of her Mennonite church, Esther boycotts Israel to protest its treatment of Palestinians. After she explained that she could not in good conscience sign the statement, the state refused to let her participate in the training program.

      The law violates the First Amendment, which protects the right to participate in political boycotts. That right was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1982, when it ruled that an NAACP boycott of white-owned businesses in Mississippi during the civil rights movement was a protected form of free expression and free association. But despite long-held consensus around the right to boycott, we were still pretty surprised when Kansas didn’t even try to argue the law is constitutional.

    • Portugal fire report in ‘censorship’ row

      The author of an official report into Portugal’s worst-ever forest fire has accused the authorities of “censorship” for ruling that an important chapter cannot be made public.

      Xavier Viegas, of Coimbra University’s Centre for the Study of Forest Fires, says “nothing can justify the decision to censor” the report into the June fires, according to Publico newspaper.

    • When Tweets Are Governmental Business, Officials Don’t Get to Pick and Choose Who Gets To Receive, Comment On, And Reply to Them. That Goes For the President, Too

      We’ve taken a stand for the First Amendment rights of individuals to receive and comment on social media posts from governmental officials and agencies. We’ve received a lot of good questions about why we believe that public servants—mayors, sheriffs, senators, even President Donald Trump—can’t block people whose views they dislike on Twitter without violating those persons’ free speech rights. Some question why citizens have a right to receive an official’s private Twitter account—@realdonaldtrump, for example. Others point out that Twitter isn’t a government forum with an obligation to allow users access to Trump’s messages, and others say users can still use workarounds to see the tweets of those who have blocked them.

      We’re taking a deep dive into the First Amendment here to explain our thinking and our reading of the law that supports our position. As you read, bear this in mind: the First Amendment doesn’t just protect your right to speak your mind. It also protects your right to receive, read, hear, see, and obtain information and ideas.

      We filed a “friend of the court” brief in a lawsuit brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute and several Twitter users who have been blocked by President Trump from the @realdonaldtrump account. The president has admitted in the lawsuit that he blocked them because he objected to the viewpoints they expressed in replying to his tweets or in their own tweets. The lawsuit names President Trump, acting White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Daniel Scavino, White House deputy director of social media, as defendants. The case is Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump.

      The government was not allowed to pick and choose who gets to receive official statements in the predigital age, and that’s still true in the digital age when public servants are increasingly relying on social media to communicate with the public

      Although that case is specifically about President Trump’s Twitter feed, we see this as a much broader issue. We frequently receive reports from community activists and other social media users who were blocked from commenting on an agency’s Facebook page, or prevented from contributing to a community discussion prompted by an officials’ tweet, or have faced similar barriers to participation in public debate. We receive reports about how governmental officials manipulate social media comments to exclude opposing views to create the impression that hotly contested policies are not contested at all. And we realize, in seeing how agencies use social media to quickly disseminate emergency information during the recent spate of natural disasters, that the ability to receive such messages can be a matter of life and death.

    • House Internet Censorship Bill Is Just Like The Senate Bill, Except Worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.


      Amos Yee, a teen blogger who fled Singapore, has been granted asylum in the United States. Yee was released from U.S. detention after 9 months of being detained. Yee first received asylum in March, but was quickly rejected by the Department of Homeland Security. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with Judge Samuel Cole’s findings; claiming that, “The evidence presented at the hearing demonstrates Singapore’s prosecution of Yee was a pretext to silence his political opinions critical of the Singapore Government.”

    • Self-censorship: the modern scourge

      There should be a national outrage at the escalating demands of the wilder fringe of the trans movement, who I like to believe are only a vocal minority, but there isn’t, and we all know why. People are scared of losing face, fearful of appearing bad and uncaring among their liberal friends. To criticise the trans movement is the equivalent of announcing at a posh party that you voted Brexit: it puts you on the side of stupid, evil reactionaries.


      Cowardice, silence and self-censorship are all-too-common features of ground-level politics today. People are also afraid to speak out against Islamism for fear of being denounced as racist. Any criticism of Islam is frequently labelled a ‘hate crime’, which is why many fear to criticise the religion, lest they get an unexpected visit from the police. This fear of being called racist is one reason why rape gangs in the north of England could go unpunished for years.

    • Censor Board Stops Screening of S Durga, Objects to ‘Boxes’ in New Title
    • Sexy Durga’s screening: When censorship gets sexy
    • The futility of censorship; S Durga grew bigger in the public imagination after I&B ministry blocked it
    • India’s filmmakers complain about censorship
    • Nude art and censorship laid bare
    • Censorship Comes To Google

      Why did Google do this? Perhaps they were concerned about Russia meddling in American elections or they thought their customers wished to see less of Russia Today. It matters not. Generally, Google has broad power to police its platform. We might not like the decision, but it is not ours to make.

    • Death Threats, Intimidation, Censorship: Inside the Far Right’s Assault on Brazil’s Art Scene

      Last week, curator Gaudêncio Fidélis appeared before the senate in Brazil’s capital to face allegations of “mistreatment of children and teenagers.” His offense: Organizing “Queermuseum: Cartographies of Difference in Brazilian Art,” an exhibition of more than 200 works of Modern and contemporary art that explored queerness and gender at the Santander Cultural Center in Porto Alegre. The venue closed the exhibition a month early, on September 10, following violent protests and pressure from conservative political groups.

      The furor surrounding the show is just one example of the mounting challenges to artistic freedom in Brazil, which hangs in the balance as right-wing groups work to shut down exhibitions and intimidate artists whose work they consider immoral. Dealers, curators, and artists say they have received death threats. And many are unsure of what to do in the face of a particularly 21st century kind of violence: One that begins online, but often has real-world consequences.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • ORG Responds to Government’s proposed changes to the Investigatory Powers Act

      Investigatory Powers Act 2016 Consultation on the Government’s proposed response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union


      “The government has evaded the main point of the Watson judgment: they cannot keep data on a blanket basis.

      “Without narrowing what they keep to specific places, incidents or investigations, these changes will not meet the standards set by the courts.

    • Home Office concedes independent authorisation

      This is major victory for ORG, although one with dangers. The government has conceded that independent authorisation is necessary for communications data requests, but refused to budge on retained data and is pushing ahead with the “Request Filter”.

    • American startups need surveillance reform

      There’s an ongoing debate on the Hill over government surveillance that will impact companies with users abroad, especially startups.

      With a good idea and a connection to the open internet, a small startup anywhere in the U.S. can reach users all over the world, expanding their business and contributing to economic and job growth back home.

    • House Intelligence Committee’s NSA Surveillance Bill Includes New Threats and Old

      Thrown last-minute into a torrent of competing legislation, a new bill meant to expand the NSA’s broad surveillance powers is the most recent threat to American privacy. It increases who is subject to surveillance, allows warrantless search of American communications, expands how collected data can be used, and treats constitutional protections as voluntary.

      The bill must be stopped immediately. There is little time: despite the bill’s evening release yesterday, November 29, a committee is scheduled to markup the bill tomorrow, December 1.

      The bill is called the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, and it was introduced by Rep. Nunes (R-CA), the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It shares the same name as another bill introduced in the Senate in October.

      Both bills are attempts to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a powerful surveillance authority that allows the NSA to target and collect communications of non-U.S. persons living outside the United States. Section 702 predictably causes the incidental collection of American communications that are swept up during foreign intelligence surveillance, too.

      These are some of the most glaring problems with this House bill.

    • New Surveillance Bill Would Dramatically Expand NSA Powers

      The House Intelligence Committee is rushing a surveillance bill through Congress that violates American privacy rights.

      The USA Patriot Act, passed hurriedly after 9/11, taught us that rushing a surveillance bill through Congress is a bad idea, producing complicated statutes ripe for abuse. Yet the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee is taking a page out of President George W. Bush’s playbook and trying to do just that.

      Tomorrow, the committee will debate a bill that dramatically expands NSA surveillance authorities, including one that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The bill was publicly released just last night, giving members of the committee and other legislators less than 48 hours to try to understand the complex proposal.

      Perhaps hoping no one has time to closely read the “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017,” sponsors have pitched the measure as one that makes key changes to intelligence authorities to “protect Americans’ privacy rights.” The truth, however, is that it does the exact opposite.

      This is why the ACLU, joined by over 30 organizations from across the political spectrum, is urging members of Congress to oppose the bill. Here are some of the reasons we’re fighting this legislation.

    • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Section 702: Mend It, Don’t End It
    • NSA Secretly Helped Convict Defendants in US Courts, Classified Documents Reveal

      Fazliddin Kurbanov is a barrel-chested man from Uzbekistan who came to the United States in 2009, when he was in his late 20s. A Christian who had converted from Islam, Kurbanov arrived as a refugee and spoke little English. Resettled in Boise, Idaho, he rented an apartment, worked odd jobs, and was studying to be a truck driver.

      But about three years after entering the U.S., around the time he converted back to Islam, Kurbanov was placed under FBI surveillance. According to emails and internet chat logs obtained by the government, Kurbanov was disgusted by having seen Americans burn the Quran and by reports that an American soldier had tried to rape a Muslim girl. “My entire life, everything, changed,” Kurbanov wrote in a July 31, 2012 email.

    • NSA accidentally leaks more secrets after ‘Red Disk’ was left on unsecured AWS server

      More US security secrets have been leaked online after the virtual image of a disk drive containing sensitive information was found, unsecured, on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server.

      Chris Vickery, director of cybersecurity research firm UpGuard, claims that he found the unlisted image on a publicly accessible server with no password needed to access it.

      “Critical data belonging to the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), a joint US Army and National Security Agency (NSA) Defence Department command tasked with gathering intelligence for US military and political leaders, leaked onto the public internet, exposing internal data and virtual systems used for classified communications to anyone with an internet connection,” said Dan O’Sullivan Dan O’Sullivan, cyber resilience analyst at UpGuard.

    • EFF Demands Information About Secretive Government Tattoo Recognition Technology

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Homeland Security today, demanding records about the agencies’ work on the federal Tattoo Recognition Technology program.

      This secretive program involves a coalition of government, academia, and private industry working to develop a series of algorithms that would rapidly detect tattoos, identify people via their tattoos, and match people with others who have similar body art—as well as flagging tattoos believed to be connected to religious and ethnic symbols. This type of surveillance raises profound religious, speech, and privacy concerns. Moreover, the limited information that EFF has been able to obtain about the program has already revealed a range of potentially unethical behavior, including conducting research on prisoners without approval, adequate oversight, or safeguards.

      EFF filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for more information about the Tattoo Recognition Technology program, which is a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) project sponsored by the FBI, beginning in January of 2016. Although the agencies released some records, they withheld others, and heavily redacted some of the documents they released. As a result, EFF is going to court today against DHS, DOJ, and NIST’s parent agency, the Commerce Department, to make sure this important information is released to the public.

    • Tenta Browser Now Includes HTTPS Everywhere

      Securely browsing the Internet—even when you know what you’re doing—is tough. That’s partly why, nearly seven years ago, EFF worked together with The Tor Project to develop a privacy tool called HTTPS Everywhere, which automatically provides users with secure, encrypted connections to websites when available.

      While HTTPS Everywhere can be installed on a number of desktop browsers, there are fewer options for mobile devices. One mobile browser app has fixed that.

      Starting today, HTTPS Everywhere is now included by default, with no extra installation, in the mobile browser Tenta Browser, available on the Google Play Store. The integration of HTTPS Everywhere helps declutter the landscape of current mobile browser apps, many of which advertise themselves as security-focused, with promises of incognito mode, private browsing, secure tunnels, auto proxy abilities, VPN services, and more.

      EFF appreciates this move and the effort taken by Tenta’s developers. It is a welcome inclusion that works through some of the trickier problems with online secure connections.

    • Australian man uses snack bags as Faraday cage to block tracking by employer

      A 60-year-old electrician in Perth, Western Australia had his termination upheld by a labor grievance commission when it was determined he had been abusing his position and technical knowledge to squeeze in some recreation during working hours. Tom Colella used mylar snack bags to block GPS tracking via his employer-assigned personal digital assistant to go out to play a round of golf—more than 140 times—while he reported he was offsite performing repairs.

    • Justices hear case that could reshape location privacy in the cellular age

      Supreme Court justices on Wednesday wrestled with how to apply Fourth Amendment privacy protections to cell phone location records.

      Cell phones produce a “minute-by-minute account of a person’s locations and movements and associations over a long period regardless of what the person is doing at any given moment,” the ACLU’s Nathan Freed Wessler pointed out in an argument before the Supreme Court. The ACLU is urging the Supreme Court to rule that the government can’t access these records without a warrant.

      But the government pointed to a 1979 Supreme Court ruling called Smith v. Maryland. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the government doesn’t need to get a warrant to obtain a customer’s dialing history because they are merely the business records of the phone company. The government argues that the same principle, known as the third-party doctrine, applies here: data about which cell phone towers a customer’s phone has talked to are merely the cell phone company’s business records and should be available to the government without a warrant.

    • Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Cell Site Location Info Case

      The Supreme Court’s review of the Carpenter case — dealing with the warrantless collection of cell site location info — kicked off yesterday. Oral arguments featured Nate Wessler of the ACLU facing off against the DOJ’s Michael Dreeben in a case that could drastically alter the Third Party Doctrine.
      From the early going, it sounds a bit like the court is leaning towards a drastic alteration. There’s a lot that can be read from the arguments presented by the justices — especially those by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch. After some of the expected arguments — the Third Party Doctrine, the post-facto privacy invasion that is 100+ days of location tracking, etc. — Gorsuch wades into pretty novel theory based on the property… um… properties of location data gathered by service providers.
      Referencing the privacy protections statutorily mandated by 47 USC § 222 (and the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on GPS tracking devices), Gorsuch goes after the DOJ’s lawyer, asking him why records considered by law to be the property of carrier customers aren’t afforded the same protection as the Fourth Amendment “papers and effects” they keep in their houses.

    • Three quarters of Android apps track users with third party tools – study

      Other less widely-used trackers can go much further. One cited by Yale is FidZup, a French tracking provider with technology that can “detect the presence of mobile phones and therefore their owners” using ultrasonic tones. FidZup says it no-longer uses that technology, however, since tracking users through simple wifi networks works just as well.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump Set to Nominate Torture-Supporting Senator Tom Cotton as CIA Director, Report Claims

      The CIA could soon be led by a man who’s expressed support for torture, according to a bombshell report from The New York Times.

      Trump is planning to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and nominate Senator Tom Cotton to head the intelligence agency in the next few weeks, the report claims. Cotton has reportedly indicated he’d accept the position.

    • Federal Judge Slams Trump Administration’s ‘Circular Reasoning’ For Imprisoning U.S. Citizen Without Access To Lawyer

      A visibly frustrated federal judge ordered the Trump administration to tell her — by 5 p.m. Thursday — whether an American citizen the government has detained incommunicado for months has been advised of his constitutional rights or has asked for legal representation.

      The U.S. government accuses the man of fighting for the Islamic State, but so far has refused to release his name or charge him with any crime. Instead, the military has imprisoned him in Iraq, without access to a lawyer, since mid-September. The man has asked for a lawyer at least twice, the Washington Post reported last month.

      The American Civil Liberties Union filed a habeas corpus petition — a formal way to challenge an individual’s imprisonment — on the man’s behalf on Oct. 5, after he had already been in prison for several weeks. If the group prevails, it could force the government to allow its lawyers to represent the detainee and to meet with him privately.

    • Cherokee Writer: Trump Pocahontas Slur Reflects Centuries of Colonial Violence Against Native Women

      As Native American Heritage Month winds down, President Donald Trump is opening the door to new drilling and mining on land considered sacred by tribal nations. On Monday, Trump plans to travel to Utah to announce plans to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to make way for more industrial activity on the land. The Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and the Ute Indian Tribe all say they will sue to stop the plan. This comes after Trump attempted to insult Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by referring to her as “Pocahontas” during a White House ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers, Native Americans who served in the Marines during WWII and used the Navajo language in order to transmit encoded information. Warren says her family is part Cherokee. We speak with Mary Kathryn Nagle, a citizen of Cherokee Nation and a partner at Pipestem Law, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the restoration of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction.

    • Trump’s Lawyers Say the Muslim Ban Has No Bias, But His Tweets Show Otherwise

      Despite his lawyers’ attempts to recast the Muslim ban, Trump cannot stop revealing the bigotry behind it.

      Yesterday morning, President Trump shared three videos on Twitter that purport to show Muslims committing graphic acts of violence. He retweeted all three from the account of Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the ultranationalist party Britain First, who was convicted of religious aggravated harassment in November 2016 after abusing a woman wearing a hijab. The president’s move prompted public outcry and a rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May, whose spokesman underlined that Britain First is a source of “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.”

      We should all be outraged that the president of the United States is promoting and endorsing videos that are plainly designed to fan the flames of anti-Muslim hatred. The decision to do that is reckless, dangerous, and contrary to fundamental American values that protect all of us from religious discrimination. It is not, however, surprising.

      Trump’s prejudice against Muslims reveals itself at every turn — because he is the one revealing it. He showed his bias with Wednesday’s tweets, with pronouncements like “Islam hates us,” and with every version of the Muslim ban, the latest of which the ACLU and partners will challenge in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 8.

    • Behind the Push for Catalonian Independence

      Before embarking for a visit to Barcelona, the hotbed of Catalonian independence, I was disappointed to find little historical analysis about the enigma of Catalan independence in the major U.S. news media. The U.S. news agencies that I follow presented little more than a daily chronicle of street demonstrations and the conflict between the supporters of Catalonian independence and the political leadership in the Spanish capital of Madrid. If there was much else, I missed it.

    • How Three Generations Experienced Segregated American Education

      I am the child and grandchild of educators on both sides of my family. My mother was born in Texarkana, Texas. Her great-aunt, a woman I grew up calling Grandma Isabelle, was raising my mother when she and her husband, Bill, decided to join the flow out of the South during the great migration. They settled in San Francisco in the late 1950s, my teenage mother along with them.

      My Grandma Isabelle did what she termed “maid’s work,” sometimes for white families, sometimes in hospitals, up until her death in the 1980s. Her husband, my “Uncle Bill,” worked a variety of odd jobs. However, more than what he did to earn a living, what I most recall about him was how he was able to impose his will on the hard, rocky ground in the back of their small, two- bedroom, one-bath home in the Hunters Point area of San Francisco. In defiance of the sky that was often gray and the chill of the fog-kissed wind, he made a garden grow tomatoes and okra and collard greens and cabbage.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Scrapping FCC net neutrality rules would be a mistake

      Repealing net neutrality would result in the de facto concentration of internet control of revenue from accessible services into the hands of certain gatekeepers, undermining the open architecture that allows the free exchange of ideas.

    • Absent Facts To Support Repealing Net Neutrality, Ajit Pai Wildly Attacking Hollywood Tweeters

      As the old lawyer saying goes: “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.” It appears that FCC chair Ajit Pai has taken that to heart. Neither the law, nor the facts are on his side with regards to his attempt to gut net neutrality, so he’s done the modern equivalent of pounding the table: blame Hollywood and the internet companies for the fact that almost everyone disagrees with his plan to kill net neutrality.
      The law is against him, because in order to reverse the order from the previous FCC, Pai needs to show that this change is not “arbitrary and capricious.” Many people falsely assume that the FCC can just make whatever rule it wants, and thus with every change of the FCC the rules can flip flop. But that’s not how it works. While the courts give strong deference to administrative agencies in their decision-making capabilities, one area where the courts will push back is if a regulatory change is found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” The courts have already upheld the 2015 Open Internet Order by Tom Wheeler as legitimate, where that FCC showed that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service was perfectly reasonable based on the changes to the market conditions since broadband was declared a Title I information service a decade or so earlier. So, for Pai’s plan to actually pass judicial scrutiny, he has to prove that the market has changed so much in the past two years, that an obvious correction is necessary. So far, the only thing he’s been able to rely on are clearly bogus studies that are easily debunked by the companies themselves in their statements to Wall Street about the impact of the 2015 rules. Thus, both the rules and the law are against him.
      Of course, rather than face up to the fact that the vast majority of Americans (Democrats, Republicans, everyone) support keeping net neutrality rules in place, Pai has spent the last week or so only retweeting his supporters and ignoring detractors entirely. And, now, apparently, his “pounding the table” is to lash out at famous Hollywood stars… and internet companies (note: not internet access companies), as if they’re the problem.

    • Everything That’s Wrong With Social Media And Big Internet Companies: Part 1

      Some of today’s anxiety about social-media platforms is driven by the concern that Russian operatives somehow used Facebook and Twitter to affect our electoral process. Some of it’s due a general perception that big American social-media companies, amorally or immorally driven by the profit motive, are eroding our privacy and selling our data to other companies or turning it over to the government—or both. Some of it’s due to the perception that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are bad for us—that maybe even Google’s or Microsoft’s search engines are bad for us—and that they make us worse people or debase public discourse. Taken together, it’s more than enough fodder for politicians or would-be pundits to stir up generalized anxiety about big tech.

      But regardless of where this moral panic came from, the current wave of anxiety about internet intermediaries and social-media platforms has its own momentum now. So we can expect many more calls for regulation of these internet tools and platforms in the coming months and years. Which is why it’s a good idea to itemize the criticisms we’ve already seen, or are likely to see, in current and future public-policy debates about regulating the internet. We need to chart the kinds of arguments for new internet regulation that are going to confront us, so I’ve been compiling a list of them. It’s a work in progress, but here are three major claims that are driving recent expressions of concern about social media and internet companies generally.

    • Charter is using net neutrality repeal to fight lawsuit over slow speeds

      The impending repeal of net neutrality rules is being used by Charter Communications to fight a lawsuit that alleges the company made false promises of fast Internet service.

      New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in February filed the lawsuit against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary. Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai this month submitted a proposal to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality rules and to preempt state governments from regulating net neutrality on their own.

    • Net neutrality at a crossroads: why India’s policy process has important lessons for the US

      Digital equality demands that access to the internet is seen as indivisible from a democratic internet. Net neutrality is not just about an open architecture, but about genuine egalitarianism – meaning internet access.

    • The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality Is Based Entirely On Debunked Lobbyist Garbage Data

      For several years now one of the broadband industry’s biggest criticisms of net neutrality is that it “utterly devastated” investment into broadband networks. But for just as long, we’ve noted how every time a journalist or analyst actually dissects that claim, they find it’s completely unsupportable. What objective analysts do tend to find is that the telecom sector hires an army of economists, consultants, fauxcademics and lobbyists more than happy to manipulate, distort and twist the data until it supports whatever conclusion they’re paid to parrot.

      That net neutrality didn’t harm sector investment isn’t really debatable. Just ask industry executives from Frontier, Comcast, Cablevision, Sprint, AT&T, Sonic and even neutrality public enemy number one, Verizon all of who are on public record telling investors the “net neutrality killed sector investment” claim simply isn’t true. That this concept is a canard is also supported by public SEC filings and earnings reports, as well as the billions being spent on spectrum as these companies rush toward the fifth generation (5G) wireless networks of tomorrow.

    • After Attacking Random Hollywood Supporters Of Net Neutrality, Ajit Pai Attacks Internet Companies

      This is, of course, playing to his political base, who are currently angry at Twitter. But… it’s also… strange. Both of the examples he brings up are misleading or were overblown. We were among those who mocked Twitter for blocking Blackburn’s ad, but as a bunch of people, who chided us in the comments, correctly noted, no one stopped Blackburn from posting the tweet — just from promoting it as an advertisement on Twitter’s ad platform. Which is really different than blocking content — and, not only that, but Twitter backed down within hours of this becoming public, admitting it was a mistake. The story about Twitter “warning users” that “a link to a statement by one company on the topic of Internet regulation ‘may be unsafe’” is also exaggerated. Twitter’s sketchy anti-spam/anti-malware detector for links, very briefly, accidentally warned that AT&T’s blog may be unsafe. Once again, this lasted for a very short time, and was clearly a mistake by the filter.

    • As Net Neutrality Repeal Nears, Comcast’s Promise To Avoid ‘Paid Prioritization’ Disappears

      Despite having spent millions on repealing broadband privacy and soon net neutrality, Comcast’s lobbyists and PR folks have spent the last few weeks claiming that nobody has anything to worry about because Comcast would never do anything to harm consumers or competitors. This glorified pinky swear is likely going to be cold comfort for the millions of consumers, small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs trying to build something (or god forbid directly compete with Comcast NBC Universal) over the next decade.

      But while Comcast is busy trying to convince everyone that gutting regulatory oversight over an uncompetitive broadband market will only result in wonderful things, they’re simultaneously back peddling on past claims to not violate net neutrality.

    • Comcast flushed its 3 year old net neutrality promise down the memory hole the instant the FCC announced its plan to allow network discrimination

      Comcast fought the last net neutrality regulation in 2015 by making a bunch of promises about how fair it would be, whether or not the FCC regulated its behavior; this week, Comcast has put on charm offensive by repeating all but one of those promises, namely, its promise not to create internet slow lanes and then extort money from web publishers by threatening to put them there unless they paid for “premium access” to the Comcast subscribers who were trying to retrieve data from them.

      That promise was live on Comcast’s website until April 26, 2017, but on that day, it disappeared.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Blasts Cher and Mark Ruffalo For Supporting Net Neutrality
    • The Credible Hulk: Ajit Pai thinks you only care about Net Neutrality because Mark Ruffalo told you to
    • Study: FCC net neutrality comments rife with fake users, duplicate messages

      According to Pew, the seven most common messages found in the record comprise 38 percent of all comments. Six of those were anti-net neutrality messages, submitted a combined 5.5 million times.

    • Ajit Pai’s Shell Game

      Pai is hoping to use outrage over net neutrality to drive everyone into the mosh pit of special interests that is lobbying on Capitol Hill. There will be strident calls from every side for reworking the existing Telecommunications Act to ensure that net neutrality continues. Just watch: The incumbents will piously say, “We like net neutrality too! We just need a different statute.” That’s a trap. We have a perfectly good statute already, and the Obama-era FCC’s interpretation of that statute so as to ensure an open internet—including its labeling of these giant companies as common carriers, which was necessary in order for open internet rules to be enforceable—has already been found reasonable. On the Hill, the public will be out-lobbied at every turn by the essentially unlimited resources of Comcast, Charter, CenturyLink, Verizon, and AT&T.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • New European Copyright Enforcement Plans Loom Large Even as Users Revolt Against Filter Proposal

        Since we last wrote about these copyright discussions, the LIBE (Civil Liberties) committee of the European Parliament, which was the last remaining committee to deliver its recommendations on the proposals to the lead JURI (Legal Affairs) committee, has taken its long-delayed vote on the draconian proposal to require Internet platforms to install copyright upload filters. Its ultimate recommendation was that the mandate be removed from Article 13 of the Digital Single Market Directive, in favor of softer obligations to take “appropriate and proportionate methods” to limit sharing of infringing content.

        This reflects a growing consensus that there is no way to rely on automatic filtering to sift out copyright-infringing content from legitimate speech. For example, this month the Center for Democracy & Technology has published a paper titled Mixed Messages? The Limits of Automated Social Media Content Analysis which bolsters existing research about the difficulty of automated filtering and the inevitability that it will result in the censorship of some protected speech.

        Yet still, this misguided approach enjoys strong support from copyright industry lobbyists. Switzerland has recently bent to this pressure, with a proposal to mandate automatic filtering to prevent infringing content from being re-uploaded. So the European Parliament’s vote on Article 13 is important to put a nail in the coffin of this bad idea, before more countries consider adopting it into law.

      • No Shit: Groundbreaking Study Shows That Giving People 12% Of The Video Content They Want Doesn’t Magically Stop Piracy

        When it comes to offering good legal alternatives to piracy in the entertainment industry, there are two types of arguments people make. One is that these alternatives, if properly done, will reduce the rate of piracy within a population set. The other is that these streaming options are great revenue sources regardless of the impact on piracy within the population and that increased revenues are all that really matter. What virtually nobody has argued is that if a streaming service barely gives people anything they want, even if that service is free, that piracy will cease to be.

      • Sky’s Pirate Site-Blocking Move is Something For North Korea, ISPs Say

        Sky TV is pioneering ‘pirate’ site-blocking in New Zealand after applying for an injunction against several local ISPs. But the move hasn’t been well received, with one group of ISPs reacting with anger to the move. Vocus Group says Sky is acting like a dinosaur, with an Internet censorship effort more suited to North Korea.

      • Netflix Is Not Going to Kill Piracy, Research Suggests

        Netflix and other on-demand streaming services barely help to curtail piracy, new research shows. While legal streaming services are commonly used nowadays, the limited availability of recent content and the associated price tag are serious hurdles for many pirates.

      • CJEU rules TV programme copies in cloud must be authorised by copyright holder

        In its VCAST v RTI judgement, the CJEU has ruled that copies of television programmes made available by being saved in the cloud must be authorised by the holder of the copyright or related rights because the service constitutes a retransmission

      • EU Court: Cloud-Based TV Recorder Requires Rightsholder Permission

        VCAST advertises itself as a VCR for the cloud, allowing users to record terrestrial TV into online storage to watch at a later point. But is it legal? According to a new ruling from the European Court of Justice, making TV shows available to consumers in this fashion must be authorized by rights holders.

      • Retransmissions Of TV Shows From Cloud Services Need Copyright Owner’s Consent, EU High Court Rules

        VCAST, a UK company that makes available to its customers internet retransmissions of Italian television programmes stored in the cloud, must obtain right holders’ consent first, the Court of Justice of European Union (CJEU) ruled on 29 November.


Links 30/11/2017: PHP 7.2 and Cutelyst 1.11.0

Posted in News Roundup at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 2017: A year of highs and lows for Linux and open source

    Ah, 2017, it was a good year for Linux—one that continued the solidification of the open source platform on so many levels. From the consumer mobile space to supercomputers, Linux dominated certain sectors in a way no other platform could.

    Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the year—both the highs and lows—and hopefully draw a conclusion that 2017 was a banner year for Linux.

  • Desktop

    • Chromebook Users Can Now Take Android-Like Screenshots While in Tablet Mode

      Google’s Chromium evangelist François Beaufort shares today with us a new feature for Chromebooks, the ability to take Android-like screenshots in Chrome OS.

      Discovered last month via a commit in the Chromium Gerrit repository, the Android-like screenshot functionality has landed today in the Chrome OS Dev channel and you can enjoy it right now on your Chromebook if you enabled the developer channel.

  • Kernel Space

    • KAISER: hiding the kernel from user space

      Since the beginning, Linux has mapped the kernel’s memory into the address space of every running process. There are solid performance reasons for doing this, and the processor’s memory-management unit can ordinarily be trusted to prevent user space from accessing that memory. More recently, though, some more subtle security issues related to this mapping have come to light, leading to the rapid development of a new patch set that ends this longstanding practice for the x86 architecture.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation Announces 22 New Silver Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced that 22 new organizations have joined the Foundation as Silver members. Linux Foundation members help support development of the greatest shared technology resources in history, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation.

    • Graphics Stack

      • 16-bit Vulkan/SPIR-V Support Revised For Intel’s Driver

        Igalia developers have published their latest version of the big patch-set implementing 16-bit support within Intel’s Vulkan driver and supporting the necessary 16-bit storage SPIR-V changes.

        Developers at consulting firm Igalia have been tasked the past few months with getting this 16-bit data “half float” support in place for the Intel open-source Vulkan driver with VK_KHR_16bit_storage and SPIR-V’s SPV_KHR_16bit_storage along with the necessary plumbing to Mesa’s GLSL and NIR code.

      • The Many Open-Source Radeon Linux Driver Advancements Of 2017

        There were many sizable open-source Radeon Linux driver accomplishments this year. It was this year in which the RadeonSI OpenGL driver matured enough to compete with — and sometimes surpass — the Radeon Windows driver when talking raw OpenGL performance, RadeonSI can also outperform the AMDGPU-PRO OpenGL hybrid driver in many Linux gaming tests, the RADV Vulkan driver matured a lot, and many other milestones were reached.

        Given the latest round of Windows vs. Linux Radeon gaming tests yesterday and the end of the year quickly approaching, I figured I would provide a list now about some of the major feats reached this year for the open-source Radeon graphics driver stack.

      • Compute Shader & GLSL 4.30 Support For R600 Gallium3D

        After recently getting some older Radeon GPUs to OpenGL 4.2 with new R600g patches and making other improvements to R600g, David Airlie has now sent out a set of patches for getting compute shaders and GLSL 4.30 working for some older pre-GCN GPUs with the R600 Gallium3D driver.

        Airlie sent out today patches getting compute shaders and GL Shading Language 4.30 working in R600g. It seems to be working out the best at the moment with the Radeon HD 6400 “Caicos” graphics cards while the HD 6900 “Cayman” series currently hangs on compute. For running OpenGL 4 on R600g, the HD 5800 series and HD 6900 series generally tends to be the best due to having real FP64 support working where as the other generations of hardware only expose OpenGL 3.3 by default (but can use a version override to later GL4 versions if not needing FP64 support).

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 vs. Linux 4.15 + Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon Gaming Performance

        As we end out November, here is a fresh look at the current Windows 10 Pro Fall Creator’s Update versus Ubuntu 17.10 with the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon graphics driver stack as we see how various games compete under Windows 10 and Linux with these latest AMD drivers on the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards.

      • The fastest and slowest versions of Linux

        To see which version of Linux is the quickest, Phoronix has conducted a set of benchmarks measuring the total boot time of 11 Linux distributions.

        The tests also measured the boot time of separate components, such as the loader and kernel of each distribution.

        Systemd benchmark, part of Phoronix Test Suite 7.4.0, was used to benchmark the boot time of the distributions, and the results were published on OpenBenchmarking.org.

        The tests show that the boot time of Linux distributions can vary substantially, with some systems taking over twice as long to boot up as others.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Cutelyst 1.11.0 released!

        Cutelyst the Qt Web framework got a new release, this is likely to be the last of the year and will be one of lasts releases of the 1.x.x series. I’d like to add HTTP/2 support before branching 1.x.x and having master as 2.0 but I’m not yet sure I’ll do that yet.

        For the next year I’d like to have Cutelyst 2 packaged on most distros soon due Ubuntu’s LTS being released in April, and H2 might delay this or I delay it since it can be done using a front-end server like Nginx.

      • Kubuntu Kafe Live approaching

        This Saturday ( December 2nd ) the second Kubuntu Kafe Live, our online video cafe will be taking place from 21:00 UTC.
        Join the Kubuntu development community, and guests as our intrepid hosts.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Large number of XML Nodes and GXml performance

        GXml performance has been improved since initial releases.

        First implementation parse all to libxml2 tree and then to a GObject set of classes, in order to provide GObject Serialization framework.

        Over time GXmlGom was added as a set of classes avoiding to use libxml2 tree improving both memory and performance on Serialization.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Solus Review For Casual Users

        I have been watching the progress with Solus Linux from afar for some time now. I’ve even had other Freedom Penguin contributors share their thoughts on Solus. So when I decided to give everyone my review, I wanted to make sure I cover the basics…then move on to the stuff I cared about – using it as a daily driver.

        Solus is not based on any other distro. It’s a Linux unto itself and this article shares my experience with it.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based Univention Corporate Server 4.2 OS Gets Microsoft AD Improvements

          Coming two and a half months after the second point release, Univention Corporate Server 4.2-3 is a small maintenance update that appears to mostly address various regressions reported by users from previous versions of the operating systems. These include more checks for Microsoft Active Directory (AD) domains and expanded configurability and usability of the management system.

          “The usability and configurability of the management system were further expanded. The design of the assistants and dialogues of the management system was revised with regard to usability aspects,” explains developer Nico Gulden. “Additional configuration options for the single sign-on of the management system have also been added, e. g. the configurability of the certificate used.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Someone Tries to Bring Back Ubuntu’s Unity from the Dead as an Official Spin

              Long-time Ubuntu member Dale Beaudoin ran a poll last week on the official Ubuntu forums to take the pulse of the community and see if they are interested in an Ubuntu Unity Remix that would be released alongside Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) next year and be supported for nine months or five years.

              Thirty people voted in the poll, with 67 percent of them opting for an LTS (Long Term Support) release of the so-called Ubuntu Unity Remix, while 33 percent voted for the 9-month supported release. It also looks like this upcoming Ubuntu Unity Spin looks to become an official flavor, yet this means commitment from those developing it.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Is Available To Download

              Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” has been released and is available to download from the official website. The release is based on Ubuntu 16.04, contains many improvements and new applications. Some important software were rewritten making them work much faster and look cleaner. Some less useful applications have also been removed to clean the system installation. So let’s look at the major improvements in Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia”.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon and MATE editions released
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Making open source evergreen

    Danese Cooper is one of open source’s strongest advocates, credited with advancing the open sourcing of technology at major companies including Sun Microsystems, Intel, and now PayPal, where she has served as head of open source since 2014.

    In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “Making Open Source Evergreen,” Danese presented a ringing call to arms about what she considers open source’s most pressing problem: “Not knowing how to make the right choices for the future of the movement.”

  • Tech giants are using open source frameworks to dominate the AI community

    Tech giants such as Google and Baidu spent from $20 billion to $30 billion on AI last year, according to the recent McKinsey Global Institute Study. Out of this wealth, 90 percent fueled R&D and deployment, and 10 percent went toward AI acquisitions.

    Research plays a crucial role in the AI movement, and tech giants have to do everything in their power to seem viable to the AI community. AI is mostly based on research advances and state-of-the-art technology, which is advancing very quickly. Therefore, there is no business need to make closed infrastructure solutions, because within a few months everything will be totally different.

  • Apache Impala, a native analytics database for Hadoop

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has graduated Apache Impala to become a Top-Level Project (TLP).

    Apache Impala itself is an analytic database for Apache Hadoop, the open source software framework used for distributed storage and processing of dataset of big data.

  • Vespa, Yahoo’s search code, released as open source

    Vespa, Yahoo’s big data processing and serving engine, has been released as open source by Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that’s been the owner of record of Yahoo since June 2017. It is now available on GitHub.

    With over 1 billion users, Vespa is currently used across many different Oath brands – including Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Gemini and Flickr, to process and serve billions of daily requests over billions of documents while responding to search queries, making recommendations, and providing personalised content and advertisements.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s new open source model aims to revolutionize voice recognition

        You may have noticed the steady and sure progress of voice recognition tech in recent times – all the big tech firms want to make strides in this arena if only to improve their digital assistants, from Cortana to Siri – but Mozilla wants to push harder, and more broadly, on this front with the release of an open source speech recognition model.

      • Mozilla releases open source speech recognition tools
      • Announcing the Initial Release of Mozilla’s Open Source Speech Recognition Model and Voice Dataset

        With the holiday, gift-giving season upon us, many people are about to experience the ease and power of new speech-enabled devices. Technical advancements have fueled the growth of speech interfaces through the availability of machine learning tools, resulting in more Internet-connected products that can listen and respond to us than ever before.

        At Mozilla we’re excited about the potential of speech recognition. We believe this technology can and will enable a wave of innovative products and services, and that it should be available to everyone.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • European Commission launches first ever bug bounty

      The European Commission has launched its first ever bug bounty. It will award between EUR 100 and EUR 3000 for bugs found in VLC media player. The programme will run until the first weeks of January or until the bounty budget is exhausted.

      Which bugs will qualify for an award is at the discretion of the VLC team, according to the announcement by HackerOne, a commercial bug bounty platform. “Qualified security vulnerabilities will be rewarded based on severity and impact,” HackerOne says.

      In the first phase, the programme will invite hackers with previous experience on the HackerOne platform to participate. After three weeks, the programme will be opened to everyone.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • A Growing Open Access Toolbox

        Legal methods to retrieve paywalled articles for free are on the rise, but better self-archiving practices could help improve accessibility.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • An OpenHardware 1-port Hub?

        I’ve spent the last couple of evenings designing an OpenHardware USB 2.0 1-port hub tentatively called the ColorHub (although, better ideas certainly welcome). Back a bit: What’s the point in a 1-port hub?

  • Programming/Development

    • SciPy reaches 1.0

      After 16 years of evolution, the SciPy project has reached version 1.0. SciPy, a free-software project, has become one of the most popular computational toolkits for scientists from a wide range of disciplines, and is largely responsible for the ascendancy of Python in many areas of scientific research. While the 1.0 release is significant, much of the underlying software has been stable for some time; the “1.0″ version number reflects that the project as a whole is on solid footing.

    • Javascript and Functional Programming: An Introduction

      Most importantly, these tools and paradigms are going to help us achieve our (my) ultimate goal of shipping products faster. Stay tuned for the next post, where we discuss functions in JS, why they are special and how their characteristics enable functional programming.


  • Top software failures – the worst software glitches in recent history

    There have been different ransomware attacks, IT failures, data leakages and more which have affected organisations and customers around the world. Let’s take a look back at the worst software failures in recent history.

  • Tap the power of community with organized chaos

    In this article, I want to share with you of the power of an unconference—because I believe it’s a technique anyone can use to generate innovative ideas, harness the power of participation, and strengthen community ties. I’ve developed a 90-minute session that mimics the effects of an unconference, and you can use it to generate engagement with a small group of people and tap into their ideas surrounding a topic of your choice.

    An “unconference” is a loosely organized event format designed specifically to maximize the exchange of ideas and the sharing of knowledge in a group driven by a common purpose. While the structure of an unconference is planned, the content and exchange of ideas for breakout sessions is not. Participants plan and execute unconference sessions by voting on the content they’d like to experience.

  • Science

    • House GOP to Propose Sweeping Changes to Higher Education

      The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives this week will propose sweeping legislation that aims to change where Americans go to college, how they pay for it, what they study, and how their success—or failure—affects the institutions they attend.

      The most dramatic and far-reaching element of the plan is a radical revamp of the $1.34 trillion federal student loan program. It would put caps on borrowing and eliminate some loan forgiveness programs.

      The ambitious package—a summary of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal—would be the biggest overhaul of education policy in decades. The rising expense of higher education is deeply troubling to many Americans and many increasingly question its value. Despite a steady rise in the share of high-school graduates heading to college, a skills gap has left more than 6 million jobs unfilled, a significant drag on the economy.

  • Security

    • SEC hack [sic] was preceded by years of warnings about lax cybersecurity

      After the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosed in September that its EDGAR corporate filing system had been hacked [sic] a year earlier, Chairman Jay Clayton declared cybersecurity one of his agency’s top priorities.

    • Intel’s “Management Engine”

      Concern about the ME goes back further. Sparked by a talk given at the Chaos Computer Conference by [Joanna Rutkowska] of the Qubes OS project, back in January 2016 Brian Benchoff at Hackaday wrote:

      Extremely little is known about the ME, except for some of its capabilities. The ME has complete access to all of a computer’s memory, its network connections, and every peripheral connected to a computer. It runs when the computer is hibernating, and can intercept TCP/IP traffic. Own the ME and you own the computer.

    • Here’s How to Temporarily Fix the macOS High Sierra Bug That Gives Full Admin Access to Your Mac Sans Password

      A newly discovered bug in macOS High Sierra enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check, essentially giving anyone full access to your Mac.

      Apple is likely already working on a fix, but in the meantime, there’s a temporary workaround — enabling the root user with a password.

    • Anyone Can Hack [sic] MacOS High Sierra Just by Typing “Root”
    • Major Apple security flaw grants admin access on macOS High Sierra without password

      However, The Verge has been able to confirm the major security issue remains present as of MacOS 10.13.1, the current release of High Sierra. When the problem is exploited, the user is authenticated into a “System Administrator” account and is given full ability to view files and even reset or change passwords for pre-existing users on that machine. Apple ID email addresses tied to users on the Mac can be removed and altered, as well. There are likely many more ways that someone taking advantage of the issue could wreak havoc on a Mac desktop or laptop.

    • New security update fixes macOS root bug
    • How Robust is the Randomness?
    • Hacker pleads guilty to huge Yahoo hack, admits helping Russia’s FSB

      A Canadian man has pleaded guilty to hacking charges related to a 2014 spear-phishing operation of Yahoo employees. The hack ultimately compromised 500 million Yahoo accounts.

      The operative, Karim Baratov, appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Tuesday afternoon. He also admitted that his role was to “hack webmail accounts of individuals of interest to the FSB,” the Russian internal security service. Baratov then sent those passwords to his alleged co-conspirator, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev.

    • Some Websites Are Mining Cryptocurrency Using Your CPU Even When You Close Browser

      The advent of cryptocurrencies was bound to spark the interest of cybercriminals who are always looking to exploit some technology to steal some clicks or install malware. In the recent times, we’ve come across reports of a huge number of websites using your PCU power to mine cryptocurrency; the browser extensions and Android apps aren’t untouched by this epidemic. Developers have also come up with different options to ban this practice altogether.

      In the previous research work conducted by security firms, it was found that a miner could be run as long as the browser was running; close the browser and mining activity stops. However, as per the latest technique spotted by Malwarebytes, some dubious website owners can mine digital coins like Monero even after browser window is closed.

    • Top 10 Common Hacking Techniques You Should Know About

      Using simple hacks, a hacker can know about your personal unauthorized information which you might not want to reveal. Knowing about these common hacking techniques like phishing, DDoS, clickjacking etc., could come handy for your personal safety.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ROCA: Return Of the Coppersmith Attack

      On October 30, 2017, a group of Czech researchers from Masaryk University presented the ROCA paper at the ACM CCS Conference, which earned the Real-World Impact Award. We briefly mentioned ROCA when it was first reported but haven’t dug into details of the vulnerability yet. Because of its far-ranging impact, it seems important to review the vulnerability in light of the new results published recently.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia

      The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

      The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country’s leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.

      Saudi Arabia needs approval from the U.S. in order to receive sensitive American technology. Past negotiations broke down because the Saudi government wouldn’t commit to certain safeguards against eventually using the technology for weapons.

    • How Trump Botched Iran Policy

      Erdbrink summarizes the overall effect this way: “In short, it appears that Mr. Trump and the Saudis have helped the government achieve what years of repression could never accomplish: widespread public support for the hard-line view that the United States and Riyadh cannot be trusted and that Iran is now a strong and capable state capable of staring down its enemies.”

      Such an effect is unsurprising. Nor are the underlying dynamics unique to Iran. Two fundamental processes are at work in Iran to produce the effect Erdbrink is observing. Both are foreshadowed by many earlier experiences of countries that felt especially threatened by a foreign power.

      One is the tendency of nations to unite and to overcome internal differences in the face of such a threat. This is the familiar phenomenon of rallying around the flag. Iranians are rallying around their flag today.

    • Refusing to Learn Bloody Lessons

      President Trump’s continued Afghan War pursues the same failed path as the prior 16 years, with the U.S. political/media elites learning no lessons, says former Marine officer Matthew Hoh in an interview with the American Herald Tribune.

    • US Bows to Israeli/Saudi Alliance in Blaming Iran

      At first, American officials couldn’t believe it. In 1993, the Israelis began pressuring the Clinton administration to view Iran as the greatest global threat. Only a short time earlier, in the 1980s, Israel had been cooperating with the Iranians militarily and selling them weapons to fight Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.

    • A rare moment of bipartisan unity: Can Congress check Trump’s war powers?

      Trump has always been petty, but this was particularly obnoxious. He had already demanded gratitude from the players themselves, and they had thanked him publicly for speaking to the Chinese president on their behalf. He simply couldn’t rise above his voracious need for approbation to let LaVar Ball’s criticism go and behave like a mature statesman. Worse, he showed foreign leaders once again that he can be manipulated through even the smallest slights or granting of favors. The man simply cannot play it cool.

      His trips overseas have shown that he knows nothing of diplomacy and has no natural instinct for it. Trump has been rude and aggressive toward America’s European allies until they figured out that he needs to be treated like a spoiled dauphin and treated to big spectacles, as French President Emmanuel Macron did when he invited Trump to the Bastille Day celebrations in July.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Russia-gate Inquisitors Subpoena Journalist

      The House Intelligence Committee, as part of its Russia-gate investigation, has issued a subpoena demanding the testimony of journalist-activist-and-satirist Randy Credico presumably because he produced a series on WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who oversaw the publication of leaked Democratic Party emails in 2016.

  • Finance

    • Global cryptocurrency crackdown sparks search for safe havens
    • Tory Brexiters to protest to No 10 about deal on £60bn divorce bill

      Hardline Tory Eurosceptics will protest to No 10 about Theresa May agreeing to pay a £60bn Brexit divorce bill over many years, with some warning they could be prepared to vote down a final deal if they do not ultimately get what they want.

      One Conservative MP said some members of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group were demanding a meeting with Julian Smith, the new chief whip, to make clear their unease with the idea of phased payments lasting many years.

    • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduce a bill to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

      As vulture capitalists and profiteers circle the devastation in America’s hurricane-struck island colonies, the Trump administration has nothing for them but more loans to pile onto their existing, crippling debt (even as affected mainland cities where more white people live get direct government aid).

      But the left wing of the Democratic Party has articulated a different vision for the future of the American citizens who live in these places: a “messaging bill” proposing $146 billion in aid to the islands, accompanied by debt forgiveness, in a package they call “A Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico.”

    • Here’s How $30 Billion In Bitcoins Got Lost Forever

      Cold Storage is one of the most interesting features of Bitcoin as it allows us to reserve cryptocurrency with extra precaution. It could be done using a USB drive, a paper wallet, an offline Bitcoin hardware wallet, etc. However, if you lose the access to such cold storage device, your digital currency gets lost.

    • Divided Britain, where the Brexit alarm is sounded but no one wants to hear

      There is a campaign running at the moment to inform people of the dangers of drug resistance. “Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family it risk,” shout the posters. GPs are familiar with the problem. Patients want medicine and don’t like hearing that their flu is caused by a virus. Antibiotics, which treat bacterial infection, won’t work. Misusing the pills nurtures vicious bugs that defy treatment when it is actually required.

      Seeing the slogan, I find it hard not to think that Brexit will one day be recorded as case of quack political medicine on an industrial scale. The obvious diagnosis of the referendum outcome was a majority desire to leave the EU, so the response necessarily begins with a commitment to do just that. The democratic treatment of an election cannot be to ignore the result.

    • Puerto Rican Students Organize National Strike Demanding Transparency in Response to Austerity Measures

      University students across Puerto Rico organized a national strike that sparked demonstrations and protests on May 1, 2017, as reported by David Cordero, Sarah Vázquez, and Ronald Ávila Claudio for the Metro. The strike, el Paro Nacional, resulted from public outrage over announced austerity measures affecting education and pensions, as well as outrage over the lack of transparency in the process through which those measures were approved. Due to a mass promotion effort, multiple civic organizations, student groups, and individual citizens came together to stop all work and engage in protest.

      The austerity measures, including $512 million in cuts to university funding, were to be implemented by a fiscal joint committee, la Junta de Control Fiscal, as part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), a US federal law responding to the island’s fiscal crisis. PROMESA, introduced by Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) on May 18, 2016 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 30, 2016, established the joint committee as “an Oversight Board with broad powers of budgetary and financial control over Puerto Rico.”

    • Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students

      The Republican tax plan winding its way through Congress includes a special middle finger to the nation’s graduate students.

      It’s a little bit wonky, so stay with me here. I’ll explain how it affects me, since I’m an actual graduate student.

      Going to grad school would’ve been entirely out of reach for me if I had to pay full tuition for my education. Getting a PhD takes at least five years and often more. I don’t have a spouse, trust fund, or parents to cover my cost of living or my tuition.

      If I had to pay for my own education, it would’ve been simply out of the question. This is hardly uncommon.

    • Why The Republican Tax Plans Do Nothing To Help Genuine Small Businesses

      Republican tax plans passed in the House and out of the Senate Finance Committee contain provisions that their defenders claim will help small businesses by lowering top tax rates on “pass-through” income. The House Republican plan includes a new top tax rate of 25 percent on pass-through income. The Senate version of this proposal is different and more complicated, but the broad outcome is the same—a new, lower top tax rate on income that comes from pass-through businesses.

      These changes will not help genuine small businesses, however. The most important thing to remember in this debate is simply that while all small businesses are pass-through businesses, not all pass-through businesses are small businesses. This report fills in some details about the relationship between pass-through businesses and small businesses.

    • Monetary Imperialism

      In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and “foreign aid” (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

      Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Meredith Corp. Buys Time Inc. In Koch-Backed Deal

      The Iowa-based publisher, Meredith has agreed to pay $18.50 a share for Time —the New York publisher of People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, which Meredith announced in a press release Sunday night.

    • Trump Firms Must Save Records for AGs’ Emoluments Lawsuit
    • Trumpland Has ‘The Sky Is Green’ Problem

      As frustrating as it is to have the President and others in position of power lie to the public, the question can be fairly asked: What does the Supreme Court have to say about this mendacity?

      The answer may disappoint you. Recent cases show that the Supreme Court has given Americans wide latitude to lie in everyday life. Take the case of Xavier Alvarez, a board member of the Three Valleys Water District in Claremont, California. At his first public meeting, Alvarez introduced himself by saying “I’m a retired marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy.”

      None of what Alvarez said was true. Not only had he not won the Congressional Medal of Honor, he had never even served in the U.S. military. Alvarez stepped on something of a land mine by claiming he won the Congressional of Medal of Honor. President George W. Bush signed into law the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which made it a misdemeanor to falsely represent that one had received any U.S. military decoration or medal. Although the Act set the usual penalty at up to six months in prison, special opprobrium was reserved for the Medal of Honor: the prison term could be as much as a year.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • French porn star piqued over Macron’s desire to crackdown on X-rated films
    • Victorian Censorship: Research Finds Section 67 of IT Act Being Grossly Misused

      Two years after the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, new research points at how another section of the Act is being similarly misused with grave consequences for freedom of expression, sexuality and digital rights.

      A research study by Point of View, a non-profit organisation that works on gender-rights, against sexual violence, and on digital rights of women, has drawn attention to the indiscriminate and increasing use of Section 67 of the IT Act by the police. The first ever in-depth study of Section 67 finds that it is leaning suspiciously towards the draconian Section 66A.

    • Watch live as City Club forum discusses censorship in schools

      Should the United States standardize what needs to be taught to students? Where is the line drawn on censoring ideas in education?

    • Animal Activists Stop Hiding Their Faces

      Because of so-called “ag-gag” laws enacted in eight states, people in animal rescue videos often blur out their own faces and keep their identities private, Butler reported. However, DxE activists do not hide their identities, despite the risks involved. DxE activist Wayne Hsiung said, “We’re daring these industries to try us in the court of public opinion and in the court of law… We are happy to have the debate with the industry. They are terrified that the public will side with us.” The group says that, to date, its twelve open rescue videos on Youtube have received over three million views combined.

    • Backlash Against Russian ‘Fake News’ Is Shutting Down Debate for Real

      A few days before the Halloween hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where powerful tech companies would provide testimony about their roles disseminating “fake news” during the 2016 election, Twitter announced it would no longer accept advertising from the Russian government-sponsored broadcast channel Russia Today (RT), or the state-owned Sputnik.

      In a Twitter PublicPolicy blog post (10/26/17), the company said it would “off-board advertising from all accounts” owned by RT and Sputnik. The decision was based on its own assessment of the 2016 US election “and the US intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government.” As substantiation, Twitter merely provided a link to the January 6, 2017, intelligence report (ODNI).

      BuzzFeed (11/1/17) reported that Twitter based its decision on the intelligence report that called RT “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” also providing a link to the report without a word about its documentation or quality. Most reporting did the same, including the New York Times (10/26/17), which said Twitter’s decision “was informed by specific findings of the United States intelligence community, made public in January.”

    • Can a Government Official Block You on Twitter?

      Does the Constitution allow a public official to block people on social media? It depends.

      Thanks to a growing number of state and local government officials, not to mention national actors like President Trump, questions abound these days about the constitutionality of public officials blocking people on social media.

      The answers to those questions are complicated and depend on the facts of any given case. But, as we explain in a brief we filed in a Virginia lawsuit this week, the proper framework for courts to use in considering these cases should ensure that as our democracy increasingly moves online, the Constitution applies with no less force on the internet than it does offline.

      Two main principles should govern these cases: First, individuals do not lose their First Amendment rights just by virtue of gaining public office, no matter how powerful they are. Second, when they act on behalf of the government, elected officials are also subject to the limits that the First Amendment imposes on them as government actors.

      To answer this conundrum, courts must begin by asking which role a public official embodies on a given social media account: that of a private speaker or a government actor. If the answer is “private speaker,” she can limit her audience and curate the messages on the page, just like any other member of the public. But if the answer is “government actor,” the First Amendment dictates that she can’t prohibit access to her social media in three specific circumstances.

    • House Internet Censorship Bill Is Just Like the Senate Bill, Except Worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

      We’ve already written extensively about SESTA and the dangers it would pose to online communities, but as the House of Representatives considers moving on FOSTA, it’s time to reiterate that all of the major flaws in SESTA are in FOSTA too.

    • Presidential Censorship Executed: Radio Station Shut Down

      Gendarmes reportedly stormed the premises on November 27, 2017, shortly after the ‘forbidden’ interview and carried out the orders of the governor of Labe to close down the station. The action of the governor, Mamadou Saïdou Diallo, came just two days after President Alpha Conde threatened to shut down any radio station which will give coverage to Aboubacar Soumah, Deputy Secretary General of the Free Union of Teachers and Researchers of Guinea (SLECG). Soumah is the coordinator of a general strike by members of the SLECG which in its second week and which President Conde has described as a rebellion.

    • Sweden’s New Government Censorship

      The Swedish government is now officially questioning free speech. A government agency has declared so-called Swedish “new media” — news outlets that refuse to subscribe to the politically correct orthodoxies of the mainstream media — a possible threat to democracy. In a government report, tellingly called “The White Hatred” written by Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (Total Defense Research Institute), a government agency under the Swedish Ministry of Defense, Swedish new media such as Samhällsnytt (formerly known as Avpixlat), Nyheter Idag and Nya Tider are lumped together with neo-Nazi media such as Nordfront.

    • Why is a Bollywood film sparking threats of violence?

      The Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’ is swirling in controversy, so much so that its release in India has been postponed and its international debut left uncertain.

      The film recounts the story of a Muslim sultan who attacks a kingdom in an attempt to capture a beautiful Hindu queen. Critics say the film “disrespects the sentiments” of the Rajput caste. And despite historians pointing out that the queen portrayed in the film is a fictional character, Rajput groups have been using their political capital to block the film with much success.

      The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is backing the efforts of Rajput groups, like the Karni Sena, who’ve been holding protests in several states across India. The group is also accused of vandalising cinemas this week and earlier this year reportedly stormed the set of the film and assaulted the director.

    • Bollywood, censorship and the fascism unfolding in Modi’s India
    • I got DMCA takedown notice for sharing an interview of Richard Stallman
    • Press freedom is under attack like never before. Reinforcements are needed

      We could reasonably have expected the digital revolution to have ushered in the heyday of media freedom. The miniaturisation of technology and spread of mobile connectivity have massively increased our ability to share, interact with, and access information.

      However, this has been matched by censorship in the name of national security and countering extremism, demands for protection against offensive speech and misinformation, as well as unprecedented surveillance and collection of our data. A new report by Article 19 maps this trend, showing that media freedom is at its lowest level since 2006, with a particular increase in the government censorship of those who expose corruption and abuse.

      We at Article 19 document the relentless toll of assaults against journalists, media workers and social media commentators. And besides state agents, we have seen an increase in new perpetrators of violations on media freedom, including organised crime, religious militant groups, and even corporations and economics groups. In the worst cases, state censorship operates through one of these groups or they operate with state acquiescence.

      Violence and censorship remain a threat in democratic and authoritarian states. But it is often those with nascent democratic or judicial structures where critical opinions are persecuted by illegitimate and often illegal means. Although the causes vary according to country, the combination of weak institutions and limited legal frameworks, as well as a lack of both political will and appreciation for diversity and pluralism, produce hostile environments for press freedom.

    • U.S. House internet censorship bill is just like the Senate bill, except worse

      There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

    • Suddenly, I’m a ‘Russian Agent’!

      For a number of years now, I have been periodically interviewed as a source or a commentator on news programs and as an occasional panel participant on RT TV, the Russian government-funded English-language television station. For the past year, I’ve been paid a small amount for my work.

      Effective Monday, November 13, something changed, though. RT suddenly became a“registered foreign agent.” The Russian government-funded news service, which has its headquarters in Washington, with bureaus in several other US cities, filed the required papers under protest — the only foreign news service operating here that is required to do so — and said it intends to sue. Russia is also retaliating and will be requiring some US news organizations operating in Russia, including Voice of America, to similarly register as foreign agents.

      This means that as of two weeks ago, I have been working, at least on a minimal basis of perhaps one short 5-10-minute interview per week, for a “foreign agent.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • #BlackFriday Announcement from Privacy Lab

      More than 75% of the 300+ apps analyzed by Exodus contain the signatures of trackers, though this data does not tell the whole story. There is an entire industry based upon these trackers, and apps identified as “clean” today may contain trackers that have not yet been identified. Tracker code may also be added by developers to new versions of apps in the future. The Exodus platform identifies trackers via signatures, like an anti-virus or spyware scanner, and thus can only detect trackers previously identified by researchers at the time of the scan.

    • 75% Android Apps Track Users With 3rd Party Tools, Says Study

      A combined study conducted by a French research organization Exodus Privacy and the Privacy Lab, Yale University concludes that around 3 out of every 4 Android apps track users in some way, using third-party trackers.

    • NSA Surveillance Powers Set for Renewal, But Will Reforms Happen?

      The exact details of the renewal are still up for debate, however, with both the House and the Senate pushing different versions, and several lawmakers are trying to push different reforms.

      Section 702 has been shown to be vulnerable to major abuse. Serious reform, however, is facing a lot of resistance, with pro-surveillance officials saying it would weaken the ability to surveil in general.

      So while some lawmakers are promising they won’t support any renewal without some “meaningful” reforms, anything that seems too meaningful is unlikely to ever get through in the first place.

    • U.S. lawmaker says House intel panel near consensus on NSA spy program

      Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee are close to an agreement on how to overhaul a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program and hope to complete legislation soon, the top Democrat on the panel said on Wednesday.

      Representative Adam Schiff said he had proposed a compromise that would let intelligence agencies query a database of information on Americans in national security cases without a warrant, but would require a warrant to use the information in other cases, such as those involving serious violent crime.

      “This would prevent law enforcement from simply using the database as a vehicle to go fishing, but at the same time it would preserve the operational capabilities of the program,” Schiff told reporters.

    • Government Exposes Documents Detailing Sensitive NSA Software, Surveillance Programs

      Ragtime is more than a decade old, but apparently still in use. It was part of the Stellar Wind warrantless surveillance bundle put together by the agency and the Bush administration shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. While Stellar Wind is no longer in use thanks to domestic surveillance concerns (it’s actually just been offshored to dodge FISA obligations), Ragtime appears to still be running, although there’s little publicly-available information discussing its use in surveilling American citizens. An undated document leaked by Snowden in 2013 discusses Ragtime collection in the context of thwarting Congressional oversight.

      What is known is Ragtime’s super-secret status. It’s a “need to know” program that only certain analysts can access. Collections from this program are considered so sensitive they aren’t shared with foreign allies, with the exception of the Ragtime-C variant, which allows UK intelligence agency access.

    • NSA’s Ragtime surveillance program targets US citizens – documents

      A newly discovered document has revealed seven hidden variants of the National Security Agency’s Ragtime program. Though Ragtime is intended for NSA’s foreign surveillance, one of the components apparently targets Americans.

      Ragtime is a NSA surveillance program that collects the contents of private communications of foreign nationals, including emails and text messages. A newly revealed component of the program, called US-P, seems to be aimed at American citizens.

      The term ‘USP’ (US Persons) is used in intelligence circles to refer to American citizens. A document dated November 2011, seen by both ZDNet and UpGuard, revealed the existence of US-P and six other previously unknown Ragtime components. In addition to Ragtime US-P, the newly revealed variants are called Ragtime-BQ, F, N, PQ, S, and T, according to ZDNet.

    • NSA leak exposes top secret ‘Red Disk’ data on public AWS server

      ANOTHER NSA LEAK has seen the contents of a hard drive with highly sensitive data get posted online, shedding light on a US Army intelligence project.

      Chris Vickery, director of cybersecurity research firm UpGuard, found a virtual image of the hard disk left on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server.

    • 100GB of secret NSA data found on unsecured AWS S3 bucket
    • NSA breach spills over 100GB of top secret data
    • Cybersecurity company finds classified NSA, Army data online
    • How to Debug Your Content Blocker for Privacy Protection

      Millions of users are trying to protect their privacy from commercial tracking online, be it through their choice of browser, installation of ad and tracker blocking extensions, or use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This guide focuses on how to correctly configure the blocking extension in your browser to ensure that it’s giving you the privacy you expect. We believe that tools work best when you don’t have to go under the hood. While there is software which meets that criteria (and several are listed in the final section of the guide), the most popular ad blockers do not protect privacy by default and must be reconfigured. We’ll show you how.

    • Panopticlick 3.0

      Today we’re launching a new version of Panopticlick, an EFF site which audits your browser privacy protection.

    • Supreme Court Must Understand That Cell Phones Aren’t Voluntary

      Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Carpenter v. United States, a major Fourth Amendment case that questions whether the police can access your phone’s location data without a warrant. The government argues that it should always be entitled to that information, no questions asked, because the 95 percent of American adults who own cell phones choose to give up that information “voluntarily.” Because cell phones transmit that data automatically, however, cell phone users have no choice in revealing their location. Therefore, the only action that could be “voluntary” is owning or using a cell phone.

      The problem is that cell phones are no longer meaningfully voluntary in modern society. They have become central to society’s basic functions, such as employment, public safety, and government services. The cell phone is a revolutionary technology, but its real value comes not from its technical capabilities, but from its near-universal adoption.

    • Facebook to demand “clear photo of your face”
    • Facebook’s New Captcha Test: ‘Upload A Clear Photo of Your Face’

      The company is using a new kind of captcha to verify whether a user is a real person. According to a screenshot of the identity test shared on Twitter on Tuesday and verified by Facebook, the prompt says: “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face. We’ll check it and then permanently delete it from our servers.”

    • Uber hired ex-CIA agents to infiltrate rival, former employee alleges

      In the letter written by his lawyer, Jacobs said Uber created a secret unit in order to obtain trade secrets from its rivals, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. Under questioning, Jacobs then claimed Uber hired multiple contractors who “employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing company infiltrate its rivals’ computers.”

    • Uber used ex-CIA agents to steal trade secrets, fired manager says. Feds are investigating

      Uber’s espionage team also hired contractors who employed former CIA agents to help with its surveillance, Jacobs said.

    • Judge says Uber ‘withheld evidence’ as new bombshell allegations emerge in Alphabet trial

      He reportedly made other bombshell allegations in the letter, including that employees at Uber were trained to “impede” ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.

    • The Latest: Uber accused of using ex-CIA agents as spies

      Under questioning, Richard Jacobs, Uber’s manager of global intelligence, said that Uber hired several contractors that employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing service infiltrate its rivals’ computers. Jacobs said the surveillance occurred overseas.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?
    • Uber Faces Federal Probe for Corporate Espionage

      The probe under way at the U.S. Justice Department centers on a 37-page letter that described allegations made by Richard Jacobs, Uber’s former manager of global intelligence. Jacobs had the letter sent in May to an Uber lawyer. The letter contended that Jacobs had been wrongfully demoted and then fired for trying to stop the company’s alleged misconduct.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Hate Crime Training for Police Is Often Inadequate, Sometimes Nonexistent

      To become a police officer in the U.S., one almost always has to enroll in an academy for some basic training. The typical academy session lasts 25 weeks, but state governments — which oversee police academies for local and state law enforcement officers — have wide latitude when it comes to choosing the subjects that will be taught in the classrooms.

      How to properly identify and investigate hate crimes does not seem terribly high on the list of priorities, according to a ProPublica review.

      Only 12 states, for example, have statutes requiring that academies provide instruction on hate crimes.

    • Growing Up and Growing Old in Prison

      In 2006, Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a 43-year-old man who had picked her up for sex. At the time of the crime, she was 16 years old.

      Cyntoia is now in her 20s, and her appeal is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Last week, after a local Fox 17 news report on her case, celebrities like Rihanna took to social media to condemn the sentence and call for her release. The attention to this case is understandable and justified. Cyntoia had run away from home and was living with a pimp who had raped and abused her. The legal team handling Cyntoia’s appeal says she suffers from an alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, a type of fetal alcohol syndrome that impairs brain development and that more recent testing found her to have the functioning level of a 13 or 14-year-old.

    • For People of Color in Jacksonville, Florida, Walking Can Be a Crime

      Black pedestrians face unacceptable discrimination by law enforcement in the city of Jacksonville.

      Walking is a lot of things. It’s great exercise. It’s a cost-free mode of transportation. But for Black people in Jacksonville, Florida, evidence suggests that it’s leading to discriminatory encounters with police.

      Black pedestrians in Jacksonville are ticketed a stunning three times as often for pedestrian violations, like jaywalking, as white pedestrians, according to ProPublica and The Florida Times-Union. In a recently published exposé, the outlets examined 2,200 tickets issued in Jacksonville between 2012 and 2016. They found that although representing only 29 percent of the city’s population, Black people received a whopping 55 percent of all pedestrian tickets. Disproportionate enforcement also occurred for lesser known offenses. For instance, 68 percent of people who received tickets for “failing to cross the road at a right angle or the shortest route” were Black.

      In Jacksonville, crossing the street on a yellow light or walking on the street where there is no sidewalk can result in getting a ticket with a $65 price tag. If you are poor or working but struggling to make ends meet, this is an especially hard pill to swallow. Failure to pay may impact your credit score or possibly result in suspension of your driver’s license.

    • Facebook to Temporarily Block Advertisers From Excluding Audiences by Race

      Facebook said it would temporarily stop advertisers from being able to exclude viewers by race while it studies the use of its ad targeting system.

      “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus.

      ProPublica disclosed last week that Facebook was still allowing advertisers to buy housing ads that excluded audiences by race, despite its promises earlier this year to reject such ads. ProPublica also found that Facebook was not asking housing advertisers that blocked other sensitive audience categories — by religion, gender, or disability — to “self-certify” that their ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws.

      Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it’s illegal to “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

    • Nationalism, or how to drown out what is important

      In recent months, our ability to forget has become increasingly apparent. In our blind, deaf and dumb First World – in Spain, for instance -, there have been cries against oppression and struggles for freedom. Many have taken to the streets to fight for civil and political rights and analysts have defended the right to vote and the rule of Law.

      The headiness of the fight has resulted in shows of intolerance, police overreaction and injuries – all in the name of freedom, independence or the constitutional order.

      But what if we contextualized First World struggles? What if we reminded ourselves of where we are and what is happening elsewhere?

    • Community Groups Doubling Down on Defending Digital Rights

      After the 2016 U.S. election, the prospects for digital rights under the incoming administration seemed particularly grim. A silver lining in this dark cloud has been the concerted efforts we’ve seen by groups working to defend digital rights at the local level. Over the past year, a growing network of grassroots groups, the Electronic Frontier Alliance, has taken substantial steps forward in protecting online civil liberties in dozens of communities across the U.S.

      Our preliminary concerns about the Trump administration’s attacks on digital rights unfortunately proved valid.

      President Trump inherited a surveillance apparatus that threatened privacy in a number of ways, from warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications to monitoring the social media accounts of immigrants, including naturalized U.S. citizens. The administration’s escalating attacks on other digital rights came quickly, with various departments targeting access to knowledge by removing publicly funded research from the web and issuing unconstitutional subpoenas to web hosts seeking the identities of visitors to websites used to coordinate protests of the Trump administration. Less than year into the new administration, free expression is under threat in Congress in the form of bills like SESTA that would likely push marginalized voices offline.

    • Farmworkers Say “Us Too,” Demanding Freedom From Sexual Violence

      Ahead of the Thanksgiving feast, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) hit midtown Manhattan on Monday to face down the suits with chants of “Exploitation has got to go!” CIW was there to demand humane working conditions on their farms.

      Peppered with brass-band musicians and street puppets, the protesters rallied at the New York, N.Y. offices of the fast food giant Wendy’s.

      CIW members hoisted tomato and bucket-shaped picket signs with slogans like “freedom from sexual violence” and “Justicia” to face off against Wendy’s cheery, red pigtails. They demanded fair wages and freedom from violence and exploitation.

    • Century of the National Security State: A New Subversives List?

      A recent article by two Georgetown University civil-liberties attorneys, Yael Bromberg and Eirik Cheverud, “Anti-Trump protesters risk 60 years in jail. Is dissent a crime?,” warns that the Trump Justice Department may be establishing a 21st century “subversives” list. The trial of the first six defendants has just started in Washington, DC.

      The authors’ note that in the wake of Pres. Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, federal prosecutors brought charges against over 200 protestors that included felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot and five property-damage crimes. The attorneys remind readers, “Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.”

    • Chicago Considers Another Dumb ‘Texting And Walking’ Law To Raise Revenue

      Since the advent of the smartphone, it seems that every few years or so, one government entity or another suddenly has the brilliant idea that its constituency ought to have fines levied on them for “distracted walking.” This catchall term has a much more specific meaning with in the laws in question: walking and using a phone at the same time. While this nonsense began mostly in foreign countries, there a few states in America that have some flavor of this kind of law on the books.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast deleted net neutrality pledge the same day FCC announced repeal

      We wrote earlier this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to uphold net neutrality by pulling back from previous statements that it won’t charge websites or other online applications for fast lanes.

      Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice has been claiming that we got the story wrong. But a further examination of how Comcast’s net neutrality promises have changed over time reveals another interesting tidbit—Comcast deleted a “no paid prioritization” pledge from its net neutrality webpage on the very same day that the Federal Communications Commission announced its initial plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

      Starting in 2014, the webpage, corporate.comcast.com/openinternet/open-net-neutrality, contained this statement: “Comcast doesn’t prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes.”

    • Email Is Broken. Can Anyone Fix It?

      You should root for email to work, because it’s the only open, free, universal communications tool we have left. And, like it or not, you’re stuck with it.

    • The Internet is Living on Borrowed Time

      The Internet, as we know it now, is not likely to exist for much longer. Let me walk you through why I know that.

    • FCC’s Pai, Addressing Net Neutrality Rules, Calls Twitter Biased
    • Killing net neutrality is a death blow for innovation

      On Cyber Monday, more than 200 internet companies and businesses, including Twitter, Reddit, Airbnb and Tumblr sent a letter to the FCC, imploring them to keep net neutrality intact. It stated, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.” This followed Pai’s release of a plan to kill the Obama era rules if he gets the support of the rest of the commission in a vote that is scheduled for December 14.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blasted everyone from Twitter to Cher for opposing his efforts to repeal net neutrality rules
    • Indian telecom regulator backs net neutrality with recommendations

      The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it was not in favor of any “discriminatory treatment” with data, including blocking, slowing or offering preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

    • FCC chief slams ‘Hollywood celebrities’ who oppose net neutrality rollback
    • As FCC Contemplates Repealing Net Neutrality Protections, Indian Telecom Regulator Reaffirms Support for Principles of Non-Discrimination

      Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services. Even as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pushing a plan to end net neutrality protections in the U.S., India’s telecom regulator has called for strengthening the principle of non-discriminatory access to the Internet.

      This week the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended amending all existing ISP licenses in India to explicitly prohibit discriminatory traffic management practices. TRAI’s recommendations on licensing issues are not binding. While TRAI has the power to frame regulations on issues such as pricing, QoS, and interconnection, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has final authority on matters related to granting or modification of licences in India. But if TRAI’s recommendations are accepted by the DoT, ISPs in India will be explicitly prohibited from and will be penalised for blocking, throttling, slowing down, or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content on their networks. Having rules in place that restrict ISPs and telecom providers’ ability to control access to content via their networks is important for a free and open Internet. Such rules prevent ISPs from degrading the quality of service or blocking access to apps to earn revenue or to limit competition. The FCC’s Open Order 2015 had also banned throttling, blocking and paid prioritization in the provision of broadband Internet access service. The FCC’s new proposal issued last week would eliminate these bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement.

    • Mark Cuban Still Has Absolutely No Idea How Net Neutrality Works

      To be very clear, there are numerous subjects Mark Cuban has a very solid understanding of, ranging from his support of patent reform and the benefits of improving antiquated film release windows to highlighting the SEC’s disdain for the 14th and 4th Amendments during his fight over insider trading allegations. But when it comes to net neutrality, modern telecom competition, and the problems caused by letting unchecked duopolists like Comcast run amok, Cuban has pretty consistently made it abundantly clear he has absolutely no earthly idea what he’s talking about.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Activision Considering An Opposition To Trademark For Dog-Curbing Company ‘Call Of Doodee’

        There’s a line in Ian Fleming’s opus Goldfinger that goes: “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.” It appears that as far as strange trademark attacks issued from entertainment properties upon canine-related services are concerned, we’ve officially reached the coincidence stage. You will recall that we were just discussing an odd trademark opposition filed from RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan against a dog-walking service calling itself Woof-Tang Clan. On the heels of that, we learn that Activision is mulling an opposition on a trademark application for a dog-poop removal service calling itself Call of DooDee.

    • Copyrights

      • Congress Shouldn’t Turn the Copyright Office Into A Copyright Court

        While most people are focused on net neutrality, surveillance, and tax reform, a few legislators are quietly mulling over a different problem: copyright reform.

        Five years ago, Representative Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, launched a series of hearings and studies that he said would lead to comprehensive copyright reform. EFF and many others testified on the merits and problems in virtually every facet of copyright law, and we all waited expectantly for the “Next Great Copyright Act.” For better or worse, that dramatic reform never happened. Instead, we got the CASE Act, a bill to create a small claims process for copyright. The impetus behind this bill comes largely from photographers and other visual artists, who want a way to bring small-value copyright claims with lower expenses. They are legitimately concerned that the cost of litigation puts strong copyright protection out of reach for many artists.

        But the CASE Act is not the right solution. First, it would create a new quasi-court within the Copyright Office. Aside from the constitutional questions that raises, the Copyright Office is not known for its neutrality on copyright issues. Second, the powers given to this new tribunal would invite gamesmanship and abuse. Third, it would magnify the existing problem of copyright’s unpredictable civil penalties. Finally, it would put this new tribunal in charge of punishing DMCA abuse, but sharply limit the punishment available, undermining what little deterrent effect still exists in the statute.

        Let’s break it down.

      • NAFTA’s Digital Trade Chapter Could Be Finalized Next Month

        The fifth round of negotiations over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) wound up last week in Mexico. Following conclusion of the round, Mexican Trade Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he hoped that the next round, to be held in Washington, DC in the week of 11 December, could see sufficient progress made that the agreement’s Digital Trade chapter could be closed… all before the public has seen a single word of it.

        The history of such predictions leads us to suspect that this may be an optimistic timeline, but the fact that the Minister made it at all does go to confirm that the Digital Trade chapter is seen as being uncontroversial in the negotiations. But it isn’t unimportant. The provisions likely to be found in this chapter include some topics that are critical to the digital economy.

      • Torrent Site Blocking Endangers Freedom of Expression, ISP Warns

        Website blockades are spreading throughout Europe, where they’ve become a common tool for copyright holders to target piracy. This is also the case in Lithuania, where a court has ordered ISPs to prevent subscribers from accessing the hugely popular BitTorrent tracker Linkomanija. The affected ISPs are likely to appeal the case as it could restrict freedom of expression and speech.

      • The Pirate Bay Has Trouble Keeping Afloat

        For many people The Pirate Bay has been hard to reach over the past few days, causing concern among some BitTorrent users. The outages are likely caused by technical issues, which will be resolved in the near future. Meanwhile, some proxies and the Tor domain are still working fine.


Links 29/11/2017: Lakka 2.1, Huge Apple Flaw

Posted in News Roundup at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 open source technology trends for 2018

    Technology is always evolving. New developments, such as OpenStack, Progressive Web Apps, Rust, R, the cognitive cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and more are putting our usual paradigms on the back burner. Here is a rundown of the top open source trends expected to soar in popularity in 2018.

  • Open Source Software Developers Find A Home At Gitcoin

    Open source software is often the ugly stepchild of technology development. Because developers are largely donating their time and efforts, progress lags on building better versions of apps, blockchains and other software. That stifles progress, and leaves advancement in the hands of for-profit ventures, many of them without the public’s best interests at heart.

  • Open source grows up, needs to learn to play with others

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are expanding their presence within service provider environments, emerging as a critical solutions set for operators looking to drive agility and cost efficiency in their infrastructure through automation and digitalisation. That role will only increase with technologies like containers, MEC and 5G come online to drive up demands on the network and deliver new service architectures and capabilities. But even as OpenStack matures inside service provider environments, it must now learn to play with others that form the greater service provider ecosystem, including other open source communities like ONAP and ETSI NFVI, says Ericsson’s Susan James.

  • Will Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?

    To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of yesteryear, which attempted to gain dominion over the emerging online world by pushing exclusive use of its Windows OS and for-pay Internet Explorer browser.

    “Microsoft was wrong for a long time,” says Ault, who is Senior Research Engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Group at Purdue University. “They wanted to own the internet. Now they’re a huge open-source shop” — joining what Ault calls the “business model of success” found today at Android, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

    Agricultural technology needs a similar open-source awakening, Ault says. The current state of ag data, he says frankly, “stinks.” Most farmers don’t share their data, and often justify their stance by noting there’s not much data out there anyway so what does it matter. And because the little data that is out there isn’t used much, a perception lingers that it doesn’t have to be particularly good data.

  • Inocybe aims to take complexity out of open source

    Anyone who’s trying to navigate the telecom waters that are open source these days may appreciate that there are entities out there that want to help.

    Montreal, Canada-based Inocybe is targeting Tier 2 and 3 wired/wireless service providers globally and enterprises to talk open source. The company has been involved with OpenDaylight since the beginning and is one of its top five contributors, and it wants to help entities that don’t have the type of resources the bigger Tier 1 operators have to devote to open-source projects, of which there are many.

  • Events

    • From 0 to Kubernetes

      Although you hear a lot about containers and Kubernetes these days, there’s a lot of mystery around them. In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “From 0 to Kubernetes,” Amy Chen clears up the confusion.

      Amy, a software engineer at Rancher Labs, describes containers as baby computers living inside another computer that are suffering an “existential crisis” as they try to figure out their place in the world. Kubernetes is the way all those baby computers are organized.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s WebRender Making Good Progress, Can Be Tested On Firefox Nightly

        Mozilla engineers aren’t letting up after their Quantum work in Firefox 57 that made the browser much faster. Next they have been improving WebRender and can be tested easily with Firefox Nightly.

        WebRender as a reminder is Mozilla’s GPU-based renderer used currently within the Servo engine and has also been fitted into Firefox with Gecko. Those unfamiliar with WebRender can learn more about its architecture on their GitHub Wiki and this Mozilla Hacks blog post from last month.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Is Now Available on Flathub, the Flatpak App Store

      Its arrival allows anyone running a modern Linux distribution to install the latest stable release of LibreOffice in a click or two, without having to hunt down a PPA, tussle with tarballs or wait for a distro provider to package it up.

      A LibreOffice Flatpak has been available for users to download and install since August of last year and the LibreOffice 5.2 release.

      What’s “new” here is the distribution method. Rather than release updates through their own dedicated server The Document Foundation has opted to use Flathub.

    • Dialog Tunnelling

      I’m simply going to talk about what I’ve been currently working on in Collabora Online or LibreOffice Online, as part of my job at Collabora.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital To Begin Shipping Devices Using RISC-V

        RISC-V has a big new hardware backer… Western Digital.

        Western Digital just announced at the RISC-V Workshop conference that they will be getting behind RISC-V for the next generation of big data and fast data. They plan to switch over “one billion cores per year to RISC-V.” By the time their transition is complete, they anticipate to be shipping two billion RISC-V cores per year.

      • SiFive and Microsemi Expand Relationship with Strategic Roadmap Alignment and a Linux-Capable, RISC-V Development Board

        SiFive, the first fabless provider of customized, open-source-enabled semiconductors, and Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC), a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, at the 7th RISC-V Workshop today announced the companies have formed a strategic relationship to meet the growing interest and demand in the RISC-V instruction set architecture. The companies have previously collaborated to provide RISC-V soft CPU cores for Microsemi’s PolarFire® FPGAs, IGLOO™2 FPGAs, SmartFusion™2 system-on-chip (SoC) FPGAs and RTG4™ FPGAs, currently available as part of the Microsemi Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem.

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 best practices for getting started with DevOps

      DevOps often stymies early adopters with its ambiguity, not to mention its depth and breadth. By the time someone buys into the idea of DevOps, their first questions usually are: “How do I get started?” and “How do I measure success?” These five best practices are a great road map to starting your DevOps journey.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Judge rules against 84-year-old doctor who can’t use a computer

    A New Hampshire state judge has dismissed a case brought by an elderly doctor who recently gave up her medical license following a handful of allegations against her.

    Among other accusations, Dr. Anna Konopka, 84, has refused to use a computer and participate in the state’s new law for an online opioid monitoring program.

    “The Court has admiration for Dr. Konopka’s devotion to her patients,” Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger wrote in his Monday order to dismiss the case, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Seven Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves From Outrageous Medical Bills

      A doctor offers a surgical add-on that leads to a $1,877 bill for a young girl’s ear piercing. A patient protests unnecessary scans to identify and treat her breast cysts. A study shows intensive-care-level treatment is overused.

      ProPublica has been documenting the myriad ways the health system wastes money on unnecessary services, often shifting the costs to consumers. But there are ways patients can protect themselves.

      We consulted the bill-wrangling professionals at Medliminal, one of a number of companies that negotiate to reduce their clients’ charges for a share of the savings. After years of jousting with hospitals, medical providers and insurers, their key advice for patients and their families is to be assertive and proactive.

    • A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much.

      Her daughter emerged from surgery with her tongue newly freed and a pair of small gold stars in her ears.

      Only months later did O’Neill discover her cost for this extracurricular work: $1,877.86 for “operating room services” related to the ear piercing — a fee her insurer was unwilling to pay.

      At first, O’Neill assumed the bill was a mistake. Her daughter hadn’t needed her ears pierced, and O’Neill would never have agreed to it if she’d known the cost. She complained in phone calls and in writing.

    • How Patents Have Contributed To The Opioid Crisis

      Over at Quartz, there’s a very interesting article about how patents may have contributed to the opioid crisis in the US. It’s based on a recent paper, May Your Drug Price Be Ever Green, by law professor Robin Feldman (who has done lots of great work about problems in our patent system) and law student Connie Wang.

      For many years, we’ve written about how the pharmaceutical industry has become so overly reliant on patents for their business model, that’s it’s become destructive. We’ve argued that the misaligned incentives of the patent system, especially in pharmaceuticals has so distorted incentives that the big drug companies basically have become focused solely on keeping exclusivity that it has lead to a lot of tragic game playing, where the cost has literally been people’s lives. This went into overdrive a decade or so ago when big pharma realized that many of their biggest sellers had patents expiring, and their pipeline had failed to come up with new drugs to replace the monopoly rents of the old. This resulted in all sorts of gamesmanship designed to allow big pharma to retain monopoly rights even after a drug should have gone off patent. This included pay for delay schemes, whereby big pharma effectively paid off generic makers to keep them out of the market for longer.

    • Expert panel recommends that the WHO move forward on transparency and delinkage

      On Monday, 27 November 2017, the WHO published the recommendations of the overall programme review of the global strategy and plan of action on public, health innovation and intellectual property (EB142/14). The full report of the overall programme review (OPR) will be published on Tuesday, 28 November 2017. The mandate for this work is provided resolution WHA68.18 (2015) which requested the Director-General to establish a “panel of 18 experts” to conduct an OPR of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property. (Source: EB142/14). The composition of this expert panel can be found here: http://www.who.int/medicines/innovation/gspa-review/members-list/en/

      The expert panel provided 33 recommendations which included 17 forward looking”high-priority actions” including on transparency and delinkage.

    • TWN – Proposed WHO Criteria On Medicines In Transit Open Door For Seizures
    • WHO Issues Two Reports Detailing Global Problem Of Substandard And Falsified Medicines

      WHO launched its Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medicines, vaccines and in-vitro diagnostic tests in July 2013. This first report is based on data collected during the first 4 years of operation up to 30 June 2017.

      The second report is a study on the public health and socioeconomic impact of substandard or falsified medical products conducted by WHO and the Member State Mechanism

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • British support of Saudi Arabian military should shame us all, says SNP MP

      BRITISH support of the Saudi Arabian military “should appal us all”, according to the SNP’s spokesman for international affairs, amid claims that Scottish regiment has been training a Saudi unit in Yemen.

      The role of the UK armed forces in the conflict has come under scrutiny after a picture was posted on a Scottish battalion Facebook page which appeared to members of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) helping to train Saudi troops.

      The battalion are said to be teaching Irregular Warfare (IW) techniques to officers from the Royal Saudi Land Forces Infantry Institute.

    • US gun violence spawns a new epidemic: conspiracy theorists harassing victims

      Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friend’s chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.

      Cronk’s story of surviving the worst mass shooting in modern US history went viral, but many people online weren’t calling him a hero. On YouTube, dozens of videos, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, claimed Cronk was an actor hired to play the part of a victim in the Las Vegas mass shooting on 1 October.

    • The Latest: Pentagon believes NK launched ballistic missile

      The Pentagon says it detected and tracked a single North Korean missile launch and believes it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

      Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Tuesday that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

      Manning says the Pentagon’s information is based on an initial assessment of the launch. He says a more detailed assessment was in the works.

    • Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya

      Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

      The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are being sold in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

      In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Moammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the Qadhafi government’s ability to resist rebel forces. American and European leaders initially claimed the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons, but political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy, 3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

    • Saudi Arabia’s Mysterious Upheaval

      Change is clearly afoot in Saudi Arabia — with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) engineering the dubious resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and arresting some of the kingdom’s richest businessmen and rivals within the royal family on charges of corruption — but exactly what it foretells is hard to read.

      The Saudis also are reeling from the apparent defeat of Saudi-backed Sunni jihadists in Syria, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. So what are the consequences for Saudi Arabia and its regional allies?

      On Nov. 20, after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left Saudi Arabia and resurfaced in France, I spoke with Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. (Hariri has since returned to Lebanon where he remains prime minister at least for the time being.)

    • After two months of quiet, North Korea launches another ballistic missile [Updated]

      In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan [Province], to the east direction. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the US side.”

      The US Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have made an initial assessment that the missile was an ICBM, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesperson Col. Robert Manning. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers, flew over Japan, and landed in the sea east of Japan within its exclusive economic zone.

      The launch comes as South Korea is preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. South Korean officials had hoped that North Korea would forego any further provocations in hopes of an “Olympics of Peace.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA and NSA codes are on the web, and the leakers could be in the agencies

      WikiLeaks published new information thought to be from the CIA in mid-November, releasing source code from a tool known as “Hive,” which allows operators to control malware. The dump, dubbed Vault 8, marked the first time WikiLeaks has released source code for a CIA spying tool.

      In a post on its website, WikiLeaks said: “This publication will enable investigative journalists, forensic experts and the general public to better identify and understand covert CIA infrastructure components. Source code published in this series contains software designed to run on servers controlled by the CIA. Like WikiLeaks’ earlier Vault 7 series, the material published by WikiLeaks does not contain 0-days or similar security vulnerabilities which could be repurposed by others.”

      Over the past several months, WikiLeaks has released information detailing the extent and sophistication of the CIA’s offensive cyberspace efforts. Despite countless hours searching, investigators still don’t know who is behind the CIA leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Radioactive land around Chernobyl to sprout solar investments

      A mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the damaged reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a one-megawatt, $1.2 million solar panel installation will likely be commissioned next month, according to Bloomberg. Back in summer 2016, the Ukrainian government said it was eager to get solar projects on the 1,000 square miles of radioactive land, and Ukrainian engineering firm Rodina Energy Group appears set to be an early arrival on the scene.

    • Jonathan Bartley: HS2 is an environmental disaster – we have to stop it in its tracks

      As the co-leader of the Green Party, I’ve seen some pointless environmental destruction in my time. But I’m starting to think that HS2 might be this government’s most outrageous attack on our natural world yet.

      A high speed rail link might sound like a sensible enough idea – or a benign extravagance at worst. But the truth is that it’s environmental vandalism of the highest order, and it has to be stopped.

  • Finance

    • The early history of the 58 Brexit sector analyses

      This post tells the early story, based on public domain sources, of the UK government’s 58 analyses of sectors which will be affected by Brexit.

      There has now been a binding vote by the House of Commons for the government to provide these panalyses to Parliament.

    • What the Tax Bill Would Look Like for 25,000 Middle-Class Families

      The tax bill being debated in the Senate this week would affect nearly every American. Numerous analyses have estimated the average impact of the bill on household finances, and advocates on both sides have produced examples of “typical” families that would win or lose under the plan.

      Such analyses, however, tend to gloss over the remarkable diversity of Americans’ financial situations. In truth, there is no “typical” American household. Even families that look similar on the surface can differ in ways that radically alter their situation come tax season.

      The 25,000 dots on the chart above each represent an American household in the broadly defined middle class. The vertical axis represents income; the horizontal axis represents how big a tax cut (or tax increase) each household would get under the bill in 2018, according to a New York Times analysis using the open-source tax-modeling program TaxBrain. (For details on how we did this analysis, including how we defined the middle class, see the note at the end of this article.)

    • The Hidden Hazards of GOP’s Tax-Cut Plan

      The Democrats and the entire progressive community are up in arms about the Republican tax-cut plans, which budget experts say will shower the wealthy with tax breaks while raising taxes on some middle- and working-class families. The plans also could flood the federal debt with another $1.5 trillion in red ink over the next decade.

    • How bitcoins became worth $10,000

      On Tuesday evening, the value of one bitcoin shot above $10,000. It has been a remarkable run for a currency that was only worth about $12 five years ago.

      The run has been particularly remarkable because it’s still not clear what Bitcoin is useful for. During its early years, the cryptocurrency garnered a lot of optimistic talk about how it would disrupt conventional payment networks like MasterCard or Western Union. But almost nine years after Bitcoin was created, there’s little sign of it becoming a mainstream technology. Few people own any bitcoins at all. Even fewer use it as a daily payment technology.

      Yet that hasn’t prevented the cryptocurrency’s value from zooming upward. One factor driving Bitcoin’s growth has been the emergence of a broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin serves as the reserve currency for the Bitcoin economy in much the same way that the dollar serves as the main anchor currency for international trade.

    • CFPB’s ‘NSA-like’ surveillance in limbo with leadership tussle

      The ongoing fight for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have significant effects on the bureau’s mass acquisition of private financial records, according to privacy advocates.

      The CFPB pools vast quantities of data for research purposes, including millions of Americans’ credit card records, which it says are anonymized, commercially available and tracked to help consumers, not to spy on them.

      Critics doubt the adequacy of safeguards, however, and liken the credit data-collection to the National Security Agency’s monitoring of internet and phone records under laws that allow tracking of spies and terrorists.

    • Strip away the layers and Brexit becomes ever more murky

      I clearly remember pondering, on 24 June 2016, why there was not more public and political outrage at the idea of a British government putting itself above the law, and using the royal prerogative to execute the referendum result. I find myself in exactly the same mindset in terms of the potential undermining of our democracy, government and sovereignty by a hostile foreign power – Russia – in what appears to be a secretive coup.

      As a transparency campaigner and a passionate believer in our British values, as well as political and democratic systems, I am worried. People were told that walking out of the EU would liberate us from the clutches of unaccountable bureaucrats and would allow us to “take back control”. Auberon Waugh’s “junta of Belgian ticket inspectors” would be sent packing, the British people would reclaim sovereignty and British courts would decide British law for British people. The fog of bureaucracy would be blown away by the accountability and transparency that we supposedly enjoyed in the days before 1973.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Democrats Rely on Blame-Shifting

      Victories in state-level elections in New Jersey and Virginia on Nov. 7 have buoyed Democratic hopes for an anti-Trump wave among the population that will lead to a big victory in next year’s mid-term elections, and permanently damage President Trump heading towards 2020. Yet there is significant risk in hoping that anti-Trump sentiment will be enough for the Democrats to return to power.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • To Protect our Democracy, We Need to Protect Anonymous Low-Cost Online Political Speech

      As Congress and the Federal Elections Commission explore ways to counter foreign influence in U.S. elections through greater campaign finance disclosures, EFF has filed comments reminding policy makers of the danger of going too far. While the FEC’s goals are understandable, it must take care not to undermine the right of ordinary Americans to speak anonymously about political issues. What we need is transparency from Internet companies about their advertising practices across the board—not laws that strip ordinary people of their constitutional rights and undermine our democratic values.

      For everyday Americans, the Internet offers one the most effective and inexpensive ways to make their voices heard in our nation’s political debate. It’s also a way to do so without fear of retaliation if your voice offers an unpopular view. An LGBTQ individual who is not “out” to their family or employer may fear ostracism, harassment, or threats of violence if they openly purchase a small ad on a social media platform advocating for a candidate who supports federal legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And a conservative person living in a small liberal community may fear social or professional harm if they openly spent a small sum to amplify on social media their support for a conservative local political candidate. But today both people can avoid that retaliation by purchasing these small ads anonymously.1

      The FEC should not prevent that choice. Anonymous speech is a critical component of our online political debate. Not only do we need to protect it, we need to be doing more as a society to bolster the power of those who lack access to resources to make their voices heard.

      What we really need is for Internet companies to provide more transparency regarding the mechanics of how and why all manner of advertisements are targeting them, and to give users greater control over the data collected about them and how it is used.

    • Proposed “Right to Know Act” Would Empower Users of Digital Devices to Decline NYPD Searches

      New York City is considering a range of legislative measures to increase civilian control over the New York Police Department (NYPD). Earlier this year, EFF endorsed the proposed Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act to increase transparency into the NYPD’s acquisition of surveillance technology, such as license plate readers and cell site simulators. Now EFF also supports the proposed Right to Know Act to guard the digital rights of New Yorkers and visitors impacted by so-called “consent” searches of their digital devices during stop and frisks.

      The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department, with global operations and an unfortunately long history of acting outside its authority. Given its size and presence among domestic law enforcement agencies, NYPD policies can set national norms, which are why its abuses—and policies enacted to curtail them—are important not only to New Yorkers but all Americans.

      In New York, the frequency of racially disparate detentions and searches of innocent New Yorkers exploded under an era of “broken windows policing” championed by former police commissioner Bill Bratton. (Bratton also worked in similar capacities in Boston and in Los Angeles, where his record prompted sustained criticism from local residents and communities.) “Broken windows policing” encourages police to aggressively pursue low-level crimes, driving NYPD officers to issue 1.8 million summonses between 2010 and 2015 for quality-of-life misdemeanors and infractions such as public drinking.

    • Twitter’s fight to kill Uncle Sam’s censorship of spying numbers edges closer to victory

      In October 2014, the microblogging and incitement platform filed a lawsuit against the Feds for permission to publish, as part of its government surveillance transparency report, the number of secret court orders it received seeking twits’ data.

      In the US, authorities can slap companies with National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders for information that prohibit recipients from telling anyone about the demand, based on the claim disclosure would harm national security.

    • “Upload A Selfie” — Facebook May Soon Ask For Your Picture To Confirm You’re Not A Robot

      The social networking giant Facebook is testing a new type of captcha to verify your identity. According to a report, the company may soon ask you to upload your picture to prove you’re not a robot.

      As per a screenshot shared on Twitter, this new selfie upload prompt says — “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face.” The prompt also promises to check the picture and permanently erase it from the servers. In a somewhat similar story, Facebook had already suggested asked users to upload their nude photos to fight revenge porn.

    • The Struggles of ‘A Good American’

      A new documentary tells the story of ex-NSA official William Binney and his fight to get the federal bureaucracy to accept an inexpensive system for detecting terrorists while respecting the U.S. Constitution, writes James DiEugenio.

    • Treasury Department Report Shows ComputerCOP Used Bogus Endorsement Letter To Get Police To Distribute Keylogger

      There are enough problems with police these days and how they interact with the public. They shouldn’t be contributing to making computer security worse by handing out dangerous software.

    • Yet Another Legal Action By Dogged Privacy Activist Brings Good News And Bad News For Facebook In EU’s Highest Court

      The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has appeared a few times on Techdirt, as he conducts his long-running campaign to find out what Facebook is doing with his personal data, and to take back control of it. In 2011, he obtained a CD-ROM (remember those?) containing all the information that Facebook held about him at that time. More dramatically, in 2015 Schrems persuaded the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the Safe Harbor framework for transferring personal data from the EU to the US was illegal under EU laws because of the NSA’s spying, as revealed by Edward Snowden. As Schrem’s detailed commentary (pdf) on that CJEU judgment explains, the case was specifically about Facebook, although it applied much more generally. Last month, we wrote about another case, currently being referred to the CJEU, concerning Facebook’s use of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) (pdf), also known as “model clauses”. It’s an alternative legal approach for transferring data across the Atlantic, and if the CJEU rules against Facebook again, it could make things rather difficult for the big US Internet companies (but ordinary businesses won’t be affected much.)

    • Navy Officer Tried To Use The NSA To Tap Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      A curious Navy officer on deployment in Iraq in 2011 got in hot water with the National Security Agency when she used a top-secret NSA signals intelligence database to snoop on the prepaid-phone habits of boyfriend’s son, according to a just-released, heavily redacted NSA inspector general’s report.

    • NSA Caught Navy Officer Illegally Trying To Pry Into American’s Phone

      A Navy officer stationed in Iraq “deliberately and without authorization” used an NSA database to try to pry into the mobile phone of her boyfriend’s son, according to a top secret NSA inspector general report obtained by BuzzFeed News.

      The 2014 report — one of dozens the NSA just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how the spy agency responded to an instance of illegal surveillance on an American citizen.

      The Navy officer did not access the information on the phone — she was halted by a warning signal. But the inspector general’s report says the officer, whose name was redacted, violated federal regulations and a presidential executive order designed to protect Americans from being spied on by intelligence agencies without a warrant.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Good Technology Collective

      The Good Technology Collective (GTC), a new European think-tank addressing ethical issues in technology, will officially open its doors in Berlin on December 15th. The grand opening will kick off at 7:30PM (CET) at Soho House Berlin and I shall be one of the guest speakers.

    • Court Says Cop’s Theft Of Evidence Shouldn’t Have Any Effect On Man’s 15-Year Drug Sentence

      How do we get to 26 kilos from less than a gram of actual cocaine? It happens like this…

      Martin Pena needed money for rent. He agreed to meet some other men at a taqueria to run some sort of an errand for $500. One of the men took Pena’s car and returned with it a short while later. When he returned, there was a black ice chest in Pena’s car. Pena was instructed to drive it to another location and park his vehicle, leaving the keys inside.

      Pena was pulled over by Houston police officers who arrested him for an outstanding warrant. The vehicle was impounded and an inventory search performed. The 26 kilos of “cocaine” in the ice chest were discovered and Pena was convicted of transporting 400 grams of cocaine — enough to trigger a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.

    • Uber Waymo Trial Delayed After Justice Department Jumps In, Unprompted, To Tell Judge That Uber Was Withholding Evidence

      So lots of people were gearing up for the Waymo/Uber trial starting next week over Uber’s alleged efforts to get Waymo’s (Google’s self-driving car project) trade secrets. There are a whole bunch of issues around this case that are interesting — from questions involving what really is a trade secret to where the line is between controlling former employees and allowing people to switch jobs within an industry. But… all of that has been completely tossed out the window as more and more evidence piles up that beyond those key legal issues, Uber sure did some shady, shady stuff. This morning, the latest bombshell (in a long line of bombshells) is that the judge has delayed the trial after the Justice Department got involved, totally unprompted. No, really.

    • Oklahoma Looks To Clamp Down On Uninsured Driving With Traffic Cams And Perverse Incentives

      Oklahoma is home to a large percentage of uninsured drivers. Nearly a quarter of the state’s drivers get behind the wheel as latent threats to insured drivers’ insurance rates. The state thinks it’s found a solution to this problem — one that will net a private company and the state’s district attorney offices lots of money.

    • Judge delays trial after ex-Uber employee describes rogue behavior

      US District Judge William Alsup has delayed an upcoming trial, Waymo v. Uber, in which Alphabet’s self-driving car division has accused Uber of massive data theft.

      The postponement came as a former Uber security employee, Richard Jacobs, made startling accusations in court Tuesday about his former colleagues’ tactics of what he dubbed “overly aggressive and invasive” actions, including seeking code accidentally made available on GitHub and internal use of “ephemeral and encrypted” communications including through Wickr and “non-attributable machines.”

    • ‘We, Too, Are Survivors.’ 223 Women in National Security Sign Open Letter on Sexual Harassment
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal

      For years, Comcast has been promising that it won’t violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn’t block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn’t create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

      This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn’t necessary because ISPs won’t violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 145: Tom Wheeler Reacts To Trump’s FCC

      If you’re a Techdirt reader or just a general regular on the ol’ internet, our topic this week — the current situation with net neutrality and the FCC — needs little introduction. And we’ve got two very special guests joining us to discuss it: former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler (author of the rules that Ajit Pai is currently undoing) and his former advisor Gigi Sohn (who joined us on the podcast in February to predict pretty much exactly what is now happening). There are few people as qualified to talk about these issues, so enjoy this week’s episode looking at Trump’s FCC and the future of the internet as we know it.

    • Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support

      Internet users have made it clear to US telecom regulator Ajit Pai that his proposal to scrap net neutrality rules is unpopular with the masses. But with two weeks left before the Federal Communications Commission votes to eliminate net neutrality rules, Pai today blamed actress/singer Cher and other celebrities for boosting opposition to his plan.

    • Judge Backs AT&T, Comcast Nuisance Suit Against Google Fiber In Nashville

      There’s numerous methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why Americans pay more money for slower broadband than most developed nations. Keeping this dysfunction intact despite a growing resentment from America’s under-served and over-charged broadband consumers isn’t easy, and has required decades of yeoman’s work on the part of entrenched duopolies and their lobbyists.

      Case in point: Google Fiber recently tried to build new fiber networks in a large number of cities like Nashville and Louisville, but ran face first into an antiquated utility pole attachment process. As it stands, when a new competitor tries to enter a market, it needs to contact each individual ISP to have them move their own utility pole gear. This convoluted and bureaucratic process can take months, and incumbent ISPs (which often own the poles in question) often slow things down even further by intentionally dragging their feet.

    • Comcast throttling BitTorrent was no big deal, FCC says

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has consistently argued that FCC regulation of net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.”

      Pai’s claim is frequently countered with the actual history of Internet service providers blocking or throttling Internet traffic or applications. The most prominent example is Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing. Pai thus had to contend with these real-world examples in his new proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules.

    • Looking Towards A Retrospective Future

      The Internet hasn’t been healthy for a while. Even with net neutrality rules in the United States, I have my Internet Service Provider neutrally blocking all IPv6 traffic and throttling me. As you can imagine, that now makes an apt update quite a pain. When I have asked my provider, they have said they have no plans to offer this on residential service. When I have raised the point that my employer wants me to verify the ability to potentially work from home in crisis situations, they said I would need to subscribe to “business class” service and said they would happily terminate my residential service for me if I tried to use a Virtual Private Network.


Links 28/11/2017: Linux 4.15 RC1, Fedora 25 End Of Life, Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Officially Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 open source alternatives to Microsoft Publisher

    The paperless utopia I imagined I would be living in by now remains a work in progress. As I’ve thought more about why, I’ve decided it’s the long tail of paper that’s holding me back. Sure, almost all of my communications are electronic these days, and my scanner makes quick work of almost everything that comes to me in a dead tree format.

    But as I look around my home office and wonder why there are still stacks of paper here and there, I realize there are some things that just make more sense in physical form, at least for part of their existence. I see calendars and brochures and instruction guides. I see posters from events, and even a piece of origami. While you could argue that some of these items could be made obsolete by their digital equivalents, they haven’t been, and digitizing them myself is more work than the payoff would justify.

  • AT&T champions white box routers for open operating system

    AT&T gave a glimpse into its vision of a Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) in a recent white paper titled “Toward an Open, Disaggregated Networking Operating System” with a push toward software-defined networking (SDN) and white box hardware.

    As part of its vision, AT&T coined the term dNOS to refer to the beginning of “an industry discussion on technical feasibility, build interest in participating in the formulation of technical detail, and determine suitable vehicles (standards bodies, open source efforts, consortia, etc.) for common specification and architectural realization.”

  • Hack4Climate – Saving Climate while Sailing on the Rhine

    Everledger’s CEO, Leanne talked about women in technology and swiftly made us realize how we need equal representation of all genders to tackle the global problem. I talked about Outreachy with other female participants and amidst such a diverse set of participants, I felt really connected with a few people I met who were open source contributors. Open source community has always been very warm and fun to interact with. We exchanged what conferences we attend like Fosdem, DebConf and what projects we worked on. Outreachy current round 15 is ongoing however, the applications for the next round 16 of Outreachy internships will open in February 2018 for the May to August 2018 internship round. You can check this link here for more information on projects under Debian and Outreachy. Good luck!

  • The new workspace currency is open source

    Open source can be more than just a technology: it can be a hand up. The transparency and the community all come together to create a unique software experience. In this article, Tracy Miranda explains how she got her start in open source and how these skills have proved to be irreplaceable in her career.

  • Events

    • Death of a closed-source enterprise software salesman

      In a humorous All Things Open 2017 Lightning Talk, “Death of an Enterprise Software Salesman,” Corey Quinn calls out the slick, but not substantive, methods used to market closed-source enterprise software.

      In just under five minutes, the author of Amazon Web Services news roundup site Last Week in AWS tears apart closed-source enterprise software marketing by pretending to be a salesman. His mock presentation is filled with nonsensical business jargon and meaningless charts, but Corey’s undertone of bitng sarcasm makes his message clear: Closed-source enterprise software is successful because of its glossy image and fearmongering sales tactics, even though open source software is superior.

    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 3

      Thanks to the Student President of the School of Electric Engineering, Yelstin Soltelo, we were able to celebrated our third session as it was planned in the Wiki.

      This time we have started with the online support of Carlos Soriano with his newcomer talk to clone a GNOME project using Builder. First we needed to the check the version of Flatpak (>9.25) followed by downloading the Builder software. After that, we did clone GNOME To Do, and we were waiting for the installation of Sdk. It was taking so long because we had a bandwith speed of the 80’s. Meanwhile, Carlos was explaining the tools GNOME offer in the developed center Website, and the initiatives and to do list the some GNOME applications have in GitLab. Thanks so much Carlos Soriano!

    • Linux Foundation 2018 events list

      The Linux Foundation has released its entire 2018 events schedule.

      The nonprofit organisation insists that it maintains a mission focused on the ‘creators, maintainers and practitioners’ of open source projects.

      Looking back at the current year, the Foundation says that this years’ events attracted over 25,000 developers, sysadmins, architects, community thought leaders, business executives and other industry professionals from more than 5,000 organisations across 85 countries.

    • KDE Around the World: FOSSCOMM 2017, Greece

      On the 4th and the 5th of November, the FOSSCOMM 2017 conference took place at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. The KDE Community had a presence at the conference. Our Greek troops gave a talk on Sunday about the past, present and future of KDE, focusing on the vision of the community.

  • Web Browsers

    • Firefox Quantum Vs Chrome – Who’s The New Boss?

      Mozilla has worked for years to give back the stardom their open source web browser lost with the release of Google Chrome. Firefox’s revival journey started with the addition of multiprocess earlier this year, followed by the head-to-toe overhaul of Firefox which now uses Project Neon as its new face.

      Firefox 57 is hailed as a strong competitor to Google Chrome. Now, whether we like it or not, comparisons of the two browsers will be made. So, going along similar lines, this Firefox Quantum vs Chrome post tries to put the two web browsers in front of each other.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Is Available to Download, Final Release Coming January 2018

      That’s right, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is now available to download, and while it’s been released mostly for those involved in the bug hunting sessions arranged by The Document Foundation to triagge and resolve as many issues as possible before the final release, it can also be installed by early adopters.

      A second Beta release could arrive early next month if there’s still some critical bugs present, but the development cycle will continue in the second half of December with the first Release Candidate (RC) milestone, followed by the second and third RCs in January 2018. The final LibreOffice 6.0 release is expected at the end of January 2018.

    • Second Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0

      After the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0, which was held on October 20th 2017, we’re glad to announce the Second Bug Hunting Session on November 27th – this time being held on a Monday, for the first time!

      LibreOffice 6.0 will be announced at the end of January 2018, and so far, almost 800 bugs have been fixed in this version, with more than 700 people reporting, triaging or fixing those bugs. More info can be found here. Besides that, a large number of new features, which are summarized in the release notes, have been added.

  • CMS

    • Choosing a system for the blog

      Let me start by saying that I’m biased towards systems that use flat files for blogs instead of the ones that require a database. It is so much easier to make the posts available through other means (such as having them backed up in a Git repository) that assure their content will live on even if the site is taken down or dies. It is also so much better to download the content this way, instead of pulling down a huge database file, which may cost a significant amount of money to transfer that amount of data. Having flat files with your content with a format that is shared among many systems (such as Markdown) might also assure a smooth transition to a new system, should the change become a necessity at some point.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD


    • Bye Bye Cilk Plus: GCC Lightened By 82k L.O.C.

      Earlier this month I reported on Intel’s plans for removing Cilk Plus from GCC 8 since this parallel programming effort of theirs was depreciated in GCC 7 and hadn’t seen much adoption. It’s now official with the code being stripped out of the GCC 8 code-base.

      As of this morning, it’s official and Cilk Plus was removed. This marks an end to Cilk Plus in GCC that had only been in GCC since 5.0 and this multi-threaded parallel computing extension for C/C++ that was originally devised at MIT in the late 90′s.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM have announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the most widely-used open source software licenses, covering, among other software, critical parts of the Linux ecosystem. When GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it introduced an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a more reasonable approach to errors and mistakes, which are often inadvertent. This approach allows for enforcement of license compliance that is consistent with community norms,

      To provide greater predictability to users of open source software, Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM today each committed to extending the GPLv3 approach for license compliance errors to the software code that each licenses under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Tech leaders join forces to increase predictability in Open Source licensing
    • ‘Big four’ Linux companies shift open-source licensing policies

      The GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2) is arguably the most important open-source license for one reason: It’s the license Linux uses. On November 27, three Linux-using technology powers, Facebook, Google, and IBM, and the major Linux distributor Red Hat announced they would extend additional rights to help companies who’ve made GPLv2 open-source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GPLv2 and its close relative, GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are widely-used open source software licenses. When the GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it came with an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a way for companies to repair licensing errors and mistakes. This approach allows license compliance enforcement that is consistent with community norms.

    • Tech leaders team up to improve predictability in open source licencing

      Red Hat, Inc., Facebook, Inc., Google, and IBM Corp. are joining forces to help alleviate open source licence issues, including compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and GNU General Public Licence (LGPL) are two of the most common open source software licences, covering almost all software, including parts of the Linux system. The third version of GPL (GPLv3) includes an express termination approach that gives users the opportunities to fix errors in licence compliance in a faster and more efficient manner than before.

      Now, the trio has committed to extending the express termination feature to the previous two versions of GPL to provide better predictability to users of open source software.

    • Four companies extend terms of open source licensing

      Google, Facebook, IBM and Red Hat have taken steps to increase the predictability of open-source licensing, extending additional rights to fix open source licence compliance errors and mistakes.

      The move follows a recent announcement by many kernel developers about licence enforcement.

      The Linux kernel, which is used widely by the four companies named, is released under the GNU General Public Licence version 2.0. A later version of this licence includes an approach that offers users an opportunity to comply with the licence.

    • Adopting a Community-Oriented Approach to Open Source License Compliance

      Today Google joins Red Hat, Facebook, and IBM alongside the Linux Kernel Community in increasing the predictability of open source license compliance and enforcement.

      We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM and Red Hat team up on open-source license compliance

      “We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together,” Chris DiBona, director of open source for Google, wrote in a blog post.

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

    • Copyleft Licensing: Applying GPLv3 Termination to GPLv2-licensed Works

      Today a coalition of major companies—led by Red Hat and including Google, IBM and Facebook—who create, modify and distribute FOSS under copyleft licenses have committed to the use of GPLv3’s approach to license termination for all their works published under the terms of GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. Following last month’s statement to similar effect by the developers of the Linux kernel, the world’s most widely-used GPLv2 program, today’s announcement establishes a broad consensus in favor of the “notice and cure period” approach to first-time infringement issues that Richard Stallman and I adopted in GPLv3 more than a decade ago. This adoption of GPLv3’s approach for GPLv2 programs is an enormously important step in securing the long-term viability of copyleft licensing. All computer users who wish to see their rights respected by the technology they use are better off.

      GPLv2, which was written by Richard Stallman and Jerry Cohen, is a masterpiece of legal innovation and durability. First released in mid-1991, GPLv2 transformed thinking around the world about the viability of copyright commons, and gave birth to a range of “share alike” licensing institutions, not only for software but for all forms of digital culture. It is still in unmodified use after more than a quarter-century, attaining a degree of institutional stability more often associated with statutes and constitutions than with transactional documents like copyright licenses.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat give GPL code scofflaws 60 days to behave – or else

      The tech giants, which release a fair amount of GNU-GPL-licensed source code, have committed to extend the GPLv3′s 60-day “cure period” to license compliance errors under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat Strengthen Open Source License Protection

      Facebook, Google, IBM, and Red Hat today announced they’re going to provide greater legal protection for some of the open source code they license. The companies committed to extend more rights to cure open source license compliance errors.

      Their announcement relates to two widely used open source software licenses: The GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). The GPL version 3 (GPLv3) introduced an express termination approach that offered users an opportunity to cure errors in license compliance, especially mistakes that are inadvertent.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • 4 ways to engage your organization’s various stakeholders

      I’ve spent most of my professional life helping organizations be more open to their stakeholders. I’m a partner in a consulting company in Chile, whose typical customer is a for-profit organization wishing to develop some kind of public works project (for example, an electricity generation station, a transmission line, a mine, a road, an airport, or something similar). Projects like these typically aim to fill a social need—but they’re often intended for locations where development and operation can have negative impacts (or, in economic terms, “externalities”).

    • What ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ taught me about open scientific research

      I haven’t taken a biology class in years, but the TV show Grey’s Anatomy keeps me acquainted with some aspects of the scientific world. I never expected that an episode of the medical drama series would inspire me to explore open source principles in scientific research.

      Maybe you’ve seen the episode: the characters Derek and Callie, surgeons in neuroscience and orthopedics, are doing a research study using brain sensors to control the movement of prosthetics. When the White House recruits Derek for a brain-mapping initiative, officials mention that the sensors necessary for the work will become proprietary, available only to Derek’s project. The proprietary policy leads to an argument about ownership of the sensor technology and whose research is of greater importance.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC Lands Cannonlake, Skylake Costs; LLVM/Clang Gets Intel CET

      In addition to the GCC plugin support on Windows/MinGW, there are more compiler happenings this weekend.

      Hitting mainline GCC since that earlier post about the MinGW plugin support is this commit landing the -march=cannonlake target for these next-gen Intel CPUs. It’s among the many GCC 8 features and previously covered the Cannonlake enablement while now it’s been merged to mainline.

    • LLVM Picks Up 3DNow! Improvements In 2017

      As a flashback to the past, hitting the LLVM Git/SVN code today were improvements for those still running with processors supporting AMD’s 3DNow! extensions.

    • Why Python and Pygame are a great pair for beginning programmers

      Last month, Scott Nesbitt wrote about Mozilla awarding $500K to support open source projects. Phaser, a HTML/JavaScript game platform, was awarded $50,000. I’ve been teaching Phaser to my pre-teen daughter for a year, and it’s one of the best and easiest HTML game development platforms to learn. Pygame, however, may be a better choice for beginners. Here’s why.

    • Update to Linux perf report

      Linux perf is an immensely useful and powerful tool suite for profiling of C/C++ applications.
      I have used it extensively and successfully on various customer projects, both for desktop applications as well as automotive or industrial projects targeting low-end embedded Linux targets running on ARM hardware.

    • The big break in computer languages

      My last post (The long goodbye to C) elicited a comment from a C++ expert I was friends with long ago, recommending C++ as the language to replace C. Which ain’t gonna happen; if that were a viable future, Go and Rust would never have been conceived.

      But my readers deserve more than a bald assertion. So here, for the record, is the story of why I don’t touch C++ any more. This is a launch point for a disquisition on the economics of computer-language design, why some truly unfortunate choices got made and baked into our infrastructure, and how we’re probably going to fix them.

      Along the way I will draw aside the veil from a rather basic mistake that people trying to see into the future of programming languages (including me) have been making since the 1980s. Only very recently do we have the field evidence to notice where we went wrong.

      I think I first picked up C++ because I needed GNU eqn to be able to output MathXML, and eqn was written in C++. That project succeeded. Then I was a senior dev on Battle For Wesnoth for a number of years in the 2000s and got comfortable with the language.

    • GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.9

      About 3 months, a GStreamer Conference and two bug-fix releases have passed now since the GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.8.0. Today version 0.9.0 (and 0.9.1 with a small bugfix to export some forgotten types) with a couple of API improvements and lots of additions and cleanups was released. This new version depends on the new set of releases of the gtk-rs crates (glib/etc).

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Vulkan 1.0.66 Introduces Three New Extensions

      Vulkan 1.0.66 was released this morning as the newest version of the Vulkan 1.0 graphics and compute specification.

      Vulkan 1.0.66 has a number of fixes pertaining to the documentation as well as some clarifications. There are also three new extensions.


  • In pursuit of Otama’s tone

    It would be fun to use the Otamatone in a musical piece. But for someone used to keyboard instruments it’s not so easy to play cleanly. It has a touch-sensitive (resistive) slider that spans roughly two octaves in just 14 centimeters, which makes it very sensitive to finger placement. And in any case, I’d just like to have a programmable virtual instrument that sounds like the Otamatone.

  • Science

    • Actress Hedy Lamarr laid the groundwork for some of today’s wireless tech

      Throughout Bombshell, animated sketches illustrate Lamarr’s inventions, but the film doesn’t dig deep into the science. The primary focus is the tension between Lamarr’s love of invention and her Hollywood image. With commentary from family and historians, as well as old interviews with Lamarr, Bombshell paints a sympathetic portrait of a woman troubled by her superficial reputation and yearning for recognition of her scientific intellect.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicines Excitement In The Netherlands – New Health Minister Announces Firm Action On “Absurd” Medicines Pricing And Gets The European Medicines Agency

      He specifically told the Dutch parliament that he plans to “extensively explore” the use of compulsory licensing of patents of medicines that are too expensive. (See here for media coverage in Dutch). Compulsory licensing lifts the monopoly effect of a patent by allowing others to produce generic versions. The Dutch patent law provides for compulsory licensing, including for reasons of public interest, which presumably covers addressing “absurd pricing” of needed medicines. EU medicines regulations may stand in the way of the Minister’s plans when data exclusivity rules prevent the registration of the generic. For a detailed discussion of the need to ensure coherence in EU law on this matter see our paper here. He will also explore if he can authorise pharmacists to prepare medicines al lower cost for individual patients.

      The Minister follows the recommendations of the Netherlands Council for Public Health and Society, an official government advisory body, which published its report on eight November. The Council’s report – Development of new medicines: Better, faster, cheaper – outlines a number of actions the Dutch government can take to immediately address high drug pricing, including the use of compulsory licensing to strengthen the government’s position in price negotiations.

    • Access To Affordable Healthcare: A Global Wake-Up Call Fosters Coalition Of The Like-Minded

      Few topics in the global health agenda are as contentious as access to affordable medicines and medical care, and expectedly, divergent views permeated the discussions at a high-level conference in New Delhi, India last week. But if there is one thing that the three-day meet made amply clear, it was this: access to affordable healthcare has emerged as a global problem, and an emerging coalition of the like-minded, cutting across the developed and developing countries, is determined to have their voices heard in international policy circles on the issue.

      The 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was held in New Delhi from 21-23 November.

    • Creeping quackery: “Integrative” cancer care spreading in NIH-supported centers

      For instance, the number of centers providing patients with information on “healing touch”—a type of “energy medicine”—increased nearly 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. Cancer patients at 26 of the 45 government-designated comprehensive centers around the country can now learn about that hocus-pocus along with actual cancer therapies. Likewise, inclusion of Ayurveda—a pseudoscience involving herbal, mineral, and metal treatments—increased by 10 percent in the same timeframe. Now, 18 of 45 cancer centers supported by the National Cancer Institute provide patients with information on that sorcery.

      While the data may alarm evidence-based physicians and health experts, an accompanying article on the semantics of “integrative medicine” may be of more concern. In it, advocates of “integrative medicine” try to define what “integrative medicine” is, exactly. But rather than a clear definition, they create a vague and broad one that includes “mind and body practices.” It involves everything from the “medicalized” components of a healthy lifestyle (such as simple exercise) to what can charitably be described as magic.

  • Security

    • Open source nameserver used by millions needs patching

      Open source DNS software vendor PowerDNS has advised users to patch its “Authoritative” and “Recursor” products, to squish five bugs disclosed today.

      None of the bugs pose a risk that PowerDNS might itself be compromised, but this is the DNS: what an attacker can do is fool around with DNS records in various ways.

      That can be catastrophic if done right: for example, if a network is tricked into advertising itself as the whole of the Internet, it can be hosed, or if the wrong network promises it’s the best way to reach YouTube, then YouTube is blackholed.

    • Looking for scrubs? Nah, NHS wants white hats – the infosec techie kind

      The UK’s National Health Service will pay white hat hackers up to £20m to protect its IT systems, it announced today.

      NHS Digital is looking to make a deal with consultants to create a security operations centre, which it says will ensure the safety of staff and patient data nationwide.

      Speaking to The Telegraph, NHS Digital said the contract “will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team to proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities.”

      This comes against the backdrop of the Wannacry ransomware attack in May this year, which demonstrated the NHS’ lack of preparedness for dealing with a large attack across several locations at once.

    • Hackers [sic] stole information from 1.7 million Imgur accounts in 2014
    • Pentagon’s move toward open source software isn’t going to enhance security [Ed: Guy Podjarny is the CEO of Snyk who is now attacking FOSS in articles and press releases like Microsoft-connected firms do.]
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Potential impact of the Intel ME vulnerability

      Intel’s Management Engine (ME) is a small coprocessor built into the majority of Intel CPU chipsets[0]. Older versions were based on the ARC architecture[1] running an embedded realtime operating system, but from version 11 onwards they’ve been small x86 cores running Minix. The precise capabilities of the ME have not been publicly disclosed, but it is at minimum capable of interacting with the network[2], display[3], USB, input devices and system flash. In other words, software running on the ME is capable of doing a lot, without requiring any OS permission in the process.

      Back in May, Intel announced a vulnerability in the Advanced Management Technology (AMT) that runs on the ME. AMT offers functionality like providing a remote console to the system (so IT support can connect to your system and interact with it as if they were physically present), remote disk support (so IT support can reinstall your machine over the network) and various other bits of system management. The vulnerability meant that it was possible to log into systems with enabled AMT with an empty authentication token, making it possible to log in without knowing the configured password.

      This vulnerability was less serious than it could have been for a couple of reasons – the first is that “consumer”[4] systems don’t ship with AMT, and the second is that AMT is almost always disabled (Shodan found only a few thousand systems on the public internet with AMT enabled, out of many millions of laptops). I wrote more about it here at the time.

    • Chinese nationals indicted on federal computer hacking [sic] charges

      Beginning in at least 2013, the defendants “and others known and unknown to the grand jury” used spearphishing emails containing malicious attachments or customized malware to hack into networks used by U.S. and foreign businesses, according to the indictment.

    • Security firm was front for advanced Chinese hacking operation, Feds say

      Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei face federal charges that they conspired to steal hundreds of gigabytes of data belonging to Siemens AG, Moody’s Analytics, and the GPS technology company Trimble. The indictment, which was filed in September and unsealed on Monday, said the trio used spear phishing e-mails with malicious attachments or links to infect targeted end users. The defendants used customized tools collectively known as the UPS Backdoor Malware to gain and maintain unauthorized access to the targeted companies’ networks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What if This Had Happened on the Day After 9/11?
    • Pentagon likely to acknowledge 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria: U.S. officials

      The U.S. military had earlier publicly said it had around 500 troops in Syria, mostly supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces group of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State in the north of the country.

      Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon could, as early as Monday, publicly announce that there are slightly more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. They said there was always a possibility that last minute changes in schedules could delay an announcement.

      That is not an increase in troop numbers, just a more accurate count, as the numbers often fluctuate.

    • Syria: Dozens of Civilians Killed in Last 24 Hours

      In Syria, dozens of civilians have been killed in the last 24 hours by shelling and airstrikes reportedly carried out by the Syrian regime and Russia. The attacks occurred in the ISIS-controlled eastern province of Deir Az Zor and the rebel-controlled district of Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital Damascus.

    • New Drone Strikes Underscore, Again, How Much Power We Give Trump

      Residents later reported that the region spent much of the day under attack from Saudi jets and American drones, which hovered overhead and intermittently fired missiles from above.

      The attacks were described as a success in most Western newspapers. The Daily Mail in London highlighted the fact that “10 Al-Qaeda Suspects” were killed in the attacks, as confirmed by government officials.

    • The colonial roots of Trump’s discourse on Iran

      Donald Trump is unpredictable and erratic, yet the ulterior motive for a lot of his decisions seems fairly unsophisticated: as Ta Nahisi Coates points out in his brilliant piece, Trump’s ultimate motive is to obliterate the legacy of Barack Obama. The more Obama prided himself on an achievement, the more adamant Trump becomes on destroying it. The Iran deal was a policy Obama advocated passionately. No wonder Trump stubbornly pursues its destruction.

      Trump has given a few speeches about the Iran deal. He is yet to come up with any substantial argument against it. He throws in talking points and threadbare clichés about Iran, without saying anything new. Most likely without realizing it, Trump is in fact yet another figure in the long line of imperial leaders who have tapped into a certain image of Iran, without caring whether it bears any resemblance to its reality.

    • Guatemala is the Future: Neoliberal Democracy and Authoritarian Populism

      For decades the United States held itself up as Latin America’s ideal future even as it crushed post WWII nationalist projects for economic independence and social democracy. After decades of brutal counterinsurgency, the US promoted neoliberal democracy—free elections and free markets—as the path to peace and prosperity in Guatemala. Twenty years after historic peace accords, Guatemala’s democratic transition is a failure by every standard metric. Modest reforms were gutted while poverty and inequality grew worse, perpetuating the exploitation of working people and the indigenous underclass—the root causes of the armed conflict. Crime has skyrocketed. Dozens are murdered weekly in the capitol, and brutal killings of hundreds of women go uninvestigated. Gangs rule giant swaths of territory by terror. Narco-violence has killed thousands. Millions flee to the US for work and safety. Institutionalized corruption drains public coffers while infrastructure and state services decay. Food insecurity and malnutrition are epidemic. These appalling conditions are the predictable result of the violent imperialist imposition of free market reforms on a poor, unequal, and war torn country. Guatemalan society convulses in a permanent state of collapse, at war with itself, riddled with expanding zones of environmental sacrifice and social abandonment and lives in a constant state of risk and precarity, not unlike a prison or labor camp. This year, when forty-three girls died in a fire in an overcrowded and understaffed state run “safe home” for victims of violence, abuse, and abandonment, it became for many Guatemalans a perfect symbolic condensation of patriarchy, economic violence, and official negligence.

    • As Aid Groups Warn of Yemen ‘On the Brink,’ Iran Says US Just Admitted Its Complicity in ‘Atrocities’

      As the United Nations children’s fund warned Sunday that nearly every Yemeni boy and girl—that’s more than 11 million children—is in acute need of humanitarian assistance, Iran said the United States admitted its own complicity “in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia” in the warn-ravaged country.

      The comments by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, follow a statement released Friday by the White House, which said that the U.S. remains “committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law.” The statement also praised Saudi Arabia for opening the port in Hodeidah and airport in Sanaa “to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.”

      Aid groups, however, said the partial opening of the nearly three-week long blockade is “a minor and insufficient concession” that “still leave[s] the population of Yemen in a worse situation than they were two weeks ago before the blockade started” and the country still “on the brink.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fears for world’s rarest penguin as population plummets

      Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

      The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

    • Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity a year than Ireland

      According to Digiconomist the estimated power use of the bitcoin network, which is responsible for verifying transactions made with the cryptocurrency, is 30.14TWh a year, which exceeds that of 19 other European countries. At a continual power drain of 3.4GW, it means the network consumes five times more electricity than is produced by the largest wind farm in Europe, the London Array in the outer Thames Estuary, at 630MW.

    • ‘We Do Not Want That to Be Our Legacy’

      This week on CounterSpin: As Americans celebrate a fairly tale about the relationship between Native Americans and settlers, Native Americans are mourning the pollution of more of their land, and lives, by fossil fuels. The November 16 spill of more than 200,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone pipeline occurred adjacent to the South Dakota reservation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

    • Earthquake Risk Keeps Heat on Vulnerable Nuclear Reactors

      A proposal by a California administrative law judge has given safe energy advocates new hope that two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors will be shut before an earthquake on the San Andreas fault turns them to rubble, potentially threatening millions of people.

      The huge reactors—California’s last—sit on a bluff above the Pacific, west of San Luis Obispo, among a dozen earthquake faults. They operate just 45 miles from the San Andreas. That’s half the distance from the fault that destroyed four reactors in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Diablo’s wind-blown emissions could irradiate the Los Angeles megalopolis in less than six hours if an earthquake destroyed the plant.

  • Finance

    • Amazon Merchants Continue to Find Ways to Cheat

      He visited the product page on Amazon.com and suspected he was the victim of “sniping,” when one merchant sabotages another by hiring people to leave critical reviews of their goods and then voting those reviews as being helpful, making them the most prominent feedback seen by shoppers. Freelancers in China and Bangladesh willing to do this for $10 an hour are easily found online. Even though the toy has a 4.8 star rating out of 5 based on more than 1,100 reviews, shoppers first see a string of critical one-star reviews and many may get scared away.

    • A false hope for Remainers

      26th November 2017

      Since the referendum result there has been a lack of realism about Brexit by the UK government and many Leavers.

      The current difficulties about the Irish border are one of many examples.

      But lack of realism is not a monopoly of those wanting the UK to depart the EU.

      There is wishful thinking – indeed, magical thinking – by those who want the UK to remain in the EU, or at least by those who want to have a Brexit significantly “softer” than which is currently likely to happen.

      The (grim or glorious) truth is that the UK will be leaving the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019, unless something exceptional happens to change that legal position.

    • Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds

      The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    • Bitcoin cracks $9,600 just hours after breaking $9,000 level

      The largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., Coinbase, added about 100,000 accounts between Wednesday and Friday — just around Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday — to a total of 13.1 million. That’s according to public data available on Coinbase’s website and historical records compiled by Alistair Milne, co-founder and chief investment officer of Altana Digital Currency Fund. Coinbase had about 4.9 million users last November, Milne’s data showed.

    • Bitcoin Price Crosses $9,000

      While you might be still struggling to recover from all the goodies you gulped over the Thanksgiving dinner, Bitcoin has continued hustling to make its way towards the magical mark of $10,000.

    • City of London voices in unison on Brexit threat to investment

      Next week, the City of London Choir begins its Christmas season with a charity concert at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. Were it in need of an extra bass or alto, it need not look far. Because the number of City voices expressing deep concern over UK finances is fast becoming a chorus.

      In space of two days, a series of City figures have lined up to intone publicly on the impact of Brexit on inward investment. But not all expect an audience as appreciative as the choir’s.

    • Bernie Sanders hits the trail again, this time to fight GOP tax bill

      Sen. Bernie Sanders is traveling to Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania this weekend to rally against the Republican tax bill, his office told NBC News, keeping up a brisk pace of political activity since leaving the presidential race last year and ahead of a potential second one in 2020.

      Sanders, who held a similar series of rallies across the country this year to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, is using his “Protecting Working Families Tour” to pressure on-the-fence GOP senators before a vote on the tax bill, President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

    • Theresa May ‘Rigging Parliament’ With New Emergency Move To Curb Changes To Budget 2017

      Theresa May is facing fresh accusations of “rigging Parliament” with an unprecedented move to prevent MPs from changing legislation on the Budget.

      Labour attacked May’s latest “power grab” after it emerged that the Government will deploy a little-used procedural device to effectively eliminate any attempts to amend the Finance Bill.

      The tactic will severely restrict MPs’ ability to secure alternative tax measures, such as a DUP-backed plan to abolish VAT on all domestic fuel after Brexit.

      It also ensures that no backbench rebels can join Labour or other parties in ambushing the Government on particular plans – as they have in recent years on issues like the ‘tampon tax’ or taxes on solar panels.

    • Brexit and tribalism

      But Leave do not have a monopoly in their lack of realism.

      Some Remainers seem to think that the Article 50 process, once triggered, can be ended lightly.

      Just a matter of politics; just a quick fix; just some tinkering; it will all be alright in the end.

      And there is some force to this: if the politics of Brexit change, then the legal process can be ended (or paused).

      If a lever is pulled then the conveyor belt to the big industrial jagged saw will jolt and then halt.

    • British government accused of being soft on tax avoidance

      The British government has been accused of being weak on tax avoidance after failing to block the EU from taking the first step in naming and shaming its overseas territories in a tax haven blacklist.

      Ministers in recent weeks fought to prevent Brussels from sending of letters informing 12 countries that they would be listed unless they promised to change their tax rules. The final EU blacklist is due to be published on 5 December.

      The correspondence was eventually sent to the British overseas territories, but only following a ruling by members states’ experts sitting on a European council code of conduct group, which trumped the initial British protests.

    • International Court Of Justice Judges Getting Pulled Into Investor-State Cases

      According to a study by a watchdog group released this week, numerous judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have worked or are working on at least 90 investor-state dispute settlement cases, despite a prohibition on them doing work outside their ICJ duties. Fees paid to the judges ranged above USD 1 million among three judges in a number of cases.

    • British meat exports to EU set to fall by 90% in ‘hard Brexit’ scenario, report warns

      ‘Crisis – The EU Meat Industry in a Hard Brexit Scenario’ report, commissioned by Europe’s meat industry body UECBV, analyses the potential impact of a hard Brexit on the European and UK meat industry.

      It found that a ‘no-deal’ outcome would lead to a collapse in trade, with a 90% drop in beef exports and 53% drop in lamb exports from the UK to the EU.

      In this scenario, meat products would face greater burdens than almost any other sector.

      According to the report, the industry would face higher WTO tariffs than any other sector, and face additional costs of veterinary checks, in addition to the customs checks faced by all goods.

    • The EU could blacklist Britain as a tax haven after Brexit

      On Dec. 5 the EU will publish a blacklist of countries that have “harmful tax practices.” By its own criteria, that should include six EU member states, according to a report by the Tax Justice Network, an NGO.
      Those countries are Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, and the UK. The first five don’t have to worry since the EU says it won’t blacklist its own members, but when Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 it could find itself named and shamed.
      The EU has three criteria it uses to assess whether a country is a tax haven. These countries fail on “fair taxation,” which is pretty vague. The Tax Justice Network’s report is based on a (seemingly slightly playful) “best guess at what their criteria mean,” according to Alex Cobham, director of the group and co-author of the report. Britain falls short because it acts as a “tax conduit,” the report says, with low taxes on moving capital that allow multinationals to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions while paying little or nothing where it was earned.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban for Staff

      The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven’t yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president.

    • White House reportedly considering banning staff from using personal phones at work
    • Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world?

      For the time being, though, Zuckerberg’s possible political ambitions are not really the issue. Far more important is what we know already: that his power is titanic, and Facebook is shaping millions of people’s understanding of who they are and their place in the world, often in grim ways.

    • Trump’s Sinister Attacks on CNN
    • [Older] Russia used Twitter bots and trolls ‘to disrupt’ Brexit vote
    • [Older] Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows
    • [Older] Facebook Has Finally Opened The Door To Admitting Russia Meddled In Brexit
    • [Older] Here’s the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit
    • [Older] Researcher finds just 400 tweets from Russia aimed at Brexit vote

      The claims around alleged Russian meddling in British politics has been stirred by allegations that fake Twitter accounts attempted to influence the Brexit vote. But while the mere suggestion was enough to make mainstream headlines, little was said about the “infinitesimal” quantity of tweets involved.

    • No Moore Pretense

      On one side are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. They have disowned Roy Moore, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, over allegations that he targeted, and in some cases molested, minors and other teen girls. On the other side are social conservatives, including Alabama’s state auditor, who argue that courtship between an older man and a teenage girl is consensual, biblical, good for the girl, and grounded in the natural attraction of a godly man to the “purity of a young woman.” Alongside the purity camp is the tolerance camp, led by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. These Republicans don’t deny the allegations or endorse Moore’s conduct, but they support him anyway, reasoning that other issues are more important.

      Many Republicans are afraid to take sides in this debate. They want to stick with the GOP nominee, or at least avoid antagonizing voters who support him. But they don’t want to defend the sexual exploitation of minors. So they’ve staked out a neutral position: Moore is innocent until proven guilty. President Trump adopted this position on Tuesday, urging voters not to elect Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. A reporter asked Trump: “Is Roy Moore, a child molester, better than a Democrat?” The president replied: “Well, he denies it. … He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”

    • Meet the Socialist Marine & Anti-Police Brutality Protester Who Won Democratic Seats in November

      Can the emergence of non-traditional candidates help revive a faltering Democratic Party that is facing its lowest approval rating in nearly a quarter century? We speak with two Democrats who won key races with support from grassroots sources outside of the Democratic Party. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Braxton Winston is a former middle school football coach who took to the streets in 2015 along with hundreds of people to protest the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. We also speak with Lee Carter, a Democratic Socialist and former Marine who unseated the Republican majority whip of Virginia’s House of Delegates.

    • While honoring Native American veterans, Trump lobs his favorite Native American insult

      The “code talkers” were Native American soldiers who were deployed during the world wars to send messages between units using a nearly uncrackable code: their native languages. During World War II, Navajo men were recruited by the Marines and served in the Pacific theater, aiding in the defeat of the Japanese army. Their story has become well known, including being featured in a 2002 film.

    • The Right Returns to the Religion Well

      What has many observers far more concerned are connections among the new attraction’s principal funders and the right wing. Here its mission becomes suspect, more political than religious, although with the right wing, it is always difficult to separate the two, each possessing a will to dominate.


      In the words of historian of religion Randall Ballmer, “You have a movement that has so totally embraced a particular political party that it’s willing to go along with any outrage as long as it’s within the tent of party.”

      Fortunately, there are Christians who say no. In Alabama itself, dozens of pastors signed a letter condemning Moore. It reads, in part:

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?
    • Google’s de-ranking of RT in search results is a form of censorship and blatant propaganda

      Who is the true propagandist? The man who offers you information which you can freely choose to believe or disregard — or the man who tries to control what you see, for fear you might start using your own brain to distinguish truth from lies?

      That is essentially what Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is doing when it comes to news articles from this website, RT. Schmidt was closely involved in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and in a recent interview he admitted that Google is creating special algorithms to filter RT’s news and make it appear less prominently in Google’s search results. In his own words, Google is trying to “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible.

    • A Workshop On Cartoons And Censorship In The Heart Of Westminster

      Yesterday, on a trip into London to see the Christmas lights of Regent Street and Carnaby Street, and a subsequent walk across the Thames saw me stop by the Westminster Reference Library with my two kids for a cartoon workshop as part of their Gagged exhibition on censorship, with the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation raising awareness of – and money for – cartoonists who have been fired, imprisoned or even killed for their work. It’s a subject I’d been discussing with my kids of late anyway, and it seemed a way to bring some of the realities of creativity into sharp relief.


      A news team from Al Jazeera also popped by, so be warned, you may see our ugly mugs on a screen near you sometime. Here’s how the whole thing looked, including from my kids, Eve and Alice, who decided that their rebellion against authority – would be against me, in their collaborative alter ego, The Savage Kid.

    • The Dark Inevitability of Zionism

      Among the growing assaults on freedom of speech is an Israeli-driven campaign to criminalize a campaign to boycott Israel over its racist persecution of Palestinians, writes Lawrence Davidson.

    • Art Censorship at Guantánamo Bay

      Moath al-Alwi’s prayer rug is stained with paint. Every day, he wakes before dawn and works for hours on an elaborate model ship made from scavenged materials — one of dozens of sculptures he has created since he was first detained at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in 2002. Mr. al-Alwi is considered a low value detainee, but is being held indefinitely. His art is his refuge.

      The sails of Mr. al-Alwi’s ships are made from scraps of old T-shirts. A bottle-cap wheel steers a rudder made with pieces of a shampoo bottle, turned with delicate cables of dental floss. The only tool Mr. al-Alwi uses to make these intricate vessels is a pair of tiny, snub-nosed scissors, the kind a preschooler might use. It is all he is allowed in his cell.

      Three of Mr. al-Alwi’s model ships are currently on view in an exhibit at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, along with 32 other paintings and sculptures from other prisoners or former detainees. My colleagues and I curated this exhibit after learning that many lawyers who have worked with detainees have file cabinets stuffed full of prisoners’ art. In the atmosphere of surveillance and control that is Guantánamo, these artworks are among the only ways detainees have to communicate with the outside world.

    • We’re Being Pushed Towards Silence, Self-Censorship: Anand Gandhi

      National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi says he feels “restless” and “anxious” when he sees fundamental rights of the artistes being attacked in the country today.

      The 37-year-old director says the kind of threats, both commercial and indie projects are facing from different sections of the society, the creative freedom is at stake.

    • Johar takes middle path on censorship

      Panaji: Speaking about censorship, film producer Karan Johar said filmmakers like himself aspire for certification according to age brackets and not censorship. This, he says, will tremendously enhance the possibilities of content.

    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan against censorship of films
    • ‘Coco’ Got All Of Its Ghosts Past China’s Superstition-Hating Censors

      China’s film censorship bureau surprised practically everyone recently when it authorized Pixar’s newest animated feature, Coco, to release in Chinese theaters.

    • Author of fires report slams data protection commission ‘censorship’

      Xavier Viegas, the University of Coimbra academic who coordinated and wrote the report, said in a column published on Tuesday that “nothing justifies the decision to censor” one of its chapters and pledged to do all he could to ensure that the stories of the victims of the fires in Pedrógão Grande and Góis, in central Portugal, are known.

      The fires in Pedrógão and neighbouring municipalities that started on 17 June and burned for several days claimed 64 lives, and left 200 people injured, some seriously.

      In the opinion column in Publico newspaper, Viegas condemned the CNPD’s decision to bar the publication of parts of chapter 6 of the report, saying that in order to protect the constitutional rights to privacy and personal data of the families of the victims, only the families should see it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Age verification legislation will lead to porn habit database

      The UK powers that be consider online porn to be akin to cyber matches: you just can’t let kids play with that stuff, lest they set their eyeballs on fire.

      It’s a well-established, thoroughly legislated angst, with the most current relevant legislation tucked into the Digital Economy Act. The problem – well, one of many – is that this angst seems poised to set the adult population of the country up for Ashley Madison-esque breaches.

      The country is eager to protect children from porn. It’s a worthy goal, mind you, given that research shows that exposing kids to porn can be damaging. Unfortunately, it’s a quixotic goal, given that porn is impossible to block. Nevertheless, the UK is now on the brink of creating a database of the country’s porn habits.

      It also seems poised to hand the age verification piece of that puzzle over to an outfit that Vice refers to as “the shady company that controls the majority of free porn tube sites.”

    • Vulnerability Equities Process Gets A Facelift From The New Administration

      The Trump Administration has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process — one nominally slanted towards greater transparency and outside participation. The previous process was broken in multiple ways, not the least of which was intelligence oversight’s general belief everything was fine even though the NSA didn’t follow the previous rules, despite statements to the contrary.

      It’s unclear why this new VEP is appearing now. The new administration doesn’t seem particularly concerned about surveillance overreach or the legality of tactics deployed by the Intelligence Community. On the other hand, the up-cycling of undisclosed NSA exploits by malicious hackers has probably forced the government’s hand. It’s impossible to get ahead of criticism, especially when so many of the exploited exploits dated back several years. But perhaps it’s possible to head off future criticism with a diplomatic gesture, which is what this appears to be.

    • Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there’s still time to unplug it

      On a walk across the show floor at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed.

      As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

      But I did. I could feel it in my gut and heard it from everyone else who’d spent a career working in technology. It isn’t just that a few megacorporations nearing trillion-dollar valuations have sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, it’s that they’ve become so big they’ve started to warp the fabric of reality.

      Facebook got caught out in May using real-time emotional profiling to target vulnerable teenagers with commercial offers.

      Google was caught out last week tracking Android users even when they’re not supposed to.

    • CBP Reveals How Agents Implement New Policy Not to Access Cloud Content

      President Trump’s nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Kevin McAleenan, revealed during his confirmation process how the agency implements its new policy not to access cloud content during border searches of digital devices.

      In response to written questions for the record submitted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. McAleenan explained that in accordance with CBP’s new policy to access only information that is “physically resident” on a device, border agents must “ensure that network connectivity is disabled to limit access to remote systems” (page 92).

      While Mr. McAleenan did not provide details, disabling network connectivity can mean a few things, such as putting a phone or other device into “airplane mode,” or individually toggling off cellular data and Wi-Fi. It could also mean making sure a laptop is not connected to an Ethernet cable, or bringing a device into a SCIF-type room that blocks electromagnetic signals.

    • Facebook rolls out AI to detect suicidal posts before they’re reported

      This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.

      Facebook previously tested using AI to detect troubling posts and more prominently surface suicide reporting options to friends in the U.S. Now Facebook is will scour all types of content around the world with this AI, except in the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation privacy laws on profiling users based on sensitive information complicate the use of this tech.

    • Ex-Facebook Engineer Creates Wikipedia Dark Web Version

      Wikipedia, the internet’s free encyclopedia is accessible on the dark web. But, it isn’t track-proof as the traffic has to go outside the boundaries of the Tor network.

      Now, we have an unofficial dark web version that can help netizens use Wikipedia without someone spying on them–thanks to the ex-Facebook engineer Alec Muffet who has worked on a personal project and is the first to create the specially crafted onion website.

    • Judge Tosses Long-Running Section 215 Surveillance Lawsuit

      A federal judge has issued the final word in one long-running dragnet surveillance suit. The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman immediately after the first Snowden leak, alleged the Section 215 phone records program — targeting Verizon Business customers according to the leaked document — was unconstitutional. DC district court judge Richard Leon agreed, issuing an injunction in December 2013 demanding a cessation of the Section 215 dragnet.

      This order was immediately stayed to allow the government to appeal (and to continue harvesting domestic phone records in bulk). The Appeals Court disagreed with Leon, sending the case back for another ruling. It didn’t change anything at the lower level. Judge Leon still found the program unconstitutional and ordered the NSA to stop collecting the phone records of the two named plaintiffs.

    • FBI Leaves It To Journalists To Notify US Government Targets Of Russian Hacking

      The last year-and-a-half has provided plenty of evidence that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, most of the evidence confirming this has been delivered by entities outside the US government. The government has released reports but has omitted plenty of key details.

      This hasn’t done much for those affected by Russia’s efforts. In almost every case, individuals targeted by Russian government-directed hacking entity Fancy Bear were made aware of this by journalists, not the FBI, despite the fact both had access to the same evidence.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?

      In August 2016, a mysterious entity calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” began releasing the first of several troves of classified documents and hacking tools purportedly stolen from “The Equation Group,” a highly advanced threat actor that is suspected of having ties to the U.S. National Security Agency. According to media reports, at least some of the information was stolen from the computer of an unidentified software developer and NSA contractor who was arrested in 2015 after taking the hacking tools home. In this post, we’ll examine clues left behind in the leaked Equation Group documents that may point to the identity of the mysterious software developer.

    • Is There a Mole at the NSA, or Is It Russian Disinformation?

      Back in March, we speculated that the point behind the Russian hacks and Wikileaks document dumps during the 2016 election was to create a mole hunt in our intelligence agencies. There now are indications that our speculation was spot on.

      The New York Times recently reported that, largely as a result of Wikileaks and the publication of other documents, the National Security Agency (NSA) is in the midst of a mole hunt.That report also tends to confirm speculation which we have privately heard from people in the intelligence community: that Russia may have multiple sources within the NSA that are supplying it with some of our most closely guarded secrets.

    • Aadhaar now mandatory for Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana

      [...] Aadhaar has been made mandatory for getting benefits under the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) pension scheme, according to a notification by the finance ministry on November 20.

    • Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers

      Congress will return from its weeklong Thanksgiving break facing a rapidly-shrinking timeline to reform and renew an authority the intelligence community says is critical to identifying and disrupting terrorist plots.

      The key piece of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as Section 702 and passed in 2008, is set to expire at the end of the year. It allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant — even when the subjects communicate with Americans in the U.S.

      Throughout the fall, privacy advocates on Capitol Hill pushed for changes to the law to curtail what critics say is a violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections — a push that seemed to gain some momentum despite the objections of the Trump administration.

    • Why Tencent Could Become an Advertising Powerhouse Like Facebook

      Tencent is counting on its user data — from the music people play, the news they read and the places they go — to deliver targeted commercials and capture a bigger share of China’s 350 billion yuan ($53 billion) online advertising market. Success in games and social media has meant the company hasn’t had to rely on ads, a business that generates just 17 percent of its revenue compared with 97 percent for Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police tell one story of what happened in Barangay 19. Security cameras tell another.

      The police report was clear. Anti-drug officers shot and injured three men in this poor district of the Philippine capital, then “rushed” them to hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.

      But security camera footage obtained by Reuters tells a different story of what happened just after midday on October 11 in Barangay (district) 19. It shows that police took at least 25 minutes to haul away the men they had shot. The victims show no signs of life; police are seen carrying them by their arms and legs and loading their limp bodies onto pedicabs to take them to hospital.

      The footage casts new doubts on the official accounts of police killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s 17-month war on drugs.

    • Why We Had to Buy Racist, Sexist, Xenophobic, Ableist, and Otherwise Awful Facebook Ads

      Were these actual ads? No. And as someone who’s spent the past month on a New York City apartment hunt, I’m pretty confident that no one would mistake our “real estate company” for an actual brokerage.

      But here’s the question: could they have been real? Yes — and our ability to limit the audience by race, religion, and gender — among other legally protected attributes — points to the same problem my colleagues Terry Parris Jr. and Julia Angwin reported out a year ago, exciting much outrage from people who care about fixing discriminatory housing practices.

    • Libya “Chose” Freedom, Now It Has Slavery

      NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 has justifiably earned its place in history as an indictment of Western foreign policy and a military alliance which since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been deployed as the sword of this foreign policy. The destruction of Libya will forever be an indelible stain on the reputations of those countries and leaders responsible.

      But now, with the revelation that people are being sold as slaves in Libya (yes, you read that right. In 2017 the slave trade is alive and kicking Libya), the cataclysmic disaster to befall the country has been compounded to the point where it is hard to conceive of it ever being able to recover – and certainly not anywhere near its former status as a high development country, as the UN labelled Libya 2010 a year prior to the ‘revolution’.

      Back in 2011 it was simply inconceivable that the UK, the US and France would ignore the lessons of Iraq, just nine years previously in 2003. Yet ignore them they did, highlighting their rapacious obsession with maintaining hegemony over a region that sits atop an ocean of oil, despite the human cost and legacy of disaster and chaos which this particular obsession has wrought.

    • House Intel Committee to Subpoena Leftist Comedian and Civil Rights Activist Randy Credico in Russia Investigation

      The House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation has taken an unexpected turn, with investigators homing in on a New York City-based comedian and veteran civil rights activist named Randy Credico. Credico received a letter this month from Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Michael Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation. The lawmakers requested that Credico “participate in a voluntary, transcribed interview at the Committee’s offices” during the first half of December.

      Credico informed the House committee through his legal counsel that he would not submit to the voluntary interview. Soon after, his lawyer informed him that the committee planned to issue a subpoena to compel his presence.

      Credico is among the unlikeliest characters to have surfaced as a player in the ongoing Russiagate drama. For over two decades, he split time as a comedy professional while waging a tireless crusade against the war on drugs. The former host of a radio show on the Pacifica affiliate WBAI, Credico’s activism eventually brought him into the company of a who’s who of political dissidents. The most prominent among them was Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder accused by CIA Director Mike Pompeo of overseeing a “hostile intelligence service” and by Hillary Clinton of having collaborated with the Russian government to subvert the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

    • Support Lauri Love, Computer Expert and Activist, Who Faces Extradition to the US in a Life-Threatening Betrayal of Justice

      This Wednesday and Thursday, November 29 and 30, a hearing is taking place at the High Court in London to assess whether Lauri Love, a computer expert with Asperger’s Syndrome, should be extradited to the US for acts of online activism — allegedly targeting US government websites in the wake of the suicide of computer expert and activist Aaron Swartz in January 2013, along with many other online activists.

      There is no evidence that any harm was caused in the US, Lauri has never set foot in the US, the British government has brought no case against him in the UK, and yet, under the terms of the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty, the US is able to demand that he be sent to the US to be imprisoned (in isolation in a maximum-security prison) and subsequently tried (in a broken, punitive system in which huge pressure is exerted to accept a plea deal and a 10-20 year sentence rather than fight and lose and be imprisoned for life). Worryingly, Lauri Love has been openly stating that he could not bear punitive isolation in the US, and would kill himself rather than be extradited, and those closest to him do not dispute this intent.

      I have some experience of the chronic unfairness of the US-UK Extradition Treaty, because, back in 2012, I worked to oppose the injustice of the treaty with reference to the cases of Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad, who ended up being extradited in relation to a UK website encouraging Muslim resistance to oppression, which was run from the UK, but had, at one point, involved a server in Connecticut — enough, apparently, for extradition to take place.

      Both men had been imprisoned for six and eight years respectively in the UK, without charge or trial, while they resisted extradition, and in neither case was there any sign that they would or could have been successfully prosecuted in the UK, but in October 2012 home secretary Theresa May allowed their extradition to take place, and then boasted about it to the Conservative Party Conference.

    • My partner Lauri Love could be saving the world from cyber attacks but instead he faces a 99-year prison sentence

      Lauri Love is an activist, a physicist, a computer scientist, an angel and the person I want to spend my life with. He is stubborn and smart, near to the point of arrogance, and he fights every battle he can against injustice. Next week Lauri will be in court appealing against extradition to the United States where he faces a 99-year prison sentence on allegations British authorities investigated and decided not to charge him for.

      Lauri is a much nicer person than I am and he is a much more positive and hopeful person. Where I see climate destruction and oppressive regimes, he sees opportunities to overcome. His hacker mind is hard-wired to solve problems and this world has many.

    • Sheriff Says He Won’t Deploy Body Cameras Because He Doesn’t Want His Deputies Criticized

      Something’s very wrong with Albuquerque-area law enforcement. The Albuquerque Police Department has been described as a “criminal enterprise.” These words didn’t come from an activist group or an enraged op-ed in the local paper, but rather from a departing District Attorney in a letter to the DOJ.

      The DOJ is at least partially aware of the Albuquerque PD’s criminal activities. Its 2014 investigation concluded APD officers routinely engaged in indiscriminate force deployment. Worse, those above the officers did almost nothing to curb misconduct and brutality. Beyond shooting citizens at an alarming rate, APD officers were found to be tampering with camera footage — an accusation brought by a private employee of the department in an affidavit presented to a judge.

      It seems the APD isn’t the only law enforcement agency in the Albuquerque area prone to unchecked acts of violence. Nor is it the only one actively disinterested in any form of accountability. In the last four months, the Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department deputies have shot nine people. One deputy — Charles Coggins — shot two people in 22 days, killing one of them.

    • A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

      The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

      But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

    • Trump and Sessions Keep Trying to Institute Anti-Immigrant Policies

      Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.

      President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.

      A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.

    • EFF at Cyberspace Events in Delhi: Protecting the Public Core of the Internet

      Last week EFF attended the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) in New Delhi, India, as one of a small handful of nonprofit organizations invited to participate. This was the fifth in a series of conferences sometimes called the London Process, after the first event that was held in London in 2011. Focusing on international cybersecurity issues, it is a counterpart to other regular government-organized Internet conferences, such as the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) conference which focuses on Internet freedom and human rights, China’s World Internet Conference which focuses on the digital economy, and the International Telecommunications Union’s WSIS Forum which tracks Internet for development goals.

    • Tech Ageism and the Myth of the ‘Digital Native’

      When we think of the term ageism in the IT sector, we generally think of how employers and project managers will systematically or casually discriminate against individuals simply on the basis of their age.

    • Without Public Editor, NYT Ducks and Dismisses Criticism of Its Sympathetic Nazi Profile

      This past June, when the New York Times unceremoniously killed off its public editor position, publisher Arthur Sulzberger tried mightily to characterize the move as addition by subtraction. In a newsroom memo, he promised that a newly created “Reader Center” would make the paper’s reporting “more transparent” and its journalists “more responsive.” As FAIR (6/1/17) noted at the time, these excuses were disingenuous “rationalizations, not legitimate rationales,” and were more likely to make the paper less accountable and transparent in the long run. And this past weekend proved these fears were well-justified.

      It started on Saturday, when the Times (11/25/17) ran a naive, normalizing profile of a Nazi sympathizer from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. Almost immediately, the paper (rightly) faced outraged comments online, as serious critiques of the piece’s flawed framing rolled in. As @magi_jay wrote in a detailed Twitter thread: “The Times failed in many respects, but, above all, they failed by enthusiastically allowing [Tony] Horvater to drive the narrative of his own white supremacy.”

    • Woman reports rape to police – and is arrested on immigration charges

      A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.

      The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police.

      The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why we should be wary of ending net neutrality

      Buried in the same news dump ahead of the national holiday were further liberalisation rules for media ownership including a limit on how many homes in the US a single broadcaster can reach. At the moment the cap is set at 39%, but the FCC has indicated it might revise or scrap that limitation entirely. A second measure would also allow TV stations to use different frequency channels that count less against this overall cap on broadcasting reach.

    • Portugal’s Internet shows us a world without net neutrality, and it’s ugly

      After paying a fee for basic service, subscribers can add any of five further options for about $6 per month, allowing an additional 10GB data allotment for the apps within the options: a “messaging” tier, which covers such services as instant messaging, Apple FaceTime, and Skype; “social,” with liberal access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and so on; “video” (youTube, Netflix, etc.); “email and cloud” (Gmail, Apple’s iCloud); or “music” (Spotify, Pandora).

      Portugal isn’t the only country allowing tiering of internet services. In Britain, the internet service provider Vodaphone charges about $33 a month for basic service but offers several “passes” allowing unlimited video or music streaming, social media usage, or chat, at additional tariffs of up to $9.30 per month.

      Although both countries are part of the European Union, which has an explicit commitment to network neutrality, these arrangements are allowed under provisions giving national regulators some flexibility. These regulators can open loopholes permitting “zero-rating,” through which ISPs can exclude certain services from data caps. That’s what the Portuguese and British ISPs essentially are doing.

    • Net neutrality’s opponents are speaking up — especially tech giants

      The letter added, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.”

    • Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality

      But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire [I]nternet ecosystem.

    • Arrogant overreach: Ajit Pai’s plan to totally destroy net neutrality may doom him in court

      If Trump FCC chairman Ajit Pai had confined his attack on Net Neutrality to merely rolling back the 2015 Title II rules, he might have gotten away with it; but like the Republic plan to kill Obamacare, the Republican plan to rob the middle class to enrich billionaires, and, well, every other Republican plan in this administration, Pai’s plan is so grotesque, so overreaching, so nakedly corrupt that it is likely to collapse under its own weight.

      That’s because the Supreme Court has held that a federal agency contemplating a significant change in policy must “examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action.” But there are no new facts in evidence since the first Net Neutrality rules were enacted in 2004 to justify a change. We don’t know what evidence Pai will bring to court when it comes time to fight his plans, but the cards he’s played so far are hilariously weak: for example, he claims that the 2015 Title II rule led to a decrease in infrastructure investment by telcos. In fact, the telcos’ own filings and investor calls reveal that the reverse is true (Pai is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own fact).

    • Fake Americans Dominated the Net-Neutrality Debate

      Americans do not want internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon controlling what websites they can see, or how quickly they can load them. When pollsters ask U.S. voters whether they support net neutrality — regulations that require ISPs to treat all web traffic equally — a large bipartisan majority answers in the affirmative.

      Among Americans who care deeply about the issue, support for net neutrality is even more overwhelming. When the Federal Communications Commission considered unwinding those regulations in 2015, so many Americans posted pro-net-neutrality messages to the FCC’s webpage for public comments, the site crashed.

      The ISPs, however, are quite keen on accruing more power to curate your internet experience (a.k.a. extort content creators into paying for competitive broadband speeds). And the Trump administration’s regulatory philosophy is, ostensibly, that powerful corporations should be able to do whatever unpopular thing they want (so long as they purchase an indulgence from a Republican campaign committee).

    • Net Neutrality is necessary regulation as a short-term emergency fix to previous bad regulation

      Net Neutrality is a huge topic, again. But it’s important to realize that Net Neutrality is mostly being discussed in the United States — not because it is ahead, but because it is behind. In countries where fiber is the norm to households and they typically have 15-20 ISPs to choose from, Net Neutrality is so taken for granted, it is not a discussion at all.

    • Ajit Pai’s Big Lie

      You might think that the “Big Lie” is the idea that the 2015 rules killed investment. And that is a lie. Actual evidence from financial reports has proven that completely false repeatedly. But, that’s a smaller lie here. Ajit Pai’s Big Lie is the idea that gutting all net neutrality protections is somehow returning FCC policy to the way things were two years ago, and that “for decades” the FCC kept out of this debate. All of that is wrong. And, unlike the other lie concerning investment — where Pai and others can fiddle with numbers to make his claims look right — Ajit Pai knows that the Big Lie is false.

      Pai likes to point back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as his starting point in claiming that the internet is free from regulations, and suggests that things just changed with the 2015 FCC order. But he literally knows this is wrong. First of all, for all his talk of using 1996 as the starting date to show “decades” of supposedly unchanged FCC positions on this, he conveniently leaves out that the FCC didn’t actually classify cable broadband as an information service… until 2002. That’s from the FCC’s own announcement about it. And this was fought out in court, eventually leading to the Brand X Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that said the FCC had the right to determine if broadband was an information service or a telco service (which is why the 2015 order has been upheld).

    • NY Attorney General Investigating Why Dead People Supported The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality

      So as we’ve been noting for a while, the FCC’s policy order taking aim at net neutrality has been rife with all kinds of bizarre and fraudulent behavior, from the agency’s made up DDOS attack (apparently a ham-fisted PR attempt to downplay the “John Oliver effect”) to the numerous fake or otherwise dead people that have oddly supported the agency’s unpopular plan in the FCC’s comment proceeding. It’s clear the FCC’s plan is extremely unpopular, and it’s also clear the agency, ISPs and some policy groups have engaged in some extremely dodgy behavior to try and downplay that fact.

      The GAO is already investigating the FCC’s bogus DDOS claims, and the FCC is already being sued for turning a blind eye to the problem and ignoring FOIA requests. The fraudulent comments by fake or otherwise non-breathing individuals will surely play a starring role in the inevitable lawsuits against the agency. If evidence is found that the FCC violated procedural norms (or hey, the law), it could help to reverse the agency’s myopic and unpopular hand out to the nation’s telecom duopolies.

    • Breitbart, Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange, and Trump’s Right-Wing Base Reject Plan to Axe Net Neutrality
    • The FCC is about to repeal net neutrality. Here’s why Congress should stop them.

      On Wednesday November 22, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai published his draft order outlining his plan to undo the net neutrality protections that have been in place in the U.S. since the beginning of the Internet. His proposal would leave both the FCC and the states powerless to protect consumers and businesses against net neutrality violations by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon that connect us to the Internet.
      His plan discards decades of careful work by FCC chairs of both political parties, who recognized and acted against the danger ISPs posed to the free markets that rose out of and depend on the Internet. If his plan takes effect, ISPs would be free to disrupt how the Internet has worked for 30 years.

    • A Lump of Coal in the Internet’s Stocking: FCC Poised to Gut Net Neutrality Rules

      In a new proposal issued last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set out a plan to eliminate net neutrality protections, ignoring the voices of millions of Internet users who weighed in to support those protections. The new rule would reclassify high-speed broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” (remember, the FCC is forbidden from imposing neutrality obligations on information services). It would then eliminate the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play (as well as the more nebulous general conduct standard) in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement. In other words, your ISP would be free to set itself up as an Internet gatekeeper, as long as it is honest about it.

    • Comcast Spent Millions Repealing Net Neutrality, Now Wants You To Believe It Won’t Take Full, Brutal Advantage

      Despite the nation’s biggest ISP and cable company having spent millions of dollars and lobbying man hours on repealing broadband privacy rules and soon net neutrality protections, executives at the least-liked company in America hope you’re dumb enough to believe they won’t be taking full advantage.

      Comcast has spent months now falsely claiming that it will still adhere to “net neutrality” once the FCC’s rules are gutted by Ajit Pai. But the company’s pet definition of net neutrality is so narrow as to be effectively meaningless. For example, last week as the FCC was trying to hide its obvious handout to telecom duopolies behind the cranberry and stuffing, Comcast issued a tweet again insisting that you can trust them to be on their best behavior despite the fact there will soon be no meaningful rules holding their feet to the fire

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA Opposes Trademark Application For Dog-Walking Company Called Woof-Tang Clan

        The last time we mentioned the Wu-Tang Clan here at Techdirt, we were discussing the group’s bizarre yet inventive attempt to curtail digital music’s infinite goods problem by releasing a single copy of an entire album for $1 million. It was a creative approach, though one that likely isn’t a model that transfers well to the music industry as a whole. But it seems that the copyright arena isn’t the only intellectual property venue in which Wu-Tang wants to play, as RZA, a member of the group, has filed a trademark opposition to a dog-walking company calling itself Woof-Tang Clan.


        All that’s left of Wu-Tang Clan is the name https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171122/10384838670/wu-tang-clans-rza-opposes-trademark-application-dog-walking-company-called-woof-tang-clan.shtml they had some good tracks (in the 90s)

    • Copyrights

      • Out of Office #15 ‘EU copyright reform: where are we now?’

        We are happy to invite you to the 15th edition of Out of Office on 8 December 2017 from 17:00 to 19:00 at Spring House. During this Out of Office we will reflect with Ms Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament, on the recent developments concerning the ongoing copyright reform in Europe. Come and join us in search of new insights, encounters and inspiration, while enjoying music, drinks and snacks!

        Julia Reda is Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group and a co-founder for the Parliament’s current Digital Agenda intergroup. She is an advocate for a free Europe with open borders, open communication structures and the relaxation and harmonisation of copyright laws. Reda will share her thoughts on the ongoing copyright reform and whether progress has been made since the DSM Directive (more info below) was proposed by the European Commission.

      • Rightscorp: Revenue From Piracy Settlements Down 48% in 2017

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has filed its latest set of financial results and they reveal yet more misery for the company. Its traditional revenue stream, comprised of cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates, is down 48% on the same period last year. This contributes to the company turning in net losses of $1.45 million for the first nine months of the year. But could value lie elsewhere?

      • Dropbox collaboration: ‘World-first’ as University of Sydney goes all in for all

        The first university in the world to deploy Dropbox wall-to-wall in what is a multi-million dollar, 67,000-user agreement and deal “to power greater collaboration” is the University of Sydney.

      • Court: Accused Pirate Doesn’t Have to ‘Spy’ on Family Members

        A German court has ruled that a man, whose Internet connection was used to share pirated films, cannot be required to ‘spy’ on his family members. The law firm representing the Internet subscriber stresses that these kinds of investigations violate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects respect for private and family life.


Links 26/11/2017: Mesa 17.2.6, Builder 3.27 Progress, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Server

    • AWS to Help Build ONNX Open Source AI Platform

      Amazon Web Services has become the latest tech firm to join the deep learning community’s collaboration on the Open Neural Network Exchange, recently launched to advance artificial intelligence in a frictionless and interoperable environment. Facebook and Microsoft led the effort.

      As part of that collaboration, AWS made its open source Python package, ONNX-MxNet, available as a deep learning framework that offers application programming interfaces across multiple languages including Python, Scala and open source statistics software R.

    • container-diff – an Open Source Tool from Google for Analyzing Differences Between Docker Images

      Google released an open source project called container-diff which can be used to analyze differences between Docker images. It supports file-system differences and is aware of changes brought about by the apt, npm and pip package managers.

      Dockerfiles are used to create and make additions to container images. A change in the Dockerfile followed by a rebuild leads to the creation of a new image. Differences between Dockerfile versions can be easily seen, usually by using the source control system’s diff tool, since they are plain text. However, it is difficult to visualize or list down the exact changes that occurred in the image as a result of a new command in the Dockerfile. This can become a challenge when the application being packaged in the image has dependencies on specific versions of other software, and there are downstream dependencies that make it complex to track what will get installed as a result. Untracked dependencies can also lead to unnecessary bloating of the image, leading to slower download times.

    • Linux dominates supercomputing, the Pentagon’s big open source push, and more

      In this week’s edition of our open source news roundup, we cover the release of Linux kernel 4.14 LTS, Linux powering all 500 of the world’s supercomputers, why banks favor open source software, how the Pentagon is going open source, and how the latest release of Firefox saves your processor.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel UMIP KVM Support Ejected From Linux 4.15, Will Have To Wait To Linux 4.16

      Linus had pulled in these changes but then decided to unpull it for not enough testing. Linus wrote, “So I pulled it, but then checked, None of this was in linux-next 20171117 either, So I unpulled it.”

    • VirtualBox Guest Drivers Still Working Their Way To The Mainline Linux Kernel

      While the VirtualBox DRM/KMS driver was merged for Linux 4.13 as one step towards improving the out-of-the-box support for Linux guests on Oracle VM VirtualBox, other drivers remain out-of-tree still, but that is slowly changing.

      Red Hat’s Hans de Goede has been working on getting the vboxguest driver merged to mainline Linux as the next step of improving VirtualBox guest integration.

      Sent out on Sunday were the latest patches for vboxguest. This driver supports the Virtual Box Guest PCI device to allow for supporting features like copy-and-paste, the VirtualBox seamless mode, and OpenGL pass-through to work with the host system running this virtualization software.

    • Linux Foundation

      • MuQSS Scheduler Updated For Linux 4.14, Experimental SMT Improvements

        This week Con Kolivas updated his MuQSS scheduler patch-set for the Linux 4.14 kernel. This is the scheduler that was born out of his earlier work on BFS.

        MuQSS has now been around for one year as the “Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler” that succeeded his work on BFS, the “Brain Fuck Scheduler”, for years prior. The aim of this scheduler is still about system responsiveness and interactivity with desktop class systems but should work out for most workloads.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Posts FP16 GLSL Patches For Mesa

        Topi Pohjolainen of Intel has been working on adding proper FP16/half-precision support to Mesa’s GLSL code.

      • Marek & Mario Prep 10-bit Color Visual Support For Mesa/Gallium3D

        Building off the work by Mario Kleiner, AMD developer Marek Olšák has been working on 10-bit color visual support within Mesa/Gallium3D.

        Currently housed within Marek’s Git branch are the patches by Mario and him for supporting 10-bit color visuals properly within Mesa and wired through for Gallium3D. With 10-bit color visuals, it’s basically going from 256 luminosity levels per color/channel with 8-bit to 1024 levels. Most graphics cards going back years have supported 10-bit color visuals while the number of monitors supporting 10-bit colors has been much more limited until recently.

      • There’s An ARM Mali Gallium3D Driver Still Being Developed

        Making the rounds this weekend online as a “new” ARM Mali open-source driver is what we wrote about back in June as A New Mali-400 Open-Source Graphics Driver Is In Development.

      • mesa 17.2.6

        In Mesa Core we have included a correction to keep a program alive when re-linking and prevent an use-after-free.

      • Mesa 17.2.6 Released With 53 Changes While Mesa 17.3 Is Around The Corner

        While the release of the belated Mesa 17.3 is imminent, Mesa 17.2.6 is now available as the current latest stable release.

        Andres Gomez of Igalia announced the Mesa 17.2.6 release just minutes ago with more than 50 changes/fixes found in this maintenance update.

      • Freedreno A4xx Picks Up Some More OpenGL 4 Extensions

        When Ilia Mirkin isn’t busy being one of the key contributors to the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver stack, he’s often working on the Freedreno driver stack for the open-source Qualcomm Adreno support.

    • Benchmarks

      • Which Linux Distribution Boots The Fastest? An 11-Way Linux Comparison

        The distributions used were:

        Antergos 17.11 – This Arch-based Linux distribution currently ships with the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.2 by default, and an EXT4 file-system.

        CentOS 7 – The community flavor of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. CentOS Linux 7 latest has Linux 3.10, GNOME Shell 3.22, and uses an XFS file-system.

        Clear Linux 19260 – Intel’s performance-optimized Linux distribution presently ships with the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.2, and EXT4.

        Debian 9.2.1 – The latest stable release of Stretch is using the Linux 4.9 kernel and GNOME Shell 3.22.3 atop EXT4.

        Fedora Workstation 27 – Fedora 27 has the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 with Wayland, and EXT4.

        Manjaro 17.0.6 – Some more Arch Linux based action happening. Manjaro 17.0.6 has Linux 4.9, Xfce 4.12, and EXT4.

        Solus 3 – The Solus Linux distribution that continues growing in popularity currently has Linux 4.13, its GNOME-derived Budgie desktop environment, and EXT4 file-system.

        Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS – The current LTS release of Ubuntu Linux with Linux 4.10, Unity 7.4, and EXT4.

        Ubuntu 17.10 – The latest Ubuntu stable release with Linux 4.13, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 atop Wayland, and EXT4.

        openSUSE Leap 42.3 – The current stable release of openSUSE built from SUSE Linux Enterprise sources with the Linux 4.4 kernel, KDE Plasma 5, and XFS file-system.

        openSUSE Tumbleweed – The rolling-release version of openSUSE with the Linux 4.14 kermel, KDE Plasma 5 desktop, and XFS file-system.

      • Cycles Benchmark – AMD update + new benchmark file

        Three weeks ago we posted a benchmark update with Nvidia GPUs. Meanwhile we had AMD sending us a flagship Threadripper system – 32 threads, 64 GB memory, onboard SSD.

        The image below shows the latest numbers, updated from our test lab today. Click on the link under the image for a live website where you can inspect the numbers more closely (and you can turn on/off gpu or cpu tests).

      • Blender Has A Beautiful New Benchmark: Barbershop

        The digital artists working on the Barbershop 3D modeling software have released a new benchmark file for stressing CPUs and GPUs by rendering an advanced scene.

        Barbershop is Blender’s newest benchmark file and is an interior scene making use of branched path tracing. It’s quite a beast to render on a CPU or GPU.

      • Blender 2.79 Performance On Various Intel/AMD CPUs From Ryzen To EPYC

        This weekend I took a variety of systems running Ubuntu Linux and ran tests via the Phoronix Test Suite of Blender 2.79 with the BMW, Classroom, Fishy Cat, Barbershop, and Pabellon Barcelona scenes to see how their performance compares from desktop CPUs to AMD Threadripper and EPYC setups. The CPUs I had available for this quick comparison included the Core i7 6800K, Core i7 8700K, Core i8 7960X, Core i9 7980XE, Xeon Silver 4108, dual Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs on the Intel side. On the AMD side was the Ryzen 7 1700, Ryzen 7 1800X, Threadripper 1950X, and AMD EPYC 7601. All the Blender rendering was done on the CPUs; a fresh GPU comparison will be coming up soon.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Recommended GNOME Shell Extensions for Ubuntu 17.10

        This is a list of GNOME Shell Extensions (GSE) that are very useful for Ubuntu 17.10 users. Among them are NetSpeed (to show up/down speed), Dash to Panel (to combine all panels into single bottom panel), Datetime Format (to show complete day-date-clock at top panel), even EasyScreenCast (to record your desktop activity to video), and more. They are handy for many user’s daily/repeating tasks, easy to install, and user-friendly to operate. Finally, I hope this recommendation article is useful for you.

      • Builder 3.27 Progress

        We are a couple of months into Builder’s 3.28 development. We have fewer big ticket features scheduled this cycle when compared to 3.26. However that is replaced by a multitude of smaller features and details. Let’s take a look at some of what has been done already.

      • GNOME Builder Development Environment Picking Up Many Features For GNOME 3.28
  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • NuTyX 9.92 available with cards 2.3.103

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.92 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.92 comes with kernel LTS 4.14.2, kernel LTS 4.9.65, glibc 2.26, gcc 7.2.0, binutils 2.29.1, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.5, qt 5.9.3, KDE plasma 5.11.3, KDE Framework 5.40.0, KDE Applications 17.08.3, gnome 3.24.2, mate 1.18.2, xfce4 4.12.4, firefox 57.0 Quantum, etc…

        If we take in consideration all the GIT projects, we did more then 5000 commits on the development branch since the 9.1 version.

    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Policy call for participation — November 2017, pt. 1
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Aquaris M10 Ubuntu tablet – With Android

            I am slightly sad that I decided to give up on Ubuntu on this tablet. But it’s also a happy decision, because I have a functional, capable device now, and I can use it to the full range of its specification and abilities. Simple value for money, and there are no sentiments there.

            Now, let’s be reasonable, I’m not gonna be seen gallivanting into the sunset with a tablet in my hand. This will be strictly opportunistic, on-the-go use, 90% experimentation and novelty, 10% real use. Still, when I take into consideration the last four years or my tablet usage, a pattern appears, and it’s a positive one, even though tablets are unnecessary in between smartphones and laptops.

            All that said, BQ Aquaris M10 FHD with Android is a decent device, and it works well. I wish the situation was different with Ubuntu, but it isn’t. On the desktop, it remains one of the more sensible Linux options, but it never had what’s needed to succeed in the brutal touch world. Well, a new hope is born, and we shall see what gives. To be continued.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Kubuntu 17.10

              As Ubuntu 17.10 had made its way among the users, so had its various flavors. Kubuntu is one of them. Recently launched Kubuntu 17.10 supported for 9 months is available to download in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Most users will actually skip out 17.x series as it’s not LTS and moreover, stability is the main concern. Check out the official release notes and what I experienced on using Kubuntu 17.10 on my PC below.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Cinnamon and MATE Editions Now Available to Download

              As of November 24, 2017, the final Cinnamon and MATE live ISO images of the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” operating system have been uploaded to the official mirror for both 64-bit and 32-bit hardware.

              There’s no official announcement published by the Linux Mint team at the moment of writing this article, but it shouldn’t be long until the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Cinnamon and MATE editions are published on the project’s website, and you can download the ISO images right now from their main FTP mirror.

              Linux Minx 18.3 “Sylvia” is based on the Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system and uses the Linux 4.10 kernel series by default. While the Cinnamon edition ships with the latest and greatest Cinnamon 3.6 desktop environment, the MATE edition is using the MATE 1.18 desktop.

              This release comes with updated components and refinements, but also a bunch of new features, such as a configurable login screen, new System Reports tool for easier reporting of crashes, a dedicated tool for creating system snapshots called Timeshift, and a completely revamped Backup Tool.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Audio Recordings Posted For Linux Plumbers Conference 2017

      For those looking for some technical talks to listen to this weekend, audio recordings of the Linux Plumbers Conference 2017 are now available.

      The 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference took place in Los Angeles from 13 to 15 September. Video recordings were not made, but this year they decided to experiment with audio recordings.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Available – Huge Open-Source Office Suite Update For 2018

      Today the branching of LibreOffice 6.0 from Git master took place as well as tagging the first beta.

      LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is currently available in source form as of writing and the code will continue to be refined via the libreoffice-6-0 branch until it’s ready for release in early 2018. The mainline LibreOffice Git code meanwhile is bumped for early work on what’s marked as LibreOffice 6.1.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • GCC Plugins Now Supported On Windows/MinGW

      A late addition for the GCC 8 code compiler is adding support for plug-ins to Windows/MinGW.

      The GNU Compiler Collection for years has supported plug-ins on Linux and other operating systems like macOS while finally there is the Windows/MinGW treatment. GCC plugins are loadable modules allowing for extended functionality via a subset of the GCC API for offering additional optimizations, analysis tools, etc.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Mapping the Future: Cartography Stages a Comeback

        Cartography is the new code. Increasingly, everything from your takeout delivery to your UberPool route is orchestrated not just by engineers but by cartographers. Between 2007 and 2015, the number of grads earning master’s degrees in cartography increased annually by more than 40 percent on average. And as advanced satellites, digital mapping tools, and open-source geographical software progress, the demand for cartographers is projected to grow nearly 30 percent by 2024.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The quest for open science

        Within two minutes of talking to Dr Richard Bowman, in his lab at the University of Bath, he’s guiding me through the physics of tractor beams in Star trek. He’s using it as a simile to explain the complicated subject of optical tweezers to a stupid person.

        He does so in a charming way, as someone familiar with explaining his complex field to journalists, but it’s clear why he’s a Prize Fellow and Royal Commission 1851 Research Fellow – his explanation ends with our imaginary tractor beam melting an object it’s trying to move before Bowman shrinks this entire sci-fi example down to demonstrate how he’s used laser beams in his past work to move tiny objects.


  • Science

  • Hardware

    • Fixing the MacBook Pro

      There’s a lot to like about the new MacBook Pros, but they need some changes to be truly great and up to Apple’s standards.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Some U.S. Hospitals Don’t Put Americans First for Liver Transplants

      At a time when there aren’t enough livers for ailing Americans, wealthy foreigners fly here for transplants.


      Little known to the public, or to sick patients and their families, organs donated domestically are sometimes given to patients flying in from other countries, who often pay a premium. Some hospitals even seek out foreign patients in need of a transplant. A Saudi Arabian company, Ansaq Medical Co., whose stated aim is to “facilitate the procedures and mechanisms of ‘medical tourism,’” said it signed an agreement with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in 2015.

    • New York City Launches Committee to Review Maternal Deaths

      Following in the steps of Baltimore and Philadelphia, New York City is establishing a committee to review deaths and severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, aiming to reduce their toll on expectant and new mothers in the nation’s largest metropolis.

      There’s ample room for improvement: The city’s maternal mortality rate is thought to be slightly above average for the U.S., which has the highest such rate in the industrialized world. Of the estimated 700 to 900 deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth nationwide each year, New York City accounts for about 30.

      Moreover, the city’s outcomes feature a worsening racial divide. Between 2006 and 2010, black women were 12 times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, up from seven times more likely between 2001 and 2005.

    • For the next year, TV, newspapers, and the web will run massive ads from tobacco companies admitting that their products kill people, that they were engineered to be addictive, and that they covered this up

      After losing their 19-year court battle with the US Department of Justice, tobacco giants Altria, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA are now beginning to run their court-ordered “corrective statements” as full-page newspaper ads, major web display ads, and primetime TV spots, containing frank admissions that they violated federal racketeering and fraud laws when they conspired to cover up the fact that their products killed their customers and that they intentionally designed their products to be as addictive as possible.

  • Security

    • Name+DOB+SSN=FAFSA Data Gold Mine

      KrebsOnSecurity has sought to call attention to online services which expose sensitive consumer data if the user knows a handful of static details about a person that are broadly for sale in the cybercrime underground, such as name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Perhaps the most eye-opening example of this is on display at fafsa.ed.gov, the Web site set up by the U.S. Department of Education for anyone interested in applying for federal student financial aid.

    • Uber Hacks and Bitcoin Futures

      What is Uber? Why is it a $70-billion-or-whatever company? You could tell a bunch of stories — it is an app company, a taxi company, a driverless-car company — but one possibility is that it is a regulatory-evasion company. Local regulations around the world entrenched taxi companies and allowed them to capture excess value, and Uber’s central innovation was not building an app or developing a surge-pricing algorithm but simply saying “what if we took that value instead?” In 2017 it spends a lot of time lobbying and buttering up local governments so that they don’t ban it, but earlier on the process was simpler: It would just ignore the local regulations and hope no one would stop it. That worked really well! Not flawlessly, not permanently, not at scale — that’s why it has now pivoted to lobbying and buttering-up — but well enough to get Uber to this point, the point where its lobbying and buttering-up can work.

    • Segwit2x Bugs Explained

      The Segwit2x hard fork was called off a little over a week ago in an email post to the 2x mailing list. Several parties threatened to split the network anyway, and we eagerly waited for block 494784 to see whether someone would mine the 2x hard fork or not.

      As it turns out, there was a bug in the Segwit2x software which caused the client to stop at block 494782. In this article, I’m going to examine the details of what caused the software to stop, why it stopped a block before it was supposed to and what would have happened had Belshe, et al, not cancelled the hard fork a week early.

    • Firefox to warn users who visit p0wned sites

      Mozilla developer Nihanth Subramanya has revealed the organisation’s Firefox browser will soon warn users if they visit sites that have experienced data breaches that led to user credential leaks.

      A recently-released GitHub repo titled “Breach Alerts Prototype” revealed “a vehicle for prototyping basic UI and interaction flow for an upcoming feature in Firefox that notifies users when their credentials have possibly been leaked or stolen in a data breach.”


      On November 23, Imgur was notified of a potential security breach that occurred in 2014 that affected the email addresses and passwords of 1.7 million user accounts. While we are still actively investigating the intrusion, we wanted to inform you as quickly as possible as to what we know and what we are doing in response.

    • Spam was nearly dead, then it became an essential tool for crime and came roaring back
    • Spam is back [iophk: "Microsoft Windows botnets"]
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #134
    • Young “Daeshgram” Hackers Flood Official ISIS Propaganda Channels With Porn
  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed

      The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war, a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.

      With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there.

    • The Duty to Disobey a Nuclear Launch Order

      On November 19, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command, declared he would refuse to follow an illegal presidential order to launch a nuclear attack. “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail,” the general explained at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. “You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

      Gen. Hyten is correct. For those in the military, there is a legal duty to obey a lawful order, but also a legal duty to disobey an unlawful order. An order to use nuclear weapons — except possibly in an extreme circumstance of self-defense when the survival of the nation is at stake — would be an unlawful order.

    • DoD, military donors aid Democrats

      Department of Defense employees have given a greater percentage of their donations to Democrats so far this election cycle than they did under any Republican administration since at least George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

      CRP’s political donation data covers each year beginning in 1989 — the first year of the elder Bush’s presidency — and comes from FEC filings, which include a donor’s self-identified occupation and employer.

      From January through September, DoD employees donated about $127,000 to political candidates. About 65 percent of the contributions, or roughly $83,000, went to Democrats. Republicans received about $43,000, or 34 percent. The remaining went to third-party candidates.

    • The Quality of Mercy

      As I watched in 1999, Layla stood before her class to ask two renowned peacemakers what difference there was between her and a sixteen-year-old living in a more secure part of the world. The answer, in terms of her basic human rights and her irreplaceable human value, should be manifestly clear: there is no difference whatsoever. And yet, while U.S. warlords and military contractors collude with their counterparts in other lands, they earn former president Dwight Eisenhower’s blistering evaluation. This world in arms “is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” Among the most vulnerable children sacrificed are those forced into poverty by military blockade and military occupation, who steel themselves as the bombs tear through their towns and their neighborhoods and their neighbors, through their traumatized memories, and through their prospective futures when they dare to hope for one.

      The comfortable nations often authorize the worst atrocities overseas through fear for their own safety, imagining themselves the victims to be protected from crime at all costs. Such attitudes entitle people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen to look in our direction when they ask, “Who are the criminals?” They will be looking at us when they ask that, until we at last exert our historically unprecedented economic and political ability to turn our imperial nations away from ruinous war, and earn our talk of mercy.

    • The Myth of the “Clean War”

      Many previous columns in this series focus on the transition in the western way of war since 9/11 from tens of thousands of “boots on the ground” to “remote warfare”. This has mainly involved a much more intensive use of air-power, including armed-drones; the utilisation of long-range artillery and ground-launched ballistic-missiles; and the much wider use of special forces and privatised military corporations.

      The change has been consistently analysed by a few non-government organisations, most notably the Remote Control project and Drone Wars UK, whose specific concern is armed drones.

    • White House Statement on Yemen Crisis Fails to Address US Complicity

      As aid groups remain cut off from Yemen—despite an intensifying humanitarian crisis and a promise from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to lift the blockade—in a statement released Friday, the Trump White House ignored the United States’ complicity in the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade while reiterating U.S. support for the coalition in the ongoing war.

      The statement praised Saudi Arabia and the coalition for “reopening Hudaydah port and Sanaa International Airport to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen”—even though, as the Guardian reported Friday, “aid agencies said Saudi Arabia has not fulfilled its promise to reopen humanitarian aid corridors into northern Yemen, leaving the main aid lifeline closed for tens of thousands of starving people.”

      Although the White House statement declared “the magnitude of suffering in Yemen requires all parties to this conflict to focus on assistance to those in need,” it also said, “We remain committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all of our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression.”

    • US and South Korea Announce Plans for Massive Air Force Exercise Aimed at North Korea

      The U.S. and South Korea announced Friday they will conduct a massive air force exercise over the Korean Peninsula next month as a notable show of force targeting North Korea—despite warnings that the Trump administration’s decision earlier this week to add North Korea to the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism could further provoke the isolated country.

    • Zimbabwe activists fear post-Mugabe human rights crackdown

      Activists and human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe fear a new crackdown that could roll back gains made during the eight-day crisis that culminated in the resignation of President Robert Mugabe last week.

      Relatives of victims of state-sponsored violence said they were concerned about the track record of the new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe’s righthand man and is blamed for the brutal suppression of political opposition parties during elections in 2008.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Barrett Brown Explains His Pursuance Project and Why It’s Worth a Shot

      That’s the kind of activism the convicted activist journalist Barrett Brown wants to organize online, as the Daily Dot reported in August. Last night, he spoke to supporters of what he calls the Pursuance Project over YouTube, answering questions about his open source software project.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy

      And the release of ruthenium 106 is a massive one, indicating a major accident, not a minor leak. The French radiological institute for nuclear safety IRSN) calculated the release at 300 Terrabequerels. To put this in perspective, it is an amount equivalent to 375,000 times the annual release of ruthenium 106 authorized for a French nuclear power plant.

      IRSN has consistently downplayed the potential harm of the plume’s fallout across Europe, a position all too eerily familiar to the French, who were falsely told at the time of the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine that the radioactive plume would not cross into France.

    • Native People and Allies Pledge to Stop Keystone XL

      I’m in Lower Brule, South Dakota, where elected tribal officials, spiritual leaders, Native grassroots organizations, youth groups, and traditional women’s societies have gathered with non-Native farmers, ranchers and others affected by the Keystone XL pipeline. That project to carry tar sands from shale fields in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico threatens our water, our livelihoods and our sacred sites.

    • Lightning strikes leave behind a radioactive cloud

      Thunderstorms have a lot of overt indications of power, from the thunder and lightning to torrential rains and hail. But the full extent of their power wasn’t obvious until recent years, when we discovered they generate antimatter. Now, researchers in Japan have looked at this phenomenon more closely and determined that a lightning bolt generates a zone that contains unstable isotopes of oxygen and nitrogen, leading to series of radioactive decays over the next minute.

    • The trouble with bitcoin and big data is the huge energy bill

      Once upon a time, a very long time ago – 2009 in fact – there was a brief but interesting controversy about the carbon footprint of a Google search. It was kicked off by a newspaper story reporting a “calculation” of mysterious origin that suggested a single Google search generated 7 grams of CO2, which is about half of the carbon footprint of boiling a kettle. Irked by this, Google responded with a blogpost saying that this estimate was much too high. “In terms of greenhouse gases,” the company said, “one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe [exhaust] emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven, but most cars don’t reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometre (0.6 miles for those in the US) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.”

      Every service that Google provides is provided via its huge data centres, which consume vast amounts of electricity to power and cool the servers, and are therefore responsible for the emission of significant amounts of CO2. Since the advent of the modern smartphone in about 2007 our reliance on distant data centres has become total, because everything we do on our phones involves an interaction with the “cloud” and therefore has a carbon footprint.

      The size of this footprint has been growing. At the moment, about 7% of the world’s electricity consumption is taken by our digital ecosystem but this is forecast to rise to 12% by 2020 and is expected to grow annually at about 7% through to 2030.

    • A year after Trump’s election, coal’s future remains bleak

      A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever.

    • Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking

      The world’s governments got together in Germany over the past two weeks to discuss global warming, and as a result, they, well, talked. And issued some nice press releases.

      Discussing an existential threat to the environment, and all who are dependent on it, certainly is better than not discussing it. Agreeing to do something about it is also good, as is reiterating that something will be done.

      None of the above, however, should be confused with implementing, and mandating, measures that would reverse global warming and begin to deal concretely with the wrenching changes necessary to avoid flooded cities, a climate going out of control, mass species die-offs and the other rather serious problems that have only begun to manifest themselves in an already warming world.

    • ‘Modern air is a little too clean’: the rise of air pollution denial

      Despite report after report linking air pollution to deterioration of the lungs, heart and brain, Professor Robert Phalen believes the air is “too clean” for children.

      After all, everybody needs a bit of immune-system-boosting dirt in their lungs.

      “Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world’s largest scientific societies, in 2012.

      “My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy,” he added.

    • Fukushima Darkness, Part Two

      The impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear meltdown extends far and wide, as the hemispheric ecosystem gets hit by tons of radioactive water. Additionally, surreptitiousness surrounds untold death and illness, yet it remains one of the least understood and deceitfully reported episodes of journalism in modern history.

      At the same time as Japan passed its totalitarian secrecy act in December 2013, it passed an obstructive Cancer Registration Law, which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues, denying public access to medical records, with violators subject to fines of two million Yen or 5-10 years in prison, a pretty stiff penalty for peeking into medical records, giving the appearance of somebody running scared.

      Furthermore, and more egregiously yet, a confidentiality agreement to control medical information about radiation exposure was signed in January 2014 by IAEA, UNSCEAR, and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University. Thereafter, all info of illness from radiation is reported to a central repository run by Fukushima Medical Centre and IAEA. In turn, the Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation was created in 2015 to communicate “accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety.” Ahem!

    • Blocked From Discussing Climate Change, Valve-Turner Faces 10 Years in Prison After Felony Conviction

      After a judge refused to allow him to share his reasons for shutting off a tar sands pipeline valve in a protest of fossil fuel mining, 65-year-old climate activist Leonard Higgins was found guilty of criminal mischief—a felony—and misdemeanor criminal trespass. Higgins faces up to 10 years in jail and as much as $50,000 in fines.

      “I’m happy for the opportunity to share why I had to shut down this pipeline, and I really appreciate the time and dedication of the jury and the judge,” Higgins said. “I was disappointed and surprised by the verdict, but even more disappointed that I was not allowed a ‘necessity defense,’ and that I wasn’t allowed to talk about climate change as it related to my state of mind. When I tried to talk about why I did what I did I was silenced. I’m looking forward to an appeal.”

    • Averting the apocalypse: lessons from Costa Rica

      Earlier this summer, a paper published in the journal Nature captured headlines with a rather bleak forecast. Our chances of keeping global warming below the 2C danger threshold are very, very small: only about 5%. The reason, according to the paper’s authors, is that the cuts we’re making to greenhouse gas emissions are being cancelled out by economic growth.

    • In Puerto Rico, the ‘natural disaster’ is the US government

      The wreckage of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma teaches us that there is no such thing as a “natural disaster.” This trope drives the federal response to environmental traumas under the Stafford Act, which allows the U.S. president to direct funds to any “state,” including Puerto Rico, when it is felled by events such as hurricanes.

      The failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), show the illusions of the “disaster” story: It characterizes environmental traumas as short-term, one-size-fits-all catastrophes that are nobody’s fault. It also positions the federal government as a savior of victims, who should be thankful for U.S. aid that is given a matter of largesse. For this reason, President Trump could make the now-infamous complaint that “they” “want everything done for them” via Twitter on Sept. 30, and on Nov. 17 request that Congress provide only $44 billion in aid, a number that Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt) describes as “insulting,” especially for Puerto Rico.

    • A reflection on COP23: Incremental progress but no industrialized country’s top priority (commentary)

      I remember well the vibrancy that December evening in 2015 when word spread on the last day of the 21st UN climate summit that there would be an agreement — the Paris Agreement.

      After two decades of staring at a known and worsening global crisis of epic proportions, leaders of 196 nations, pushed mercilessly by UN, French, and US negotiators, finally decided to not allow the earth to burn up by 2100. The Eiffel Tower glowed with triumphant messages against a starry Paris sky.

      For the first time, nations voluntarily agreed to reduce their carbon emissions and slow the rate of deforestation. That moment in Paris felt historic, hopeful, perhaps the most significant agreement among world leaders for the greater good of this earth since World War II.

      Just two years later, as I stayed late on the last night of the 23rd UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany, I felt no such vibrancy and certainly no such history-making optimism. There was little. COP23 wasn’t designed for major breakthroughs. Everyone conceded that.

  • Finance

    • Nature lovers may #OptOutside on Black Friday, but they consume resources year-round

      While shoppers scramble for Black Friday bargains this year, outdoor retailer REI is closing its 154 U.S. stores. This is the third consecutive year that the Seattle-based company will ignore the frenzy that traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. REI’s nearly 12,000 employees will get a paid holiday and will not process any online orders.

      Instead, REI exhorts workers and customers to get outside with family and friends. #OptOutside, a Twitter hashtag that REI coined to promote its anti-Black Friday, has been widely adopted by outdoor lovers, as well as environmental groups and businesses that partner with REI to promote this event.

    • Fools or Knaves?

      Mnuchin continues to insist that the legislation puts a higher tax burden on people earning more than $1 million a year, and reduce taxes on everyone else. “I can tell you that virtually everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a significant tax cut,” Mnuchin says repeatedly.

      But the prestigious Tax Policy Center concludes that by 2025, almost all of the benefits of both bills will have gone to the richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class payers will pay higher taxes and those at the lower levels will receive only modest benefits.

      So is Mnuchin a fool? His career before he became Treasury Secretary doesn’t suggest so. He graduated from Yale, and worked for seventeen years for investment bank Goldman Sachs.

    • How to Stop a Tax Plan Rigged for the Rich

      The Earth doesn’t quite shake when lawmakers in Washington, D.C. take one of their periodic votes on tax “reform.” But sometimes history does turn, and this coming week’s expected vote on the Senate version of the GOP tax plan could be one of those rare times that history actually turns for the better.

      Indeed, this year’s situation bears a remarkable resemblance to the epic tax battle of 1932, a largely forgotten struggle that set the stage for an entire generation of increasing equality. Could this history repeat? It certainly is already echoing.

      Back in 1932, just as today, the Republican Party had a lockgrip on the White House and both houses of Congress. Then as now, America’s wealthy lusted for fundamental tax changes that would significantly reduce their already reduced tax burden. Then as now, those wealthy — and the pols they subsidized — framed tax breaks for the rich as our only road to prosperity.

    • Showdown Looms as Trump, Flouting Dodd-Frank, Says CFPB Hater Mulvaney to Head Agency

      A battle appears to be brewing between the White House and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), with each having named a different individual to serve as acting director of the agency, and President Donald Trump’s appointment denounced as “legally dubious.”

      The showdown gained steam on Friday afternoon when Richard Cordray, who had been leading the CFPB since its inception, tendered his expected resignation, saying he was leaving at the end of the day. Another key event that day was the CFPB naming Leandra English as deputy director of the agency. She had been serving as the agency’s chief of staff.

    • Dozens of #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins and Rallies Planned for Final Resistance Push

      The grassroots resistance group Indivisible was gearing up on Friday for a planned National Day of Action, targeting Republican senators who are thought to be potential “no” votes on the GOP’s tax plan—in a final push to keep the bill from passing. The Senate is expected to vote on the plan as soon as Thursday.

      The group was preparing for #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins taking place across the country on Monday, at the offices of several senators including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—focusing attention on some of the lawmakers who were targeted last summer during the fight against the Republican healthcare plan.

      “Republicans have made it crystal clear: the Trump Tax Scam fight and the TrumpCare fight are one and the same,” the group wrote on its website, noting the Senate Finance Committee’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which was revealed earlier this month. The move would leave 13 million Americans uninsured according to the Congressional Budget Office—in the interest of reducing the federal deficit that would be caused by the Republican plan to lower taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

    • Legatum: who are the Brexiteers’ favourite think tank and who is behind them?

      It’s arguably the most influential think tank in the country, pushing a free market pro-Brexit vision and enjoying privileged access to media and ministers. But what does their background in ‘disaster capitalism’ tell us about Legatum’s Brexit agenda?

    • Your Taxpayer Dollars Are Funding Corporate Propaganda

      While Congress hasn’t accomplished much in 2017, it did manage to pass a budget resolution — and within that budget, a sum of $3 million stands out.

      Congress appropriated that $3 million to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. That’s a partnership between the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) “to provide consumer education on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology.”

      What they’re really talking about is a promotional campaign for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

    • The Paul Ryan Guide to Pretending You Care About the Poor

      Once, at a town hall in Wisconsin, someone asked known anti-poverty crusader Paul Ryan (R-WI) the following question:

      “I know that you’re Catholic, as am I, and it seems to me that most of the Republicans in the Congress are not willing to stand with the poor and working class as evidenced in the recent debates about health care and the anticipated tax reform. So I’d like to ask you how you see yourself upholding the church’s social teaching that has the idea that God is always on the side of the poor and dispossessed, as should we be.”

    • Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets

      We are living a collective illusion known as the civilized world. We feign concern for our horrendous conditions of poverty, socioeconomic inequality, deteriorating public health, and severe environmental degradation (to which climate change is merely one factor), but everything we do belies that distress. These issues comprise the largest risks to the survival of the human species, as well as the most significant amoral atrocities on the planet. Both individually and as a species, our health, safety, and ability to live a decent, dignified life have always been imperiled by these predicaments. Yet, we continue along with complete cognitive dissonance in that the crux of our lives – our jobs, our consumer culture – all contribute to, perpetuate, and exacerbate the unsustainable and morally reprehensible conditions of our existence. But while we are all marginally responsible for the multitude of calamities befalling us, the one group who bears the brunt of the blame for our social and ecological decay is the wealthy.

      Have you looked around and seen just what humanity has done to our stunning Earth? We’ve bulldozed the beauty for bucks. Far too much of what was once a glorious paradise is now a complete disaster of unfathomable proportions. A disaster wholly of our own making. In America, and in most places around the world, from the moment we are born we are preparing for a future career, and more specifically, for the lifelong goal of making money. But on the whole, most of the jobs we do end up being more detrimental than beneficial to society and the environment. We characterize work through measures of productivity, but producing more and more unnecessary, meaningless, and often useless products compromises our physical environment, which in turn, compromises the health of humans, other beings, and our entire planetary ecosystem.

    • Jeff Bezos’ Net Worth Crosses $100 Billion

      As a result of the jump in Amazon’s shares by more 2 percent due to Black Friday sales, founder Jeff Bezos’ net worth has crossed the magical $100 billion mark–that’s 100,000,000,000 dollars!

      Bezos, 53, is the first billionaire to reach this mark since 1999. Back then, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hit this mark, according to Bloomberg. This year itself, worth of Bezos has risen $32.6 billion. As per Bloomberg’s Index of world’s richest 500 people, this is the largest ever increase for an individual.

    • Why are we leaving the customs union again?

      Liam Fox made a very interesting admission this morning. In an interview with The House magazine, the international trade secretary seemed to put the blame for our sluggish exports on British companies rather than the suffocating restrictions of the EU.

      “From Britain’s point of view, our main advantage doesn’t lie in getting more trade deals, it lies in getting more trade,” he said. “So, we need to do an awful lot better with the markets that we already have access to globally.”

      He’s right of course. The EU has never been a barrier to ‘global Britain’ or its ability to export all over the world. In 2013, Britain’s exports to China were worth £7.6bn, whereas France’s were worth £14.3bn and Germany’s £55bn. But Fox’s admission that trade deals aren’t what’s required to boost British exports is rather surprising, given this is the whole reason we’re leaving the customs union.

      Perhaps he saw yesterday’s comments from YK Sinha, India’s high commissioner to the UK, which made it clear that free movement of people would be a central requirement of any UK-Indian trade deal. This has long been the country’s position.

    • ‘I thought I’d put in a protest vote’: the people who regret voting leave

      On the morning of 23 June 2016, Rosamund Shaw still wasn’t sure if she wanted Britain to leave the European Union. During the preceding weeks, she had been in turmoil. She absorbed a stream of negative stories about the EU in the Daily Mail, but wasn’t sure they were reliable. She trusted Boris Johnson, but loathed Michael Gove. Her family was divided. One daughter, who worked abroad, was a staunch remainer; the other an adamant leaver. Upending the usual age dynamic, her younger relatives complained of eastern European migrants costing them work, while her mother, who had lived through the second world war, felt that the EU had guaranteed peace in Europe. In the voting booth, Shaw finally made her choice: she voted leave. “To be quite frank, I did not believe it would happen,” she says. “I thought I’d put in a protest vote. The impact of my stupidity!”

      As soon as Shaw saw the result the following morning, her heart sank. “I was in shock,” she remembers. “Even though I voted leave, I thought, ‘Oh no! This is terrible!’ Then all hell broke loose. The texts started flying. There was a massive fight on Facebook.”


      For experts in voter behaviour or cognitive science, however, this is unsurprising. Humans do not instinctively enjoy changing their minds. Admitting that you were wrong, especially when the original decision has huge ramifications, is a painful and destabilising experience that the brain tends to resist. Research into this kind of denial has given us concepts such as cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

      “When you have a strong view about something, you’re likely to reject information that’s contrary to your view, reject the source of the information and rationalise the information,” says Jane Green, professor of political science at the University of Manchester and co-director of the British Election Study. “We select information that’s consistent with our views, because it’s more comfortable and reaffirming.” In fact, it’s physically pleasurable. Some recent studies of confirmation bias indicate that consuming information that supports our beliefs actually produces a dopamine rush.

    • Everything Must Go

      Economic growth will destroy everything. There’s no way of greening it – we need a new system.

    • Confusion as Trump and outgoing director pick leaders for consumer agency

      But hours before, CFPB Director Richard Cordray had sent a letter to Trump, declaring he was officially done leading the federal consumer watchdog agency once the clock struck midnight.

      Cordray named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director, which essentially establishes her as the bureau’s acting director.
      The departure of Cordray, the first-ever director of the consumer agency, marks an opening for Trump to embark on a major overhaul of the agency.

      There had been speculation that Trump would tap a member of his administration to lead the bureau.

    • Hammond backtracked on funding after ‘fury’ at NHS boss’s demands

      The chancellor viewed Stevens’s plea, in which he urged ministers to deliver on leave campaigners’ promise of £350m a week more for the NHS, as “very, very unhelpful” when he was facing so many pleas from other services for cash.

      At the time of Stevens’s speech on 8 November, Hammond had already begun discussions with the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over his formal pre-budget request that the NHS in England be given a £3bn uplift for 2018-19.

    • Think Brexit negotiations are going badly? It’s about to get a whole lot worse

      If you have been following politics of late, it will not have escaped your notice that progress in the Brexit negotiations has been painfully slow. Eight months on from the triggering of Article 50, Britain has managed to stumble over every imaginable hurdle. It has been like watching a car crash in slow motion.

      Britain is desperate to move on from simply discussing exit terms—it wants talks on the future trading relationship. But the EU has maintained that it will not move in this direction until the UK offers some clarity on EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border (a nightmarishly complex issue), and the Brexit “divorce bill” to settle the UK’s financial obligations.

      Until recently, there had been no progress on the UK side whatsoever. But now, after months of huffing and puffing, it looks like the UK may be about to make the much-needed breakthrough. On the divorce bill, at least, there have been more positive noises coming from No 10, with Theresa May doubling her offer from £20bn to £40bn. There is a chance, if things move further still, that the EU will decide “sufficient progress” has been made at its December summit and that talks on the future relationship can begin.

      Great news, you might think. You’d be wrong. The problem with entering phase two of Brexit talks is that Britain has no idea what it wants out of a future trading relationship. The prime minister doesn’t know what she wants, cabinet doesn’t know what it wants, parliament doesn’t know what it wants and the public don’t know what they want. If you thought phase one was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • The European Left in times of crises: lessons from Greece

      The prospect of government did not generate or impose novel thinking, practices, or behaviours within the Greek left.

    • Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis

      Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in September-October 2017. The impact of these storms was great, but greater still are the convulsions on the island long after the storms had passed over. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure remains in tatters, with the power grid still largely dysfunctional and basic institutions such as schools and hospitals on life support. Not surprisingly, large numbers of Puerto Ricans—who are citizens of the United States—have moved to the mainland. The Centre for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College, New York) estimates that of a population of 3.5 million, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will make this journey. Already, 1,30,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October.

      Towns and States in the mainland U.S. that are already home to Puerto Ricans have welcomed thousands more since the storms of this year. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, for instance, hundreds of Puerto Ricans have already arrived to join their families. There is little indication that these people will return to the island. Betty Medina Lichtenstein of Enlace de Familias says that it is the elderly who are likely to return, while the younger families seem to want to stay on.

    • Putin’s link to Boris and Gove’s Brexit ‘coup’ revealed: Tycoon who netted millions from Russian gas deal funds think tank that helped write the ministers letter demanding May take a tougher stance on leaving the EU
    • The hard-won kinship between Britain and Ireland is threatened by Brexit idiocy

      When people are screwing up, they tend to take their rage and frustration out on their nearest and dearest. If, as seems increasingly likely, the European Union summit on 15 December does not give the go-ahead for talks on a post-Brexit trade deal, we already know who’s going to get the blame.

      It will be all Ireland’s fault. The Sun this month gave the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, fair warning, advising him to “shut your gob and grow up” and stop “disrespecting 17.4 million voters of a country whose billions stopped Ireland going bust as recently as 2010”. Boris Johnson, in Dublin, delivered a slightly more diplomatic version of the same message. The Irish should stop worrying about a hard border being reimposed on their island, trust all the lovely reassurances they have received from the British government and make the necessary declaration that “sufficient progress” has been made on the issue for substantive talks to go ahead.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Trump is slowly destroying America’s national security agencies

      The Guardian has reported that John Le Carre, the famed British spy novelist, recently said of the Trump presidency: “something truly, seriously bad is happening and we have to be awake to that.” Chillingly, he expressed alarm about the “toxic” parallels between the rise of President Trump and hard right regimes in Poland and Hungary and the rise of fascism in the 1930s.

      Mr Le Carre may be overstating the risk of rising fascism but he is surely right to warn that many of Mr Trump’s early actions and words challenge fundamental tenets of democracy.

      These challenges include his assertion that the media is “the enemy of the people”, that news he doesn’t like is “fake news,” that there were “good people” among the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, and that the Senate should change its rules to abolish the requirement for 60 votes to end a filibuster, thus eliminating the single most important protection of minority interests in our system of government.

    • The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta.

      It is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III whose work seems to be sending shock waves through the capital, by exposing the lucrative work lobbyists from both parties engage in on behalf of foreign interests.

      The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta. His lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, a Washington icon of power and political influence, notified its employees recently that the enterprise is shutting its doors.

    • Trump tweets he ‘took a pass’ at being named TIME’s person of the year

      The magazine issued a statement disputing the President’s account.

      “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6,” a spokeswoman told CNN.


      Trump has long been obsessed with being on the cover of TIME and other news magazines, even making fake covers to hang in some of his properties.

      Last summer, TIME asked for the fake magazines to be removed after reports surfaced that at least five of Trump’s golf clubs featured the fakes bearing his photo.

    • Labour can take Tory ‘crown jewel’ councils next year, says Sadiq Khan

      Sadiq Khan expects Labour to wrest control of long-held Conservative councils in the capital in next year’s local elections, pledging that there is “no corner of London where Labour can’t win”.

      The mayor of London will say his party’s aim is to capture the Tory “crown jewels” of Wandsworth – known for its historically low council tax – and Barnet, once dubbed “Easycouncil” for its mass outsourcing of services.

      In a speech at London Labour’s conference on Saturday, Khan will say he will make Brexit the cornerstone of the campaign, as well as air quality, police cuts and affordable housing.

    • The movement to replace neoliberalism is on the ascendency – where should it go next?

      This is because neoliberalism – the broad set of political-economic ideas and policies which have dominated public life over the last 40 years – has failed, in both theory and in practice. It is in the wake of the global financial crisis that these failures have plumbed new depths. Financial instability looms over economies shackled by insufficient investment. Living standards stagnate and work becomes ever more insecure, shattering the implicit bargain of the entire endeavour. The human costs of this experiment have been enormous, with psychological and non-communicable ill-health becoming the hallmark of a system that cares for little but profit. Inequality, itself linked to ill-health, has grown to levels unseen since the nineteenth century, leading to large power imbalances throughout society. Socio-economic mobility has been further stalled by the erosion of the public realm, from universities to the legal system. Most pressingly, neoliberalism continues to rely on a growth model that is destroying the biophysical preconditions upon which it relies, increasing the chance of collapse in the climate and other natural systems.

    • The Influence of Israel on Britain

      Ms Patel admitted her actions “fell below the high standards expected of a secretary of state” which was certainly the case, because she told lies; but her low standard expeditions appear to have involved some intriguing antics. It was reported that in August she went on “a secret trip to Israel with a lobbyist, during which she held 12 meetings, including one with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, without informing either [Prime Minister] May or Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary.” It is amazing that she could have imagined that British intelligence services would not report her movements and meetings in the daily brief, but this did not stop her telling the Guardian newspaper that “Boris knew about the visit. The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew about [the visit to Israel]. It is not on, it is not on at all. I went out there, I paid for it, and there is nothing else to this. It is quite extraordinary. It is for the Foreign Office to go away and explain themselves.”

      But it wasn’t the Foreign Office that had to explain things, because this was yet another squalid deception by a grubby little politician — for whatever reason she may have had to try to disguise her motives. Her assertion that “I went on holiday and met with people and organisations . . . It is not about who else I met, I have friends out there,” didn’t ring true, and the media discovered a whole raft of deceit.

      Not only did she have a dozen meetings with “friends” in Israel, but, as revealed by the Sun newspaper, “on September 7, Ms Patel met Israeli Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan for talks in the House of Commons. Then, on September 18, she met Israel’s Foreign Ministry boss Yuval Rotem while in New York at the UN General Assembly. Ms Patel would not last night [November 6] disclose what the meetings were about. She had seen both men in Tel Aviv in August . . .”

      She was accompanied on her Middle Eastern holiday by an agent of influence of Israel, Lord Polak, who attended all her meetings with Israel’s best and brightest, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. And Polak went with her to New York, with his flight being paid for by the Israeli consulting firm ISHRA, which “offers a wide range of client services.” Polak was also present when she had undisclosed discussions with the Israeli Minister for Public Security in the House of Commons before she went to New York.

    • National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place

      Seeking to capitalize on the Republicans’ disarray, public cruelty and Trumpitis, the Democratic Party is gearing up for the Congressional elections of 2018. Alas, party leaders are likely to enlist the same old cast and crew.

      The Democratic National Committee and their state imitators are raising money from the same old big donors and PACs that are complicit in the Party’s chronic history of losing so many Congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races—not to mention the White House.

      The large, embattled unions are preparing to spend millions on television ads and unimaginative get-out-the-vote efforts, without demanding fresh pro-worker/pro-union agendas from the Democratic politicians they regularly endorse.

    • Bridging the Gap Between Movements and Elections: How the Working Families Party Organized in 2017

      Today we bring you a conversation with Joe Dinkin, the national campaigns and communications director at the Working Families Party. Dinkin discusses how the Working Families Party bridges the gap between the energy of social movements and the machinations of politics.

    • What It’s Like Covering Trump

      Remember that time Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz emailed, “Watch your back, bitch”?

      Or that time when Don Jr. and Ivanka were almost charged with felony fraud?

      You remember that because we found out.

      The day President Trump took office, our reporters laid out the topics they were going to cover.

      Now, a year after the election, we’ve asked five of our reporters to tell us about the stories they’ve done and what has stuck out.

    • Racism and Avarice: Thanksgiving in Trump’s Dystopia

      If the president has his way, they will be returned to a country ravaged by almost a million cases of cholera, a country not nearly ready to take them back, a country that sees more than a full quarter of its gross domestic product come from personal donations given by Haitians in the US. Many will have nowhere to go once they arrive. Here, they have jobs, lives and children, and contribute to society.


      Rank racism and towering avarice are on the menu this Thanksgiving. Fifty-nine thousand good people now suffer the terror of threatened displacement, with millions more standing on the cusp of ruin in service to a powerful few. There is nothing new here. All the Thanksgiving apocrypha in the world cannot obscure the genocide, slavery and greed that clang across 10 generations of brutality in pursuit of profit. This is the truth that lies beneath the veneer of holiday. Wealth must be extracted; this is all ye know and all ye need know.

    • NYT’s Obit for Ed Herman Requires a Correction

      The problem with this statement is that Manufacturing Consent was published in 1988—years before the 1994 Rwandan genocide or the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

      The book does deal at length with the Cambodian mass murders. It cites as the best analysis of Cambodian losses before, during and after Khmer Rouge rule the work of historian Michael Vickery, who estimated that the Khmer Rouge executed some 200,000 to 300,000 people, with a total of about 750,000 excess deaths (out of a population of about 7 million) due to killings, famine and disease, during their three-year reign. Vickery found that a lesser but comparable figure, about half a million, were killed in the US bombing of Cambodia beginning in 1969 and the concurrent Cambodian civil war.

    • Matt Taibbi’s Slip Shows Beneath Praise for Ed Herman

      See what I mean? Am I the only one to see supreme irony in the fact that Taibbi would credit Herman with unmasking key historical WHOPPERS, but the fact that he was a “skeptic” about Russia-gate … well, “you can believe he’s dead wrong” on that one. One can still admire Herman for providing the framework and conceptual tools needed to unmask whoppers – except please don’t apply them to Russia-gate. Would the NY Times manufacture consent on Russia-gate? Does anyone remember the Times’scheerleading for the war on Iraq?

    • Russian President Putin signs ‘foreign agent’ media law

      The bill, in retaliation for Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT being told to register as a foreign agent in the US, was earlier approved by parliament.

    • As Flynn cuts off WH, top 4 Alleged Crimes he could sink Trump with

      Ret. 3-star general Michael Flynn, under investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, has ceased sharing information on his case with the Trump white house. Analysts think that this move may be a sign that Flynn is turning state’s evidence and may provide information damning to Trump.

      Flynn was a top Trump campaign official and then National Security Adviser to the president. He appears to have committed or planned several alleged crimes and if Trump was in the loop, he would be tarnished by Flynn’s rackets. (Not that Trump doesn’t have his own tarnishing rackets). Remember, it isn’t the crime that usually gets them but the cover-up.

    • What Happened to the 16 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct

      As new sexual-harassment accusations — sometimes several per day — pour out in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, there’s one person whose alleged sexual misconduct seems simultaneously ever-present, and yet grossly overlooked.

      Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo moment if Donald Trump had not been elected, even after being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape. But in recent weeks several of Trump’s accusers have said that while they’re happy sexual harassment is being discussed more openly, they’re still dismayed that their own stories seem to have had little impact. Some have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more ready to listen to their accounts. A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, one of the accusers, has also opened up the possibility that they’ll get their day in court.

      But for now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed last month that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning alleged sexual harassers (if they’re Democrats).

      Here’s a reminder of what behavior the president has been accused of, including, when available, an update on how the women have continued trying to make their stories heard.

    • In the Era of #MeToo, Will Trump’s Accusers Finally Be Heard?

      The #MeToo social movement has taken off with surprising swiftness after numerous women broke their silence in October over Harvey Weinstein’s years of alleged assaults. Every day new revelations emerge of yet another prominent man in power facing accusations from multiple women of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior—sometimes dating back decades. News media are enthusiastically reporting on these stories, and employers have been quick to suspend alleged perpetrators and launch investigations. The accusations are aimed at men across the political spectrum, revealing that men who profess liberal and conservative views alike appear to have resorted to despicable behavior behind closed doors—simply because they could.

      Why then is Donald Trump still immune from the equal-opportunity whirlwind of public shaming?

      It is nothing new for women to come forward about their victimization at the hands of men. But until now they have paid a high personal price for doing so, and often had their experiences discounted. One of the earliest high-profile cases in recent memory was that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who during his confirmation hearings in 1991 faced allegations of sexual harassment by junior staff attorney Anita Hill. Hill’s accusations were ridiculed and dismissed. Right-wing operative David Brock even wrote a book about her called “The Real Anita Hill,” which he has since disavowed as “character assassination” after he changed political sides. Hill’s experience was a message to women in Washington, D.C., and the nation as a whole: If women dared expose the predations of powerful men, they would pay a stiff personal price.

    • The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It

      The news is coming so fast and furious, from so many sources and in so many fragments, that it takes more than a scorecard to keep up with the Trump-Russia connection. It takes a timeline — a “map,” if you will, of where events and names and dates and deeds converge into a story that makes sense of the incredible scandal of the 2016 election and now of the Trump Administration.

      For years Steve Harper produced timelines for the cases he argued or defended in court as a successful litigator. Retired now from practicing law, Harper has turned his experience, talent, and curiosity to monitoring for BillMoyers.com the bizarre and entangled ties between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and the murky world of Russian oligarchs, state officials, hackers, spies, and Republican operatives. You can check out the over 700 entries right here. But for an overview — and some specifics — of recent developments, I called up Steve to give us a sense of the emerging story.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook hiring hundreds to comply with hate speech law

      The new personnel, who will work for a service provider called CCC out of a new office in the western city of Essen that opened on Thursday, will be responsible for reviewing content posted to the social media platform.

    • Facebook opens 2nd office combating hate speech in Germany

      German lawmakers approved a bill in June that could see social networking sites fined up to 50 million euros ($59 million) if they persistently fail to remove illegal content within a week.

    • Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are currently blocked for millions in Pakistan

      Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are currently blocked in Pakistan. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) also ordered that all news channels be taken off-air. They made these drastic changes in light of protests in the capital and under the authority of the Media Code of Conduct 2015.

    • WordPress ignoring terrorist propaganda, campaigners say
    • Were being pushed towards silence, self-censorship: Gandhi
    • Stop Funding Hate has a simple aim: political censorship

      Here’s a law of politics that is about as cast-iron as a law of politics can be: people who hate tabloid newspapers are snobs. Every time. Scratch a Daily Mail basher or those people who seethe daily about the Sun and you will find someone who’s really just scared of the throng and of what all this tabloid fare is doing to their brains.

    • Sudden Shift at a Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored

      For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

      But now, a feud has erupted over the small academic publication, as its editorial board — the scientists who advise the journal’s direction and handle article submissions — has accused the journal’s new owner of suppressing a paper and promoting “corporate interests over independent science in the public interest.”

      More is at stake than just the journal’s direction.

    • Language and Censorship Stir Singapore Filmmakers

      The title of the panel discussion at the Singapore International Film Festival on Saturday was innocuous enough – Singapore cinema: Then and Now – but the filmmaker panelists chose to speak about subjects close to their hearts, especially the use of the Hokkien dialect of the Chinese language and censorship.

      The panelists included Ghazi Alqudcy, whose debut feature “Temporary Visa,” shot entirely in Bosnia Herzegovina is currently in post; Wesley Leon Aroozoo whose first feature documentary “I Want To Go Home” premiered at Busan and is also playing at SGIFF; and filmmaking couple Colin Goh and Woo Yen Wen, who are now based in Taiwan.

    • Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?

      OK, it’s from Russia Today so you should of course not trust it but somehow this video and text and the man in it seems quite factual, not fake and obviously not omitted.

      It documents that Eric Emerson Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet – an American multinational conglomerate that owns a lot and among them Google – is working on “de-ranking” alleged propaganda outlets such as Russia Today, RT – the world’s third largest television network – and Sputnik.


      Mr Schmidt, you are blatantly and clearly interfering in the rights of millions, if not billions, to know. To seek information. To shape their opinions.

      With your few words you abuse your almost unlimited digital, political, economic and ‘defence’ power – much much worse than if you had sexually abused just one woman for which older men today are fired or choose to resign.

      This has to be stated irrespective of whether we like or dislike Russia and its media. That is not the issue here. This has to be fought against because it is slippery slope, Mr Schmidt.

    • How a lone Ghanaian cartoonist stood up to China

      In April, Ghanaian artist Bright Tetteh Ackwerh published a cartoon on his Facebook page titled, “We Dey Beg,” or “We are begging,” in honor of a recent campaign against illegal gold mining supported by Chinese companies, which has polluted local rivers.

      In the image, China’s president Xi Jinping is pouring a sludge of brown water from a Ming dynasty vase into bowls held by Ghana’s president and the minister of natural resource. Next to Xi, China’s ambassador to Ghana happily clutches a gold bar.

    • The Hays Code: Real censorship in America SOFREP Original Content

      Most people admit that propaganda is pretty common in the United States in one form or another, but all out censorship is pretty rare. Freedom of speech is a hallmark of American values, and though private institutions may disallow one thing, or groups of people might discourage another, it is still generally legal to say whatever you want. Still, you get in murky waters when you’re talking about the distribution of entertainment, as it’s tied in with both the government and monopoly-like institutions that will effectively have the final say as to what type of stuff is put out there.

    • Govt should strike balance between censorship, security: DRF

      The NetBlocks internet shutdown observatory project in coordination with the Digital Rights Foundation has collected evidence of nation-wide internet disruptions throughout Pakistan.

      On the afternoon of Saturday 25 November, internet users reported disruptions affecting key social media platforms amid protests. The present investigation seeks to provide an early determination of the extent of those restrictions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name

      The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of US visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

      The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch.

    • UK spy court ruled immune from judicial review – for now

      The UK’s Court of Appeal has ruled that the body that oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies cannot be held subject to a judicial review under active laws.

      In a judgment handed down yesterday, the court rejected an argument from campaign group Privacy International that aimed to use case law to back up its the right to appeal a decision from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

      As part of its ongoing legal battles with the UK’s snoops, Privacy International took GCHQ to the court, alleging that it had been the subject of unlawful computer hacking by the spy agency.

      It questioned whether there had been a lawful warrant from the secretary of state for this activity, with the case hinging on the specificity of the warrant.

    • How to link Aadhaar to insurance policies

      The Irdai has issued a circular making it mandatory for all policyholders to link their Aadhaar and PAN details to their insurance policies. If one does not have a PAN card, Form 60 must be furnished to comply with this requirement.

    • How to link PAN with Aadhaar

      It has now become mandatory to link your Permanent Account Number (PAN) with Aadhaar irrespective of whether you file income tax returns or not. The government in the last budget introduced a new law which made it mandatory for every individual with a PAN to link it with Aadhaar.

    • What Amazon Echo and Google Home Do With Your Voice Data
    • Best browsers for privacy

      With a number of options out there for private browsing, we take a look at the best browsers on the market for privacy. Please note this list is not ranked.

    • Watching NSFW Sites? Microsoft Edge May Automatically Turn On Incognito Mode [Ed: Misleading headline. Better headline: Microsoft is spying on all your browsing and detects what porn you watch.]
    • China’s censorship czar falls, as its “Police Cloud” tracking system rises across the country

      Another key application is the infamous “predictive policing“. The hope is that by analyzing huge quantities of data about past events and incidents, the police can predict where future crimes may occur, and who the perpetrators will be. This is something that is being explored around the world, but China’s comprehensive datasets may encourage local authorities to rely on it even more than elsewhere. On this point, the HRW post concludes [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Birth of a Nation

      These acts reveal the Virginian mindset. Indigenous peoples were barriers to development, keeping colonists from realizing their new plan for the region. The initial scheme had been to get in, find gold or silver, then get out. That went nowhere. Then the settlers turned to agriculture. To acquire land, they seized it from the Chickahominies, Paspaheghs, and Weyanocks, and occupied Appomattoc, Arrohattoc, and Powhatan domains.

      Farming also required labor. Finding too many inclined to sloth, Dale instituted martial law. “People were to be called to work by drumbeat, leave their work by drumbeat, be led to church by drumbeat”— rules that “were welcomed by the venture’s leaders as bringing order and stability to the colony.” Others thought the strictures “mercylessly executed,” as one case demonstrates. A group of men was fleeing to Native lands. “When caught, some were ‘apointed to be hanged, some burned, some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked, and some to be shott to deathe,’” Bernard Bailyn explains.

      For some reason this colony could not attract enough settlers, but English functionaries soon found a solution. “In the fall of 1618,” it was “reported that the City of London was shipping to Virginia ‘an hundred younge boyes and girles that [had] bin starving in the streetes,’” and who were to be sent “‘against their wills’ if necessary.” Officials forced several hundred more children to Virginia in the following years.

      There were also seven young “vagabonds who had been snatched up from the London streets” aboard the Mayflower. The Pilgrims aimed to settle in Virginia after talks with Edwin Sandys, a top Company man. But they never reached their intended destination– at the Hudson River’s mouth; Virginia’s holdings ranged far– and instead arrived at Plymouth in December 1620.


      We should see Plymouth, with its founding document crafted to constrain populism; political theater passing as elections; racism; severe arrogance; and affinity for violence, as a city upon a hill. From it, we can discern the grim contours of US history, as it would unfold in centuries to come.

    • History’s Emancipator: Did Abraham Lincoln Have “a Drop of Anti-Slavery Blood in His Veins”?

      On December 24, 1860, South Carolina legislators alluded to the Declaration of Independence when stating their reasons for secession. Abolitionists were “inciting” contented captives to “servile insurrection,” and “elevating to citizenships” Blacks who constitutionally were “incapable of becoming citizens.” South Carolina’s secession from the United States did not just mean the loss of a state, and soon a region, but the loss of the region’s land and wealth. The South had millions of acres of land that were worth more in purely economic terms than the almost 4 million enslaved human beings who were toiling on its plantations in 1860. With their financial investments in the institution of slavery and their dependence on its productivity, northern lenders and manufacturers were crucial sponsors of slavery. And so, they pushed their congressmen onto their compromising knees to restore the Union.

    • One Officer, Scores of Tickets and a Familiar Racial Disparity

      Brown has fully embraced the ticket enforcement effort. Records show Brown issued 198 pedestrian tickets over five years, four times the total of the next most prolific officer. Slightly more than 60 percent of his tickets went to blacks, meaning one of every 10 blacks to receive a pedestrian ticket in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017 was cited by Brown.

    • China under-20 football tour suspended after pro-Tibet protests

      A tour of Germany by China’s under-20 men’s football team has been suspended after their first match was met with protests.

      The remaining games in Germany will be postponed, the German Football Association said, after a group of protesters unfurled Tibetan flags causing the Chinese team to walk off the pitch. The association has not given a date for the rescheduled games.

    • Police Oversight Ordinance Promised Transparency But Doesn’t Fully Deliver

      The reason? The agency is hamstrung by the ordinance that created it. The law, pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, includes specific language preventing the agency from immediately sharing its reports with the public.

      Sharon Fairley, who recently resigned as COPA’s chief administrator to run for Illinois attorney general, said she objected to that provision in the ordinance, passed by the City Council last year.

    • Thanksgiving Is a Tradition. It’s Also a Lie

      We don’t have to buy turkey. We don’t have to buy into any of it. Sure, it’s a tradition. So is the Confederate flag. Last year, we got national media attention at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests when they sicced their dogs on us. The last time we got that kind of attention, Richard Nixon was in office, when we occupied Alcatraz for almost two years. That occupation started the week of Thanksgiving 1969. In North Dakota almost 50 years later, private militia spent the week of Thanksgiving shooting Native protesters with rubber bullets and spraying us with freezing water. Some of us had never seen ourselves onscreen. And then we saw them trying to get rid of us like time never moved, like the Indian wars didn’t end, just went cold.

    • Remembering Puerto Ricans–Americans–on Thanksgiving

      Many Puerto Ricans are spending Thanksgiving on the mainland, away from home and family and friends, as climate refugees. I guess this catastrophe is something that should be on our minds on this day of feasting.

      Thanksgiving was a northern, regional holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln promulgated its as a way of creating a national symbol to incorporate even the alienated South. Thanksgiving needs to continue that work of national integration today, with regard to Puerto Rico. It should be remembered that they didn’t ask for us. We invaded during the Spanish-American War of 1898 on the grounds that we regretted their lack of liberty under the crown. Then we kept the island as a territory and gave the inhabitants citizenship.

    • The ‘Opposite’ of Leadership: Anita Hill Says Joe Biden Apology Not Good Enough

      In a lengthy Washington Post interview with Anita Hill and five female Democratic lawmakers who supported her during the historic confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, Hill criticized former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent apology regarding how he and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee handled her allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

      In her remarks, published late Wednesday, Hill said Biden’s new mea culpas don’t really take “ownership of his role in what happened.” He and other lawmakers should have shown “leadership” at the time, she added, “And they did just the opposite.”

      Hill, who is now a professor of legal history and public policy at Brandeis University, testified in 1991—in front of a Judiciary Committee comprised of only white men—that Thomas sexually harassed her when he worked as her supervisor at both the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    • More Than 180 Women Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy

      On May 2, 2015, Susan Ingram lay facedown in the dark at her local Massage Envy in West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of the franchise’s nearly 1,200 spas nationwide. It was her seventh session with James Deiter, a massage therapist whom the spa had enthusiastically recommended. By now, Ingram trusted Deiter, and she closed her eyes and relaxed as he worked her muscles. Then, without warning, Deiter ground his erect penis against Ingram’s body. He groped her breasts. He put his fingers in and out of her vagina.

      Ingram lay there, frozen in fear and disbelief, until the session was over. After driving home sobbing, she called the spa to report the sexual assault. She was shocked when the manager refused to interrupt the session Deiter was having with a female client, Ingram said, or to connect Ingram with the spa’s owner.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked

      I used natural language processing techniques to analyze net neutrality comments submitted to the FCC from April-October 2017, and the results were disturbing.

    • From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages

      Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations.

      As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwith. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

    • Dem FCC member: Stop us from ending net neutrality

      “They have proposed to end net neutrality, and they are trying to force a vote on their plan on Dec. 14,” Rosenworcel writes. “It’s a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

    • I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality

      Net neutrality is the right to go where you want and do what you want on the internet without your broadband provider getting in the way. It means your broadband provider can’t block websites, throttle services or charge you premiums if you want to reach certain online content.

    • If Trump’s FCC Repeals Net Neutrality, Elites Will Rule the Internet—and the Future

      Net-neutrality protections assure that the essential democratic discourse on the World Wide Web cannot be bartered off to the highest bidders of a billionaire class that dominates the political debate on so many other media platforms.

    • Net Neutrality and the FCC: Let’s talk about this abusive pattern of releasing controversial policies on major holidays

      So the FCC has released its plans to eradicate Net Neutrality in the United States, on Thanksgiving, as it said it would. This, on its own, merits more discussion – for it is such a blatant display not just of bad faith, but bad faith that they fully expect to get away with.

    • Maine lawmakers denounce FCC plan to end net neutrality

      “[The internet is] a vital part of 21st century life and a critical driver of a modern economy,” King said in a statement. “The proposed repeal of net neutrality threatens those advancements by putting speed and availability of information for sale to the highest bidder.”

    • The FCC’s Order Is Out, We’ve Read It, and Here’s What You Need to Know: It Will End Net Neutrality and Break the Internet

      The FCC is scheduled to vote on this dangerous proposal at its meeting on Dec. 14.

      Pai’s draft is a lot of things: thin on substance and reasoning, cruel, willfully naive — and it’s everything that ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon could have wanted (and more). But what it’s not is sensible or grounded in reality. It will take away every safeguard we need to protect the open internet we’ve always had, giving ISPs the power to kill off their competition, choke innovation, charge more for different kinds of content, suppress political dissent, and marginalize the voices of racial-justice advocates and others organizing for change.

    • FCC Commissioner Begs Nation to Stop GOP Colleagues From Killing Net Neutrality

      After one commissioner called the FCC’s newly-released plan to roll back net neutrality “worse than one could imagine,” a second commissioner is now calling voters to make sure the proposal by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai does not go through.

      In a Los Angeles Times op-ed published Thursday—entitled “I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality”—Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel points to the overwhelming public support for net neutrality and the ongoing questions about validity of anti-net neutrality public comments submitted to FCC, as well as what appear to be tens of thousands of missing comments. “If the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for commenting on it has been even worse,” she writes.

      Rosenworcel decries Pai’s plan as “a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Holders Want ISPs to Police Pirate Sites and Issue Warnings

        Copyright holders have asked South African lawmakers to include tough anti-piracy measures in the upcoming Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill. Among other things, they want ISPs to police pirate sites and send warnings to copyright-infringing subscribers. For now, however, the Government doesn’t plan to include any, as this doesn’t fit the purpose of the bill.

      • Supreme Court Will Decide if ISP Can Charge Money to Expose Pirates

        US-based movie company Voltage Pictures is using a reverse class action in Canada, hoping to obtain settlements from alleged pirates. The case requires Internet provider Rogers to expose many alleged pirates, but the ISP wants $100 per hour to make this happen. This resulted in a dispute between the movie company and Rogers, which is now heading to the Supreme Court.

      • Police Seize Hundreds of Computers Over Pirate Movie Download in 2013

        Copyright trolling in Poland has taken on a sinister twist. A local journalist informs TorrentFreak that as many as 300 people have had their computers seized by police over an alleged movie download four years ago. Furthermore, the lawyer involved in this case is currently subject to a disciplinary inquiry after some of his copyright work was seen as potentially undermining trust in the legal profession.


        “As a barrister of the [copyright holder], Artur Glass-Brudziński had access to the prosecutor’s documentation. So he used this to obtain identified names and addresses, without waiting for the end of the criminal proceeding. Those people were just witnesses, but Glass-Brudziński sent thousands of letters to them, suggesting they are suspects, which was not true,” Maj says.


Links 24/11/2017: Mesa 17.2.6 RC, KDevelop 5.2.1

Posted in News Roundup at 11:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Products Over Projects

    However, projects are not the only way of funding and organizing software development. For instance, many companies that sell software as a product or a service do not fund or organize their core product/platform development in the form of projects. Instead, they run product development and support using near-permanent teams for as long as the product is sold in the market. The budget may vary year on year but it is generally sufficient to fund a durable, core development organization continuously for the life of the product. Teams are funded to work on a particular business problem or offering over a period of time; with the nature work being defined by a business problem to address rather than a set of functions to deliver. We call this way of working as “product-mode” and assert that it is not necessary to be building a software product in order to fund and organize software development like this.

  • Why we never thank open source maintainers

    It is true that some of you guys can build a tool in a hackathon, but maintaining a project is a lot more difficult than building a project. Most of the time they are not writing code, but [...]

  • Events

    • Free software in the snow

      There are an increasing number of events for free software enthusiasts to meet in an alpine environment for hacking and fun.

      In Switzerland, Swiss Linux is organizing the fourth edition of the Rencontres Hivernales du Libre in the mountain resort of Saint-Cergue, a short train ride from Geneva and Lausanne, 12-14 January 2018. The call for presentations is still open.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Can the new Firefox Quantum regain its web browser market share?

        When Firefox was introduced in 2004, it was designed to be a lean and optimized web browser, based on the bloated code from the Mozilla Suite. Between 2004 and 2009, many considered Firefox to be the best web browser, since it was faster, more secure, offered tabbed browsing and was more customizable through extensions than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. When Chrome was introduced in 2008, it took many of Firefox’s best ideas and improved on them. Since 2010, Chrome has eaten away at Firefox’s market share, relegating Firefox to a tiny niche of free software enthusiasts and tinkerers who like the customization of its XUL extensions.

        According to StatCounter, Firefox’s market share of web browsers has fallen from 31.8% in December 2009 to just 6.1% today. Firefox can take comfort in the fact that it is now virtually tied with its former arch-nemesis, Internet Explorer and its variants. All of Microsoft’s browsers only account for 6.2% of current web browsing according to StatCounter. Microsoft has largely been replaced by Google, whose web browsers now controls 56.5% of the market. Even worse, is the fact that the WebKit engine used by Google now represents over 83% of web browsing, so web sites are increasingly focusing on compatibility with just one web engine. While Google and Apple are more supportive of W3C and open standards than Microsoft was in the late 90s, the web is increasingly being monopolized by one web engine and two companies, whose business models are not always based on the best interests of users or their rights.

      • Firefox Nightly Adds CSD Option

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Firefox 57 is awesome — so awesome that I’m finally using it as my default browser again.

        But there is one thing it the Linux version of Firefox sorely needs: client-side decoration.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • 5 new OpenStack resources

      As OpenStack has continued to mature and move from the first stages of adoption to use in production clouds, the focus of the OpenStack community has shifted as well, with more focus than ever on integrating OpenStack with other infrastructure projects. Today’s cloud architects and engineers need to be familiar with a wide range of projects and how they might be of use in their data center, and OpenStack is often the glue stitching the different pieces together.

  • Programming/Development

    • An introduction to the Django ORM

      One of the most powerful features of Django is its Object-Relational Mapper (ORM), which enables you to interact with your database, like you would with SQL. In fact, Django’s ORM is just a pythonical way to create SQL to query and manipulate your database and get results in a pythonic fashion. Well, I say just a way, but it’s actually really clever engineering that takes advantage of some of the more complex parts of Python to make developers’ lives easier.

    • Hey, Coders! Google India Is Offering 130,000 Free Developer Scholarships — Here’s How To Apply
    • Google to prepare 1.3 lakh Indians for emerging technologies

      “The new scholarship programme is in tandem with Google’s aim to train two million developers in India. The country is the second largest developer ecosystem in the world and is bound to overtake the US by 2021,” William Florance, Developer Products Group and Skilling Lead for India, Google, told reporters here.

    • Google puts a little of Apple’s Swift in its future OS

      On what appears to be a quest to dump Linux, Google is allegedly developing a new mobile OS called “Fuchsia”. We don’t know much about the OS. We don’t know if it will replace Android, Chrome, or turn out to be some other kind of animal. We have been told it could potentially run computers as well as smartphones.


  • The incredible inventiveness of Hedy Lamarr

    Her own family believed she died without telling her full story; obituaries devoted scant space to her inventions. Ms Dean was determined to try and correct that and make Lamarr the narrator of her own story. After some tenacious digging, that became possible: Fleming Meeks, a staff writer at Forbes in the 1990s, said that he had been “waiting 25 years for someone to call me about Hedy Lamarr, because I have the tapes.” In these audio recordings, Lamarr laments the lack of recognition that her invention, and her intellect generally, received. It provides the backbone of the film, and brings to life Lamarr’s beguiling persona.

  • Science

    • IceCube turns the planet into a giant neutrino detector

      Neutrinos are one of the most plentiful particles out there, as trillions pass through you every second. But they’re incredibly hard to work with. They’re uncharged, so we can’t control their path or accelerate them. They’re also nearly massless and barely interact with other matter, so they’re hard to detect. All of this means that a lot of the predictions our physics theories make about neutrinos are hard to test.

      The IceCube detector, located at the South Pole, has now confirmed a part of the Standard Model of physics, which describes the properties of fundamental particles and their interactions. According to the Standard Model, neutrinos should become more likely to interact with other particles as their energy goes up. To test this, the IceCube team used neutrinos thousands of times more energetic than our best particle accelerators can make and used the entire planet as a target.

  • Security

    • Firefox “Breach Alerts” Will Warn If You Visit A ‘Hacked’ Website

      One more thing is coming to add to the capabilities of the recently released Firefox 57 aka Firefox Quantum.

      Mozilla is working on a new feature for Firefox, dubbed Breach Alerts, which will warn users when they visit a website, whether it was hacked in the past or not.

    • GCHQ: change your passwords now even if Uber says it contained the breach

      Uber claims to have paid $100,000 to secure 57 million accounts exposed in a breach last year, but the UK’s spy agency, GCHQ, suggests consumers don’t place too much faith in Uber’s claim.

      The GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on Thursday published guidance for Uber users, reminding those affected by the firm’s just revealed 2016 breach they should take precautionary action even if their personal details may not have been compromised.

      The agency warned that Uber drivers and riders should “immediately change passwords” that were used for Uber.

    • Drive-By Phishing Scams Race Toward Uber Users

      Indeed, hardly any time elapsed after Uber came clean Tuesday about the year-old breach it had concealed before crack teams of social engineers unleashed appropriately themed phishing messages designed to bamboozle the masses (see Fast and Furious Data Breach Scandal Overtakes Uber).

    • EU authorities consider creating data breach justice league to tackle uber hack

      Multiple investigations prompted by Uber’s admission that it concealed a hack could join together for one big mega-probe into the incident.

      An EU working group which has responsibility for data protection will decide next week whether to co-ordinate different investigations taking place in the UK, Italy, Austria, Poland and the Netherlands.

    • Intel Didn’t Heed Security Experts Warnings About ME [Ed: Intel refused to speak about back doors until it became too mainstream a topic, then pretended it's a "bug"]

      For nearly eight years, the chip maker has been turning a deaf ear on security warnings about the wisdom of Intel Management Engine.

    • Necurs botnet spreading new strain of Windows ransomware

      The Internet’s biggest spam botnet Necurs has been spreading a strain of Windows ransomware known as Scarab over the last two days, security companies say.

    • Will Uber’s Data Breach Cover-up be the Final Straw for Its Most Loyal Users?
    • Uber contributing to growth of cyber crime: claim

      “In opting to not only cover up the breach, but actually pay the hackers [sic], Uber has directly contributed to the growth of cyber crime and the company needs to be held accountable for this.”

    • Intel is dropping support for legacy BIOS

      The UEFI Class 3 system will remove support for this software module, thereby ending support for any non-64-bit operating systems or software. As noted by Anandtech, it’ll also mean that any non-compliant older hardware, such as graphics cards, network cards and some storage adaptors, would also stop working.

    • Massive Intel ME Bugs Threaten Millions Of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Panasonic, Fujitsu Computers

      The downsides of the Intel ME chips have already alarmed the security community. The recent addition to the threat was revealed in the security advisory published by Intel earlier this week.

      After doing an in-depth security review of their products, Intel found a pool of eight critical privilege escalation vulnerabilities affecting Intel Management Engine (ME), Trusted Execution Engine (TXE), and Server Platform Services (SPS), the company said.

    • HP patches severe code execution bug in enterprise printers

      HP has issued firmware patches to fix a security flaw which allowed attackers to perform remote code execution attacks on enterprise-grade printers.

      FoxGlove Security researchers issued an advisory disclosing the technical details of the bug, CVE-2017-2750, earlier this week.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • 7 Things to Know About the Changing Security Landscape

      This year saw dozens of massive data breaches — and 2017 isn’t over yet. It also saw record investments in security startups, with at least 20 in the $40 million and up range. Older IT giants like Cisco and IBM boosted their revenues from newer security businesses as well. With the size and scope of attacks expected to increase exponentially, security spending probably won’t drop anytime soon. Cybersecurity Ventures puts it at a $1 trillion market from 2017 to 2021.

    • TNS Guide: How to Manage Passwords and Keep Your Online Accounts Secure
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Saudi Arabia still blocking aid to Yemen despite pledge to lift siege

      Aid agencies said Saudi Arabia had not fulfilled its promise to reopen humanitarian aid corridors into northern Yemen on Thursday, leaving the main aid lifeline closed for tens of thousands of starving people.

      Following intense pressure from western governments, Saudi Arabia agreed on Wednesday to lift a fortnight-long blockade of the port of Hodeida from noon (9am GMT) on Thursday, but more than eight hours after the deadline, aid agencies said no permissions for humanitarian shipments had been given.

      A UN source in Yemen said: “We have submitted the request to bring in aid, as we have every day, but there has been nothing. At this stage, we do not know the reason for the delay.”

    • Trump Administration Plays Media Like Fiddle on Iran/HBO Hacking Story

      All of these reports were 36–48 hours after the Post broke the story that the targeting of Iranian nationals was a deliberate political ploy by Trump to single out their alleged crimes for the entirely unrelated purposes of stoking a war panic, imposing harsher sanctions, and doing what the administration has long—and quite openly—wanted to do: get out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Deal. But none of these reports mention this crucial piece of context, context that would put the sensational headlines about Iranians hijacking our precious pop culture assets into proper perspective.

      Most of the articles had a throwaway line explaining that Justice wasn’t technically implicating the Iranian government, but it was heavily implied they were involved, with citations of the defendant’s “links” to the Iranian military, and one or two paragraphs devoted to previous Iranian and North Korean government hacks.

      After noting the alleged hacker had “previously worked as a hacker for the Iranian military,“ and spending roughly 100 words on historical examples of government’s hacking, LA Times’ Ryan Faughnder did note in paragraph 11 that “the indictment did not say the Iranian government was behind the HBO hack.”

      The Daily News skipped the caveat all together and strongly suggested the defendant was working on behalf of the Iranian government, writing he was a “member of the Iran-supported Turk Black Hat Security team” and “had worked on behalf of the Iranian armed forces to attack military and nuclear software systems, as well as Israeli infrastructure.” The DoJ’s reluctant admission that he had no connection to the government didn’t merit a mention.

    • Oxford Circus Tube station: Police reopen Tube stations after alert

      The British Transport Police said it received reports of gunfire on the westbound Central Line platform, at Oxford Circus.

      “This caused a significant level of panic which resulted in numerous calls from members of the public reporting gunfire,” the force said.

      Police said additional officers will remain on duty in the West End to reassure the public.

      BBC reporter Helen Bushby said she had seen a “mass stampede” of people running away from the station in the panic.

    • Friedman’s Love Letter to a War Criminal

      It would be more accurate to say that only a fool would be so quick to take all of this at face value. I don’t see the news value in having a prominent columnist working as a foreign leader’s publicist, but it is extremely useful for the crown prince to be given a major platform to deliver his spin to someone who will uncritically endorse it. There is practically nothing in the long profile that might displease its subject, whose assurances are taken as proof that he is the zealous “reformer” that his cheerleaders say that he is. Friedman tells us that he couldn’t find anyone with a bad word to say about MBS’ purges, as if anyone there would feel free to do so after the dramatic mass arrests that the crown prince has orchestrated.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Virginia Governor Defies Trump on Paris Climate Deal, Pushes Investments in Solar & Wind

      At the U.N. Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany, a number of U.S. senators, mayors and governors staged a defiant anti-Trump revolt. The lawmakers were part of a coalition of cities, universities, faith groups and companies who attended the U.N. climate summit to reject Trump’s vow to pull the U.S. out of the Paris deal and instead proclaim “We Are Still In.” We spoke with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

    • Special Episode on Climate Disruption

      As Americans celebrate a fairly tale about the relationship between Native Americans and settlers, actual Native Americans are mourning the pollution of more of their land, and lives, by fossil fuels. The November 16 spill of more than 200,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone pipeline occurred adjacent to the South Dakota reservation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe. The inevitability of such spills is, of course, only one of many reasons millions of people resist pipelines.

    • Judge: Lawsuit challenging Keystone pipeline can continue

      A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a bid by the Donald Trump administration to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges a presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

      U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls, Montana, dismissed U.S. Justice Department arguments that the court had no authority to second-guess the cross-border permit that was issued by the State Department.

      Morris also rejected motions by TransCanada Corp., the company behind the project, to dismiss the suit.

    • Trump Resists Progress on Global Warming

      With petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch paying many of the GOP’s bills these days, it’s no wonder conservative policymakers are pushing hard to protect dirty fossil fuels against competition from clean, renewable energy. But entrepreneurial capitalists whom conservatives claim to worship are fighting back, slashing costs for wind and solar power to the point where few customers can refuse them.

    • The Fires This Time

      But the politicians don’t. They see fire as an opportunity for plunder. Sonny Perdue and his wrecking crew at the Agriculture Department, which through a bureaucratic quirk controls the Forest Service, are portraying old-growth trees as standing weapons of mass destruction. Taking the Vietnam approach to the National Forests, which Perdue calls the “woodbasket of the world,” Perdue intends to save the forest by clearcutting it, without any restraint from troubling environmental laws. “We’re not going to roll over at every ‘boo’ from the environmentalists,” he vowed in Montana in July. How convenient for the timber industry.

  • Finance

    • The Forks and Fights Behind Bitcoin’s Turbulence
    • The YouTube Celebrity Taking the H-1B Fight Public
    • Black Friday loses its luster as people opt for alternatives

      All 12,000 or so REI employees are given a paid holiday on Black Friday and encouraged to “opt outside” — which is also the name of the campaign REI started in conjunction with the Black Friday closure.

      Park districts are encouraging what has become a movement of people seeking respite in the outdoors over indoor shopping trips. The East Bay Regional Park District has made the day after Thanksgiving its annual free park entrance day — dubbing it “Green Friday.”

    • Workers at Amazon’s main Italian hub, German warehouses strike on Black Friday

      Unions said in a statement more than 500 Amazon workers at the Piacenza site in northern Italy had agreed to strike following a failure to negotiate bonuses with the company.

    • DNA Exclusive: Post demonetization, Bitcoins new ‘black’ in property market

      Investigation conducted by DNA, which included attending several meetings where cryptocurrency was being hard-sold, especially as an investment option, shows that cryptocurrency is fast replacing the cash — read black — component in real estate deals.

    • Value of London’s parks revealed as green spaces boost house price by up to £500k

      London’s public parks are worth a combined £91 billion and living near a green space can boost the value of home by as much as £500,000, according to a new report published today.

      A fifth of Greater London is designated as public parkland, but there are huge disparities over access to green spaces across the capital’s 33 local authorities. Richmond is the greenest borough with 41 per cent of it classified as public green space, followed by Merton (29 per cent), Hounslow (28 per cent), and Hackney and Waltham Forest (both 26 per cent).

    • How to get out of a gigantic mess – of Brexit, citizens assemblies, and popular sovereignty

      The UK is in a mess thanks to an ill-defined ‘Leave’ option in the Brexit vote. More genuine popular sovereignty could have prevented the mess – and could yet get us out of it.

    • Will Brexit upset the City’s ‘democratic’ plans?

      A shadowy network of lobby groups work hard to keep the City of London at the heart of global finance. But has Brexit spoiled the party?

    • Jeremy Corbyn tears into the Tories over incoherent Brexit bumbling

      A frequent criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and the revitalised, principled, post-Blair Labour Party is their lack of clarity on Brexit — some speculated that Corbyn felt that Brexit would, at least, allow for re-nationalisation of privatised industries, something the EU might block — but at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Corbyn shredded Theresa May and the Tories with a series of relentless, devastating questions about the slow-motion train-wreck that is the Tories’ bungling handling of Brexit.

      Polly Toynbee’s postmortem on the Prime Minister and Exchequer’s humiliating performances and Corbyn’s sea-change sounds very plausible to me: noting that the EU was sold in part by guaranteeing neoliberal financial deregulation and the essential role of the EU in imposing brutal austerity to working people in order to ensure capital flows to bondholders (in Greece, Spain and elsewhere), Toynbee hypothesises that Corbyn has an instinctive “‘capitalist club’ Euroscepticism”, but that this has been overriden by the views of Corbyn’s base in the party’s youth wing and the trade unions.

    • Ethereum Price Crosses $400 To Reach An All-Time High

      Following the footsteps of Bitcoin, Ethereum cryptocurrency has been increasing at a rapid pace in the past few days. As a result of this rise, Ethereum has crossed the $400 mark to reach an all-time high price of $414.90.

    • Morocco’s Bitcoin Ban Would Result in Financial Censorship

      Governments all over the world are being forced to pay attention to cryptocurrency all of a sudden. With officials scrambling to draft regulatory guidelines, we may see some interesting developments in the coming months. Over in Morocco, things are not looking all that great, as the country’s government may soon move to ban cryptocurrency. As is usually the case, enforcing such a ban will be pretty difficult.

    • Foolish consistency: Spain’s Kosovo-Catalonia conundrum

      By equating Kosovo with Catalonia, Spanish leaders reveal themselves as unable to distinguish between legitimate aspirations for self-rule and destabilizing separatism.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Public Are All Alone: Understanding How The Enemy Of Your Enemy Is Not Your Friend

      Most of the American public have been successfully deceived by the ‘news’media, and by the ‘history’-books (likewise published by agents for the aristocracy), to believe that the U.S. Government serves the public-interest, and not the interest of the centi-millionaires and especially billionaires, who finance political campaigns.

    • Top Trump aides didn’t file required financial reports after leaving WH: report
    • Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

      Bannon, for example, was supposed to sell his $1 million to $5 million stake in the company Cambridge Analytica while he served in the administration as part of his ethics agreement but it’s unclear whether he sold the stake.

    • Mike Flynn business partner Bijan Kian now subject of Mueller probe

      A former business associate of Michael Flynn has become a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his role in the failure of Flynn’s former lobbying firm to disclose its work on behalf of foreign governments, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

      Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have questioned multiple witnesses in recent weeks about his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey. The grand jury convened for the investigation will soon have a chance to question some of those witnesses, the sources say.

    • Former National Security Advisor has cut all legal ties with Trump administration in sign he may be cooperating with Mueller

      A lawyer for former national security adviser Michael Flynn has told President Donald Trump’s legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

      The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation or negotiate a deal for himself.

      The decision was communicated this week, said a person familiar with the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

    • Here Are the White House Visitor Records the Trump Administration Didn’t Want You to See

      The Trump White House tried to block public access to visitor logs of five federal offices working directly for the president even though they were subject to public disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act. Property of the People, a Washington-based transparency group, successfully sued the administration to release the data and provided the documents to ProPublica.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Google will downrank Russian state news agencies

      Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, says the problem is largely down to Russia Today and Sputnik, and that the company is “trying to engineer the systems to prevent it”. Speaking at an event in Halifax, Canada, he said that Russia’s disinformation strategy should prove easy to tackle as it hinges on “amplification around a message”, and that such patterns can be detected and therefore “taken down or deprioritised”. He firmly denied simply banning the news sites, saying the focus is on using Google’s skill in algorithms and ranking. “We don’t want to ban the sites. That’s not how we operate. I am strongly not in favor of censorship. I am very strongly in favor of ranking. It’s what we do.”

    • Inspired by censorship: The Rubber Lady

      In October 1978, the New Mexico Museum of Art was to host its first exhibition of installation art — titled, simply, Installations — as part of the citywide Santa Fe Festival of Arts. But the exhibition, curated by MaLin Wilson-Powell, never opened. During the installation process, Bradford Smith’s piece — a pair of humanoid rubber figures connected by a long rubber hose to a separate installation by Doris Cross — was deemed obscene by the powers that be, and Smith was asked to remove it. An uproar ensued, with some of the artists pulling their work from the show in protest and others getting caught in the middle. One proposed solution by the museum’s administration was to display Smith’s work in the men’s basement restroom, with a sign to warn museumgoers about the potentially objectional viewing material behind the door. The artist said no, and the show was canceled.

    • ‘We live in a time of strict censorship, there is no freedom of speech’: Actor Rohini

      Censorship is not just for cinema but literature too in contemporary India, National Award-winning actor Rohini said on Friday, while also claiming that the chaos following protests against “Padmavati” was also being used to divert attention from “real” crises in the country.

    • IFFI 2017: Padmavati protests a ploy to divert attention from real issues, says actress-filmmaker Rohini

      Censorship is not just affecting cinema but literature as well in contemporary India, National award-winning actress and filmmaker Rohini said on Friday.

      She said the chaos following protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati was being used to divert attention from real crises in the country.

    • Love, rape and censorship take the stage at the NCPA

      A poet, jailed for his words, uses iCloud to share his banned verse across social media, in a timely comment on freedom, creativity and censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Federal Judge Lauds But Dismisses High-Profile Lawsuit Against NSA Surveillance

      Judge Richard Leon of United States District Court of the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction in December 2013 and described the technology used for the NSA program as “almost Orwellian.” But twice, in 2014 and 2015, the federal appeals court in the same circuit sent the lawsuit back to the district court, asserting plaintiffs did not meet the “burden of proof” necessary to sue. Each time the appeals court avoided key constitutional issues.

    • As DOJ calls for “responsible encryption,” expert asks “responsible to whom?”

      In recent months, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has emerged as the government’s top crusader against strong encryption.

      “We have an ongoing dialogue with a lot of tech companies in a variety of different areas,” he recently told Politico Pro. “There [are] some areas where they are cooperative with us. But on this particular issue of encryption, the tech companies are moving in the opposite direction. They’re moving in favor of more and more warrant-proof encryption.”

    • 482 Popular Websites Are Recording Your Every Keystroke And Mouse Movements

      Most of you might be knowing that the websites you visit use third-party analytics scripts to record your visits and the pages you open. This anonymous statistics collection is pretty standard stuff. However, in recent past, there has been an increase in the number of sites using “session replay” scripts, which can record your keystrokes, mouse clicks, scrolling, etc., and send them to third-party servers. This data is used to record and playback of individual browsing sessions.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Education, Islam and Criticality

      The intersection of Islam and education is a fragile, difficult place. On the one hand is a great and humane educational tradition, stretching back to world centres of learning in Baghdad, Cairo, Fes, Nissapur, Qum, Samarkand and Herat, among many other cities that flourished while Rome was a dangerous, sheep-infested ruin and London a small, unhygienic port. On the other is the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism and the widely shared sense that in some way education is one of its motors, and one of several keys to understanding, confronting and defusing it.

    • Conservatives have a breathtaking plan for Trump to pack the courts

      Conservatives have a new court-packing plan, and in the spirit of the holiday, it’s a turducken of a scheme: a regulatory rollback hidden inside a civil rights reversal stuffed into a Trumpification of the courts. If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years (325). American law will never be the same.

    • For Some Victims, Reporting a Rape Can Bring Doubt, Abuse — and Even Prosecution

      The women accusing the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct have faced doubt and derision. Other women, who have alleged sexual assault or harassment by powerful men in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and elsewhere, have become targets for online abuse or had their careers threatened. Harvey Weinstein went so far as to hire ex-Mossad operatives to investigate the personal history of the actress Rose McGowan, to discourage her from publicly accusing him of rape.

      There are many reasons for women to think twice about reporting sexual assault. But one potential consequence looms especially large: They may also be prosecuted.

      This month, a retired police lieutenant in Memphis, Tennessee, Cody Wilkerson, testified, as part of a lawsuit against the city, not only that police detectives sometimes neglected to investigate cases of sexual assault but also that he overheard the head of investigative services in the city’s police department say, on his first day in charge: “The first thing we need to do is start locking up more victims for false reporting.” It’s an alarming choice of priorities — and one that can backfire.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Investigation of fake net neutrality foes has been stymied by the FCC, New York attorney general says

      The reports started trickling out in May, in the weeks after the Federal Communications Commission had begun soliciting public comments on a proposal to repeal net neutrality rules that govern the flow of information on the Internet.

      A large number of messages lambasting the Obama-era regulation began appearing on the FCC’s public forum with the same text. While it is not unusual for commenters to use form letters provided by activist groups, people began complaining they hadn’t submitted the comments that carried their names and identifying information.

    • UK advertising watchdog cracks down on ‘misleading’ broadband speeds

      The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced on Thursday that, from next year, ISPs will only be able to advertise “average” download speeds if at least 50 per cent of customers are able to receive them during the peak times of 8pm and 10pm.

    • Think the internet is doomed? Kim Dotcom has an idea

      Exactly what form MegaNet will take – and more importantly, what sort of security will be implemented, is still unknown at this stage but Dotcom has revealed that it’ll be a non-IP based system.

    • Looming Net Neutrality Repeal Sparks BitTorrent Throttling Fears

      The FCC is determined to repeal US net neutrality rules. If this happens, Internet providers will have the freedom to restrict or charge for access to certain sites and services, if they please. It also means BitTorrent throttling and blocking could become commonplace again, which would set us back a good ten years.

    • Americans are spending Thanksgiving fighting for net neutrality
    • The US net neutrality fight affects the whole world

      This seemingly internal fight overflows US borders in a number of important ways. Here are the two key aspects that trouble me, as someone who doesn’t reside in the US but interacts with a panoply of its internet services as a matter of daily and professional routine

    • Canada and the U.S. stand divided at the crossroads of net neutrality

      Unlike the United States, Canada has emerged as a world leader in supporting net neutrality with clear endorsements from both political leaders and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Navdeep Bains, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, responded to the U.S. developments by affirming that “Canada will continue to stand for diversity and freedom of expression. Our government remains committed to the principles of net neutrality.”

    • America Won’t Forget Net Neutrality Over Thanksgiving

      The FCC has managed to turn net neutrality into a dinner table issue: 200,000 people have called Congress in the past 24 hours.

    • AT&T and Comcast lawsuit has nullified a city’s broadband competition law

      AT&T and Comcast have convinced a federal judge to nullify an ordinance that was designed to bring more broadband competition to Nashville, Tennessee.

      The Nashville Metro Council last year passed a “One Touch Make Ready” rule that gives Google Fiber or other new ISPs faster access to utility poles. The ordinance lets a single company make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself, instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires.

      AT&T and Comcast sued the metro government in US District Court in Nashville, claiming that federal and local laws preempt the One Touch Make Ready rule. Judge Victoria Roberts agreed with AT&T and Comcast in a ruling issued Tuesday.

  • DRM

    • How four Microsoft engineers proved that the “darknet” would defeat DRM

      By itself, the paper’s clever and provocative argument likely would have earned it a broad readership. But the really remarkable thing about the paper is who wrote it: four engineers at Microsoft whose work many expected to be at the foundation of Microsoft’s future DRM schemes. The paper’s lead author told Ars that the paper’s pessimistic view of Hollywood’s beloved copy protection schemes almost got him fired. But ten years later, its predictions have proved impressively accurate.

      The paper predicted that as information technology gets more powerful, it will grow easier and easier for people to share information with each other. Over time, people will assemble themselves into what the authors called the “darknet.” The term encompasses formal peer-to-peer networks such as Napster and BitTorrent, but it also includes other modes of sharing, such as swapping files over a local area network or exchanging USB thumb drives loaded with files.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Google & Apple Order Telegram to Nuke Channel Over Taylor Swift Piracy

        Popular instant messaging service Telegram has for the first time blocked access to an entire channel following pressure from Google and Apple. It’s understood that following complaints from Universal Music, that the channel was offering illegal downloads of the Taylor Swift album Reputation, the companies ordered Telegram to take action.


Links 23/11/2017: Lumina and Qt Quick

Posted in News Roundup at 4:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Recommended Privacy Tools (Apps, Add-Ons, Search Engines) for Ubuntu Users

      This is an user-friendly list of tools to protect user’s internet privacy for Ubuntu users. The tools including search engine (StartPagec.com), add-ons (HTTPS Everywhere, Disconnect), and programs (DNSCrypt Proxy, OpenVPN) that are easy for beginners to install on Ubuntu. This list introduces the importance of privacy for all of you (yes, please read PrivacyTools.io) and that protecting your privacy is not difficult. This list is kept short so you can learn one by one and exercise them on many computers you have. I wish this helps you a lot!

    • From Linux to Windows 10: Why did Munich switch and why does it matter?

      Most notable is perhaps the French Gendarmerie, the country’s police force, which has switched 70,000 PCs to Gendbuntu, a custom version of the Linux-based OS Ubuntu. In the same country 15 French ministries have made the switch to using LibreOffice, as has the Dutch Ministry of Defence, while the Italian Ministry of Defence will switch more than 100,000 desktops from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice by 2020 and 25,000 PCs at hospitals in Copenhagen will move from Office to LibreOffice.

      Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), says this list continues to grow, and that “almost every two weeks you have a new example of free software being used in a public administration”.

    • How a Linux stronghold turned back to Windows: Key dates in Munich’s LiMux project [Ed: This explains the progression of Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux, typically using proxies]

      The project is temporarily put on hold while a study investigates whether it could be derailed by software patents.

    • End of an open source era: Linux pioneer Munich confirms switch to Windows 10 [Ed: Microsoft paid (bribed) all the right people, got a Microsoft fan -- by his own admission -- in power, gifted him for this]

      Mayor Dieter Reiter said there’s never been a unified Linux landscape in the city. “We always had mixed systems and what we have here is the possibility of going over to a single system. Having two operating systems is completely uneconomic.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15 Will Treat The HTC Vive VR Headset As “Non-Desktop”

      Currently if plugging in the HTC Vive for a virtual reality experience on Linux, the head-mounted display (HMD) is treated just as a conventional display. But now with a new set of changes for Linux 4.15, the kernel will know it’s a “non-desktop” display.

      Besides the DRM leasing support that has already landed during the Linux 4.15 merge window with the main DRM pull request, David Airlie has sent in another pull today for further benefiting SteamVR with Linux 4.15. (And among other benefits, also the AMDGPU priority scheduling landed too for 4.15 as another benefit for VR Linux gaming when using AMD graphics.)

    • Linux Foundation

      • Open Source Cloud Skills and Certification Are Key for SysAdmins

        System administrator is one of the most common positions employers are looking to fill among 53 percent of respondents to the 2017 Open Source Jobs Report. Consequently, sysadmins with skills in engineering can command higher salaries, as these positions are among the hardest to fill, the report finds.

        Sysadmins are generally responsible for installing, supporting, and maintaining servers or other computer systems, and planning for and responding to service outages and other problems.

      • How Cloud Foundry Helps Developers Embrace Flexibility While Balancing Security

        The intersection of software development, security, and operations can be difficult for some businesses to traverse. Platforms such as Cloud Foundry aim to help organizations bridge the gap, while still focusing on security.

        Snyk CEO and co-founder Guy Podjarny addressed the announcement of the architectural decisions seen by Cloud Foundry in the Cloud Foundry Container Runtime and Cloud Foundry’s continued focus on the BOSH platform in a discussion with TNS founder Alex Williams on today’s episode of The New Stack Makers.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Greenfield: An In-Browser HTML5 Wayland Compositor

        Earlier this year we covered the Westfield project as Wayland for HTML5/JavaScript by providing a Wayland protocol parser and generator for JavaScript. Now that code has morphed into Greenfield to provide a working, in-browser HTML5 Wayland compositor.

      • New Polaris Firmware Blobs Hit Linux-Firmware.Git

        Updated firmware files for the command processor (CP) on AMD Polaris graphics cards have landed in linux-firmware.git.

        These updated firmware files for Polaris GPUs are light on details besides being for the CP and from their internal 577de7b1 Git state.

      • Report: Ryzen “Raven Ridge” APU Not Using HBM2 Memory

        Instead of the Vega graphics on Raven Ridge using HBM2 memory, it appears at least for some models they are just using onboard DDR4 memory. FUDZilla is reporting today that there is just 256MB of onboard DDR4 memory being used by the new APU, at least for the Ryzen 5 APU found on the HP Envy x360 that was the first Raven APU system to market.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • How to emulate Plasma Mobile on your machine with qemu

        If you want to develop for Plasma Mobile, but you don’t have a Mobile device, it is useful to emulate a Plasma Mobile on your desktop or laptop. Earlier this was not documented and has been asked multiple times on how to achieve this.

        This blog post is intended to help install a Plasma Mobile on the qemu-x86.

      • Qt Quick Controls 2: Imagine Style

        Back in April we wrote about image-based styling for Qt Quick Controls 2. Since then, we have made good progress and nailed down some aspects that were still under consideration. We call the new style “Imagine”.

      • Are you ready for Qt Quick Controls 2.3?

        This blog post takes a brief look at some of the new features in Qt Quick Controls 2.3 released as part of Qt 5.10. See also New Features in Qt 5.10 for a more detailed list.

      • Say hello to Qt Quick Pointer Handlers

        We’ve known for several years that our multi-touch support in Qt Quick has been inadequate for many use cases. We have PinchArea, to handle two-finger scaling, rotation and dragging; and MultiPointTouchArea, which can at least be used to show some sort of interactive feedback for the touchpoints, or maybe you could write a little state machine in JavaScript to recognize some kind of gesture. As for the rest of Qt Quick though, the main problems are 1) support for mouse events came first; 2) Qt assumes there is only one mouse (the “core pointer”); 3) QMouseEvent and QTouchEvent (and a few more) have no suitable intermediate base class, so they end up being delivered independently; 4) that being hard, shortcuts were taken early on, to treat touch events as mouse events and deliver them the same way. So the result is that you cannot interact with two MouseAreas or Flickables at the same time, for example. This means you cannot press two Buttons at the same time, or drag two Sliders at the same time, if they are implemented with MouseArea.

        At first I hoped to fix that by making MouseArea and Flickable both handle touch events separately. The patches to do that were quite complex, adding a lot of duplicated logic for the full parallel delivery path: a QMouseEvent would take one path and a QTouchEvent would take another, in the hope that the interaction would work as much the same as possible. It was months of work, and at the end it mostly worked… but it was hard to keep all the existing autotests passing, and colleagues worried about it being a behavior change. MouseArea proclaims by its name that it handles mouse events, so as soon as it begins to handle touch events separately, it becomes a misnomer. Suddenly you would be able to press two Buttons or Tabs or Radio Buttons at the same time, in applications and sets of controls which weren’t designed for it. (So we tried adding a bool property to opt in, but needing to set that in every MouseArea would be ugly.) MouseArea and Flickable also need to cooperate a lot, so the changes would have to be done together to keep everything working. It was possible, but narrowly missed shipping in Qt 5.5 due to uncertainty.

      • Big thanks to KDE!

        It has been over a week now that I attended Grace Hopper Celebration India 2017 in Bangalore from 16-17 November, yet the excitement still flows in me! I attended GHCI 2017 as a KDE Developer and student attendee. Big thanks to KDE Community for funding me!

        The Grace Hopper Celebration India (GHCI) is the largest and most influential event for women pursuing technical careers in computing and technology in the country. The conference was held at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre(BIEC), a premier exhibition center in Bangalore. The place was vibrant and energetic with close to 2000+ attendees.

        The conference began early morning around 7:30 with registrations. There was a warm welcome and a presentation session followed by keynote session by Pankajam Sridevi, MD at ANZ Bengaluru. Even on the second day, the event started early and there was a keynote by Dr. Rebecca Parsons, CTO at ThoughtWorks. Both the days, the event continued till evening till 5 pm with many interesting tracks based on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Open Source, Machine Learning and several speed-mentoring sessions.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • gThumb 3.6 GNOME Image Viewer Released with Better Wayland and HiDPI Support

        gThumb, the open-source image viewer for the GNOME desktop environment, has been updated this week to version 3.6, a new stable branch that introduces numerous new features and improvements.

        gThumb 3.6 comes with better support for the next-generation Wayland display server as the built-in video player, color profiles, and application icon received Wayland support. The video player component received a “Loop” button to allow you to loop videos, and there’s now support for HiDPI displays.

        The app also ships with a color picker, a new option to open files in full-screen, a zoom popover that offers different zoom commands and a zoom slider, support for double-click activation, faster image loading, aspect ratio filtering, and the ability to display the description of the color profile in the property view.

      • Many Broadway HTML5 Backend Improvements Land In GTK4

        Earlier today I wrote about the experimental HTML5 Wayland compositor. While that may be more like an experimental toy at this point, for those wanting to run GTK3/GTK4 applications within a web-browser, there’s the longstanding Broadway HTML5 back-end to the GTK tool-kit. Broadway received a number of significant improvements for GTK4 today.

        It’s been a while since last having anything new to report on this Broadway HTML5 back-end for GTK and even looking like it might be dropped from GTK4, but Red Hat’s Alexander Larsson today submitted a number of improvements to this back-end for streaming GTK+ programs into a web-browser via the HTML5 canvas capabilities.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Nine free and open source Microsoft Excel alternatives business-users should consider
  • 9 Excellent Open Source Configuration Management Applications

    End users at public and private sector organizations sometimes perceive IT teams a barrier to the development of the business. When the business demands new services and applications, it may take months before progress is made. Why is that? It’s too common for IT teams to spend too much time fighting fires; after all they can come from so many different sources.

    An IT team’s main responsibility is to maintain, secure, and operate an organization’s systems and networks. This, in itself, carries a huge responsibility. IT teams that maintain technology infrastructure, deploy applications, and provisioning environments with many manual tasks are inefficient. In modern environments, services are rarely deployed in isolation. Simple applications may need several services to run – such as a web server and a database. Deploying more complex systems, many services may need installing, configuring, and linked together.

    Streamlining system administration must therefore be part of an IT solution. And one of the most time-consuming activity for IT teams is the management of the business’s infrastructure. Automation minimizes manual work, reducing the risk of human mistakes, and offering the ability to quickly deploy new services and applications without risking reliability. Whether it involves container orchestration, real-time big data, deep learning, or stream processing, large software demands operations to be automated.

    Here’s where configuration management system software steps in. This software automates the configuration of machines to a particular state. Like any other tools, they are designed to solve specific problems in certain ways. The goal is to get a system from whatever state it is in, into the desired state. Configuration management software are the tools of choice for many system administrators and devops professionals.

    Cloud platforms enable teams to deploy and maintain applications serving thousands of users, and the leading open source configuration management tools offer ways to automate the various processes.

  • ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ Easter egg in man breaks automated tests at 00:30

    The maintainer of the Linux manual program man has scrapped an “Easter egg” after it broke a user’s automatic code tests.

    On Tuesday, Unix systems administrator Jeff Schaller wrote in a Stack Exchange post: “We’ve noticed that some of our automatic tests fail when they run at 00:30 but work fine the rest of the day. They fail with the message ‘gimme gimme gimme’ in stderr, which wasn’t expected.”

  • Open source and standards – The path towards 5G and the Internet of Things

    Following the success of last year’s event, the 2nd workshop “Open Source and Standards – The Path Towards 5G and the Internet of Things”, jointly organised by NGMN and the ITU, took place on 1st November 2017 in Bellevue (Seattle), Washington, USA. The workshop was hosted by Microsoft and co-organised by the IPR Plenary of the NGMN Alliance and the International Telecommunication Union.

    Bringing together key representatives of a wide range of industry, including standards bodies, open source communities and academia, the discussions focused on how best standard-setting organisations and open source communities can capitalise upon each other’s deliverables and expertise for building a consistent and coherent 5G eco-system. With more than 100 participants, the workshop discussed how diverse stakeholders can rely on the respective strengths and development models to place a broad range of industries in a strong position to achieve the common vision for 5G and beyond.

  • Sponsored development is a win-win for users and developers

    There is a myth that simply by making a software platform open source, qualified people will give up their nights and weekends to contribute to its development. With rare exceptions, that’s not how the open source world works. Building a community of contributors takes time, and complex applications often have a steep learning curve before a developer becomes comfortable working with the code.

    Open source software companies are the fuel behind a lot of software development, forming the communities and providing the financial backing that support it. And, like any other type of business, open source software companies need to earn money to stay in business.

  • Events

    • VR Hackathon at FIXME, Lausanne (1-3 December 2017)
    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 2

      Four more sessions are waiting for us, the effort of the participant who has finished and passed the program successfully (based on git, posts, quizzes) will be prized, thanks to the Linux Foundation scholarship and a nice black sweatshirt of the program. Best luck guys!

    • 10 things I learned about making LEGO bricks glow

      By day, Jen Krieger is chief agile architect at Red Hat, but by night she architects stunning LEGO creations, including a Parisian café she demonstrated in her All Things Open 2017 Lightning Talk, “10 Things I Learned About Making LEGO Bricks Glow.”

      Jen wanted to add lighting to her LEGO model, but in the open source maker tradition, she wanted to do it herself instead of simply ordering a pre-fab LEGO lighting kit.

  • BSD

    • Lumina 1.4 Desktop Environment Debuts with New Theme Engine and ZFS Integrations

      Lumina 1.4.0 is a major release that introduces several new core components, such as the Lumina Theme Engine to provide enhanced theming capabilities for the desktop environment and apps written in the Qt 5 application framework. The Lumina Theme Engine comes with a configuration utility and makes the previous desktop theme system obsolete, though it’s possible to migrate your current settings to the new engine.

      “The backend of this engine is a standardized theme plugin for the Qt5 toolkit, so that all Qt5 applications will now present a unified appearance (if the application does not enforce a specific appearance/theme of it’s own),” said the developer in today’s announcement. “Users of the Lumina desktop will automatically have this plugin enabled: no special action is required.”

    • Lumina 1.4 Desktop Environment Released

      The TrueOS BSD folks working on their Qt5-powered Lumina Desktop Environment have issued a new feature update of their open-source desktop.

    • Lumina Desktop 1.4.0 Released

      Lumina 1.4.0 carries a number of changes, optimisations, and feature improvements.

      Lumina is the default desktop of TrueOS, a BSD-based operating system. The desktop itself is lightweight, modular, built using Qt, and uses Fluxbox for window management.

      Although Lumina is mostly aimed at BSD users it also runs on Linux, including Fedora, Arch and — *mario coin sfx* — Ubuntu.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Am I willing to pay the price to support ethical hardware?

        The planned obsolescence is even worse with tablets and smartphones, whose components are all soldered down. The last tablet with a removable battery was the Dell Venue 11 Pro (Haswell version) announced in October 2013, but it was an expensive Windows device that cost as much as a mid-range laptop. The last Android tablet with a removable battery was the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (GT-N8000 series), released in August 2012. It is still possible to find mid-range smartphones with removable batteries. Last year the only high end phones with removable batteries were the LG G5 and V20, but even LG has given up on the idea of making phones that will last longer than 2 years once the battery starts to degrade after roughly 500 full charge and discharge cycles. Every flagship phone introduced in 2017 now has its battery sealed in the case. According to the gmsarena.com database, the number of new smartphone models with non-replaceable batteries grew from 1.9% in 2011 to 26.7% in 2014, and now to 90.3% in 2017. It is highly likely that not a single model of smartphone introduced next year will have a replaceable battery.


  • EU rules British cities cannot be capitals of culture

    The EU will not allow a British city to become European capital of culture in 2023 after Brexit, dashing the hopes of Dundee, Leeds and others who were preparing bids costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    The European commission said it would not be possible because only countries that were in the EU, the European Economic Area or in the process of becoming members were eligible for inclusion.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Turkeys Are Twice as Big as They Were in 1960

      A turkey today is not the turkey of yesteryear.

      For decades, animal breeders have been transforming the genomes of turkeys to make them grow larger. Since 1960, the weight of turkeys has gone up about a quarter of a pound each year. The average weight of a turkey has gone from 15.1 pounds in 1960 to 31.1 pounds in 2017.

    • Decades later, Vietnam vets may be silently fighting cancer-causing parasite

      A small pilot study hints that a startling number of Vietnam veterans may be infected with a liver parasite that can induce a rare type of cancer, the Associated Press reports.

      The study, conducted by the Northport VA Medical Center in New York, involved blood samples from 50 Vietnam veterans. Testing performed at Seoul National University in South Korea found that more than 20 percent of those samples were positive or borderline positive for antibodies against the parasite, a liver fluke.

      The results are preliminary and require follow-up research. It’s also unclear how the 50 blood samples were chosen. That said, the results hint that many veterans may have the cancer-inducing infection and not yet know. The study follows a report last year by the AP, which raised questions about the rate of that otherwise rare type of cancer in veterans.

    • Sir Robin Jacob calls for System 2 thinking for patent law

      Earlier this week Sir Robin Jacob delivered a thought-provoking lecture at the University of Hong Kong. The topic? Patents and medicine.


      In short: using System 2 thinking in patent law is a matter of life and death.

  • Security

    • Key Dem calls for FTC to investigate Uber data breach

      A key Democrat is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate a massive Uber breach that released data on 57 million people, as well as the company’s delay in reporting the cyber incident.

    • Multiple states launch probes into massive Uber breach
    • Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go

      The problem, Minnich said, is that Linux has lost its control of the hardware. Back in the 1990s, when many of us started working with Linux, it controlled everything in the x86 platform. But today there are at least two and a half kernels between Linux and the hardware. Those kernels are proprietary and, not surprisingly, exploit friendly. They run at a higher privilege level than Linux and can manipulate both the hardware and the operating system in various ways. Worse yet, exploits can be written into the flash of the system so that they persist and are difficult or impossible to remove—shredding the motherboard is likely the only way out.

    • Connected sex-toy allows for code-injection attacks on a robot you wrap around your genitals

      However, the links included base-64 encoded versions of the entire blowjob file, making it vulnerable to code-injection attacks. As Lewis notes, “I will leave you to ponder the consequences of having an XSS vulnerability on a page with no framebusting and preauthed connection to a robot wrapped around or inside someones genitals…”

    • Chromebook exploit earns researcher second $100k bounty

      For Google’s bug bounty accountants, lightning just struck twice.

      In September 2016, an anonymous hacker called Gzob Qq earned $100,000 (£75,000) for reporting a critical “persistent compromise” exploit of Google’s Chrome OS, used by Chromebooks.

      Twelve months on and the same researcher was wired an identical pay out for reporting – yes! – a second critical persistent compromise of Google’s Chrome OS.

      By this point you might think Google was regretting its 2014 boast that it could confidently double its maximum payout for Chrome OS hacks to $100,000 because “since we introduced the $50,000 reward, we haven’t had a successful submission.”

      More likely, it wasn’t regretting it at all because isn’t being told about nasty vulnerabilities the whole point of bug bounties?

    • Why microservices are a security issue

      And why is that? Well, for those of us with a systems security bent, the world is an interesting place at the moment. We’re seeing a growth in distributed systems, as bandwidth is cheap and latency low. Add to this the ease of deploying to the cloud, and more architects are beginning to realise that they can break up applications, not just into multiple layers, but also into multiple components within the layer. Load balancers, of course, help with this when the various components in a layer are performing the same job, but the ability to expose different services as small components has led to a growth in the design, implementation, and deployment of microservices.

    • The PC BIOS will be killed off by 2020 as Intel plans move to pure UEFI [Ed: UEFI/BIOS, as even the NSA acknowledged a few years back, is a component that can be used for remote access. For Intel to maintain worldwide dominance it isn’t unthinkable it would spre